Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Pink Revolution Demographics + Trump on Trade + Goading the Dragon + Brexit in Play

Nate Silver has a definitive breakdown of Saturday's women's marches ("The Long March Ahead For Democrats"):
Saturday’s Women’s Marches, which rebuked President Trump on the day after his inauguration, probably drew more than 3 million participants between hundreds of locations across the United States, making them among the largest mass protests in American history. The marches recalled the tea party protests of April 15, 2009, an event that helped to mark the beginnings of a backlash to former President Obama — but overall attendance at the Women’s Marches was about 10 times higher than at the tea party rallies, according to our estimates.
But the geographic distribution of the marches also echoed November’s election results, in which Hillary Clinton lost the Electoral College despite receiving almost 3 million more votes than Trump nationwide. About 80 percent of march attendees were in states that Clinton won, and a disproportionate number were in major cities. So if the marches were a reminder of the depth of opposition to Trump — unprecedented for a president so early in his term — they also reflected Democrats’ need to expand the breadth of their coalition if they are to make a comeback in 2018 and 2020.
Silver then proceeds to analyze the marches in terms of geography. The marches overwhelming took place in big cities, in states Clinton won, and reflect an urban versus rural divide that defined the election. Silver has very faint praise for the overall import of the Pink Revolution:
Like the early tea partiers, some of the people who turned out on Saturday will turn into organizers, fundraisers and influential voices in their communities, and some of them will even become candidates for office. The Democratic Party needs broader geographic appeal than what it has right now. But turning out 3 million people one day after the new president is inaugurated is a pretty good start.
My gut sense is that the women's march is a classic one-off like the People's Climate March of 2014 organized by 350.org -- huge but hard to replicate and of uncertain merit in creating meaningful change.

Yves Smith assesses what is in store for us with a Trump presidency. In "Consternation as Trump Starts Delivering on Campaign Promises While Making More Crazy Attacks on Critics" Smith argues that Trump is a narcissist with a difference -- he's a narcissist who is willing to regularly destroy his own image:
With Trump, we have, far more visibly. the same question that dogged the Obama Administration: what does he really stand for? With Obama, we learned that he was conservative and cautious, but also very much liked the appearance of getting things done. His press office repeatedly cited how much legislation was passed on his watch, as if volume was more important than quality. Trump is likely to have the same orientation. It’s easy to assume, as critics do, that Trump wants to become even wealthier. But Trump more than anything wants to be visible: his splashy/trashy buildings, his TV show, his relentless self-promotion, his reckless tweets. While Trump in oh so many ways looks like a classic narcissist, one departure is his need to mix things up. Most narcissists are working above all to have their environment reflect back a good image of them. Trump’s regular undermining of his own image is at odds with that.
There are far too many moving parts to have any firm view as to how the Trump Administration will pan out. But even though there was good reason to suspect that given the record of both celebrity politicians and DC outsiders, that Trump would wind up as Jimmy Carter squared, a President that didn’t get much done, the flip side is that underestimating Trump has proven to be a losing bet. Stay tuned.
Much a Trump's popular support is going to depend on how he handles trade. The Democrats doomed themselves by Obama pushing the TPP throughout 2016. Trump is off to a good start by scrapping the TPP. But as Smith points out much remains to be seen:
Both Bernie Sanders and the Teamsters praised Trump for ending the TPP. It is surprisingly under-reported that Trump met today with labor leaders, almost all of whom had supported Clinton. It is a not-well-kept secret that many union members bucked the leadership and voted for Trump. But the bosses engaging in a session with Trump that they described as “excellent” may be the start of the formal and long-overdue exit of unions from a party that has treated them as disposable for over 30 years. 
But how far will Trump go? The problems with TPP were much better publicized than many might assume; when Lambert saw Trump speak in Bangor, Trump referred to the TPP only by its initials, didn’t explain it, and the crowd seemed familiar with it. By contrast, other dangerous “trade” deals, like the TTIP and TISA, are still as of now, moving forward.
Trump appears committed to goading the Dragon. According to this morning's Foreign Policy Situation Report:
Warning shot aimed at Beijing. Sean Spicer also told reporters Monday that Washington is prepared to take action to prevent China from building more islands in the South China Sea and claiming the territory as its own. "It’s a question of if those islands are in fact in international waters,” he said, “and not part of China proper, then yeah, we’re going to make sure that we defend international territories from being taken over by one country."
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying shot back on Tuesday that China's sovereignty over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea was "irrefutable," adding, “we urge the United States to respect the facts, speak and act cautiously to avoid harming the peace and stability of the South China Sea," Hua said. "China's resolve to protect its sovereignty and maritime rights in the South China Sea will not change.” 
If Trump continues down this path it can't end well. Trump acts as if he thinks that the Chinese are lightweights. He is going to have to switch up his game or risk catastrophic failure.

When it comes to catastrophic failure the UK political class' management of Brexit comes to mind. The Supreme Court ruled today that Article 50 negotiations can't begin until Parliament votes. Here is an 11th-hour opportunity for the discredited neoliberal orthodoxy. Parliament could block Article 50 and in effect repeal Brexit. This outcome is usually dismissed in most stories. But why? A majority of Labour and Conservative MPs opposed Brexit. I suppose they are worried about the repercussions to their political careers if they were to block Brexit. But a plausible scenario is to amend and talk any Parliamentary vote to death, May's government would fall and new elections would be held which would be a replay of the Brexit referendum. The outcome could very well be different this time.


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  2. Thanks for the link to your blog, Bob. http://southofheaven.typepad.com/south_of_heaven/ Terrific stuff. I know what you mean in your last post. Why bother? I think blogging is like voting. It's really not rational when you break it all down. But I find it something that has to be done. I am a big fan of Oglesby. Like you THE YANKEE AND COWBOY WAR did it for me. RAVENS IN THE STORM was a treat for me because he details how he comes to conscious working on the TFX. For several years it was an aspiration of mine to create a searchable online database of the TFX hearings. I felt that a healthy understanding of the three big Congressional investigations during JFK's administration -- Billie Sol Estes, Bobby Baker & TFX -- all of which tracked back to LBJ -- could produce the proof necessary to indict the Texan.

    I'll have to check out Thunderclap Newman!