Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Fear and trembling

Probably the hardest thing about this historical moment, for me, is its profound uncertainty. We really do not understand what has happened, and have only the dimmest vision of what may happen after January 20.

Hunter extensively chronicles the president-elect's cognitive deficits. He knows nothing about public policy, either can't remember or doesn't care what he said yesterday, and his only coherent ideology is narcissism. We can get a fair idea of what a Trump administration is likely to do based on the people he has nominated to cabinet positions, and it's fair to assume that he'll sign any legislation the Republican congress puts on his desk. But on the other hand his incompetence raises the possibility that some of the worst may be avoided. The congressional Democrats have an agenda that is far more popular, and they won't face a coherent president who can articulate a Republican narrative.

At the same time, his business empire is extremely vulnerable, precariously balanced on a mountain of debt and quite possibly underwater.  We've all heard that he may be in hock up to his ears to Russian oligarchs close to Putin. But as James Wimberly points out, he is definitely in hock to Deutsche Bank, which is critically illiquid and could probably ruin him by calling in their loans. And, Angela Merkel can probably force them to do this. It is also unclear what Putin's actual agenda is re his orange-haired poodle. Having the U.S. president on a leash and his buddy from Exxon as secretary of state might enable him to develop some oil fields but it's not clear how much more Russia, in economic and social decline, can gain.

Trump also has a lot of legal problems including the possibility of a fraud indictment over the Trump Foundation. That would come from the Attorney General of New York so he can't prevent it. There are likely any number of revelations that could emerge at any time that would make it very difficult for the Republicans in congress to allow him to remain in office. Not that president Pence would be much of an improvement, but the spectacle of impeachment would wipe out most of the first year of the administration and leave the party badly weakened.

None of this is grounds for optimism, don't get me wrong. The disaster has already befallen us, we just aren't sure what exact form it will take. But if we can get through the next two years and the people come to their senses . . .


Don Quixote said...

Thanks for the column. I see things precisely the way Paul Krugman does:

I have tried--and succeeded--to view things from the standpoint of people who are either "conservative," "Republican," "conservative and Republican," and also from the point of view of people who are either uninformed or racist. But I still come back to seeing things the way Krugman has articulated them in the column (see above link) entitled, "America Becomes a Stan" (NY Times, 1/2/2017).

I have read The Nation for years, and I've repeatedly seen their articulation of events, and prognostications, borne out, while the views of conservative publications have not been. I see what I see, I hear what I hear, and if it walks and quacks and flies like a duck, it is. And I cannot see anything--when I look at the Republicans and Donald Trump--other than a party that has sold its soul in its bloodlust for power and its willingness to back a clearly, irremediably, narcissistically disturbed man with a Brobdingnagian superiority complex to compensate for his incredible inferiority complex. And he is a racist, that being someone who discriminates against people based on skin color or culture difference from his own. And he is a sexual predator, both self-admittedly and based on the sheer mathematical ramifications of the number of accusers. And his hands and, no doubt his dick, are puny, and his mind is even punier. And this is whom the American system has seen fit--with the aid of the broken media, James Comey, and Vladimir Putin--to install as president. This is insane. Krugman's column could be required reading for every literate person in the United States. Moreover, everyone could be required, in one or two years' time, to write an essay explaining why they did not see, on January 2, 2017, what Paul Krugman saw.

robin andrea said...

I have the same hope that people will come to their senses in 2018. Not sure why though, because they certainly didn't in 2016. This is truly a nightmare about to unfold.

mojrim said...

Paul Campos did it better...

Jenbob said...

Yep...Paul Campos is on to something, here.

He's on to the same thing that's done each and every time the Democrats lose an election.

Reagan was the devil, George H. W. Bush was part of a crime family and he was personally benefiting from child prostitution...and of course, "W" was such a horrible human being that he ordered the twin towers be attacked.

When liberals attack conservatives, it's *always* personal. They're just terrible people. They hate minorities. They hate gays. They hate women. They hate the poor. They want to push grandma over the cliff in her wheelchair.

What's *REALLY* happening is...pigs squeal when they're stuck. And the squealing has begun even before the inauguration so that tells me of their bitter disappointment and despair.

Well, suck it up, buttercups. This is the same feeling you left half the country with eight years ago.


Cervantes said...

As I commented on Campos's column, and as I suggest here, the difference between Trump and the caudillos is his cognitive and emotional disability, which will militate against entrenching his personal power. The Republican Party, however, is certainly bent on one party rule.

JenBob said...

This is really RICH!

Somehow, this successful hard-nosed dealmaker who built a wildly successful company and brand; rewrote the political rules to win the presidential election and made complete fools out of the mainstream media, the Democrats and even those in his own party now has cognitive and emotional disabilities?

This is the best they can do?