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Tucker Carlson: Trump Has Failed

Tucker Carlson is very disappointed in President Trump. In a startling interview with the Swiss weekly Weltwoche, the Fox News host, who has often defended the president, cuts loose. Excerpts:

Do you think he has kept his promises? Has he achieved his goals?

No.

He hasn’t?

No. His chief promises were that he would build the wall, de-fund planned parenthood, and repeal Obamacare, and he hasn’t done any of those things. There are a lot of reasons for that, but since I finished writing the book, I’ve come to believe that Trump’s role is not as a conventional president who promises to get certain things achieved to the Congress and then does. I don’t think he’s capable. I don’t think he’s capable of sustained focus. I don’t think he understands the system. I don’t think the Congress is on his side. I don’t think his own agencies support him. He’s not going to do that.

I think Trump’s role is to begin the conversation about what actually matters. We were not having any conversation about immigration before Trump arrived in Washington. People were bothered about it in different places in the country. It’s a huge country, but that was not a staple of political debate at all. Trump asked basic questions like’ “Why don’t our borders work?” “Why should we sign a trade agreement and let the other side cheat?” Or my favorite of all, “What’s the point of NATO?” The point of NATO was to keep the Soviets from invading western Europe but they haven’t existed in 27 years, so what is the point? These are obvious questions that no one could answer.

Apart from asking these very important questions has he really achieved nothing?

Not much. Not much. Much less than he should have. I’ve come to believe he’s not capable of it.

change_me

Why should he be not capable?

Because the legislative process in this country by design is highly complex, and it’s designed to be complex as a way of diffusing power, of course, because the people who framed our Constitution, founded our country, were worried about concentrations of power. They balanced it among the three branches as you know and they made it very hard to make legislation. In order to do it you really have to understand how it works and you have to be very focused on getting it done, and he knows very little about the legislative process, hasn’t learned anything, hasn’t and surrounded himself with people that can get it done, hasn’t done all the things you need to do so. It’s mostly his fault that he hasn’t achieved those things. I’m not in charge of Trump.

You can’t drain the swamp if you know nothing about hydraulics and engineering, and don’t trouble yourself to hire people who do. I deeply appreciate that Carlson is daring to say, from the Right — and not the Never Trump Right, either! — that Trump is mostly to blame for his failures. Of course Trump had the Washington elites against him, but as Carlson says, Trump is not focused, and hasn’t made a point of surrounding himself with competent people who could achieve his policy goals (such as they are). And what do the excuse-makers say? “You’ve got Trump Derangement Syndrome!” It’s the right-wing white person equivalent of a liberal blaming racism for the failure of a politician of color to get the job done.

More:

Is that really so? Look at the grassroots movement on the left: Alexandra Ocasio Cortez and her socialist group. It is probably a 100 years ago when Americans last saw a socialist movement of substance emerging?

Yes. You’re absolutely right. That’s the future.

In your book, you say they’ve vanishing but they seem to come back again.

Well, you’re absolutely right. You’re incisive correct to say that the last time we saw this was 100 years ago, which was another pivot point in our economic and social history. Where, after 10,000 years of living in an Agrarian society, people moved to the cities to work in factories and that upended the social order completely. With that came huge political change and a massive reaction.

In the United States and in Western Europe labor unions moderated the forces of change and allowed us to preserve capitalism in the form that we see it now… You’re seeing the exact same dynamic play out today, we have another, as I said, economic revolution, the digital age, which is changing how people work, how they make money, how families are structured. There is a huge reaction to that, of course, because there always is, because normal people can’t handle change at this pace. People are once again crying out for some help. They feel threatened by the change. What bothers me is that there is no large group of sensible people asking, how can we buffer this change? How can we restrain it just enough, not to stop it, but to keep people from overreacting and becoming radical?

Read the whole thing. [1] Seriously, do. Carlson has a lot of interesting things to say. Check out what he says about revolution in America. How unusual it is to have an elite journalist who actually has original thoughts.

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128 Comments To "Tucker Carlson: Trump Has Failed"

#1 Comment By Noah172 On December 7, 2018 @ 7:38 pm

JonF wrote:

Kirk, rural areas survive if they A) have tourist attractions nearby B) have a major government facility (e.g. military base; prison) close by C) are close enough to a metro area they can serve as distant exurbs

D) energy and (potential) mining booms (oil and gas fracking; possible rare earth mineral mining)

Tell us, JonF, which party is favorable to these rural job and wealth engines?

#2 Comment By Noah172 On December 7, 2018 @ 7:44 pm

russ wrote:

I find the counterfacts interesting:

A, the President had control of the House and Senate,
B, the President hasn’t had the backing of Congress

Ditto most of the Truman years (WRT the Fair Deal), Carter’s term, and to some degree Bush 2005-6 (Social Security, immigration, Harriet Miers). And Trump had narrower same-party Congressional majorities than the others.

#3 Comment By Noah172 On December 7, 2018 @ 8:14 pm

EngineerScotty wrote:

The main area in which he has departed from GOP orthodoxy is on trade; and his various tariff schemes appear to be half-baked and ham-fisted

NAFTA renegotiated, some concessions from China and other countries, China trade in negotiation as we speak. If President Sanders did the same you would be cheering.

and seem more designed to keep alive arguably-dying industries full of people who voted for him (coal, steel)

Ask Democratic Senators Sherrod Brown and Robert Casey, both rumored Presidential contenders, whether they think steel jobs aren’t worth saving.

Better yet, Scotty, why don’t you drop by the steel mills in Portland and other Oregon locations and tell the deluded employees that their industry is “dying” and does not merit a federal protection against Third World competition. (I thought you cared about labor and environmental standards.)

The reason the American steel industry was dying is not because Americans had stopped consuming steel, but because of free trade. Why should America be entirely dependent on imports for a vital commodity? People like you caterwaul about Russian dank memes on Facebook, but you see no problem with America begging China for steel (and rare earth minerals, and a zillion other things).

For coal, there is a fair point that declining domestic consumption is substantially (but not wholly) to blame for its troubles, and Trump can’t change that. Coal is still worth saving because of the potential for extracting valuable minerals from it for use in electronics (material we currently import from China).

#4 Comment By Noah172 On December 7, 2018 @ 8:45 pm

Viking wrote:

I can’t recall a president in my life other than maybe George H W Bush who wasn’t “a failure that didn’t keep his promises” at the end of the second year of his presidency

“No new taxes.”

Noah has hit most of the points I would make.

I really wish you all would stop it with the “Trump voters are going to be so mad when they learn he isn’t the messiah!” Neither was Obama, and he was promoted as one. Did Obama voters have a breakdown?

Thank you.

Notice how none of the Obama fans here have an answer about Obama’s disappointments in his first two years, with large Democratic majorities: big banks not broken up, cap and trade failed, no immigration amnesty, no new gun control, Obamacare more conservative than they wanted, no big tax increase on the rich, no card check, Guantanamo still open.

No answer, because the answers to give — “not enough Democrats wanted those things”; “Obama lied”; “Obama didn’t know how to work the system”; “powerful interests stood in the way” — are the same things they say about Trump.

Watch, they won’t answer this comment, either.

#5 Comment By Ain’t Ben On December 8, 2018 @ 12:18 am

Carlson, over his career, has been very skilled at detecting when the Republican winds are shifting and setting his sails accordingly. I remember when he wore bowties and didn’t hide his boarding school upbringing, before he recast himself as an anti-intellectual man of the people. If you want a likely leading indicator of when Trump’s base of support is starting to collapse, keep your eyes on Carlson. He’ll be one of the first to jump ship, and the direction he starts swimming should also be informative.

#6 Comment By Gene Casney On December 8, 2018 @ 7:00 am

No matter how one feels about the policies that Trump has espoused in the election and since, the main interesting point about Carlson’s interview is the acknowledgement of Trump’s sunning ignorance and incompetence. Carlson apparently has no quarrel with some of Trump’s most controversial statements and polices but still can not conceal his contempt for Trump as a man and as president. Everyone in Trump’s administration who is not a lackey or nonentity seems to conclude, like Tillerson, that Trump is a f***ing moron. It is rare that such a consensus is reached in public life. In that sense Trump has brought us together.

#7 Comment By Chuck On December 8, 2018 @ 11:18 am

I have a good deal of respect for Carlson. I find him to be very smart and full of pretty legitimate insights. His personality is fairly over-the-top, which keeps his entertainment level high for some, but is also quite off-putting to others. But he has some very interesting perspectives. His interview with Jamie Weinstein was quite good.

[2]

#8 Comment By EngineerScotty On December 8, 2018 @ 1:42 pm

Noah does raise a few good points. Not the slam-dunks he thinks, however.

NAFTA renegotiated, some concessions from China and other countries, China trade in negotiation as we speak. If President Sanders did the same you would be cheering.

The one area I’ll give Trump some props is trade; and this may well be another instance of “only Nixon could go to China”. That said, I’ll repeat the suggestion that many of his concrete proposals are ham-fisted. Of course, that depend on what your goals are, and Trump’s goals seem more focused on short-term politics (rewarding a key constituency) than on long-term policy goals (rebuilding a withered supply chain).

Better yet, Scotty, why don’t you drop by the steel mills in Portland and other Oregon locations and tell the deluded employees that their industry is “dying” and does not merit a federal protection against Third World competition. (I thought you cared about labor and environmental standards.)

Steel isn’t “dying” in the sense that demand for the product is drying up; indeed the local mills are AFAIK humming along at capacity. However, our local mills are fairly modern, automated mills, which are the the wave of the future in the industry; Trump’s steel tariffs seem designed to re-invigorate some long-shuttered, obsolete, and labor-intensive mills in the industrial midwest and northeast.

However, absent regulatory pressure otherwise, profitable steel mills are either a) located in low-wage countries, or b) largely automated and don’t employ large number of workers in the production process.

In one sense, this might not be a bad idea. Running factories for the benefit of the workers employed therein, without regard to profit or loss, is an economic program with a long pedigree. Modern western political thought seems to disapprove, associating such things with fellows like Stalin and Mao (speaking of the latter, at least Trump isn’t advocating people operate tiny steel mills in their backyards). Of course, what Trump is trying to do isn’t socialism; the State is neither operating or subsidizing such factories. Instead, via trade policy, he’s trying to take out their foreign competition, so such factories can operate and still make a profit for their owners, because their customers will have little choice but pay an inflated price that will allow for full employment of #MAGA hardhats.

The problems with that are:

1) Modern steel producers that DO have domestic operations that are automated are going to make a killing (Trump’s tariff only applies to imports; domestic tariffs are illegal, or at least require an act of Congres to implement), and likely set the price of steel at a level below needed to keep “old” mills profitable.

2) The affect on users of steel is negative–many existing domestic manufacturing operations are outraged, because this raises their prices but not that of their foreign competition. The steel tariff was unwise precisely because it only affected raw steel; once that steel gets turned into stuff (such as cars), the steel therein is no longer subject to tariff even if foreign-sourced. Thus it provides an additional incentive to offshore manufacturing (and an advantage to foreign manufacturers): factories outside the US now have access to cheaper steel than factories in the US do.

In other words, Trump is defending the wrong end of the supply chain. Neither steel nor coal are rare; any suitably developed country can manufacture the former and lots of places have the latter. They’re not bad industries to have, of course. But long term prosperity is not going to be based on steel manufacturing.

3) The big issue, of course, is that many of Trump’s tariffs seem designed to benefit Trump states and communities that voted for Trump. (And in fairness, many retaliatory tariffs imposed by foreign governments appear targeted to harm industries in Trump states; attacking e.g. soybeans but not high-tech). This isn’t a good way to run an industrial policy.

The reason the American steel industry was dying is not because Americans had stopped consuming steel, but because of free trade. Why should America be entirely dependent on imports for a vital commodity? People like you caterwaul about Russian dank memes on Facebook, but you see no problem with America begging China for steel (and rare earth minerals, and a zillion other things).

Speaking of Russians–Oregon’s largest steel mill is owned by a Russian firm these days…

Rare earths are mined substances–they are found where they are found. US has them, but mining them is really bad for the environment. If we needed to resume production of them, we could. (The biggest domestic stockpile is in California, not near any coal seam; not sure how effective combining a coal mining operation–it would have to be a strip mine–with a rare-earths mining operation would be in practice).

But we’re not “begging” China for steel–we’re perfectly capable of producing it ourselves, after all. And I’ll readily agree with the implicit capitalist critique contained in your argument, that Wall Street greed has resulted in a loss of production capacity of many strategic industries.

But making steel is easy. Lots of third-world countries produce steel. Making good cars, or good electronics, or good software, etc–those things are harder. And in some cases, US production has indeed atrophied; many electronic components nowadays have no domestic source.

One interesting question, then: Some of the debate around protecting “old” industries like steel and coal, and providing full employment in them, seems motivated in part by cultural preservation–there are, of course, towns in WV and elsewhere where everybody’y daddy and grand-daddy mined coal, and coal mining is not just a source of employment but the cornerstone of the local culture; and it is occasionally implied that industrial policy should be deployed not just to make sure the residents there have a reasonable standard of living, but to enable them to mine coal in perpetuity. Many such industrial towns (out here in Orygun it is/was the forestry industry) view “retraining” as a dirty word; in part because they don’t believe they will actually find good jobs in a new unrelated career, or such jobs require a college education they lack; in part because such jobs might require relocation, and in part because they don’t want a new job, and may view other careers (especially if white-collar) with contempt. In their view, real men mine coal or load trucks or cut trees or otherwise work with their hands and their backs, not sit at a desk all damn day.

To what extent, if any, should industrial policy be geared to allowing mining or logging or farming towns to keep mining or logging or farming forever, long after such operations cease being profitable or beneficial to the public at large? And which communities are worthy of such protection, and which should be subject to the forces of creative destruction and be told, when the time comes, to change or die?

#9 Comment By JeffK On December 8, 2018 @ 2:27 pm

@EarlyBird says:
December 7, 2018 at 7:22 pm

“Just imagine if a serious, capable, experienced, focused, decent leader had the kind of instincts that Trump did? He’d be a most excellent leader. Alas, as always, the problem with Trump is Trump.”

Nailed it right there. Now the next question: If that candidate rises, out of which party will he/she come?

#10 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On December 8, 2018 @ 3:42 pm

“Apologies if I am beating the issue to death, but is that really what you voted for, Trump cultists?”

Yes, Sid, it is, because now we have a *chance* of stopping illegal immigration. It ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.

Right now I’m hoping Trump’s reason for delaying the signing of the spending bill until just before Christmas is that he’s planning to veto it for not funding the Wall, without Congress being able to override the veto unless it cuts its Christmas vacation short (which is not gonna happen).

Immigration patriotism *uber alles*.

#11 Comment By Ed On December 8, 2018 @ 4:10 pm

He’s not saying “Trump has failed.” He’s saying Trump hasn’t achieved much yet, but “I think Trump’s role is to begin the conversation about what actually matters.”

The ability of any president to achieve much is limited. In Trump’s case that’s all the more true, since coordination between the White House and Congress was so poor, but it’s too early to flatly say that Trump has failed.

#12 Comment By connecticut farmer On December 8, 2018 @ 4:10 pm

@Siralys Jenkins

“Unfortunately, Tucker Carlson is faulting Trump for failing to deliver the Tucker Carlson agenda — which is a dystopian nightmare I’m glad Trump is incompetent to deliver. Better a half-baked Mussolini with separation of powers intact than a capable, efficient, Hitler.”

Huh? Siralys, for whom doth this bell troll? Tucker Carlson = The Bohemian Corporal? I mean, really now!

#13 Comment By madge On December 8, 2018 @ 5:04 pm

” talking about the dying middle class in a way that’s not “give the out-of-work 7th generation coal miner some re-training as a nurse!” ”

The US has about 3 million nurses, and about 50,000 coal miners. One of these professions is rapidly growing, is not in danger of automation and, especially for men, pays exceedlingy well. And it’s not coal mining.

#14 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On December 8, 2018 @ 9:16 pm

Did Obama voters have a breakdown?

Well, some voters in North Carolina and Indiana obviously had second thoughts. So did I, although not enough to induce me to vote for Mittens.

The reason the American steel industry was dying is not because Americans had stopped consuming steel, but because of free trade. Why should America be entirely dependent on imports for a vital commodity?

One thing accentuated by the impact of the Trump tariffs, which was obvious to many of us long before, is that not only industries using steel, but industries producing steel, are dependent on foreign imports. The taconite deposits west of Lake Superior are greatly depleted, as are the copper deposits in Michigan’s upper peninsula. Most mining involves processing much larger volumes of earth and rock for an infinitesimally small fraction of desired minerals.

What would stabilize American prosperity would be a massive industrial development to recycle nearly ALL of what we use and dispose of. At some point, humanity is going to have to do that anyway, unless we envision an existence engineered by “Buy and Large” per the movie “Wall-E.” We might as well do it right and keep jobs in America. Shipping all that stuff overseas for African kids to burn the insulation off television wiring isn’t going to cut it.

Notice how none of the Obama fans here have an answer about Obama’s disappointments in his first two years, with large Democratic majorities: big banks not broken up, cap and trade failed, no immigration amnesty, no new gun control, Obamacare more conservative than they wanted, no big tax increase on the rich, no card check, Guantanamo still open.

I’m not exactly an Obama “fan,” although I don’t regret voting for him three times. But as it happens, a partial answer is provided by a recent article in the print pages of that well-known Marxist propaganda organ, The American Conservative.

“Until, that is, a small group of endangered Blue Dog Democrats — Max Baucus, Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, and Joe Lieberman (all gone now) — stood side-by-side with the toughest Tea Partiers and issued an arms-folded denial to the public option and the Medicare-at-55 buy-in. They insisted on a rock-ribbed individual mandate to shore up the private insurance industry for good measure. With no hope of getting past a Republican filibuster without those centrist Democratic senators, Obama caved. Then-speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi strong-armed holdout House Dems to salvage a win for some form of universal healthcare — but it was vastly less than those overeager congressmen and local Democrats had promised.” (“The Last Local Election” by Telly Davidson, Nov/Dec 2018).

I’ve been convinced since 2010 that Democrats have fatally misjudged why large numbers of voters reject them, and either catered to or reacted against various conservative commentators. Democrats vacillate from trying to “appease” mythical free enterprise conservative voting cohorts who do not exist in the numbers presumed, or confronting equally mythical Neanderthals is a Gotterdammerung they are bound to lose.

What the “white working class” needs and even wants is the substance of a more clearly left-wing program than any Democrat is willing to subscribe to, shorn of insulting culture war infatuations. The working class could move left, but it will never embrace liberalism.

#15 Comment By Some Wag On December 8, 2018 @ 11:53 pm

Noah172:
“Obamacare more conservative than they wanted, no big tax increase on the rich”
Apparently you, like many of the American people, have no idea why you were successfully and expensively persuaded to parrot the “failure” of Obamacare in the first place. Hint: NIIT.

#16 Comment By Noah172 On December 9, 2018 @ 1:05 am

Siarlys wrote:

a partial answer is provided by a recent article in the print pages of that well-known Marxist propaganda organ, The American Conservative

In the comment of mine to which you responded, I wrote this:

No answer, because the answers to give — “not enough Democrats wanted those things”; “Obama lied”; “Obama didn’t know how to work the system”; “powerful interests stood in the way” — are the same things they say about Trump

I was making the point that Trump critics, whether on the left, the globalist #NeverTrump right, and perhaps from disappointed Trumpists such as Carlson, are willfully blind to the simple parallel I was making. If one can blame recalcitrant Congressional Democrats, or powerful interests, or fickle public opinion, for Obama’s disappointments in 2009-10, rather than Obama himself, that is logically equivalent to when Trumpists blame Congressional Republicans, powerful interests, and media-influenced public opinion (e.g. during the health care debate), rather than Trump himself, for his disappointments.

Reality is more nuanced, of course. Both Obama’s and Trump’s first-two-years disappointments — and Clinton’s while we are at it (no welfare reform, botched health care, and other controversies) — were attributable to a combination of friction with Congress, events beyond their control, and their own personal decisions and failings. E.g., for Obama, cap and trade wasn’t happening in 2009-10 given how many Senate Democrats came from oil and coal states, but Obama could have closed Guantanamo on his executive authority, but chose not to, and later signed a law keeping it open. (Note: I am not saying that I wanted Guantanamo closed, just noting that it was a broken campaign promise by Obama’s choice, rather than circumstance forcing his hand.)

Most mining involves processing much larger volumes of earth and rock for an infinitesimally small fraction of desired minerals

But we have a lot untapped deposits, especially on federal land. Lawsuits and red tape hinder new mining. This administration has been trying to streamline the permitting process to boost mining output, meaning more jobs and more secure (domestic) sources of important raw material. Trump also reversed Clinton’s and Obama’s abuses of the Antiquities Act to open up land in Utah for exploration and development.

#17 Comment By Noah172 On December 9, 2018 @ 2:05 am

EngineerScotty wrote:

However, absent regulatory pressure otherwise, profitable steel mills are either a) located in low-wage countries, or b) largely automated and don’t employ large number of workers in the production process

Better an American robot than a foreign human. Replacing the latter with the former reduces our trade deficit and gives other countries, particularly China (our top geopolitical rival, not Russia), less leverage over us. Also, those industrial machines have to be manufactured, powered, and serviced, and I want Americans doing that. A largely automated plant here still produces some jobs here. An overseas plant produces jobs there, not here.

Instead, via trade policy, he’s trying to take out their foreign competition, so such factories can operate and still make a profit for their owners, because their customers will have little choice but pay an inflated price that will allow for full employment of #MAGA hardhats

This is what America did from Washington until well into the 20th century. Made us an industrial power.

The big issue, of course, is that many of Trump’s tariffs seem designed to benefit Trump states and communities that voted for Trump

That’s politics. Obama skewed his 2009 stimulus away from infrastructure and toward saving public-sector jobs. His economic adviser said openly that the purpose of this was to limit the jobs given to “burly men” and help out educated women instead. Obama also skewed the terms of the auto bailout (which Bush started) to favor the UAW (versus dealers, bondholders, and non-union workers). Cash for Clunkers was also a favor to the UAW and marketed as good for the Rust Belt (which voted for Obama, remember).

Rare earths are mined substances–they are found where they are found. US has them, but mining them is really bad for the environment

So we outsource the pollution for poor POC to deal with? I guess that’s the urban green liberal version of America First.

The steel tariff was unwise precisely because it only affected raw steel; once that steel gets turned into stuff (such as cars), the steel therein is no longer subject to tariff even if foreign-sourced. Thus it provides an additional incentive to offshore manufacturing

Unless we put tariffs on other goods, such as cars, which is what Trump has either been doing or threatening to do to get concessions in negotiation.

BTW, manufacturing employment has continued rising since Trump took office, and automakers other than GM have announced expansions of US operations (Chrysler in Detroit[!], Mercedes-Benz and Volvo in South Carolina, Toyota and Mazda in Alabama, Nissan at TBD).

But we’re not “begging” China for steel–we’re perfectly capable of producing it ourselves, after all

Then let’s.

But making steel is easy. Lots of third-world countries produce steel. Making good cars, or good electronics, or good software, etc–those things are harder

But countries which were pretty backward not that long ago now make those value-added goods. Among these are China and India, which have a third of humanity between them. That’s a big pool for both cheap brain workers and very cheap muscle workers. And China steals whatever IP its native brains can’t come up with on their own.

To what extent, if any, should industrial policy be geared to allowing mining or logging or farming towns to keep mining or logging or farming forever, long after such operations cease being profitable or beneficial to the public at large?

My rule of thumb: if we still consume a good (natural or manufactured) in large quantities, and we have or can make this good domestically, then we should strive to do so, and public policy should frankly privilege (not necessarily compel the purchase of in every instance) domestic sources or producers of said good.

For people who care for such things, I don’t see what’s moral or eco-friendly about, “We still use paper and lumber, but cutting down our trees is bad for the environment, so let’s pay other people to cut down their trees,” or, “We still need our machines and gadgets, but factories are dirty, and employ Deplorables, so let’s pay other people, who care less about the earth and labor rights and safety than we do, to make our stuff, so we can do more important things, like invent new apps for sexting.”

#18 Comment By Hound of Ulster On December 9, 2018 @ 6:29 pm

@Noah172

The problem is for your side, that many of those voters who backed Trump in 2016 assumed that ‘MAGA’ meant a return of the massed ranks of thousands of steelworkers going to the big grimy factory for a shift every morning, not twenty guys (most of whom will at least have to have some advanced tech training to run the robots and maintain them) going to a bright, sparkly light industrial campus. The latter is the future of manufacturing, the former is the long-dead past. Trump is promising to turn back a half-century’s worth of industrial evolution, which is something nobody can deliver. And his failure, combined with his toxic appeals to white identity politics, thus preventing the creation of a durable populist coalition by excluding non-white workers, will break the Right in this country for the next thirty years. You cannot have populism in America if you exclude what is now over half the country. Straight white dudes are only 36% of the population, thus any politics that appeals to them only is bound to fail. You need a coalition to win.

#19 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On December 9, 2018 @ 7:47 pm

that is logically equivalent to when Trumpists blame Congressional Republicans, powerful interests, and media-influenced public opinion (e.g. during the health care debate), rather than Trump himself, for his disappointments.

Neither logical nor factual. Trump had a Republican majority in place before he took office, and they were ready to give him anything he could formulate as long as he would sign off on anything they had tried to pass that President Obama had vetoed.

The major exception was the ACA, and on that Republicans all over the country faced angry crowds of constituents who asserted that someone in their family would be “dead or bankrupt if not for the ACA.” For years, voters who relied on the ACA but were culturally conservative had voted GOP, knowing President Obama would veto any repeal, while Republicans blithely proclaimed that “the people want” the ACA repealed, only to be surprised by the furious response in “Red” districts when it turned out it might actually be repealed.

The two most delusional groups in America are Republican and Democratic office holders.

#20 Comment By Noah172 On December 9, 2018 @ 8:29 pm

Trump had a Republican majority in place before he took office, and they were ready to give him anything he could formulate as long as he would sign off on anything they had tried to pass that President Obama had vetoed

A lot of Congressional Republicans opposed Trump’s platform on immigration (especially reduction of legal immigration), trade (some want to take away his tariff authority), and foreign affairs. They were certainly not willing to give him “anything”, particularly not the things which distinguished him from the previous 30-odd years of Republican leaders and his 2016 primary rivals.

#21 Comment By muad’dib On December 10, 2018 @ 7:43 am

JonF wrote:

Kirk, rural areas survive if they A) have tourist attractions nearby B) have a major government facility (e.g. military base; prison) close by C) are close enough to a metro area they can serve as distant exurbs

D) energy and (potential) mining booms (oil and gas fracking; possible rare earth mineral mining)

Tell us, JonF, which party is favorable to these rural job and wealth engines?

I have two words for you: West Virginia. The fine people of West Virginia have been mining their little hearts out for over a century now, and what have they got to show for it: [3] and [4].

That’s not to say that I against mining or fracking per se, it’s just that most mining/fracking generate boom-towns that die 10 seconds after the resource is extracted, the wealth generated rarely stays where the mining/fracking occurred and after the resource extraction is completed all the locals have to show for it is a damaged environment.

#22 Comment By Sid Finster On December 10, 2018 @ 10:27 am

To paraphrase Ken Zaretzke: “I don’t care that Trump is gleefully assisting in a genocide in Yemen and otherwise faithfully following the neocon agenda like a dog, I WANT MY WALL DAMNIT EVEN IF THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL THAT I WILL GET IT!”

I hope you are proud our yourself.

#23 Comment By JonF On December 10, 2018 @ 10:56 am

Noah, I had a busy weekend and did not get back to this item until just now. But the answer to your Friday evening question is Neither Party. Yes, the GOP seems to be the friendlier party, but as the party of crony capitalism they really aren’t- they may be very friendly to the owners of such enterprises, but not to the workers. Moreover extraction industries are notorious for boom and bust cycles and are not dependable as the sole foundation for a local economy. What is? I don’t know. We are approaching a hard reality where we can produce all we need and even want without the need for large, intensive labor forces. That affects many labor markets, not just rural regions. And yes, we need to start talking about this seriously and not in terms of scapegoats and villains.

#24 Comment By JeffK On December 10, 2018 @ 5:38 pm

As I posted elsewhere:

Missing from this discussion, and many discussions about Trump, are that he has probably killed the recovery from the 2008 great recession.

On Jan 17, 2018 it was 26,115. Today it sits at 23,970. Down 8.2%. All the gains of 2018 have been wiped out.

Additionally the yield curve for XX inverted last week. From the Forbes article linked below:

“Why does this matter? Well, a quick glance at Bloomberg’s excellent 2/5-year chart shows that a yield curve inversion from early 2000 to the beginning of 2001 set the stage for the tech bubble bursting, and a much longer period of inversion from the beginning of 2006 until mid-2007 was, in retrospect, a perfect predictor of the Crash of 2008-2009.”

I think, once the general public understands how badly Trump has mismanaged the economy he was lucky to have started with, his support will evaporate from everybody except the most infatuated Trumpists.

2019 and 2020 will be hell for Trump. I would bet $5000 he doesn’t run for reelection. And $1000 he doesn’t finish his presidency. But we shall see.

Also, I searched for the scene from the fantastic movie “The Lion in Winter” that could stand in for Mueller. Not there. But this scene is almost as good. Katherine Hepburn believing all is lost. Trump should watch it.

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#25 Comment By Warren On December 10, 2018 @ 7:04 pm

Just a quick, very minor point, replying to this:

“The changes have just begun for Rural America. Within ten years there will be vertical farms located just outside cities, cultured meat grown within cities, and self-driving vehicles, which will obliterate both the profession of truck driver and all the support roles alongside highways.”

I don’t know if self-driving cars are our future. They probably are to at least some extent, and I’m certainly not happy about that. But vertical farms and cultured meat? Some skepticism is certainly warranted here.

I recently read an article about advances in technology surrounding food. I read it on an environmentalist website, but for some reason I can only find a blog post now. (I think it was a website that mostly supports urban agriculture, so the writer was going against the grain a bit) Here it is:

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The take away is that most of the technologies shaking up food production are in the area of distribution, not production, and the supposed revolutions in production generally turn out to be flops. Here are some excerpts:

“Few people seem to realize that lab-foods also need a feedstock, and the companies marketing the products are mostly silent regarding the raw materials used. To grow maize as a feedstock for ‘artificial’ food or to produce chicken is not so very different. Chicken production, in many parts of the world, is already landless production, a kind of feed converter factory. And it is obvious that you can do a similar thing with fungi or bacteria. It is not obvious, however, that the process will be much more efficient (but possibly more ethically acceptable). Judging from the prices of the synthetic meat products considerable resources are used in their production.”

“In-door production of lettuce, herbs and other small leaves require in the range of 250 Watt per square meter of energy efficient LED lamps (a lot more is required for the production of tomatoes or potatoes).[xv] With 12 hours light per day one would need 3,000 Wh per square meter and day, or 1,095 kWh per year. This means that only three square meters of such a farm would consume the global average per capita use of electricity.”

It’s worth reading the whole thing. I think it makes a pretty decisive case that rural agriculture isn’t going anywhere. Unfortunately this may not help Middle America much; even within the article he makes the point that farms are likely to be increasingly automated. So while we are going to continue growing food on farmland for the forseeable future this will employ increasingly fewer people if the tech keeps going the way it seems to be.

Republicans should be thinking hard about how to stop the shrinking of rural America. Supporting industries like fracking and coal is a stop-gap measure, because those industries aren’t going to sustain rural communities (such as they are) for much longer. Perhaps it would make sense to make policies that favor small-scale farming over huge agricultural conglomerates? Any policy that reduces the impact of automation would be good too (and there are good environmentalist reasons for opposing automation). They certainly need to do something because as America becomes more urbanized they’re going to see their vote share shrivel away.

#26 Comment By Warren On December 10, 2018 @ 7:07 pm

One more thing: when I see techno-optimists gushing about obvious bust-technologies like vertical farms, I can’t help but wonder what else they might be wrong about: Self-driving cars? Machine learning? Automation in general? We can only hope.

#27 Comment By Warren On December 10, 2018 @ 9:41 pm

Seems one of my comments failed to make it past moderation. If I broke one of the rules that’s fair enough, but unfortunately it turns my above comment into a complete non-sequitur.

#28 Comment By Warren On December 11, 2018 @ 12:19 am

Never mind, it looks like all my comments were approved. either there was a delay on one of them or I’m just going crazy.

[NFR: No, you were right about at least one of them, which for some reason was sucked up by the spam filter. I freed it and approved it. Thanks for letting me know. — RD]