Consternation as Trump Starts Delivering on Campaign Promises While Making More Crazy Attacks on Critics

Trump is living up to his campaign in the good and bad sense. He appears constitutionally unable to stop lashing out at critics, even when they have a point and/or far more effective responses were available. The idea that one of the first acts of Trump’s press secretary would be to get in a row with the press over crowd estimates at the Inauguration and then double down with barmy claims of “alternative facts” is mind-boggling. And then to continue in a similar vein today with the fact-free claim that he would have won the popular vote if unauthorized immigrants had been excluded allowed the New York Times to amp up its headline to a new level: Trump Repeats Lie About Popular Vote in Meeting With Lawmakers.

Yet even this behavior, which looks deranged and was poorly executed, still plays to themes near and dear to Trump’s loyalists: that of him as the outsider under attack. Do not forget that mainstream Republicans believe that Democratic-organized minority multiple voting is a large scale phenomenon, hence the ongoing calls for voter IDs. (And as an aside, I don’t recall ever seeing the Democrats try to to split Republicans by highlighting that voter IDs would go a long way towards establishing something conservatives fiercely oppose, namely national IDs?)

And finally, many Trump voters said they didn’t like his crude language, his ill-tempered, ill-considered responses, his poor conduct towards women, his refusal to denounce racists. Yet even all this baggage, they preferred him to Clinton. The Democrats remain in deep denial and keep insisting that voters went for Trump because he legitimated all sorts of reprehensible conduct. Some, and it is not a trivial number of Trump voters instead pulled the lever for him with reservations. Even now, much of the Democratic party leadership has yet confront why their candidate and message failed with voters who weren’t enthusiastic but using their metrics, still saw him as better than Clinton.

As a result, it’s distressing to see many Trump opponents resort to demonization and Manichean thinking when during the campaign, Trump had unforced errors on almost a daily basis that fed that image. Yet it didn’t keep him from winning.

Lambert and I are keeping our focus on why the Democrats lost, what Trump really might get done, and what the opposition needs to do to stop those measures or at least water that down. That means looking at him clinically. But in the eyes of Team Dem, failing to screech from the rooftops that Trump has hooves and a tail is tantamount to backing him. We think, by contrast, that they are violating one of Sun Tsu’s most important precepts: that you need to know your enemy. Hysteria makes that almost impossible.

Yet Trump despite clear signs of disorder on his team (not having many Cabinet nominees in place; sloppiness on image-related details that Trump would presumably care about, like the design of the site), Trump is still moving forward with his campaign promises. And let us not forget what happened over the course of the electioneering: despite his unprecedented erraticness on many policy issues, Trump was consistent on a few themes: trade, immigration, infrastructure, cutting taxes, reducing regulation, improving relations with Russia. Those are his priorities. Given the enmity of the Dems and many in his own party (and on Russia, of much of the military/surveillance complex), it is an open question how far he will get.

Today, Trump delivered on one promise, that of ending the TPP. Trade and immigration are two areas where the President has considerable scope to act unilaterally, and Trump looks set to take ground. The TPP withdrawal should hardly come as surprising yet some media outlets presented his move if Trump wouldn’t dare pull that trigger. Of course, given that Obama had specifically promised that his first act as President would be to close Gitmo, maybe the Beltway types need to come to grips with the fact that Trump is serious

And ironically, the bogus framing used to sell the deal, that it was about trade, when economists acknowledged that trade is substantially liberalized and the TPP would do almost nothing, enabled Trump to position killing the TPP as undoing a worker-hostile “pro trade” agenda. If you had any doubt that Hillary really was in favor of the deal despite her protests otherwise, the tweets today from her allies are, as Lambert likes to say, “wonderfully clarifying”.

Both Bernie Sanders and the Teamsters praised Trump for ending the TPP. It is surprisingly under-reported that Trump met today with labor leaders, almost all of whom had supported Clinton. It is a not-well-kept secret that many union members bucked the leadership and voted for Trump. But the bosses engaging in a session with Trump that they described as “excellent” may be the start of the formal and long-overdue exit of unions from a party that has treated them as disposable for over 30 years.

But how far will Trump go? The problems with TPP were much better publicized than many might assume; when Lambert saw Trump speak in Bangor, Trump referred to the TPP only by its initials, didn’t explain it, and the crowd seemed familiar with it. By contrast, other dangerous “trade” deals, like the TTIP and TISA, are still as of now, moving forward. As Lori Wallach of Public Citizen warned:

If President Trump intends to replace our failed trade policy, a first step must be to end negotiations now underway for more deals based on the damaging NAFTA/TPP model so its notable that today’s announcement did not end talks to establish the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the Trade in Services Agreement and the U.S.-China Bilateral Investment Treaty – all of which would replicate and expand the TPP/NAFTA model Trump says he is ending.

President Trump also repeatedly has said he would launch NAFTA renegotiations immediately and withdraw from NAFTA if he cannot make it “a lot better” for working people. NAFTA renegotiation could be an opportunity to create a new trade model that benefits more people, but if done wrong, it could increase job offshoring, push down wages and expand the protections NAFTA provides to the corporate interests that shaped the original deal.

Even with the Fast Track authority Trump inherits, to pass a NAFTA replacement he must ensure its terms enjoy support from most congressional Democrats and a subset of Republicans. Most congressional Republicans and many people Trump has named to senior positions passionately support the very agreements Trump opposes. Most congressional Democrats have opposed deals like TPP and NAFTA and for decades promoted alternatives that expand trade without undermining American jobs and wages, access to affordable medicine, food safety or environmental protections.

NAFTA is packed with incentives for job offshoring and protections for the corporate interests that helped to shape it,…To put the needs of working people, their communities, the environment and public health over the demands of the special interests that have dominated U.S. trade policymaking, the 500 official U.S. trade advisers representing corporate interests who called the shots on past agreements must be benched.

If corporate elites are allowed to dictate how NAFTA is renegotiated, the deal could become even more damaging to working people and the environment in the three countries. Absent high labor and environmental standards, requirements for more North American content in products could increase U.S. job offshoring. The corporate interests that have rigged past trade deals say NAFTA renegotiation is how they will revive the special protections they achieved in the TPP, for instance limits on competition from generic drugs so pharmaceutical firms can keep medicine prices high.  (See Citizens Trade Campaign’s Jan. 13  letter to Trump and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s Jan. 3 letter to Trump on what must be in a NAFTA replacement for it to provide broad benefits.)

Trump is proposing bi-lateral deals as part of his remedy. But those take time to conclude and it’s doubtful that Trump could get any done in a single term. And as Wallach implies, we have the looming questions of whether Trump really cares about having deals that work, or even if he does, whether he will be outmatched technically and politically by the beneficiaries of the current system.

Yet Big Auto believes in Trump’s seriousness enough to be worried. As the Wall Street Journal reported in Auto Industry’s No. 1 Preoccupation: Trump:

American companies, several of which have been scolded by Mr. Trump, often via Twitter, are suddenly grappling with a new, unpredictable force in their operations. Barbs have included the price the Pentagon pays for Lockheed Martin Corp. jets and whether Carrier Corp. assembles furnaces in Indiana. AT&T Inc. Chief Executive Randall Stephenson recently met with Mr. Trump, who had expressed concerns about the telecom giant’s proposed purchase of Time Warner Inc.

Few industries have spent as much time in Mr. Trump’s crosshairs as the U.S. auto sector. Less than a decade after U.S. auto makers bounced back from near catastrophe thanks to a bailout from Washington, they have been rattled by a series of tweets by Mr. Trump accusing them of not being sufficiently committed to U.S. jobs and investment, given their heavy reliance on overseas production.

Compared to dealing with legislation or trade negotiations, jawboning companies has great potential bang for the buck. But the article describes how Trump has got Ford, which it had thought it had dodged the Trump offshoring bullet, to ditch plans to open a plant in Mexico and invest more in retooling in the US, including in a Detroit operation described as “struggling”. But it also mentions cases where CEOs presented US investment plans as if they were new commitments and got out of Trump’s crosshairs.

Part of Trump’s pitch for normalizing Russia was that China is a bigger threat to the US. And Trump’s team has been saber-rattling with China, to the degree that China experts are worried. At the same time, the idea of China creating islands out of atolls that are submerged for part of the day and using that to advance territorial claims is quite a stunt, and the US has been at a loss as to how to calibrate a response. The latest from the Financial Times:

The White House on Monday said the US would protect its interests in international waters in the South China Sea but refused to say whether it would attempt to block China from accessing artificial islands in the disputed area….

Rex Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil chief executive nominated by Donald Trump for secretary of state, angered China this month by declaring that the US would attempt to prevent China from accessing islands where it has been building runways and other facilities that have potential military use…

“The Chinese will want a better explanation of the policy on the South China Sea,” said Mr [Dennis] Wilder, who was the top White House Asia adviser to George W Bush. “It shows that Tillerson and the new (White House) press secretary are just not yet steeped in the arcane nature and legal niceties of the South China Sea issue.”

Trump is fond of maximizing his bargaining options by taking inconsistent positions and not bothering to clean them up. So even though Tillerson and Spicer not being on the same page is likely due to a lack of coordination and appreciation of the issues, Trump may not deem it to be in his interest to sort matters out.

More broadly, Trump faces hostile Democrats and a lot of opposition within his own party. He’s likely to be willing to concede a lot on other issues, such as Obamacare or Medicare “reform”, which aren’t priorities for him, to get what he thinks he needs (whatever that might constitute) on his pet issues. But those might not even amount to concessions given Trump also being keen to deregulate. One of the best pieces on the Trump inaugural speech by Chris Caldwell, warns:

Yet Friday’s inaugural address seems to have thrown Mr Trump’s adversaries into a state of shock. It turns out he actually meant those things. He spoke of “America first” as his principle; “protection” as his policy and “buy American” as his motto. Millions gathered on Saturday in cities across the country and globally for “women’s marches” to protest against his presidency. Mr Trump accepts the radical implications of his world view. In fact, he has a good chance of enacting it.

That Mr Trump’s oratory has the power to shock is a vindication of sorts. His campaign was about things that are invisible to ruling-class America, starting with non-ruling class America. Invisibility, anonymity, voicelessness was the theme of the whole speech: “One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores,” he said, “with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind”….

There is nothing especially radical about Mr Trump’s diagnosis of globalisation, except that he seems sincere about it. Every western politician of the past 20 years, from Hillary Clinton to Helmut Kohl to Jeremy Corbyn, has bemoaned that it leaves people behind. But they did not understand that the New Economy was a new economy. It involved phasing out every aspect of the old economy, including its personnel.

The theorists of the New Economy said it should be possible to compensate the “losers”. But that never happened. Because when the money came in, the people who managed the new economy did not recognise the losers as belonging to the same community.

Perhaps the surprise is that it took as long as it did for a US politician to argue that, if the system’s leaders cannot be trusted to reform it from within, they must be ordered to do so from without.

With Trump, we have, far more visibly. the same question that dogged the Obama Administration: what does he really stand for? With Obama, we learned that he was conservative and cautious, but also very much liked the appearance of getting things done. His press office repeatedly cited how much legislation was passed on his watch, as if volume was more important than quality. Trump is likely to have the same orientation. It’s easy to assume, as critics do, that Trump wants to become even wealthier. But Trump more than anything wants to be visible: his splashy/trashy buildings, his TV show, his relentless self-promotion, his reckless tweets. While Trump in oh so many ways looks like a classic narcissist, one departure is his need to mix things up. Most narcissists are working above all to have their environment reflect back a good image of them. Trump’s regular undermining of his own image is at odds with that.

There are far too many moving parts to have any firm view as to how the Trump Administration will pan out. But even though there was good reason to suspect that given the record of both celebrity politicians and DC outsiders, that Trump would wind up as Jimmy Carter squared, a President that didn’t get much done, the flip side is that underestimating Trump has proven to be a losing bet. Stay tuned.

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  1. Demented Chimp

    The gods did not reveal, from the beginning,
    All things to us, but in the course of time
    Through seeking we may learn and know things better.

    But as for certain truth, no man has known it,
    Nor shall he know it,neither of the gods
    Nor yet of all the things of which I speak.
    For even if by chance he were to utter
    The final truth, he would himself not know it:
    For all is but a woven web of guesses


    1. olga

      Do hope the intent was not to bestow a god-like stature on DT…
      Agree that cancelling TPP was good and somewhat easy, but Yves is right – let’s see what happens with TTIP and TISA, as these are equally toxic
      Still wonder, though, what is really behind the TPP cancellation – could it be that loss-of-sovereignty bit that has his backers’ knickers in a twist? I kinda thought corporation rule the US and TPP was a seven-year corporate effort – they do not give up easily. Maybe no TPP will make it easier for the other two demented treaties… who knows?

  2. The Trumpening

    In order to better understand Donald Trump, one must be familiar with the ideological origins of Trumpism: the theories of Alain de Benoist and Alexander Dugin. Some ot their main themes a battle of the periphery (good) versus the center (evil); abandoning traditional left / right orthodoxies; a cultural turn towards tradition; and internationally a call for multipolarity and an end to the US global hegemony.

    On top of this Trump is utilizing two of Steve Sailer’s strategic ideas. First, that the Republican Party should concentrate on maximizing the white vote. And secondly, the concept of “citizenism” should the globalist censures about showing partiality towards a nation’s own citizens.. In citizenism, the citizens of a nation are like common stock holders in a company and the government serves the role of corporate managers whose first duty is to increase the wellbeing of its citizens and to not hand out US citizenship willy-nilly to foreigners.

    So the Trump battles with the media serve a couple purposes. First Trump realizes that no matter what, the media is going to attack him with everything they have. And so his strategic interest is to canalize their attacks towards safe directions he prefers. Trump was quite promiscuous with his campaign promises on what he would accomplish on his first days. For example a whole lot of “bad hombres” should already be deported. So these dumb discussions about crowd size are a better debate for Trump to have than discussing why no bad hombres have been deported yet. Also fighting the insider media helps associate Trump with the periphery and highlights him battling the center.

    And given that reporters are not much more than corporate lobbyists; Trump may soon have them reregister as such. After all, Mexican oligarch Carlos Slim is a major owner of the NYT and Amazon oligarch Jeff Bezos is the owner of the WaPo. Their reporters are making damn sure they serve the economic interests of these oligarchic masters.

    And while Trump was getting predominantly white union leaders to sing his praises yesterday, at the same time candidates for the DNC were taking turns trying to outdo each other in bashing whites. That’s no way to retake the northern industrial states!

    On China, Trump is looking for a conflict that will allow him to justify imposing trade sanctions against China. And it will be so much more fun when cuck GOP leaders demure and Trump has to point out that China is actually still Communist and still has a Politburo! But of course ending the War Party’s jihad on Russia will lead to a multi-polar world. The US, the EU, Russia, Iran, India, China, Japan, etc, should all take on the role of regional powers as the US pulls back its forces towards its own shores.

    Politically the Democrats have no role to play for at least the next two years. The war will be Trump against the establishment GOP. The GOP leadership are born losers and so Trump will go over their heads and speak directly to the oligarchs who control them. Trump’s main tool will be to threaten to do damage to these oligarchs through executive action but he just might be persuaded to lessen the impact if the GOP cucks vote as they are instructed.

    And it is pretty rich for the Democrats to whine about not having a seat at the NAFTA renegotiation table. Obama in fact promised to renegotiate NAFTA and he controlled both houses of Congress for his first two years. But he did nada and now that the baller in chief is getting things done now suddenly Democrats are interested in NAFTA??

    The next couple years is going to be loads of fun!

    1. rd

      I don’t think Trump reads philosophers.

      I think these pieces are a much better practical explanation of what he is doing;

      Bombardment with lies, delegitimizing opponents, and creating an alternative reality is how he goes about a normal work day. This is just business as usual and his goal is to reframe everything and anchor his goals in everybody’s heads. It is a classic con man approach. Simply repeating everything he says to rebut it strengthens his arguments. The press and political opponents are going to have to figure out an asymmetrical, guerilla warfare approach to him. Otherwise he wins in becoming an authoritarian populist.

      Right now the Democratic Party is lost in the wilderness without a compass, with the possible exception of Schumer who is not playing Trump’s game. Bernie Sanders may be a key in keeping the Republican right from being able to support Trump’s strategies, as they can’t be seen to be secular socialists and communists. When Sanders and Elizabeth Warren say something sounds great, that probably means a bunch of House and Senate Republicans have to vote against it out of principle.

    2. Art Eclectic

      now suddenly Democrats are interested in NAFTA??

      The Corporatist Dems are interested in NAFTA because, much like the GOP establishment, they have campaign donors who are at financial risk. The rest of us lefties are (frankly) more than pleased to see TPP die a death and NAFTA renegotiated (although the environmental regulations we would like to see inserted will get tossed aside).

      Until a way is found to fund Dem campaigns without corporate dollars, the Dems are lost because they have to sell out the country in order to get the money to mount campaigns.

      1. nobody

        How about trying to get so many contributions averaging $27 or $28 directly from the electorate, rather than from Big Money donors, that it all adds up to more than $200M? Have any Dem strategists thought of giving that a try?

    3. craazyboy

      “And it is pretty rich for the Democrats to whine about not having a seat at the NAFTA renegotiation table. Obama in fact promised to renegotiate NAFTA and he controlled both houses of Congress for his first two years.”

      That “Giant Sucking Sound” “Down There” is derogatory towards women and Party Leaders will no longer stand for it. We demand a seat at the table!

    4. oh

      The fact that the major news media and the CIA is against DT tells me that he something going for him. But who knows what he’s gonna do?

      I do concur with most of your observations and hope he can succeed in bringing both parties (actually the same party playing as two) down.

      People who call DT a narcissist don’t realize that one has to be a narcissist to want to be President. They can argue to what degree these guys are narcissistic. That’s all.

    5. Jim

      Would enjoy hearing more on your apparent belief that some of the ideological origins of Trumpism can be found in the theoretical framework of Alain de Benoist and some of the French New Right.

      Is Bannon the conduit to Trump on this perspective?

      1. The Trumpening

        Yes, Steve Bannon explicitly mentioned Alexander Dugin in an interview back in 2014. And since Dugin takes more than half of his ideas from de Benoist, the two go hand in hand. De Benoist is probably slightly more controversial in the US since he is a pagan and rejects Christianity.

        My guess is that key Trump speech writer Stephen Miller is also into Dugin and de Benoist. I was struck by how Trump’s inauguration speech really pushed de Benoist’s periphery versus the center theme as well as the obvious blending of left/right themes.

        And I’m sure Trump himself is not into this stuff. But he does deliver the message quite well.

    6. Jim

      Could you expand more on your sense that Alain de Benoist and portions of the French New Right have contributed to the ideological positioning of Trumpism.

      Is Steve Bannon the counduit to Trump on issues of this kind?

  3. Marcus Ohreallyis

    Much too willing, seems to me, to give this erratic huckster the benefit of the doubt. He’ll go down in flames of corruption, Pence will step in, and the Machine will grind on, grinding up most of us as per usual.

    1. UserFriendly

      Trump leaves much to be desired, but I’m not ruling out 11th dimensional chess yet. I have a feeling he might have asked Obama to put the troops in Poland and Norway so he could use them as leverage with Putin.

      1. Temporarily Sane

        I have a feeling he might have asked Obama to put the troops in Poland and Norway so he could use them as leverage with Putin.

        And I have a strong feeling you’re conflating fantasy with reality. Not only that…I bet my feelings in this case have a vastly greater chance of being vindicated than yours. Na-na-nanana…

        Seriously, why do people do this? Construct a fantasy scenario and knock down the wall between it and fact and present the whole thing as if it’s all fact? Fact is you have no evidence that Trump asked Obama to do anything. Considering the current NATO buildup in eastern Europe started years ago (and the fact that Obama and Trump ain’t exactly bosom buddies) makes your daydream of Trump asking Obama to station troops in Norway and Poland in order to “leverage” Putin highly unlikely. Not impossible, but extremely improbable.

        1. UserFriendly

          Notice the use of ‘feeling’ and ‘might’ rather than absolute certainty. You can simmer down there buddy, I don’t even think it’s likely but it is possible. They were both agreed on months ago and moving the deployment date up would be in Obama’s interest anyways since he couldn’t be sure Trump would do it.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      1. The Republicans won’t impeach him unless they take big losses in 2018. Impeachment would be hugely damaging to their party. And let us not forget that Hillary was not a paragon of rectitude.

      2. If Trump still wants the job, he’d go to the districts of those leading the campaign against him and hold rallies.

      3. Most Democrats and even some Republicans recognize that Pence would be worse. Like Spiro Agnew, he serves as impeachment insurance. You need a 2/3 vote in the Senate to remove the President after the impeachment trial. Not implausible that enough Dems would defect despite Trump being horrible. In fact, if the game were to get to that state of play, the Dems would likely drag it out to keep it from getting to a vote to have Trump hobbled but not reach a conclusion.

      In other words, Trump is going to be more difficult to dislodge than you assume.

    3. Foppe

      Reality-based analysis, without decrying the end of the world in every second sentence for the purpose of virtue-signaling, is “giving someone the benefit of the doubt”? What a world we live in.

  4. Disturbed Voter

    If President Obama had crushed his enemies, instead of letting himself be coopted … then he would have a very different legacy. But that would have kept him from the golf course.

    If President Trump crushes his enemies, instead of letting himself be coopted … but one can dream, can’t one?

      1. james brown

        Obama wasted no time in getting that done, at least as far as I’m concerned. At this point I was already soured on Obama and I voted for him. I’m cautiously optimistic with what I see with Trump and I didn’t vote for him. That’s not to say I like everything about him and his cabinet. AAMOF, I like very little of the complete package with Trump. With my hero Obama I got nothing, zip, zilch, nada. After many years of getting absolutely nothing from my team Democrat a few crumbs from the other team’s table is like a feast.

          1. F.Korning

            IDF service is mandatory and so says nothing. In fact only orthodox ultra conservatives are dispensed, so it could be considered a relief. It would be better to pull his record during that time. Any annecdotal evidence to share?

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      100 years from now Obama will be viewed in a light similar to that which has shined on James Buchanan for the last century. Whether or not he is followed by a Lincoln remains to be seen. We can hope, but there’s not much cause for optimism.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The Union needs a new Lincoln.

        One new poll shows record number here who support Calif. secession.

        Hopefully, Reconstruction will be better received after this state is defeated.

    2. Katharine

      Sounds more like a nightmare. On the evidence, his enemies appear to be everybody who thwarts him or disparages him personally.

      1. Stanley Mulaik

        What you describe is one of the central symptoms of the classical ‘phallic’ narcissistic personality: when criticized they strike back and go on the offensive. They also admire dictators; and they think of everything as relevant to them. They are also compulsive women seducers. And they do not listen to or care about others because they are thinking only about aggrandizing themselves.

  5. Carolinian

    Sanders praises Trump on TPP–good for him. Here’s hoping that as an independent Sanders tries to pull Trump in his direction rather than joining “the resistance” and the agenda of the Democrats who scorned him. Some of us have always had the theory that the true left might get more out of Trump than people like Obama or Hillary who see their left wing as power rivals within the Dems. In fact Trump may not be that ideological at all and has belonged to both parties in the past. So far Trump is “dancing with those what brung him” but should the mainstream Repubs prove to be a stumbling block he will need allies on things like defending entitlements and making peace. This is a fanciful theory perhaps, but as good as any other at this point. The last thing liberals should be doing is propping up the wheezing Democrats who show no sign of learning from their mistakes.

  6. Montanamaven

    I decided to watch CNN and MSNBC yesterday. Commentators like Wolf Blitzer and Jake Tapper were shocked, I mean shocked,at Trump’s rejection of the TPP. “But, but, but wasn’t this trade deal to stop China from dominating trade?” But rather than have anybody on to explain why it wasn’t a trade deal, they just sputtered about what would happen next? Rather than analyze, they always resort to speculation without every questioning why their assumptions might be wrong. It’s too hard to watch. I really think they believe in this globalization idea like it’s a religion. That belief in that system is not to be questioned. For “analysts”, they are not a very curious bunch. I guess that’s why they are called shills.

    1. Ivy

      CNN will probably be playing catch-up for a while given how often they have been called out. The talking head roster at many networks needs revision, with the exit of Donna Brazile and George Will just a few of those who need to depart. Wolf Blitzer should be next.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        “The talking head roster at many networks needs revision”

        The entire apparatus needs to die. Didn’t Jon Stewart adequately shame smiling jackal Paul Begala and sentient bowtie Tucker Carlson on Crossfire lo these many years ago?

        Oops, forgot: having no shame is a job requirement at the ministry of truth.

        1. oh

          More like a hyena rather than a jackal. Jackals are smart. Hyenas feast on other predators’ spoils (leftovers).

      2. clarky90

        I don’t eat food in a packet. I visit an enormous super-market, but only shop in 5% of the floor space. Fruit and vegetables, fish, meat, dairy and tea and coffee. 95% of the floor space is “diabetes bait”, put out to undermine me. To make me docile. I avoid, like the plague. This is Junk Food.

        I have always loved the news. I was listening to the news during the home-birth of my first darling child. (to my shame!).

        The last 6 months has taught me that the “news” is very much like the super market. About 5% (a made up %) is nutrient-dense information. (A hat tip to “Naked Capitalism”). The other 95% are infomercials masquerading as being “news” (healthy and good for you). NO, this is junk-news. Very unhealthy and soul destroying.

        I have (IMO), developed a good nose for the “junk news” now. This has been an emancipation.

        1. mk

          I tried watching the local news channels here in the Los Angeles area, I would record it to watch later with ability to fast forward through commercials and segments I’m not interested in. I’d get about 5 minutes of information I value, the rest junk. I stopped making the effort.

    2. Stanley Mulaik

      I think there were provisions (someone who knows more about this please comment) about accepting banking rules that in bank failures the bank would be bailed in by confiscating depositors deposits to clear the debt. The capital holders of the bank would not go first, nor would those who indulged in derivatives and default swaps. That was why I was against this. As someone above noted, the TPP was not just about trade. It protected the upper 1%.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Whether depositors get bailed in depends on the capital structure of the bank and how sick it is. Depositors normally are pretty senior and hence equity holders and subordinated bond investors would be wiped out before depositors.

        However, in the case of Cyprus, the banks didn’t have much in the ways of debt financing, so depositors who had more than the guaranteed amount of deposits took a hit. You might assume that was stupid rich people, but if you are running a business with any kind of payroll, you are going to wind up holding more than the guaranteed amount most of the time.

        Not sure about the European rules, but in the 2005 US bankruptcy reform, derivative holders were effectively made senior. They get to keep the collateral (bank assets) securing their derivatives positions.

        1. F.Korning

          That was theft pure and simple. Senior debt holders, pensions, snd payrolls were bypassed to make speculative CDS holders whole.

  7. Steve C

    Trump appears to relish the splashy easy things. Canceling TPP was relatively easy. Replacing Obamacare will be hard. Since he’s not really that interested in politics, stuff like that will probably evolve without his deep involvement. Still, out of the box, he gets to say he came through on a key campaign promise.

    I think the inflammatory comments and actions rally Trump’s supporters the same way empty stirring speeches and “good guy” photo ops rallied Obama’s. Trump has to be seen as fighting the establishment since his inconsistent agenda is unlikely to actually deliver the goods for his voters.

    1. PKMKII

      Replacing Obamacare will be hard. Since he’s not really that interested in politics, stuff like that will probably evolve without his deep involvement.

      So we’ll have a hands-off President, highly willing to delegate the details to underlings. Except when he doesn’t, due to some image-related concern. A unpredictable presidency; a bureaucracy constantly wondering if today will be the day that Trump decides to show up and start barking orders, only to become hands off again a few weeks later. Perhaps the best strategy for “resistance” is not to merely to stand up to Trump, but to try to actively sow discord and division within the administration. Get the little birds to whisper in his ears that such and such secretary is doing something that will make him look like a loser.

      1. Anne

        He’s going to get bored when he runs out of easy things to win on; a bored Trump may be an even more dangerous Trump.

        He will be at constant war with the media. He will chafe at being penned up in the WH, far from the clapping and cheering of adoring crowds, and forced to do the boring day-to-day work.

        Oh, there will be plenty of discord and division as people face working with someone who wants all of the credit and none of the blame.

      2. witters

        So the idea is just try and sabotage and trash things because… Obama was SO GREAT (& HRC would have been HEAVEN)?

        1. nowhere

          Or maybe he was/is still the lesser evil candidate. Not as bad as the other legacy party candidate, but still worth fighting on many issues (climate policy being the most important).

      3. F.Korning

        not trying to invoke godwin’s law, but neurotic or psychopathic authoritarians aren’t necessarily ineffective and can do an awful lot of dammage.

    2. rd

      The roadmap to repeal and replace Obamacare is this:

      Kentucky voters didn’t even realize they had Obamacare because Obamacare and Affordable Care Act were never mentioned when Medicaid was expanded and KYNECT was established. All they knew was that the Republican Party had enabled them to have insurance they never had before, despite an evil Obama in the White House.

  8. PH

    While you insert caveats, your tone suggests that somehow there is an unrecognized positive side to the Trump presidency. I find this astonishing.

    As you must know, there is a difference between governing and getting in the news. As you seem to concede, Trump just cares about getting in the news.

    The governing will be delegated to established Republican power bases, for the most part. Congress/lobbies and Repub congressional staffers stuck into the mid-level political jobs in the administration. The impact of cabinet secretaries is usually slight.

    The Yahoos in the Whitehouse are potentially more dangerous, and the national security team could be very dangerous.

    What we have is a very right wing Republican establishment poised to shape the courts and the bureaucracy for a generation (an absolute disaster for most things you care about) with an unstable megalomaniac on top (poised to get into a tweet war with nuclear armed Koreans at any moment).


    Can we forget that theme?

    I agree the remaining Dem establishment is corrupt and witless.

    I wish I saw more evidence of an insurgent organization developing.

    1. pretzelattack

      less tension with russia = better than hillary. and yes we desperately need an effective opposition, and part of that is undermining the right wingers in the democratic party.

      1. Pat


        There are a few areas where Clinton might have been minutely better. But on most areas of my concern she would not have been.
        She would still be backing charter schools. She would still be looking to reform ‘entitlements’ aka fuck up my and every other working persons’ EARNED BENEFITS. At least with Trump there will be some coverage of any attempt to do so. She would be expanding our military operations in the Middle East. She would either be going it is the law of the land regarding TPP if Obama got his lame duck passage OR she would be trying to resurrect it with meaningless fig leaves. And rushing to get TTiP and TiSA (the worst of the lot) in law as well. And as bad as Trump’s nominees are, from the various speculation it isn’t as if Clinton’s were going to be all that much better when it came right down to it.

        Sure she wouldn’t be mired in a controversy about the size of the turn out as she got sworn in, but we also wouldn’t have all the breathless coverage of anyone who protested either.

        We were screwed either way. The few bright spots would be different depending on which disaster we got, but there was no good choice but none of the above.

      2. Dave

        The Russians have a longstanding navy base in Syria. Hillary proposed a no fly zone in Syria whereby all aircraft would be shot down.
        ISIS has no aircraft by the way.
        The first Russian aircraft shot down, or that shot down one of our fighters, could have led to your brain boiling out of your skull in a microsecond as everything we know, the environment and the future of mankind was vaporized.

        Nothing that Trump has done, or will do, is worse than what Hillary promised to do.
        How’s her foreign policy interventions in Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq working out?

        Listened to a table of four women talking today about their having marched with their pink pussyhats, that one still wore. One of their daughters asked “why did we go to that march?” None of them could answer her and she kept nagging her mother. Finally mom told her to be quiet.

    2. A

      Thank you. I find this place astonishing as of late too. Just yesterday read a comment here that Trump is pro-choice. Any comment on his first act being the reinstating of the global gag rule?
      Claiming it’s “hysteria” to be outraged by lies about illegal voting because it plays to yes, his largely racist base? Dismissing all concerns about minority and gay rights as “identity politics”? No deep coverage of Trump’s conflicts of interests after having whole sections with cute nicknames like “email tar baby” for Clinton scandals? And complete dismissal of obvious Trump/Russia links. Astonishing indeed.

      1. Damian

        You said: “And complete dismissal of “obvious” Trump/Russia links.”

        obvious to …you? why not obama?

        “At President Obama’s January 18 press conference, he admitted, “the conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the Russian hacking were not conclusive as to whether WikiLeaks was witting or not in being the conduit through which we heard about the DNC e-mails that were leaked.” [Emphasis added}

        the reason WikiLeaks might have been “not witting” might be that it was quite sure it was not a “conduit” for hacking by the Russians or anyone else. Is it not clear that WikiLeaks is quite capable of acquiring such information all by itself – as proved by the files LEAKED to them by Chelsea Manning on what apparently appeared to be Lady Gaga CDs.

        Or, as former UK Ambassador Craig Murray has blogged under the title Stunning Admission from Obama on WikiLeaks:

        “In his final press conference, beginning around 8 minutes 30 seconds in, Obama admits that they have no evidence of how WikiLeaks got the DNC material. This undermines the stream of completely evidence-free nonsense that has been emerging from the US intelligence services this last two months, in which a series of suppositions have been strung together to make unfounded assertions that have been repeated again and again in the mainstream media.

        “Most crucially of all Obama refers to ‘The DNC emails that were leaked.’ Note ‘leaked’ and not ‘hacked.’ I have been repeating that this was a leak, not a hack, until I am blue in the face. William Binney, former Technical Director of the NSA, has asserted that were it a hack the NSA would be able to give the precise details down to the second it occurred, and it is plain from the reports released they have no such information. Yet the media has persisted with this nonsense ‘Russian hacking’ story.”

        So I suppose we should thank Barack Obama for dispelling at least some of the obfuscation for which he is so rhetorically eloquent, while our lame “mainstream” media take steno and regurgitate ad nauseam. “

        1. A

          I wasn’t referring to WikiLeaks but to the fact that Trump’s inner circle is filled with people with direct connections to Russia: Page, Manafort, Flynn, etc.

          As for WikiLeaks, I agree IC haven’t presented the smoking-gun evidence for Russian hacking, but circumstantial evidence is again overwhelming. Trump asking Russia to hack Hillary’s missing emails; Roger Stone saying that Podesta will be in trouble soon. All we have are the *unclassified* reports. Why would NSA reveal too many details, thus revealing their methods and capabilities?

          And if the DNC was an inside job, then who did it to the RNC which was also hacked?

          All this deep analyzing is like zooming in to examine individual brush strokes and missing the beautiful Monet.

          1. pretzelattack

            nope, not overwhelming at all. there are several greenwald articles at the intecept that thoroughly debunk this nonsense.

          2. Brad

            The Clinton’s attended Trump’s inaugural. That’s all you need to know to realize they are fundamentally on the same side.

            1. Arizona Slim

              Hillary didn’t appear to be having a good time at Trump’s inaugural. OTOH, Bill seemed to be enjoying a good long look at Melania.

          3. clarky90

            Hi A. Can you tell me, point by point, what is so awfully wrong with Russia? Russia is a Western Democracy, although flawed. (Just like every other Western Democracy)

            However, Saudi Arabia and China are totalitarian States deeply involved in mass murder. Please discuss, at your leisure.

          4. Damian

            You said: Mr A “I wasn’t referring to WikiLeaks but to the fact that Trump’s inner circle is filled with people with direct connections to Russia: Page, Manafort, Flynn, etc. ”

            so much for your opinion(s) ………today….”filled with people with direct connections”

            NYMag – 01-24: “The FBI has found no improper communication between National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and a Russian diplomat, say U.S. intelligence officials. Flynn, then adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, spoke with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak on December 29, the same day the Obama administration imposed a slew of sanctions on Russia for its alleged interference in the presidential elections. The FBI intercepted and listened in on the call as part of “routine electronic surveillance,” officials told the Washington Post. Flynn, officials also said, was himself not a target of any investigation.”

            WHY ARE YOU PROFFERING YOUR OPINIONS anywhere ? – TWICE DEBUNKED? ON THE SAME DAY – where did you go to school?

            1. A

              A Wall Street journal article yesterday says Flynn was/is under investigation by multiple agencies, it goes beyond this one phone call. The NY Times printed a story “FBI sees no Russian connection to Trump” and then it turned out that Comey was seeking warrants for investigating those very connections. So who knows whether this story of Flynn being cleared is true.

      2. Vatch

        Trump’s rejection of the TPP is wonderful, but he has already done many very bad things; a lot of his cabinet nominations are disastrous. Nominations to high public office are much more substantial than 3:00 AM tweets, and have the potential to do great harm. Which cabinet nominations have you protested to your Senators? I’ve contacted my Senators and asked them to oppose Pruitt, Mnuchin, Price, DeVos, Sessions, and Zinke. For some of those I contacted my Senators’ offices both in writing and by telephone. I should also contact them about Puzder.

        If you haven’t called your Senators about any of his nominations, you’re overdue! Please get on the phone now!

        1. Vatch

          Okay, I just got off the phone after talking to people at my Senators’ Washington offices. It’s a quick process, and I let them know that I oppose Andrew Puzder’s nomination to be the Secretary of Labor.

        2. A

          Definitely. So far I called my senator about Sessions because attacking the voting rights, criminal justice reform and civil rights are my biggest concern. And plan to call a lot more!

        3. kj1313

          Ditto I’m not worried about the hysteria frome the press corp. What concerns me is all the issues you brought up and the budget trial balloon being floated which shows 10T in cuts. But to be fair this might be the quickest way to enrage the public.

        4. FCO

          ..and I should call to set up a meet and greet with some of those good looking secret service men. Ladies, (or men) are you in?

      3. Art Eclectic

        Anything relating to abortion and same sex marriage is emanating from Pence, Trump just rubber stamped it for his own reasons. I see multiple Machiavellian plots going on within that inner circle. There are Trump loyalists and then there is everyone else. Pence is in the everyone else team and a useful idiot – until he isn’t. Trump is many things, but he’s not stupid enough to know that the GOP establishment is looking for a way to oust him in favor of Pence.

        I’m thinking at least 50% of the negative Trump stories are being generated by the GOP establishment as a set-up.

    3. fresno dan

      January 24, 2017 at 8:37 am


      I agree. But Hillary was never going to be better than Trump – she was just going to be soft and silky as the establishment stuck the shiv into the middle class and continued the strip mining of wealth from anyone not in the 1%

      look at the graph if you dare – near fifty years under BOTH parties – that is why we got Trump

      1. Binky

        Unalloyed bullshit. Trump will be far worse than Hillary for some people. It’s just not your ox being gored this time. Naked Trumpism pushed for Trump against Hillary and the reality is we will get the far right agenda the Tea Party dreamed of en route to a return to 19th century pre-Progressive predatory capitalism with the full power of the state behind it and a science fiction array of surveillance, persuasion and militarized police state tactics to support it. Trump is a psycho and he spreads insanity with him. Not an alternative fact.

        1. hreik


          Hillary would’ve been better at least on:
          Choice for women
          And her nominees for cabinet and level positions would not have been so utterly outrageous.

          1. jrs

            Yes, although it’s really questionable how much better for the environment anyone who seems to support horrible trade deals really is. But more likely to be persuaded on the environment that Trump “climate change is a conspiracy” probably. And the nominees are just trying to completely destroy the Federal government by appointing the most ridiculous people possible.

          2. mildred montana

            Hillary might have been better at least… doing nothing, or little, like her predecessor. There’s something to be said for the status quo, when the alternative might be worse.

            I get worried when a know-nothing know-it-all like Trump gets power and gets busy. And the haste with which he is getting busy is truly alarming. I would have thought that exercising Presidential power has a bit of a “learning curve”.

            But then, what do I know?

        2. Tim

          NC is a truth seeking entity. And it goes on steroids the more the truth is being ignored.

          I never saw NC selling DT, just identifying the reasons for DT’s success, and is now noting when he does things that sustain or detract from his success that once again the MM is missing.

          Does anybody have any idea how hard it is to find a new article on a detailed list of what trump actions have been since elected? It’s really hard, and that is what the people that voted him in cared about was results, and the media continues to focus on optics.

    4. Wyoming

      You obviously missed this part…

      “We think, by contrast, that they are violating one of Sun Tsu’s most important precepts: that you need to know your enemy. Hysteria makes that almost impossible.”

      The endless and mindless hysterical assumptions being put forth by those who are horrified by what happened are proof positive of the above. Your comment is a deep demonstration of the lack of any meaningful understanding of those who chose to go another path in the recent election. Until the lot make an honest attempt to get an education there is not much hope they will overcome this void.

      A few items to work on. You have no idea what Trump thinks. You have no idea what he is going to do. Everyone has positive sides (yes even Hillary and Obama) and the TPP and NAFTA are proof positive in the case of Trump. If you want to understand where we ‘might’ be going pay attention to results and not rhetoric (you would think after the last 8 years of being told one thing and getting another that it is results which count – everything else is tactics or negotiating strategy).

      Almost 50% of the voters came to the conclusion that, even with all of the uncertainty that came with Trump, anything but Hillary was the better choice. We are far from proving that wrong yet so expect that theme to hang around for at least a couple of years.

      Hatred lights the fire, but revenge is a dish served cold. If you want to fight start getting in shape. Throw out everyone associated with Hillary (if you do I might even think of supporting who ever replaces Bernie).

      You are correct that we are moving strongly to the right. Because ‘they’ do know how to fight and they have systematically kicked butt and punched above their weight. The Republicans have been working on achieving this situation for at least a generation. It is not just owning the Presidency for the next 4 years (and if the former Hillary supporters keep this nonsense up it will be 8 by the way). They own the Senate and the House and are poised to take even stronger control in 2018. Even more important they own the State governorships and the State legislatures. They are poised to own them even deeper by 2020. If they succeed in that, as seems likely, they will set the new electoral districts following the 2020 census and further cement their control. If the Democrats assist them in winning in 2020 they will end up putting in place enough Supreme Court justices that the Court will be strongly conservative for at least a generation.


      “What we have is a very right wing Republican establishment poised to shape the courts and the bureaucracy for a generation (an absolute disaster for most things you care about) ”

      you don’t get to decide what it is that ‘we’ most care about. Clue. It is not identity politics. All such things, however valid they might be, are of secondary importance to all people. Even to those most motivated by such concerns. Satisfying secondary level human rights is always a good goal and to be worked for, but they cannot successfully replace the absolute requirement to secure primary rights. For if primary rights are unmet secondary ones will always be trampled in the search for security, enough food to eat, a place to live, a future for ones children, etc. All those basic things which have to come first. Achieving high end social rights and goals can only be accomplished on a foundation which is built upon those primary rights. If the foundation is not sound nothing else is either.

      This is the great failure of the Clintons and Obama and the Democratic Party. They thought that they could throw the half of the population of poor and working class people under the bus (the deplorables) as long as they could get the other half of them to continue to sign up to ‘identity’ politics. A slight miscalculation there.

      So where does that leave us? With an opposition which is clueless because they don’t know their enemy. An opposition which is demonstrably cowardly and has shown no inclination to actually fight for what they want let alone have the fortitude to build that capability for a generation in order to succeed. An opposition poised to fail.

      I submit that we already have the makings of an insurgency. It is the populist uprising which was captured in the campaigns of Trump and Sanders here in the US and in others in a variety of countries. This is the current wave of the future of politics. Where it ends up is uncertain but it is driving the bus and we are going where it goes.

      Note that if Trump and the Republicans (and it is a big if) can partially succeed in their governing and can build a narrative that they are succeeding (an easier thing to do) then there will be a breakdown in support for the Democrats by the half of the poor and working class which has been largely supporting them as many of them will drift towards their brethren who have already supported Trump and Sanders. This is not just a wild idea as it is very possible it could happen. If even 15-20% of them stop supporting the Democrats because they see promising results from Trump and the Republicans it is lights out for the Democratic Party. The poor and the working class whatever their color, race or ethnic background have far more in common with each other than any group supported by the oligopoly. Meld them even partially together and you have the brass ring.

      History has shown us that the tides in human social constructs happen when the populace moves in that direction. The leaders of such times recognize the movement and run out in front of the surge and pretend that they started it – think of King, Ghandi, Hitler to name a few. If you just stand in the way of such tides you are washed away. To influence them you have to get in front of them (or join a leader who has beat you there) and try and do what you can to steer in the best direction. Some times you end up with a good result (King/Ghandi) and other times it does not go so well.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        The poor and the working class whatever their color, race or ethnic background have far more in common with each other than any group supported by the oligopoly. Meld them even partially together and you have the brass ring.

        The R’s can’t do this (they will never throw their corporate buddies and benefactors under the bus – when push comes to shove, even Trump won’t); The D’s choose not to.

        1. Brad

          Agreed. The prospective “hard right” republican ascendancy will be that of the Koch Bros. and the like, not Trump. It is they, not the Trumps, that have conducted the Long March thru the institutions below the Federal Executive radar. Right now they are mulling over whether to go with a politics of a Trump Potemkin storefront in the longer run.

          But ultimately the republicans face the same contradictions with the Lazarus layers of the working class as do the LibDem capitalist politicians. It’s only that those contradictions have bitten the LibDems earlier and harder. The danger for the class they both represent is that of the official political system being monopolized by one side with a program dating from the 1880’s. Speaking of a “Russian connection”: Welcome to Tsarist America. Misruled by the Rasputins of a 240 year old political system, already an anachronism at its creation, when it closed out the era of early modern revolutions that began with the Dutch Revolt in the 1570’s.

          Who knows, perhaps that is how Putin really sees it.

          But there’s an upside to redoing 140 years of history all over again. We here don’t have Europe’s legacy of decades of betrayals by socialist and communist parties. That was basically Bernie Sanders sharing power with the capitalist right. Consequentially it is in Europe that the left is really screwed. Conditions in the US are actually relatively better for advancing a working class oriented agenda, for the first time in history.

      2. clarky90

        One of my favorite expressions is “Fair is fair”. When you go to a kid’s party, the cake is divided fairly (the infant gets a morsel- seconds for those with an appetite).

        If one child wants all of the cake, and all of the toys and all of the attention- then you know that there has been an embarrassing, “Deficiency of Good Parenting”. I would keep my mouth shut and Thank God that it was not my child being such a spoiled brat. (My boys were angels until adolescence- then not so much.)

        One cannot demand everything their own way. We must share.

    5. ex-PFC Chuck

      “I wish I saw more evidence of an insurgent organization developing.”

      That’s a feature, not a bug. While I realize that the millions of people who participated in the marches last weekend were sincere, IMHO they were being played. The beltway insiders do not want a serious analysis of why the Democratic Party lost the 2008 presidential election as opposed to the Republicans winning it. What you’re seeing is the Iron Law of Institutions in action; the insiders are concerned first and foremost with their positions within the institution instead of its effectiveness. They and especially their paymasters used the demonstrations to divert attention from their own failures, because a fair and open assessment of them would cost many of them their rice bowls. Here’s a tell, if you’re interested: “Billionaire George Soros has ties to more than 50 ‘partners’ of the Women’s March on Washington”

      1. baldski

        What is this obsession with Soros? Every rightwingnut’s bogeyman is George Soros. If he had as much power as ascribed to him, he would be ruling the world already.

  9. Anne

    Trump wants to win every battle, big and small, and he wants top-billing for it. I think he sees things in terms of the stand-alone projects he’s used to putting together, and does not understand or appreciate how interconnected so many of the issues before us are – he simply does not ever see winning as having any kind of long-term negative consequence. When he said during the campaign that “there will be so much winning,” he wasn’t kidding.

    Maybe those in opposition to him need to plot out all the many points on the spectrum to some larger goal, or even create points along that spectrum, and figure ways to take some of these wins away from him – if they wait until the end, if all they do is talk about it, I think it’s too late.

    As much as it goes against the grain, politicians long-used to running the show and schooling newbies on the “way things work” need to consider that Trump is not going to bend to their will and get with their program; if they don’t or can’t figure out how to beat Trump at his own game, “there is going to be so much losing.”

    Frankly, I don’t much care if GOP leadership figures this out, but if Democrats don’t face up to the reality that the old ways simply are not working, they are going to be the political equivalent of the Cleveland Browns – oh, they field a team every year, and they show up, but they make the same mistakes up and down the organization year after year and seem unable to learn from any of them.

  10. timbers

    Trump Repeats Lie About Popular Vote in Meeting With Lawmakers

    I still object to the fake news media selectively using the word “lie” regardless of how appropriate it is or is not in this particular case.

    They fake newer’s never used the word “lie” when Obama said the NSA does not spy on Americans and collect their data, or when Obama and Hillary said Russia shot down that plane, or when they claimed Assad gassed his own people, or claimed to be fighting terrorists in Syria and supporting “moderate rebels”, or when Andrea Mitchell and David Brooks say Russia invaded/influenced the election in Ukraine.

    It’s only used against someone in power who has random positions that directly goes against the establishment.

    BTW Moon of Alabama’s latest on the fake news media missing the real news of real policy changes by Trump, is on this same subject and a good read.

    1. djrichard

      Agreed. Here’s the link to the MoA post being referenced:

      From one of the comments at the top, “Lots of electrons being wasted reporting the “Alternative Facts” issue that’s supposedly unique to the new Trump admin.”

      What’s unique is that the media isn’t a partner to this administration. If the media was a partner, then the “alternative facts” would instead be the “normative facts”. Media to their clientele, “here, let me help you communicate that”.

    2. clarky90

      It is like the lying unfaithful spouse, finally being discovered bare-assed. Their hysterical threats, pleading and “explanations” just make the situation worse.

      The MSM has betrayed us and we are filing for D-I-V-O-R-C-E. And, we are taking the kids, the car, and the house.

      The MSM can ask Hillary Clinton how well her “Lovers” (TPTB) are taking care of her after we threw her sorry ass out onto the street. Not so well I am guessing.

  11. Jim A.

    People who are bewildered by Trump’s obsession with the number of people at his inauguration, or taking a “thank you” tour instead of learning about the job and planning the transition just don’t have a good understanding of the man. He’s not president because he loves power or has an agenda to promote. He love the adulation of the crowd. Cheering masses ARE the whole reason to run for president. And his main method for trying to get whatever group he is talking to to adore him is a combination of fawning flattery and us vs them rhetoric. Put him in front of racists, and he’ll say racist things. Put him in front of sidelined, blue collar workers and he’ll talk about how they (foreigners and illegal immigrants) are taking jobs away from us Americans. The We and They are completely situational. So when he spoke at the CIA used his usual playbook and tried to suck up to the exact same people that he had been insulting for months. Because every meeting is a new chance for him to be adored, and the past means NOTHING. If.his is NOT rewarded with the fawning adulation that he thinks he deserves he lashes out.

    I’m not sure WHY exactly people have such a difficult time believing that he is just as shallow as he appears to be. People on both the right and the left seem to want to believe that his populism is an act, that he has a deeper agenda. That seems to be either wishful or fearful thinking. The simplest explanation is that he is very good at saying what the people he is talking to want to hear, irrespective on whether it has any relation whatsoever to what he said yesterday or objective reality. THIS is why the biggest fights within his inner circle are about who controls access to him, rather than over actual substantive policy. If you don’t let him meet with people who disagree with you, you’ll win on policy.

    1. djrichard

      Is his populism actually shallow? Reading about his meeting with the CIA, it was interesting to hear how the audience was bifurcated between the rank-and-file in the back who applauded and did some shout-outs vs the CIA leadership up front who kept a “dignified distance”. I don’t find it hard to believe that Trump is speaking to the rank-and-file in the CIA, and not to the leadership.

      More broadly, it’s consistent with his view of how he wants his mafia to operate. He’s the boss. All other competing elites are competing mafias and will have to get in line. Or suffer the consequences. But he welcomes the rank-and-file, regardless of which mafia they happen to be a part of. That seems to be where he’s taking all of us. Doesn’t seem too shallow to me.

    2. FluffytheObeseCat

      Trump is, I believe many of the things you describe him as. Shallow. In love with popular adulation. Selling a different project every time he’s in front of a different audience. But your assertion that he is too feckless to have any agenda beyond his ego is not realistic; it’s counter-factual.

      Trump has kept to a few basic policy principles throughout his campaign, during the interregnum, and now that he is in office. Those “principles” may be rooted in facile 50s nostalgia and ego-soothing, but they are constants. They were evident even 25 years ago in his public appearances. He will work towards them. Whether successfully or not, I can’t say.

      There is no reason why people can’t recognize this. The guy is both an egotistical heel AND someone with ideas. Some of those ideas are even admirable.

      1. Jim A.

        Well he has some bullet points, but I think calling them an “Agenda” would be stretching things. I probably overstated my case, as is routine on the internet, but he is more changeable than fixed in his thinking. He’s fairly consistent on getting better trade deals, partly because he is convinced that HE is the greatest negotiator. And I have repeatedly said that with that much random stuff coming out of his mouth, it would be surprising if I didn’t agree with some of it. But I don’t think that he is a dedicated racist OR a man who will bring coal jobs back.

        1. nobody

          Max Forte’s method of interpreting Trump, from “Donald Trump and Empire: An Assessment”:

          “[T]here are multiple competing editions of Donald Trump: what he says or writes on one issue in the 1980s or 1990s, may not be the same as what he says in 2016, but all of the versions remain simultaneously available. Sometimes in trying to articulate a message, Trump seems to be competing against himself. One could play the game of ‘what you say today is not what you said yesterday’ with Trump, and it would be as endless as it would be pointless. There are two reasonable resolutions to this problem: one is that what Trump means, is what Trump says today, and the other is that what Trump has said repeatedly over the years—and has not forgotten the fact that he said it—usually mark the positions he holds most dearly.”

    1. Carolinian

      Republicans stage a coup against their own president? It will never happen short of some gross illegality on Trump’s part. God help us if they start to “normalize” impeachment. It was bad enough when they used it against Bill Clinton.

      1. Jim A.

        Impeachment and the trial in the Senate are inherently POLITICAL actions. If Trump fails to rubberstamp whatever the Republican’s in congress put on his desk AND the economy tanks such that his base no longer supports him the Republicans will push him out in favor of Pence in a hurry. I just have no idea what the chances of the first part are, but since I think that we’re due for another recession, the second part seems likely within the next four years. There is little loyalty between him and the Republican establishment in either direction. I actually suspect that Trump is more likely to let bygones be bygones as long as the Republican majority is willing to kowtow to him. Of course THAT ends when his support within the Republican party dips low enough that his supporters aren’t scaring congressmen anymore.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      He summarises the core issues nicely. I think he is entirely right. If Trump can hold his focus and deliver to his base, he will be very successful, he’ll be untouchable by the mainstream Republicans (who, lets face it, are his real opposition, not the Dems). If he gets pulled around and working class people find themselves even worse off – which will happen if Congress gets his way, they will find an excuse and put Pence in his place. Its that simple.

      1. Vatch

        Impeachment doesn’t remove a person from office, because it’s equivalent to an indictment. If the House of Representatives manages to impeach Trump, then 2/3 of the Senators are needed to convict him and remove him from office. Paradoxically, once the Democrats realize that Pence might become President, it could be the Democratic Senators who will vote against removing Trump from office.

        Pence is worse than Trump from the Democratic establishment’s point of view for two reasons:

        1. Pence really is worse.
        2. Pence is low key and not flamboyant like Trump, so if Pence becomes President, people will be much less likely to donate money to the Democrats in response to Presidential actions and tweets.

        1. Anne

          There’s something about Mike Pence that gives me the creeps…he delivers his radical positions and beliefs in such a kindly, non-threatening way, kind of like the nice man at the park who asks the little children if they can help him find his lost puppy.

          Pence is definitely worse, much worse. The thing is, though, that whether you are talking about a Pence administration that runs like clockwork, churning out legislation and executive orders that reverse the progress we’ve made or managed to hold onto, or a Trump administration that isn’t even organized chaos, but is still managing to make inroads on eliminating many of the things we actually liked, I don’t think Democrats have the first clue how to deal with any of it. They are still, over two months from election day, floundering in any and all directions, with no plan. My guess is, that like all dysfunctional organizations, they will eventually settle on something that feels familiar and safe, and will be utterly wrong for accomplishing anything.

    3. rd

      The Democrats will not allow him to be impeached because they do not want Pence in the Oval Office. I think they believe they have a better shot against Trump in 2020 than Pence.

      The battle is going to be the Republican House vs Trump on spending. He has to spend money to keep his promises to his adoring masses. The House GOP do not want to spend the money.

  12. Montanamaven

    As much as it goes against the grain, politicians long-used to running the show and schooling newbies on the “way things work” need to consider that Trump is not going to bend to their will and get with their program; if they don’t or can’t figure out how to beat Trump at his own game, “there is going to be so much losing.

    “Schooling newbies on the ‘way things work'”, is what I have seen every morning on the TV from “journalists” and commentators as well as politicians. “This is not the way things are done, ” they cry. What is this rule book they are referring to? What happened to the old slogan “well behaved women don’t make change?” This whole well-behaved, good manners meme came in with Obama and I’m glad to see it go.

  13. John

    How about he’s a narcissist with low impulse control…a self thwarting narcissist/sociopath. If he were really rich and successful, the tax returns would have long ago been made public. Given the neo liberal environment of his life time and his daddy’s kickstart…he would have had to be profoundly stupid and dissolute to lose it all.
    As some one of his generation, I suspect he was just another neglected rich boy who got all his cultural tips from Playbook and Hustler and profoundly resents the class peers who rejected him for his declasse tastes and behavior. And its always been about resentment and payback. NAFTA is about pissing on something Clinton did, Obama are same thing, Iraq and Bushes same. It’s all personal payback.
    He doesn’t read, FGS, he only gets his info from teevee and a small number of beaten down family and sycophants.

  14. fresno dan

    “Lambert and I are keeping our focus on why the Democrats lost, what Trump really might get done, and what the opposition needs to do to stop those measures or at least water that down. That means looking at him clinically. But in the eyes of Team Dem, failing to screech from the rooftops that Trump has hooves and a tail is tantamount to backing him.”

    “That means looking at him clinically.” That’s why I come here. But judging parties and people by what they DO, and NOT their branding, is something a good number of people fail to do. The birthering of Obama got a lot of repub energized and got a lot of dems ready for revenge. I can see why dems would look at a lot of the things said of Obama, see the result, and ask, ‘it appears effective – we should do it.’

    A lot of political theory now is to just turn out your base – good for grifting parties, bad for the country. The internet itself which personalizes and insulates one’s community has turned politics into no more for many than rooting for a sports team.

    1. Tim

      If you spend too much energy hating somebody you will become like them…because you see the effectiveness of their evil and want a piece of the action as retribution for yourself being screwed over.

    2. witters

      “A lot of political theory now is to just turn out your base – good for grifting parties, bad for the country.”

      No! Neoliberal parties must cut themselves free from the base and its demands. It is just this ditching of the base we see first with ‘Left’ parties, then later with ‘Right’ parties. (There are reasons for this sequence, but I’ve not the time here).

      What happpens when this happens is “populism” – bases in search of a party…

      And neoliberal elite parties (and associated institutions) allow ‘right’ populism and do absolutely everything they can in unison to prevent it from the left.

      That is your story.

  15. Sam

    An 80k margin over a few states, popular vote lost by almost three million.

    Freak occurrence due to an anachronism.

    Now all these essays.

    I suggest: don’t overestimate Trump. Governing is not campaigning.

    1. Lynne

      Back in the comfortable days of the primary campaign, there was much mocking of Trump and put-on bewilderment about how he didn’t understand how the delegate system worked. Then the statement that this was why he could never win in the general, because if he couldn’t understand delegates, he’d never get the electoral college. That was contrasted with the smug assurances that the Clintons were old hands at all this and knew politics inside and out. So I’m not reassured by this “[f]eak occurrence due to an anachronism” business.

      Then again, I’m also not impressed by the Women’s March, given that those I know who participated are the same ones who post daily establishment Dem propaganda about Obama’s saintliness and Hillary’s undoubted support for all women everywhere, except of course for ythose not sufficiently groveling. And yes, they *still* come up with that, happy that the good jobs leave because middle America *deserves* that, don’t you know.

      1. Anne

        Either you have millions of friends, or you are basing your opinion of the march and the people who participated on a very small sample size relative to the whole.

        1. Lynne

          Don’t we all? That’s the human condition. That’s why people cry “Lock ’em up” when they talk about criminals in some other town, while at the same time writing letters of support for a privileged Stanford rapist whom they know. It does not change the fact that every single woman I know who participated in the DC march is a privileged woman more concerned about whether somebody is “nice” and says the “right” things than about policies’ effect on the lives of people they don’t know and by extension, don’t care about. Nor does it change the impression gained from media coverage that very few people there were much different in their tribalism. Yes, reproductive rights are essential, but consider the BLM signs pointing out the disconnect in Washington.

          1. Anne

            I’m sorry so many of the people you know are so shallow, but basing your opinions on impressions from the media seems unwise, given that it’s very possible there was an agenda at work there. You know, kind of like the one that made sure we got an eyeful of looting and burning in Ferguson and Baltimore, the one that made sure our impression was that Occupy was just about dirty fking hippies.

            This wasn’t just about reproductive rights, you know. It was about civil rights, human rights, gay rights, discrimination, pay equity; it was about men supporting wives and daughters and moms and partners. It was people of all ages, of all income levels; it was not just women of privilege – and you’d know this if you poked around a little in the media instead of accepting whatever impressions they were spoon-feeding you.

            Here’s a link to something that is making the rounds, that I happened to find very powerful. It was written in response to a woman who had some pretty strong things to say about the march and the people who participated (that post can be found here).

            A small excerpt (really, though, read the whole thing – read both pieces):

            Say thank you. Say thank you to the women who gave you a voice. Say thank you to the women who were arrested and imprisoned and beaten and gassed for you to have a voice. Say thank you to the women who refused to back down, to the women who fought tirelessly to give you a voice. Say thank you to the women who put their lives on hold, who –lucky for you — did not have “better things to do” than to march and protest and rally for your voice. So you don’t feel like a “second class citizen.” So you get to feel “equal.”

            Thank Susan B. Anthony and Alice Paul for your right to vote.

            Thank Elizabeth Stanton for your right to work.

            Thank Maud Wood Park for your prenatal care and your identity outside of your husband.

            Thank Rose Schneiderman for your humane working conditions.

            Thank Eleanor Roosevelt and Molly Dewson for your ability to work in politics and affect policy.

            Thank Margaret Sanger for your legal birth control.

            Thank Carol Downer for your reproductive healthcare rights.

            Thank Sarah Muller for your equal education.

            Thank Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Shannon Turner, Gloria Steinem, Zelda Kingoff Nordlinger, Rosa Parks, Angela Davis, Malika Saada Saar, Wagatwe Wanjuki, Ida B. Wells, Malala Yousafzai. Thank your mother, your grandmother, your great-grandmother who did not have half of the rights you have now.

            You can make your own choices, speak and be heard, vote, work, control your body, defend yourself, defend your family, because of the women who marched. You did nothing to earn those rights. You were born into those rights. You did nothing, but you reap the benefits of women, strong women, women who fought misogyny and pushed through patriarchy and fought for you. And you sit on your pedestal, a pedestal you are fortunate enough to have, and type. A keyboard warrior. A fighter for complacency. An acceptor of what you were given. A denier of facts. Wrapped up in your delusion of equality.


            1. Waldenpond

              First, when an event has something for everyone, you have abolished solidarity, so at the same time have nothing for anyone.

              Second: Volunteerism makes me nauseous. The organizers (wanna’ be managerial class) get free labor out of others through coercion (how many people went to their bosses and asked them to promote their pet project …. people know others will be forced into giving away unpaid labor under threat of not being a team player) and group pressure (did these people go to other groups to benefit from their coercive power? How about the ‘friends’ that didn’t want to manufacture clothing without pay? If someone balked, did the wanna be managerial class get others to harass them into this? I hope all the organizers stiffed the malcontents for the pink yarn, that would just be the frosting on top of the unpaid cake.

              Finally, just how many of the wanna be managerial class, after extorting unpaid labor and stiffing people for the raw goods of the manufacturing went hunting through photos to count up the vaginas they got to fluff the crowd. That isn’t just misplaced pride, it’s self-aggrandizement.

              It was juggling for recognition, attention and status at the expense of others at the place of employment or within the person’s group. Delusions of equality.

      2. Sam

        “So I’m not reassured by this “[f]eak occurrence due to an anachronism” business.”

        No intended as reassurance, but, as part of the strategy of understanding, putting things in their proper perspective. IOW not lighting up Trump in order to beat the Dem establishment over the head.

    2. Brad

      Trump’s best friends so far are the LibDems. Most underestimated Trump in the campaign, some even pushed for Trump as nominee.

      It is true that the “Trump coalition” is a fragile thing fraught with contradictions. But don’t underestimate that all Trump has to do is not touch SS and Medicare, while putting on a show of “bringing jobs home” with tokens contributed by craven corporations gaming a post-Trump back to business as usual, coupled with appearing to make the right trade treaty moves, reduction of tensions in the Christian White People’s continent (Europe), while bashing non-Whites like China (very popular among US trade union officialdom and, don’t forget, Chuck Schumer) and continuing the mass murder of Muslims, today’s Injuns. And give the Congressional Repugly snakepit everything else.

      And Trump might just scrape by for another 4 years.

  16. oh

    Good post!

    For some reason the link in the following paragaraph didn’t work for me:

    (See Citizens Trade Campaign’s Jan. 13 letter to Trump and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s Jan. 3 letter to Trump on what must be in a NAFTA replacement for it to provide broad benefits.)

  17. DJG

    Kudos to Distrurbed Chimp for quoting Xenophanes: More from the squib in Wikipedia
    “There is one fragment dealing with the management of a feast, another which denounces the exaggerated importance attached to athletic victories, and several which deny the humanized gods of Homer. Arguments such as these made Xenophanes infamous for his attacks on “conventional military and athletic virtues of the time” and well known to side with the intellectual instead.[5]”

    And good advice from Yves as related to Sun Tsu. I was also add the dispassionate and disinterested chroniclers of war and of political defeats, Tacitus and Thucydides, each of whom was involved in war and in governance and told the truth about mismanagement and flawed thinking.

    Jill Lepore wrote a story for The New Yorker (one of few articles with any insight lately in that mag) about how we don’t know the effects yet of social media on politics. I submit that we are getting a politics of kitsch emotions and panic.

    To maintain a democratic polity, we will have to be clear-eyed. So I enjoyed Yves’s analysis. The irony is that Trump likes to make deals, so let’s insist on some deal-making on the part of the Democratic Party establishment.

    1. Mike

      I enjoyed Yves’ analysis too. Please keep it going – we’ve had a similar problem in New Zealand of not knowing the enemy to our detriment

  18. GlassHammer

    “The idea that one of the first acts of Trump’s press secretary would be to get in a row with the press over crowd estimates at the Inauguration and then double down with barmy claims of “alternative facts” is mind-boggling.”

    Is it “mind-boggling”? The administration loves the “us vs. the press” narrative and are overjoyed when they attack. It makes it easy to portray the press as petty and antagonistic. As far as the administration is concerned, the more air time and column inches they spend on this issue the better.

    And in the long run the “us vs. the press” relationship becomes a highly effective trap. Think about it, by the time the administration takes a position on truly controversial issues the press will have solidified its position as the aggressor/enemy and their opinions will be easily dismissed.

  19. rd

    Trump’s strategy on bilateral trade deals makes a lot of sense for his goals.

    Canada and Mexico in NAFTA are not similar at all. Canadian labor costs, worker safety, environmental regulations etc. are all comparable to the US, so Canadian labor is not a big discount to US labor. A deal between the US and Canada is really how to optimize trade, not dramatically slash production costs at the expense of labor and the environment.

    Labor in Mexico is clearly cheaper per hour and regulations there are significantly scaled back, so American (and Canadian) jobs get lost to Mexico on a straight up cost basis. Many mainstream product prices will likely rise in the US and Canada as tariffs increase the cost across the border.

    Largely dropping Mexico from NAFTA will likely mean some additional jobs in US and Canada with a lot of additional automation. Illegal immigration form Latin America has declined substantially over the past decade, but if NAFTA changes negatively impact Mexico and Central America, expect it to pick back up again. Dropping Mexico from NAFTA will likely require Trump’s wall.

    Similarly, most of Europe and UK, Japan, South Korea are all relatively wealthy countries with expensive labor and modern regulations. Bilateral agreements with those countries will shuffle jobs around, but shouldn’t lead to massive job losses. All of these countries have a lot of automation already and will continue that. Countries like China will probably be less accommodating on the world stage if shut out of developed markets. I expect the likelihood of conflicts between China and other countries to increase if trade deals fall apart and tariffs are raised – an interesting tradeoff that may resemble the Western Pacific in the 1930s that resulted in WW II with Japan over their perception they were being shut out of resources by the US and Britain.

    1. cm

      Canadian labor costs, worker safety, environmental regulations etc. are all comparable to the US

      Both (Democratic) Washington State Senators Cantwell & Murray disagree with you about this. According to them, Canadians are dropping like flies due to shoddy unsafe drugs. This is why they voted against legalizing the importation of Canadian drugs.

      Please get your facts straight.

      1. IdahoSpud


        Cory Booker is also extremely concerned about the dangers of 3rd world medicine entering the US from Canadistan.

        Oddly he seems much less concerned about heroin entering the US from Afghanistan.

      2. Vatch

        Call ’em! (about their opposition to the Klobuchar/Sanders amendment 178)

        Cantwell, Maria – (D – WA)
        511 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
        (202) 224-3441

        Murray, Patty – (D – WA)
        154 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
        (202) 224-2621

        Booker, Cory A. – (D – NJ)
        359 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
        (202) 224-3224

        Menendez, Robert – (D – NJ)
        528 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
        (202) 224-4744

      3. craazyboy

        You got me with “Please get your facts straight.”

        Any guidance, links, studies, Canadian coroner’s reports or anything else we can peruse to get more familiar with these facts? We have quite a few Canadian commenters here too, who may be able to pitch in.

        Not that I trust Canadians. I did buy a Canadian junior gold mine stock a long time ago, so Canada has long ago blown any chance of a trusting relationship with me.

          1. craazyboy

            I can tune in NPR. I think they do live interviews with dead Canadians.. Séance Hour. Relaxing too.

        1. JEHR

          I started to comment and changed my mind. I suspect that both Canada and the US have a problem with illegal drugs like fentanyl and over-prescribing of opioids which we are trying to deal with.

          1. craazyboy

            Well, illegal drugs are already illegal here. The pols in DeeCee weren’t voting on that. The claim above is that the legal ones are killing Canadians in droves, presumably far higher than the drug’s warnings disclaimer would indicate as “normal” death, mayhem and destruction.

            1. Vatch

              And of course, the claim was made tongue in cheek by the commenter. As for Cantwell, Murray, Booker, et al, well, maybe they do believe it.

              1. baldski

                My drugs paid for by my insurance company were made in India. I guess that is all right with these Senators. Keep the Canadian drugs out.

      4. rd

        You are absolutely correct about the Canadian drugs. Since the Canadian provincial health board negotiate with the US pharma companies over price, the US pharma companies just ship the lower quality drugs to Canada while only supplying gold standard, Grade A American beef drugs made by special plants in India and China to US consumers. Only the finest fake ingredients that pass FDA non-inspections make it into the US-bound drugs.

        1. craazyboy

          That’s so true. Way back in the 90s I had stock in an Indian fake generic drug company and they sold the chemical compound both as a FDA approved generic chemical compound and also as a “private label” FDA approved generic chemical compound in massive quantities with whatever printed on the retail box that their Big Pharma customers desired.

        2. JEHR

          I don’t understand how there can be two different qualities of the same drug. Do you mean there are impurities in them? Are they contaminated with something else? Are they missing the full amount of the necessary ingredients? How do you know that we get less than the gold standard in our drugs?

  20. Left in Wisconsin

    1. It is a not-well-kept secret that many union members bucked the leadership and voted for Trump. But the bosses engaging in a session with Trump that they described as “excellent” may be the start of the formal and long-overdue exit of unions from a party that has treated them as disposable for over 30 years.

    It seems that all the union leaders Trump met with are construction trades unions. (“Bosses?” Really?) While these unions allowed the AFL-CIO to take the lead on endorsing Clinton (SEIU, AFSCME and the teachers unions provide most of the AFL-CIO dues dollars these days), they were always more comfortable with Trump than the public and service sector unions and, to my eyes, did not do much to argue with members who supported Trump. There is not one labor movement in this country. The perspectives of union workers depend on (among other factors) what kind of work they do, and the construction workers see things very differently from public sector and service sector workers. One reason divide-and-conquer works so well.

    Relatedly, it hardly matters whether or not the existing unions maintain their fealty to the Dems (which they will). They are all dying. When organized labor matters again, it will be an entirely new and different form of union organization.

    2. Let me once again pump Lori Wallach as Democratic nominee for President in 2020. She knows the trade and jobs issues better than anyone and she is not a climate change denier.

    1. PH

      I think building trade unions were told Trump planned to build pipelines.

      Pit these unions against environmental activists.

      Not a new tactic. Repubs have long brought buses of coal miners to the Dirksen Building for climate policy hearings.

  21. ChrisFromGeorgia

    given that reporters are not much more than corporate lobbyists

    A fair assessment these days. And it explains the behavior we see in the wild, like this analysis from the Bezos-owned WaPo:

    A remarkably bitter piece of writing, full of lots of whining and chest-beating on how Trump does not care about “America’s historical role as a guarantor of stability and prosperity for a large swath of Asia.”

    The fact that the WaPo reporter could put those words into print while keeping a straight face is also remarkable. Obviously he hopes his readers don’t remember Saigon, Hiroshima or the history of US imperialism in the Phillipines.

  22. flora

    Early days in the new admin. About China, Russia and trade: logistics – the South China Sea sea lanes and the new silk road train route. The new silk road train route crosses hundreds of miles of Russia. Normalizing relations with Russia would, imo give the US some input if necessary on those logistics; maybe not a lot of influence, but more than a new cold war would offer.

    Very glad Trump canceled the TPP. Maybe time to start talking about the TPIP now to raise its profile in the public mind.

    Thanks very much for this clear-eyed, not hysterical, post.

  23. juliania

    I haven’t read the comments yet, but thank you, Yves, for a fair and honorable assessment of the situation so far in the Trump administration. It is not yet a brave new world by any means, but I do believe the contest is on for it, for the Shakespearean one rather than the Orwellian model we have suffered under lo these many years of duplicitous government by oligarchs.

    I don’t think Trump can be classified thus. I could well be wrong, and certainly he has the trappings; he has made his way bluntly and outrageously to the public podium. But once he was there he spoke well and I think he means what he says.

    Abolishing the TPP is really a cornerstone that bespeaks his policy in general towards corporate power. Dare I say, it follows the Putin model, which is to bring such institutions back from world dominance to concern for the nation, if that at all will be possible. Obama boasted a pivot to Asia; Trump is turning that pivot back home where it belongs. There will still be trade of course, but on the old model of give and take rather than dominance by threat of arms.

    I like that. Have my heart in my mouth, but I do wish him Godspeed.

  24. barrisj

    The Times this a.m. – yes, THAT NYT – in discussing Herr Trump’s globalisation rollback policy did single out a yuuuuge given in American capitalism:” maximising shareholder return”. The capital markets are run on this principle, major investors demand adherence to this principle, and corporations rigourously abide by this principle. All of which includes – inter alia – offshoring, “cost-cutting” and its correlative “productivity gains”, parking profits overseas well away from US corporate tax reach, stock buy-backs, etc.,etc., etc. How indeed is the Trump agenda re: revitalising US mfg. industry ever to square the circle of concomitantly enhancing shareholder value is a conundrum that I’m sure all of those CEOs traveling up and down the gold elevator within The Tower are constantly reminding The Donald that realistically it just can’t be done. Corporate America and Trump are trying to work out suitable theatre that would satisfy both the plutocratic class and its supporters, and the millions of Trump voters who at least want to see the appearance of change if not change itself. And, in time, realism will prevail, the proles’ lives will continue on a downward trajectory albeit slightly slower, and the 1%ers will keep their stranglehold on the US economy, QED.

  25. Kurt Sperry

    This video on “why the Democrats lost” is from late November and is just now making the rounds on my faceborg. I hadn’t seen it until today and it’s not bad at all. This framing (aka reality) needs to be out there as much as possible.

  26. Quantum Future

    I understand why many liberals do not like Trump, because there focus was on equality. But you don’t get true equality without the rule of law being applied equally.

    But in real terms Trump is a nationalist Democrat, pro labor, antiwar, pro universal Healthcare (but opening up competition across state lines for private care.). I like how he says what he wants. We became too PC the last 20 years.

  27. Gaylord

    Trump’s devilish dancing (and that of the denialist Republicans) will stop when the drastic effects of abrupt climate disruption hit, starting with an Arctic blue ocean event very likely to accelerate the cascade of radiative forcing feedbacks this year, and almost certainly during the next four years (should he/they survive the political upheaval). This time there will be no diversion because they can’t brand Nature a terrorist and bomb her into submission.

    1. John

      The people won’t know what hit them since there will be a blackout on global warming reporting
      for at least 4 years and maybe much longer.

      Runaway global warming is coming. Expect it.

  28. Robert NYC

    Trumps behavior is what it is and to lament how absurd it is missing the point. He is a textbook narcissist, as in narcissistic personalty disorder, and on a scale of 1 to 10 he is an 11. We can sit here and talk about his bizarre obsession with ratings, polls and crowd sizes but it is all perfectly in keeping with his disorder. His need for attention, sense of grandiosity and defensiveness know no limits. What I find really strange is that someone would put themselves in a position of having to defend someone who suffers from such and acute case of that disorder.

  29. Salamander

    A thought. As your article points out, Trump has directed USTR to seek out bilateral trade deals in liue of TPP.

    Fair enough… but the TTIP, by contrast, is quasi bilateral, in that it is a deal with the EU, which is already a single market.

    Given Trump’s silence on that deal… I wouldn’t be surprised to hear this argument in the future, and see a Trump administration continue to push it. Those staffing USTR, State, and Commerce are all true believers.

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