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Trump Governance



I guess we can try to hang our hopes on the Trump administration being so utterly incompetent, so corrupt, and so concerned with purging internal enemies that maybe, just maybe, the damage will be limited. Well, good luck with that.

Mike Konczal on what the new era of Republican governance is going to look like. He makes three basic points. First, this doesn’t compare to 2009 because Republicans don’t even want Democratic votes, whereas Obama wanted Republican votes.

Obama did this all for many reasons, including the idea that his Presidency could overcome the strong partisan and ideological differences in the country. McConnell’s refusal to meet him anywhere was successful because President Obama, practically and ideologically, really wanted to make it work. Later in 2011, Obama would chase Republicans down rabbit holes to get any budget deal, offering 6-to-1 spending cuts to tax increases to secure a Grand Bargain, which Republicans rejected even though it was their own economics staff’s number. Obama wanting to win Republicans was often compared to Charlie Brown and Lucy with the football in an artifact of the time period called “the blogosphere.”

Here’s the flip side: the Ryan Agenda is designed in no way to appeal to, or rely on, liberals and Democrats. It’s been engineered to pass through reconciliation on a party line vote. All those times liberals made fun of Republicans for passing party-line bills that would get vetoed Republicans were simply doing test runs for what they would do with unified government, testing the boundaries of their members and the institutions themselves.

Second, the infrastructure program is going to be a huge grift.

As David Dayen writes in detail, the Trump infrastructure plan is engineered to be a crony, privatization nightmare. It’s not Hoover Dam and the WPA, it’s the toll road between Austin and San Antonio, Texas that is already falling apart and causing flooding while making outsized private profits. “Public-private partnerships” means poorly executed, cheap labor and big financial returns. It’s all tax credits, so it’s not even clear it counts as actual stimulus to get the economy going. The best ask if infrastructure goes forward is a strong Democrat to oversee and investigate the implementation, like Joe Biden did for the ARRA, but I bet that would be dead on arrival. The media is portraying this as Clinton’s infrastructure plan or the ARRA Part Two, but this is different in kind, not just degrees. It’s almost engineered to fail.

Third, all the different parts of Trump’s allies can work fine together. Ryan wants to decimate Medicare, Bannon wants to oppress black people. They won’t get in each other’s way.

Supporting even more aggressive policing of black communities exist perfectly fine next to privatizing Medicare and block-granting all income support programs. Rounding up three million undocumented people in a year is totally chill with eliminating progressive taxation. Creating a database of Muslims is like peanut butter and jelly with deregulating the financial derivatives market.

Do your homework on Hayek in Pinochet’s Chile, William F. Buckley in Franco’s Spain and the history of how punitive and carceral-minded classical liberals were, to see that the contradictions won’t fix anything. In general, hoping ideological contradictions will save us is a fool’s errand, but here there aren’t even the contradictions.

Konczal brings a little hope in the end because they are so far from being ready to actually govern effectively, not to mention dealing with the political impact of their actions. But really they are, which is massive voter suppression so they never face the consequences. It’s a lot to overcome.

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  • econoclast

    I think they definitely can work together, but it’s a question of whether they will.

    But they can definitely can. They can slash regulations, cut entitlements, smooth over the displacement by Keynesian policies — tax cuts and infrastructure spending — and attribute the subsequent boom to the genius of the market being unchained. Brutalizing minorities is what their voters signed up for, so they just have to deliver it. Infrastructure spending and kicking the shit out of innocent victims worked for Hitler after all.

    • BigHank53

      As long as the various factions get what they want, they’ll work together. Until the Randites and defense grifters and the fetus people and white supremacists get in each other’s way, they’ll all work on their very own circle of Hell. The unfortunate thing is that they all have long lists of depredations: it could be years before they start gumming up each other’s gears.

      • mds

        Until the Randites and defense grifters and the fetus people and white supremacists get in each other’s way

        I stumble over my own feet from time to time, too. Which is to say, the Venn diagram of those groups has some really large overlaps. Hell, Ryan himself scores at least three out of four.

    • econoclast

      It ultimately comes down to personalities. If people hate each other, they will fuck each other for the sheer pleasure of doing it. I have to think that Republicans are even more prone to it than normal people.

    • los

      so, the best is to hope to survive “heighten the conflagration”?

  • Mellano

    A little OT, but in light of that picture — the reporting of the Trump team’s visit to the White House, and Obama talking about helping them through the transition, gave me an unsettling feeling for a few days. And then I placed it: Obama advising Trump in the Oval Office (assuming that’s what happened) is like Dr. Melfi counseling Tony Soprano. It won’t make him a better President. It could make him a more effective authoritarian.

    I mean, the one’s a television show and the other is leadership of the free world. But that shut down real quickly any hopeful thoughts that Trump might follow some part of Obama’s lead simply by virtue of feeling totally lost in his new job.

    • charon04

      Trump and his people are going to have a lot of failures. There go-to excuse will be blaming the Democrats. Maybe Obama looking ahead, trying to make the blame the Democrats tactic harder?

      • twbb

        I figured it was charismatize Trump into not jettisoning ACA completely, which seemed to work. Would rather he pre-emptively stop Trump from appointing neocons to foreign policy jobs, but whatever.

      • Mellano

        I expect Obama genuinely thinks a smooth transition is his responsibility. Which is fine. And maybe a conversation or two now will mute the whining and blaming when the next administration’s staff can’t find the copier ink. (Although given the Trump campaign’s MO, I somehow doubt it).

        I was more speculating about a far-out chance that Obama will try to seriously influence Trump’s political decision-making through jawboning, which would be a mistake. I don’t know quite what role Obama will play over the next few years (if any), but agree that at a bare minimum he and the other Democrats need to get the heck out of the way and make sure the Republican policy makers and Congress owns their decisions.

        • twbb

          “he and the other Democrats need to get the heck out of the way and make sure the Republican policy makers and Congress owns their decisions.”

          That doesn’t work unless the Democrats come back and repeatedly say publicly “they were able to do whatever they wanted and they messed things up for everyone” until it actually gets through.

          And from now on, any Democrat campaign strategist who ever uses the term “give them enough rope to hang themselves” should be immediately fired and escorted off grounds by security. The public does not have a long memory and you cannot count on them to remember who was in charge when their lives got worse.

          • Mayur

            “Democrat campaign strategist[s]” aren’t usually the ones pushing that nonsense. It tends to be the professional Left (i.e. “heighten the contradictions”).

        • Dilan Esper

          I expect Obama genuinely thinks a smooth transition is his responsibility. Which is fine.

          Yep. Just once can we judge SOMETHING by a metric other than its political impact? One of the job responsibilities of a President is a smooth transition. Obama is doing his job.

          • Bruce B.

            Agreed, and I respect him very much for doing it.

            Nor will it matter down the road. People who care about truth and good will will know; people who don’t care will believe whatever story the Republicans feed them. As always.

    • ASV

      I was thinking about this last night. It seems to me there are two key dimensions to a Trump presidency — policy bigotry and administrative management. But only the latter has any variance. So given that, we have a few possible outcomes in which the bigotry is constant: major collapse (coup, separation of powers crisis, end of NATO, etc.), managed collapse (institutional breakdown without any major inciting event), or basic administrative competence (trains running on time). I have no idea which of those is best for the country for the next four years, or for Democratic hopes (and thus the good of the country) from 2020 forward.

  • Brien Jackson

    Couple of things:

    1. Trump is surrounding himself with people who don’t have a clue what they’re doing. Even Bush managed to staff up with experienced hands. The potential for multiple Katrina-esque debacles in year one is significantly above zero.

    2. Don’t overestimate Ryan’s position. Republucans had a stronger governung hand in 2005 and couldn’t get Bush’s Social Security plan off the ground. Worst case scenario Dems only need 3 SenatevRepublucans scared of the politics of Ryan’s Medicare plan, AND there’s a decent chance Trump/Bannon know Trump’s white populist base doesn’t want Medicare cuts. This is an imminently winnable fight for us!

    • kped

      Pressure could save medicare, but I’m not sure pressure can mobilize…it’s just so fucking divided now, that the other side won’t even hear it. They are too high on their win to give a damn. And let’s be real – the media doesn’t think cutting entitlements is a story, definitely not a bad story, so who knows? I think Ryan has a bill ready to go day 1 and tries to ram it in before people can mount a proper defense against it…

      • rhino

        Also the left is set destructing, what with all the angst over the loss. Good luck getting meaningful numbers or money on side for resistance movement when everyone is busy blaming everyone else, and all those groups are screaming ‘tone police’ at anyone with the temerity to point out that maybe now is the time for organizing and unity rather than special snowflakes demanding that they be heard.

        • We’re like 160 hours past an unexpected disaster of an election, of course “how the fuck did that happen?” is dominating the conversation. But people are out demonstrating in the streets and the DNC is working figuring out who’s going to be running things next. I don’t even know what you’re talking about.

        • random

          Personally I’ve seen the exact opposite happening. Infighting was way, way worse 3 months ago than it is now…people don’t have the luxury of arguing over minor differences anymore.

          • Dilan Esper

            Also, on Medicare, bear in mind it wasn’t just Democrats who killed Bush’s Social Security plan. Lots of Republicans opposed it too on the grass roots, as well as a few Republican politicians.

            Ryan will face all that, plus, quite possibly, the opposition of Trump. I think the chances of a Medicare privatization are very low.

        • Origami Isopod

          screaming ‘tone police’ insisting that we throw PoC, women, etc. under the bus at anyone with the temerity to point out that maybe now is the time for organizing and unity rather than special snowflakes straight white guys demanding that they be heard they be the only ones listened to. As usual.

          Also, fuck you for calling people demanding their human rights “special snowflakes.” People are being beaten in the fucking street. But giving a shit about that is “divisive,” apparently. Asshole.

    • Redwood Rhiadra

      “Republucans had a stronger governung hand in 2005 and couldn’t get Bush’s Social Security plan off the ground.”

      The Tea Party hadn’t driven all the moderate Republicans out of office in 2005.

    • eclare

      The potential for multiple Katrina-esque debacles in year one is significantly above zero.

      Every time I start to chuckle over the Trump team’s incompetence, I hear a little voice in my head whispering “You’ve done a heckuva job, Brownie,” and I feel sick to my stomach.

  • Lev

    Erik, I love you, but isn’t fallacious to think that lockstep support for a position as an out party always translates to lockstep support for a position as the governing party? All Senate Democrats (plus then-Republican Arlen Specter) supported card check during Dubya’s second term. Then when it came up, some of them were nowhere to be found. Unfortunate, but nevertheless.

  • rewenzo

    It’s also different than 2009 because

    (a) the filibuster is likely dead, so there won’t need to be more than token delays, and they don’t need every senator;

    (b) the Republicans have a much better chance of holding Congress in their first midterms (whether due to (i) voter suppression; (ii) the geographic bias of the House and Senate; and (iii) the 2018 Senate map);

    (c) the Republicans don’t have to waste time bargaining with their caucus because they have already passed “test laws” that were vetoed by Obama. There’s no Ben Nelsons or Joe Liebermans gumming up the works.

    (d) It’s a lot easier to wreck shit and keep it wrecked than to build or fix it.

    • twbb

      The filibuster may be dead for SCOTUS (and not even sure about that) but I don’t think they’ll jettison it completely. They know there’s a reasonable chance Trump will screw things up enough to throw the Senate back to the Democrats in 2020, and long-term their demographics don’t look awesome.

      • junker

        As said elsewhere, it seems at least reasonable to think Yurtle wants to keep the filibuster as a tool for avoiding votes on things he’d rather not see passed, but can’t publicly oppose. The kleptocracy stuff can pass through reconciliation anyway.

        • twbb

          That is true, too.

        • This has been one of the few thoughts that has made me feel hopeful. I do think there’s a non-zero, although not terrifically high, chance that some of the Republicans will want to keep the legislative filibuster so that they can blame Democrats for some things not being passed.

      • Thrax

        There will be some sour enjoyment in watching the Republican infighting over this. As soon as Trump discovers that much of what he wants to do will be thwarted by the filibuster, he’ll start making noise about getting rid of it. Like you, I suspect McConnell doesn’t want to toss it, and won’t care about Hair Furor’s complaints. (It’s also possible that he doesn’t have the 51 votes to toss it even if he wanted to.) I can also see him withholding signatures on at least some of the stuff that *does* pass, via reconciliation, as revenge. (It’s also possible that he won’t be inclined to sign an ACA repeal bill with no replacement–i.e., what would get pushed through via reconciliation–anyway; unlike the Republicans, he may believe his own “repeal and replace” bullshit).

        In other words, there’s some reason to hope, given the mutual dislike and distrust among the various key Republicans and the likely incompetence of the White House, that the next two years will be mostly a clusterfck. Not entirely–everyone will be able to agree on massive, regressive tax cuts, unfortunately. But mostly.

        • rhino

          What makes you think Mcconnel will survive the night of the long knives?

          • altofront

            Unless you mean an actual putsch, I think McConnell will likely survive just fine. Unlike most of the bomb-throwers in his party (and in his caucus) he’s an exceptionally talented politician. He’s on Team Evil, not Team Chaos.

            On the fillibuster, three defections would defeat attempts to eliminate it. Collins, McCain, Graham, Murkowski, Flake, Grassley, Roberts, Cochran, Inhofe, Hatch, Shelby, Enzi, Crapo: they’ve all been in the Senate since the last millenium. I bet there’s three votes for continuity in that bunch.

            • twbb

              Yep, especially if Schumer will negotiate, which he almost certainly will.

              • Thrax

                Negotiate on what, specifically? On the Supreme Court, it’s either yes or no, and I doubt Trump will care enough about the filibuster issue to pick a moderate. (He may end up picking one by accident because he doesn’t care enough about the Court to pay attention, but it won’t be to avoid a filibuster.) On the non-budgetary parts of Obamacare, I doubt there are eight Democratic votes Schumer can deliver, and I don’t know what they’d be getting in return. Ditto Dodd-Frank, unless the scaleback were *very* limited.

                • twbb

                  Of course it’s not yes or no, it’s “which of these right-wing loons can you live with, Chuck?” Then Schumer tries to figure out who is the least likely to overturn Marbury v. Madison and they go from there.

                  Obamacare is gone. Write it off. Write off Dodd-Frank. The point here is to not let them dismantle the entire country itself and start a nuclear war. Keep the relative structural integrity of the country, and the rest can wait.

    • Joe_JP

      (c) the Republicans don’t have to waste time bargaining with their caucus because they have already passed “test laws” that were vetoed by Obama. There’s no Ben Nelsons or Joe Liebermans gumming up the works.

      How many test laws were passed? Do they cover everything? And, they were symbolic ones. It is not a given that they will all pass the same way now that they would count.

      • junker

        It’s also the case that the things you vote for out of power may not be the same things you vote for in power. How many Senators get cold feet on some of this stuff?

        • rhino

          Cold feet? There may be a couple of decent moral men in the republican house, but not enough to lose them votes. Maybe enough to slow things down… A little…

      • rewenzo

        What exactly are Republicans afraid of?

        With regard to Obamacare, Republicans have been campaigning hard on on repeal for like 6 years. They’ve been receiving heat from their constituents for not being able to repeal it *yet.* It’s not as if they care about poor people losing their subsidies or Medicaid expansion.

        With regards to financial deregulation or securities deregulation, nobody in America cares about policy. When the next crisis happens in 3 years who knows who the voters will decide needs to be punished for it? Maybe the problem with the financial markets is too much regulation!

        Environment? Ha. Climate? The state of Florida just threw in their lot with a man who thinks climate change is a Chinese hoax.

        Voting rights? Voter fraud is bad! And besides, by definition, anybody who would be harmed by limiting their voting rights can’t vote against them anyway.

        Privatizing medicare? There may be some push back here.

    • I can’t believe I’m counting on John McCain to be a decent, principled person, but here I go. He just won what has to be his last election. Some of the things Trump said during his campaign had to be personal. More than Obama for the last year, McCain should have no f*cks to give and can operate from conscience, from a sense of duty to the country over loyalty to the party or his party’s President, and from a sense of securing himself a more honorable place in history.

      I don’t know if any of this is true, but if McCain and occasionally a couple of other senators who are not monsters act on what they know deep down is right for America and not Trump, we may be able to slow some of this down.

      It’s a thin, maybe even non-existent, thread, I know, but it’s all I’ve got this morning.

      • catclub

        and can operate from conscience

        assumes facts not in evidence.

      • twbb

        It’s not that thin. We complain about the conservative echo chamber, but LGM is just as bad. This idea that Trump has won forever and every single Republican will sell out and do whatever he demands is not supportable. We are too used to the anti-Obama and anti-Hillary hysteria, but when you don’t those people to scapegoat anymore, it gets harder to maintain your base’s enthusiasm. Sure, they can pick Schumer or Warren, but they could also pick McConnell or Ryan. The GOP is not a cohesive party; we already hear about how dysfunctional their transition team has been. If they’re in a knife fight now, what do you think it’s going to look like in 2 months, when they’re trying to get McConnell to kill the filibuster? Ryan’s always in a fight with the tea party, do you think that’s really going to go away?

        The GOP is not all sociopaths — hell, Joe Walsh went from “if Hillary wins I’m grabbing my musket” to “Comey’s statement right before the election was unfair to Hillary.” We obsess over the enthusiasm gap for Clinton, but the enthusiasm gap on the other side was almost as bad. There are a lot of worried Republicans who know Trump is incompetent. There are a lot of GOP Congresspeople who hate him with a passion and will desert him the second he looks like he’s losing his support with the GOP base — to whom he promised things he will not be able to deliver.

        There’s still the court system, there’s still the military and national security apparatus (who clearly do not trust Trump), there’s international pressure (nobody is going to roll over for Trumpist foreign policy like they did for Bush), there’s bureacratic inertia, and there’s the state governments.

        Stop fantasizing about the abolishment of elections or permanent Republican majorities. A little soul searching is healthy but ruminating obsessively is not. I mean I realize, the election just happened, this is going to go on a while, but it’s important not to spend too much time under the covers. We need to push Democratic leaders and Republican ones. If you have a Republican Senator, get letters ready asking them to vote against the craziest people/laws coming up the pipeline.

        • Dilan Esper


          I spent last week reassuring a couple of people I know that, no, Trump isn’t going to enact a Nazi-style takeover of the government and shut down the courts and legislatures, etc.

          There are still plenty of checks and balances in the government.

          • Origami Isopod

            Both of you are white men. Neither of you is the prime target of Bannon’s Brownshirts. Don’t tell other people how to react.

            • Bruce B.

              This. Two weeks after the election, and every LGBTQ person I know personally is in one of these three situations:

              1. Has been personally threatened, or had their home, office, or place they go for medical care defaced.

              2. Has a partner who’s been given the treatment in #1.

              3. Has a long-time close friends who’s been given the treatment in #1.

              I think it’s true for all the POC I know, as well.

              At least one Asian-American I know has had a full week and change of PTSD flashbacks and collapse intense enough to keep them indoors 24/7, as the count piled up.

  • twbb

    I thought we were edging away from complete despair and hopelessness here…

    Prediction too far out is a fool’s game. We don’t know what’s going to happen over the next month, let alone over the next four years. Based on the past few decades, it’s never been as good as predicted or bad as predicted. There aren’t two factions in the GOP; there are at least five, and they’ll all be fighting — neocons vs paleocons vs tea party vs alt-right vs evangelicals. Selling Ryan’s country club conservative agenda IS actually largely inconsistent with Bannon’s brownshirts; there’s a reason so many large corporations avoid advertising in the right-wing media. Medicare is a third rail that will hurt them in 2018, I promise you.

    Not all the NeverTrump people gave in, or gave in completely. The margin in the Senate is small enough that there will be horse trading; look at Graham, Sasse, McCain, and Collins especially. Graham and McCain have pretty much only their legacy to think of. McCain is going to be 86 when he’s up again and I doubt he’ll run again. Graham will almost certainly be primaried out in 2020, and he has to know that. Collins is one of the only GOP moderates left. Sasse criticized Trump up until the end. All of them have to know Trump’s administration will likely be a trainwreck, and GOP voters (many of them, as people here seem to forget, DIDN’T LIKE TRUMP THEMSELVES) will not show particular loyalty to him when Obama and Clinton aren’t around to focus on during the Two Minutes of Hate. As I pointed out in another thread, Republican Senators are far less likely (as of 2013) to vote with their party than Democrats. Putting aside morality or ethics, the GOP establishment is perfectly aware of the long-term problems with relying on Trumpism, especially considering his lack of competence.

    On our side the DNC is being housecleaned, and whoever ends up there will have to be an improvement. There will certainly be better candidates in 2020 than Clinton or Sanders (or O’Malley or Webb). Whoever comes out ahead in 2020 only has a few months for the “liberal” media to smear him or her, rather than the decades Clinton had.

    This is not me being optimistic, mind you, there are too many things that can go apocalyptically wrong. We are going to be in bad shape for a couple of years. But the idea that even a party with all three branches has carte blanche to implement whatever insane ideas their leaders have is inconsistent with 240 years of political history.

    • rewenzo

      This is not me being optimistic, mind you, there are too many things that can go apocalyptically wrong. We are going to be in bad shape for a couple of years. But the idea that even a party with all three branches has carte blanche to implement whatever insane ideas their leaders have is inconsistent with 240 years of political history.

      In the age of coherent partisan politics, how many times has one party controlled all 3 branches?

      • lunaticllama

        Since 2000, 3 different times. For whatever reason, we are seeing more rapid swings in party control of Congress than in previous eras (e.g., Democrat controlled Congress for decades until the ’90s.)

    • This is not me being optimistic, mind you, there are too many things that can go apocalyptically wrong. We are going to be in bad shape for a couple of years.

      Trump can do a lot of damage in a couple of years, and I have absolutely no faith that the Dems will be able to make gains in 2018 sufficient to make a difference. It wasn’t until we lost a major city due to gross incompetence that the tides turned on Bush, and we are still dealing with the aftershock of his administration. What are we going to lose to Trump that will force people to wake up?

      • twbb

        2018 does not look great just because of who’s up. And I think the tides turned on Bush more over the endless war and the recession than New Orleans. I think the thing to really work for in 2018 is state-level.

        2020 looks better at the national scale; not great, but most of the seats up are Republican, and a few of them are at least in theory winnable, especially if Trump does a job that is bad in a way that even regular voters realize that.

        • random

          I’m extremely leery of people who assume that fascists and their allies are going to give us a realistic chance to vote them out of office in some future election, even though they have 4 unchecked years to craft most of the election rules however they want. American democracy is already a sham that nullifies the majority vote and it’s about to get a lot, lot worse.

          • Rob in CT

            I see no reason not to expect more voter ID laws & voter roll purging, and with a Scalia clone appointed to SCOTUS…

            That’s at a minimum.

            • twbb

              Yes, and that handicaps us, but that can be fought at the state level and in the courts, and at the end of the day a big enough lead in swing states can’t be suppressed away.

              • random

                that can be fought at the state level

                They control most of the state governments.

                and in the courts,

                They control the courts.

                and at the end of the day a big enough lead in swing states can’t be suppressed away.

                You can’t get a lead that big in the states and districts where you need to win to get back control.

                Anyways, suppression of voters is just one tactic that you’re going to be seeing. This regime is also going to be investigating and prosecuting anyone who tries to organize people to take their power away. And even if you get more votes, chances are good they won’t acknowledge that.

                • twbb

                  They do not control all these things unilaterally, particularly in swing states which by definition will vote Democrat.

      • Lev

        I think this is leaning a little too much on one example. Down below I mentioned Tom Corbett, the ex-governor of Pennsylvania. I can’t say I followed his career super-closely, but from what I can tell, it wasn’t one big thing that wrecked it, but a slow accumulation of small mishandled crises and issues that eroded his reputation and crushed confidence in his leadership, leading to his seat getting easily picked up despite a GOP wave.

        I think something similar happening to Trump is quite likely.

        • rewenzo

          I think something similar happening to Trump is quite likely.

          I think the existence of President-Elect Donald Trump puts the kibosh to this theory.

          • twbb

            Sample size: 1.

            • rewenzo

              First, we’re talking specifically about the ability of incompetence and little everyday screwups to sink Donald Trump. In which case, the small sample size of “Donald Trump’s electoral history” is not inapt!

              Second, I think as we continue into the Hyperpartisan Age, where everybody has their own news sources, and nobody believes or cares about anything bad that comes from their side, the ability of incompetence or malice to swing an election will decline. But who knows.

              Donald Trump’s best week on the campaign trail would have gotten John McCain hospitalized for a nervous breakdown. Counting on Donald Trump to drop the ball somewhere down the road and lose an election is beginning to appear quaint at this point.

              • random

                Exactly. This system is already rigged so that white voters count for more, and that is about to get a lot, lot worse. Someone like this simply isn’t going to give you any actual option to remove them from power when they don’t have to.

          • Lev

            So a president elected on a technicality with 47% of the public behind him (a chunk of whom were voting entirely against the incumbent party’s candidate) is bulletproof then?

            • rewenzo

              One way to look at it is “he only won 47% of voters.” The other way to look at is

              a) Holy crap, a manifestly incompetent boob won 47% of voters!

              b) 60% of the country already thinks he’s incompetent.

              c) 60% of the country already hates him.

              d) He now has the entire federal government and what, 34 state governments, ready to lie and defend everything that happens? You thought his campaign was “gaslighting?” Wait until every government spokesman answers to Katrina Pierson and Kellyanne Conway.

              • He now has the entire federal government and what, 34 state governments, ready to lie and defend everything that happens?

                He only needs one more for a constitutional convention, according to Charlie Pierce.

                • My standard response when discussions came up in my circle about leaving the country if Trump was elected, or whether California should secede from the union has been that I’m an American, dammit, and I’m not going to run from a two-bit grifter. A new Constitutional Convention, though, could be a different situation altogether. A new or significantly revised Constitution that changes the terms and conditions of citizenship, of what America is, would probably prompt me to support California’s secession.

      • rewenzo

        What are we going to lose to Trump that will force people to wake up?


        • twbb

          Frankly, I doubt the Clean Power Plan or the Paris Accord was going to save Miami, anyway. I don’t care as much about the Paris Accords as a lot of people here simply because on this issue, I am fatalistic; at this point we basically have to hope (a) scientists have been missing some significant negative feedback loops that will mitigate CO2 increases, or (b) we’ll be able to get things together enough a couple of decades from now for geoengineering, which will of course be exponentially more expensive than fixing the problem now.

          • liberal

            I agree re the Accord, simply because what needs to be done is so immense that lack of political progress for a few years is just going to be a blip.

            I think people really underestimate the technical and political challenges.

            • twbb

              Yep; single action bias at play.

          • Yeah, I wrote about this about a week ago: Eden is gone.

          • MidwestVillager

            Even at 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming most of south Florida is doomed eventually without geoengineering (eg large scale carbon capture). Saving Tallahassee is a real possibility but Miami is mostly just a question of how fast we’ll lose it.

      • rhino

        I hate to say this, but I am thinking *any* crisis that hits in this rollicking circus of a government will quickly spiral out of control. I don’t see the Trump presidency lacking for scandal or disaster unless they are implausibly lucky.

        • random

          What happens the first time a white cop skates after shooting an unarmed black teen for jaywalking and the person on the TV calling for restraint and patience is not Obama but a noxious white supremacist?

          • twbb

            Probably the same thing that happened when it WAS Obama saying those things.

          • Redwood Rhiadra

            You think Trump will be calling for restraint and patience? Hardly; he’ll be saying “We will shoot any and all protestors.” Threats are far more his style.

            (He will also follow through. With tanks.)

      • catclub

        until we lost a major city due to gross incompetence [while the Iraq disaster rolled on as well] that the tides turned on Bush

        Katrina alone did not do it.

      • TopsyJane

        Also, the whopping tax cuts that I feel sure will kick off the new regime may provide a short term stimulus, so they can say in 2018 “Look! the Trump Economy is booming!”

    • liberal

      Americans for Democratic Action gave Collins a 30% rating last year. My impression is that her moderate-ness has been fading fast.

      Sasse got a 0%.

      McCain, 10%.

      Graham, 0%.

      Not saying their methodology is the end-all-be-all, but those are some pretty sucktastic numbers.

      • twbb

        Those are liberal votes; I will be happy with moderate ones. As you point out, there methodology isn’t necessarily accurate (it looks like they examine a tiny subset of total votes cast) and as someone noted above, there are personality issues at play here, too.

  • Come on, guys. Give Trump a chance!

    • mongolia

      he has a good chance of being an actual billionaire by the end of this!

  • LeeEsq

    Trump is seeking to get security clearances for his kids. Donald, Jr., Eric, and Ivanka are going to have a big part to play in the administration. This is evidence that graft is going to be Trump’s biggest priority because he is treating the Presidency as a family concern. This might mitigate any policy damage. Might, not will.

    The different parts of the Trump administration can work with Republicans in Congress but as pointed out above, the question is if they will. We are dealing with significant egos and some real conflicts of interests between the different factions. That might end up causing a lot of friction. Trump is also largely staffing is operation with complete novices and they are going to make mistakes in trying to get what they want. Many of those mistakes are going to have horrendous consequences but we aren’t dealing with evil competence here.

    • Lev

      And the public can sniff out incompetence. See Corbett, Tom, 2014 re-election bid. Dude lost in a GOP wave.

    • liberal

      Can they pass a security clearance? I would assume they’ve all been up to all sorts of shit that would keep them from getting one.

      • Richard Gadsden

        I’m assuming that a direct Presidential order can override the normal systems of granting clearance.

    • This reminds me of a company I worked for a few years ago where the owner had placed his kids in positions of authority. I remember sitting in on a meeting with a huge client (billion dollar company) where their people were incredulous that their account was being managed by a nineteen-year-old.

      At any rate, I guess we know who’s going to be running FEMA now.

      • LeeEsq

        Most of Trumps kids are older than nineteen but still.

        • twbb

          They’re in their 30’s, reasonably well-educated, and have some experience in managing their father’s business. They are all likely more competent than he is.

          • Moondog von Superman

            Think Trump does not have close friends like a Valerie Jarrett to rely on. Just those kids.

            • twbb

              Better them than Bannon or Rudy or Pence. We could take some slight solace from the fact that Kushner, like Trump, has spent most of his life as a Democrat, and is the grandson of Holocaust survivors.

              • Mayur

                Jesus it’s like comparing the Dominion with the Borg.

                There’s a fair amount of biography out there on the Trumps, and it does *not* flatter Jared in the slightest.

                • twbb


                  And the Dominion is much better to live under than the Borg.

    • rhino

      Is it possible for Trump to be denied a security clearance? What happens if one of the services goes up to a mike and says ‘we ain’t telling him shit, because he can’t be trusted and here’s why’…

      …Not saying it is likely, but appointees and job applicant can be refused for security risks, one presumes there is a mechanism to prevent security risks from holding elected office?

      Or is that process supposed to be the campaign?

      • Redwood Rhiadra

        “one presumes there is a mechanism to prevent security risks from holding elected office?”

        There isn’t.

    • catclub

      but we aren’t dealing with evil competence here.


      Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner seem to be comers in that regard.

  • Murc

    Oh, holy what the fuck, Mary Jo White (the SEC chair) is resigning.

    Trump is going to get to appoint three of the five SEC commissioners.

    • twbb

      On the list of things to worry about, that’s kind of far down.

      • mds

        Well, combine it with the gutting of Dodd-Frank, the neutering of the CFPB, eliminating the new rule on brokers’ responsibility to their clients, etc., and it’s another portion of the groundwork for another economic hard landing. And a major recession with an authoritarian who appeals to racist white nationalism in charge is … not likely to go well.

        • liberal

          I’m no financial sector effort, but while D-F was an improvement on the status quo, I’ve never seen any convincing evidence that it really moved the needle in terms of making the system more stable.

          • El Pato de Muerte

            Dodd-Frank brought about a significant change to the liquidation/receivership process for non-bank financial institutions. This change profoundly reduced the systemic risk in the financial system.

            Assuming Dodd-Frank is repealed and SEC/CFPB/CTFC are made toothless, the Wall Street banks will be more than happy to ratchet up their risk and leverage, as well as their various Grift-O-Matic schemes. This is good for Manhattan real estate prices, but terrible and dangerous for the larger economy.

        • twbb

          “And a major recession with an authoritarian who appeals to racist white nationalism in charge is … not likely to go well.”

          That part IS high on my list.

    • So, how does one begin preparing for the next Great Depression?

      • catclub

        I can bet there is someone telling you to buy gold.

      • Redwood Rhiadra

        Cyanide pills.

  • Gizmo

    This sounds like a typical Trump business – designed to fail. The promoters get rich, the investors get the losses.

  • carolannie

    Gosh it looks like James Watts’ and Dick Cheneys all the way up and down

  • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

    I’m putting all my eggs on “Ted Cruz blindsiding him with a folding chair at SOTU.”

    • catclub

      A few at Balloon juice are hoping for massive revolt by electoral college voters. Seems as likely as anything else that happens the year the Cubs win the WS and Trump gets elected.

  • Moondog von Superman

    This guy has been writing about Duterte for the New Yorker.


    6/ The “unhinged populist” style is perfectly suited for today’s media ecosystem; it plays traditional + social media against each other.

    7/ While journalists pick out the most outrageous (i.e. newsworthy) bits, anyone can see the source material.

    8/ because the unhinged populist is unclear, supporters can find evidence in the full text to support a more sympathetic interpretation.

    9/ So social media diehards–crucial to both Duterte Trump–are mobilized by a constant freaking out about “dishonest media.”

    10/ it fits perfectly into the anti-elitist message of the unhinged populist, while generating tons of free attention.

    11/ And because it’s never clear what they mean, exactly, the unhinged populist can “test out” extreme positions in real time.

    12/ Based on the Duterte experience, I think it is important not to let Trump shrug off extreme statements as jokes or “campaign talk”.

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