Trump Support in Africa

According to a 25-nation survey, Donald Trump is more popular in Africa than in any other region (though less popular than Barack Obama was). Over half of Nigerians and Kenyans consider Mr Trump a positive influence on world affairs. This may have something to do with America’s cultural appeal and a shared animosity towards China. Mr Trump’s strong-man style also grates less on a continent used to bombastic presidents

Michael Avenatti Is the 1990s-Style Celebrity Lawyer of the Trump Age

The bombastic legal adviser to Stormy Daniels is taking cues from the era of O.J. Simpson and Monica Lewinsky.

All of the elements have worked in Avenatti’s favor: the missteps of President Trump’s lawyers and media defenders, the desire in Resistance America for a counterpoint to Trump’s dominance, and the eagerness of cable news to amplify and obsess over people who cause a spectacle.

.. Of course, this has long ceased to be just about Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, and her legal dealings with the president with whom she says she had an affair. Daniels says Trump bought her silence—for a while—through his lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen for $130,000. The saga has taken on a life of its own, with Avenatti treating it like an episodic television show, teasing information reveals, getting into all-out scraps with critics, and generally making it a capital-T Thing.

.. “I’m the lawyer for Stormy Daniels in the first instance and I’m the lawyer for the truth in the second instance,” he said on MSNBC last week.

..  It’s a field in which lawyers often operate as “lone wolves,”

.. Avenatti is not the first lawyer to rely heavily on media attention to litigate his case, nor is he the first to do this in a case involving the president. There are examples in the not-so-distant past: Monica Lewinsky’s lawyer William Ginsburg, famous for inventing the “full Ginsburg” maneuver of doing all of the Sunday talk shows the same day, and the lawyers for Paula Jones, who sued Bill Clinton for sexual harassment in 1994.

Joseph Camaratta, one of Jones’s lawyers, said he saw similarities in what Avenatti was doing “in the sense that you wanted to move the case along, keep the president on his heels, and, to the extent permitted, use the media as a tool in the toolbox.”

.. Camaratta said Avenatti had done a “masterful job” getting Daniels out from under the NDA. “He wants to invalidate the arbitration, he wants to take the president’s deposition. These are all things I’d be doing. These are all the right things to do for an aggressive trial lawyer.”

.. Alan Dershowitz, who worked on O.J. Simpson’s defense team and who has become a Trump confidant, said that Avenatti’s approach is the right one if he’s truly doing it for Daniels’s benefit and not just for himself.

.. “Here the object is not just to win the lawsuit, it’s to destroy the presidency. It’s to create problems for Trump.”

.. whereas the Simpson case unfolded during the early rise of cable news, the Daniels case is playing out in a landscape dominated by social media. Everything is faster, and there are more news cycles per day.

.. Ken White has criticized Avenatti’s threatening reporters who have written about him—something that has happened several times. An email he sent to Daily Caller reporters threatening to sue them, for example, was in White’s view poorly executed because it failed on a number of levels to be a credible threat, neglecting to list specific complaints and identifying itself as off the record, a demand for secrecy that makes the substance of Avenatti’s complaint seem specious.

..  On Twitter, White coined a term—“Avenattos”—for Avenatti’s adoring followers, whom he sees as analogous to Trump’s

.. Avenatti, he said, is “beating Trump at his own game.”

.. Avenatti, who briefly changed his Twitter avatar to a version of Shepard Fairey’s famous Barack Obama poster but with his image instead of Obama’s and his catchphrase “Basta”—meaning “enough” in Spanish or Italian—instead of “Hope,”

.. Avenatti has said he would like to face off against Giuliani on Fox and Friends.

..  “He’s out-lawyered them and out-media’d them. It’s an easier job because he has an easier client.”

.. Turley said. He added that the NDA had been poorly constructed, giving an opening for Avenatti to argue that his client shouldn’t be bound by it.

.. Trump’s lawyers, Turley said, had “tripped every wire that Avenatti has put in front of them.”

.. agent Jay Sures had pitched television executives on a Crossfire-style show starring Avenatti opposite Anthony Scaramucci

.. There’s also been interest in his personal life; he filed for divorce against his wife Lisa Storie Avenatti in December 2017

.. Avenatti also defaulted on back taxes he agreed to pay the government.

Donald Trump Is Still Their Man

In the heart of Virginia coal country, the people of Buchanan County gave candidate Trump some of his biggest majorities, and they remain loyal. The big reason: a local rebound.

Mr. Trump’s voters here largely dismiss the critics. Many say that they love him even more since he took office and see the flak that he faces as evidence that he’s standing up for them against a power structure they distrust. “By his tweets and everything, he agitates people, but I think that’s good,” says Larry David Sr., 71, a retired civil engineer.

.. “Bluntness, speaking your mind is an Appalachian trait,” says Rev. Brad Napier, the minister at Buchanan First Presbyterian Church, who also heads the county’s ministerial association. “The attitude, ‘you can kiss my ass’—people admire that.”

.. In Buchanan County, the improving economy is what Trump supporters mention first. At the time of the Virginia primary, the county unemployment rate was 11.8%, and mines were closing; the number of mining jobs had fallen by about one-fifth in the previous 12 months. Since the primary, unemployment has fallen steadily to 7% in November, the latest month available. Local coal production jumped 15% by mid-2017, mirroring a national trend. Moody’s Analytics, an economic consulting firm, estimates that Buchanan’s economic output expanded in 2017 for the first time since 2010.

.. Buchanan’s median income is just $30,000, roughly half the national average. The population has shrunk by nearly half since 1980 to 22,000, and is expected to keep falling, according to University of Virginia demographers. Opioid addiction is climbing, and the county’s high death rate from the drugs put it on a federal watch list in 2016 for risk of HIV and hepatitis outbreaks.

.. They praise Mr. Trump for canceling some regulations that they say would have hobbled coal-fired plants and driven up costs for protecting streams that flow above underground mines. They say his election has given the industry confidence to invest in new operations because they can be sure that Washington won’t turn against coal again for at least the next three years.

.. “The month before the election was our lowest point,” says Jeff Taylor, a local mine operator. “We were close to our entire industry going out of business. I give all the credit to the president” for the revival.

.. Economists examining the coal turnaround say that the reasons are more complicated. A pick-up in the global economy in the summer of 2016 began to boost demand. U.S. coal exports started to recover in the last quarter of 2016—just before Mr. Trump was elected—and shot up 68% in the first six months of 2017 compared to a year earlier. Over the same period, global prices doubled for metallurgical coal, the kind used in steelmaking—and the kind that Buchanan produces.

.. deregulatory moves—in which the Supreme Court and Congress also played roles—didn’t change the economics of coal. But he did say they may have given coal operators a shot of confidence: “Psychology can’t be discounted.”

.. The American Coal Council credits “a combination” of market factors and Trump policies

.. Buchanan County was until recently heavily Democratic, a legacy of the New Deal and decades of organizing by the United Mine Workers. Al Gore carried the county handily, despite his environmentalism, as did John Kerry in 2004.

.. He liked the fact that Mr. Trump “doesn’t beat around the bush” and stands up to people like North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. “You shouldn’t let a little country like that push around the U.S.”

.. Although Buchanan is very dependent on government aid—one in four adults in the county gets Social Security disability checks—many residents are vociferously anti-government. Locals blame Washington for regulations that hurt the coal industry and for favoritism toward what they see as undeserving minorities.

.. The tax bill? Complicated, many say. But if it helps the rich the most, that’s fine with Robert Collins, a local trucker, who figures that middle-class workers will also benefit. “In order to keep jobs and provide things that employers need, the wealthy have to have breaks too,” he says.

.. Residents like to say that “Virginia ends at Roanoke,” a city 180 miles east with a trendy downtown, or “You need a passport to get to the other side of Roanoke.” They are jokes, but they underscore how separate voters in southwest Virginia feel from the rest of the state and from nearby Washington, D.C.

.. Buchanan residents believe that outsiders unfairly dismiss people from the Appalachian region as racist and that Mr. Trump gets the same treatment. They figure he was misquoted in the recent flap about Haiti and African countries. As for his comments about the march of white supremacists in Charlottesville this past summer, a number of his supporters here agree with him that there was “blame on both sides.”

.. Cultural issues weigh heavily. When President Trump talks about striking back at the so-called War on Christmas, many people here nod in affirmation.

.. They believe that’s the case in blue-state areas of America, especially coastal cities.

.. Ms. Raines, people felt they were losing their place to others who were “pro-abortion and pro every other vice.” Now she says, “you’re beginning to see the mood of the country change.” She points to public prayers at cabinet meetings, Mr. Trump’s embrace of evangelical ministers and his conservative appointments to the courts as evidence of the change.

.. Though often profane, insulting and bombastic, Mr. Trump registers here as a religious champion.

.. “I’m a Christian,” he says, “I don’t think he represents my views.” But he says that he understands how religious and cultural issues cement Mr. Trump’s support.

.. “He is a strange messenger,” says Ms. Raines, the high school teacher. “The Lord can use anybody to accomplish his purposes.”

Modi’s Strongman Economics

Mr. Modi once admitted that he is “not a big economist.” Yet he promptly set out an economic vision for India to be a global manufacturing power. Investors should rush to “make in India,”

.. He claimed that his strong leadership would usher in economic revival and 100 million new manufacturing jobs by 2022.

.. He jeered that Mr. Singh — who has a doctorate in economics from Oxford University and was the architect of the liberalization of the Indian economy in the early 1990s — could not stop onion prices rising and that economic growth was jobless, both popular concerns.

.. under Mr. Modi the job-creation rate has fallen, in effect, to zero.

.. In public, some business leaders have gushed that the “almighty” sent Mr. Modi, blessing his “wisdom.” That encourages Mr. Modi to think his personal role is immensely important. He recalls his 13 years running Gujarat, the western Indian state, where he corralled investors, offering land and attractive terms to set up factories. He is tempted to think a country of 1.3 billion might be run in the same way.

.. Mr. Modi’s approach could be called “strongman economics” — the idea that a dominant leader’s sweeping promise is more powerful than deep-set, complicated, economic problems

.. Mr. Modi remains popular, partly because India’s opposition is hopeless and because many Indians like his bombast. Nationalists talk of their country — which will soon be more populous than China — as an emerging superpower.

.. It is still hard, without political help, to buy land to build a factory. And in too many sectors — such as makers of steel, fighter jets and even sex toys — state-owned firms crowd out private ones. Mr. Modi has not done much to fix such problems, beyond telling state governments to try.

.. Who wants to invest if arbitrary political decisions can threaten whole industries?


Bill O’Reilly is out, but don’t get too excited

From vibrator-themed phone calls to “grunting like a boar” to referring to an African American colleague as “hot chocolate,” his behavior was so ludicrous that it would seem over-the-top in a Looney Tunes cartoon, let alone in an actual office.

.. The decision was based on profit, plain and simple: If keeping on a serial harasser had seemed more lucrative than letting him go, they would have done so. Why should we congratulate the network on taking weeks to be forced into doing what it should have done years ago?

.. The leg shots, tight dresses and regulation bottle-blondes are still in their places. With Tucker Carlson announced as O’Reilly’s replacement, another bombastic white male has taken over the slot.