Friday, April 28, 2017

Trump's First Hundred Years

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This morning-- Day 99 of the Trump Regime-- the Commerce Department released a sour look at what's happened to the economy since Mr. "I thought it would be easier" was installed in the Oval Office. According to the NY Times, "the economy barely grew, expanding at an annual rate of only 0.7 percent. The growth was a sharp decline from the 2.1 percent annual rate recorded in the final quarter of last year. It was the weakest quarterly showing in three years. Consumption, the component reflecting individual spending, rose by only 0.3 percent, well below the 3.5 percent rate in the previous quarter. The first-quarter performance upset expectations for a Trump bump at the start of 2017.

Trump says he thought it would be easier. What a shock! Some 70 year old who inherited a fortune and lied and cheated his way through a corrupt business world watched Fox News and thought being president was just... well, being like Fox News.
He misses driving, feels as if he is in a cocoon, and is surprised how hard his new job is.

President Donald Trump on Thursday reflected on his first 100 days in office with a wistful look at his life before the White House.

"I loved my previous life. I had so many things going," Trump told Reuters in an interview. "This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier."
As we mentioned the other day, while it looks like everything Trump tries to do fails, from his ban of Muslim immigrants and his Great Wall of Trumpiness to his promise to repeal healthcare for millions of American families, he's succeeding to do a lot of damage on many levels. This morning Matthew Yglesias pointed out how Trump has been winning, winning, winning in the on area that means the most to him: self enrichment.
Donald Trump attracted a reputation over the years as a ruthless and unscrupulous businessman. He said on the campaign trail that having been “greedy all my life,” he now wanted to be greedy on behalf of the American people-- but nobody [nobody?] seriously believed him. Marco Rubio warned that Trump was a “con artist,” and Ted Cruz labeled him “completely amoral.” Liberals, needless to say, were not kinder in their judgments.

From the day Trump announced his candidacy until the day he took the Oval Office, the smart take on him was that he was running on a lark, as a publicity stunt, or to lay the groundwork for some business endeavor.

Yet since his ascension to the White House, conventional wisdom has developed an odd tendency to describe his inability to make major legislative changes as an indication that his presidency is failing. It's certainly true that Paul Ryan’s speakership of the House is failing, arguable that Mitch McConnell’s tenure as majority leader of the Senate is failing, and indisputably true that the Koch brothers’ drive to infuse hardcore libertarian ideological zeal into the GOP is failing.

But Trump isn’t failing. He and his family appear to be making money hand over fist. It's a spectacle the likes of which we've never seen in the United States, and while it may end in disaster for the Trumps someday, for now it shows no real sign of failure.

...Trump... funnels money directly into his own pockets. Like many previous presidents, he golfs. And like all presidents who golf, when he hits the green, he is accompanied by Secret Service agents. The agents use golf carts to get around the courses. And to get their hands on the golf carts, they need to rent them from the golf courses at which the president plays. All of this is fundamentally normal-- except for the fact that Trump golfs at courses he owns. So when the Secret Service spends $35,000 on Mar-a-Lago golf cart rentals, it’s not just a normal security expense-- Trump is personally profiting from his own protection.

The Secret Service has, similarly, paid $64,000 for “elevator services” in Trump Tower. This is a fairly normal kind of expense for the agency, paying a building money to defray the inconvenience of taking elevators offline so they can be inspected for security purposes. But, again, there is nothing normal about the president personally profiting from the security procedure.

When Trump’s sons fly around the world doing business deals, they too are protected by Secret Service agents whose bills the federal government covers-- even if they are staying at Trump properties.

There is something grating about this, especially from a president who is making a big show of donating his salary to charity. Trump is directly pocketing what could easily amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in direct payments from the Treasury, while simultaneously claiming to be serving for free. What’s more troubling, however, is indirect financial entanglements into which we have little real visibility.

Ivanka Trump, for example, was granted five trademarks by the Chinese government on the very same day she had dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Also on that day, Ivanka’s father decided to break his campaign pledge to officially designate China as a currency manipulator. That decision, by all accounts, reflected the growing clout inside the White House of National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and his key ally Jared Kushner, who happens to be Ivanka’s husband and in a position to directly gain or lose from China’s decisions regarding his wife’s trademark applications.

There’s of course no way to demonstrate a quid pro quo there, but the basic dynamics are clear.

Kushner emerged as a “shadow diplomat” smoothing over US-Mexico relations, according to a February 10 Washington Post article, and by April 10, the same journalists were reporting that he has “the freedom to act as a shadow secretary of state, setting up his own channels of communication with world leaders.”

Back in February, Bloomberg reported that “[a]s countries around the world figure out how to influence the new U.S. administration, China is going straight to the top: Trump’s immediate family.” Kushner and Ivanka Trump were guests of honor at a Chinese New Year celebration organized by the Chinese Embassy in Washington, and the trademark applications are just part of the overall package. China is on good terms with Trump’s family, and Trump’s family has helped keep China on good terms with the United States.

Similarly, Ivanka was closing business deals in Japan while simultaneously joining her father in meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

This same trend can easily point in darker directions. The Trump family has business interests in the Persian Gulf, and Trump’s foreign policy is moving the United States into much closer alignment with the Gulf monarchies, including deeper involvement in a disastrous war in Yemen and abandonment of any pretense of caring about human rights in Egypt.

Further from the center of media attention, an eye-opening report by Allan Nairn for the Intercept says that “[a]ssociates of Donald Trump in Indonesia have joined army officers and a vigilante street movement linked to ISIS in a campaign that ultimately aims to oust the country’s president.” The movement includes current and former army officers looking to evade accountability for past crimes during Indonesia’s period as a military dictatorship, but also “Hary Tanoe, Trump’s primary Indonesian business partner, who is building two Trump resorts, one in Bali and one outside Jakarta.”

In a normal administration, it would go without saying that American attitudes toward civil strife in Indonesia-- no matter how misguided-- were driven primarily by policy considerations and not by the president’s personal financial interests. With Trump, we have no such assurance.
And his executive orders-- even with lots of terrible ones-- are mostly theater. Funny how for the last 8 years every Republican from the Atlantic to the Pacific was moaning and wailing and rending his or her clothes about the brutal tyranny of Obama signing executive orders. Now Trump is bragging that he's signed more executive orders than any president in history-- and not a peep from the choir.



So tomorrow is the 100th Day of Trump's reign. Is it any surprise that farmers-- many of whom voted for Trump-- can't find workers to harvest their crops this year? Watch Van Jones try to understand why by talking with farmers in California's Central Valley in the video above.

Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) was the first member of Congress to start the boycott of the Trumpanzee Inauguration. This morning he issued a statement with his thoughts on the first 100 days:
Trump has flip-flopped on NATO and he has backed down from labeling China a currency manipulator because he is now best friends with China’s President, but there is one thing he has been 100% consistent on from day 1 of his campaign to day 100 of his Presidency: demonizing and attacking Latinos.

Almost the first words out of his mouth when he descended the golden escalator to announce his candidacy were to call Mexicans rapists and murderers. Now he is tweeting about Puerto Rico and that health care for the Puerto Rican people is not important with regard to budget negotiations. Last week Trump sent out Jeff Sessions to call Latino immigrants “filth” and “cartel henchmen.” Trump returns to bashing Latinos every time he has a setback on some other issue.

We knew that a team of misogynist, climate-change denying, anti-immigration, billionaire civil rights opponents would be bad, but I fear that we have not seen the worst yet.

One of the most important observations on Trump’s 100 Days is that on immigration, on women, on LGBTQ issues, on Muslims, on the environment, on Black Lives Matter and on corporate greed, the American people are more united in their opposition to Trump and the Republican Party than ever. This is a deeply unpopular President. When he attacks something or someone, their support grows, and when he embraces something or someone, their support plummets. He has the reverse Midas touch in politics as in his business career. Unlike Obama, Reagan, Carter or any President I can remember, he has been the biggest liability to his own success and he has done more to make his priorities toxic to the American people in the first 100 days than anyone I can remember.


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3 Comments:

At 9:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And here's why education in this shithole has gone to shit.

He deserves an F in math and English too. Overgrading just to move the piece of shit out of the class???

And PE? Look at him. Worst physical specimen since Taft. Even cheney, who literally has no pulse, looked healthier. No amount of makeup can make that fat fuck look better than dead.

 
At 7:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd be more inclined to give failing grades to the farmer who got the most time with Van Jones. All of his solutions involve kicking the can down the road so that someone else can fix the problems. He bitches about water as if he's the only one who is going to use it. Yet what is the primary pollutant of water supplies in the US if not agricultural chemicals?

In this, he's no different than that so-called liberal environmentalist Jerry Brown, who is living down to Mike Royko's epithet of Governor Moonbeam. In addition to wrecking the water supplies of the upper-state farmers and Bay Area fishing interests with his stupid tunnel plan, he is considering proposed plans for building dams to catch water which hasn't been falling from the skies. Does he not know that concrete requires LOTS of water to construct?

The only realistic approach to California's water crisis is desalination even with the inherent problems that technology carries with it. But in places were there is no alternative, such as (ironically) both Israel AND Saudi Arabia, a great deal of efforts has gone into constructing such an infrastructure. There is no reason not to research those systems with an eye toward improving them for use in California.

As the world's sixth-largest economy, there is no reason to NOT pursue this. As the leader of this economy, one would expect that Jerry Brown recognize an opportunity to shine.

And maybe dried dung will fill my hand when I dip into the well, since Brown now only notices campaign money. Ask anyone in Kern County what Brown is allowing fracking firms to do there. It involves water.

 
At 7:58 AM, Blogger Thomas Ten Bears said...

Those who actually read history tend to agree: Marie Antoinette and her cohort had no idea what was coming.

 

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