Friday, November 11, 2016

You Want It Darker?

Last night Leonard Cohen died at 82. His last (very recent) album featured a song in his signature tone (both vocally and lyrically) asking "You Want It Darker?" That's a good question right now.

One of the content curation services that I subscribe to (and these are, in fact, getting pretty smart--this one is from Pocket) shares a post called "It's Going To Be Okay."

In it the author makes a few points:

  1. No One Is Moving To Canada - While largely true, the lesson here is to choose your hyperbole carefully (note: The Omnivore, being married to a person born in Canada has a non-academic path to doing so and has discussed it with his wife).
  2. Popular vs. Electoral Vote - He's right that this is, presently, a meaningless distinction. What would happen, though, if the Electoral College decided this time--for the first time--to vote in Hillary (or McMullen or whoever?). Would the right be okay with this? No. And neither would The Omnivore. But defending the Electoral College system with the assumption that it won't actually make a judgement on Trump's fitness to serve might be a bad idea.
  3. We'll Never Have a Female President - Probably false. I agree with him.
  4. Trump Has No Idea How To Be A World Leader - The guy is encouraged by the choice of Pence. Perhaps he hasn't heard that Trump wanted Christie and his (later fired) campaign manager had to lie about airplane problems to get Pence's foot in the door.
  5. The Supreme Court - He notes, correctly, that presidents generally get 2 Supreme Court assignations so "We're due for some conservative ones." That's true. If you ignore the Congress just blocking Obama's choice of a moderate, it's all cool. He doesn't--he just excuses it.
  6. RIP America - America is bigger than any one guy. True. But so was Germany.
  7. Easy For A White Male Blogger To Say - Yeah, it kinda is.The narrative right now is that all bad behavior by Trump supporters (racist, bigoted, etc.) is either a false flag or is matched by equally bad behavior from anti-Trumpers. There will be no "healing." What Trump would have to do in order to seriously disavow the alt-right would be to issue a forceful statement calling them out. He won't. His probable (potential?) chief of staff is the minstrel of the alt-right (Stephen Bannon).
  8. I Hate All Those Racist Trump Voters - And, of course there will be bad behavior from the left as well. Claims that it is justified will lie in the eye of the beholder. There will be no healing.

The Best Case Scenario

There is some analysis out there that people voted for Trump not because he said racist things but in spite of it. The system, for whatever reason was "not working" for a lot of Americans and the Trump vote was a protest of that. This is the best case scenario: it allows Trump voters to have had some non-identity-politics complaints. All they had to do then was be okay with the rise of literal American Nazis that Trump's victory presages. 

That's the best case.

On the other hand, the Trump 100-day agenda isn't especially bad. Let's look:
  1. Term Limits - This is fine so far as it goes. In fact, it works against the Republicans. It probably will not pass.
  2. Hiring Freeze on All Federal Employees - He exempts military, public safety, and public health. Again, okay. It isn't solving a big problem but it probably isn't creating one either.
  3. Require That For Every New Federal Regulation Two Existing Regulations Must Be Eliminated - Again, this is kind of nonsense but it seems that depending on how you pick the regulations, it may be relatively neutral.
  4. Five Year Ban on White House / Congress People Becoming Lobbyists - Fine. This will have some unintended side effects--but if you believe that a big problem in America is moneyed interests buying their way into power, maybe this will slow it down.
  5. Lifetime Ban on White House Officials Lobbying For Foreign Governments - probably good. 
  6. Complete Ban on Foreign Lobbyists Raising Money for American Elections - Also good.
He also plans to:
  1. Renegotiate NAFTA or Withdraw From It -  Probably bad for the economy as a whole but it is something Trump supporters voted for.
  2. Withdraw from the TPP - The TPP was an attempt to prevent China from setting all the terms in trade deals in Asia, a massive growing market. Withdrawing will be good for China.
  3. Label China A Currency Manipulator - No big. They are. They won't care.
  4. Find and Eliminate Foreign Trading Abuses - The Omnivore suspects this will go nowhere. But it might be fun to watch.
  5. Lift Restrictions On 50 Trillion Dollars of Energy Production - Climate people will be outraged. The Omnivore isn't especially--but suspects the pay-off will be many orders of magnitude less than 50T.
  6. Go With The Keystone Pipeline - Again, the benefit will be near nothing (The Omnivore suspects)--but people voted for this, so hey. The environmental impact may also not be what was described by climate people. Maybe some Jill Stein Voters will wonder if they could've done anything to prevent this?
  7. Cancel Billions In Payments To UN Programs, Use Money to Fix America's Water and Env. Infrastructure - Decent short term. Long term our descendants may wish we'd exerted influence now--but hey, it was probably too late anyway if the climate guys are right.
Executive Actions:
  1. Cancel All of Obama's Executive Orders (well, the unconstitutional ones) - This probably means the DREAM-act thingy. This will result in the deportation of many people who came as very young children, have grown up in America, and have clean records. This will be a lot of personal tragedies. It's what Trump voters voted for. So adios, amigos (and that is said literally, and with zero snark--they are friends and they are gone).
  2. Replace Scalia With A Fire Breather - The Omnivore would have no problem with this if congress hadn't refused to have a vote on Garland for 200+ days. As is, pretty grose. 
  3. Cancel Funding To Sanctuary Cities -  Again,  not a big deal for most of America. A problem for a lot of Latinos.  This is what Trump voters wanted. The individual personal tragedies will be met with disbelief (if reported). There will be no sympathy for people who suffer because of this.
  4. Begin removing the more than 2MM Criminal Illegal Immigrants - No big. Obama was already doing this.
  5. Suspend Immigration from Terror Prone Regions - This was, really, already happening. We weren't letting people in that we couldn't vet (except young women and young kids--actually young kids under 12). But whatever. America also closed its shores to Jews before WWII. Tradition, man.
And ...
  1. Middle Class Tax Relief - A hairball of tax reforms that may well not go anywhere. Under what has been discussed, The Omnivore will get a big tax break. Richer people will get even more. We'll see if it generates the returns conservative economist say it will.
  2. End the Offshoring Act - Create tariffs to discourage jobs going overseas. Another hairball that will be fraught with all kinds of issues (what about jobs already there? etc.). Still, not bad if he can get it through on the face of it.
  3. American Energy & Infrastructure Act - Spur 1T in infrastructure investment. Good if he can get it.
  4. School Choice - Redirect school spending to ... give ... vouchers? Make college more affordable. We'll get to see if this works. If it does, good. If not, well, not good.
  5. Repeal & Replace Obama Care - Use Health Savings Accounts, and cross-state lines purchase. This will reinstate the pre-existing conditions rule. It is important to understand that the US has two different health care systems. The first is high-end corporate health care (like The Omnivore has). This is both "good" (well, kinda) and "better than a lot of socialized medical countries." The second tier is what people who don't get insurance through their employer have. Obamacare was an attempt to fix the second. It will be bailed on and people in the second tier will go back to having little to no access to health care (especially if they have pre-existing conditions). Insurance they do buy will be able to do all the tricks that Insurance Companies have perfected (dumping you when you actually get sick, for example). Finally, depending on how O-Care is repealed, it could be chaos.
  6. Affordable Childcare & Eldercare Act - Deductions and savings accounts for dependent care. Good if it works.
  7. End Illegal Immigration Act - Fund a border wall, penalties for illegally re-entering America. It'll be interesting to see how this works.
  8. Restoring Community Safety Act - Create a task-force on violent crime and increase funding for programs to train and assist local police. Increase resources for federal law enforcement agencies. Go after gangs. This is good as stated--but the effect will likely be bringing an authoritarian hammer down on minority communities broadly. This is what Trump voters voted for. We'll see what happens to the crime rate.
  9. Restoring National Security Act - End the defense sequester and expand military investment. Enhance VA treatment. Improve cyber-defenses. Well and good--but our military is already the strongest on the planet so it is unclear what is being rebuilt. Still, people feel it needs to be beefed up. So, good?
  10. Clean Up Corruption In Washington - New ethics reforms. Will be interesting to see these enumerated.


As a platform, this is decent. It isn't small-government conservatism exactly but it isn't so far from it as to be unrecognizable either. The people who will suffer the most are minorities, refugees who were hoping to get into America, and the poor. If everything works the way Trump says it will, they may not suffer much (well, refugees will--but who cares about poisoned skittles).

OTOH: there will be no healing. The Omnivore expects there will be a rise in hate-crimes. There will be a rise in white nationalism. There is a victory for obstructionism and identity politics. All of this will undermine American unity.

The best case scenario isn't all that bad--but the worst case scenario is very, very bad. The evidence (Trump's tweets after winning the election and the composition of his cabinet) suggests that the worst case scenario is much more likely than the best case.

But what can The Omnivore say? We wanted it darker.


  1. I'm getting the president that they deserve.

  2. He's draining the swamp to look for Newts.

  3. ...and now, there'll be hell toupée [rim shot].

    "We shall overcomb!"

    -- Ω