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Some Initial Thoughts on the Likely Trajectory of a Trump Presidency: 4

February 3, 2017 15 comments

In the previous part of this series, I focused on problems which will almost certainly arise from one of Trump’s recent executive orders- namely the one about “temporarily” banning entry into USA of people from certain predominantly Muslim countries. In that post and a subsequent standalone post, I made the point that his Muslim ban was problematic for reasons that have little to do with it targeting Muslims. Firstly, it simply reinforces the widespread perception (in USA and rest of the world) that Trump makes decisions without regard to considerations of legality, feasibility, prior official positions or the risks inherent in such abrupt changes in direction.

Secondly, and perhaps far more importantly, the rest of the world (including friendly countries) see this ban as yet another confirmation of their view that trusting Trump or the USA to follow through on any agreement made in the past or even in the future is a bad idea. The second type of problems are more important that the first, since it is relatively easy to gloss over localized problems arising from personality quirks of a head of state than it is to overlook an increase in systemic risk due to a pattern of unpredictable behavior. In other words, the rest of the world would not care much if Trump’s break from the past was localized to one or two areas.

As I briefly mentioned in the previous post of this series, Trump is trying to implement large shifts from past positions on issues in a large number of areas- from immigration and international trade to reproductive right issues and dramatically ramping up the police state in USA. Moreover, his attempts to shift positions have been characterized by an unwillingness to understand the factors which made them the default in the first place. For example- increases in immigration (legal and otherwise) are largely due to the insatiable thirst of corporations for ever-increasing margins of profit. The same is true for constant increases in international trade including “free” trade.

And that brings us to the inevitable and massive international repercussions inherent in Trump’s desire to effect large shifts in major policies on a number of issues..

The relationships between nation states, unlike those between entities within a nation-state, are almost totally dependent on their mutual perceptions. These perceptions in turn are largely based on experiences of prior interactions. Furthermore, a lot of these perceptions are contingent to the parties not making any sudden deviations from their prior positions. For example- it is widely understood that China is unlikely to invade Taiwan in the near future (say.. the next 5 years) in spite of its long-term official position on that issue. Similarly, it is understood that India is going to keep on building more nuclear weapons, ICBMs and nuclear submarines in spite of what its leaders say or any residual international pressure.

Relationships between any two nation states can survive a lot of friction as long as both parties do not make any unexpected and sudden moves. The USA was, for many decades, widely seen as a nation-state with predictable behavior and policies- even if they were unsavory. Foreign and trade policies of USA, as bad as they might have been, remained reasonably consistent and stable irrespective of who was the president or which party was in power. Furthermore, changes in these policies were gradual and constant (predictable) rather than large and abrupt (unpredictable). It is this relative stability and consistency which allowed the USA to successfully create and sustain international organisations and treaties.

Trump’s desire to effect large shifts in multiple areas of national and international policy upsets the relative stability and consistency which have characterized the previous few decades. They also negate many established perceptions about the USA which are essential to relatively smooth and predictable interactions between that country and the rest of the world. For example- the continued functionality of many international organisations such as NATO, IMF etc are intimately tied to USA not deviating too much from past positions. The same is true about all those existing international trade agreements which the USA is a party to.

Think about it this way- would you enter into a business partnership where you could lose money or more with somebody whose behavior was highly unpredictable? Also, would you maintain or expand a business relationship with somebody who exhibited sudden and large changes in their behavior? Well.. the same holds true for relationships between nation states. The point is that Trump’s desire for large shifts to many policies makes it very hard for the USA to sustain, let alone improve, its existing relationships with various other nations. Now, this would not have been that big a deal if we were still living in the 1850s, 1910s or even 1950s- when you could get by without much of a two-way interaction with the rest of the world.

But we no longer live in those eras. Today, manufacturing and supply chains of everything from your toothbrush and clothes to CPUs and airliners span the entire globe. While it is certainly possible to argue about the desirability of this particular setup, we cannot deny that it exists. Nor can we pretend that waving a magic wand will somehow change the system the next month, year or decade. Also, it is not realistically possible to reproduce a previous era since each era is largely the product of conditions and circumstances unique to that era.

In other words, Trump’s desire to effect major policy shifts in multiple areas will almost certainly damage a whole slew of international relationships without most people in USA benefiting from them. It is sorta like wrecking the house you live in without having a feasible plan to quickly move into a new house. In my opinion, it is unlikely to end well- to put it mildly.

What do you think? Comments?

Some Initial Thoughts on the Likely Trajectory of a Trump Presidency: 3

January 28, 2017 23 comments

I had written the previous two post of this series (link 1, link 2) in the 2-3 weeks after Trump’s election on November 8. While it was tempting to write more parts of this series at that time, observing his actions immediately after assuming the presidency before writing the next part seemed to be a better idea. As many of you know, Trump has taken multiple and often conflicting positions on a variety of important issues over the years. Perhaps even more unusually for a politician, he has often done a 180 on his previous position on some issues- without even acknowledging that he took conflicting positions in the past.

For example- he is on record as supporting the right to abortion, being agnostic about it and opposing it depending on the personal benefit of taking one of those three position at a given time. Similarly, he is on record as supporting single-payer healthcare systems, supporting mixed private-public healthcare systems or defending complete privatization of the healthcare system- depending on the personal benefits of taking one of those three positions. In other words, it appears that Trump has few (if any) fixed beliefs about a large number of issues. More worryingly, especially since he is now the president, Trump seems to believe that his public perceptions about his past position on issues have no effect on his current position on them.

And all of this brings us to what Trump has been doing since he was formerly sworn in as the president on Jan 20, 2016. As many of you must have heard by now, Trump has been signing a shitload of controversial executive orders since he assumed office last week. They range from the hilarious (national day of patriotism), somewhat populist (withdrawing from the TPP), expected (mexico city policy on funding NGOs, approving new oil pipelines), plutocrat enriching (eliminating some rebates on mortgage payments), dangerous (starting repeal of ACA without an alternative plan, OK-ing the construction of a wall between Mexico and USA) to the batshit insane (banning entry of people from some Muslim countries, even legal permanent residents, into the USA).

Now, it is certainly possible to imagine that his executive orders are more theater than substance and might not survive legal challenges. However a lot of the concomitant rhetoric coming out of Trump’s mouth and tweets suggest that he is more than a bit serious about actually implementing those orders- especially the dangerous and batshit insane ones. I had briefly mentioned (in a previous post) that his positions on Mexican .. well.. actually all non-white immigrants and citizens has special potential to cause severe disruptions and unrest in the country. Events of the previous two days have added another issue to the list of those which have similar or even higher potential for disruption and unrest- albeit for different reasons than the “mexican” issue.

You might have heard that Trump has signed an executive order banning people from 7 predominantly Muslim countries from entering the USA- even if they happen to permanent legal residents. Curiously, people from these seven countries (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) have never ever been implicated in a terrorist act within USA. Furthermore, people from the two Muslim countries (Saudi Arabia and Pakistan) whose residents have been implicated in almost every single Islam-inspired terrorist attack in USA are still free to enter USA.

To be fair, establishment democrats and their supporters had no problems in the past when Obama tried to overthrow the government in two of these countries + expanded “war on terror in the other five on that list. It is also no secret that the rise of organisations such as ISIL was aided and abetted by the overt and indirect policies of the Obama administration. In other words, there is more than a bit of hypocrisy when establishment democrats who were perfectly OK with bombing people in these countries and funding organisations bent on overthrowing their governments pretend to be shocked and angry at Trump taking their stupid policies to the next level.

Having said that, this latest move by the Trump administration is especially problematic- and not just in the immediate and widespread popular response against its implementation. As many of you realize, such executive orders and their implementation creates a new set of bad precedents. If you can ban the entry of people from countries accused of terrorism by the government, in spite of evidence to contrary, what is there to stop this (or a future) president from banning people of other religious, ethnic or racial groups from entering the country legally? Now some old and decaying american racists.. I mean jingoists.. might think that such actions have no consequence in international relations with other important and supposedly white countries.

As it turn out.. a lot! many of the supposedly important and white countries are no longer as white or important as they used to be in the past. Consider, for example that many west-european countries such as the UK, France, Belgium, Sweden and Switzerland have a fairly significant minority that is not white or christian. Do you really think that Trump won’t sign future executive orders to ban Muslims (often second or third generation) from west-European countries from entering USA? Do you really think that implementing such orders would not cause serious problems in those countries? Do you really think that many countries in that position would not reevaluate their relationship with USA? Do you really think that there would no financial consequences (for both sides) of such actions?

The problem with Trump and people who think like him is that they live in world which does not and cannot exist now. There was a brief period (between 1945-1949.. perhaps until the early 1960s) when the relative power differential between the USA and the rest of the world (especially non-white countries) was large enough for the USA to get away with some stupid shit. But that was a long time ago and things have changed a lot since the early 1960s. In 2016, the USA simply lacks the power differential to pull that type of shit without screwing itself in the process. Today everyone knows that the USA is not an exceptional country. Today everyone has seen the USA lose against insurgencies in even poor medium-sized nations and lacks the ability to win a war against any other nuclear power of consequence.

I think it is likely that this particular move by Trump will turn into his first real public relations disaster, very likely to due to internal protests and legal challenges. However, this “Muslim ban” also provides an interesting window into how Trump and people around him see the world. It is now fairly certain that Trump and his advisers inhabit a mental world where the USA is far more powerful than it is in reality. Therefore, I expect Trump (and his associates) to make similar moves in a number of other areas- from trade and immigration to internal issues such as “law enforcement”. Needless to say, it won’t end well for Trump, his associates, the republican party, average Americans and to a far lesser extent- the rest of the world.

In the next post of this series, I shall try to write about the panoply of problems (both obvious and not so obvious) consequent to Trump’s policies wrt to people of Mexican descent in USA- citizens, immigrants and undocumented. That is.. unless his recent Muslim ban causes even more unrest and problems which I then have to write about.

What do you think? Comments?

Some Initial Thoughts on the Likely Trajectory of a Trump Presidency: 2

November 26, 2016 21 comments

In the previous post of this series, I wrote about the high probability that Trump’s presidency will be a disaster of such epic proportions that it would eclipse the still infamous second term of Bush43. I also wrote about the many ways by which establishment republicans will consciously and unconsciously grease the tracks for that particular train of doom. There is, of course, a slim (and increasingly unlikely) chance that he could go true populist and sorta succeed. But then again, reality is stranger than fiction.

Just to be clear, I am neither a supporter nor a detractor of Trump. I see myself as a detached observer of events who uses his largely dispassionate and probably misanthropic analysis of trends, events and probabilities to make educated (and largely correct) guesses about the future. FYI- I was able to predict that Trump would win the republican nomination and the presidency almost a year before both events occurred. Also, I held that conviction in the face of incessant and coordinated bullshitting by the mainstream media about how Trump was going to lose the presidential election.

The current post is about establishment “liberals” (henceforth referred to as LIEbrals) will try to sabotage his presidency. A quick note for readers- LIEbrals should not be confused with Progressives. The former are neo-liberal corporatist shills credentialed from some “famous” university who can be best described as ‘republican-lite’. The later, in contrast, espouse the ideas and values that the democratic party, in the past, stood for- allegedly. It is no secret that the unprecedented defeat of HRC by Trump has exposed the impotency and emptiness of LIEbrals and their real belief system (which is actually neither liberal nor progressive).

But this does not mean that the LIEbral establishment will quietly accept a Trump victory and presidency. I predict that they will go all out and try to derail it by any and all means available, while simultaneously obstructing progressive attempts to do the same. It is worth pointing out that a Trump victory in the presidential election does not change the fact that large parts of the establishment (from financial institutions, corporations, mass media and universities etc) are still firmly in the hands of establishment LIEbrals and will remain so in the near future.

So how will their “resistance” to Trump play out? Here are my thoughts..

1] We are already seeing LIEbrals spread the meme that Trump lost the popular vote- which while technically true, has little consequence for who will assume the presidency on January 20, 2017. However, as far as LIEbrals are concerned, his inability to win the popular vote (as well as electoral college) makes Trump less than legitimate. You might have already heard about all those stories and insinuations about the election being hacked in certain states- and while that is not outside realm of possibility, it is far more likely that HRC lost because she was a highly unpopular candidate selling a product (status quo) that few wanted to buy- even among those who voted for her.

I predict that attempts to delegitimize Trump by such tactics will be largely unsuccessful outside of circles dominated by rabidly pro-establishment democrats. Perhaps more importantly, these tactics will have little to no effect on Trump assuming presidency and governing in his chosen manner. Also, all those “spontaneous” street demonstrations protesting his election will have little to no effect on his real-life legitimacy or power. Having said that, I expect that the LIEbral establishment will continue to encourage and support such “popular” protests till they run out of enthusiastic volunteers.

2] I predict the largely discredited main-stream media (or at least some parts of it) will continue on a stridently anti-Trump streak- kinda like the 2nd term of Bush43. While these types of sustained actions take more effort and money, they are likely to be more effective than protesting his legitimacy- simply because a Trump presidency will likely provide them with tons of usable material. This might also synergize nicely with establishment republicans filling important posts in Trump administration and attempting to implement their worst and most ill-thought out policies.

Many of Trump’s policies and actions on issues such as funding for sciences and education plus his administration’s likely crackdown on black people and people of mexican descent will provide a stream of endless and genuine material to de-legitimize his presidency. Also, these attacks are far more likely to stick than those made by MSM on his character and temperament. Perhaps more interestingly, the main-stream media could raise it to a level where they will encourage aggrieved minorities to take things in their own hands- which would create an accelerating downward spiral.

3] It is no secret that the dislike for Trump among establishment republicans is as high as that among establishment democrats. I would, therefore, not be surprised to see some future cooperation between these two alleged adversaries on attempts to sabotage a Trump presidency. Such ersatz cooperation might take many forms, including directly undermining his main campaign promises- especially those about restricting “free” trade and all types of immigration. Don’t be surprised if establishment republicans suddenly and selectively talk about “bi-partisan” cooperation and other assorted bullshit.

I also predict that Trump, once in office, will find himself first gradually and then publicly disowned by members of his party- just like they did during his campaign for republican nomination and the presidency. I also predict that this will synergize with my previous point about mass-media going on a more sustained anti-Trump campaign after he assumes office and starts making bad or disastrous decisions. It is also likely that many people employed in the Trump administration have far stronger loyalties to the republican establishment than they will admit- at least right now. Expect them to go along with the LIEbrals if it suits their long-term goals.

4] While some of Trump’s campaign promises, such as those related to blocking new “free trade” agreements and stopping or reversing outsourcing, are broadly popular- some such as deporting millions of mexicans and turning inner cities in open-air prisons are not. While it is possible that Trump himself does not really want to implement his less popular campaign promises, it is very likely that some of his retarded CONservative supporters might make him do so. This is especially likely because some of the people he is hiring in his administration are, for the lack of better words, living in a dream world where the american government has ultimate power without consequences- either unintentionally or intentionally.

The consequences of widespread increase in profiling and police-initiated murder of black people, especially in an age of ubiquitous social media, could have consequences far beyond what they realize. Let me put it this way.. any serious crackdown on black people in 2016 (with vocal support by Trump) might end up in a situation where people working in profession and their families get targeted for random de-centralized acts of lethal violence- which would result in a further intensification of police crackdown leading to a further increase in such retaliation by members of the affected community. Attempts at mas deportation of undocumented mexican workers in USA might also blow up in a similar fashion, since there are more documented citizens of mexican descent than there are of the other variety.

I should also mention that any attempt to break, or even renegotiate, the Iran agreement will be unsuccessful because the entire world now knows that USA lacks the ability to win a war against a determined adversary. Also the world, and economy, of 2016 is far less USA-centric than most people in USA realize. However both the previous facts are common knowledge outside USA. Similarly any attempt to roll back progress on normalizing relations with Cuba or reassert aggression towards Russia will only end up making the rest of the world reduce its interactions with USA. It is also no secret that the establishment LIEbrals will make sure everybody hears about such failures by the Trump administration- even if they are based on the prescriptions of those same establishment LIEbrals and CONservatives.

In an upcoming part of this series, I will write about how (and why) trying to address, let alone fulfill, some of his more popular campaign promises is likely to backfire in a spectacular fashion.

What do you think? Comments?

Some Initial Thoughts on the Likely Trajectory of a Trump Presidency: 1

November 19, 2016 8 comments

In a previous post from another series, I had written about how my predictions about Trump winning the republican nomination and presidency came true. Many of these predictions, found in older posts, were made many months before those events occurred and more importantly before all those so-called “experts” even considered the possibility of said events occurring. I was also able to predict that HRC would lose because of a serious lack of enthusiasm among the ‘obama coalition of voters’ that made both his presidential victories possible.

As some of you are aware, many “pundits” and “experts” are now busy concocting ever more complicated explanations for Trump’s “unexpected” victory in the 2016 presidential election. These range from the semi-plausible such as a reaction to prolonged socio-economic stress to fanciful ones involving the russian government. Not to be outdone by credentialed bullshit artists of the establishment, many of the right and alt-right are also spinning their own fanciful explanations for Trump’s victory. These range from the wishful such as a resurgence of white power to the bizarre which see Trump as some sort of genius at “persuasion”.

My explanation for the rise of Trump, as documented in a previous series of posts, is not particularly fashionable or gratifying. Instead, it explains the rise of Trump (and similar people around the world) as an almost inevitable consequence of rapidly declining nation states filled with mostly less-than-human people and run by a sheltered and incompetent elite who cannot visualize of world that is not neoliberal. In other words, the rise of Trump and similar “leaders” is as inevitable as a rash of large forest fires during especially dry years in California . My point is that, the rise of people like him is a symptom of serious systemic problems rather than a temporary disturbance in otherwise functional systems.

Having said that, I will now make some initial predictions about the likely trajectory of a Trump presidency. But before I do so, here are two caveats. Firstly, I am assuming that the next four years won’t see any unpredictable and extremely significant events such as imminent comet strikes, super-volcano eruptions or something along those lines. Secondly, I am assuming that the american populace does not suddenly attain wisdom and enlightenment. Personally, I am far more certain about the second caveat holding true than the first one.. but that is just me.

1] Trump’s campaign promises for massively increasing spending on rebuilding infrastructure, make-work jobs and restraining corporations from outsourcing will receive far more push-back from establishment republicans than democrats. While he might be able to eke out a few token victories on those issues, it is unlikely he will be able to fulfill most of his populist promises- at least as perceived by the people in rust belt states who voted for him in 2016. In other words, unless there is some massive movement to stop establishment republicans from running again in 2018, his populist agenda is pretty much dead on arrival.

In case you have forgotten, establishment republicans and democrats are just two different flavors of neoliberalism. Both are supported by, and in thrall to, rich individuals and institutions devoted to asserting power over the masses by impoverishing them. The unpleasant reality is that neither group of elected officials have any interest in improving the lives of most people. Indeed, they would rather preside over a collapsing society as long as they are can stand on top of its ruins. The establishment types, especially in the republican party, have therefore no real incentive to go along with any plans that might improve the lives of most people- and every incentive to stop them.

2] The establishment republicans, on the other hand, have every reason to vigorously pursue all their unpopular neoliberal and neoconservative policies under a Trump presidency. These include privatizing social security and medicare, eliminating medicaid, undermining scientific research, crapifying education etc. They will also try to do it by linking to legislation meant to fulfill watered down versions of Trump’s populist promises. It does not take a genius to figure out that doing so will result in a massive increase in Trump’s unpopularity. The establishment republicans will however see this as killing two birds (boosting neoliberalism, hurting Trump) with one stone.

The added complication in this scenario is that some of Trump’s promises regarding deporting millions of hispanic residents and subjecting blacks to even harsher policing will also backfire in “unforeseen” ways. Let me explain that previous sentence in some detail. All system of governance, regardless of the lethal force they wield, can survive only as long as the majority of people see them as largely legitimate. Even openly totalitarian societies like former communist countries were largely seen as legitimate by their populations till the last decade of their existence, largely because they could deliver on their promises and maintain a functional and orderly society. That might no longer be the case in USA, if the republicans push forward with their corporatist and neoliberal agenda.

3] Trump, ironically, might never be widely seen as legitimate- but not because of the electoral college. As many of you know, almost half of eligible voters did not vote for him or HRC. This almost-half of the population does however participate in all other aspects of being an adult resident of USA. Consequently, any lack of improvement in their circumstances combined with establishment republican further abusing or impoverishing them will likely lead to an unprecedented loss of legitimacy for him and establishment republicans. The loss of legitimacy for him will likely be far stronger than that suffered by any president in living memory- largely because the USA has not experienced a decade of almost continuous decline of stagnation with patches of anemic “growth” in the last hundred years. Like they say.. victory has a thousand fathers while defeat is an orphan and always requires a good scapegoat.

It also does not take a genius to figure out that establishment republicans will start disowning him as his popularity and perceived legitimacy falls. Doing so will however also simultaneously corrode their own (and linked) claims at legitimacy, resulting in further rounds of disowning. Pence, despite all his establishment republican connections and frantic maneuvering, will suffer an even more severe drop in his public legitimacy- because he is seen as both an acolyte of Trump and an establishment republican. Also, there are many others republicans wgo would be eager to fill his position and wield his power.

4] Some of you might have noticed that those who are already part of a future Trump administration or are vying for positions in it are.. for the lack of a better word.. ideologues with a rather tenuous connection to the world as it exists in 2016. Even his picks to date such as Jeff Sessions, Mike Pompeo and Michael Flynn inhabit a world where the USA is still an indispensable nation which can get away with anything. In other words, his administration is going to to be full of people who mentally live in a world that does not exist. Indeed, the the period between 1946-1961 and to a limited extent between 1991-2001 was the closest reality came to the fictional world they inhabit. The reality is that the actual capabilities of the USA are a shadow of what these people (mostly white men who grew up in a different era) assume it to be. In case you think otherwise, I would like to point you to the recent thorough defeats of USA in Iraq and Afghanistan- both of which largely occurred under the previous republican president.

The reality is the USA does not have the financial capability, dominant influence, adequate number of soldiers, appropriate weapons, sufficient technological edge or industrial capability to actually win a war against any determined adversary- be that another competent nation-state or a popular non-nation entity in any part of the world. While people in the current Obama administration do seem to (if grudgingly) understand this reality, it appears that those being recruited by the Trump administration are prone to magical thinking. While it is possible that they might ultimately accept this new reality, it is more likely that their lack of connection to the real world of 2016 might result in them entering into new unwinnable and ultimately humiliating conflicts with nations such as Iran, China and yes.. even Russia. Also, going back on less than favorable multi-lateral agreements and treaties might make it basically impossible to enter into similar agreements in the short-term.. or possibly ever again.

To quickly summarize this post, I think there is a better than 90% chance than a Trump presidency might make the disastrous second term of Bush43 look competent and organized in comparison. Of course, there is a small chance that he might be able to become a true (agnostic) populist and succeed- but that looks less likely with each passing day. In an upcoming post of this series, I will try to enumerate the ways in which the neoliberal establishment will try to make him fail in a spectacular fashion.

What do you think? Comments?

How Trump has Screwed Himself Since his Inauguration: May 18, 2017

May 18, 2017 21 comments

A few months ago, I wrote a brief post about how the establishment would try to depose trump via a procedural coup. While I had initially planned to write a couple more posts in that series, the speed of unfolding events made me put that series on the back-burner. Well.. in the last few days, we have seen the first serious attempts to depose Trump via some combination of investigation committee and legal maneuvers. While it is too early to say where this series of interconnected clusterfucks will lead, one thing is for sure- this won’t be the last attempt by the establishment to depose Trump via less-than-democratic tactics.

To be clear, I have never been a supporter of Trump. However, I was able to accurately predict his victories in the republican primaries and 2016 presidential election many months before both events occurred. You might also remember about a subsequent series of posts which predicted that his administration would rapidly degenerate into some combination of dysfunction and towing the establishment republican line thus slowly destroying whatever popular support he had when he was elected in early Nov 2016.

As you also know, I am of the opinion that Trump’s connection with Russia is similar to the Clinton’s connection to China or the Bush family connection to Saudi Arabia. In other words, Trump is just another corrupt transnational plutocrat who will return favors to those who have funded his business ventures.. basically garden variety legalized political corruption. It is also telling that democrats have seized on such a banal issue to go after Trump when they could have done far better by opposing his various policies from a left-wing populist angle, but that is a subject best left for a subsequent post.

Coming back to the central theme of this post, let us talk about how Trump has screwed himself since his inauguration in late Jan 2017. Some of you might think that firing Comey was his biggest mistake. Others might think that Trump using Twitter after assuming office was his biggest mistake. Well.. I think otherwise. See, the biggest and most consequential mistakes Trump has made since his inauguration have nothing to do with single issues. To put it another way, his biggest and worst mistakes are systemic in nature.

1] Trump hired many establishment republicans and #nevertrump republicans in his administration.

A large part of Trump’s current problems can be traced to his decision to fill the ranks of his administration with establishment republicans including many #nevertrump types. People like Betsy Devos, Nikki Haley, H. R. McMaster and a host of ex- GoldmanSachs types and their underlings were never going to be loyal to Trump. If anything, most of them should be expected to actively undermine his presidency. And yet he hired them.. Frankly, hiring willing democrats would have been a safer option.

2] Trump also hired people who are despised by people other than his hardcore supporters.

Hiring highly unlikable people like Jeff Sessions, David Clarke and more than a few other law-and-order types was one of the other bad hiring decisions made by his administration. While such people might play to his shrinking core constituency, they have cost a lot of support from other groups who were previously ambivalent about his administration. The reality is that many who did not vote for HRC were quite OK with democratic policies and campaign promises. In other words, hiring people who really like persecuting women, blacks and hispanics is not a good branding decision.

3] Trump has been unable to give up on the MSM.

The relationship between Trump and the MSM is usually seen as one in which both parties hate each other. However, for most of Trump’s life, that was not the case. Indeed, the MSM (in all its forms) loved to cover Trump- often in a fairly positive light until he won the republican ticket. However since the late summer of 2016, the MSM has done nothing but attack Trump- often using made up “news”. While Trump has been able to counter that by, inadvertently, embracing alternative internet based news outlets- he has never been able to give up on the MSM. Consequently he is still trying to please what he still thinks is the “respectable” MSM.

4] Trump has hitched his wagon with unpopular causes promoted by republican establishment.

Trump has wasted too much of his political capital by promoting republican attempts to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something even more shittier, if you can imagine such a thing. As many of you know, Obamacare (previously known as Romneycare) was always a pretty shitty neoliberal attempt to solidify their grip on healthcare in USA. It was, however, an improvement over whatever existed prior to its passing in 2010. Repealing Obamacare, without replacing it something superior like single payer healthcare, therefore runs the risk of pissing of a lot of Trump voters- especially the non-traditional republican types who helped him win supposedly ‘blue’ and ‘purple’ states in 2016.

5] Trump has tried to become a boiler-plate republican.

One of the major reasons behind Trump’s victory in the republican primary and presidential election was his willingness to question traditional republican establishment positions such as “free” trade agreements, overseas military engagements and social conservatism. However he has flip-flopped on all those issues since he was elected. While voters expect politicians to break most (if not all) of their campaign promises, they expect them do so after pretending to try fulfilling them. Trump has simply acted as if he never campaigned on those positions in the first place. While pulling off such a reverse can work if your political future is secure, that is not the case for Trump. He needs continued popular support if he wants to complete his 4 year term in office.

In summary, Trump has been successful at making a series of mistakes whose combination is very likely to doom his presidency. Hiring back-stabbers and wildly unpopular assholes, attempting to make nice with MSM and screwing over the voters whose support led to his victory is not helpful when you want to win against an establishment campaign to get rid of you. Then again, the ability to think strategically was never his strong point.

What do you think? Comments?

Initial Thoughts on Firing of Comey by Trump: May 9, 2017

May 9, 2017 7 comments

Many of you might by heard by now, especially in this age of Twitter and FaceBook, F.B.I. Director James Comey was fired by Trump earlier today afternoon. Predictably, many national-level politicians (both democrats and republicans) have expressed surprise over Trump firing Comey so abruptly. It is also odd, and somewhat peculiar, that Trump allegedly sent his letter of dismissal to Comey via his long-time personal bodyguard. In any case, it is easy to see this particular action by Trump and reactions to it is going to fill up the news cycle in USA for the next few days.

Having said that.. what does it all mean for the future of the Trump45’s “administration”.

Some of you might remember that a couple of months, or so, ago I had posted a short series on how things would turn out in the Trump45 “administration”. I am glad to say that a lot of what my predictions, from crippling levels of infighting and power struggles within his “administration” to missteps and reversals on key campaign promises, have come true. I also predicted that the screw-ups by Trump45 would end up making Bush43’s second term look positively rosy by comparison.

So what can we say about the somewhat unexpected firing of Comey by Trump?

Well.. for one, it looks extremely shady for Trump to fire a career guy with broad establishment credentials like Comey- especially when there is a perception that Comey was investigating Trump or people associated with him for legally dubious activities. To be clear, I am not suggesting that Comey is some paragon of humanity or decency. Indeed, there is tons of evidence that he is just another fairly racist white law enforcement guy. However, firing a guy who worked at high levels in the FBI under republican and democratic presidents for very questionable reasons and under circumstances that look rather suspicious is really bad optics.

This is doubly so given the many conflicts of interest concerning dealings by Trump’s many businesses after his election, the recent antics of his son-in-law and his family and the general stench of illegality surrounding his post-election activities. While Comey got a lot of flack from establishment democrats for briefly reopening and then closing the investigation about HRC’s emails a few days before the election, his activities can be explained away by the unusual circumstances under which those new emails were found. Also HRC made the decision to set up a private email server to handle her official state department emails on her own.

My point is that, even after the whole HRC email investigation saga, Comey still looked pretty honest and professional- especially in comparison to the people who he was investigating. And that you see is the core of the problem.. Regardless of whatever calculations made Trump (or someone in his inner circle) want to fire Comey, it is Trump who now looks guilty as hell. I would go so far as to suggest that he has now reached or exceeded the level of shadiness that people associated with post-Watergate Nixon. Needless to say, this won’t lead to a good outcome for him.

It remains to be seen how the fallout from this firing, the anti-populist healthcare bill being promoted by the republicans and reversal on pretty much every single one of his populist pre-election promises will affect the electoral fate of the republican party in the 2018 mid-term election. Or maybe we might have an ever bigger event, like his impeachment, before then. Who know? At this moment, everything is possible..

What do you think? Comments?

Why Trump’s Muslim Ban is a Self-Destructive Idea: 30 Jan, 2017

January 30, 2017 13 comments

Note- While this post develops on ideas discussed in my previous post, it is best kept separate from that series- largely because this post is heavily focused on one particular issue rather than a pattern or trend. It is however likely that some observations made here will be generically valid for later parts of that series.

I am going to start this post by first talking about its specific focus- namely Trump’s recent executive order “temporarily” banning entry into USA of people travelling from 7 largely Muslim countries. It should be noted that order, as it is being implemented, also prevents the entry of permanent legal residents and others travelling on valid visas from those countries- in spite of what Trump’s cronies are claiming. I also do not have to tell you that this order has resulted in a lot of public opposition, including but not limited to, large public demonstrations at various major airports all over USA.

The intense public reaction against this executive order is, in my opinion, perhaps the smallest problem created by this stupid action. Even the constitutional and legal problems associated with that executive order are at best medium-sized problems. The largest and most dangerous of the many problems associated with implementing such a stupid plan are linked to its long-term secondary and tertiary effects. Let me explain..

1] Irrespective of what Trump and his sycophants say, it is clear that his “temporary” ban on entry by people from 7 predominantly Muslim countries is a Muslim ban. Only a retard would believe that this ban is not the first step in a futile last-ditch attempt by white nativists to hang onto their make-believe position in a world that has irreversibly changed, much to their disadvantage. Trump’s other plan to deport tens of millions of “illegal Mexicans” is just another part of his futile attempt to raise the dead.. also known as making USA white again.

So why does this matter? Well.. consider the demographic profile of USA. Do you really think that pissing off every non-white person and, perhaps, half the whites in USA is a good strategy? The pivot point of real power has already irreversibly shifted away from the types of people who enthusiastically voted for Trump (as opposed to those who did because he was not HRC). To make a long story short, such actions make any future peaceful co-existence between his hard-core supporters and everyone far less likely- to the detriment of the former.

2] Trying to implement policies which deviate from established norms, even if they enjoy popular support, is problematic as the best of times. Trying to force irrational and regressive policies when half the country sees that person as proto-Hitler or proto-Mussolini does not help Trump’s public image- to put it mildly. It should be noted that even disastrous and disliked presidents like Bush43 and Nixon37 were never widely seen as illegitimate- especially at the beginning of their presidency. At some point in their first term, both of these now detested ex-presidents enjoyed popularity ratings as high as 80-90% .

There is, therefore, no comparable example in living history of an american president who has such low popularity AND was widely perceived to be illegitimate. Once you add the fact that he seems to be implementing policies which people associate with totalitarian regimes- it is fair to say that he is willingly (or accidentally) marking himself out as proto-Hitler or proto-Mussolini, at least in the public imagination. I would not be surprised if people start treating him as a totalitarian leader who was not legitimately elected- especially if his economic policies fail to deliver increased incomes for working-class people within the next 2 years.

3] The biggest difference between a conflict among two groups within a nation and one between two nations is that the former type has one final arbiter, while the later has none. Consequently, conflicts between nations (or nation sized entities) can go on for as long as either nation (or entity) involved in it can afford to continue. Even worse, as examples such as the recent failed occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan by USA show, intense but diffuse conflicts can go on for far longer than modern nation states can afford to sustain them.

But what does any of this to do with Trump’s Muslim ban? Well.. a lot. His actions, you see, have jump-started a new and counterproductive phase in a conflict which has been simmering for some time. While the current ban affects only 7 Muslim countries, you can bet that the vast majority of Muslims throughout the world (even those who are otherwise nor religious) have been mentally mobilized against the USA, Trump and his loyal followers. More importantly, even those who were Muslims in name only now have no reason to play nice with USA. The same goes for leaders of Muslim countries whose rulers and leaders used to be favorably disposed towards USA.

4] And this brings us to the next long-term effect of this particular act of stupidity. The ability of USA to operate in many parts of the Middle-East and North-Africa (and similar places) depends on it being able to trade financial and other favors with the local ruling class. These is a reason why the kids of the elite from many of these countries study in well-known american universities and buy expensive real estate in USA. For most of post-WW2 history, the USA has managed to keep the promises made to the local elites of those countries.

But what happens if the USA acts in a manner that makes any such promises deeply suspect? Why would the local elites of those smaller countries keep playing with an entity that is already hated in their realms? Would you keep on going to work if you were not getting paid? Would you work for somebody whose actions have demonstrated that they intend to not pay you? What makes you think that the local elite in those countries would keep on playing nice with USA if they believed USA wanted to stiff them later?

5] But perhaps the biggest and most problematic long-term effects of Trump’s Muslim ban and his immigration and trade “policies” are on the international credibility of USA. Let me quickly explain that point in a bit more detail. Relationships between nations, whether they are of a commercial or military nature, are based on the credibility of involved parties. The credibility of a nation is largely dependent on how other nations see it based on their past experiences and signs of policy continuity- economic and military. That is why, for example, the west makes pokes fun at North Korea but does not have the balls to invade it.

Trump’s Muslim ban in combination with his stated beliefs about many others topics such as immigration, trade and race are a significant change from official american positions on those issues for many decades. While that might seem like a good thing to many of his mediocre racist.. I mean “patriotic” supporters, it makes it very hard for other countries to believe in the willingness of USA to honor ANY agreement or treaty they sign from now on. To be fair, the USA has often unilaterally broken more than a few agreements and treaties in the past. However, today it simply does not have its previous size and power differential vis-a-vis the rest of the world.

To summarize, Trump’s Muslim ban is a self-destructive idea because it opens the door to large systemic problems in the future without solving the problem it was intended to address.

What do you think? Comments?

On Wrecking a Few Popular Delusions of Jingoists in USA: Dec 2, 2016

December 2, 2016 8 comments

A couple of comments to a recent post of mine made me write up this one to address and wreck some popular delusions concerning the real-life power of USA. As many regular readers know, my analysis of events is based in objectively measurable reality as opposed to parroting “conventional wisdom” or deferring to “credentialed experts”. My dislike and distrust for what passes as “wisdom” and “expertise” is based on witnessing many instances (in multiple areas of human endeavor) where they turned out to be disastrously and systemically incorrect. My prediction that Trump would win the republican nomination and presidency almost a year before those events occurred is one recent example where my detached objective analysis beat the predictions of pretty much every single highly-paid ‘journalist’ and ‘pundit’ in the main-stream media.

But enough of that. Let me now address some of the popular delusions (and talking points) of people who believe that the USA is a far more powerful country than objective evidence suggests.

While it is unlikely that “Not Born This Morning” is an especially strong believer in the power or competence of USA, as a country or as a military power, one of his comments contained a talking point that is quite popular among jingoists trying to rationalize the many unsuccessful and disastrous armed interventions by USA in other countries since WW2.

Many, many, many more Vietnamese, Iraqis, and Afghan, were shot, burned, bombed, slaughtered in various ways by the same race that committed genocide on “American” soil less than 200 years ago. So, who really “got their asses kicked”. Unfortunately, the popo will be very well supported by those who have driven Smith & Wesson and Rugers (and others) stock up about 1000% during the past 8 years.

As I mentioned in my reply to that particular comment, the relative number of casualties are irrelevant as long as they do not affect the final outcome of that war. Victory or defeat is almost exclusively determined by who prevailed once it was all over. So, USA lost the Vietnam war because the then North-Vietnamese state was still around after the USA left South-Vietnam. Even more humiliatingly, North- Vietnam then went on to defeat South-Vietnam a few years later resulting in their unification. In other words, all the american lives lost and hundreds of billions spent on fighting that war did not change the final outcome- and were thus spent in vain. Vietnam won and the USA lost..

The Iraq war(2003-2010?) and Afghanistan war (2001-present?) are two more contemporary examples of how the USA lost wars that it was supposed to win. In both cases, initially successful military occupations quickly degenerated into prolonged and bloody decentralized insurgencies that made USA basically pack up and leave in one country (Iraq) and quietly scale down to pave the way for an “honorable exit” in the other (Afghanistan). We can certainly talk about the number of dead on each side, but that does not change the outcome of either war. In both cases, the USA was unable to prevail over persistent and decentralized insurgencies. Perhaps more importantly, it was unable to prevail despite having far more money, weapons and technological resources than its adversaries.

I subsequently came across another common talking point of jingoists- this time from a commentator named “Yusef”. He wrote the following:

If U.S. objectives in Vietnam are understood regionally, it is possible to argue the U.S. did prevail. Most of the region, for example Indonesia, was just as ripe for Communism as Vietnam, yet never fell to Communism, even when the established regime was toppled in what appeared at the time to be a leftist coup. A lot of these other S.E. Asian countries are more geopolitically important to the U.S. than Vietnam, and some of them are very oil rich. Vietnam did suffer terribly and suffers to this day…Anyone but a crazed fanatic would look at the example of Vietnam and wish to avoid it at nearly all cost.

One of the more popular delusion among the jingoists is that the actions of USA, even when not successful, are part of some “clever” overall strategy. In the aftermath of their defeat in Vietnam, many “public intellectuals” in USA tried to pass of their failure as example of success. They made the claim that war in Vietnam somehow stopped the progress of communism in SE Asia. But is that claim even realistic let alone true? Well.. it is (like many other claims by “public intellectuals” in USA, total bullshit. Here is why..

Even at the height of its power and influence, state communism as an ideology was never exactly popular outside Russia. It is no secret that most east-European countries who were part of the ‘Eastern Block’ and Comecon had no great love for, or belief, in state communism. Leaders in China largely used state communism only as far it allowed them to receive assistance from Russia during the 1950s and facilitated mass murder of dissidents during the cultural revolution in the 1960s. The ostensibly communist movements in South-East (and East) Asia have an even weaker link to state communism. Indeed, it is fair to say that all those supposedly communist movements in Asia were actually anti-colonial and nationalistic movements. Their connection to state communism was largely a consequence of being supported by Russia and to some extent China and fighting against their erstwhile west-european colonizers and a USA that wanted to recolonize them.

The idea that USA entered and fought the Vietnam war as part of a grander strategic move against the spread of communism is therefore an ex post facto myth concocted once it became clear that they could not win that war easily in the mid-1960s. It also helped see that disastrous war to a fairly gullible audience at home- at least till 1968. There was never any worthwhile possibility for state communism to spread in South-East Asia- and they knew it. Post-colonial political movements in other countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines etc were always about establishing self-rule, enriching local elites and promoting dominant ethnic groups in those countries. As many of you know, a majority of those countries (even the ones on good terms with USA) also experienced a series of internal ethnic strifes and violent government changes during that time. Also many of those countries ended up implementing fairly socialistic policies for members of their dominant ethnicity.

To put it another way, the participation of USA in Vietnam war had no worthwhile influence on the trajectory, policies and governing style of other populous countries in that region. Those countries, if anything, used the american obsession with stopping communism to obtain favorable loans, industrial investments and other favors from USA. I could make a far better case for countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines using the USA to get what they wanted than the other way around. The belief in USA that they somehow stopped communism in South_east Asia by fighting the Vietnam war is therefore something the establishment in that country must tell itself to avoid confronting that it fought an unnecessary expensive war and then lost it to a bunch of people who were seen as racially inferior to them.

What do you think? Comments?