Tuesday, January 31, 2017


If it seems to you that the Trump administration has been unrelentingly punitive in its first week and a half, get ready for more of the same. First, there's this from the L.A. Times:
Even as confusion, internal dissent and widespread condemnation greeted President Trump’s travel ban and crackdown on refugees this weekend, senior White House aides say they are are only getting started.

Trump and his aides justified Friday’s executive order ... on security grounds.... But their ultimate goal is far broader.

Trump’s top advisors on immigration, including chief strategist Steve Bannon and senior advisor Stephen Miller, see themselves as launching a radical experiment to fundamentally transform how the U.S. decides who is allowed into the country and to block a generation of people who, in their view, won’t assimilate into American society.

... White House aides are considering new, onerous security checks that could effectively limit travel into the U.S. by people from majority-Muslim countries to a trickle.
And The Washington Post suggests that a larger goal is to limit all immigration to a trickle:
The Trump administration is considering a plan to weed out would-be immigrants who are likely to require public assistance, as well as to deport -- when possible -- immigrants already living in the United States who depend on taxpayer help, according to a draft executive order obtained by The Washington Post.

A second draft order under consideration calls for a substantial shake up in the system through which the United States administers immigrant and nonimmigrant visas overall, with the aim of tightly controlling who enters the country, and who can enter the workforce, and to reduce the social services burden on U.S. taxpayers....

Together, the orders would aim to give U.S. citizens priority in the job market from top to bottom by preventing immigrants from taking jobs and pushing some immigrants out of jobs they currently have.
This is what's being leaked in the administration's opening weeks. Notice what isn't being leaked, and certainly isn't the subject of any of the president's executive orders? A big infrastructure plan. Yes, there's the wall -- but what happened to all the wonderful deficit-financed building a lot of people think Trump is going to provide? It's said that Republicans in Congress don't want any such plan, but Trump doesn't seem averse to pissing them off on other matters, so why not this?

I think the answer is obvious: The folks driving the bus, Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, don't give a crap about grand programs to employ Americans -- even their own voters. All they care about is revenge. They want everything to be punitive, and the president, who really enjoys fighting with people, is perfectly OK with that.

I'm thinking along these lines because David Frum has a gloomy piece in The Atlantic titled "How to Build an Autocracy." I haven't made my way through it yet, but I see from the opening paragraphs that Frum can imagine Trump winning reelection in 2020 without too much trouble. Here's the scenario he imagines, with some emphasis added:
It’s 2021, and President Donald Trump will shortly be sworn in for his second term....

Fortunately for him, he did not need to campaign hard for reelection. His has been a popular presidency: Big tax cuts, big spending, and big deficits have worked their familiar expansive magic. Wages have grown strongly in the Trump years, especially for men without a college degree, even if rising inflation is beginning to bite into the gains. The president’s supporters credit his restrictive immigration policies and his TrumpWorks infrastructure program.
But the majority in Congress doesn't want anything like TrumpWorks, and if I'm right about De Facto President Bannon, he doesn't either. If there were a TrumpWorks, Democrats might embrace it. Liberal pundits might grudgingly acknowledge its merits. To Bannon, that would be awful. He doesn't want to steal liberals' thunder in a bid for widespread appeal. He wants to infuriate liberals and make us squeal like stuck pigs, and he wants to make scapegoats out of foreigners and others Trump voters hate, because inflicting pain is the point of all this for him.

I tell myself that this might put a limit on how much support Trump can expect as president -- but then I see this Reuters poll:
Americans are sharply divided over President Donald Trump's order to temporarily block U.S. entry for all refugees and citizens of seven Muslim countries, with slightly more approving the measure than disapproving, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Tuesday.

The Jan. 30-31 poll found that 49 percent of American adults said they either "strongly" or "somewhat" agreed with Trump's order, while 41 percent "strongly" or "somewhat" disagreed and another 10 percent said they don't know.
So the Muslim ban has plurality support, 49%-41%? Hey, that's better for Trump than the popular vote in November. If everything Trump does gets that kind of support, he won't have to make anyone's life better to be reelected -- he'll just have to worsen the lives of heartland whites' enemies, over and over again. That plus Democrat vote suppression will easily win him a second term.

In the long run, Middle Americans will realize that Trump never made their America great -- jobs never returned, wages never went = up, health insurance and Medicare and Social Security got worse and worse. But remember that it took six years for the heartland to reject George W. Bush. It could take at least that long for Trump to lose favor.


William F. Glennon said...

It's a state based upon 'getting' people -- instead of, say, anything in the Preamble.

Get the bad guys
Get the Muslims
Get those foreigners
Get those immigrants
Get those Mexicans
Get those liberals
Get those faggots
Get those women

It's the fever dream of a 9 year old boy -- to have the power of the state at your command to 'get'

Carol Ann said...

Sauron Bannon is working harder and faster than Sauron Cheney did, and out loud and with no subtlety. It is hard to imagine we will get 8 years of thus. Sauron Bannon may feel he has accomplished his goals in a few months, with Norquist chortling in the background

Luigi said...

I actually think I may have to stop reading this blog because I can't take the truth of your words. You are right. We are all going to hell.

Andrew Johnston said...

Oh David Frum, not a day passes that I don't wonder why so many liberals listen to you.

As politics has become polarized, Congress has increasingly become a check only on presidents of the opposite party. Recent presidents enjoying a same-party majority in Congress—Barack Obama in 2009 and 2010, George W. Bush from 2003 through 2006—usually got their way.

Fucking really? Obama abandons his original health care plan because he can't get support from the Blue Dogs in his own party and this was him getting his way? Is long-term memory loss just a prerequisite for rising to the top tier of political press in this country?

“Populist-fueled democratic backsliding is difficult to counter,” wrote the political scientists Andrea Kendall-Taylor and Erica Frantz late last year...If people retreat into private life, if critics grow quieter, if cynicism becomes endemic, the corruption will slowly become more brazen, the intimidation of opponents stronger.

To be fair, this piece was likely written before the events of the last few weeks, during that period where so many pundits were still keen on the term "populism" and anticipating Trump riding into power amid the great massed throngs of his supporters as his approval ratings shot toward the heavens. That was probably the same inspiration for that absurd opening bit describing the downright utopian Age of Trump, with the Fearless Leader depicted as a trust-busting herald of the working class bringing unprecedented wealth to the American people without stepping on anyone's toes (and I can't believe Frum could see around Trump's balls to type that).

mathguy said...

I hate that term "heartland" for the retrograde place I live. Maybe Central Idiotland? Moronia?

"People of the land. The common clay. You know...morons."