The Morning Joe Prediction Challenge

Amidst the usual freak-outs and hair pulling about Trump, North Korea, Trump, Mueller, Trump, the RUSSIANS, and of course Trump, Joe Scarborough had time to be fumed at Trump for yet another reason: This time it’s personal.  Joe’s good personal friend Mark Sanford lost his House seat primary to pro-Trumper Katie Arrington.  Whether or not Trump’s tweet calling Sanford “unhelpful” and saying he was better off in Argentina had anything to do with it is hard to say, but it sure wasn’t helpful to Sanford.  This of course led to another amusing unhinged rant by Joe.  Check this out!

There is a lot to unpack in this ten minute segment, too much in fact!  But what I wanted to focus on starts at around the 8:30 mark, when Joe declares his prediction, that there will be a “massive Democratic wave this fall.”

You heard it here first folks (because few people other than me watch the show).

I’ve also made a prediction, noted here, that there will NOT be a “massive Democratic wave” and that the GOP will keep control of the House. So who is the better political analyst, Joe Scarborough or me? Time will tell, but if I’m right, Joe should fly me to New York and feed me, and if I’m wrong, I’ll write a mea culpa on my inaccurate prediction.

Gentlemen, place your bets.

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Trump Flips the G-7 Script

Trade has been a large component of the weekend news blather due to the G-7 Comedy Revue hosted by Canada with President Trump leading the charge against America’s allies.  After being lambasted by the leaders of the G-7 countries for increasing tariffs against them, Trump dropped a couple of bombs.  The first was the suggestion that maybe Russia should rejoin the group, causing spasms in anti-Trump Muellerites (“I knew it!  Got ‘em!”). And the second was that maybe the G-7 shouldn’t have any tariffs or subsidies between them at all.  With that, Trump drops the mic, says peace out losers, I’m going to Singapore to bring global peace…later.

That

Is

Hilarious!

Somehow, Trump manages to turn it around, after being criticized as a protectionist; he leaves the G-7 meeting dropping the most free trade friendly proposal ever, leaving it to the establishment class to explain why Trump’s protectionism is bad, but that Trump’s free trade ideas are also bad because…TRUMP!

Although the Singapore summit may drown out a lot of the usual media backlash to Trump’s G-7 smack down, it’s hard to not be in awe of how Trump turned the criticism of him on trade right back on the other members of the G-7, demanding they liberalize their economies.  Something of course, they have no intention of doing, thereby illustrating Trump’s point that free trade isn’t free trade if it only runs one way.

And in a related trade note, that standard bearer of the conventional wisdom, The Atlantic, ran a piece Friday called, Normalizing Trade Relations with China Was a Mistake. Admittedly, it was written by Reihan Salam, The Atlantic’s one of two token conservatives remaining (after giving Kevin Williamson the boot), but I thought it was interesting that Atlantic Editor in Chief Jeffery Goldberg retweeted the article, calling it “bracing.” Goldberg is as conventional wisdom as conventional wisdom gets, and if he’s willing to take another look at a position that he’s slavishly supported for years, that may signal the beginning of the establishment looking at trade Trump’s way, rather than K Street’s way.

That would be big.  More winning?

Why a Balanced Budget Amendment Should be a GOP Priority

Fiscal Discipline was struck another blow this week when Rand Paul’s balanced budget plan was voted down in the senate after gaining the support of only 20 senators.  It’s no surprise that fiscal restraint isn’t popular, but that’s an embarrassingly low number of allegedly Republican senators (obviously no Democrats voted for it).

Rand’s version of the “Penny Plan” would have capped federal spending and restrict spending growth to 1% annually.  In DC terms, that’s an austere cut. No one can really claim to be shocked that the GOP would be against it.  It has virtually no history of the kind of fiscal discipline that it claims to espouse.   But I’m not really grieving about this plan going down.  A plan to promise cuts in the future is about as useless as a Paul Ryan show vote on a theoretical budget that will never be implemented.  It’s simply theater.

Far more serious was the loss in the House back in April of the Balanced Budget Amendment.  This hardy perennial was defeated by failing to get a two thirds vote, 233 in favor to 184 against.  Interestingly the House was able to rally to pass a 1.3 Trillion Omnibus spending bill only a few weeks prior to that vote.  I guess they can agree on some things.  Just not on some of the most important things.

If you want to see who voted yea or nay, check it out here.

If you are a fiscal conservative or even someone who doesn’t want the country to collapse in fiscal disaster, there is no greater priority than a Balanced Budget Amendment.  Unfortunately there are many factions on the right who oppose a Balanced Budget Amendment, such as the Club for Growth and The Heritage Foundation.  These groups oppose anything that might lead to an increase in taxes.  Better deficit spending as far as the eye can see than an extra penny for taxes.

This is extremely shortsighted.

If in fact, Demography is Destiny (the working hypothesis I’ve been going by for years), at some point the Republicans as they are currently configured will be untenable as a national party.  Once they lose control of national power for good, then here comes the California model of governance for the rest of the nation.  California, in its plan to be the next Venezuela, seemingly has no stop sticks from preventing it from going off the rails, yet they put a stop on a plan to provide single payer healthcare for the entire state, an idea that the majority of people and politicians in the state support.

Why is that?

The reason obviously is that they couldn’t pay for it.  It would have doubled the state budget, requiring massive tax increases in a state that already pays high taxes.

And that’s the rub.  The trick to keeping Democrats from fiscally destroying the country after all the GOP brakes are gone is making them pay for it by raising taxes; something that ultimately, they are as loath to do as any cigar chomping, monocle wearing, GOP banker type.

One of the few long term priorities that can outlast the GOP of the Bushes, Ryan, and McConnell is a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution.  It actually forces the difficult choices that we’ve been avoiding for decades.  A super majority of Democrats running the Intersectional States of America decades from now would still be constrained in funding Single Payer, UBI, and assorted other fantasies if there were a Balanced Budget Amendment.  Taxes might be high and the economy might stink, but that’s better than the currency being worthless.

 

 

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…

 

 

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’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.