Saturday salon 20/5

1. The Trump Presidency Falls Apart

That’s the story from David Graham at The Atlantic, who details fully the events over just 10 days, some of which haven’t been picked up by our media.

The bottom line is that Trump is not up to the job, his minions are not up to saving him, often mislead him or don’t tell him the truth, he doesn’t take much notice of them, and the place leaks like a sieve. This will play out over a long period, but there are serious questions about whether his presidency can achieve anything.

Former FBI director Robert Mueller with impeccable credentials has been appointed to oversee the Russia probe. He will be thorough, but it will take time.

Greg Jennet says Trump has hurled himself headlong into a war with Washington’s national security establishment, a war he can’t win.

Peter Marsh’s article has some useful analysis. This will go on until the Republicans are sick of it. The mid-term elections may provide a trigger point.

Trump may sack his whole A team, or he may resign. Apparently he’s been bankrupt multiple times. His ego is big enough to blame everyone and just walk away.

The financial markets have started to give up on him. Their worry now is that he can’t be easily removed.

See also Matthew Yglesias – Trump isn’t a toddler — he’s a product of America’s culture of impunity for the rich.

2. How tall is James Comey?

I’ve been asking myself, how tall is James Comey?

The answer is very tall indeed:

He’s 203cm or 6’8″ in the old scale. Trump is 188cm, or 6’2″. Comey is the same height as cricketer Joel “Big Bird” Garner.

3. Twenty most powerful people in the world

Forbes has published a list. Hint, Donald Trump is not numero uno.

Here they are in ascending order:

    #20. – Benjamin Netanyahu, PM, Israel

    #19. – Jamie Dimon, CEO, JPMorgan

    #18. – Ali-Hosie-Khamenei, Grand Ayatollah, Iran

    #17. – Carlos-Slim Helu, Chair, Grupo Carso

    #16. – Salman bin Abdlaziz al Saud, King, Saudi Arabia

    #15. – Warren Buffett, CEO, Berkshire Hathaway

    #14. – Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon

    #13. – Theresa May, PM, UK

    #12. – Li Keqiang, Premier, China

    #11. – Mario Draghi, President, European Central Bank

    #10. – Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook

    #9. – Narendra Modi, PM, India

    #8. – Larry Page – President, Alphabet

    #7. – Bill Gates, Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

    #6. – Janet Yellen, Chair, Federal Reserve

    #5. – Pope Francis

    #4. – Xi Jinpiang, General Secretary, Communist Party of China

    #3. – Angela Merkel, Chancellor, Germany

    #2. – Donald Trump, President, US

    #1. – Vladimir Putin, President, Russia

There is a note on the Trump entry that it applies to December 2016.

The criteria aren’t given, so it’s hard to argue. I’d query Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, also I can’t immediately see what so special about Grupo Carso, though the company site is impressive.

Larry Page I didn’t know, but Alphabet is the mother company of Google, and Page invented its main search algorithm.

4. Making China great

From The Conversation, The Belt and Road Initiative: China’s vision for globalisation, Beijing-style:

    China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a multifaceted economic, diplomatic and geopolitical undertaking that has morphed through various iterations, from the “New Silk Road” to “One Belt One Road”.

    The BRI imagines a US$1.3 trillion Chinese-led investment program creating a web of infrastructure, including roads, railways, telecommunications, energy pipelines, and ports. This would serve to enhance economic interconnectivity and facilitate development across Eurasia, East Africa and more than 60 partner countries.

There was an interesting discussion at Late Night Live with Richard Aedy talking to Rory Medcalf, Head of the National Security College at ANU and a fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, Greg Sheridan, Foreign Editor, The Australian and Kadira Pethiyagoda, Fellow at Brookings Institute, Doha.

Sheridan says it’s what the Chinese have been doing, it’s partly for internal consumption, and the Chinese are kack-handed with public relations.

Anyway it beats Inland Rail.

5. Jobless rate down, but Australians are working fewer hours

Peter Martin says:

    Over the two months [March and April] taken together, the majority of the new jobs were full time – 62,400 versus 35,000 part time. Yet the number of hours worked per month fell by 1.1 million.

And:

    Over the past six months an extra 166,800 Australians found jobs – 101,400 full-time and 65,400 part-time – yet the hours worked per month slipped by 3 million, the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show.

“This shouldn’t be happening in a strongly growing economy,” said Macquarie Group economist James McIntyre.

According to the ABC:

    Total hours worked fell 0.3 per cent last month.

Bill Mitchell has a post Real wages now falling in Australia – failing economy and failed policy. This graph shows how the capitalists are winning:

Profits are winning out over wages. Mitchell says:

    Some of the redistributed national income has gone into paying the massive and obscene executive salaries that we occasionally get wind of.

    Some will be retained by firms and invested in financial markets fuelling the speculative bubbles around the world.

Not a lot is being reinvested in growth.

Warwick Smith has produced an impressive paper on Unemployment Policy in Australia. He says that in the 1970s and 1980s:

    Instead of viewing unemployment as a collective problem, neoliberalism painted unemployment as an individual responsibility. The public focus shifted from ensuring there were enough jobs for all to a dialogue around individual employability. Tellingly, it was in the mid-70s that the term ‘dole-bludger’ entered the Australian lexicon. Ever since then successive governments been increasingly punitive in their treatment of the unemployed.

    The focus today is, in effect, on punishing and stigmatising the unemployed for being unemployed even when there are many more job seekers than there are jobs.

He says mutual obligation activities have become “pointless and degrading bureaucratic hoop-jumping exercises.”

62 thoughts on “Saturday salon 20/5”

  1. He says mutual obligation activities have become “pointless and degrading bureaucratic hoop-jumping exercises.”

    And the obligation is anything but mutual.

  2. Jumpy, the most interesting bit of information might be:

    Republican voices accounted for 80 percent of what newsmakers said about the Trump presidency, compared to only 6 percent for Democrats and 3 percent for those involved in anti-Trump protests.

    The Republicans will need to own the problem.

  3. That means, in the context of the analysis, the media reported 80% negative to 80% of republican voices.

    The media has the problem.

  4. I think it means 80% of the “talking heads” on TV were either The Donald himself, or Republican Congresspersons, or Republican cabinet members, RNC spokespersons, etc. similarly for spokespersons quoted in print outlets.

    A lot of elected Republicans didn’t want The Donald to be their party’s candidate. Remember that?

    Sounds to me as if their critical attitudes have not been modified by The Donald’s actual performance in office.

    If only 3% of the quoted/featured were protestors, and 6% elected Democrats or DNC spokesperson, how is a Donald supporter to account for “80% negative coverage”?

    Are the media seeking out the critics, or are the critics broadly representative of Washington opinion?

    ***
    The current investigations are typical of what can happen under the US system of “checks and balances”; the President holds office, but can be constrained.
    ***

    On Mr Comey, may I celebrate the guilty plea by disgraced former Congressman Wiener? It was the emails uncovered while investigating his unsavoury emails, that led to the FBI’s reopening their investigation of Mrs Clinton’s use of emails.

    Wiener caused collateral damage to Mrs Clinton through Hillary’s close aide, who was then Mr Wiener’s spouse.

    I believe Mr Comey was in an impossible position last year:
    a) announce the new inquiry, risk being seen to influence voters
    b) don’t announce it, then if it’s existence becomes known, be condemned as a despicable Democrat ally, covering up for Hillary.

    Looking forward to seeing how he phrases his answers at his next Congressional appearance.

  5. A lot of elected Republicans didn’t want The Donald to be their party’s candidate. Remember that?

    A lot of elected ALP don’t want Shorten as their Party candidate, so what ?
    Here’s the most interesting part of that study.
    https://i1.wp.com/shorensteincenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Figure-6-NEW-web.png?resize=768%2C483&ssl=1
    The US MSM are seriously biased, .
    Trump just made voters aware and reaped the votes.
    It’s because of that he won, for better or worse, and here we are.

  6. They find Fox being the the most balanced.
    Next step is question the integrity of the authors right ?

  7. They find Fox being the the most balanced.

    That’s your reworking of

    Fox was the only news outlet in the study that came close to giving Trump positive coverage overall, however, there was variation in the tone of Fox’s coverage depending on the topic.

    is it?

  8. Jumpy, if what is happening in the world is negative, then ‘truth-seeking’ journalism can’t help being negative.

    The BBC tries to be truth-seeking.

    The ABC tries to be ‘balanced’ rather than truth-seeking, which makes some of their presenters on radio and TV sound like idiots when they are taking the contrary view.

    I make no judgement about the American media, but they should not to be expected to be balanced rather than truth-speaking just because it’s Donald.

  9. I make no judgement about the American media..

    Why not ?
    If it were that way against Hillary I have a feeling a judgment would be front and centre.
    Would a pre-election analysis be any different do you think ?

  10. Our ABC make no attempt to show a balance of opinions . To claim otherwise is delusional.
    They abandoned that part of their Charter a long time ago.

  11. Jumpy, I make no judgement about the American media because I don’t experience enough of it to have an informed opinion. The idea that we should have opinions on everything irrits me to the point of despair.

    If you can’t hear the ABC people trying to play devil’s advocate on political matters no matter what you aren’t listening.

    In most cases with their leading journalists, and their lesser lights on local radio too.

    I believe at one stage they got down to word counting, but that was back in the 1980s.

  12. Jumpy, here’s a different analysis of what is going on in the media over there:

    A major new study of social-media sharing patterns shows that political polarization is more common among conservatives than liberals — and that the exaggerations and falsehoods emanating from right-wing media outlets such as Breitbart News have infected mainstream discourse.

    Though the report, published by the Columbia Journalism Review, does an excellent job of laying out the challenge posed by Breitbart and its ilk, it is less than clear on how to counter it. Successfully standing up for truthful reporting in this environment “could usher in a new golden age for the Fourth Estate,” the authors write. But members of the public who care about such journalism are already flocking to news organizations like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and, locally, The Boston Globe, all of which have experienced a surge in paid subscriptions since the election of President Trump.

    Ambi I liked your comment on Comey here.

    He was on a hiding to nothing, as they say.

  13. From Jumpy’s link:

    In the first two years of his presidency, Bill Clinton persuaded Congress to enact a tax increase on upper incomes, a family leave program, NAFTA, deficit reduction, the Brady bill, a youth training program, and other initiatives, yet was mired in a slew of headlines about Travelgate, Whitewater, and other alleged wrongdoings.

    Just like Trump. Except Trump hasn’t actually achieved anything.

  14. Jumpy, I take it that to your your thinking, balanced “opinions” means a mixture of lies and misinformation mixed in amongst the the facts that they routinely report.

  15. BilB, the leftist MSM refuse to report on many things.
    That void will be filled and attacked by the left as far-right Hitler lovers.
    Hear much about Seth Rich for example ?

  16. …there are serious questions about whether his presidency can achieve anything. (Brian)

    I think he has achieved something(s).

    He has generated huge instability both nationally and internationally. It will take years to fix I suspect.

    On the other hand he has so assaulted US politics and life that hopefully new thinking, new paradigms might arise. He has exposed the dominance of Corporate US, his disdain for the poor, contempt for process, (both executive and judicial) and a slew of other fails. Hopefully these shortcomings will not go unnoticed by the citizens.
    The best voice might oversee an opportunity to fix a few things about the USA. It might even awaken the US Press to the horrors of the 4th Estate they nurture – ‘though Murdoch is specifically excluded from any hope of redemption: he is not good for the world.

    A reflex vote for Clinton would not be helpful the way I see it, her time and era has hopefully passed. Maybe Sanders though.

    If Trumps untidy rule somehow precipitates a balancing of the US then that will be good for most of the world, and Trump will have unintentionally done good.

  17. Geoff, useful comment. Indeed Trump may shake things up for the better, and his example may make it harder going for other alt-right groups elsewhere in what we think of as stable democracies.

    Bernie Sanders will be 76 in September, a bit old for a second run, I think.

    Hillary C knows her time has passed and has started up a new organisation, Onwards Together, (sounds like Julia Gillard’s “moving forward”) which will mainly fund other groups. Generally speaking she’s for political engagement and ‘progressive’ causes.

    “More than ever, I believe citizen engagement is vital to our democracy. I’m so inspired by everyone stepping up to organize and lead,” she said.

    “This year hasn’t been what I envisioned, but I know what I’m still fighting for: a kinder, big-hearted, inclusive America. Onward!” she continued.

  18. I think Putin has managed Trump very well (look up how psychopaths view each other) in to a position of weakening democracy while promoting conflict and political dissatisfaction.

    I think that this will all backfire mainly because ASPD’s cannot predict the fluid consequences of large numbers of people without total and subservient domination, and Putin will never have that over the US. And now that his election tactics are revealed it will become ever harder for him to manipulate in the way he imagines he can (and the way he does in Russia) in the US and Europe. Even his biggest ally, Fox News (aka Fake News…FN is the clue [if you want to hide something hide it in plain sight]) (Trump knows all there is to know about Fake News because he watches it every night) is in the process of changing to a more (very marginally I know but the death of Ailes will speed this up a little) responsible player at the hands of Murdoch’s more liberal in laws.

  19. Thanks Brian
    I did not realise how senior Sanders is but maybe he can deliver some guidance before he runs out of steam.

    So long Hilary and thanks for the all the fish. (Douglas Adams, Hitchhikers Guide…) I hope that could mean the end of one dynasty that could thwart a re-build of the US.

    There are some mighty challenges ahead of us all – resource scarcity, especially water and food. For 9+ billion in 2050 people we need about 70% more food. That puts serious pressure on the land, especially our forests. Then there is climate change.

  20. Zoot, 100 days is a little way off 730 days, be patient.

    Missed (ignored?) the point of the comment. Again. (sigh)

  21. Oh, ok, explain the point please zoot.

    From Jumpy’s link:

    In the first two years of his presidency, Bill Clinton persuaded Congress to enact a tax increase on upper incomes, a family leave program, NAFTA, deficit reduction, the Brady bill, a youth training program, and other initiatives, yet was mired in a slew of headlines about Travelgate, Whitewater, and other alleged wrongdoings.

    Just like Trump. Except Trump hasn’t actually achieved anything.

    I thought it was about Tumps achievements in 100 days compared to Slick Willy in 2 years.

  22. Jumpy I don’t think the main thrust of the comment was temporal. The issue to me was the comparative talents of the two.

    I expect you would agree that Trump is off to an underwhelming start. Popular opinion that might yet be proven wrong, is that he is not really Presidential material, never will be.
    Clinton did achieve much, even given his rampant libido.

    Question: If you could make it happen, would you have Clinton back or let Trump continue?

  23. I thought it was about Tumps achievements in 100 days compared to Slick Willy in 2 years.

    No, the point was that the dastardly incredibly leftwing mainstream media harassed that irretrievable communist Slick Willy the way they are harassing beacon of light Trump.
    Trump’s inability to do the job was merely a footnote.

  24. Geoff

    Question: If you could make it happen, would you have Clinton back or let Trump continue?

    If those are my only 2 options, the 1st being fantasy and the 2nd being reality, I’ll go the 2nd.

    If I had the power and a time machine I’d have Thomas Sowell as the 41st POTUS in 1989.
    I believe the World would be a far better place.

  25. Zoot, I never thought Don would be a brilliant POTUS, but here we are, the dummy spitting over the election is getting into the realms of derangement.
    I’m on the record here as saying Carson be the Rep and Sanders the Dem candidates.
    Didn’t happen but I’m not continually crying about it.

  26. I’ll try to clarify.
    From your link Mr J:

    Virtually every president since Nixon has obsessed over what they’ve seen as unfair treatment by the press.

    Ergo, #45 is not getting special treatment.

    And as for your obsession with Hillary, well known leftwing radical David Brooks is not spitting the dummy over the election. Neither am I.

  27. Haha, you validated the study without even knowing it.

    Is your comprehension so poor that you thought I was saying the study wasn’t valid?
    (I don’t recall making any value judgement at all regarding the study.)

  28. Zoot, did I state you thought the study was invalid ?
    Perhaps a comprehension deficit is what is being projected by you.
    Anyway, enough of the distracting ( intentional ? ) personal stuff, the MSM both here and the US is left wing, there is no doubt.

  29. Haha, you validated the study without even knowing it.
    Hate blinds dude.

    Anyway, enough of the distracting ( intentional ? ) personal stuff, …

    Hmmm …

  30. Apologies to everybody else for the tedium, but I want to make one last attempt to get some sense from Jumpy.

    Zoot, did I state you thought the study was invalid ?

    It was implicit in your statement

    Haha, you validated the study without even knowing it.

    If you weren’t implying that I thought the study was invalid why were you laughing at my “validation” of it? And why add “without even knowing it”?
    Since I have never questioned the study, it doesn’t matter one iota to me whether I validate it or not, or whether I do so knowingly or unknowingly. It’s a non-event.
    However, I admit I’m puzzled as to how I “validated” it. I don’t believe quoting it counts, which leads me to wonder just what you know, if anything, about David Brooks.

  31. Jumpy, just why would you choose Trump? There are reasons to doubt his suitability as President after just 100 days.

    Now before you answer, see what you can find out about what he is up to in the Saudi region.

  32. Jumpy. Myles doesn’t matter, there are plenty of forwards to pick.

    I’m not confident about any of the replacements for Thurston. My pick was Corey Norman, but he’s out. So it’s Morgan or Milford. Don’t think Milford is quite ready. Shouldn’t be Cherry Evans. He confuses his team-mates and is a bad sport, eg diving against the Broncos.

    Oates and Gagai should play, but so should Valentine Holmes, Slater and Boyd. Can’t fit them all in.

    Jumpy, you keep linking to that graph as though it shows bias. It says nothing about bias, for reasons I gave up thread.

    Suck it up.

  33. Suck it up?? That is a little risque for you, Brian, (in the nicest and most adventurous way). Did you get a little buzz as you hit the send button?

  34. Not really, BilB.

    J is most reluctant to admit or concede that he may be wrong, so I thought I’d try the vernacular.

  35. That won’t work Brian. Jumpy will realise that if it did work, we’d all use vernaculars on him.

  36. Brian
    I don’t know a social media study made me wrong about the Main Stream Media being biased to the left.
    But apparently it did because I have to suck it up, or something.

    Whatever, If you can’t see it, as blatant as it is right now, you probably never will.
    That’s fine by me.

    Oh, Origin 1 side here.
    Justin O’Neil to play two positions.

    Darius Boyd
    Corey Oates
    Will Chambers
    Justin O’Neill
    Dane Gagai
    Anthony Milford
    Justin O’Neill
    Dylan Napa
    Cameron Smith (c)
    Nate Myles
    Josh Papalii
    Matt Gillett
    Josh McGuire
    Michael Morgan
    Sam Thaiday
    Aidan Guerra
    Jacob Lillyman
    Johnathan Thurston

  37. The left and the center avail themselves of real journalism, however flawed it may be, while the right gorges on what is essentially political propaganda — all the while denigrating anything that contradicts their worldview as “fake news.”

    From Brian’s link. No wonder Jumpy doesn’t like it.

  38. That was a good read, zoot.

    It leaves me wondering what makes USians tick (I make the distinction because Mexicans and Canadians are Americans but are not welcome in the US).

  39. The left and the center avail themselves of real journalism, however flawed it may be, while the right gorges on what is essentially political propaganda — all the while denigrating anything that contradicts their worldview as “fake news.”

    Yes, remarkably unbiased language. I think that’s the bit where I started giggling.

  40. That was a good article.
    Congratulations, you found 1 of the 13% positives ( actually neutral but lets say positive to be generous ) from the WaPo.

  41. I thought it was an excellent article and very well written.
    As a comparison, here’s an accurate analysis of Fox News.
    Note that the presenter’s obvious distaste for the Faux Noise Channel does not diminish its accuracy.

  42. While I’m here. Obviously Jumpy is still among the living, so I wonder if he could/would answer my questions above.

  43. Ok, but I hope it’s enough to get the thorn out of your paw.

    If you weren’t implying that I thought the study was invalid why were you laughing at my “validation” of it? And why add “without even knowing it”?

    I was laughing at this,

    And as for your obsession with Hillary, well known leftwing radical David Brooks is not spitting the dummy over the election. Neither am I.

    Hehe, I’m not ” obsessed with Hillary ” and Brooks IS a left wing journalist spitting the dummy in that very opinion piece !
    You must see that, surly.

  44. I must give honourable mention to both the ” comprehension ” and the ” projection ” failed jabs.
    The giggle turned to an audible laugh then, thanks.

    That said, Im sure that issue done for now, let’s discuss another.
    Pick one.

  45. Mr J
    At 7.47pm on 20th, in response to:
    A lot of elected Republicans didn’t want The Donald to be their party’s candidate. Remember that?

    you replied:

    A lot of elected ALP don’t want Shorten as their Party candidate, so what ?

    Let me expand.
    1. The Republican Party federally is much looser than the Federal ALP, I believe. The State fiefdoms have more power in the US Republicans; US Congresspersons have a stronger tradition of voting at variance with their ‘caucus’.

    2. You know how tightly the Federal ALP binds its elected MPs and Senators, si? Not like that in USA. So those Federal members and Senators who voted for Mr Albanese rather than Mr Shorten, have held their tongues, mostly.

    3. Govt secrecy seems stronger here. Likewise Cabinet solidarity. Mr Rudd had very little leaked against him, UNTIL AFTER he was removed by overwhelming caucus sentiment. The tide was so strong against him overnight, he didn’t stand. Yet his Ministry and backbench had kept pretty damn quiet about their disquiet……

    ***

    That’s “what”.
    Cheerio

  46. Yeah, the ALP is very ” Dear Leader ” in public.
    Try being a backbencher that holds electorate over Party in public. And FFS don’t ever cross the floor on principal, you’re out!
    Go see video of Penny Wong arguing against gay marriage to see how non representative the ALP can be to abandon all principal for Party strategy ( see also last budget for Libs )

    But you’re correct, half of the Rep Senators stood in Trumps way, 90% of Big Media, 90% of famous Actors and celebrities, 90% of college and Uni academia.
    It is irrelevant Hillary won the popular vote or Trump won the geographic vote, he won under the Constitution.
    Now what ?

  47. Having seen his Wiki page, he’s a big government, praiser of Obama that endorsed Hillary.

    I believe, but I could be wrong, that some US folk would refer to him as a ” Cuck “.

  48. You’re right Jumpy, some US folk do refer to Brooks as a “Cuck”.
    Are these the sort of people you align yourself with ? (Check out their “About” page).

  49. Jumpy, Brooks was Phillip Adam’s long-time US correspondent when he was commanded by the ABC to have a conservative commentator in the interests of balance.

    Now that they give gigs to Amanda Vanstone, Tom Switzer and such Adams can select his own without disturbing the ‘balance’.

    Someone on Vanstone’s Counterpoint today I think was talking about anti-anti-Trumpists – people who are happy as long as Trump is pissing off the ‘progressives’. You might be one of those.

  50. But Mr J

    At 8.47pm last evening, you appear to have ignored completely my claims, labelled 1. (They were neither novel nor astounding.)

    They concerned the Washington elected Republicans, persons who are heavily involved in US politics, many of whom have senior positions on Congressional committees, or in the Party organisation, who have been freely and frequently expressing disquiet over the President’s words and actions.

    It is there in Washington that the US media finds its sources, its commentary, its facts, its hypotheses.

    I humbly submit that the behaviour and speeches of elected ALP parliamentarians in far distant Australia, are of no relevance at all in assessing the functioning of US democracy and its Fourth Estate.

    So long.

  51. … the dummy spitting over the election is getting into the realms of derangement.

    Jumpy, here’s currentcommentary on the performance of the incumbent POTUS.
    Please observe that nowhere does it mention Hillary Clinton, the Electoral College or the popular vote. It is concerned only with the parallels between #45 and Nixon and has nothing to do with the election (which is so last year).
    Try to keep up.

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