Saturday, July 07, 2018

Is There A Lesson To Be Learned About Trump From Pruitt, Manafort And Brazil's Soybean Farmers?


The White House by Nancy Ohanian

The worst-run White House ever? You bet! Just ask Susan Glasser at the New Yorker. She wrote about "The Trump Unchained era," in which Señor T has "effectively unleashed himself from the strictures, processes, and constraints that Kelly" and every other aide has "sought to impose on him... not even a brusque Marine general with a chest full of medals, is going to bring order" to a psychopath illegitimate occupant of the White House determined to have his own way, no matter who gets hurt. "It’s now clear that Trump is making major decisions without even a nod to the process and order that Kelly was supposedly bringing to his office; no one pretends that major moves, such as the risky nuclear summit with North Korea or recent conflicts with Congress over immigration and the budget, are the result of anything other than [Trumpanzee's] own spur-of-the-moment strategizing... Turnover among the White House staff, already record-setting in Trump’s first year, has spiked recently, now that no one is really in charge."

Of course, not everyone gets hurt by all this. Sure, here in the U.S. soybean farmers in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota and Arkansas are going bankrupt-- all in counties that voted overwhelmingly for Trump-- but some soybean farmers are rolling in cash already-- in Brazil. "Soybean prices in the U.S. and Brazil, the nations that account for roughly 80 percent of global exports, have taken drastically different paths thanks to Donald Trump’s trade war. In the U.S., average cash prices fell to about $7.79 a bushel this week, the lowest in almost a decade, according to an index compiled by the Minneapolis Grain Exchange. China’s tariffs on American goods including farm products have now taken effect after the U.S. implemented a raft of duties earlier in the day Friday and President Trump threatened more action. Meanwhile in Brazil, exporters have been handed high times. Soybeans to be loaded in August at the nation’s Paranagua port fetched $2.21 a bushel more than Chicago futures as of Friday, the widest gap since data starts in 2014. The premium has more than tripled since the end of May."

The Brazilian farmers didn't vote for Trump. I wonder if the ones in Iowa and Minnesota will in 2020-- or even for Trump enablers in Congress in November. Let's take Minnesota. There are almost no places in the entire country where the Republicans have any shots to win Democratic-held seats, but soybean country in the southern and western parts of the state include the 5 counties with the most soybean output, homes of Tim Walz (MN-01), who is retiring, and Colin Peterson (MN-07), a Blue Dog who's always on shaky ground. The soybean counties being economically battered in the two districts all went overwhelming for Trump
Polk- 61.1% to 32.1%
Redwood- 67.9% to 24.9%
Renville- 64.7% to 28.0%
Marshall- 66.9% to 25.6%
• Fairbault- 63.3% to 29.3%
It doesn't get any redder than that in Minnesota. Republicans have been hoping to win the seat-- even in a blue wave cycle-- with Jim Hagedorn, who's raised $610,804. The DCCC is betting on Dan Feehan (a New Dem) to hold the seat and they put him on their Red-to-Blue list. Even if the soybean counties in his district don't flip blue-- they won't-- but decrease the Republican totals or turnout by a few percentage points, Feehan beats Hagedorn and R+5 district stays blue. Peterson's district is even redder-- R+12, the reddest district held by a Democrat in the country. Peterson votes with the GOP most of the time and the NRCC isn't targeting him. Still, Republican candidate Dave Hughes thought he had a shot this cycle. Not with the catastrophe for the soybean farmers, who tend to like Peterson, the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, anyway. Tragic for the Republicans, who have been hoping to do some damage to the Democrats in Minnesota, especially in the soybean counties that went so overwhelming for Trump. Pity.

It's a somewhat similar story in Iowa, except the two Republicans with the big soybean counties, Steve King and David Young, are playing defense. Again, every soybean county is blood red... but the farmers know who to blame for their economic woes-- Trump and his two rubber-stamps in the House.
Plymouth- 74.0% to 22.0%
Kossuth- 66.3% to 26.0%
Pottawattamie- 57.9% to 36.3%
Sioux- 82.1% to 12.7%
Woodbury- 57.4% to 37.5%

Goal ThermometerKing is so sure of himself that he forgot to raise any money. As of the May 16 FEC filing deadline he had raised $438,873 and had just $87,250 in cash on hand. The progressive grassroots Democrat in the race, former local baseball player, J.D. Scholten, outraised him ($492,188) and had $195,348 cash on hand. The DCCC is ignoring the race, of course, but Blue America endorsed J.D. and you can help him oust Steve King by clicking-- and contributing-- on the ActBlue 2018 congressional thermometer on the right. JD is trying to flip those soybean counties, but he doesn't have to, to beat King district-wide. Again, if enough Republicans vote for him (about 20%) in the counties Trump's trade war is hurting most-- or even just stay home in disgust-- say goodbye to one of Congress' worst racists and neo-fascists and hello to the guy who will shake up Iowa politics big time.

Yesterday, JD sent this statement to his supporters in Iowa and to the media: "The Administration's devastating and ill-advised trade war with China today could be costing already-suffering Iowa farmers up to $624 million. While Steve King has spent the past week tweeting about Mexico and Denmark, he has shown no such concern about the looming crisis here in Northwest Iowa as farmers are suffering from 10-year record low soybean prices and have seen their incomes decline by 75% since 2012. It's time for change and for a Congressman that will stand up for Iowans and put the needs of the 4th District first."

Have congressional Republicans finally found an issue they can stand up to Trump on? They're certainly grumbling about his trade war agenda. This week Politico reported that "not a party meeting goes by these days where multiple Republicans don’t vent that the president isn’t listening to them-- and plot how to fight back... The mounting frustration with the Republican president is a warning sign for the party amid what’s been a surprisingly favorable stretch... Republican senators say they can’t get the president to comprehend that his tariffs offensive could upend all of that progress in short order. Commodity prices in the heartland are sagging, U.S. allies are retaliating with tariffs of their own-- and GOP leaders are fretting that the booming economy is about to go into a pre-midterms nosedive."

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst is pretty typical-- too scared to take Trump on. She refuses to back a GOP bill to restrict Trump’s autonomy on trade, "preferring instead to write the president letters and lobby him privately. But she said her state is hurting because of retaliatory tariffs aimed at agriculture industries. And Iowans are running out of patience. 'We want to support the president; my constituents want to support the president as well. But they can only keep that stiff upper lip before things collapse. We’re not quite at that point, but it’s rapidly approaching.'" She's dreaming. Trump's favoirabilty in Iowa collapsed even before his trade war started hurting farmers-- from a positive 9 point net favorability after he moved into the White House, to a current minus 7-- a dire 16 point drop. Square that with what Scholten had to say above.

Let's back up a little... what kind of a person would even take a job working for someone like Trump? The same kind of people who took jobs working for Hitler, for Franco, for Mussolini... There are always accomplices looking out for themselves. They're never top notch people, of course, but there are lots of them. One Republican who ran in the other direction was Rick Wilson, a conservative Republican who recognized exactly what Trump is at the same time most normal people did. Not long ago he quit to GOP. A couple days ago he penned a piece for the Daily Beast, Scott Pruitt Wasn’t Corrupt Enough for Trumpistan. "Trump," he wrote, "is unequivocal proof that As hire Bs and Bs hire Cs, and Trump hires people without the judgment, qualifications, ethical foundations, and moral stature to run an underground bum-fighting operation. Scott Pruitt’s obvious money problems should have screamed out in any background check, to say nothing of a Senate confirmation hearing. Pruitt is a man, like so many of Trump’s claque of low-rent hoodlums, bus-station conmen, edge-case dead-enders, and caged-immigrant child porn aficionados, utterly unsuited to a role of public trust and responsibility... Pruitt didn’t get fired because he was an utterly corrupt grifter. Pruitt got fired because he was clumsy enough to give away the game and embarrass a different utterly corrupt grifter. To the detriment of the country, Pruitt is just one of Trump’s many minions who model their low behavior, raving contempt for the law, and disregard for even the sparest ethical standards and shamelessly follow the lead of the Grifter in Chief." BINGO! How is it so many people still don't see it? Is Robert Mueller's report really going to be the unicorn of impeachment-- or even change a few minds here and there?

The Scott Pruitt fiasco could only have ended one way: not with a bang but a simper, a wet fart of a resignation that exposed three Big Lies of the Trump world.

First, the image of Trump and his squad as hard-bargaining, brutal street fighters who never give in and always punch back twice as hard sure didn’t hold up. Pruitt isn’t even under FBI investigation, which is more than many of President Trump’s compatriots can say.

Second, it exposed the lie that Republicans in Congress are anything more than Trump’s enablers. The vast majority of Republicans in Washington know this administration is lavishly corrupt. They’re not stupid; it’s driven home every time they walk through the doors of Trump’s hotel or watch Jared Kushner trawling foreign satraps for cash like some 4 a.m. lot lizard at a truck stop.

Pruitt represented a perfect opportunity for these Vichy Republicans to buy some daylight from both the grand and petite corruptions of the Trump administration that fill D.C. to the scuppers. In a sinking ship of state awash with “Yeah, but…” rationalizations, excuses, and muttered denials, Pruitt’s lavish, third world kleptocratic behavior gave them every chance to do the right thing, so of course, by and large, they didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t.

As with all things Trump, there’s always an excuse, no matter how thin. In conversations with elected officials and activists in the past few weeks, there was a gushing approval for what Pruitt was doing on the policy front, and feigned ignorance of everything else. That Pruitt was a man of such petty, grubby behaviors wasn’t a deep, dark secret. Many Republicans now have egg on their faces for sitting quietly and waiting for Trump to do the right thing.

Finally, as if America needed reminding, Trump’s promises to hire the best people to drain the swamp and Make America Great Again are all not only false but ludicrously so.

Like Trump, the Doctor Evil of presidents, finally found his EPA chief’s behavior had reached a point of rapidly diminishing returns. Lights and sirens? Ritz-Carlton hand lotion? Custom pens? Running government staffers as if they were the servant of some particularly self-indulgent generalissimo? Chick-fil-A franchises?
Shame about Trump's former campaign manager, Putin lackey Paul Manafort, rotting in prison-- in solitary confinement 23 hours a day for his own protection. Eventually we'll have to build a separate penitentiary for Trump and his entire Regime-- a large, remote one... possibly on one of Alaska's 2,670 islands, maybe on Afognak, 5 miles north of Kodiak, Афогнакъ in Russian, or on the outskirts of Petersburg (population 2,948) on tiny Mitkof Island, named for Tsarist Admiral Prokofy Mitkov.

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At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There certainly is, but those who need to learn this lesson will still take the hit from Trump's foolish recklessness. They will mindlessly blame Obama and "democrats" who largely went along with the agenda for the ills they will endure.

At 6:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah. The question isn't whether there are many, many lessons here.

The question is who, in this vast enclave of colossal human stupidity, can possibly learn from any of them?

And will that subset of that enclave be able to act upon those epiphanies?

The answers: not very many; and no way in hell.


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