Politics is downstream from Roseanne

When I sat down last night to give the new Roseanne revival a try, I had no idea that plenty of other Americans were sitting down as well, a lot more, 18.1 million according to the ratings.  That’s not nutin’.

It was actually much as I remembered the old Roseanne; wise cracks and working class angst. Twenty years later, nobody’s life is really great.  Becky’s husband has died and she is resorting to desperate measures to make ends meet, Darlene has moved back home having lost her job, and DJ is back from the military, after serving in Syria.  But satisfying nostalgia isn’t what got me curious enough to tune in, it was this:

Roseanne is a Trump supporter.

At first glance, that seems a big leap from the character during the original run of the show.  She definitely pulled left during the original run of the show, as did  Roseanne Barr herself, but times change, and some of the same factors that would lead Roseanne Conner to pull the lever for Trump led leftist Roseanne Barr, who previously had run for the Presidential nomination of the Green Party in 2012, to support Trump in 2016.

In a way, that’s not that inconceivable a change.  Tens of thousands of Obama voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania went for Trump in 2016 during an election year in which Trump was the only candidate speaking to their concerns.

Television is a vast wasteland as far as the right is concerned, with virtually every network and every show on those networks as left leaning avatars for the Democratic Party.  Not always overtly, but the liberal worldview is the subtext behind virtually everything in pop culture.  In almost any other show, a Trump supporter would be a walk on villain; racist, sexist, and homophobic. We have not seen a sympathetic portrayal of a Trump supporter since ABC cancelled Last Man Standing last year.  I assume that the show, even with solid ratings, was a smug slap in the face to ABC executives so soon after the election.  But there’s been time to heal so it looks like TV is willing to give a character who’s politics are not to the left of Murphy Brown (another show being revived) another try.

Andrew Breitbart, the late conservative publisher was fond of saying that “politics is downstream from culture,” meaning that if political bias is imbedded in popular culture, than most of the political battle has already been won since those are the premises that everyone already accepts without thinking.  On TV, everyone knows that corporations are evil, and activists are good.  It’s as much a part of the scenery as a brownstone on Land & Order: SVU.

So it’s nice that there will be a Trump supporter shown on TV without devil horns.  And don’t get me started on how the devil gets a more sympathetic portrayal on TV than conservatives…

 

 

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Morning Joe Makes the Case for John Bolton

Although I can see the reason that Trump fired H.R. McMaster, Trump’s most recent National Security Advisor, I admit I’m not much of a fan of his replacement, John Bolton.

Bolton’s never met a war he didn’t like, and doesn’t see any diplomatic quagmire that can’t be fixed with a little pre-emptive bombing.  So…not my cup of tea, and no surprise, he was panic inducing to the whimpering girls and man-girls of MSNBC. In a Morning Joe video called, “Former Ambassador is scared by naming of John Bolton,” the shaking and shivering is cringe inducing.

0:35 Former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul says he’s scared by Bolton (man up you pussy!).

1:05 Former Ambassador McFaul says John Bolton will prefer military solutions in North Korea.

5:00 Reporter Courtney Kube makes gratuitous reference to The Hunger Games (?).

8:15 Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Evelyn Farkas frets that not only North Korea has to be nervous, our allies in the region have to be nervous. She notes that Bolton had previously been banned from negotiations by North Korea, who called him a “bloodsucker,” and “scum.”

11:30 McFaul says that Trump is putting together a team to go to war with North Korea.

Mika ended the segment by noting how disturbing it all was.

Ha!

Although this resembled the usual media hair on fire reaction to anything Trump does, it actually provided a little information that helped me put the Bolton hire into perspective. First, I don’t disagree that Bolton has publicly stated positions that polish his war-monger credentials, since he penned an op ed last month calling on a preemptive strike to eliminate North Korea’s missile program.

What was really interesting to me however, was that Bolton was a known player to the North Koreans, having been the Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security when he made a 2003 speech, in which “he described North Korean leader Kim Jong-il as a “tyrannical dictator” and saying that, for North Koreans under Kim’s rule, “life is a hellish nightmare.” In response, a North Korean spokesman said “such human scum and bloodsucker is not entitled to take part in the talks.””

And that’s when it hit me that Trump might be favoring him because of his bad reputation with the North Koreans, not in spite of it.

I’ve mentioned before my four theories of Trump’s operating system.  In this case, the typical liberal/establishment/media view would be theory one, Trump is all id who saw Bolton on Fox news who said some tough things, and Trump liked it.  But this looks like a theory three situation, in which Trump is putting on a show, in this case for the North Koreans.  Trump in negotiating likes for his opponents to think he will do anything, and what better optic to underscore that point than by firing McMaster for bomb thrower Bolton right before the beginning of high level negotiations with the outlaw state?

I’m suspecting the “chaos” of the revolving door White House might instead be more that Trump is hiring temps for piecemeal work.  In this case, Bolton was the perfect foil to frighten the Norks, thinking that a guy who has been advocating bombing of North Korea now has the President’s ear before the beginning of talks between the two countries.  Hopefully after Bolton has served his purpose he will be shown the revolving door.

 

Trump Out-Trumped by Congress

In sharp contrast with Trump’s successful win with January’s Schumer shutdown, it looks like in the fight over the Omnibus Spending Bill, Trump found himself out Trumped by Congress.  Don’t let it be said that Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have not learned anything since the Trump train rolled into town. McConnell and Ryan finally decided to pick up Art of the Deal, and see if they could use it against the President.

Turns out they can.

The bill was a terrible bill, not because of the overspending, which is sort of built into the woodwork of a Trump Presidency.  Trump, although he dislikes deficits in a general way, is not interested in slashing and burning the federal budget in the way Reagan wanted to.  On the critical issue of immigration, Sanctuary cities will continue to flout the law.  The bill continues to provide funding for them.  And although Trump did get some money for border security, the money can’t be used to build the wall; the signature election promise of this President.  If you can’t squeeze even one dollar of a 1.3 Trillion dollar spending bill to build the wall, you’re failing.

So how did the swamp win such a victory?  It helped that they ignored their own rule to provide 72 hours for members to review the bill, wrote the bill in secret, and most importantly, after the bill passed the senate, immediate took a recess and left town.  These bozos won’t be back for two weeks, meaning if Trump had vetoed the bill, we would have been stuck in government shut down mode until after Easter.  It would have been hard to turn around that sort of media attack putting the blame firmly on Trump for weeks, with Congressional Republicans agreeing, “Yep it’s Trump’s fault.”

After praising the bill earlier in the week, Trump began to realize that he was getting hosed, and during his press conference for the bill signing today, it was obvious that he was pissed stating, “There are a lot of things that we shouldn’t have had in this bill but we were in a sense forced if we want to build our military, we were forced to have. There are some things that we should have in the bill. But I say to Congress that I will never sign another bill like this again. I’m not going to do it again. Nobody read it, it’s only hours old.”

The truth is, Trump got taken because he forgot that his biggest enemies aren’t the Democrats, but the Republicans, who are actually in charge and have power, McConnell, and Ryan.  McConnell knows how to throw stop sticks in a President’s agenda; he did it to Obama for years.  Now he’s throwing his considerable legislative skills against an enemy far more threatening to insider interests, Donald Trump.

Hopefully a lesson was learned by Trump to not forget who the real enemies are.

Trump’s Immigration Proposal: 4D Chess or Tossing Crap on the Wall?

Just a few days after I wrote a post detailing how it appears Trump is putting on an immigration show as part of his deal making strategy, the White House rolled out a brand new set of immigration positions as a basis to negotiate with “Chuck and Nancy.”  To Trump supporters who’ve been with Trump because of immigration, they stink.

In exchange for 10- to 12-year path to citizenship for both DACA enrollees and other DACA-eligible illegal immigrants, estimated to be 1.8 million people, The White House wants:

25 Billion dollars for a border wall.

Restrict family chain migration to spouses and minor children.

Eliminate the visa lottery program.

To a Trump supporter, this is giving away the farm.  Nobody was even talking about the 1.8 million possible DACA eligible populations before.  Compared to what was being offered before, this is a major give on amnesty.  If I were a Democrat I would have jumped on this deal quick before Stephen Miller could re-strengthen his hypnotic spell on Trump.

But I’m not a Democrat so instead of getting Trump’s John Hancock on the deal quickly, “Chuck and Nancy” rejected it out of hand, with Schumer stating that it flies in the face of what most Americans believe and Pelosi tweeting that the proposal was part of a “campaign to make America white again.”

What to make of this?

First, the Democrats are crazier than I thought.  They have pushed themselves into such an extreme position on immigration that they can’t accept any deal with Trump, because they now philosophically cannot accept any restriction on immigration at all.

Second, it looks like Trump may have actually pushed them there.  When I first heard of Trump’s immigration proposal, with a gigantic amnesty, I was not worried in the least.  Don’t say that I can’t learn from experience.  We’ve been here many times before and as I suspected, it seems it was just part of a negotiating strategy and wasn’t a real proposal.

Based on my four theories of how Trump negotiates, I find myself seeing elements less of a wrestling work, like the shutdown negotiations, and more a Scott Adams-esque 4D Chess maneuver. The proposal seemed deliberately written to be overly generous to the aspects of the immigration battle that Democrats publicly support (the poor DACA kids!  The only country they’ve ever known!) with just a few touches that are either not well known by the public, or if they are, not well supported, like chain migration and the visa lottery program.  Should be a win/win for the Democrats to accept the deal right?

But the visa lottery is popular with the Congressional Black Congress, although not with Black people in general. And chain migration is part of the long term Democratic plan to fill the country with unskilled, social services dependent foreigners, all running on automatic. Current family migration policies are worth far more towards that goal than 1.8 million amnesties; people who won’t be able to bring in their less skilled and non-English speaking relatives.

So with the absolutely best deal they would have ever gotten roundly rejected by the Democrats, I think this puts Trump in a much stronger position for negotiations. I’m anxious to see how this plays out.

 

Trump Deals Himself a Shutdown Win

For the first time in my lifetime, Republicans have actually won a government shutdown fight.  Granted, it was a Democratic shut down, but still, the media tried to present it as the Republicans fault.  However pesky facts eventually ruined the narrative.

So how did the “stable genius” pull it off?  I’ve written before about the four theories of Trump’s operating system:

  1. Trump is Insane
  2. Trump is Mr Magoo
  3. Trump is putting on a show
  4. Trump is a 4D Chess master

In the post Fire and Fury era, the media take on Trump’s behavior is that he’s a doddering old man with dementia, who constantly needed his staff to tell him what his position is.  Meanwhile Trump is agreeing with every Democratic suggestion, nodding his head, and driving Anne Coulter to pull out every bit of her long blond hair.

The thing is, I’ve seen this show before.

Candidate Trump in August of 2016 had a televised Town Hall with Sean Hannity in which he seemed to backtrack on every single immigration campaign promise he had made, appearing to soften on amnesty and basically toss away the entire raison d’etre of his campaign.  Supporters or at least supporters who were with Trump because of immigration were aghast.  What was he thinking?

A week later, Trump announced a trip to Mexico to meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.  While in Mexico Trump played nice with the Mexican President and pulled off the statesman act.  Then he jetted off to Phoenix to deliver an immigration speech in which he double downed on every hardline immigration proposal he had proposed. His supporters?  Cheering and back on board!  The MSM?  Stunned, confused, and angry after declaring that Trump was growing on immigration, and predicting the speech would reveal a new, softened pro amnesty Trump.  Instead they got the opposite and they just couldn’t process.  This is a cycle that has repeated itself multiple times since then and will no doubt continue.

So let’s break down what Trump did.

First, he performed preparation of the battlefield by doing a public softening of his immigration proposals.  This made it easier to go to Mexico and pull off the statesman act without creating a confrontation with the Mexican President.  This clearly has elements of a 4D Chess master.

Second, he swung back and fired up the base by standing firm on the immigration principles that had rocketed him to win the Republican primary in the first place.  His supporters, after descending into the depths of despair, suddenly rebounded.  This was the wrestling show aspect to the Trump show, or maybe it’s more like a Trump Opera; a Trumpera.  That the media looked like idiots after their confident predictions was icing on the cake.

This basic structure has been repeated over and over.  Overall, it’s theory three; Trump is pulling off a professional wrestling work, with a storyline that includes massive swings of emotion by the audience, fear and betrayal, and then a swing of reproachment and then glorious victory.

It’s basically the plotline of The Fate of the Furious.

And this is what Trump pulled off dealing DACA, and Chuck Schumer, off the table and into a total surrender.  And as long as the media and the Democrats can’t view Trump as anything more than an emotional, childlike idiot with dementia, it should keep working.

Predictions for 2018

In spite of my lackluster performance on my predictions for 2017, I thought I would give it another try.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Financing will be secured for a southern border wall and construction will begin.  In spite of Anne Coulter’s frowny face, there will finally be movement on the wall.

The Mueller investigation will officially wrap up before the fall midterm elections.  You can’t continue to draw a paycheck for nothing forever.  Muller will have to wrap this nonsense up this year and what better time to do it than before the midterms?

Mueller’s Investigation will not show any collusion between Trump or the Trump campaign and Russia to “hack” the election.  But how could it?  It’s ridiculous.  If there really was any information along these lines, it would have leaked long ago.

The Republicans will keep control of the Senate after the 2018 elections.  This isn’t a prediction so much as a statement of math.  The Democrats are defending more senate seats than the Republicans and 5 of them are in red States.

The Republicans will keep control of the House after the 2018 elections.  The conventional wisdom as of this writing is that there will be a blue wave that gives the Democrats a good shot at winning the House.  From that point, one assumes: Impeachment, then…magically Hillary?  Not holding my breath.

The price of Bitcoin will crash in 2018.  This is not because I know anything about digital currencies, but painful experience has taught me a lot about bubbles, and it looks like Bitcoin is in one.

At least 3 terrorist attacks in Western Europe with double digit casualties (Injuries and or deaths). This one came through last year, so I have to ask myself, have the Europeans learned anything?  I’m predicting no.  They have not.

Kim Jong-un will still be the supreme head honcho of North Korea throughout 2018.  So no successful coups and no major military assaults that will take down the regime.

US Housing prices will continue to steadily increase throughout the year.  Again with the bubbles, we’re not near one for housing.  So don’t sell your home and put the profits into Bitcoin.

There will be an infrastructure bill that will pass with some Democratic votes.  The Democrats have been in lockstep in voting no the past year but the promise of money going to localities and union pressure will peel off the normal leadership opposition.

2017 Prediction Wrap Up

Well this year was not one of my better performances.  After 2016, I guess I got a bit cocky, so I’ll have to lower my expectations, but I did win a few and lose a few, but 2017 was not my year in predictive punditry. Still, let’s look at the results:

The Winners

At least 3 terrorist attacks in Western Europe resulting in double digit casualties. This should have been a no brainer but actually it’s a win on a technicality.  There were multiple terrorist attacks all year but it took until the Manchester Attack on May 22nd before we had a double digit casualty attack, 22 killed and 59 injured.  This was followed by the Barcelona Truck attack on August 17th, with 13 killed and more than 100 injured.  The technicality comes in on the fact that I didn’t specify causalities as fatalities. So although in Western Europe there were only two attacks with fatalities in the double digits, there were several other attacks; the March bridge attack in London with 5 deaths and 29 injuries, the April truck attack in Stockholm with 5 deaths and 14 injuries, the other London bridge attack in June with 8 deaths and 48 injuries, and a September train attack in London with no deaths but 29 injuries. So Western Europe did have a full year of terrorism, but many of the attacks didn’t quite push up the fatalities in a way that the Islamic State might have hoped.

The FED will raise interest rates by at least three-quarters of a point. Janice Yellen lived…up?  Or is it down; to my expectations and more and raised interest rates.

Articles of Impeachment against Donald Trump will be introduced in the House. I’m definitely claiming this one as a win.  Congressman Steve Cohen introduced articles of impeachment last month.  My only surprise was what took so long.

The Losers

Angela Merkel wins the Nobel Peace Prize. A funny idea, but no, she didn’t get it.

Most of the Obama Care (ACA) legislation will be repealed. I was really surprised by this.  I figured that in spite of the ongoing Republican Civil War if there was one thing I thought the Republican Party was united on was the idea of getting rid of Obamacare, however it turns out that delivering defeats to President Trump was a more important goal of the Republican leadership.

There will be at least one assassination attempt against Donald Trump this year. Thankfully wrong on this one.  That’s not to say there have not been assassination threats against Trump; I see them almost every week online, but an actual public attempt to take him out hasn’t happened this year.  The last one that I know of happened in Nevada in 2016.

Marine Le Pen will be elected President of France. This definitely falls within the “close but no cigar” category. Emmanuel Macron beat Le Pen, in an election that turned out be just as weird as the 2016 US election was.

So getting 3 out of 7 isn’t great.  I failed this year’s challenge. That’s OK though, I can learn from my mistakes, and still beat never trump neo conservative Bill Kristol’s wretched predictive record!