Archive for the Category Trump Derangement Syndrome


Trumpism in Canada

The Economist reports that a number of Trumpian politicians are on the rise in Canada.  Interestingly, the Trumpian issues there are not immigration and trade.

Meanwhile the same issue says that Republican politicians report that their constituents couldn’t care less what Trump’s views are on the issues, they just want to know if their elected representatives support Trump.

I know that my commenters will never believe me, but the global rise of anti-intellectual, tribal, populist, right wing authoritarianism is not about the “issues”, it’s about something much deeper.  Because it has no appeal to me, I’m completely blind to the attraction.  So are all the liberal pundits who write articles claiming to understand Trumpism.  Maybe it’s about how the rise of the internet and cable TV mean that the elites are no longer gatekeepers for information.  “Hey liberal pundits, it’s not about the issues, it’s about the fact that voters despise YOU.”  (But then there’s China, which doesn’t fit that theory.)

I suspect this means Trump will be re-elected, if his health holds up.  (And his health is said to be absolutely spectacular.)

Off topic; I was glad to see that sports betting is going to be allowed at the state level.  (I have no opinion on the legal aspects of the Supreme Court decision, which seems to have been based on a technicality.  I don’t know how I would have voted, but I like the policy outcome.)

Send in the clowns

Italy’s Five Star Movement was founded by a clown.  Now they have been elected to govern all of Italy.  Here are some of their views:

An alliance between Five Star and the League has long been considered the most destabilising outcome to the eurozone of the election because both parties have attacked EU fiscal rules, banking regulations, trade deals and sanctions against Russia.

Notice that there’s no real ideology there, other than always taking the “irresponsible” position, no matter what the issue.  It would be like if America were to elect a buffoon who had no discernible ideology other than being irresponsible.  Someone who opposed responsible conservative policies like slowing the growth in entitlements and a smaller deficit, but also opposed responsible progressive policies like the Paris Accord or the Iran deal.  And also opposed responsible centrist polices, such as speaking out against Putin and enacting trade agreements like TPP. Someone who’s only ideology was to be irresponsible. Thank God we are not Italy.

Meanwhile, The Economist had an interesting piece on Germany:

A cultural divide is opening up between urban regions and more conservative suburban and rural areas. “Cities like Munich, Cologne and Berlin now have more in common with each other than with their own hinterlands,” says Michael Bröning, author of a new book on nationhood. And rising crime rates and cultural battles like the one in Essen are making society feel more raw. On New Year’s Eve 2015 in Cologne some 1,000 women were sexually assaulted by a crowd made up largely of immigrants. A year later an Islamist terrorist from Tunisia drove a hijacked truck into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12. The titles of recent books and films—“Nervous Republic”, “Fear for Germany”, “The End of Germany”—capture the public mood at its gloomiest.

This raises a host of issues.  First of all, notice the similarity to America, where Dallas, Houston and Atlanta vote Democratic and the surrounding areas are quite conservative.  Also notice that the anti-immigrant feeling is strongest in the areas that have the fewest immigrants.  Recall the massive support for Trump in West Virginia, which attracts almost no immigrants and benefits from trade with China.  And notice that Germany has a booming manufacturing sector and a trade surplus, so the economic factors that supposedly drove support for Trump (which I doubt actually did) are not in play in Germany.  I suspect that the increase in nationalism in Germany is occurring for the same reason as in Russia, India, Turkey, China, Hungary and dozens of other countries, and has almost nothing to do with the factors that we are told are pushing America toward right-wing populist authoritarianism.  I have no idea what those factors are, indeed I’ve never even seen a plausible theory.  BTW, if you want a better insight into the Trump phenomenon, then read this excellent article on the Modi phenomenon in India.  The parallels are eerie. The bad news is that if I’m right, Trump is likely to be re-elected.  (But my track record on political predictions is—spotty.)

PS.  George Will takes the gloves off in the Washington Post, making a good case that Pence is even worse than Trump (a view I would have thought ridiculous a few months ago.)

And people think I have TDS!

PPS.  At the other extreme from George Will is Conrad Black, who suggests that Trump was an honest businessman, and who describes his marriage to Melania as being free of stormy weather:

The relationship has apparently lasted smoothly for nearly 20 years

This piece somehow made it into the National Review.  Do magazines still have editors?

What should our public schools teach?

With Trump the ordinary rules don’t apply.  Mere scandals are hardly worth reporting—the GOP will protect him regardless of what’s he’s done.  But yesterday brought something a bit novel, even for Trump.

Trump lied to Canadian leader Justin Trudeau, claiming the US ran a trade deficit with Canada.

Then Trump joked about the fact that he lied to Trudeau.  It was caught on tape, and it was played on all the TV news shows.

Then he repeated the lie in a tweet.

If you want to claim that it’s not a lie, that we do have a trade deficit with Canada, you are faced with the following problem.  The “Economic Report of the President” signed by Trump, claims the US has a trade surplus with Canada.  So he’s either lying in the Economic Report of the President, or in his tweets.

All this supports Bryan Caplan’s case against public education.  One of the most common arguments for public schools is that they teach civics.  We need a well educated population so that we do not elect bad people.  And having gone through the public school system, I can vouch for the fact that they do teach civic virtue.  My teachers seemed to sincerely want us to be good people.  English classes taught us the importance of character.  In history and social science we learned about various figures who gained power through demagoguery, demonizing minorities, engaging in “the big lie”.  Lots of historical examples were cited.  Indeed if I think back to my middle and high school years, I’d sum up the education as basically emphasizing one point:

Under no circumstances should you ever, ever, ever consider electing a candidate like Donald Trump.

And yet we did.  He’s a textbook example of everything we were taught is bad.  The continual lying, the bullying, the corruption, the racism, the misogyny, the willful ignorance.  Either Trump is bad or public education is useless.

I vote for “both”.

You knew this was coming

Why am I not surprised?

Chinese President Xi Jinping recently consolidated power. Trump told the gathering: “He’s now president for life. President for life. And he’s great.” Trump added, “I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll give that a shot someday.”

There are a lot of people in China who believe in classical liberal principles.  At one time they respected America.

PS.  If you think presidential character doesn’t matter, read this.

PPS.  I just crossed 10,000,000 views:


The nationalists’ dilemma

Donald Trump and other members of the alt-right tend to have a very favorable view of Vladimir Putin.  After all, he shares many of their nationalistic political instincts.  But nationalists face a dilemma, as their ideology is fundamentally selfish.  Nationalists favor the home country and demonize foreigners.  So are nationalists to be pro-America or pro-nationalism?  You can’t have it both ways.

In recent years, Putin has brought back the Cold War, by invading neighboring countries, tearing up arms control agreements and gloating about the fact that the US will not be able to stop a new type of nuclear missile from reaching Florida.  Trump doesn’t seem to know how to respond to this new reality:

Former CIA Director John Brennan expressed “deep worry and concern” Friday about leadership and the nation’s safety in the wake of Donald Trump’s ugly Twitter attack against Alec Baldwin over the actor’s portrayal of the president on “Saturday Night Live.”

Brennan was asked by Nicolle Wallace on MSNBC if he thought Trump was “too unstable” to possess the nuclear codes that would allow him to launch an attack. Brennan responded that he was rattled by the president’s strange focus on Baldwin the morning after Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted of his nation’s nuclear capabilities to strike anywhere in the world, including the U.S. A simulated video presented by Putin appeared to depict next-generation nuclear missiles striking Florida.

Trump has yet to respond to Putin. Instead, he ranted against the actor in an error-riddled tweet early Friday morning (the tweet was later reposted with corrections).

“When I hear what Vladimir Putin was saying about the nuclear capabilities he has [and] then the president of the United States is tweeting about Alec Baldwin this morning, I mean, where is your sense of priorities?” Brennan asked. “I think a lot of Americans are looking at what’s happening with a sense of: This is surreal.”

There’s “deep, deep worry and concern for this country’s national security,” he added.

A couple days ago I visited the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda.  The Nixon administration is the first one that I remember well, and seeing the exhibits brought back a lot of memories.  I view Nixon as one of America’s worst presidents.  He was very corrupt and dishonest.  And yet, he was so far superior to Trump that it’s like they are not even members of the same species.  Even in Nixon’s worst qualities, he was nowhere near as bad as Trump; not nearly as corrupt or dishonest, for instance. (John Dean recently made the same point.)  And in his best qualities he was dramatically superior to Trump.  He worked hard, gave a lot of thought to foreign affairs, and did seriously try to improve our relations with countries such as China and the Soviet Union.  Watching news clips from that era you had the sense that America was actually a serious country, like Canada or Germany or the Netherlands.  Now this country seems like just another banana republic, with a president who has the mentality of a Duterte, a Chavez, a Berlusconi.  It is a surreal experience viewing the Nixon Library with the thought of Trump in the back of one’s mind.

Update:  And isn’t this reassuring?