Strange Days

It’s a strange sensation, having so many topics of interest that you can’t develop a coherent thought on any of them. The past two years have been a theme-park ride of insanity, but this week we reached a new level. Unfortunately, it seems clear that the chaos, absurdity and failures of this administration will accelerate before the crash.

All I can offer is a quick recap of a few high points.

The Dow lost 6% of its value this week after we discovered that the president was lying about a deal he had reached with the Chinese. OPEC is scrambling to respond to a 30% collapse in oil prices over the past few weeks, a harbinger of slowing economic growth around the globe. The Fed’s Beige Book summary of economic activity describes the impact of Trump’s random tariffs starting to reach as far as restaurants, with a warning of far more serious effects next year. The S&P just recorded its worst month since November 2008. Ukraine is threatening to test the Russian blockade of the Kerch Strait. Filings by the Special Counsel on Friday revealed planned collaboration between Trump and the Russians going back to 2015. A suit by several state AG’s over Trump violations of the Emoluments Clause was allowed to go forward, including subpoenas of tax records from the Trump organization.

And because the week still wasn’t quite weird enough, the head of the Bundy clan in Nevada came out publicly in opposition to Trump’s treatment of immigrants.

For a little extra fun, take a look at what Google displays as its leading results from a news search for the phrase, Steele Dossier:

Which one of these search results is news? Why, none of them, of course. If you’re wondering why so few people seem to understand the fundamentals of what’s happening around them, you could start with that image.

I like writing and thinking about policy. However, with the compass spinning so furiously there seems little point talking about issues, plans, or policy. We may spend the next few years just hacking our way through the damage from this administration before we can even begin to think about building a future.

29 Comments

  1. Another example of why the fascists win and the Dem’s lose. The fascists all pull in the same direction, for the “good of their cause”. We will watch over the next year or two as the Dem’s tear themselves apart, while the fascists circle the wagons and regroup.

    An excerpt from a Politico article:

    “But there was one major problem: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy didn’t want her leading the NRCC. The California Republican called Wagner to express his preference for a far less prominent male lawmaker, Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, according to three sources familiar with the conversation. Wagner could have defied McCarthy — some lawmakers and aides thought she’d win if she would have — but she realized doing so would create tension and would be counterproductive as the party tried to pivot toward 2020.

    Wagner decided not to run.

    “The leader had a different plan,” was all Wagner would say about her decision. “

    1. I think the fivethirtyeight report is largely correct. Mueller has been including a lot of detail in his court filings, precisely to ensure that the information is in the record, even though it is presently confidential. Eventually, it will become public. My thought is that he has been doing this with the expectation that the final report will be suppressed or he will not be able to complete his investigation.

      My current hope is that the forthcoming House investigations and hearings will be sufficiently transparent so that the American public becomes fully aware of the the corruption and conspiracy under which this Administration operates. This awareness could be achieved by publicly releasing information or by deliberate leaking. We know secrets never last long in Washington. This will then generate a lot of pressure on Congress. Hopefully that will finally at long last result in Congressional action in some shape or form. Regardless, the next two years are likely to be a continuation of the exposure of the Trump Administration.

      How this ends, who knows? I see several likely scenarios, but do not want to take the time to embark on an analysis. One of scenarios is TRUMP1 departing in the middle of the night for parts unknown, as Chris speculated previously.

  2. Whether Hack or Wonk….where does the administration find these people? Nick Ayers just turned down the Chief of Staff position to go back to his dark money group “America First”. Granted he earns a lot more coin as a consultant but jeez this administration is devoid of any public service oriented careerists.

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/nick-ayers-turns-down-trump-expected-to-land-at-pro-trump-dark-money-group?ref=scroll

    This administration is lucky as they have so far not encountered a true emergency either requiring an immediate military, State Department or major economic intervention to prevent the country from experiencing a physical or economic calamity….if they do we are in real trouble. There is no there there in this administration. If Mattis should leave or be fired there will be no adults in the room.

    1. “This administration is lucky as they have so far not encountered a true emergency….”

      The American people are “lucky”….as the capability of the existing staff chosen by trump are frightening in the possibilities for improvident and dangerous actions in response to a “real” emergency.

  3. You’re feeling strange because you’re a wonk in a world dominated by hacks right now 🙂 For true hacks, this is the best time to be alive!

    Did you ever read this somewhat tongue-in-cheek article about the difference between hacks and wonks in DC? It’s a bigger divide than Democrat vs. Republican. The article is an oldie but goodie (and also a disturbing reminder that GWB was closer to Trump than our nostalgia-infused memory might believe)

    https://washingtonmonthly.com/2004/03/01/bushs-war-against-wonks/

    I’m probably more a wonk than anything but I do love engaging in the bloodsport of hacks once in a while. For the next 2 years, we wonks will need to put away our propeller heads and wade into the dog-eat-dog world of the hacks. And learn to enjoy it. Strange Days indeed.

    1. Good way of looking at things. Reviewing recent political history, i.e. since 1992, I tend to feel that Democratic Presidents tend towards the wonkish side, to the detriment of politics. I feel that is even true of Clinton, who Bruce Reed described as both a politician but also a wonk. However, largely because the political side got neglected from 1993-1994, the Democrats lost Congress in 1994. The major causes were the medical insurance reform effort and the Clinton tax increase. As a result, Clinton had to resort to triangulation to accomplish significant policy changes and even so, we had the disastrous government shutdown, because the Rs in Congress overreached, i.e. paid too much attention to the idologues. A similar situation developed with Obama. Though the 111th Congress from 2009-2011 was the most productive in recent history, the House was lost in 2010 as well as much of the Democratic base in the states. Again the cause was not paying enough attention to the political side. This allowed the Republicans to win the messaging battle on both the ACA, the stimulus package and Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act. The Democratic Party is still suffering from the disastrous 2010 election.

      On the other hand, Republican Presidents tend to suffer from too much emphasis on politics (hackish side) and allow the Republican ideologues to run rampant. Thus, under GWB we had the tax cuts, financial sector non-regulation, the disastrous policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and widespread corruption. Of course, the Trump administration is totally unprecedented and off the charts. It ignores both the wonks emphasis on good policy and the hacks emphasis on good national politics, in favor of satisfying the basest urges of Trump’s core voters and pursuing policies of personal financial enrichment by all possible means, corrupt or not. As a result, the Republicans in Congress have been allowed to pursue their idealistic ideas of no taxes on corporations and the wealthy, attempting to completely eliminate the social safety net, and pursuing a policy of white supremacy. Of course the President also agrees with much of that, particularly the policies of white supremacy and dragonian restrictions and essential elimination of immigration, except for favored individuals. As a result, the last two Republican presidents have been disastrous.

      Perhaps with the Democrats taking control of the House in 2019, maybe some sanity will be restored after some time. However, the immediate future promises to be even more crazy than the last two years. We appear to be headed towards a major constitutional or perhaps existential crisis. I hope that we are able to avoid the dire scenario Dinsdale predicts and that Constitutional processes will allow America to resolve the gathering crisis. But that all depends on whether the Republicans in the Senate wake up and allow either the impeachment and trial process to remove this President from office or the 25th Amendment to do the same. But considering that McConnell makes all Republican Senators regularly drink the Trumpian Kool-Aid, that is the question.

      WX is right, we wonks must ally with the hacks in support of the overwhelming priority of getting Trump out without the dire scenario that some predict.

  4. I keep saying it. The AG, Senate, and SCOTUS will firewall the madman.
    Sorry, but he is not going anywhere. Not “legally”.

    I stated a few weeks ago about the dominoes falling towards civil war, and nothing has changed. The first domino was Mueller et al coming out with incontrovertible evidence of felonies and collusion with the russians in fixing the election, with the 2nd domino of his cult not believing it and the Senate ignoring it.

    First domino started tipping with the Manhattan court stating the puppet tyrant directed Cohen to commit felonies. Let’s see what the coming weeks bring, but this is going as expected.

    But the only way this guy leaves prematurely is in a body bag.

      1. I wibder if Kelly deserved the reputation he had given how he has conducted himself under Trump. Frankly, I am beginning to feel the same way about Mattis and others whose reputations didn’t seem to be a “fit” with Trump’s shady background – Rex Tillerson and Gary Cohen, to mention two. The rest are people who I didn’t respect to begin with or didn’t know. Regardless who they are and what they stood for before they joined the trump team, they are tainted for life in my book.

    1. I dislike her and Schumer both, but yea – it’s probably good to have someone competent in charge at the moment.

      I had a terrible worry leading up the election that the Democrats would actually win both houses. It would have been a disaster. Chuck and Nancy, in their old-school style, would have decided that they now had The Donald in a corner and would have tried to work with him. They would have stifled Congressional investigations just like the Republicans did while wallowing in the delusion that they could use Donny to their advantage.

      I do not like them.

      1. The notion of keeping Trump around to use him occurred to me too, but I also don’t want them to jump the gun on impeachment. I have high hopes that incoming committee chairs like Adam Schiff and Elijah Cummings are going to run some open, competent, and honest investigations.

        Did you see the dust up today?? Looks like Pelosi is getting under Boss Tweet’s thin skin, and she won’t be Speaker for several weeks yet.

  5. With everyone constantly lionizing George H.W. Bush, I feel like now is a good time to reflect on how much of a soulless imperialist the man truly was.

    https://theintercept.com/2018/12/05/george-h-w-bush-1924-2018-american-war-criminal/

    The apple, of course, didn’t fall too far from the tree, given how his father cozied up to the Nazis:

    https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-bush-familys-links-to-nazi-germany-a-famous-american-family-made-its-fortune-from-the-nazis/5512243

      1. Young me started really getting The News and Current Events between 1979-1980. I remember Bush-the-elder of the 1980 primary being somewhat different than Bush-the-nominee of 1988 (and I voted remembering 1980 Bush) and MORESO than Bush-the-nominee of 1992. It was not unlike John McCain’s 2000 and 2008 versions, alas. One reason I’m such a fan here is because Chris, even as GOPlifer, knew the dangers of the Religious Right far more clearly than most.

  6. “The Dow lost 6% of its value this week after we discovered that the president was lying about a deal he had reached with the Chinese.”

    The lie should have shocked no one. The financial sector has a greater capacity for self delusion than I initially realized.

  7. Nothing new under the sun. Including the stupidity of the majority of voters. Part of why we are a Republic instead of a direct Democracy is because the founding fathers knew the average Joe and Jane could not pour water out of a boot. The courts one of the least democratic parts of government with law enforcement another undemocratic part of government are our best hope of holding back the barbarians right now. Our history is rife with stupid over riding knowledge and common sense until the pain of stupid forces the common Joe to give back the wheel to those who are competent. When another major economic upheaval comes or another stupid war history will repeat it’self once more. I have plenty of dumb Trump supporting idiots in my family and friends. I am tired of trying to reason with them or share real news and facts. Until they get hurt bad enough they are going to keep going down stupid’s path. If i was ruthless enough I could pull the conman’s game on them. But I refuse to lie, steal and defraud. It hurts me when I see others doing that to them. I am feeling Lifer what you felt when you wrote about your Dad being deceived.

    1. There’s multiple reasons why the Trump cultists won’t repent, but I think a major factor is one of the biggest sunk cost fallacies in human history. Every bit of horrid behavior they must excuse or ignore, every relationship broken because of political disputes, every bit of hypocrisy they must embrace , every previous norm flouted, every bit of decency and integrity sacrificed is yet another payment. They’ve made so many of those payments, and they are loathe to admit the possibility that it wasn’t worth it. They could cut their losses by renouncing Trump and his cruel agenda, but they won’t make the necessary painful admission, and kept paying in more cuts to dignity and integrity. That’s just for being a supporter- Chris pointed out in a previous post the horrid price of actually working for that fool.

      1. I have greater tolerance for trump’s base – at least that part who were genuinely compelled to believe “in” him because no one else was addressing their concerns. The “f**k-you” crowd is at least plausible in its reasoning, however ill-informed.

        The ones I cannot abide are, in order: Republicans in leadership in Congress; business leaders and donors who paid their “pieces of silver” for a tax cut that will prove highly detrimental to our nation’s economy; those who are working for trump and fomenting bad policy that impacts peoples’ health and our environment and economy; FOX and others who spin one lie after another to suck up to trump; Republicans in Congress and in the base who are educated, privileged, and aware of trump’s crassness and likely criminal enterprises and refuse to speak up or stand on principle and truth; and then all the others.

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