Back To The Future
Emmett Brown: Then tell me, future boy, who's President of the United States in 1985?
Marty McFly: Ronald Reagan.
Emmett Brown: Ronald Reagan? The actor? [chuckles in disbelief] Then who's vice president? Jerry Lewis? I suppose Jane Wyman is the First Lady!
Marty McFly: Whoa. Wait, Doc! ...
Emmett Brown: And Jack Benny is secretary of the treasury.
Marty McFly: Doc, you gotta listen to me ...
Emmett Brown: I've had enough practical jokes for one evening. Good night, future boy!
-- Back To The Future, 1985
Of course we can laugh at the dialogue in a movie like Back To The Future ... But the election of The Donald is way more fantastic then the election of the 40th president (Reagan) in 1981. So how did it come to this? There were a number of contributing factors.
Pundits, bloggers and correspondents who got it completely wrong. At every stage mainstream commentators confidently predicted that Trump would not get past the first stage of the primaries, would not win the nomination and finally that he would not win the election. One explanation offered for this is that these "experts" took Trump literally but did not take him seriously. Whereas his supporters did not take him literally but did take him seriously. In any case there seems to have been a serious systemic failure of the way media reported on the Trump campaign. One of the few mainstream commentators to predict this was Michael Moore, who opined that Trump was like a "Molotov cocktail" that disgruntled voters would hurl at the ruling elites.
American Bozos who embraced Trump as a fellow bozo. The disgruntled American white working class seem to have elected Trump to be their voice. Will he represent them? We shall see ...
The Democratic Party who ignored the clearly expressed preference of the party base for an alternative candidate. The establishment upper echelons of the Democratic Party have a much tighter control of the party and its processes then their political rivals. This proved to be their undoing. They made the mistake of exercising their influence via super-delegates and backroom deals despite the fact that the popular choice seemed to be for an alternative candidate.
The FBI director (James Corney), who ignored precedent, and weighed in with an announcement that the FBI was re-opening an investigation into Clinton's email server. This was an extraordinary intervention in local political events, on a scale not seen since the days of J. Edgar Hoover, only 10 days before the actually election. The fuss and furore over "emails" has been one of the central tenets of Trump's criticism of Clinton, even though no-one has explained what exactly is the problem with the emails, and now looks as if it never will be explained.
The American voters, who did not show up or (in many cases) did not even register. There is a generally accepted rationale for this. It is that the American political system has been so corrupted by big money and political influence that it is now "government of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations". While this may be true, those citizens who did turn up can now contemplate at their leisure that elections and the subsequent processes whether corrupted or not are determined by those who show up
All of these things came together in a perfect storm to carry Trump across the line ... But only just ... He still lost the popular vote by a couple of million votes.
Mad As Hell
I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV's while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be. We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out any more. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.'
-- (Mad) Howard Beale: Network, 1976
Your humble blogger must also confess, that he like the pundits and media commentators, also predicted that Trump probably would not be the Republican nominee and in the unlikely event that he was, would almost certainly not win the election. Alas dear reader, this was not because your blogger considered himself an expert, but because he had confidence in the decency and common sense of American voters. It seems that this was misplaced. Although we still have to see how this plays out ... While Trump has successfully tapped into a rich vein of resentment, it's difficult to see how his election is going to help those who voted for him. The party he represents is committed to tax cuts for the most wealthy, cutting spending on welfare, and reducing (worker's) wages. Trickle down economics didn't work for Bush when the USA had money. It is even less likely to work now that the piggy bank is empty.
Trump's utterances about China (and many other topics) are so contradictory that it's difficult to take him seriously. While it is true that manufacturing jobs have been exported to China, cheap goods have been imported into America in order to keep those imaginary printing presses printing untold trillions of imaginary dollars ... Voodoo economics and zero interest rates won't work even if the US did manage to resurrect manufacturing again. Any surge in manufacturing in any developed country is far more likely to employ robots than unemployed workers who used to work in the rust-belt economies.
The bozos may be laughing now ... But your blogger sees tears coming.
And while your blogger must plead guilty to not taking Trump seriously, he must also opine that if one does take him seriously, there are seriously disturbing things that he has said. The following list was compiled by Scientific American from Trump's tweets:
- The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
- This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps, and our GW scientists are stuck in ice
- NBC News just called it the great freeze-coldest weather in years. Is our country still spending money on the GLOBAL WARMING HOAX?
- Any and all weather events are used by the GLOBAL WARMING HOAXSTERS to justify higher taxes to save our planet! They don't believe it $$$$!
- Global warming is based on faulty science and manipulated data which is proven by the emails that were leaked
- Ice storm rolls from Texas to Tennessee-I'm in Los Angeles and it's freezing. Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!
The Autism-Vaccine Connection
- I've seen people where they have a perfectly healthy child, and they go for the vaccinations, and a month later the child is no longer healthy.
- Autism rates through the roof-why doesn't the Obama administration do something about doctor-inflicted autism. We lose nothing to try.
- Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn't feel good and changes-AUTISM. Many such cases!
- The U.S. cannot allow EBOLA infected people back. People that go to far away places to help out are great-but must suffer the consequences!
- Same CDC which is bringing Ebola to US misplaced samples of anthrax earlier this year http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/15/health/cdc-anthrax-ziploc-bags/...Be careful. Health Care
- ObamaCare gives free insurance to illegal immigrants. Yet @BarackObama is cutting our troops healthcare. http://bit.ly/xFlfQs Outrageous.
- Obama is going to take away over 90M Americans' healthcare plans but he is letting Iran keep its nukes. Just think about that.
- Fracking poses ZERO health risks http://bit.ly/18pdO8H In fact, it increases our national security by making us energy independent.
- It would be nice if our commander-in-chief was as concerned for our Veterans health as he is for illegal immigrants becoming citizens.
- Not only are wind farms disgusting looking, but even worse they are bad for people's health http://bit.ly/I9Dl8k They should be outlawed and allowed only in heavily industrialized areas.
- Seems to be the next election must be about jobs and gas prices-not birth control.
- Remember, new "environment friendly" lightbulbs can cause cancer. Be careful-the idiots who came up with this stuff don't care.
Bear in mind dear reader that the above are Trump's actual words. Of course he has spent the last few weeks back-peddling and back-flipping. But if you took half of the above seriously, then there are some major challenges for the USA and the entire world.
And We're Not Going To Take This Any More!
Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad. You've got to say, 'I'm a HUMAN BEING, God damn it! My life has VALUE!' So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, 'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANY MORE!'
-- (Mad, mad) Howard Beale: Network, 1976
It seems that Mr. and Mrs. America are as mad as hell and they are just not going to take this any more!
Although Trump has backed away from some of his more outrageous commitments, he has re-affirmed that he will cut company tax to 15% and reduce taxes in general (mostly for the wealthy) ... And, at the same time, increase spending on infrastructure. Thus affirming that we can add arithmetic incompetence to the long list of his many short-comings. This has implications for the possibility of another economic "shock". Even if we gave Trump the benefit of the doubt and assumed that all of this extra spending will not be carried out by the US government but by public-spirited American corporations who will happily follow the lead of Donald Il Duce, it's difficult to see how such a fool-hardy policy will fail to be very, very inflationary ... It just is not possible to cut tax for the wealthy and cut another "New Deal". And if things go pear-shaped as they did last time a Republican was in The Whitehouse, this time the Chinese will not be able to bail them out.
And on this point, one of the more concerning things about Trump is his erratic, bizarre utterances about China. The US is the primary beneficiary of globalisation and cheap Chinese goods have helped under-write reckless zero-interest rate policies that have been pursued by reserve banks around the world. If Trump really did put a stop to these imports now, it would be a big shock to the US economy and probably to the world. And even if the US did start manufacturing all its own automobiles, we all know that the manufacturing will probably be done by robots and the cars will probably be driving themselves.
This ignorance of arithmetic and history is prevalent amongst right wing US Republican supporters in general. But Trump is so weird and unpredictable, we all should worry about how he might respond to a genuine crisis. Especially if it was one of his own making.
It also seems that Trump's election has emboldened and energised extreme right wing movements around the world. Since the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) there has been a steady deterioration in the opportunities and circumstances for middle and lower income groups, whilst the upper income groups have been amply rewarded for their handling of the crisis. In your blogger's most humble opinion some of those in the upper income groups actually caused the crisis and their rewards have been entirely underserved. And there may be some amongst the lower and middle income groups that share your blogger's humble opinion. Understandably this has engendered some resentment.
In Australia the One Nation party has emerged phoenix-like from the ashes of their previous spectacular self-immolation. The right wing of the Liberal party, who are decidedly un-liberal, have become vocal. They are demanding the right to insult and offend people on the grounds of race, gender and/or ethnicity. They claim that section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act which forbids this behaviour restricts their rights to free speech. Now while your blogger is inclined to agree that such a section does restrict free speech, it seems only fair to level the playing field a little. If we are going to rid the Racial Discrimination Act of section 18C, shouldn't we also look at the laws regarding libel? After all, while the right-wingers demanding these rights are very hairy-chested and vocal when it comes to insulting people, the tend to have a glass jaw when the intended target responds in kind in the public sphere. They quickly start sooking and run off to their lawyers blubbering about the dreadful libel that they have been subjected to. To make it fair, shouldn't we also restrict access to libel for public figures? This should apply especially to politicians who already have such generous access to media outlets ... Or then again ... Perhaps we should just leave section 18C as it is. Those who can't observe the commonly accepted conventions of civility and decency in public discourse can just hold their tongue. This would be preferable to the situation in the USA where this no longer seems to apply. Trump has lowered the tone of public discourse. And as the leaked tapes reveal, his private utterances are even lower.
Many commentators have pointed out that Australia has enjoyed 25 years of uninterrupted economic growth, that we have tight control of borders, and that (compared to the rest of the developed world) general prosperity. So these commentators argue that we will not have a Trump phenomenon here. However if this is true then then the fact that One Nation still managed to get seats in The Senate tends to suggest that ... Perhaps we are only one recession away from a right-wing resurgence? The threat of US inflation is quite dire for for Australia, since our own political masters have put so much effort into inflating the value of assets classes (especially property). And the possibility of a confrontation between the USA and China is very concerning for Australia.