David Frum: Trumpocracy & The State of Western Democracy

The donors believe that Trump would be the vehicle for getting what they want and that the price would be bearable.

People drawn to authoritarians as a way to achieve and punish what/who they want.

It was not Trump’s cunning that allowed him to achieve ..  it was the complicity

 

They got the:

  • tax deal,
  • reduction of environmental restrictions,
  • Obamacare relief/stabotage,
  • Financial Regulation dismantalment,
  • Stop Financial Protection,
  • Neil Gorsuch is more important to the rank and file than donor class.

It has long been a debate about who pays the corporate income tax.  The rise of the stock prices shows that the market thinks the corporations will benefit most.

In the cold war, the presidency was respected and partisanship restrained.

Big Legislation: Tax Cuts and Health Care repeal were passed/attempted without hearings.

Autoimmune disorders: military leaders might be tempted to protect the country by escaping civilian control

How informative do you think the President’s Daily briefing is, knowing that the president is not very curious and gets most of his information from Fox and Friends?

John Kelly: If you have not served, you have no right to ask me questions. (Un-American)

Modern Authoritarianism is not 1933, it attempts to stop 5-6% of people to take power.

Quote: A Democracy only lasts so long as the people realize they can vote themselves benefits.

Reality: Asset holders are fearful and contemplate radicalism.

Americans don’t realize how out of date they are — the plans they have are solutions to different problems.  (not inflation: 1970s).  You can’t fetishize policy.

Conservatives will not abandon conservatism, they will abandon democracy. (43 min)

Women’s suffrage was enabled by the conservative idea that the women would suppress drunkenness, etc

You address broad-based radicalism by repressing the few and making concession to address the factors which make people sympathetic. (48-49 min)

 

He’s taking everything you out to be working on and putting it to a dead end.

The dissolusioned young men facing declining wages need a bigger answer than they’ve got to address their privilege.

Facebook has a business model that is very sensitive to government pressure: if they were ruled to be a “publisher”, they would have to hire human editors.  They have

Trump’s Potemkin Economy

According to legend, Grigory Potemkin, one of Catherine the Great’s ministers (and her lover), created a false impression of prosperity when the empress toured Ukraine.

.. the legend has become a byword for the general idea of prettifying reality to please a tyrannical ruler.

.. But Trump’s actual policy initiatives aren’t doing so well. His tax cut isn’t producing the promised surge in business investment, let alone the promised wage gains; all it has really done is lead to a lot of stock buybacks. Reflecting this reality, the tax cut is becoming less popular over time.

.. the trade war that was supposed to be “good, and easy to win” isn’t generating the kinds of headlines Trump wanted.
.. Instead, we’re hearing about production shifting overseas to escape both U.S. tariffs on imported inputs and foreign retaliation against U.S. products.
.. making stuff up is actually standard operating procedure for these guys.
.. Trade policy itself is being driven by claims about the massive tariffs U.S. products face from, say, the European Union — tariffs that, like the immigrant crime wave, don’t actually exist.
.. he declared that the head of U.S. Steel called him to say that the company was opening six new plants. It isn’t, and as far as we can tell the phone call never happened.
.. the Council of Economic Advisers did an internal report concluding that Trump trade policy will cost jobs, not create them; Kevin Hassett, the chairman, pressed on these reports, said that he could neither confirm nor deny them; in other words, they’re true.
.. Hassett is declaring that last year’s corporate tax cut has led to a “massive amount of activity coming home” — which is just false. Some companies are rearranging their accounting, producing what looks on paper like money coming back to the U.S., but this has no real effect on investment or employment.
.. declaration by Larry Kudlow, the administration’s top economic official, that the budget deficit is “coming down rapidly” as “those revenues come rolling in.”
.. reports that Trump wants to withdraw from the World Trade Organization.
.. The best hope for breaking the cycle of retaliation would be for Trump to realize that the trade war is going badly, take a deep breath, and step back from the brink.
.. But who will tell him how things are really going?
.. Trump will dismiss reports of problems as fake news. Reality will take a long time to break through, if it ever does. And by then the world trading system may be broken beyond repair.

Trump’s Cynical Immigration Strategy Might Work for Him—Again

The lesson Trump has learned is not that saying shocking, untrue, and arguably racist things about immigrants is politically dangerous but that doing so helped him become President.

.. But others, Merkley told me, quickly saw political peril. “There were folks saying, ‘My goodness, shifting the attention from health care to immigration is a huge political mistake.’ ”

.. Senator Jeff Merkley said he considers Trump a “fear” candidate from a Party that had learned to run what he called the “three-terrors strategy”: pick three issues that scare the American public, and emphasize them at all costs.

.. Trump’s ability to gin up fears about illegal immigration, more than perhaps any other issue, won him the White House. Headed into a midterm election that will be won by the political party that can better rally its base, Trump has remained determined to talk about immigration, even when others in his party have resisted. Indeed, Republican leaders on Capitol Hill were furious with Trump as the immigration controversy spiralled out of control this week—a time they had planned to spend celebrating the G.O.P. tax cut, along with the general strength of the economy, which they hope to make the centerpiece of their fall campaign.

.. Trump, she told me, had a “freakishly stable” approval rating; in such a polarized moment, people know where they stand on the President.

.. voters in both parties are more motivated to vote than they were at any time in the previous twenty years.

.. The pollster agreed that it appeared to be a smart move on Trump’s part to keep talking about illegal immigration as much as the economy, even in the midst of the backlash over his tough policies. “On most issues, whether health care or taxes or the general mood, the Republicans are in a bad place,” the pollster said. “This is their one wedge issue that actually works for them.”

..

The lesson learned by Trump was not that saying shocking, untrue, and arguably racist things about immigrants was politically dangerous but that doing so helped him become President. “Remember I made that speech, and I was badly criticized? ‘Oh, it’s so terrible, what he said,’ ” he told the audience. “Turned out I was a hundred per cent right. That’s why I got elected.”

.. this is exactly what Merkley predicts Trump will do between now and November. He told me in our interview that he considers Trump a “fear” candidate from a Republican Party that had learned to run what Merkley called the “three-terrors strategy”: pick three issues that scare the American public, and emphasize them at all costs.
.. he predicted, illegal immigration will be one of Trump’s main rallying cries
.. Merkley acknowledged that his more cautious Democratic colleagues could well be right: changing the subject to immigration plays into the President’s hands. “I just feel like when you see children being mistreated, forget the politics,” Merkley told me. “You’ve got to call it out as completely wrong.”

 

 

 

 

President Trump, Deal Maker? Not So Fast

His 17 months in office have in fact been an exercise in futility for the art-of-the-deal president.

  1. No deal on immigration.
  2. No deal on health care.
  3. No deal on gun control.
  4. No deal on spending cuts.
  5. No deal on Nafta.
  6. No deal on China trade.
  7. No deal on steel and aluminum imports.
  8. No deal on Middle East peace.
  9. No deal on the Qatar blockade.
  10. No deal on Syria.
  11. No deal on Russia.
  12. No deal on Iran.
  13. No deal on climate change.
  14. No deal on Pacific trade.

.. Even routine deals sometimes elude Mr. Trump, or he chooses to blow them up.

.. “Trump is an anarchist,” said Jack O’Donnell, a former president of the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, who became a sharp critic. “It was his approach in business, it is his approach as president. It does not take good negotiating skills to cause chaos. Will this ever lead to concessions? Maybe, but concessions to what? Not anything that resembles a deal. I just do not see him getting much done.”

.. I don’t think it’s that counterintuitive to say that playing hardball will lead to better trade deals eventually,” said Andy Surabian, a Republican strategist and former aide to Mr. Trump.

.. We’ll see what the final outcome is, but it’s already a success just to get them to the table.”

.. the major tax-cutting package that passed late last year. But even that was negotiated mainly by Republican lawmakers, who said Mr. Trump did not seem engaged in the details.

.. And as legislative challenges go, handing out tax cuts without paying for them is not exactly the hardest thing that politicians do.

.. In effect, the agreement with Mr. Kim is like a deal to sell parts of Trump Tower without settling on a price, date, inspection or financing. It is not nearly as advanced as agreements that President Bill Clinton and Mr. Bush made with North Korea, both of which ultimately collapsed.

.. But no modern president has sold himself on the promise of negotiating skills more than Mr. Trump has. He regularly boasts that deals will be “easy” and “quick” and the best ever.

.. He has pulled out of Mr. Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, Paris climate accord and Trans-Pacific Partnership, but promises to negotiate better versions of those deal have gone nowhere.

.. Mr. Trump set his sights on what he called “the ultimate deal,” meaning peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. He said it was “frankly maybe not as difficult as people have thought.” A year later, his team is only now preparing to release a plan.

.. “What the president seemingly fails to understand is that in foreign policy and in trade policy — unlike in real estate transactions — the parties are all repeat players,” 

.. “The country you insult or seek undue advantage over today you will have to work with again tomorrow.”

.. Mr. Trump’s approach so far has been to make expansive demands and apply as much pressure as he can. He argues that crushing sanctions he imposed on North Korea forced Mr. Kim to meet. He now hopes to extract concessions from China, Canada and Europe after slapping punishing tariffs on them.

.. “Trump is a bilateral player, in part because that’s what he is used to from his building days, but also because he keeps himself the king, the decider, the strongman,” said Wendy Sherman, who was Mr. Obama’s lead negotiator on the Iran nuclear deal. “In the case of North Korea, however, he wouldn’t have gotten this far — which isn’t all that far — without the South Koreans or the Chinese.”

..  When he gave up on immigration on Friday, he blamed it on Senate Democrats, even though the immediate impasse was among House Republicans who do not need the other party to pass a bill.

.. “Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November,”

.. It was in effect an acknowledgment by Mr. Trump that he cannot reach across the aisle and can only govern with Republicans.

.. the challenge on immigration is that the president has to grapple not just with Democrats but also with Republicans who do not share his philosophy on the issue.

.. Mr. O’Donnell, the former casino president, said Mr. Trump has always oversold his deal-making skills. The casino he managed, Mr. O’Donnell noted, brought in $100 million a year yet still went bankrupt.

.. “The fact is, Trump casinos should have been one of the greatest success stories in the history of casino gambling, but bad deal making caused him to lose all three properties,” he said.