Will Trump Be Rolled by the Republican Establishment?

President elect Trump has been such a shape-shifter over the course of his campaign that what he really stands for, if anything other than his oversized ego, will be revealed over the coming months. Yet as much as it seems quixotic to believe than such a rank novice to politics could walk into the biggest job in the world and do anything other than make an utter hash of it, Trump has managed to beat astonishing odds thus far. And perhaps as interesting, some savvy contacts have suggested, analogous to Trump’s narrow electoral college path to victory, there are similarly routes available to Trump by which he could implement the programs that appear to be core to his campaign, and would result in him holding on to his base and even extending his appeal.

In an important video we posted today, political scientist Tom Ferguson underscored a fact that the mainstream media would very much like the public to forget in its continuing demonization of Trump: both parties abandoned their bases. Trump found power in the street by appealing directly to a large swathe of those abandoned voters. If he is to make use of that power, he must control enough of the apparatus of government to implement policies that deliver tangible benefits to them.

Trump has zigged and zagged. Recall he sounded almost leftist when demolishing his primary opponents, and then moved to the right in order to get a minimal level of cooperation from the party and look more like a traditional Republican. We’ll see in due course what version of Trump is the one that the voters got. Antifa summarized Trump’s victory speech, which is the best approximation of what he deems his priorities to be now, and pointed out why he will have an uphill battle:

In Trump’s acceptance speech he said four encouraging things:

* America wants to live in peace with all other nations — no more wars, no more invasions.

* He mentioned that he has over 200 retired generals and admirals consulting with him, which raises the possibility that this was just maybe a Pentagon-led insurrection against Hillary’s plans for WWIII. The Pentagon has never won an honest war game against Iran, and most admirals admit that our sixteen aircraft carriers are just fat, slow targets for swarms of supersonic Russian and Chinese and Iranian missiles. The Pentagon doesn’t want a real war; they just want more money for new toys.

* He said we are going to rebuild our infrastructure here at home.

* He said we will create millions of jobs here rebuilding our infrastructure.

None of that is edible to a neoliberal.

Trump appears to be at a serious disadvantage by virtue of not having control of his party and lacking a deep bench of experts that he can turn to, much the less put into key positions. Thus based on a superficial analysis, it would seem easy for the Republican hackocracy to thwart Trump. He has literally thousands of positions in the executive branch to fill. It is Republican old hands, and not he, that has a rolodex of suitable players to fill those slots. But those candidates would be loyal to their long-standing corporate allies, not Trump.

However, in reality, what Trump needs to have is the loyalty of a surprisingly small number of key positions, such as economic policy makers (such as the Secretary of the Treasury, the members of the Council of Economic Advisers) and key players in the military-surveillance state. Contrary to my expectations, John Helmer, who saw first hand how the Democratic party rolled Jimmy Carter, another outsider who wound up being largely stymied when he came to Washington by not getting effective control of the bureaucracy, thinks Trump can roust the neocons, which is critical to one of his popular promises: winding down our wasteful conflicts. Via e-mail:

If Trump has the conviction and stamina, he can eliminate neocons from State and Pentagon, and purge CIA ops. The advisors available, already declared on his side (excepting Negroponte), know how to do this.

I remember the Carter Transition well – and my dismay grew as no matter what we recommended as staff, Carter kept making appointments that were certain to hamstring his policy choices – Brzezinski was the first and most damaging. I did better at restricting all appointees with Harvard backgrounds (excepting myself), but Carter, despite his capacity to cogitate, study, his gubernatorial experience, and the qualities of his wife Rosalynn, he suffered from an inferiority complex and the need to please. I blamed the ghost of Rickover at the time. Trump doesn’t have nerve endings in that part of his body.

However, Trump also has some advantages. By virtue of having run such a lean and unconventional campaign, and by relying heavily on small dollar donations, Trump has to give far fewer patronage positions away to major donors than his predecessors. Helmer independently made the same point: “Who are the top-5 people he thinks he owes for his election?”

I’m not sure I have a good list, and readers who have been watching the Trump show more closely are very much encouraged to correct and improve it. These are the names that I am most certain belong in the top 5:

Chris Christie

Newt Gingrich

Rudy Giuliani

Steve Mnuchin

Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner

Ivanka is the only good name on this list.

Trump has other long-standing business allies, such Carl Ichan, who he has named as his pick for Secretary of the Treasury (and before you reel, as I did when I first heard his name, he is in favor of both major infrastructure spending and running deficits. If he were to turn out to be a Republican that didn’t foist the usual horror of public-private partnerships on us, that would compensate for a lot of other warts). Wilbur Ross is also close to Trump and not as terrible as one might think (he bought distressed mortgages and doing deep principal mods, a successful model with the Obama Administration chose to ignore). But he also has some more horrorshows, like Steve Feinberg of Cerberus (but his razing of industrial America may force Trump to keep him at arm’s length).

Moreover, as the Associated Press points out, Trump’s transition team has a solid representation of Republican insiders, including Mike Pence, who Trump as repeatedly slapped in public for crossing him:

Trump’s senior team huddled privately to begin a more focused period of transition planning. The group included the transition chairman, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and daughter Ivanka Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner, among others.

Of all the names involved with Trump, the one who is the most troubling is Giuliani, who is slotted to be Trump’s attorney general. If it were not for 9/11 rescuing his reputation, Giuliani would have gone down as a not-well-regarded New York mayor. He took credit for bringing down crime in the city, when crime rates fell in big cities all over the US in the same time frame. The big culprit instead appears to be the delayed impact of getting lead out of gasoline. In his second term, Giuliani put most of his energy into pointless fights, like his war on ferrets, his nixing every petition to demonstrate in front of City Hall (which judges always overruled), and threatening to defund the Brooklyn Museum of Art unless it cancelled an art show that included a feces-coated rendering of the Virgin Mary.

Giuliani is a worrisome choice not only for his disregard for civil liberties and his pettiness, but also his affinity for unqualified and crooked toadies. Giuliani canned his first police chief, William Bratton, because he was upstaging the mayor as a crime buster, and replaced him with the notably underqualified Bernard Kerik, whose main reason for elevation appeared to be that he had been part of Giuliani’s protective detail. To keep a long story short, Kerik joined Guilaini at his investigation and security firm, Giuliani partners, and later sentenced to four years in prison for tax fraud and making false statements to the White House during a background check. It has to be noted that Giuliani Partners has had some very unsavory clients, such as (per Wikipedia):

Hank Asher, an admitted drug smuggler and millionaire founder of companies that perform electronic information gathering (datamining) on individuals…

…Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin, in a case against the Drug Enforcement Administration, Giuliani Partners negotiated a $2 million fine and no further penalty for what the DEA called “lax security” at plants that produced the drug, which the DEA said was being used as a recreational drug. The lead DEA investigator later said that Purdue Pharma escaped harsher penalties in the case because of Giuliani’s connections to government officials.[4] Giuliani later represented Purdue Pharma in a recently settled case in which the DEA accused the company of marketing OxyContin by playing down its level of addictive properties. Giuliani met with government lawyers six times to help negotiate a settlement in the case.

Purdue Pharma is the company arguably most responsible for savaging the communities that turned to Trump as rescuer. As Anne Case and Angus Deaton pointed out in a seminal study, the lifespans of less educated whites aged 45 to 54 had actually fallen in a heretofore unrecognized AIDS-level health crisis. The biggest cause of the increase in deaths was addiction to opiates and alcohol. But will anyone in the right wing press point out that their supposed law and order hero has gotten huge amounts of blood money from their neighbors and possibly even family members?

So while there is some reason to think that Trump might remarkably be able to deliver on his plan to rein in the war mongerers, the odds for the rest of his populist promises don’t look so hot based on his list of advisors. Stay tuned.

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  1. John Merryman

    Trump is a trickle down proponent, but it occurs to me he probably has an important constituency in all those mid level bureaucrats and military that would have been totally screwed had they done a fraction of what Hillary did. Which might affect his center of gravity, rather than his personal impulses.

    The country has been trying to reset, from old Hope and Change himself, to Tea Party and Occupy, to Sanders and Trump. So the Democrats will have to shift somewhat left now.

    The real status quo isn’t politics, so much as it is economics and that our financial circulation system is corrupted. My argument is we have to look at the state as the central nervous system and finance as the heart and arteries of society. So just as the monarchists argued “mob rule” could never work, until monarchy grew so inefficient and corrupt that there was no alternative, so to does the financial system hide under the rubric of “private enterprise.” Yet what allows the market to function in the first place is a neutral medium of exchange. Which makes money and finance the very essence of a public utility. We own the money in our pockets about the same way we own the section of road we are on. It’s not our picture on it, we are not responsible for maintaining its value and we don’t hold the copyrights.
    The value is a function of money being a contract, not a commodity. As a contract, the value is the flip side of an obligation, i.e. debt and that is why the entire economy is based on pushing people ever further into debt and then selling this obligation to other people as a form of savings. If people understand how basic the principle is, even if the actual process is inordinately complex, then they will understand the system really is based on trusting other people. The premise is the institutional structure makes this possible in a large context, but relying on middlemen to negotiate that trust is also creating opacity to harbor corruption.
    Yet we are led to believe it is some form of commodity that is mined or manufactured. Even bitcoin is based in the assumption of it as a restricted commodity. Which creates the illusion of personal possession, not group connection.

    As the Disaster Capitalists say, “Never waste a good crisis.” Which when this bubble of unsustainable promises bursts, will be an excellent opportunity to question the whole system.

    1. RabidGandhi

      So the Democrats will have to shift somewhat left now.

      After every electoral defeat (2010, 2004, 2000…) the Democrats have moved rightward not leftward (fun note: they also move rightward after victories as well, eg 2008, 1996). So what makes you think they will move leftward this time?

      The Democrat Party will forget nothing and learn nothing.

      1. Steven

        If the Democratic Party is too stupid to purge itself of its Clinton and Obama viruses and return to its FDR roots (minus the world wars), then it is truly irredeemable.

        P.S. I really liked John Merryman’s description of money:

        The value is a function of money being a contract, not a commodity. As a contract, the value is the flip side of an obligation, i.e. debt and that is why the entire economy is based on pushing people ever further into debt and then selling this obligation to other people as a form of savings. If people understand how basic the principle is, even if the actual process is inordinately complex, then they will understand the system really is based on trusting other people.

      2. John Merryman

        Keep in mind the Democrats started as the party of slavery and the Republicans as the abolitionists.
        Now it’s the Republicans swinging, God knows where, but not really further right. Give it a few years to let the dust settle.

    2. L

      He is a tricle-down proponent but in his defense there is a categorical difference in the way money trickles down from Financial products (Clinton’s favoed approach) and from building a big building (Trump’s). One employs few people and generally predicated on unemployment or foreclosures. The other actually puts people to work in a tangible way.

      Both are unequal but I have noted that a lot of Trump’s policy positions look a little different when you remember that professionally he sees himself as a developer with a lot of employees not as a trader making money on quick hedges.

      1. nobody

        “If an analyst does not start with the first principles from which Trump starts, then the analysis inevitably goes astray and becomes increasingly a projection of the analyst. Trump’s basic motif, the foundation of his thinking, is that of the builder, focused on construction and development, of investing in specific places with which he can identify, and of making a heroic comeback. He repeats it often enough… Understanding where Donald J. Trump stands on most positions, means going to the roots of his basic personal philosophy. His model for “American Greatness” is intimately tied up, in his words, with his “proven track record in business,” his “well-known success story and record of building residential and office buildings and developing public spaces” (Trump, 2015, pp. xi, 4).”

        Max Forte, “Donald Trump and Empire: An Assessment

    3. TheCatSaid

      Right now the financial industry and politics as usual both favor deliberate opaqueness rather than transparency. No wonder there is so much endemic corruption. For this reason I see financial corruption and political corruption as inevitable outcomes of a system that allows and supports obfuscation and secrecy.

      David E Martin has expressed similar thoughts, to your comment, in his case in the context of Integral Accounting which is his way of accounting for the aspects you mention.

      He has applied his way of interacting with the world for over 20 years, including commercial activities around intangible assets and their honest valuation so they can serve as security for lending; to valuing and managing IP assets for large corporations or small companies & individuals, to developing ways that IP of indigenous communities can be protected and developed–via Heritable Innovation Trust–and ways that IP can be made freely accessible–via Global Innovation Commons.

      He pointed out a key aspect of any honorable exchange–the only kind he considers worthy of participation–is full transparency on all sides of a transaction.

      On the political level, that is a concept Martin contributed to The Pirate Party’s constitution: rather than focusing on specific policies, the principle of transparency is key. That’s the only way we can have informed consent, isn’t it?!

      1. John Merryman

        I think the concept of circulation is primary. Much like blood in the body must circulate, or it becomes toxic very quickly.
        We try to treat it as both medium of exchange and store of value, but the body stores value as fat.
        Money is a voucher system and too many vouchers will destroy it, but people naturally like to save it, which pulls it out of circulation, making it necessary to keep adding more. Eventually the value starts to weaken and then people start to unload some, further weakening it, etc.
        So if this aspect was transparent, i.e., taught in elementary school, people would understand value has to be created and stored through other means, such as stronger communities and healthier environments, aka the commons. Money is a tool, not a God, or a cancer.

        1. BecauseTradition

          Money is a tool, John Merryman

          Yes, and beyond legitimate liquidity needs, say $250,000 US per adult citizen, people and business should pay to rent it, i.e. negative interest. This will simultaneously punish hoarding and be a reserve drain to provide more fiscal space for deficit spending.

          1. Tim

            Do the words capital formation mean anything to you? We have none right now, due to low rates which hamstrings real investment in the economy, as does the use of debt

            Use of debt should be last resort, not first. The foundation of wealth is not feeding the rentseekers, private or public. Paying rent to have money is a terrible idea.

            1. John Merryman

              Keep in mind that accruing interest is on the side of rent seeking. The bank turns around and lends it to someone else and gives you some of the interest.
              It isn’t a black and white situation, but a matter of circulating value efficiently.
              A 100 years ago, Henry Ford paid his workers twice what he had to, because he understood the people building his cars had to be able to afford them, for the whole situation to work. Now the system grows by expanding globally and extracting as much value as possible, to essentially support a wealth race among the top fraction, rather than keeping it cycling back into the system and investing in longer term goals.
              The result is a basic wave pattern, just very high and steep on the up side and low and far on the down side. Live and learn.

            2. BecauseTradition

              Do the words capital formation mean anything to you?

              Yes, they do hence the $250,000 US per individual adult citizen negative-interest-free account space* – beyond which negative interest should apply.

              We have none right now, due to low rates

              Huh? You want to save then save but don’t expect a risk-free return of more than 0% or do you believe in welfare proportional to wealth, not need?

              which hamstrings real investment in the economy,

              How does welfare proportional to wealth promote real investment? It doesn’t.

              Paying rent to have money is a terrible idea.

              The rent would go to the monetary sovereign, the creator of fiat, not to the banks which would also have to pay negative interest.

              *At a Postal Checking Service or equivalent as a replacement for government provided deposit insurance. Likewise, reserve balances at the central bank should be subjected to negative interest too but starting at $0 since banks aren’t people.

              1. Tim

                Risk free rate of return should actually be equal to inflation or it isn’t risk free. We don’t have capital formation because people are being forced into high yield, and because savers cannot accrue money to spent

                Businesses and even some entrepreneurial individuals would likely want to accrue more than $250k before investing it in a specific adventure.

                The current interest rate environment encourage taking out loans to do business which is inefficient, because the interest goes to the banks, and the opportunity cost is too high. (right investment at right time not possible.

                I do appreciate the idea that the interest goes to the government not the banks which is what is currently happening when people are taking out loans from banks to fund investment.

                Like the above commenter I think of saving vs debt as a phase shift of a sign wave. We are constantly sitting on the forward edge of the wave which makes us inflexible and unable to react proactively to opportunity or danger.

                I think we need an “infrastructure bank” where the US loans direct to the market, and also is place to deposit savings at a return equal to CPI.

                1. BecauseTradition

                  Risk free rate of return should actually be equal to inflation or it isn’t risk free. Tim

                  Nice try but that would also be welfare (in the form of inflation protection) proportional to wealth. Instead, let’s eliminate the ability of the central bank to create fiat for the private sector since that is obviously a potential source of price inflation and morally bogus to boot.

                  Businesses and even some entrepreneurial individuals would likely want to accrue more than $250k before investing it in a specific adventure. Tim

                  Then rent the unused negative-interest-free account space of those with less than $250,000. Or buy less negative to 0% yeilding sovereign debt. Or issue common stock. Or take risks to build your capital.

                  I think we need an “infrastructure bank” where the US loans direct to the market, Tim

                  What would be the basis for the loans? Would the rich still be the most so-called credit worthy? Haven’t we had enough of that yet?

                  1. John Merryman

                    What about a public banking system similar to our current varieties of government, with local, regional and national banks serving their various levels of the economy, as public utilities? Then profits go to supporting the infrastructure needed for those levels of the economy. Thus tying taxation in as an integral part of the capital formation process, as the services provided are an integral part of the economy and society.

                    1. BecauseTradition

                      Then profits go to supporting the infrastructure needed for those levels of the economy. John Merrymen

                      You mean sharing profits with the private sector for the use of the PUBLIC’S credit? How is that not another fascist public/private partnership?

                      Look, if interest rates in fiat are too high there’s an ethical way to lower them – equal fiat distributions to all adult citizens.

                      Besides, the banks will cry unfair competition and justifiably too.

                      Let’s not open that can of worms; government should not be in the lending business PERIOD. Grants and scholarships based on need or merit, yes. Loans, no.

                    2. John Merryman

                      Then maybe we should go back to the banks issuing their own currency and they will be far more careful about monetary bubbles developing.
                      It seems that with the Federal Reserve, we are already halfway to a public financial system, with the public responsible for a stable currency and the banks reaping the rewards from it.

                    3. BecauseTradition

                      Then maybe we should go back to the banks issuing their own currency and they will be far more careful about monetary bubbles developing. John Merryman

                      Logically, we should not care much what 100% private banks with 100% voluntary depositors do since they would no longer hold the economy hostage via the payment system.

                      Still some concern about interest rates is valid and means to ethically lower them should be established such as equal fiat distributions to all adult citizens if/when needed.

    4. Eduardo Quince

      the Democrats will have to shift somewhat left now

      Any such shift would be purely lip service (at least until lip service proves ineffective)

      1. sharonsj

        It has already proved ineffective because nobody believed it. Hillary could say all the “left” things she wanted, but progressives, like myself, felt she was usurping Bernie’s platform just to get elected. We, too, wanted real change–just not the kind Trump and his alt-right minions will bring us.

    5. Yves Smith Post author

      See the video by Ferguson today on the Wall Street-identity politics coalition. Ferguson argues that the Dems will find it impossible to give up Wall Street money. The fact that almost to a person, Clinton-sympathetic pundits lashed out at voters rather than engaging in any self-reflection indicates how deep seated the antipathy to the left is. This is the Iron Law of Institutions: too many incumbents have too much to lose personally if the party were to go in a more left-leaning direction. It would be better if I were proven wrong, but the fact that the Dems got away for so long with abusing one of its core constituencies, unions, and appeared to profit from it says it will be very hard for the party to get out of its own way.

      1. Tim

        Will we be at the point in 2020 to have Trump (assuming he has success) run under a new party consisting of current independents and disenfranchised republicans and democrats?

        1. Jack

          That is an interesting thought. I can see that happening assuming Trump has a relatively decent first term. Or, is it possible he might start his own party before the end of his term? Can a President do that? I know other politicians have switched parties after elected. Trump starting his own party would really, really, allow him to indulge that ego of his as well.

        2. Lyle James

          Trump is already leading a third party — one he cobbled together from disheartened Sanders supporters like me, blue collar types which had previously given up voting, rural Republicans who had previously given up on their Golf Club leaders, and a bunch of other constituencies that have felt left out.

          He’s not a Republican, as the Republican leadership made all-too-clear. And he’s not quite a Democrat but has some old FDR impulses (infrastructure rebuilding and the like). If he sticks to being a pragmatist and can stave off the ideologues in his inner circle, he might just do something effective.

      2. PH

        Agreed. They will tell themselves public was just temporarily mad.

        Only the specter of primary opponents will get their attention. And maybe not then; may need winning primary candidates to be elected.

  2. TomDority

    Instead of all those talking heads and garbage talkers continuing to beat a drum about what a baffoon Trump is…..should they not use methods that play to Trump’s known propensity to want to be the best at being president. Like, maybe explaining that two types of business exist….one extractive, rentier…the fire sector and financialization that Trump was beaten over the head with….tax the crap out of it. The other business is productive….employee people to create something others want…..like building infrustructure, affordable housing, clean energy, projects to increase biodiversity and habitability of the planet etc……encourage that business.

    1. nick weech

      just as Michael Hudson has been saying for years and years! Will it actually happen though- the chance is just about nil? Why should Donald care unless he’s got a reason that makes sense to his skewed sense of himself; and he may have a shrewder head than we suppose; and by winning he’s got some momentum so he might move quickly and intuitively do the Right Things for the economy and not Wall St Rentiers

  3. Andrew Foland

    John Bolton for State? Tells you how much Trump is interested in implementing a bold new vision for American policy.

    Trump has no idea and no interest. Trump just wants to be called “Mr. President”. If you want to foresee what a Trump administration will be like, then ask yourself, ” What would Mike Pence do? “.

    1. Warpig

      Did you see the way he absolutely manhandled Pence during the victory speech handshake? A clear signal that Pence is going to be, pardon my French, his bitch.

      I’ve never seen anything like it in our politics.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I must find that clip and use it regularly. I am SO SICK of the meme in comments that Pence is gonna control Trump. Puheeze.

        Trump has repeatedly slapped down Pence, in an astonishing display of lack of respect. I really thought Pence might quit. Trump clearly regards him as a tool, likely a combo of a vehicle to have won at least some evangelical votes and impeachment insurance.

        1. a different chris

          “impeachment insurance” OMG I never thought of that… yeah I bet there isn’t a politician in DC, R or D, that could stomach the thought of President Pence. Sure they aren’t happy at all with President Trump, but he is an outsider, and it is human nature to always hate “family” with a singular and unmatched intensity.

          1. JW

            I was hoping he’d pick Palin for Impeachment insurance (and the lols), but Pence will do…unless he really starts tearing down the old guard, Trump will survive. If Trump turns off the $ spigot to the old cronies, they’ll tolerate the ‘jellycul, as long as the money keeps flowing.

        2. MLS

          One wonders if Pence was thrust upon Trump by party insiders, rather than being Donald’s choice. When Trump gets what he wants, he’s very subdued. When he doesn’t, he acts out.

          If so, that would suggest that the GOP is already co-opting his presidency and will continue to do so well into his term. Sigh.

          1. Ptolemy Philopater

            Trump’s first choice for VP was John Kasich. If you recall, when Pence was chosen, Trump tried to back out of the choice, but then for some reason acquiesced. Impeachment Insurance?

      2. Optimader

        Ah.. we were chuckling at that yesterday morning in the office. Huge lizardbrain psyops tell there.

        Hey Trump may just explode, but (Helmer) drawing much of any comparison to Carter other than both being untarnished by a long national political records goes off into the weeds. For better or worse POTUS is the case study for OJT –on the job training.

        Carter was a cold war nuke sub service vet which gives him a tick at above average intelligence,temperament under pressure and structured problem solving ( how would HRC tested out in those categories, fortunatly we wont know?)

        it puts Carter in a whole subset of uniquely peculiar “sensibilities” (IMO). Remember he took an oath of fidelity to participate in a chain of command to initiate Nuclear Armageddon, no matter how many habitat for humanity houses he used a nail gun on. As well Carter was the alpha POTUS micromanager, how did that work out?

        Trump at least has survived as the head of a large complex organization that cant be administrated by one person. So yeah all the arguments about the differences between administrating private sector vs public sector beuracracies, but i dont think we have too shining of a recent history selecting POTUSs from the public sector anyway.

        1. Knot Galt

          It’s all politics and using/controlling power. It’ll be very interesting to see how it all plays out

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          I think you are missing the point of referring to Helmer. Carter despite his vastly greater political/appointment experience, was insecure and that led him to make some picks that gravely undermined his ability to implement his agenda. Trump is likely to make the same type of mistake for different reasons.

          1. optimader

            My only point in the speculation is that they are very divergent personalities to compare. Trump may (I hope) has a better sense for sizing up ppl, certainly he has culled through a lot more subordinates that Carter ever had..
            I guess there is an assumption that DT has some core philosophies with which to measure subordinates with. Dunno.

          2. David Carl Grimes

            I wonder if Obama was insecure as well, hence so many Clinton holdovers in his administration

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Other reports suggest Newt is his preferred choice. He owes Newt. He does not owe Bolton. But we’ll see soon enough.

      And Trump clearly does not like Pence and does not like Pence trying to upstage him. Pence has been consistently swatted down by Trump in public. Trump is a highly domineering personality and that sort does not tolerate insubordination at all well. The fact that Pence keeps crossing him says Pence does not have Trump’s ear and is trying to use the media to get his way. Given Trump’s advantages there plus his stature as President to be, it’s hard to see how Pence thinks he’s going to win at that game.

      The job of Vice Presidents is to go to funerals and hope that includes that of their boss. Admittedly, Pence is part of Trump’s transition team but it would be unheard of for the VP not to be, particularly on such a short-staffed effort as Trump’s.

      1. Dugless

        State is probably Gingrich’s if he wants it. Bolton is a neocon’s neocon. If he ends up in any prominent position (like U.N. ambassador), that will be a troubling sign re Trump’s foreign policy. While I hope Trump lives up to his promise to be less interventionalist, at times he has made comments that he will wield military power aggressively if challenged. I really don’t think anyone knows what he might do. I am pretty sure that Pence will have no control over him.

        1. optimader

          I think a big implication is how long a leash the SoS has.

          Clinton was a bad example, I think BHO gave her a long leash to work at her own discretion. Gingrich has always struck me as a BS platitude guy, I wonder how he would be working the minutia of negotiation?

      2. HotFlash

        The job of Vice Presidents is to go to funerals and hope that includes that of their boss.

        LOL! I’m gonna stitch a sampler with that quote.

      3. Lord Koos

        I really hope you guys are correct about the VP, because President Pence scares the shit out of me far more than President Trump. The worry I have is that Trump will soon be impeached or forced to leave office over some fuck-up from hi past. Normally I would cheer such a thing, but not with these dangerous clowns surrounding him.

      4. Crazy Horse

        “Chris Christie was removed as Trump campaign transition chairman on Friday, a position that will now be filled by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, the transition team confirmed” Funny kind of swatting down—-. Nov 11, 2016 2:13 PM

        Pence strikes me as the GOP back=up quarterback, there to guarantee the Trump governs as a Repug. Failure to do so might well result in Trump having a fatal heart attack from eating too much pizza or greasy New York Subs.

        Good joke on all the flyover despicables who voted for him if Trump turns out to be just a Heritage Foundation shill whose function is to lower taxes on the .001% even more than Little Bush did. And since when did any president-elect pay attention to the rabble they suckered into voting for them once the election was over?

        But–but– “It’s different this time”

        Delusion is the opium of the masses

    3. curlydan

      Bolton scares the crap out of me as well.

      One thing we’ll have to watch with Trump is how much volatility and “you’re fired” there will be in his administration. Trump is not a detail oriented person, so I think he’ll let these guys (and maybe gals) run free until he finally realizes they’re doing the opposite of what he wants. Then, they’re fired reality TV style.

      While Obama could totally reverse course on his hired guns (e.g. when he reversed course on Kerry in Syria) and not let the hired guns go, Trump seems like the guy who is going to reverse course often and kick them to the curb.

      The Repubs are going to fill all these vacancies with the standard hacks and “free market” morons. 95%+ of the work will be done by them, but there will be a few earthquakes along the way. I think the working class and middle class are still screwed because the old guard largely will be running the show, but Trump will throw a few sound bites and maybe some actual $$ to the poor along the way to appease them.

      1. optimader

        Trump is not a detail oriented person
        Link? I guess that’s the meme but who knows actually how he will strike the balance beteen being saturated in the details and delegating.

        Full disclosure, from what I recall about Bolton, he is a is basically a Dbag by my sensibilities.

        From working class stock ,which I generally find admirable, but then apparently poached in an elitist stew at Yale for undergrad/grad school w/service in the NGuard presumably to avoid a war he supported for others to fight. I am always cynical abt ppl that make sure you know they went to a Ivy League schools but don’t indicate what they studied, and advocate for military incursion when they have a history of avoiding their opportunity to participate WTF?

        from Wpdia
        \\ He was a member of the Yale Political Union, and he earned a B.A. graduating summa cum laude in 1970 and a J.D. in 1974.

        Bolton supported the Vietnam War, enlisted in the Maryland Army National Guard and consequently did not serve in Vietnam. He wrote in his Yale 25th reunion book “I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy. I considered the war in Vietnam already lost.”[16] In an interview, Bolton discussed his comment in the reunion book, explaining that he decided to avoid service in Vietnam because “by the time I was about to graduate in 1970, it was clear to me that opponents of the Vietnam War had made it certain we could not prevail, and that I had no great interest in going there to have Teddy Kennedy give it back to the people I might die to take it away from.”[17][18]

  4. megamike48

    Will Trump Be Rolled by the Republican Establishment? That was a good laugh!! Does a rock rolling down a clean hill gain speed?? Trump will be inhaled into the beltway so fast that he will be unrecognizable in short order!!

    1. Warpig

      Trump is a stubborn egotistical bastard. He won’t be rolled if he doesn’t want to be.

      Of course, he’s also ignorant of so so many things and likely to be overwhelmed by the enormity of the office combined with all the diverse and massive pressure on him. He could very well grasp for straws to help him float.

      Open question if he goes under…

    2. rd

      Trump made his case to be elected based on ending the suffering of middle-class blue collar workers. To do that, he has to deliver jobs throughout the country. Manufacturing won’t do that because it has gotten lean through technology. Coal won’t do that because it is fighting off sub $3 natural gas. Oil is in the middle of a world-wide supply glut. That leaves infrastructure.

      The anti-deficit, pro-tax cut Tea Party right of the Republican Party is what stands between Trump and his ability to retain his base. They have fought tooth and nail against every substantive infrastructure bill since TARP. I think the key showdown is going to be between the Tea Party and Trump over infrastructure spending. I believe the debt ceiling suspension expires in mid-March 2017, right in the middle of Trump’s 100 days. Will it be Trump or the anti-deficit base that wants us to become Kansas that wins that fight?

      1. rd

        Trump has also promised his voters not to cut Social Security. And I don’t think his voters want SS to be turned into a Target Date fund run by Wall Street, nor are they going to want to have the retirement age moved to 76. So he is going to have a fundamental battle within the Republican caucus over how to keep Social Security solvent in its present form (or very close to it). I don’t think Trump would have a problem lifting the maximum income subject to FICA, but the Grover Norquist and Tea Party cadre will freak out.

        1. Jim Thomson

          I agree. You have pointed out what I think will be the major battle of his administration.
          There is a major inconsistency between his statements to create jobs and support the lower ( below the top 1%) classes, his populist appeal, and the policies of the Republican party for the last 50 years, which have been to implement the very wealth transfer to the upper classes that has resulted in the Trump revolt in the party (and created a similar revolt via Sanders in the Democratic party).
          It is ironic that the successful revolt candidate emerged from the Republican party and not the Democrats.

            1. MaroonBulldog

              Trump used to be a Democrat, he’s still not a Republican, but he’ll always be an Opportunist.

              Trump is a Republican because it was easier to mount a hostile takeover of the presidential wing of the Republican Party than that of the Democratic Party.

      2. John k

        Most, if not all, tea parties voted for trump, and their reps in congress know it. This is not an us vs them situation. Many TP’s are racist, including their reps, no way they would vote for infra and give the hated Obama a win, no matter it was in their interest.
        Plus lots of economists are now calling for infra and even deficits. That dam bust, wave of infra coming, along with big Econ boost. Plus congress, especially rep house, now worrying about midterms…
        But when? Takes time, how many shovel ready projects have permits?
        Maybe 2019 before hiring starts?
        He does like to fire people. Long neocon list at state and pentagon. Can’t imagine him picking Bolton for any position.

        Financials uncertain… On plus side he’s not indebted to banks, and consumer protection helps his base… Speaking of which, he knows his base hates the banks, they would love Fbi hauling some off in cuffs… And he owes Fbi big time, they’ve been on a leash for eight years… Does Icahn love or hate banks? Maybe doesn’t matter, trump wants to govern like bush2, set policy and let the flunkies do it.
        Cautiously optimistic… Certainly he won’t be friendlier to banks than hill. No matter what happens, remember we avoided the alternative.

        1. 2cannan

          Trump is indebted to banks, hard to say how many since he wouldn’t release his taxes. One which he owes lots of money to is Deutsche Bank. Federal regulators have fined Deutsche Bank $14 billion dollars because of toxic mortgages the bank issued during the housing crisis.

          Trump’s ties to Deutsche Bank show potential business conflicts if he is elected

          Trump’s history with Deutsche Bank shows a deep relationship – and a sometimes contentious one.

          Trump financial-disclosure filings show that Deutsche is the creditor on four of his companies’ 16 loans, with principals totaling roughly $360 million. About $125 million of that debt was lumped into two 2012 mortgages for Trump National Doral, his south Florida golf complex.

          A third loan was for Trump International Hotel and Tower, his Chicago high-rise. Trump filings state the loan was worth $25 million to $50 million, but county property records show the loan was actually for $69 million.

          The most recent Deutsche debt, incurred last year, was a $170 million line of credit put toward the development of Trump’s newly opened luxury hotel near the White House, the Trump International Hotel Washington D.C. All four loans will mature, or come due, by 2024.

          more at the link

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            1. Trump’s tax returns would not show how indebted he is. Even the tax returns of all of his corporations would not do that.

            2. Trump will have to put all his businesses in a blind trust

            3. Banks don’t have power over borrowers unless they are in default. Does the bank that owns your mortgage have any influence over you? A bank has even less influence over Trump because it is his businesses that are borrowing, and the debt is incurred by them, not him.

            4. Trump may have some dealings with Deutsche but his main lender has been a mid sized bank and those loans have been securitized, which means the bank no longer owns them.

    3. Foppe

      megamike 2 days ago, megamike48 today. Is that due to 47 bans? Or preventive name cycling?
      Either way, I would’ve figured the DNC would’ve shut down their astroturf orgs by now.. Or did they outsource to lower costs?

  5. DC guy

    His transition team outside of trade is mostly right heritage types and some eastablishemnt figures. No rolling necessary. TTP is dead at least but for the rest….

    1. RabidGandhi

      TPP is dead until it can be re-packaged and re-branded into a turd sandwich that Trump can sell as an awesome deal.

      Old trade deals don’t die, they just smell that way.

    1. RabidGandhi

      The media will be the most interesting part of this equation. They have homing devices on their noses that are fine-tuned to targets on elite derrières. But now that the elites are divided, will their track and trace systems go haywire?

      1. John k

        Elites have never been divided, all for status quo by definition.
        Trump is change, so elites and their press will continue antagonistic until if and when new elites take over and economy does better.

  6. Paul Art

    Those who get into the White House seldom look back at the base. Trump rode this train to become as rich or even richer than the vultures on Wall Street. He will only pay attention to those who he thinks can make him very rich. To that end he will sign legislation. The scraps he throws to the base will mostly be the identity politics variety. Deportations etc. He will NEVER move against businesses that hire illegals which we all know is the root cause of illegal immigration. It will warm the cockles of the hearts and souls of all those White Senior Citizens on Social Security and Medicare.

    1. John Seinbach

      The root cause of illegal immigration is NAFTA. Millions of indigenous campesinos driven from their ejidos (collective farms) due to imports of factory farmed corn, rice & other staples. Facing absolute destitution, millions of indigenous farmers abandoned their villages & moved to El Norte.

      Another major factor is US support for Central American death squads/despots creating violent societies.

      A third factor is counterintuitive. That is the emphasis on border control that really took off under Clinton. Prior to this, the overwhelming majority of unregulated cross border migration was seasonal, with migrants more of less freely crossing the border to work the crops & returning every winter to their home towns. As the walls (figuratively & literally) went up, it became more difficult & dangerous to migrate back & forth, resulting in migrants taking up permanent residence in the US.

      In my opinion, cheap corporate labor isn’t a root cause of illegal immigration, but simple opportunism.

      1. bob k

        actually its both. and the kind of corporations that have hired and now depend on illegal labor are not unionized monopolies but small to medium size businesses that relish the desperation that causes the immigrant to be disciplined and never complain. NAFTA created the supply, business created the demand.

    2. oh

      He’ll first care care of himself. First, he has to recoup his campaign spending many times over. Then maybe he’ll throw a few crumbs to others.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        There have been media reports that he didn’t spend any campaign $. He made pledges and loans but it appears he raised enough $ to have cashed himself out. BTW most big donors make pledges and send actual $ only when the campaign presses them, and quite a few don’t come through in full.

    3. Jim Thomson

      So, this will be the big issue for the rest of us to look for.
      Was he serious about supporting the lower classes or was he cynically pandering to them, more effectively pulling their strings and reading the discontent than the other candidates. And then gets elected and its the same old scam, just with new faces.
      Based on his history, I suspect the latter and that you are correct.
      No revolution here.

    4. lyman alpha blob

      ” He will NEVER move against businesses that hire illegals which we all know is the root cause of illegal immigration.”

      Nailed it. Because those are Trump’s businesses.

      I’ve been saying the whole election that he isn’t going to build a wall and start kicking people out. If he really is as rich as he claims to be, it is in large part due to all the cheap labor that built and maintains his properties and he isn’t going to whack the head off the goose laying the golden eggs.

      I doubt that he will promote unions or higher wages, but if he does follow through on promises to stop the awful trade deals and stop turning foreign countries into parking lots, then there will likely be a lot fewer people trying to cross the border in the first place as their own countries won’t be so wretched.

  7. a different chris

    Guiliani, Bolton, etc. Yeah horrifying, and maybe it will be them… but maybe not. I am going to wait to see how this shakes out. The former Democrat/Republican/City-Slicker-beloved-by-Rural-America/TotalWildcard can go in any direction on any subject.

    So hold on, crying is useless* and we do have a chance here. The downsides are terrible, but the upsides are much > Hillary. Remember Shrub’s final disassociation from Darth Cheney, and Trump is much more on the ball than Bush Jr.

    *And I personally don’t deserve to cry anyway, I voted for Stein in a state that went for Trump, and would do it again.

    1. Uahsenaa

      Trump is almost certain to pick the same festering sores the Republicans have put forth over the years as “statesmen.”

      That said, Trump also has a habit of simply not paying any heed to the people who work for him and just doing whatever he wants. Will have to see how things play out. Trump has a bad habit of micro-managing things, which, in this instance, might actually be a boon.

      1. MLS

        interesting that you are saying that “Trump has a bad habit of micromanaging” while someone else above claimed “Trump isn’t detailed-oriented”. It’s highly unlikely that both statements are true.

        I guess none of us really know for sure.

  8. weinerdog43

    Well, let’s see. The person Trump is going to select to head the EPA is a director for one of the Koch Bros.front organizations, (Myron Ebell & the “Competitive Enterprise Institute”).

    Watch what he does; not what he says.

  9. Kurt Sperry

    Yep, I expect Trump to quickly become a generic idiot establishment Republican and cave on all his populist stuff that runs counter in any way to big money. The people who did hope voting for Trump will be chumped as quickly and thoroughly as the people who hope voted for Obama were. Obama showed the way: make empty speeches touting hope and change and once elected sell out to the powerful status quo hard and fast. The good news is that the current Obama curated status quo is so corrupt and sold out to essentially the same big money special interests that Trump turning on his voters and selling out to them won’t result in any of the shockingly negative stuff being predicted for Trump. It’ll just be more corruption as usual with very different seeming marketing and optics.

    1. RUKidding

      That’s pretty much how I see it. I see some positives in not having Clinton at the helm, but I don’t see many positives in having Trump there, other than “he’s different.” Er, maybe.

      I gave up on Hope & Change long before Obama spouted it, and I see no reason to believe a huckster con-man like Trump spouting the same spurious devious skeevy nonsense.

      No one will be happier than me if Trump proves me wrong.

    2. Lyle James

      I confess I don’t quite understand why anyone thinks Trump will cave and become a typical Republican elitist — after annihilating exactly those people, as well as the Democratic neoliberals, on the way to the WH.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Personnel is policy. Watch his cabinet and appointments play out. He’ll line them with Republican hacks and washed up movement cons given new life if the short lists circulating are even half true, I’d bet my bottom dollar on it. This will be ugly and we’ll soon enough see how ugly.

        I can’t believe after Obama anyone believes these snakes’ populist hopium BS. They will crush your hopes and dreams and eat them alive, just because they can. Pence, Gingrich, Giuliani, Bolton, Christie, this isn’t anything new or different or better. This is the bottom of the Republican barrel dredged up and loaded up into the force feeding tube. This will be a horrorshow come to life.

        1. Fiver

          And if true, perhaps the clarity of the situation at that point will finally be enough to actually engage the public with the making of its own future – a ‘horror’ of a Trump will be precisely the catalyst for a much bigger move in the opposite direction, which is where most people’s basic sensibilities lie to begin with, i.e., inclined to be benevolent most of the time, fair, caring etc., etc., but utterly stymied by an archaic and terribly broken political system, else the world would be talking about the election of Bernie Sanders.

          I think what people have to realize is that there is no path forward that is not a mile deep with risk and that neither Obama/Clinton Dems nor Trump/Reps have even remotely come to terms with the scale of the challenges immediately ahead presented by the inescapable facts concerning the epochal collision between the US/global economies with the biosphere – nothing the Dems have ever countenanced on their greenest days, very much including the recent agreement re emissions, will accomplish anything like what’s needed. In other words, big picture, the next 4 years were in any case a write-off from the single most critical perspective domestically or globally. With luck, Trump will set the stage for the sort of real transformative change without which we’re all immersed in a global scramble for survival nobody wins.

  10. Steve

    I think there is a very good chance the Republican establishment will come up with some way to ruin Trump within the Party and get rid of him. A Republican like Pence with control of Congress is the Republican dream. Trump will have a very difficult time dealing with the extreme religious right segments of the Party and that might be a trigger. On a side note look for Obama to try to become Trump’s BFF in an attempt to get the TTP passed.

    1. ambrit

      This election has proven out that, as many have opined here and elsewhere, Trump does not need the old guard Republican establishment. He can run a truly “populist” administration if he wants. Trump could be the reincarnation of Andrew Jackson.

    2. RabidGandhi

      In that regard Trump more than any other president looks like a character in an Agatha Christie play, where everyone around him has overwhelming motive to off him. Contrast this to say Obama, who if he had been “disposed” (in the parlance of our time), Biden would have taken over and no one would have noticed a policy difference. Same could be said for every other US president in recent memory. But as we saw in the debates, Pence is a vulture of a different feather, far more in harmony with the previous business as usual.

      Trump needs an army of tasters and should avoid small planes.

      1. polecat

        I’d hire a jester as well ….. you know .. to get the real insight as to what’s going on behind closed oppositional doors …

  11. ambrit

    What I’m wondering is, will Trump be dragged, kicking and screaming, to the Left, like Franklin Roosevelt was? Events could force Trump to implement policies that help the “average” American, just to save the country. Like FDR, Trump already has money, he does not “need” to kowtow to the wealthy.
    Right now, I’m interested in who he picks for positions of influence. Secondly, I’d like to see if Trump can admit to mistakes and make changes in his advisors and policies.
    So goes the Nation.

    1. a different chris

      >make changes in his advisors and policies

      You need to ask that about the guy who was most famous, before this, for gleefully pronouncing “You’re Fired!”” into the camera? And those were sniveling nobodies, imagine the joy The Donald would get from doing it to somebody Big.

      Sadly, I don’t think he can fire Mike Pence, since technically VP is an elected position.

    2. Carolinian


      And the above is an excellent post–the sort of thing we are here for. There was a lot of hysteria in the country yesterday and more than a bit on this site’s comment sections but the truth is we will only know what Trump is going to do when he does it. As an article I quoted yesterday said, the media (and much of the left) take Trump literally but not seriously. But maybe he really is serious and will try to make things better. And if that’s true then sites like NC should encourage him. And if it’s not true then the left should get busy doing what they always should have done–build a real movement. Trying to reform the Democrats is never going to work.

      1. oh

        No matter what happens with Trump, we need to organize a true left, one small group at a time which could coalesce into a large movement. The D’s are not the path. They’ll play games and hijack our effort.

      2. pricklyone

        I don’t think that is true, Carolinian, I think he has been telegraphing what he would do all along. If his choices for key positions surprises anyone, it will not be me.
        He will go for groaf via tax cut and energy industry giveaways, and when the revenue stream fails to support SS, or his infrastructure plan, they will go the Paul Ryan way. “W” on steroids, is my guess, economically and domestically.

    3. Katharine

      Well, the names being suggested are hardly encouraging. As for being rolled by the establishment, I wonder why he would need to be. Are his interests not consistent with theirs? He’s rich and wants to be richer (strange how none of these people seem to know the meaning of enough). He thinks he is smart to use every tool available (e.g. tax code) to achieve that aim. I think he’ll fit in with the establishment just fine, and most who supported him will be disappointed.

      Still, I appreciate Yves’s analysis, which comes at the question quite differently from any other I have yet seen. The more different perspectives the better. We’ll know more later.

    4. rd

      Trump’s economic “platform” (talking points?) was fundamentally parallel to FDR’s focus on employment through infrastructure and Social Security. He is actually more aligned with many more Democrats on these issues than Republicans. He actually does not need a majority of Republicans in Congress to get those parts of his platform done (other than having a Speaker who won’t invoke the Hastert Rule to allow legislation to get to the floor).

      I think his first Supreme Court pick to replace Scalia is going to be very conservative since he had so many evangelicals that voted for him (he doesn’t owe anything to the D.C. Republicans other than Reince Priebus who stood by his side after the convention). However, his next pick after that would be a bartering chip with the Democrats to get economic platform votes done over the objections of Republicans.

      1. begob

        Will be interesting to see how he picks his paths. Is the American system open to cross-party voting blocs?

    5. marym

      If Trump intends to deliver on some of his more “left-seeming” proposals (trade agreements, an infrastructure/jobs program, not ending SS) he needs to look for Congressional allies. Sanders would be an interesting start.

      1. nick weech

        indeed! that would irk HRC more than somewhat, after her offhand remark about “working with him”

      2. Ptolemy Philopater

        Sanders has already offered to support Trump in helping working people, but then countered with a petulant dig at fighting sexist, racist legislation. The media is sabotaging all that by whipping up the left in frantic hysteria at the bogeyman Trump. The Caucus Room Conspiracy in reverse. It is important to the neo-lib/con bots that Trump fail and be discredited so they can roll out another neo-lib/con warmonger at the earliest opportunity. It would be strategic for the left to be there when Trump runs into the inevitable Republican intransigence against his more progressive policies.

        One of Trump’s most effective ads toward the end of his campaign featured FDR’s theme song, “Happy Days are here Again” It is important to note that his father’s fortune began building barracks for FDR in WWII, namely infrastructure. In his acceptance speech he expressed a lot of nostalgia for his parents and family and I am sure he is aware of these facts and the origin of his good fortune. Of course this is all reading tea leaves, but it is the key to his success that he is keeping everyone guessing, a master at speaking out of both sides of his mouth. FDR also had some such skills. It is in this way that he is able to enlist seemingly antagonistic allies to support him. Master manipulator, as was FDR.

    6. polecat

      He’s going to have to deliver .. some ..effectual gains to the lower classes … otherwise he’ll have more than a few crying, window smashing snowflake safe-spacers to deal with …. !

      The great mass of citizens of this country want tangible, effective, POSITIVE changes made, for their betterment …..Not Wall Street’s, Not Silicon Valley, Not BIG MIC, BIG Pharma, or BIG Insurance ….. if he doesn’t deliver …there will no longer BE a United States …it will dis-incorporate !!

  12. glennb

    If Trump’s disgusting behavior was really just a brilliant ruse at least we can say he totally lacks ‘class’. Its ironic that the anti-christ (and anti-mensch) is teamed up with the religious right, who all of a sudden don’t mind ‘immoral’ behavior and bluster according to their own words. I hear that as just another self serving ‘adjustment’ to gain power. It’s extraordinary that any middle class voters, given what everyone already knows about Trump, would believe he cares about them or their needs even a little. His career is full of exploitation and what he calls ‘brilliant’ (and I call sleazy) hard ball business practices, including stiffing employees and vendors on a regular basis. Maybe they see the way he ripped off banks and shareholders as ‘putting it to the man’? I see him as a Trojan Horse for the middle class, looks like a gift to them, ends up being a clever attack. In any case, to the rest of the world democracies he looks like a total embarrassment, if not terrifying and inept.

    1. RUKidding


      I see Trump’s appeal for uneducated white supremacist voters, but I fail to see his appeal for those who are better educated, have good to great jobs, a nice lifestyle, etc.

      I’ve known about Trump for decades, and I fail to see how a con-man grifter like Trump is suddenly going to “care” about the peons and actually do something that benefits them directly.

      If I’m proven wrong, then I’ll be happy. If not, then my cynicsm is merited. Stay tuned…

      1. HotFlash

        but I fail to see his appeal for those who are better educated, have good to great jobs, a nice lifestyle, etc.

        Perhaps they have children in their basement? Or grandchildren who will never, ever get to go to college?

      2. Ptolemy Philopater

        Pancho Villa, anyone? Also a classless crude champion of the people disdained by intellectuals and despised by the elites.

    2. JTFaraday

      “If Trump’s disgusting behavior was really just a brilliant ruse at least we can say he totally lacks ‘class’.”

      Well, I’ve long thought that Chris Christie’s blow hard persona– bit over the top for NJ– was partly an act to appeal to the vicious element in the real red states.** Witness also McCain’s studied use of Sarah Palin. So, Trump has had the opportunity to observe this sort of strategy. Wouldn’t work with just anyone, but works with him.

      **But then this happened: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/07/01/inside-hug-gate-the-online-meme-that-chris-christie-cant-shake/

  13. allan

    As far as DoJ is concerned, you can be sure that, `Look forwards, not back’
    will not be a slogan of the new Administration. They will be looking for scalps and,
    to mix metaphors, there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit.

    1. RabidGandhi

      Meh. I’ll believe that when I see it. I would not expect a DoJ led by the likes of Giuliani or Christie to go after wall st fraud, torturers, war criminals or élites in general. Furthermore, my hunch is that there’s major part of Trump that wants to disprove the hyperventilating about him and show that he’s not what would be classified in DC as a maniac (“maniacs” do things like put élite criminals in jail).

      Yes I think we should expect to see some kind of kayfabe investigation into the Clinton Foundation, but anything beyond that would pleasantly surprise me.

      1. RUKidding

        Pretty much the way I see it, and I doubt that any investigations into Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, etc, will amount to anything more than what’s already happened…. which is: bupkiss.

        1. allan

          The kinds of voters who put him over the top in places like Ohio are baying for prosecutions.
          Listen to the reporter’s comments (not direct quotes from the voters) at the end of this NPR piece.
          They don’t expect Trump to fix their lives immediately, but they do expect him to go after HRC.
          These are people who Trump does not want to disappoint at the start of his term. And it will be a lot easier for him to sic Rudy or Chris on the Clinton clan than to defeat ISIS in 30 days.

            1. MaroonBulldog

              I doubt that there will be any criminal prosecution of HRC, but going after the Clinton Foundation might be another matter. If an IRS investigation were to find a basis for revoking its tax-exempt status, the resulting income tax consequences would put it out of business. I am not sure that pardoning power extends to income tax consquences.

  14. WJ

    [copied from very late comment to WaterCooler that fits better here.]

    If Trump is smart he realizes that the jingoism and bigotry of much of his base are really mostly symptoms of social and economic depression. So if he launches a big enough jobs program he’ll be able to get away with not building the wall or expelling muslims because the passions behind those proposals will have been mollified. The best thing to do in the current environment is run on a program of nativist bigotry with clear scapegoats, then use your mandate to implement a New Deal economic policy that addresses the real source of the anger. Then you can ease off nativism and racism without losing too much political capital.

    But does Trump see this? And, even if he does, how in the hell can he get the GOP Koch ideologues to sign off on it?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The Koch brothers held sway over the GOP because they delivered money in the Spring or winter before an election when $1 dollar goes as far as $20, and unlike Democratic donors, the Republicans help challengers and candidates running for open seats with money which is pretty necessary (Hillary would be President-elect-today if she just focused on ballot access for herself and for swore fundraising beyond down ticket help.) for new candidates. They aren’t news makers. No one knows them. Incumbents aren’t challengers.

      The Republicans are already in power, and Trump won without raising or spending money. The Koch brothers leverage has been reduced significantly. Certain Republicans will be loyal and others are fellow travelers, but the power relationship has been changed.

        1. Uahsenaa


          The Kochs were smart enough investors to know you have to diversify your portfolio. Having all the legislators in your pocket is just as good as having the president. I think the ROI on their election spending this year will be quite high.

          1. flora

            The Kochs ROI in Kansas this year was quite low for the KS statehouse and KS judiciary. In fact, they took significant losses, though that’s undetectable to people outside KS. The libertarian modeled, financial “real live experiment” was soundly rejected this election. This is the same model the Kochs ran in Colorado until Colorado kicked them out several years ago. The Kochs go from state to state selling the same snake oil, but after a few years the voters wise up and kick them out. (Club for Growth, Americans for Prosperity, etc.) No wonder libertarian political philosophers object to open Democracy.
            adding: Kansas is very Republican.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        The Kochs actually repudiated Trump. They said they would not back him and even made clear they preferred Hillary but would not go as far as funding her.

        So Trump does not owe them anything.

        1. flora

          A lot of the people being suggested asTrump cabinet appointees are erst while Koch “loyalists”. Look who went to the Kochs’ cattle calls to ask for money. Trump might bring people in because that’s the GOP available field, or to simply peel away Koch “owned” politicians. I think that’s at least plausible.

        2. rd

          Trump will support the Koch Industries, along with other similar companies because his voters work for them or would like to work for them. So the Kochs will see financial benefit from a Trump presidency as an accidental side effect of Trump’s policies.

          However, Trump will pay no attention to the economic pseudo-science coming out of the Koch’s Cato Institute etc. unless it is useful to his objectives. He doesn’t owe them anything (they probably made his enemies list, so they might get 3 am tweets), so their overall philosophies (e.g. the Kansas experiment) are likely irrelevant to Trump except as political obstacles to be overcome in achieving his economic goals. Paul Ryan may be faced with a choice between the Kochs and Trump.

  15. Abigail Caplovitz Field

    I agree the best hope for good change is in Trump standing up to the R establishment. I think he will delight in thwarting powerful Rs and Ds, and in deal making. His ego will thrive on that. I just think there are some disastrous policies baked in–the Sup Ct, tax cuts for the rich, financial regulation repeal, climate change denying that don’t depend on his being rolled or standing up–they are things he’s committed to anyway. And the profoundly racist slice of his supporters that now feel very emboldened are frightening non-white friends of mine in a personal, visceral way that I in my white privilege can perceive but not feel. But on trade, on lobbying reform, on infrastructure building, and on less war he might well do good.

    1. a different chris

      >things he’s committed to anyway

      He’s not committed to anything but what at the moment gets him ahead. Again, we can’t give up – he is a proud outsider. And we really, really need to stroke his ego, writing him off on whatever is just the worst thing you can do with somebody ego-driven. Tell him we know that if he listens to us he will understand (on whatever subject)… you’ll get 1 or 2 out of 10, and that’s about as good as we would have got with Clinton. It’s just going to be a lot more painful…

    2. Abigail Caplovitz Field

      updating my watch list of policy bad that doesn’t need rolling by the establishment Rs:

      –ending the Iran deal
      –upping privatization of prisons

  16. jake

    “If Trump has the conviction and stamina….”

    This is a man with no known convictions, no consistency from hour to the next, and the only stamina he’s demonstrated is for tweeting calumnies at 3 a.m.

    Dream on….

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      He got elected against the Clinton machine, despite it having every advantage imaginable: an experienced campaigner, a great ground game, a clearly superior resume, a ton more in campaign fundraising, celebrities and surrogates galore campaigning for her, including Obama himself, and the Mighty Wurlitzer of the media.

      You are ignoring facts on the ground. Underestimating Trump has been a bad bet so far.

      1. cojo

        Yves, perhaps you could use some New York connections to introduce him or some of his advisors to this site!

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I don’t want to in any way, shape or form to be responsible for Trump. And who knows what his objectives are.

          Plus he’s the type who would make for a terrible client. He does not listen to advice.

          1. cojo

            Trump is a creation of a sick and corrupt political system. The system is responsible for Trump.

            I bet not even he knows what he’s going to do at any given moment. I am of the firm belief that there is some good in everyone, however small and suppressed. The next four years will be a struggle on whether this juggernaut will be used for any good. I have hope that something good can come of this.

            That being said, protecting the integrity of this site is more important, as the Trump phenomenon will too pass.

      2. jake

        It was the reaction against the Mighty Wurlitzer that got him elected. The advantages you cite were actually demerits this time around — they hurt Clinton in the margins where she had to prevail and did nothing for her among the Democratic faithful.

        I think there’s a danger here of confusing the national revulsion against establishment politics with imputed Trump acumen. And maybe you can imagine Trump vetoing Republican legislation, promoting the Ryan/Norquist program, but I can’t

        I guess we’ll find out, soon enough….

      3. Brian Daly

        But the thing is, once he’s in office, it’s hard to see what trump has to gain by going against any of the entrenched interests of the the deep state or military industrial complex. I don’t know what motivates the guy, but he likes to win, I can’t see him taking on the most powerful special interests in the world.

        He also likes to be liked. I’m not sure if crew of has-been republican sociopaths he has assembled around him was just the best he could do? Basically desperate, amoral power seekers with few paths to political redemption. Or does he actually think guys like Guliani, Gingrich, and Christie are true statesmen, along with being real savvy operators?

        So far, with the names floating around for cabinet picks he seems to be casting the next
        season of Celebrity Apprentice.

        Since Trump has not shown a shred of human compassion, imtegrity, or fellow feeling for his whole life, as far as I can see, I don’t see why he should start now.

        Apparently he likes to build things, so maybe that will be a check on the bomb throwers he’s surrounding himself with.

        1. BecauseTradition

          Since Trump has not shown a shred of human compassion, imtegrity, or fellow feeling for his whole life, as far as I can see,

          I’ve heard that Trump is better in private than in public and given how people have consistently underestimated him that could easily be the case, imo.

          As for integrity, how is that an issue when dealing with banks since banks lend what they don’t have for interest that typically does not exist in aggregate?

      4. John k

        As you said, he picked up power lying on the ground, power abandoned by both parties. Like Bernie, albeit somewhat different style.
        Big ego wants, needs, expects to succeed. His style not working after primary, eventually changed to rational after new manager… She’s bound to be influential.
        So he does learn and can abandon his instincts.
        So far no evidence more money is driving him… IMO More important is to be #5 on Rushmore. Best model would be Fdr. Still allowed to dream…

      5. Edward

        Yes and no. In some ways these disadvantages were advantages. In todays America, what form of higher praise is there then to be attacked by the politicians and press. I thought it was funny that the press couldn’t figure out why their attacks on Trump were not working.

        I think a useful clue as to what to expect from President Trump was a comment from his daughter that he would delegate to subordinates and let them loose. Anyway, we need more data to size up what will happen, but I am nervous. I think his “hands-off” approach won’t work. What happens then? This business of letting lobbyists and insiders manage his transition sounds like what Obama did. Maybe he won’t be pushed around the way Obama was. Trump doesn’t know anything but he has a certain amount of sense and independence.

    2. rd

      Donald Trump may be like Dave Kingman: 42nd in MLB history with 442 home runs, but only batted .236 and is 16th in the total number of strikeouts.

      Trump got home runs with Trump Plaza, The Apprentice, franchising his name, and becoming President.

      Trump had major-league strike-outs with his casinos.

      So he swings for the fences. Sometimes he connects. Sometimes he doesn’t. I don’t think that is going to change. But what does that mean with how you deal with the rest of the world?

  17. SoCal Rhino

    I am eager to hear predictions from folks who, early in the process, predicted that Trump would win the nomination and then the election. I can think of one who comes close. Everyone else got it wrong. I’m approaching the future with some well-earned humility.

  18. Mary Wehrhein

    I have heard that the conservative evangelical crowd supported Trump, as a flawed tool of God, akin to King David, who will protect them and their rights. I wonder what they think he can actually do for them that the GOP could not in regard to the old bugaboo issues of abortion, school prayer, baking gay wedding cakes, the promulgation of creationism and abstinence, keeping dodgy people out of the next stall and putting kitschy monuments of the 10 commandments or giant crosses, nativity scenes etc in the front lawns of legislative buildings and other public buildings? It will be interesting to see how that whole thing plays out. Perhaps God has Pence slated to be his avenging Torquemada. To me he is the scariest unknown in this whole crazy situation.

  19. Jen

    I found Bernie’s opening salvo interesting in this regard:

    “Donald Trump tapped into the anger of a declining middle class that is sick and tired of establishment economics, establishment politics and the establishment media. People are tired of working longer hours for lower wages, of seeing decent paying jobs go to China and other low-wage countries, of billionaires not paying any federal income taxes and of not being able to afford a college education for their kids – all while the very rich become much richer.

    To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him. To the degree that he pursues racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-environment policies, we will vigorously oppose him.”

    To me the offer in the second paragraph is accompanied by an implicit threat: I know the forces that propelled you to victory, and if you don’t show that you are serious about pursuing policies that improve their lives, I will turn that hypocrisy into a cudgel, and beat you over the head with it until your ears bleed.

    Also interesting to me that Bernie appears to have gotten out ahead of the establishment Dems in framing the debate.


    1. Sluggeaux

      Thank you, Bernie! We’ll see if Trump’s populism was nothing but a sales ploy by a wanna-be rock-star on public ego trip, by holding a light on him from Day One. While the DNC are pouting, this is a tremendous opportunity for the Left to tap into the Unwinding as a political base. They will be as unforgiving to Trump as they were to Clinton if he fails to deliver.

    2. Uahsenaa

      And with his increased visibility and popularity, it’s a very real cudgel. I’m glad to see he’s willing to use it and that what he said to the Des Moines Register back in August of 2015 wasn’t just a lot of hot air. Also worth noting that Sanders has a good working relationship with many of his Republican colleagues, and Senate machinations are such that a president can quickly find himself stymied by the most peculiar of coalitions.

      How very odd it will be if, despite losing the nomination, Sanders should be the relative winner in this election and Clinton the relative loser.

      1. Jen

        Oddest of all to me, would be Trump and Sanders forming an alliance. Trump isn’t the only one who understands the art of the deal. But then, it’s been an odd year.

    3. Katharine

      Very nice! A good move, and made while most Democratic pols were still doing the sackcloth and ashes thing.

    4. jawbone


      Erika Andiola on why driving change at the local level of government could be at the heart of the revolution.


      Post-election, on Nov. 17, a demonstration in Washington DC — sponsored by slew of unions and progressive groups — will look to raise the deal’s profile nationally. But whoever wins Tuesday, TPP opponents show few signs of letting up.

      More news for Sanders’ Our Organization

  20. Subprime Lawyer

    It is interesting that the company with the biggest dollar-price increase on the NYSE yesterday was a company which provides products for rebuilding infrastructure. Thus the market seems to reflect that Trump will “create millions of jobs here rebuilding our infrastructure.” The problem here is that Trump wants to accomplish the above and reduce taxes. The money must come from someplace. Accordingly, Trump will have to rely on deficit spending. This scenario could work; nevertheless, the problem is that he needs Republicans to agree to deficit spending. I do not see their going along with this. Furthermore, I believe that this Republican pushback may frustrate many of his other initiatives.

    1. cojo

      Republicans are more than happy to run heavy deficits when they are in power. Look at the Reagan years. Democrats in congress will be happy to oblige since they also do not fear the backlash of deficit spending from their base.

      1. PH

        True. But the Tea Party Congressmen of 2010 take a different view. Their numbers are small, but they seem to have a lock on the House because of the threat of primary challenges against any who bucks their orthodoxy.

        My guess is that Trump would be willing to deficit spend, but I do not see it getting through the House. Not right away, anyway.

          1. PH

            I think the attitude will harden for two reasons. First, it is a core sense of identity to demand that debt ceiling not be raised and domestic spending be cut. Yelled self-righteously too often and too publicly to walk it back. Second, many will see this year as the golden opportunity: House, Senate, and Presidency all controlled by Republicans.

            There will be support for road building (but transit will be cut) but House Republicans will demand that it be paid for by eliminating payments to Planned Parenthood and such. Trouble is that will not be enough. Possibly they will do some giant corporate tax cut over 10 years and call it a revenue gain in the first year — some gimmick like that. But more likely they will make another run at Social Security, Obamacare, Medicare and Medicaid.

            Roll back FDR social safety net will be the agenda, and will be tied to infrastructure bills, spending bills, and debt ceiling bills.

        1. cojo

          We’ll see if he’s able to work with the tea party crowd or just ignore them. That’s where the “art of the deal” comes in to play, lol!

    2. Jerry

      They did not mind Reagan’s deficits. When W also began running deficits, Cheney pointed out that Reagan had shown “deficits don’t matter.” Once again Republicans were quiet about deficits—until Obama came into office.

      1. Subprime Lawyer

        I agree with both posters above. However, when Reagan was in office there was not the balance-budget mantra that exists now.

    3. Dugless

      The problem is the debt ceiling. He would have to convince the Congressional Republicans to raise it which I think would be a difficult sell given there opposition in the past. On the other hand, politicians never seem to mind looking like hypocrites.

      1. hunkerdown

        The Trump $1 Billion Dollar Coin Series. I don’t think he could help himself. Especially if he can get a red brass coif on it. I don’t think Jamie Dimon would dare turn him down.

    4. Jim Haygood

      ‘He needs Republicans to agree to deficit spending. I do not see their going along with this.’

      Seriously? Repubs LUVVVV deficit spending, as proven in Reagan’s first term, and again in GW Bush’s.

      Couch it in the right rationale — “to rebuild our depleted military and worn-out infrastructure” — and Congress will give Trump a huge boost in the debt ceiling.

      What they won’t say is that without boosting the debt ceiling, tax cuts would result in shutting down the government. They know this, so a suitable cover story will be found to let borrowing rip.

      The sky was the limit.” — Tom Petty, “Into the Great Wide Open”

  21. rich

    Trump does not go into anything expecting to lose.

    He ran against:
    – Hillary
    – His own party
    – The entire legacy media
    – The US deep state

    and crushed the lot of them. For the first time since Eisenhower, a non-politician has become president. I think that’s an amazing achievement.

    Had Trump lost, for sure, the Republican party would have changed its primary rules to prevent anyone like him (i.e. a non establishment candidate) ever running again. As it is the door has been left open, but I doubt Trump’s victory will be repeated in my lifetime, or my kids lifetimes

    1. Fiver

      Trump would not be there without at minimum the tacit approval of some the most powerful elements of the deep state, and perhaps even active covert support (Pentagon, MIC, intelligence, big oil) – Clinton had clearly made regime change in Russia (and elsewhere) in the unfettered advance of neoliberalism her core policy, which absolutely guaranteed a showdown altogether too scary for the likes of, say Laurence Wilkerson (former chief of staff to Colin Powell) to contemplate. There is simply no getting around the scope of the failure and tremendous damage done as a result of the US neocon/neoliberal effort to take advantage of the post-Soviet power void across an enormous swath of he world to ‘roll up’ dozens of countries and pocket them as if ‘ours’ in a relentlessly pursued global neoliberal project, which was pretty much indistinguishable from (largely US) corporate imperialism.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I have not looked at Trump’s foreign policy advisors, but he apparently has something on the order of 200 DoD/SoS types, as in more depth than in many of his other areas. There has to be a large contingent of people in the military, including those at senior levels, who recognize our policies in the Middle East are incoherent and self-destructive, and having troops do four tours of duty is not sustainable. So Trump may have accidentally gotten on the side of a faction that is desperate to turf out the neocons. I suspect Trump was looking for a place to fund his infrastructure program….but per his statements in his later speeches, the MIC still wants its pork even if we actually do scale back our warz.

  22. Gaius Gracchus

    I really hope Trump can stay focused on economics. If he tosses trade deals, brings back real regulation to Wall Street, and rebuilds the infrastructure, he will do well.

    As Ferguson said in the video, things are bad outside the elite and people are unsatisfied. Modest improvements will go a long way.

    I would recommend to Trump to immediately start the rhetoric going against corporations that are moving jobs out of the country like Ford and Carrier. If they change their plans, he wins huge credibility points and other corporations will junk plans to do the same.

    Ending the era of labor arbitrage will solve many if not most of the problems in the country. Globalization has stolen hope from the people. It is time to give it back.

    1. a different chris

      > moving jobs out of the country like Ford

      Yeah does anybody believe Ford was stupid enough to come up with that “not a single job was lost” tone-deaf response? It’s so simple even a deplorable could understand it, Ford hired more people and they weren’t Americans when Americans badly need more jobs.

  23. EndOfTheWorld

    The short answer to the question “will he get rolled?” is “no”. He has probably promised jobs to some of these guys that helped him in the campaign, but Trump, as Yves pointed out, has a domineering personality and what he says will go. This guy made himself famous by saying the words: “You’re fired”. His appointees will have to follow his orders or hit the road. We’ll see his cabinet choices shortly.

  24. Tony

    Also many still praise sanders. Sanders wilikeas linked him to switching to clinton long time ago. So afterall was a bait and switch strategy. A great orator but a bs crook like obama.
    The clowns in financials neoliberals and necons along with the rest of media and manhattan folks have their ego so high that think none else matter beside their politics.

    1. Sluggeaux

      Bernie always said that he had promised to support the Democrat nominee.

      He had to do this in order to get on the ballot as a Democrat after years as an Independent. Nothing came out in Wikileaks that contradicts what he has said all along about the compromise that he had to make with the DNC in order to be on the ballot. If you have evidence otherwise, please link it.

      1. jawbone

        Skepticism easily becomes cynicism after many, many disappointments. Sanders actually says what he means, but so many pols just lie that it’s undertandable many doubt Sanders sincerity.

        For me, he’s still a life line, probably the only hope to build a strong progressive organization which can give the Corporatist Dem elites pause.

  25. Kemal Erdogan

    The conciliatory tone of his victory speech gives away his intentions; I believe he will just negotiate with the republicans for a good standing for himself and let them run the show, except perhaps fixing some foreign policy misdeeds. Because there is not much money involved in those in comparison to domestic issues and he made the point repeatedly during his campaign.

    I think, the republicans would very well support infrastructure spending as long as the proceeds go to their cronies. So, that might also pass.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      It’s too soon to conclude anything. His speech was utterly conventional. Who is on his team will reveal much about what if anything he really intends to do.

  26. Mattski

    Of course he will; he’s largely clueless. He’s been dying to play with the big boys all his life (how his resentment mirrored that of his followers) and he’ll be grateful as hell. They’ll indulge him here and there and poor people, most of them people of color, will pay. But they (Wall Street; the security apparatus) will be okay with that; it’s the way it’s always been. Wall Street will have recovered by this afternoon.

    Even if the wars are his wars–unlikely, after he gets a few security briefings–the Pentagon and arms industry will still go home happy. They’ll have their necessary occasional showcases for their wares. The disruption to the SQ will be minor, across the board, and wags like Zizek who insisted otherwise will be shown to be damned fools.

    Those who do the hurting, street level, will be people of color. Because this, more than anything, is about a reassertion of white supremacy. And for all Madison Ave may be uneasy, it will still sell soap to all and sundry. A minor correction.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, he has never been “dying to play with the big boys.” He’s never played any of the status games to do that: being on a Big NYC Cultural Institution board, like the Met or Moma, being a big political fundraiser, giving a wing to a hospital or his alma mater, collecting respectable art. He’s a guy from Queens who loves being loud, crass, and getting ahead by not playing their game and finding other routes, like the Apprentice and splashing his name all over his properties. He wants to win, not to be in someone else’s club.

      1. Siggy

        I think Donald simply wants to be a bigger success than his father was. I look at the children, they strike me as being the result of rather good parenting. I consider his businesses and his properties. The golf courses look extremely risky, golf seems to be a dying sport, takes too long to get in a round. The Donald made fools of the media and to some extent the republican establishment. What I can’t fathom at all is why make the effort? Why cede all privacy just to be President? The Donald will never be able to bring back the manufacturing jobs, he might be able to help create new manufacturing jobs. We all get to see who the Donald really is and considering the choice we could make in this election, I believe that the better choice has been made.

        1. HotFlash

          You don’t think being President of the United States isn’t a yuuugely kick-ass thing to do in your retirement? Sure beats cruises and shuffleboard.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          You are assuming he actually wanted to be president. I’d suggest that all the evidence points to Trump never actually thinking he’d do it – the whole thing started as a publicity stunt. At several points in the campaign he seemed determined to self-sabotage. He only won due to the staggering ineptness of the big name Republican candidates and the entire Dem establishment.

          1. Fiver

            I pretty much agree. Unless one takes a Deep State ‘wag the dog’ view of the entire exercise (i.e., Trump a mere tool from the get-go) I think TPTB effectively switched horses late, once they realized Clinton’s troubles were not going to go away, that her problems had become their problems, that there had already been way too much ‘transparency’ with respect to how Washington operates, and changing the channel to Trump for a few years was possible and ‘containable’. Somewhere along the line, too, he made up his mind, and I wonder if the key there was the release of that awful crude tape and then the emergence of all those women claiming abuse (what happens to them, btw?). I wonder if for him that turned the whole thing into a ‘it’s her or me’ vis a vis an indictment, or in any case turned it into a grudge match for his part. He went ‘Tweet’ clean for the next 2 weeks while the msm caught a very late stage case of the ‘treat Trump more seriously and Clinton less kindly’ sort. When Trump refused repeatedly to pledge to ‘accept’ the outcome my thought was ‘this is a poker game’ of some kind. To bring it full circle, the question arises did he win, or did the Clintons wisely fold, leaving Trump and Republicans to, in Clinton Dems’ opinion at least, flail and fail their way out of favour in fairly short order, run over by complexity about which he has no understanding?

      2. Mattski

        You’ll find out differently–we are finding out differently even now. Every camera shot makes clear that he is very impressed by it all. And he is already hiring all the same operatives. There’s an elaborate security state, and he has to enter it. Or re-watch the video of Obama belittling him at the Correspondents’ Dinner. Not being part of the club is his prime life motivation, and the Met board has zero to do with it. He’ll take pleasure in firing some Ivy Leaguer every now and then, but mostly he’ll depend on them as every modern president does. Trump rolls exactly two Republicans here–Pence, who is no insider anyway, and Lindsay Graham. Then he business of the state rolls ON.

        Worried, OTOH, by the willingness to be so impressed by him by so many here. I guess caudillismo has some magnetic appeal.

        1. Fiver

          Perhaps if Dems had been even remotely interested in the public interest instead of the friendly fascism of militant neoliberalism, the US and world would have Sanders instead of Trump. He would’ve demolished Trump. Instead, Dems have rolled snakes eyes. The authentic progressive left has to keep a very cool head and not allow itself to be suckered into fighting the wrong kind of fight on the wrong issue, else the game is forfeit to brute force.


  27. PlutoniumKun

    I was idly wondering today if it would appeal to Trumps impish side (and a lot of what he does seems to be for the lols) to offer big posts to high profile Dems – even someone like Warren to Treasury. He would enjoy seeing both sides of the establishments heads spinning over that. It may be a reasonable gamble for him to decide that instead of trying to herd the Republicans onto his side on every vote, he should just play both sides off against each other. He is ideally placed to do this, and he owes nothing to the Republican establishment, so he won’t give a damn about destroying it.

    Of course, its all speculation, but I think the assumption that he will try to govern as an orthodox Republican goes against everything we know about his ego and personality. To me, the biggest worry is that he is led or manipulated by the very toxic characters who surround him.

    1. John k

      Warren for treasury seems unlikely, she and Bernie both vigorously campaigned against and are no doubt shocked he won. Fab dream, though. Would appeal to his base…

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I doubt if either are shocked that he won – neither like HRC and both were very much doing their duty in lining up behind her, and ensuring their own positions. The simple reality is that given the bad math of the Senate they are both in a much stronger position re: their party because of Trumps victory, but in a reduced situation in overall terms due to the loss of the Senate to the Reps (I can stand corrected on that, I’m no expert on Senate internal politics). Both were clearly thinking long term in their nuanced support for HRC, and now they have a potential decision to make if Trump were to reach out some feelers to see if he could do a deal.

    2. Sandy

      She would not accept because she’d have to give up her seat and take a job which she could be fired from the next day. It would be suicide.

  28. L

    I would argue that there is another risk to Trump that this article hints at. Trump himself is known to nurse grudges and he has blown large sums of money suing people for the simple act of making fun of him. Giuliani is, as you say, petty as they come. And Christie is either willing to shut down whole towns to get vengance on one person or at least surrounds himself with people who do.

    The risk for Trump may be less that the Republican Establishment(tm) finds a way to corral him than that he and his team will focus on keeping lists of enemies and on settling scores.

    Pence has already made clear that he won’t back Ryan for the speaker position because of his unwillingness to back them. This is actually sound from a policy point of view since few elected Republicans are more pro-trade than him and that he would oppose many of Trump’s unorthodox views. And in order to succeed Trump does need to put the fear into the establishment. But it may also be a sign of what is to come.

    1. begob

      Is he really thin-skinned and petty? He sometimes seems droll, and he did submit to a celebrity roast. Blowing money on litigation can be a means of self-promotion, and ditching a case before proceedings are issued isn’t a wallet-drainer.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, I think Trumps extensive use of litigation was more a strategy for warning off people who cross him rather than a sign of thin-skin. I think he’s actually pretty much impervious to criticism, he’s a very different type of narcissist to the one currently holding the office.

  29. hemeantwell

    Thanks, Yves, for starting to pull together a roster of the relevant factions in Trumpville. It’s obviously going to have to be a work in progress, but something akin to what Thomas Ferguson came up with for FDR — the distinction between labor intensive vs. capital intensive industry support for the New Deal stands out — can serve as a model. If Trump really is going to reconstrue, if not destroy, the Republican coalition, it will be very helpful to have a clear sense of the constituent parts..

  30. EndOfTheWorld

    Trump, as far as I know, had been “the boss” all his life. He has never worked FOR anybody. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) He didn’t run for Senator first, or work as Sec of State or VP or anything else. He completely demolished all the Republican establishment on his way to the nomination, and severely pissed them all off. Guys like Mitt Romney went to the corner and sulked. He sent Jeb Bush home to his momma. Then he did toss them a few bones, such as making Pence the VP—otherwise, he could not have made it through the convention.

    He’s always been the boss, and besides that, he doesn’t owe anybody anything. There hasn’t been a prez like this in the last 100 years. A prez in his situation actually has quite a bit of power, and he will use it. The question is: what are his priorities? We don’t know, but my guess is he wants to put people to work and stay out of war. He is not a champion of environmental protection. But he will make deals. It’s a question of WHAT he’s going to trade for WHAT.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      He did work for his father and did real donkey work in his early career, like collecting rent from tenants in residential buildings. But it appears he hated that, which is why he pushed for funding for a big project to get out from under Daddy’s thumb. But that just confirms your general picture.

      I agree he has more degrees of freedom. Will he use them or just turn into a typical Republican with a few populist gestures?

  31. blucollarAl

    If a consistent pattern of past behavior over an extended period of time is a reflection of underlying character and “habits of the heart”, then we know that Trump is all about the aggrandizement of his ego and the relentless pursuit of status and dominance over his perceived peers and rivals. As a lifetime New Yorker who grew up reading the tabloid accounts of Trump’s exploits (business and personal, with a decided emphasis on the latter), I cannot recall a single example of Trump acting in a way that reflected concern for the common “little” man or woman, the “meek and humble of heart”. Even his so-called charitable work seemed designed mainly to bring praise and accolades on himself. His business dealings reflect a lifetime of stiffing various contractors, exploiting laborers, undermining union contracts or avoiding union labor all together, denigrating staff, and generally puffing himself at the expense of everyone around him. I think he understands even his vast wealth more in terms of its role as a status-enhancer and sign of personal power than as opportunity for capital investment and building a legacy of great public or public-private works. Look, for example, at his preferences in architectural style and aesthetic appeal when he was engaged in the business of building. Hideous monstrosities, all.

    FDR may have been pushed to a certain extent by circumstances to become the president he became. But FDR came from a vastly different background than Trump. Noblesse oblige is not a description of a single molecule of Trump’s body or soul. Caring about greatness is simply caring about Trump, what is today called his “brand”.

    It is all about image for him. Image is substance; there is no essential difference. And this is what frightens me. He has the character of a king who is susceptible to the false praises of every court sycophant and diabolical conniving minister looking to pad his own pockets or acquire her own power through stroking the monarch’s ego by flattery. We can assume that the various elements of the Prevailing Power, the Party hacks on the make, the generals and admirals who delight in warmongering-as-career-building, the media whores who have perfected the art of false praise, the Wall Street power brokers who set so much of the social and cultural standards for New York-Manhattan life of glamor and glitz, know this about him and will use it against…not him so much as the people whose support he rode to the White House. Trump, according to every bio written about him, yearned as a true outer-borough arriviste to be a “player”, accepted and admired by the Manhattan social set, the “top of the pyramid” crowd . He never quite made it. He was always seen as a bit uncouth and cut a clownish figure, most especially when he would go out of his way to appear otherwise. Now he has his great new chance to be “The Man of the Hour”. The Power will use every technique of false flattery to exploit this fatal weakness in Trump’s character.

    Underneath every bully’s tough exterior and bluster is deep insecurity. This insecurity can be exploited by the shrewd and savvy. It will be. Trump is no tribune of the plebs.

    1. cojo

      Great analysis, two points I would like to add, unknown, unknowns…

      1). Trump has now made it to the top, not much higher you can go in terms of cult of personality than the President of the United States. Does he have anything else to prove. Will this add more method to his madness.

      2). What will give him more satisfaction, pleasing the shrewd and savvy who have arrived on his coat tails, or pleasing the masses.

      1. L

        To which I would also add a third: how will he deal with setbacks?

        It is one thing to ride the train up to the top of the heap, it is another thing to stay there and fight to get things through. Presidents often have to choose what fights to have and what not to. Consider the examples:

        Obama chose to fight for healthcare and not so much on other issues some of which, like the Middle East, he happily delegated to the Neocons surrounding Clinton. When faced with some setbacks he fought. With others (e.g. Judiciary) he sought to please or just plain gave up.

        W. chose not to fight at all but he brought along Dick Cheney who was a throat cutter from way back so when he did actually want something (Iraq) it did happen and he faced little meaningful opposition elsewhere.

        Bill Clinton, say what you will, relished the fight and did know how to use his enemies against one another.

        And consider some non-presidential ones:

        Sarah Palin is a Trump surrogate who followed each victory by doing little but settling scores and plotting her next campaign until she lost the VP slot. Then she quit being governor and devoted herself to herself.

        Chris Christie chose vindictive pettiness which has now come back to haunt him and may welll have cost him his future.

        Rudi Giuliani chose to settle scores while in office and then hitch himself to the next guy to come along when out.

        I disagree with BlueCollarAl in that I don’t think he is so much eager to please as to be pleased. That makes him vulnerable more to flattery than to scorn. But it also means that he will remember those who did not do him well.

        Trump has had his ups and downs as a businessman so I doubt he will fold as quickly as Palin did when people do not follow him. But he also holds a grudge and did campaign on his own self-aggrandizement. So it is not clear to me that he will fight the long fight so much as the bitter one. How he deals with intra-party opposition and international flattery is the biggest concern.

        1. hemeantwell

          I think BlueCollarAl is more on target here re Trump’s vulnerabilities. The very salience of humiliation and ridicule in Trump’s personal repertoire is a lob shot giveaway that he’s alert to suffering the same. He, of course, wants to appear invulnerable. Part of that is just bullshit, part of it is, as hinted at above, thinking that he will eventually be able to triumph over the offender. That’s how a grudge can work: you imagine that, off in the future, you parry the humiliation and nail the offender. Until then you relish the fantasy.

          The info re his exclusion from elite circles he aspired to is interesting. What it suggests to me is that he might be inclined to “go to the people” for vindication and confirmation if he starts to get dismissed by poly-degreed advisers and Old Money Notables. This could take a lot of different forms, running from “going to the people” on maintaining something like Medicare to “going to the people” to whip up racism. In other words, his playing a populist role is a way to maintain a defense against elite dismissal.

          1. a different chris

            Good comment overall, but:

            >you imagine that, off in the future, you parry the humiliation and nail the offender. Until then you relish the fantasy.

            He is POTUS, and this is arguably the most powerful country in the history of the world. There is no “imagine”, there is no “fantasy”. Cross him and you may well be done – there will be plenty of sycophants ready to take your place.

        2. EndOfTheWorld

          How will he deal with setbacks? What, you think he’s never experienced setbacks? He’s a fighter, and he’s fought in the real world, not the make-believe posturing milieu of Wash D.C. It’s amazing to me that so many people on this board view him as mentally or emotionally deficient—-narcissist, sociopath, etc. He seems pretty level-headed and businesslike to me. I think he ran for president because he wants to be a great president.

          This makes him different than most of the other presidents we’ve seen lately, who just want to grab money or who really are mentally screwed up somewhat (eg GWB).

          1. weinerdog43

            “How will he deal with setbacks? What, you think he’s never experienced setbacks?”

            He’ll just declare bankruptcy again and stick us with the bill. He IS a narcissist. He may not be a sociopath, but he’s got the moves down. I was fooled by Obama until he named his cabinet. Shame on me. I’m not going to make that mistake again. Sending out tweets at 3:00am is not level headed and most business people I know are sound asleep at that hour so they’ll be fresh in the morning.

            I’m not sorry that Clinton lost, but that is setting the bar pretty darn low.

            1. EndOfTheWorld

              If you look up narcissistic personality disorder there is a cluster of characteristics that define it. One of the characteristics is they are not successful, because they are simply too screwed up. They are also incapable of love. Are you gonna tell me Donald Trump has not achieved any success or loved anybody?

              Narcissists have FANTASIES of power, success, etc. They don’t actually achieve these things. They’re losers. Sense of entitlement, a propensity for parasitic relationships, gaslighting—-these are some characteristics of NPD. I don’t think Trump fits the diagnosis.

              1. EndOfTheWorld

                According to his campaign manager, he sleeps three hours twice a day. Unconventional sleeping habits is not a characteristic of narcissism.

              2. weinerdog43

                Not persuaded. I have never heard someone refer to themselves so frequently, and he WAS a loser up until recently. The bankruptcies prove it.

                Cocaine and meth will also keep one awake.

                1. Yves Smith Post author

                  The sleeping habits of EndoftheWorld are not cocaine or meth sleeping habits. Widely reported that he does not use drugs. Sex is his big habit.

                  Also, in debates and rallies (and his rallies are extemporaneous), Trump in fact does not use the word “I” much at all. Clinton used it vastly more in the debates. Not denying that he is an egomaniac.

            2. EndOfTheWorld

              People with NPD are losers—they have fantasies of grandiosity but they never achieve anything because they are too screwed up

              Apparently Trump sleeps three hours twice a day. So what?

              1. tony

                Narcissists are entitled and believe success will simply show up without them working towards it. It’s highly unusual for a narcissist to put in consistent effort towards their goals. The very act would reveal their false self as not all powerful.

      2. rd

        Pope is next on his list. The ultimate cult of personality pinnacle with followers all around the globe. it also doesn’t have term limits, so you don’t have to run a second time. You also get some of the biggest buildings and coolest art work in the world.

    2. Science Officer Smirnoff

      Small, even tiny, footnote: recall Cheney and Rumsfeld reportedly were not adverse to goading little Bush to take on Saddam.

  32. Matthew G. Saroff

    You left off a trusted advisor, and possible AG or SCOTUS pick, Maryanne Trump Barry, his sister.

    Trump does trust his blood over all others, and she is a well respected jurist as well.

    If John could make Robert his AG, Donald could with Maryanne. (BTW, she is better than all the people you mentioned above)

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Oh, that is interesting, and oddly no one in media has her on the list. Really good catch.

      But what does he do with Giuliani? Giuliani certainly thinks Trump owes him, and Giuliani is such a nasty piece of work you don’t want him at loose ends nursing a grudge.

        1. a different chris

          Hmmm… that could be interesting. On the types of things that come before the Supremes, Giuliani is more liberal than half the Democrats in Congress. Not that that’s saying much, but how would he be any worse than Garland?

      1. L

        That would be interesting to see. Both of them hold grudges and are ready to exact a toll down the road. My qhe question would be what kind of pain could Giuliani inflict given that he has thrown so much in with Trump that noone else in the R establishment will have him.

        On a related note, the campaign has already parted ways with Christie according to Pence so there is one grudge-filled surrogate already out there.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Pence is not a reliable reporter. He has REPEATEDLY said things about Trump positions that Trump has slapped him down for. It may be true that Christie is out, but you can basically not take a single thing that comes out of Pence’s mouth regarding the Trump operation as true. CNN almost seemed to relish in the little dustups. I would tune into it on the treadmill at my gym to read its closed caption, and they also have weird little ticker tape at the bottom, which is where these stories showed up. I recall three of these Pence v. Trump episodes on the trail, and every time Trump slapped Pence down. And it’s not like I spent all that much time watching CNN at the gym either.

          1. L

            Interesting, I had not noticed that but I guess that is not surprising. I wonder how that would apply to Pence’s comment that they won’t back Paul Ryan for Speaker either.

            I personally think it would make sense for Trump to let Ryan go because he will oppose him and someone else would be beholden. But perhaps he will see it differently now that Ryan has kissed the ring.

      2. jawbone

        Who is nastier, Ghooliani (in honor of the recent Hallowen holiday) or Christie?

        Having lived in NJ under Chris “Dasn’t Tax the Rich” Christie, and seeing how mean and stupid he can be, it might be a tie. They both had high level underlings who went to jail….

      3. Jerri-Lynn Scofield

        There’s a problem w/ making Maryanne AG. In 1967, Congress passed the Federal Anti-Nepotism Statute to prevent a hypothetical future JFK from appointing a future RFK to his cabinet. It’s still on the books. Here’s the relevant statutory section: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/5/3110 (for a quick read look at paragraph b.)

        What I think is worth thinking about is what influence Maryanne might have on Trump’s judicial picks. She was appointed to the federal bench by RWR, but then it was Bill Clinton who made her a 3rd Circuit judge (she now has senior status). I’ll confess I haven’t looked at her opinions to see which way they skew, but the fact that Bill elevated her to the 3rd Circuit suggests that she’s a moderate. Here’s the wikipedia link for some basic biographical details. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maryanne_Trump_Barry

        I don’t think he’d appoint her to SCOTUS. Although the anti-nepotism statute doesn’t apply here– so that wouldn’t be a bar– the more important issue is, she’s too old. Also, I have no reason to think she might even want the job.

        So maybe DJT might surprise us and not just beat the bushes for Scalia clones to elevate to the Supremes?

        1. Science Officer Smirnoff

          JLS, per my hint immediately below of yesterday, what we learned from the Miers incident is that The Party will not put up with squandering a Supreme seat. At all. Ever.

          The stakes are that high.

    2. Science Officer Smirnoff

      Speaking only of the High Court: presumably this wouldn’t go the way of little Bush’s natural pick of Harriet Miers!

    3. John k

      Didn’t know that, great point. Interesting career, nominated by both rep and dem pres… Easy confirm. Supreme seems more likely, but she might be a tough prosecutor, maybe more useful to trump as AG… Wonder which she wants… She’s older, maybe AG too taxing.

  33. root

    The usual framing seems inapt with DJT’s lifestyle but his opening at Liberty University and the role Ralph Reed played in putting out the live mic moment portends a relationship to the evangelical right. Brilliantly played or revelatory?

  34. Phil King

    Update on possible Trump cabinet picks via Buzzfeed

    List of Potential Trump Cabinet Nominees:
    Attorney General:
    Gov. Chris Christie
    Attorney General Pam Bondi
    Sen. Jeff Sessions
    Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani
    Secretary of Commerce:
    Former Nucor CEO Dan DiMicco
    Businessman Lew Eisenberg
    Former Gov. Mike Huckabee
    Sen. David Perdue
    Former Sen. Jim Talent
    Agriculture Secretary:
    Gov. Sam Brownback
    National Council of Farmer Cooperatives CEO Chuck Conner
    Gov. Dave Heineman
    Texas Agricultural Commissioner Sid Miller
    Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue
    Secretary of Education:
    Ben Carson
    Hoover Institution fellow William Evers
    Secretary of Energy:
    Venture Capitalist Robert Grady
    Businessman Harold Hamm
    Secretary of Health and Human Services:
    Former New Jersey state Sen. Rich Bagger
    Ben Carson
    Newt Gingrich
    Gov. Rick Scott
    Secretary of Homeland Security:
    Sheriff David Clarke
    Secretary of the Interior:
    Gov. Jan Brewer
    Gov. Mary Fallin
    Oil Executive Forrest Lucas
    Rep. Cynthia Lummis
    Former Gov. Sarah Palin
    Secretary of Defense:
    Former Gen. Mike Flynn
    Stephen Hadley
    Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr.
    Former Sen. Jim Talent
    Secretary of State:
    John Bolton
    Sen. Bob Corker
    Treasury Secretary:
    Rep. Jeb Hensarling
    Businessman Carl Icahn
    Banker Steven Mnuchin
    Chief of Staff:
    Reince Priebus
    Director of Office of Management and Budget:
    Secretary of Labor:
    EEOC Commissioner Victoria Lipnic
    Veterans Affairs:
    Rep. Jeff Miller
    White House Counsel:
    Donald McGahn

    1. allan

      Guliani on Fox, when asked possible role in Trump admin: “I’d love to become the person that comes up with a solution to cybersecurity.” [@dnvolz]

      Just like he solved the problem of NYC first-responders whose radios
      couldn’t communicate with each other .. oh, wait …

    2. L

      Just before the election Mike Pence said that Chris Christie had “voluntarily” parted ways with the campaign. While he may return I suspect that he is unlikely for the AG slot at this point given the convictions over Bridgegate.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        See this comment regarding Pence and the statement from the horse’s mouth yesterday.

        The fact that Christie is on pretty much every media list as being under consideration for a Cabinet post despite being at risk of being not confirmed when Pence claimed he was out is yet another instance of Pence making stuff up that is at odds with where Trump is. The guy is starting to look pathological.



    3. Uahsenaa

      Corker would be an interesting choice for State. Most don’t know this, but he almost single-handedly prevented Congressional Republicans from blowing up the Iran nuclear deal and as foreign affairs chair has been remarkably dovish at times. Compared to John McCain, he’s practically a peacenik and certainly preferably to either Newt or Bolton. In the hearings I’ve seen him in on C-SPAN he’s notable among Republicans for listening to people and coming up with conclusions on his own (much like Chaffetz or Amash) rather than repeating pre-established talking points, which is what most Ds and Rs do with their committee time.

    4. EndOfTheWorld

      I like Ben Carson as Education secretary. Whatever his faults, he’s a black brain surgeon, when little black kids desperately need role models aside from coke dealers and pro hoopsters.

      1. nowhere


        “I actually have something I would use the Department of Education to do. It would be to monitor our institutions of higher education for extreme political bias and deny federal funding on that basis.”

        [On] carbon dating, it “really doesn’t mean anything to a God who has the ability to create anything at any point in time”

        – Ben Carson

        And throw in being a climate change denier and doesn’t believe in evolution. I think he can do better.

      2. Bill J.

        Who told you that coke dealers and basketball players (not that there’s anything wrong with ball players) were the only role models for black kids?

  35. cojo

    I’m curious to find out what role the Democrats will play during a Trump administration. Will they pull the obstructionist McConnell play of “one term president” as effectively as the Republicans did, or will it be something different.

    1. Jen

      Might be one of many reasons why Sanders is getting out ahead on this one: signalling that he will not play that game; though he will happily throw down on issues that matter to the voters. Puts the Dems an an awkward position if they then try the McConnell tactic.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I suspect that the identity warriors will shout and scream to try to obstruct, but that the left (i.e. Sanders and maybe a few others) will hold back to see if they can make common causes on issues like stopping trade agreements and a bit infrastructure investment program.

      1. PH

        Infrastructure is popular, but I wonder about the timing. My guess is that other issues will come first. Judicial appointments and Continuing Resolution appropriations bill (with all sorts of policy riders) will probably poison the atmosphere by April.

        Schumer recruited a lot of conservative candidates to run from purple states over the years, and those are his flock. He will try to protect them from votes on many controversial but important issues (by letting the dirty work be buried in big bills), and will pick a few universally popular issues be his target for a lot of furor in the media.

        I expect a large and steady erosion of traditional Dem priorities under Schumer.

      1. cojo

        That is true, the Repubs always fall in line ever since DeLay and Gingrich. The Dems are like trying to herd cats! Probably because they are more open minded, but a bad thing for a caucus.

  36. Brad

    Fact: Trump is a confirmed two-bit con artist and classic smash and grab capital asset stripper. A parasite. Check out his business history. In that sense Trump is no different than Romney. They just work in different “industries” (RE vs finance), with Trump being a more vulgar flavor. That last attribute no doubt feeds Trump’s personal animus towards his class comrades, both RINO and Clintonite, who no doubt socially snubbed him (especially in NYC), consigning Trump to his two-bit seedyhoodness. THAT peculiarity is probably the only really interesting thing about Trump.

    Otherwise don’t kid yourselves dear leftists. Trump himself is fully capable ideologically of picking some really toxic characters like Giuliani (and Christie or the Goldman Sachs guy). If he is not “rolled by the RINOs”, and stays in character, Trump and cronies have every potential to be one of the most corrupt Admins. since…Warren Harding? Ulysses S. Grant?

    Infrastructure? Note that Clinton promised the exact same thing. Both know the limits of “fiscal policy” permitted by Wall Street. Until proven otherwise, I’m skeptical that this would be anything other than another plague of orange cones, another exercise in polishing the Holy American Highway for my Virgin Mother the Car. Especially given the evil Ayn Rand skinflints (Ryan and Co.) that control the purse-strings here.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Joe Kennedy, stock manipulator extraordinaire, was a great first head of the SEC.

      Not saying you won’t be proven correct, but building tons of infrastructure would suit Trump’s enormous ego and do a great deal of good for his base. You ignore that his personal needs, his campaign promises and some economic opportunities might converge.

  37. Dave

    I was about to buy a new car this month.

    I think I will wait until next year to reward and boost the credibility around those
    four encouraging things Antifa mentioned.

  38. Cripes

    It is true that primary voters who rejected more than a dozen Republican hacks, including !JEB! and delivered the nomination to Trump handed a giant F-you to the Republican party.
    Also true that in the general slightly under half the electorate voted Trump, for the fifth time electing the numerical loser to office via the Electoral College, and delivered a giant F-you to the corporate Dems and the third way Clintonistas.
    In the absence of a left populist alternative (thanks Debbie Wasserman Schultz) they voted the right populist alternative.
    No one was more deserving of this defeat than Hillary and her feckless predecessor, Obama, who deserves much of the credit for this debacle.
    While loudmouth bigots and gun nuts have featured prominently in the Trump phenomena, the truth is a large number of suburban/rural counties that went Obama in ’08 and even ’12 went Trump this time around, putting the lie to the claim this election was driven by xenophobia and racism.
    Trump and the rest are surfing deeper forces of popular revolt, confused and inchoate as that may be, and pretending to lead the march they stumbled into and waving the the banner as if it belonged to them.
    But we should not be fooled for a moment that Trump-ism, if that’s what it is, will deliver anything to the people who have vested their hopes in his victory and the many millions who refused to vote Hillary or to vote at all.
    He is surrounded by a cabal of the worst retreads of 1980-1990’s republifascists and crooks, from Giuliani and Christie to Gingrich for God’s sake. Trump is no policy wonk and can’t be bothered with the details of legislation and governance, and the wrecking crew that will wash in with the wake of his spurious victory will move quickly to pack the court, rig the redistricting for 2020, demolish the tattered social net, purge the voting rolls, roll back already weak environmental, healthcare, reproductive choice and worker rights and privatize everything in sight.
    Expect Paul Ryan’s budget blueprint to be enacted.
    The betrayal will eclipse anything Obama, as bad as he was, could ever hope for.
    Don’t kid ourselves. But maybe, just maybe, there is an opening to build an opposition that will not be controlled and directed by the fatally corrupt Democratic party and their minions in the press and elsewhere. Where is our Jeremy Corbyn?

  39. Brad

    I forgot to add the RoboCop angle. Throughout his campaign Trump loudly boasted of his intent to even further beef up the USA’s already overwrought internal security forces (let’s stop calling them “police”). I wonder how many cop votes Trump got? That’s another segway into Guiliani, and also with White supremacy, and one of the most evil prospects likely to come out of a Trump Admin.

    And that may be Trump’s foreign policy: “Bring the War Home”. Smash some addled leftist skulls. Take that Standing Rock! Take that Black Lives Matter!

    Like Rakesh said, Trumpism is a Redeemer ideology. It’s all about ‘regaining” the White Man’s Country they see slipping from their hands forever. For the “white working class” this means regaining effective race privilege without being blindsided by the same by the RINO/Clintonite Identity Politicians. And they perceive correctly, for it is and will slip from their hands, forever. Trump is the White Man’s Alamo. Of that we can be 100% certain.

    Don’t say you weren’t warned.

    1. weinerdog43

      Well said. But this time, perhaps the Stupid Party (Dems) will make the Evil Party (Reps) own their disastrous policies. I’m not holding out much hope, but Mr. Orange Hair is still going to have to deliver. Hippie punching does not provide many jobs, and unless he can deliver some jobs, the rabble won’t be patient for terribly long.

  40. George S

    Agree with many commenters that in many cases Trump doesn’t need to be rolled; his policies are consistent with traditional Republican “values” in a variety of cases. Nowhere more so than on a very important topic that no one talked about during the campaign and no one is talking about now, not even the people on this thread (except for the names listed in Mr. King’s message above)–the environment. In this area, Trump is in total sync with his party, and a rather extreme end of it.

    Check out the candidates for Interior, Energy, and EPA:


    Lucas, Palin, Hamm, Ebell, others. This is the strip-and-drill crowd on steroids. A full-frontal assault on public lands is in the offing.

    1. jawbone

      Health and Human Services secretary

      Among the names receiving buzz: Florida Gov. Rick Scott,

      Hhmmm, Rick Scott may be able to resume his scamming of Medicaid…esp’ly if he controls this whole department. Surely neither Giuliani or Christie would be after him as Atty Gen…..

  41. blucollarAl

    I should have added one important feature to my description of Trump’s character. Almost everyone who has known him in whatever capacity has commented on Trump’s seeming inability to think deeply, be reflective, display an extended attention span when considering arguments or analysis by others. Nor are there any indications that he possesses the kind of “expansive imagination”, the ability and willingness to look at public issues from multiple points of view, that Arendt, following Kant, considered sine qua non for the art of statesmanship. This feature, a critical lack in his personal and intellectual makeup, would seem to leave him open to sophistry is a variety of forms advanced by those around him who have their own agenda. We all recall that a key feature of sophistry is inordinate praise of the one who is subsequently to be deceived by the sophist. If you cannot or will not think deeply, question presuppositions, look at things from multiple points of view, you are, simply put, eminently able to be manipulated-persuaded by others.

    CNBC is reporting (noon) that Jamie Dimon is on Trump’s list of candidates for Sec. of Treasury. Perhaps wishful thinking on their part but who knows?

    1. a different chris

      >on Trump’s seeming inability to think deeply,

      Give me a break. He’s got freaking buildings named after him. If he isn’t a billionaire he certainly has been on and off. So maybe he can’t write phrases like ” that Arendt, following Kant, considered sine qua non for the art of statesmanship”…. but neither can I, and go ahead and question my intelligence based on that. I don’t care.

      Neither you nor I get to define what “deep thinking” is, let alone what mix of deep thinking vs. snap decision skills are best suited for POTUS circa 2016.

      Man Trumps detractors project on him as badly as his supporters. We. Don’t. Really. Know.

      1. George S

        We do have, however, first-hand evidence of Trump’s very short attention span from the man who actually did write “The Art of the Deal.” I think blucollarAl is on to something. And why can’t blucollarAl propose a definition, or at least a general framework, of what “deep thinking” is? Making those kinds of judgments and assessments is what human beings do.

  42. Synoia

    Enough with the Navel Gazing. The election is finished (as is Clinton).

    If there is to be a strong party on the Left, it has to have a foundation of Labor (Workers) – and most of us 99% are workers.

    Which brings us to the topic of solidarity, and then Unions.

    No one wants to belong to a Union. Unions are created by the bad acts of management, and the workers have to band together, in solidarity, to counter management. This puts workers between a rock (management) and hard place (the need for solidarity).

    Why solidarity? Becuse united we stand and divided we fall. However Union Leaders exercise power, and are in the same league as management, and frequently exhibit worse behaviour.

    The Unions have to fund political candidates to counter the acts of management (the rich).

    The 99% need solidarity. The historical mechanism was unions, but unions were gutted by right-to-work legislation, invented by the same mindset which suppressed black aspirations from reconstruction until the mid 20th centurey civir rights movement became effectve.

    I’d be interested in constructive suggestions from others.

    Other suggestions I’d be happy to eviscerate with a simple question: What’s your proposal?

    1. TheCatSaid

      The election is finished

      Should it be? This may sound like nit-picking, but I think verifying the official election results is important, such as inspecting the Ballot Images (that until recently we didn’t even know existed). Until that is done, we will never know whether Clinton actually won, or whether Trump actually won by an even larger margin–not to mention state & local results.

      The tradition of accepting election results w/o even trying to get transparency and validation is where we let ourselves down if we want any claim to democracy.

      As to the focus of your comment, whatever decision-making tools we use in our organizing we should build in public verification of all counts. That goes for union organizing. I’d highly recommend integrating ranked-preference voting methods as well, so that decision will reflect the will of the people involved–instead of forcing them to accept or reject one or more options that they didn’t choose.

    2. HotFlash

      Interesting and rare thought. For years I have been trying to join a union, you know, to be solid with. I am self-employed, so no-one would take me, not even the Wobblies. So much for One Big Union! And this with union membership dropping to a sliver of its former level, you’d think they’d be happy for the help. Quizzical looks and outright refusals was what I got.

      Only the National Farmers’ Union wanted my few dollars and my support, as an associate member.

      Unions currently are bound to the capitalist/worker adversarial system, and what we need is a way out of that, if we have any hope of having a non-capitalist society. We are going to have to organize better than trade unions, and even better than cooperatives.

  43. TheCatSaid

    @ Steve: “I think there is a very good chance the Republican establishment will come up with some way to ruin Trump within the Party and get rid of him. A Republican like Pence with control of Congress is the Republican dream.”

    Trump has demonstrated his skill and experience in taking issues directly to the people via how he is able to get media to serve his own aims. This could be a way of getting around the Republican establishment if he desires to do so.

    The fly in the ointment is if there are behind-the-scenes figures (beyond Dem & Rep) calling the shots, who might have their own requirements “or else”.

  44. PH


    I am interested in the foreign policy angle. This is the area President’s have the freest hand.

    I know very little about this bureaucracy, but I wonder how easy it will be to root out the Neo-cons.

    It strikes me that there are tight cliques of retired generals, big contractors and think tanks. If I understand your source, he is suggesting a counter/clique. That could work. But I doubt the specifics will ever become public.

    As for the rest, I am skeptical. Maybe hold firm on social security — and that would be huge — but deficit spending seems unlikely.

    I have some hope on TPP, but not a lot. Chamber of Commerce.

    Immediate horror shows will be Supreme Court nomination, and immediate rollbacks of the environmental laws.

    After that, I suspect agenda will be lost as life becomes responding to crisis as they pop up. For example, how will he handle threatened government shutdown over debt limit? How will he handle a terrorist attack? Or mass demonstration at pipeline construction site? Or a financial crisis?

    My guess is that he will play it by ear.

    Like Louis XIV, the state is me.

  45. Grant

    I’m not sure if this is what you mean by rolling, but I doubt Congress will show the same deference to Trump that they showed to Bush 43. So they will likely resist any domestic policy moves on his part that don’t fit their agenda. In terms of foreign/military policy, it is pretty hard for Congress to roll a President who doesn’t want to be rolled — the Republicans couldn’t do it to Obama and I doubt they’ll have any more success with Trump.

    I think the three big domestic policy issues that will pass are repealing Obamacare, cutting taxes, and infrastructure. Trump’s voters, the Republican base, and Congressional Republicans all want these things and now they will get all the credit for employment increases from spending, so they will happen.

    Otherwise, one thing Trump, Giuliani, Gingrich, and Christie all have in common is the instinct to attack their opponents without restraint and do everything they can to weaken them. Two steps that seem likely to me: any infrastructure spending will include an end to prevailing wage laws and a national right to work law, and a national voter ID law — for extra credit they will make it an amendment to the Voting Rights Act and enjoy the protests. I doubt they will attack same sex marriage any time soon, because right now it is a defining issue for many corporations who they want to support them (instead of the Democrats).

    1. L

      I think that this is an area where there would be some problems. Ending prevailing wage laws would go against one of Trump’s promises to raise the minimum wage. This would roil a lot of the minimum wage workers who supported him over Clinton. He could hardly claim to be improving their lot if his first act is to gut their pay.

      1. PH

        I agree Trump might veto it in a standalone bill, but that is not likely to be the case. Instead, it will be in a rider in some larger and important bill.

        The only thing between now and repeal of Davis Bacon is probably the filibuster rule. We will see if the filibuster rule survives.

      2. John

        Trump said in the Republican economic debate
        that he’s sorry, but Americans’ wages are too high,
        yes, too high, and have to come down.

  46. FREDDO

    I suspect that if the Republican establishment stymies Trump in Congress (particularly on delivering pork – infrastructure – to the rustbelt, etc) he will go rogue on them.

    I note that:
    1. Very few of the congressional republicans endorsed him; he owes nothing to the party;
    2. His base expects him to go on the attack. They won’t care if craters the republican party in the process. After all, he is the “non-politician” molotov cocktail they have thrown at the political establishment;
    3. Trump would much rather his base blames the republican party than himself for their misery;

    So why wouldn’t Trump take the Samson Option? Indeed, why would he care if the Democrats stormed back in the mid-terms?

    I will be interested to see if Trump becomes the US’s first “Post-Party President”. Pollyanna, I know, but I live in hope.

  47. FREDDO

    If the congressional republicans won’t let Trump invest in the rust belt, why won’t trump go rogue. I note that:

    1. Trump owes the Republican Party nothing; most didn’t even endorse him;
    2. He would much rather the Republican Party was blamed for the misery of his base rather than himself;
    3. He was sent to Congress to shake up the establishment, not join it. His base won’t care if he craters the republican Party. Indeed, why would he care if the Democrats roared back in the mid-terms?

    I will be interested to see if Trump becomes the first Non-Party President.

  48. Fool

    1. I think Icahn would be as good a Treasury Secretary as one could ever hope for from a Republican President and better than whoever Clinton would have appointed (not that that’s saying much). Same guy who quoted Warren approvingly in his letter to AIG; despises corporate America; correctly pointed out that Republican congressmen are economically illiterate; and that the US, unlike a company, cannot go bankrupt.

    2. Granted, Mayor (and post Mayor) Giuliani was atrocious. But, federal prosecutor Giuliani took down an investment bank (and made bankers do perp walks!) and the Mafia. (This was before my time, so it’s possible history has been embellished, but still…)

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      He famously did a perp walk of a guy at Kidder Peabody who did nothing wrong. And the investment banker he targeted, Mike Milken, who was an utter crook, was also an outsider who was eating Wall Street’s lunch. He was taking on the Wall Street equivalent of a Mafia don, not a Goldman or even a Wells Fargo.

      1. Fool

        Ok I probably gave Giuliani too much credit there (and he was an authoritarian jerk bar none), and of course I defer to your expertise/experience here. Still, having read about this stuff somewhat recently, I was under the impression that Milken being targeted just because he was an “outsider” was part of the Linda Robinson run PR campaign (followed by a Dershowitz one after Den of Thieves was published); because wasn’t Drexel for a short time one of the most profitable firms on the Street (not to mention what became of Milken’s acolytes following the fall)?

        That said, he’s still a thug who I wouldn’t want anywhere near a cabinet position. Oh well.

    2. barrisj

      Icahn, feh…heard him ranting on CNBC yesterday a.m. about how Trump should “kill” the EPA , because “environmental over-regulation” is holding back the gas, oil, and fracking industries from “productive” operations. Also, Icahn is a particular slimy version of an 80’s-era corporate raider who – by assuming a minority share position, then sending out a tsunami of press releases- holds company BoDs hostage until they meet his demands on “restructuring” or “recovering shareholder value” by, e.g., breaking up the company, all to his benefit, of course.
      Jamie Dimon apparently said no to Treasury…since Goldman has a long-term lease at Treasury, perhaps Steve Mnuchin would take it…surely there are other pro-Trump banksters willing to go revolving-door for the high exposure.

      1. Fool

        To the first point — and I’m playing devil’s advocate here — would a trimmer, less bureaucratized EPA preclude a carbon tax? (Not that I’m aware.) Point taken though…

        To the second point, while I don’t think billionaires should exist — period — I have trouble hating a guy who made his being a pain in the neck to the boards of corporate America (and took so much delight in doing so).

        I know I’m setting a low bar here, but Trump could appoint someone much, much worse than Carl Icahn for the position.

        1. barrisj

          You do, i assume, understand the consequences for many employees of companies Icahn has targeted: “enhancing shareholder value” usually means “right-sizing” a company, i.e., massive layoffs following restructuring. Being a “pain in the neck” to corporate boards doesn’t just mean kicking a couple of Board members out and replacing them with Icahn people, it also means upheaval at the manager-and-below level after companies agree to his blackmail. The notion that people like Icahn – or PE firms in general – are only interested in “improving efficiency” of companies in which they’ve invested is a complete canard, as shortly after the desired changes are made, and share values go up, they cash out and move on as so many vultures seeking more prey.

          1. Fool

            Look of course I think Icahn’s a greedy guy, and I’m hardly a proponent of the “shareholder value myth”. But a lot of the upheaval you’re talking about is generally a political failure (and for a financier with his bank account he’s never been particularly political). Again, Icahn gets his kicks from pissing off boards, and there is something to be said for companies being more democratically governed. So in the grand scheme of things that are wrong with American capitalism, that Icahn is a “professional asshole” — as one m&a lawyer I know who’s defended companies against him calls him — towards the corporate establishment is just a lesser evil in my view.

            1. barrisj

              OK, I get it…you simply are not serious, and let us all of us allow the rebarbative Icahn to carry on as those of his ilk will always do, scamming his way to more millions/billions at other people’s expenses. Bloody hell, the Yew Ess of A needs a Comrade Stalin to really sort out the malignant practitioners of freebooter capitalism, rank exploiters and parasites that have paved the way for a Trump presidency, and seemingly are immune from any rational criticism of their flagitious ideology and grotesque mindset.

  49. John

    Oh they might rebuild the infrastructure alright with
    plenty of taxpayers’ and untaxed corporate money.

    But when it’s done it will be private
    and you will pay to use it.

  50. Ralph Johansen

    One of the more profound, explicit statements of the problem and solution by John Smith in the final chapter of his fine book Imperialism in the 21st Century:

    Along with a huge expansion of domestic, corporate, and sovereign debt, the global shift of production gave the outmoded and destructive capitalist system a respite that lasted for barely twenty-five years. The “financial crisis” that brought this to an end is a secondary infection, a sickness caused by the medicine imbibed to relieve a deeper malaise, one for which capitalism has no alternative remedies. Exponentially increasing indebtedness succeeded in containing the overproduction crisis, but it has brought the global financial system to the point of collapse. Outsourcing has boosted profits of firms across the imperialist world and sustained the living standards of its inhabitants, but this has led to deindustrialization, has intensified capitalism’s imperialist and parasitic tendencies, and has piled up global imbalances that threaten to plunge the world into destructive trade wars. All of the factors that produced this crisis—increasing debt, asset bubbles, global imbalances—are being amplified by the effects of the emergency measures designed to contain it. The irony of zero–interest rate policy and quantitative easing is that their greatest success—preserving the value of financial assets and thus the wealth of those who own these financial assets—blocks the only possible capitalist solution to the crisis, namely a massive cancelation and reassignment of claims on social wealth asset values. QE and ZIRP—Zero Interest Rate Policy, or “crack cocaine for the financial markets,” in a memorable phrase uttered by a Goldman Sachs banker —are therefore means of postponing the inevitable, of kicking the can down the road while waiting and hoping for the growth engine to restart. Although the global crisis first manifested itself in the sphere of finance and banking, what’s now engulfing the world is far more than a financial crisis, it is the inevitable and now unpostponable outcome of the contradictions of capitalist production itself. In just three decades, capitalist production and its inherent contradictions have been utterly transformed by the vast global shift of production to low-wage countries, with the result that profits, prosperity, and social peace in imperialist countries have become qualitatively more dependent upon the proceeds of super-exploitation of living labor in countries like Vietnam, Mexico, Bangladesh, and China. It follows that this is not just a financial crisis, and it is not just another crisis of capitalism. It is a crisis of imperialism. (pp313-314)

    The interaction between living labor and nature is the source of all wealth. Capitalism’s frenzied exploitation of both has resulted not only in a grave social and economic crisis, but also in a spreading ecological catastrophe. Rising concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, along with the rest of the filth generated by capitalist production and dumped on land and into rivers and oceans, are already causing extreme weather conditions across the Global South. Capitalism’s tendency to exhaust labor and nature is as old as capitalism itself, but like its voracious appetite for cheap labor and its dream of circumventing production altogether through financial alchemy, all of its destructive tendencies are reaching their most extreme expression at the same time. The capitalist destruction of nature means that this is not just capitalism’s greatest-ever crisis, it is capitalism’s final crisis, an existential crisis for humanity. From here, then, all roads lead into the crisis. This, in the words of Cuban revolutionary leader Raúl Valdés Vivó, is “un crisis sin salida del capitalismo,” a crisis with no capitalist way out. The only way forward for humanity is to “begin the transition to a communist mode of production. . . . Either the peoples will destroy the imperialist power and establish their own, or the end of history. It is not ‘socialism or barbarism,’ as Rosa Luxemburg said in 1918, but socialism or nothing.” (p315)

  51. XonX

    One the most real data points we have so far is the few pictures of Trump and Obama at today’s 10 minute meeting that stretched to 90 minutes. That’s a train-wreck of expressions. Did he get yelled at for 90 minutes? Was he just called a clown? Was Obama pissed for 90 minutes because of the talk of scrapping all his health-care work. Was Trump threatened and just ‘splained how it’s all gonna work. Maybe Trump was simply walked through a typical 24-hour day? (what time does the donald get up in the morning?) Did Obama spend 90 minutes asking Trump to name state capitals and foreign rivers? Maybe if we had access to those 90 minutes of footage we’d know how the world really works.

    But Obama also looks pretty unhappy as well, I find it hard to believe he got as good as he gave, given the purpose of the meeting, so it’s still really hard to get a handle on. But isn’t there any reality we can mine from that ?

  52. meeps

    When Obama and Trump met and spoke of “wonderful things” and “difficult things” Trump mentioned “up in the air assets”. Did Trump mean DAPL? Something else?

  53. Code Name D

    This is a very interesting conversation. I only wish I could participate sooner.

    Trump has an interesting dilemma in filling his cabinet. As the original essay suggests, he has a degree of freedom a politician on either side of the isle for decades. But this comes with a down-side, he lacks the resources needed to find and properly vet candidates.

    Interestingly enough, if Bernie Sanders would have won, he would have the same problem.

    In the past, I proposed something I called the forward cabinet, where a presidential candidate lists possible names for his candidate on the campaign trail, giving voters a more concrete idea of what their administration might look like.

    But the observations made her suggest taking this idea a step further. Having the political party propose and vet in advance a short list of candidates that a perspective presidential candidate might pick from. This way when we finally do manage to get a true Progressive into office, they won’t run into the same problem Trump is having to deal with now.

  54. Michael Hoexter

    Missing from your analysis, Yves, is Trump’s apparent selection of Myron Ebell for EPA. This is a big “fuck you” to the future. There is no real world “upside” to this, and Ebell is obscure enough so that I am not seeing any meaningful constituency that he would be courting with this extreme appointment.

    1. meeps

      Myron Ebell; a grotesque straight out of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. If the goal of this appointment is to aid the Libertarians in removing the ‘obstacle’ of the EPA, then Ebell et al would be well suited for the task.

      How would that fit with the pledge to make America great? Beautiful?

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I am looking for tells as to whether Trump is going to implement some of his campaign promises that go against the Republican grain, like cutting back on the wars and doing a lot of infrastructure spending, and rolling back globalization.

      Trump promised repeatedly to reopen closed coal mines. It’s been very clear that he doesn’t care about reducing greenhouse gas emissions. So yes, this is ugly, but expected ugly and does not tell us about his choices in areas where he is in opposition to the Republican orthodoxy.

      And not to try to give Trump more credit than he deserves, but our war operations overseas are ginormous greenhouse gas generators. Getting largely out of the Middle East (if that happens, not at all clear it will), would somewhat offset his bad policies at home.

      1. Science Officer Smirnoff

        Infrastructure spending would be treated as a wonderful twofer. Jobs, jobs, jobs (Republicans take credit) and funded by taxing the $2T (whatever) “off-shore” at a corporately pleasing low rate when they “bring it home”.

        But 10% only raises $200B and Trump (as well as anyone can surmise) wants at least double that or did at one time.

        Still, it’s just too sweet to miss. (So it’s with the grain afterall)

        1. Science Officer Smirnoff

          Just showing up on TNR is a possible continuation on raising the balance of, say, $500B for infrastructure:

          . . . That gets you part of the way to full funding. And maybe Trump just doesn’t pay for the rest, borrowing at those low rates and growing the deficit. Liberals have cheered themselves with the prospect of a return to Keynesian spending, which the GOP abandoned during and after the Great Recession.

          But that’s not likely. Trump’s “Contract with the American Voter” (get to know this document) stresses that his American Energy and Infrastructure Act “leverages public-private partnerships, and private investments through tax incentives, to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over ten years. It is revenue neutral.”

          What do “public-private partnerships” and “tax incentives” mean here? This report from Peter Navarro, set to be one of Trump’s leading economists, lays out the blueprint. The government would sell $1 trillion in revenue-producing bonds, needing only to supply an equity cushion to ensure everyone gets paid. Navarro estimates around $140 billion in government funding when all is said and done, which you could easily get through repatriation.—David Dayen


          P. S. “Contract with the American Voter” has the stench of Gingrich, eh?

      2. barrisj

        C’mon, people, coal right now is cheaper to leave in the ground than mine, process, then ship to declining markets. Why do you think Peabody declared bankruptcy, for fuck’s sake? No one’s buying…duh! And these cretins are trying to make the case for revival of the coal-mining industry – deplorable safety record notwithstanding? “Clean coal”…wait, what? It’s over…sorry, WV, ain’t gonna happen, even with your man Trump in the WH…numbers don’t copy…fuggedabboudit! Jesus wept.

  55. John

    I am already hearing the Right Wing Talking Heads narrative
    that it will take more then two years to see the economic
    growth from Trump’s policies. Trying to set the working class’ expectations
    about the timeline.

    That is to get them past the 2 year election point with
    no backlash that the Republicans aren’t doing anything
    to help the working class.

    They know the danger of the two year “what has changed?” mark as they
    used that to take the House back in a landslide in 2010.

  56. pricklyone

    Cue Peter Thiel, added to DJT transition team. I gotta put on the record here, I think DJT is a true believer.
    He’s a trickle down, no regulation, taxcutting, drill-baby-drill, combo of Tea Party and Chamber of Commerce. Donald and Ryan will eventually get along just fine, Ayn Rand is alive and well.
    First words on his site under “Vision” are: “Peace through Strength”. I have heard this before, yes?
    I’m thrilled to see the destruction, or at least setback for, the Clinton and Bush dynastic plan, and I woudn’t want HRC near the government in any function, but I do not see Trump in any kind of favorable light, either.
    I think the wishful thinking of some here is reminiscent of the Obama wishful thinking.

    I hope I will be proven wrong. My last days on earth may depend on it.

  57. DarkMatters

    I have to commend Yves and Optimander for recommending that we hold judgment until appointments are made, and until policies become apparent. Both hope and despair over preliminary results can induce fantasies that we tend to turn into predictions, and then into misleading beliefs. Preliminary speculation can lead us into conclusions that will fool ourselves. I have in mind specifically the aftermath of the euphoria following Obama’s election. This led to such high hopes that for a long time, apologists constructed elaborate explanations to explain his political betrayals, instead of facing the facts and reacting accordingly.

    1. DarkMatters

      Postscript: For example, problems with the AFCA, which Yves identified here almost immediately, might have been accepted and identified by the mainstream liberal press in time to do something. (Or not).

  58. ewmayer

    “Of all the names involved with Trump, the one who is the most troubling is Giuliani, who is slotted to be Trump’s attorney general.” — In a glass-half-full vein, could he possibly be any worse than Holder and Lynch? But yes, I do hope against hope that we manage to end up with a better AG.

    Still, I’m going to continue viewing all these appointments and policy choices through the “how does it compare to what we have likely seen in an HRC administration?” lens. E.g. Bolton as SoS, awful as that would be, would still be an improvement over HRC’s clearly preferred Nuland/Kagan neocon-warmonger-family-values foreign policy. No worse on most and better on some is still a win, albeit clearly a lesser one than we could have hoped for under a Sanders administration. And who is to blame for the latter? Ah, yes, the corrupt Dem establishment. Not that I ever expect the elites in that cabal to ever own it.

    “Purdue Pharma is the company arguably most responsible for savaging the communities that turned to Trump as rescuer.” — Quibble: 4 decades of neoliberalism is responsible for savaging the communities that turned to Trump as rescuer. Purdue is simply back-end profiteering off the resulting misery epidemic.

  59. Andrew Foland

    Pence is heading Trump’s transition team.

    As a coda to my earlier comment, it’s not exactly that I think Trump cares what Mike Pence thinks. It’s that Trump just doesn’t care about governing, and Pence is a convenient person to dump that responsibility on.

    Trump’s involvement will probably be to insist on appointment of Giuliani, Gingrich, and some friends and family. Pence (and his ilk) can do what they like outside that. And I think Pence is an excellent wind vane to know what the ilk will be doing.

  60. Andrew Foland

    The last three post-election transition chairs (took me a while to dig this out, so recording it for posterity): Warren Christopher, Dick Cheney, John Podesta.

  61. Panopticoib

    @ John Merryman:
    I believe you got it right. “As a contract, the value is the flip side of an obligation, i.e. debt and that is why the entire economy is based on pushing people ever further into debt ” – This should be highlighted in red- as it is the very essence of our current economic system, called “Capitalism” . “Economic growth” in this system means necessarily primarily an ever increasing growth of obligations on one side of the deal. This is a huge internal logical issue, long before the also applying finity of ressources. It also has quite a semblance to the ordinary Ponzi scheme.

    ” If people understand how basic the principle is, even if the actual process is inordinately complex, then they will understand the system really is based on trusting other people. ” – This is really a quite optimistic way to put it. Traditionally, one could argue that it is not so much a system of trust, but rather of its cousin, make-believe.

    – When both sentences combined: “Extend and Pretend”

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