Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Emperor Trump

Up on my list of things to be giving thanks for on the holiday is that President-Elect Trump is breaking so many of his campaign promises, to build a wall and make the Mexicans pay for it, to prosecute his Democratic opponent for crimes unspecified and unspecifiable, to restore torture to the CIA's toolbox, to withdraw from the agreement between Iran and the P5+1 powers, to dump the Paris climate accord, and to accept the backing of the alt-white movement, which he rejected in his meeting with the Times executives and pandits yesterday. I hope he decides to break more of them! And I hope the betrayed voters don't react too violently.

I also hope he never holds a press conference, as Michael Gerson (G.W. Bush's faith-based speechwriter, you'll recall) was suggesting on NPR. Because presidential press conferences are really dangerous with a president who's unable to control his tongue. Controlling one's tongue, also known as "political correctness". A careless word can jolt a market or put somebody's life in jeopardy. Reported hate crimes in New York City are up over 400% since this time last year because of the words of a politician who isn't even president, yet. I hope he never appears in public without a script and his words are as anodyne as Eisenhower's speeches were.

The worst fears of Monsignor Ross Douthat, Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street ("The Trump Revelations"), appear to him to have been confirmed: the man's a secret liberal, "in his heart"!—
the overall policy impression Trump left was that he would be very happy to play a Nixon-Rockefeller Republican, with lots of public-works spending, pump-priming economic policy and attempted deal making overseas. If this posture was a pander to my colleagues’ pro-government sensibilities, it was also a plausible one — consistent with Trump’s New York background, his past (and in his heart, probably present) social liberalism and many of his pre-2016 pronouncements.
—but I think that's oversimplifying. For the eleventieth time, conservatives are always pro-government when they're running it and anti-government otherwise. There's nothing un-conservative about spending money on magnificent projects as long as the ruling class isn't paying the tab and the spending doesn't lead to too much liberation among the lower orders. And "social conservatism"—the advocacy of a theocratic regulation over people's sexual activities in particular—is not a primary thing, but a characteristic tool used by conservatives to maintain the system of patriarchal control that keeps them in power, which is what conservatism has always really been about, that and industrial deregulation and regressive taxes of course:

I tell you, one thing I would say, so, I’m giving a big tax cut and I’m giving big regulation cuts, and I’ve seen all of the small business owners over the United States, and all of the big business owners, I’ve met so many people. They are more excited about the regulation cut than about the tax cut. And I would’ve never said that’s possible, because the tax cut’s going to be substantial. You know we have companies leaving our country because the taxes are too high. But they’re leaving also because of the regulations. And I would say, of the two, and I would not have thought this, regulation cuts, substantial regulation cuts, are more important than, and more enthusiastically supported, than even the big tax cuts.
That's the part of the program he's truly committed to, not the pump-priming. He believes in it so much he can speak fairly coherently about it—as compared to when they ask him about infrastructure:

SULZBERGER: We’ll go with that. I’d like to move to infrastructure, apologies, and then we’ll go back. Because a lot of the investment you are talking about, a lot of the jobs you are talking about — is infrastructure going to be the core of your first few years?
TRUMP: No, it’s not the core, but it’s an important factor. We’re going for a lot of things, between taxes, between regulations, between health care replacement, we’re going to talk repeal and replace. ’Cause health care is — you know people are paying a 100 percent increase and they’re not even getting anything, the deductibles are so high, you have deductibles $16,000. So they’re paying all of this money and they don’t even get health care. So it’s very important. So there are a lot of things. But infrastructure, Arthur, is going to be a part of it.
SULZBERGER: It’s part of jobs, isn’t it?
TRUMP: I don’t even think it’s a big part of it. It’s going to be a big number but I think I am doing things that are more important than infrastructure, but infrastructure is still a part of it, and we’re talking about a very large-scale infrastructure bill. And that’s not a very Republican thing — I didn’t even know that, frankly.
The infrastructure program won't be big-government spending at all; it will be getting private companies to front the money as investment and then extract the rent, privately owned and operated toll roads and bridges, located not according to need but marketability, and constructed by foreigners, the way they started doing when G.W. Bush was president. Trump doesn't have a very clear idea what's in the infrastructure program, I wouldn't think—he hasn't asked too many questions of whoever drew it up. He's probably right in thinking it's not big, though. Ross doesn't seem to have any idea at all.

Trump is a libertine, not a liberal; he believes in sexual freedom for very wealthy men, particularly himself, not for poor people and still less for women. That is a completely conservative stance. The more Ross continues to imagine that it's conservative to deny one's own classy whims and desires as opposed to the crude longings of the commoners, the more he demonstrates that he has never been initiated into the higher Straussian mysteries and isn't really a conservative himself, just a second-rate wannabe.

Ross also suggests that Trump is a king, with the famous quote from Mel Brooks (you don't suppose he's been reading me, do you?), which is fairly shrewd, but I think he's more of an emperor, with his immense panoply of international interests, of which administering one country in North America can never be more than part.

That's why it makes sense for him to keep his main headquarters on Fifth Avenue, in the capital of the world, rather than Pennsylvania Avenue in the capital of the US. The profusion of doors and service entrances and subterranean connections and elevators and helipads helps him carry on important business without the rest of the US government finding out too much about it, and the 68 stories of opulence soaring over Central Park lend him a splendor that is independent of the States.

But there's nothing un-Republican about him, really, just his own personal brand of smoke and mirrors.

Hey, what a great name for a cologne, incidentally: Smoke and Mirrors by Donald Trump. In the stable alongside Donald Trump The Fragrance, Success, and the sinfully suggestive Empire.

Image via xovain.
Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.


rclz said...

Every time I hear Republicans talk about deregulation, I think about dirty drinking water, e coli, salmonella, dumping toxic waste where ever, logging in protected areas... the list goes on. We use to have, what were called Superfund sites. Hell we probably still have some that haven't been cleaned up. I'd rather not go back to creating more.

Let's not let home owners who live on the water dump their sewage into the lake/stream/ ocean....

sigh...drill baby drill....

Feud Turgidson said...

Smoke and Mirrors. Technically for the ladies, but really for guys: it's a real grabber.

Feud Turgidson said...

rclz, On energy, it's all about the Koch brothers, but not directly, as Koch Industries gets way higher profit margins off their industrial chemicals works. So it's more getting them the raw products, which is the Why behind the death funnel that'll be coming right down from NE Albera / NW Saskatchewan provinces in western Canada, down thru the the aorta of dryland farming and ranching country in the central western States all the way to coastal Texas and Louisiana: Chemical Alley.

Directly, it's all about Make Canada Great At Importing Raw Again. That's why Dump's talking ignorant b.s. about tearing up NAFTA: to get rid of the "[finished] goods" part of "goods and services", the things Canada & Mexico were almost as happy to get as Big Corp America. He can't do it legally, but the Dump administration is after police power & bully economics, and not remotely about The Rule of Law.

But Dump's going to find he actually can 'will away' NAFTA. During the period while he tries to throw American weight around, he's going to find that the far smarter group of trilateral trade experts on the Canadian & Mexican sides will join together to extract punitive measures from the U.S. that were put in there as poison pills, by the last 8 U.S. presidential administrations, from Reagan's second term thru Obama's second.

Who's gonna end up suffering the penalties? The exact same folks who voted Dump/Dence and the R ticket on November 8.

The New York Crank said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The New York Crank said...

Methinks, Yas, you attribute too much method to Trump's muddled madness. He has no secret plans. He has no agenda, except to make yuuge gobs of money, and be famous, and have only the "top women." (Yes, he actually used that term once.)

Past that, he will do whatever occurs to him, or whatever somebody just whispered in his ear. Waterboarding? Good. Waterboarding? Now bad. Wall? Well a fence maybe. Or maybe not. Global warming's a hoax, unless maybe it isn't. We'll balance the budget — with enormous tax cuts for the rich. We'll round up and deport 11 million illegal aliens. Well, maybe only two million. And so it goes. Crooked Hllary's going to jail, unless she isn't because she's been through so much.

Keep in mind that Trump's opinions, which may seem to be on the way to a change that looks positive, could bounce off a wall and come back atcha with razor-sharp minus signs. So don't count on anything. Trump policy, such as it is, is as ephemeral as a fart. The only constant is Trump incoherence. A year from now we could be living in utopia. Or in concentration camps. Some may be optimistic but not I. Not one bit.

Yours very crankily,
The New York Cran

rclz said...

Feud, Crank, you could both be right or both be wrong. We just aren't going to know what the hell he does until he tries to do it and Try is the operative word because quite a few of his things are just not realistic. Even when you're king, in this country it still has to run through the senate and congress so there is no magic wand. Even executive orders only go so far.

I still have so much rage. I snapped at a pair of Bernie supporters on Tumblr tonight who were bitching because Hillary gave in to quick, she didn't fight hard enough. Jeezus what does the woman have to do slit her wrists?

As long as we're talking about what Trump will or won't do, here's my two cents, his poll numbers go down enough and he screws up the ethics mess that is going to be his presidency and business that the republicans in conjunction with the dems impeach him. I'm fine with this but I want it in the first two years because I want the GOP to be forced to get rid of their monster. If the dems do it on their own they'll be blaming us not him for the next 20 years.

I'm so tired of this already it feels like the election is still not over because I'm still so angry. It's a damn good thing I don't have to wake up in a red state every morning or I'd be suicidal.

I didn't mean for this to turn into a vent but there you have it.

John said...

Please, Alt-Right is a euphemism for Nazis, Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, White Nationalists, Racist Bigots. Please stop using this false term and call these people what they are, Nazis. Period.

The New York Crank said...

Memo to rclz,

Just remember that if Trump gets impeached and removed, the next President of the United States is Mike Pence. And if you remove Pence you get Paul Ryan who is on a religious quest to stomp out Social Security and Medicare. Well, so is Pence. And Trump either is or isn't. But the point is, given the line of succession, we all should have health insurance as good as Trump's job insurance.

Be careful what you wish for. I wish I had remembered that when, on my own blog several months ago, I said I hoped Trump would get nominated because that would mean we'd have a Democratic president.

And now I'm so damn cranky I'm going to turn off the computer and go to bed.

Yours etc.
The New York Crank

rclz said...

Crank, there are no good options that for damn sure. The only real hope is they screw the people who voted for them enough that they actually turn out in 18 and we take back the senate, and they do all that without blowing us all to hell and don't make their damage irreversible.

Jimbo said...

First, Pence is Trump's Assassination Insurance. Second, it is really hard to change regulations, especially popular regulations and the Republican agenda is really not at all popular in America; something Paul Ryan just doesn't understand because of his self-admiration. Yes, Trump, is completely uninterested in policy so, if you want him to pay attention to the environment and existential climate change, tell him Mar-a-Lago will be inundated, otherwise he will go MEGO.