Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Trump's Big CON: It's All About the Show, WWE Suckers Edition

Ever notice how the Trump show is like World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., with an "endlessly evolving band of enemies" (known as heels) for The Good Donald to fight?  

It no coincidence.

Read the Washington Post, For each scene of his presidency, Trump casts a villain (or two, or three …), which states:

"Hillary Clinton is not running for president again in 2020 — she has said so, her aides know it, and there is no political rationale that would argue otherwise. But for President Trump, facts like those simply miss the point.

'I was recently asked if Crooked Hillary Clinton is going to run in 2020?' Trump declared in a tweet Monday morning. 'My answer was, ‘I hope so!’?'

Just like that, Trump had accomplished his morning task, conjuring and then belittling a political villain with little more than taps on a phone. Using a bit of deadpan humor and his unconventional grammar, Trump’s tweet formed the next turn in his us-against-them story line, which employs an endlessly evolving band of enemies to anchor his presidency.

By the afternoon, his tweet had become a topic in an impromptu Rose Garden news conference, where he was able to repeat the performance in person. 'Hillary, please run again,' he called out in a mocking tone.

Most days bring another round, often at dawn, like plot points in a 24-7 miniseries. In just the past few weeks, Trump has started, without any clear provocation, fights with football players who kneel during the national anthem, departments stores that declare 'happy holidays' instead of 'Merry Christmas,' and late-night television hosts for their 'unfunny and repetitive material.'

Then there are the individual targets: Clinton, of course, but also 'Liddle' Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, North Korea’s 'Little Rocket Man' Kim Jong Un, ESPN anchor Jemele Hill, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), and a shifting array of reporters, newspapers and networks he labels as the 'fake news.'

Although the targets often appear tangential, if not contradictory, to his governing priorities, both the president and his senior aides see them as central to his political strategy. In each instance, the combat allows Trump to underline for his core supporters the populist promise of his election: to challenge the power of political elites and those who have unfairly benefited from their “politically correct” vision.

It’s a tactic he has employed for years — defining himself against a negative space, as a tough truth teller who opposes others. In 1990, he condemned his New York real estate rival, Leona Helmsley, as a “truly evil human being,” and decades later he spent years nursing a viciously personal feud with Rosie O’Donnell, a daytime television host, largely through social media. His rise to politics was built upon sometimes shocking denunciations and insults.

Without a fresh foe to rail against in real time, his political aides have observed, Trump can struggle, uncertain of his next move and unable to frame the political debate.

“The low points, if there are any, are often when his opponent is not clearly defined,” said one senior White House official, who insisted on anonymity to speak freely about the president. The official described the days after the first failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act in March and the weeks near the general election in 2016 as particularly trying times, since Trump was unable for days to clearly define his enemy.

But when the president is on track — he calls Twitter “my voice”-- he can script his presidency like a professional wrestling match, where the heel, or bad guy, is the one who makes the face, or good guy, shine in the ring."

As Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway says with a smile in the article: "'I’m always amazed how easily baited some people are.'" 

Trump's Big CON: He is a Jackass, The Farmers Edition

"Rick Hammond said he wasn’t worried. In more than 30 years of working his wife’s fifth-generation farm in York County, Neb., and steadily acquiring more acres to leave to their kids, he had seen it all: the high inflation and rapid land devaluation of 1980s, the consolidation of farms that followed those bankruptcies, the steady depopulation of rural populations ever since. But he wasn’t worried about a repeat of history. Despite falling grain prices, stalled land values and mounting farm debt, his family was more than equipped to weather a bad year. 'Now, if we see sub-four-dollar corn for two more years,' Hammond continued, 'yeah, you’ll see some people going broke.'

That was the fall of 2014. Today, corn prices remain perilously low. At just $3.50 per bushel, it now costs more to grow corn than a farmer can sell it for. Soybeans, which surged in planted acres when corn prices went into free fall, are only marginally better. Now below $10 per bushel, beans are trading at less than two-thirds of their price of just a few years ago. To get through these lean times, farmers have been taking out more and more loans. U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics indicate that while farm income has been cut nearly in half in the past four years, farm debt has increased by more than a quarter — with projections that it could surpass $390 billion in 2017, the highest level since the farm crisis in the 1980s.

And yet, President Trump — whom many farmers voted for specifically because of plunging income — may be about to make things far worse.

With those unsustainable debts and dwindling profit margins in mind, more than 75 percent of rural voters in the Farm Belt cast their ballots for Trump in the last presidential election. They cheered Trump’s promise to support the Renewable Fuel Standard (which props up the ethanol industry), his pledge to eliminate estate taxes on inherited farmland and roll back regulations on farm runoff, and, most of all, they liked his tough talk on trade policy. Roughly one-third of their combined corn and soybean harvest is shipped overseas, so farmers said they were heartened by Trump’s reputation as a hard-nosed negotiator, a businessman renowned for his skill at the art of the deal, who could strong-arm trading partners into paying higher prices for American commodity grains. Instead, Trump is threatening to withdraw entirely from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) — a move that farm lobbying organizations, market analysts and trade experts universally agree would be disastrous for farmers."

Read the Washington Post, Farmers voted heavily for Trump. But his trade policies are terrible for them.