Posted by on May 7, 2016

Trump has proven me wrong.  I predicted that he would start accepting outside donations immediately after the Republican convention, but he didn’t wait that long.  He announced that he won’t be self-financing his general campaign immediately after Cruz and Kasich suspended their efforts.

Trump has hit the ground running, announcing a campaign finance committee and a joint fundraising effort with the Republican National Committee (RNC).  He is already backed by a Super PAC, the Great America PAC, which can take very large donations and promises to be actively involved in the campaign: “Usually a super PAC is frosting on a cake.  We’re going to be part of the cake,” according to its co-head and chief patissier, Ed Rollins.

The speed with which this has all been established proves that Trump was lying during the Republican debate on March 10 when he said “I have not made that decision yet” when asked if he would be taking donations for the general election.  This has been in the works for a long time.  But when it comes to Trump lying, is anyone still bothering to count?

It should also be noted that, out of the $47 million that Trump has so far spent on his campaign, $36 million has been in the form of a loan.  And loans are designed to be repaid.  Which means that some of the first money that Trump raises from the sheople will be immediately recycled into his pockets.  As I have said before, following his bankruptcy in the 1990s, the fearless entrepreneur Trump is a firm believer in using OPM (“other people’s money”).

Trump has also announced that his national finance chair will be Steven Mnuchin, formerly a partner at Goldman Sachs (GS).  And my direct boss.  I once made a mental list of the five worst people I have ever worked with, and Mnuchin was near the top.  And I have worked with thousands of people, very few of them angels.

If we want to be euphemistic, then it is also deeply ironic that Trump turns to a former GS partner for this role.  Trump derided Cruz throughout the campaign for his Goldman connections, including the fact that his wife is one of about 12,000 Vice Presidents at that firm.  At any point in time, Goldman only has about 450 to 500 partners for whom the only difference between a VP and a pile of dog excrement is that no partner would ever go out of his way to step on the pile.  Yet, it was Cruz’s relationship with GS that disqualified him for the presidency.

Trump also used to claim that Cruz was the candidate of Goldman because he once used a $1 million margin loan on his securities account to finance his senate campaign.  Of course, Trump forgot to mention that his companies have about $250 million in loans from Wall Street banks, most of it from foreigners (Deutsche Bank), all given on a far more intimate basis than a margin loan that functions pretty much as an automatic overdraft.  But I guess that this is just another example of Trump’s highly developed sense of irony.

The appointment of someone like Mnuchin is further evidence against one of the most popular delusions of the Trump supporters.  And that is the idea that, despite all the manifest failings of their champion, he is smart and capable enough to surround himself with the very best.  They cling to this delusion even in the face of Trump’s corporate management style, where nepotism and sycophancy appear to be the major employment criteria.

Trump’s campaign appointments have been no better.  His campaign manager’s thuggery and loose appreciation for the truth, both caught on videotape but never admitted, nearly got him indicted.  The career of Trump’s other big campaign appointment, Paul Manafort, has been recently described by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, as follows:

Manafort has made a fortune representing some of the worst people in the world during his four-decade career as a Washington, D.C., fixer and lobbyist. His clients have included a sordid assortment of kleptocratic dictators, corrupt narco states, Mafia-connected oligarchs and African warlords who use child soldiers, systemic rape and mass starvation as weapons of war.

Prepare yourselves.  This can only get uglier.

Republican National Convention

Most of the delegates to the convention are bound to vote for the candidate who won their state’s primary.  Trump will almost certainly get over the 1,237 votes required to be nominated on the basis of this bound vote.  But there is no requirement that these delegates follow Trump off the deep end with the party platform.

I am far from an expert on how platforms are created, but this description basically accords with my understanding of the process:

Every four years, prior to the party conventions, the national committees for the Democratic and Republican parties (DNC and RNC) choose key party members who meet to contribute, debate and vote on policies (sic) stances that become the basis of their parties’ official platform. Party delegates—citizens selected to represent their states at national conventions—vote to support or amend platform drafts. Eventually, each position is presented as a carefully worded “plank” in a final platform document.

Traditionally, the presumptive nominee plays a dominant role in this process.  But there has never been a presumptive nominee like Trump.  It is also a well-known fact that Trump’s “ground game” did not extend to the delegate-naming process.  Although they will be bound to vote for him, a large number of the delegates will not be Trumpettes.  The party will also do its best to shield “down ticket” candidates from Trump’s lunacy.

So, expect a battle royale over the platform.  I cannot believe that the Republican Party will come out of Cleveland with planks on building a wall along the Rio Grande (sending the construction bill to Mexico) and deporting 11 million illegal aliens[1], Trump’s signature policies.  The guys who write platforms are experts at saying nothing in thousands of words, but I don’t think it is possible to paper over these chasms.

The Wall Street Journal even reports that there might be an attempt to deny Trump his vice presidential choice and impose someone from this planet.  This would probably be immediately followed by a campaign trip to Dallas in an open motorcade and where the RNC would auction off places on the grassy knoll.  I’m a bidder.

Since I am in a predictive mood today, here’s another one: After this year, the Republicans are going to do some major surgery on their rules for the primaries.  I have already pointed out what an anomaly, and a harmful one, the entire primary process is.  Unfortunately, there is no doubt that we are stuck with it.  But I am sure that the Republicans noticed that they caught a lot of trash talk about a “brokered convention,” whereas the Democratic Party’s system of party-appointed “super delegates” drew a lot less flak, even though this is nothing but a pre-packaged brokered convention.  I have no doubt that the Republicans will try to move this way after the near-death they are currently experiencing.  With enough super delegates, they could have easily killed off Trump, like the Democrats have killed off Sanders, and it would have been all in the rules.

Hope Springs Eternal…

If you want to read a sunnier view of the disruptive world that could result from Trump, then here and here are some postings from David Stockman.  By no means is this a prediction from Stockman; he makes his doubts about Trump very well known.  But if you want to dream, then here is some pretty fine wishful thinking.

…But Maybe It Shouldn’t

I keep thinking about the following scenario.

Let’s imagine that, due to some fluke or impending indictment, Trump manages to beat Clinton.  He’s in office.  But no wall is being built and Mexico isn’t “f**king” paying for it.  There are no mass deportations since this would consume all the law-enforcement resources of the country and the supermarkets would be void of lettuce.  The manufacturing jobs, which have been more wiped out by automation and regulatory burdens than imports, haven’t come back.  The coal miners aren’t back in business because we really don’t want to emulate China in its environmental policies and natural gas is still dirt cheap.  It turns out that you really can’t massively cut taxes, protect entitlements, increase defence spending and pay off the national debt.  The Veterans Administration, headed by another of the mediocrities that Trump will find, is an even bigger disgrace then before, but a more expensive one.  Obamacare hasn’t been replaced by “something really great.”  And, of course, following the narcissist’s play book, Trump is blaming everyone else for these annoying intrusions of reality.

How are the Trump supporters going to react?  Although many will vote for Trump out of a greater hatred for Clinton, which is perfectly understandable, there are a lot among them who are bitter, aggressive and none-too-bright, like this fine example.  After Trump fails to deliver on almost all of his promises, are they going to admit that they were duped and slink off in shame?  Or are they going to become even more aggressively stupid?

The answer is frightening to contemplate.

Roger Barris

Weybridge, United Kingdom

I Did Say That…

“The only way we can build consensus, the only way that we can move forward as a country, the only way we can help the world mend itself, is by agreeing on a base line of facts when it comes to the challenges that confront us all,” by Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents Dinner, channelling my recent blog on Lies, Damned Lies and StatisticsHe also stole my line about America getting the wrong combative New York billionaire, but he didn’t have the wit to draw the Twins analogy

 

[1] Only to let them back in, as Trump often says, legally.  Of course, Trump never explains how this can happen without a radical change in law.  Does he think that they are in the States illegally just because they haven’t bothered to apply for legal admission?  Are we harboring 11 million Mexican masochists in our midst?  As others have pointed out, if Trump lets them back in legally, then he is de facto agreeing to amnesty.

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Comments

  1. Jim F
    May 7, 2016

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    Roger, you’re correct on all points. That said…none of this matters. No one can roll back Leviathan. In my lifetime, I’ve never known a single tax, government program, or regulation to get rolled back. If Trump spent 100% of his energy for four years trying to roll back Obamacare, he would probably fail. The last time I heard him comment on Obamacare, the word “replaced” was somewhere in the sentence. You know what that means – he’s not even going to try to roll it back, just fix it.

    The only candidate ever with an understanding of Austrian economics was Ron Paul, who couldn’t win, and had he been elected, he would have been stonewalled by the entire political establishment at every turn, you can count on it.

    So the death march continues…

    • Roger
      May 8, 2016

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      Thanks for the comments, Jim.

      I know that a lot of libertarians take this position — that none of it matters — but I am afraid that I don’t agree. Did Margaret Thatcher really have no impact on the UK? (In 1974, the UK was a dull, grey, socialist hell hole, dominated by the unions and under IMF control due to BOP problems — the Greece of its day. It’s now the most interesting and dynamic place in Europe.) Did the German labor reforms of 2004 have no impact? Although Reagan was disappointing in many ways — and David Stockman is certainly elegant on this subject — he at least changed the second derivative, if not the first. If the people of Venezuela succeeds in killing off the movement of Chavez/Maduro, will it really be pointless? Are the recent changes in Argentina not a good thing?

      Maybe I am being naïve or desperately searching for some meaning to my efforts, but I do think that some prisons are worse than others.

  2. Marr
    May 7, 2016

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    Missed your blog but this was really worth waiting for.

    • Roger
      May 8, 2016

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      Thanks for the comments. Glad to have you join us.

      Roger

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