Transparency

via GIPHY

President Trump won the 2016 election on the strength of his personality. Since then, he has forced all who support him to regularly re-affirm their loyalty.

Each crisis, gaffe, insult, unseemly revelation, or assault on democratic norms forces a choice. A long list of appointees left or got fired. Some went to jail. With each concession, his defenders get dragged deeper into an alternate reality of Trump’s own making where he is defending the country against an imaginary “deep state” army of traitors.

Despite numerous dead-end investigations chasing down one rabbit hole after another, there is no evidence to support this claim of organized secret opposition, but then proof was never really the goal.

The goal is to position Trump as the only reliable source of information for his supporters.

This reality distortion field allows him to claim that he doesn’t do cover-ups, even though he’s on tape approving the one that jailed his lawyer.

Everyone outside his reality distortion field KNOWS that US businesses and consumers are paying his Chinese tariffs. The Fed estimates it will cost every US family $831/yr. When Kudlow publicly contradicted him, Trump read him the riot act according to some sources.  Sources quoted in the Washington Post suggest that he is willing to put the economy at risk in order to get re-elected.  

President Trump is telling advisers and close allies that he has no intention of pulling back on his escalating trade war with China, arguing that clashing with Beijing is highly popular with his political base and will help him win reelection in 2020 regardless of any immediate economic pain.

In other words, Trump expects that his base will not hold him accountable for lying about tariffs and will not hold him accountable for the damage those tariffs are doing to individuals and the economy.  He believes that his base will re-elect him BECAUSE he is willing to confront China in a zero-sum celebrity death match.  They WANT to see this country assert itself on the international stage in a “might makes right” exercise.  This was the attitude that had us begin a foolhardy neocon mission to remake the middle east in our image and likeness.  Almost 20 years and trillions of dollars later we’re still mired down in Afghanistan, Iraq is still a mess, Iran is still a threat, Syria has collapsed, and Israel is still fighting with her neighbors.

He responded to criticisms by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by circulating a crudely altered video of her and questioning her health or sanity.

He accused Comey and McCabe of treason punishable by death and implicated Lynch and Obama. He demanded justice department investigations of his political opponents. His press secretary justified the investigations because of unproven claims that the President is already aware of “outrageous amounts of corruption” at the FBI. His AG agreed to investigate that “corruption” while at the same time acknowledging that he was unaware of any treasonable acts. He celebrated the fact that Kim Jong-un, one of the worst dictators in the world with whom he claims to have a close personal relationship, shared his same low opinion of the leading Democratic candidate for President.

This isn’t supposed to happen in a free and open democracy.

In his most stunning “through the looking-glass” moment, he claimed to be the most transparent president in history. He’s the one refusing to release his tax returns, divest himself of his business interests, appear before the Mueller grand jury, accept court losses, or agree that the constitution grants Congress the right to oversight.

His treasury secretary suggested that the 2016 election already decided the issue of releasing his taxes and the American people don’t care. He also suggested that the courts will decide what should be done, as they have done in the past. The reality, however, is that we haven’t had a situation in the past where the courts had to compel a President to release his taxes.  That’s because all candidates for President for the past several decades have voluntarily released their tax returns during their campaigns for office. Trump did not campaign on keeping his tax returns private.  He promised the American people that he WOULD release his taxes once the IRS had concluded their audits of him. The IRS has since declined to confirm or deny that he was under audit, but stated that a public release of a tax return would not affect the outcome of an audit. Beyond that, he is opposing all other efforts, by Congress and at a state level, to release any tax information. An audit doesn’t appear to be his primary concern. Currently a majority of Americans polled would like to see his tax returns released.

The result of all of this is a deepening divide between those who feel Trump is a welcome change and those who are aghast at the destruction he is leaving in his wake. Trump’s supporters believe he’s a victim. History suggests otherwise. We’ll get to vote on that in 2020. Healing our damaged democracy will likely take much longer.

10 Responses to “Transparency”

  1. keith says:

    Jeff,
    Interesting but you can exchange the verbiage about Trump and the Deep State and Rabbit holes with Dems and Russian Collusion!

  2. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Interesting but you can exchange the verbiage about Trump and the Deep State and Rabbit holes with Dems and Russian Collusion!

    Just another example of a message from inside the bubble.

    Even if that were true, it doesn’t excuse Trump’s behavior. We give our President immense power with the understanding that he will not use it to suppress his political opponents. That’s what got Nixon impeached.

    Trump’s “deep state” claims are part of the reality distortion field which autocrats have used since time immemorial to justify dismantling democracy.

    Please document where even ONE of Trump’s claims about the “deep state” are true.

    Even on collusion, the Mueller report documented the actions of the Trump campaign. There WAS collusion, there just weren’t enough people willing to testify (including Trump himself) to make a criminal case against Trump and his inner circle. But people ARE going to jail because of their involvement with Wikileaks and the Russians. Those people will likely include Roger Stone when his trial is done.

    Please provide just ONE instance where a government official conspired against Trump in some sort of illegal way. In the case of the FBI, agents were fired because of just the APPEARANCE of a conflict of interest. That’s what the government does to prevent any REAL conflicts of interest.

  3. Jeff Beamsley says:

    BTW, job report for May was very bad and March and April were adjusted down from their original estimates.

    Here’s a quote from a CNBC article suggesting what this means.

    “While much of the attention from investors has been focused on trade disputes and the potential for a slowing economy, today’s disappointing employment report provides further evidence that the end of the business cycle is upon us and economic activity is slowing,” said Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist for Allianz Investment Management.

    The stock market went up because traders were expecting the Fed to respond by loosening interest rates. While that might be good for the stock market in the near term, if the Fed ends up taking actions to stimulate the economy, that means that the economy did not get the promised stimulus that you and others claimed would be provided by the tax cuts.

    It also suggests that trade wars ARE NOT HELPING.

    So please tell me again why we should trust Trump in particular and Republican in general when it comes to the economy?

  4. Keith says:

    JOHN DEAN???????
    The dems have lost their minds!!!!!

  5. Keith says:

    Why trust Trump on the economy?

    1.8% is the new normal. Can’t except anything more. Paraphrasing the left including President Obama. So, they disqualified themselves. Trump has done better. I’ll take the 3.2. Will the business cycle end. Yes. When who knows.

    As to China, we are at war and have been for a long time. We’ve not participated. Let’s see how the war ends. Right now we’re winning. China certainly isn’t. I’m hopeful.

  6. Keith says:

    Deep state. Hummmm

    Let’s see what mr Barr arrives at. Can we?

  7. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Deep state. Hummmm

    Let’s see what mr Barr arrives at. Can we?

    The motivation for the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign was a conversation the George Papadopolis had with an Australian diplomat regarding hacked Clinton emails that was followed by Wikileaks release of hacked emails.

    The motivation for the Mueller investigation was Trump’s firing of Comey. That’s why it was supported by Congress.

    Please tell me what proven event is motivating Mr. Barr’s investigation. If you can’t point to something tangible, then it is HIGHLY likely that the motivation for the investigation is PURELY political. Revenge against political opponents is NOT an acceptable motivation. Even if the investigations turn up nothing, the possibility of being investigated runs the risk of suppressing opposition. That’s why is NOT ok to simple wait around to see what Barr turns up.

  8. keith says:

    I don’t know the answer to your question. Mr Barr is wondering. I don’t know about deep state but Mr Barr is wondering how the thing started. All I said was lets see what he says. Kinda of like lets see what Mueller says.

    Love what Mr Trump is doing with many things. I dislike many things about him but none the less he is what he is and nothing was unknown about him when we voted him in.

    prediction – Dems will not attempt to impeach him this year. will save either for election year or after he wins again.

  9. Jeff Beamsley says:

    I don’t know the answer to your question. Mr Barr is wondering. I don’t know about deep state but Mr Barr is wondering how the thing started. All I said was lets see what he says. Kinda of like lets see what Mueller says.

    Here’s the difference.

    The DOJ can’t just investigate anybody. They have to have a reason to investigate someone. Mueller’s reason was Trump’s firing of Comey because Comey would not backoff on the FBI investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 election.

    If you can’t give me a good reason why Barr is investigating the FBI, then he shouldn’t be doing it.

    The reason why we don’t allow the DOJ to investigate just anybody is because of the possibility that those investigations WILL be politically motivated rather than justified by some evidence of illegal activity. Hoover investigated MLK in order to discredit him, not because he was doing anything illegal.

    Love what Mr Trump is doing with many things. I dislike many things about him but none the less he is what he is and nothing was unknown about him when we voted him in.

    Don’t share your opinion. Also don’t agree that the “ends” of whatever you feel Trump is accomplishing, justify the “means” that he has employed. Also “we” did not elect him. He lost the popular vote. The electoral college elected him.

    prediction – Dems will not attempt to impeach him this year. will save either for election year or after he wins again.

    I believe Pelosi knows what she is doing. Congress will continue to investigate as well as legislate.

    As long as Trump is unwilling to provide access to the information that could shed more light on who knew what when, Democrats are free to create their own narratives and supply their own information. Enter stage left – James Dean. He was there the last time a Republican President stepped over the line during a campaign, tried to cover it up, and ended up obstructing justice. He wasn’t there to testify on what he knew about Trump. He was there to testify on how a President can use the immense powers of his office for corrupt and illegal purposes. I thought it was very entertaining.

    If Trump and Republicans have a problem with it, then provide the sort of information that the House Committees have been asking for which will prove that the President didn’t do all of those things that the Mueller report said he did do.

  10. Jeff Beamsley says:

    1.8% is the new normal. Can’t except anything more. Paraphrasing the left including President Obama. So, they disqualified themselves. Trump has done better. I’ll take the 3.2. Will the business cycle end. Yes. When who knows.

    Not sure anyone said 1.8% is the new normal. Please post something to support that.

    The issue is determining what the underlying fundamental growth rate that is sustainable in this economy. MANY economists feel that growth rates above 3% ARE NOT SUSTAINABLE.

    The concern is that Trump has done nothing to change the fundamental metrics of productivity. In fact, he has probably made things worse from a macro perspective because of his misguided trade policies.

    We have higher growth rates at the moment because Republicans passed a huge economic stimulus package during a time when we already had robust economic growth. That stimulus has been financed with debt. Since nothing was done to change the underlying productivity of this county (investment in infrastructure, investment in new technology, investment in new markets, investments in higher skill levels for workers, etc.), it is entirely reasonable to expect that when the stimulus wears off (as it is currently doing), the economy will revert to the fundamental growth rate that it had prior to the stimulus. The problem is that we will still have the debt to deal with and nothing long term to show for that investment.

    This is not sound economic policy.

    As to China, we are at war and have been for a long time. We’ve not participated. Let’s see how the war ends. Right now we’re winning. China certainly isn’t. I’m hopeful.

    Hope isn’t a plan.

    Also the concept of “winning” is completely irrational. We need China to be a better world partner. Instead what we are currently demonstrating to the rest of the world is that WE are not a reliable trading partner. That is not a foundation on which to build a stable global market.

    The current policy will not lead to a reduction in global tensions and an increase in trade with China. Instead it will lead to increased global tension (e.g. Russia getting involved in the Pacific, NK ratcheting up their weapons. etc) and China buying the stuff they need from other countries.

    As many including Tom Friedman have pointed out, the way to bring China to the table is not to challenge them to a public celebrity death match. It is to build an alliance with ALL of China’s trading partners who ALL come to the table privately and tell China that there is only one way forward. That way is to behave better. If they chose to not to behave better, they will be left with no one to trade with.

    Trump is not capable or interested in this sort of approach. He is only interested in winning in some public way. That’s foolish and immature. The only way that he would really be able to win would be to destabilize China to such a degree that they make a lot of concessions. What do you think the outcome would be if the current government in China was overthrown by their military? Whatever the outcome, it would not be good for us or the rest of the world. An unstable China is a threat to everyone. Yet that’s what you appear to be cheering for.

    That’s why Trump is dangerous.

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