No, ‘Seriously’

Donald Trump was in the news Tuesday for all the usual reasons — plus a few more.

Just before the closing bell on Wall Street, CBS said Trump is now “seriously” considering a 2024 White House run. If true, that at least means he’s come around privately to the reality that belabored efforts to reverse the 2020 election will ultimately come to nothing. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed a minor legal win for Trump in the state. It was just the latest in a string of losses.

Rudy Giuliani, who is now leading Trump’s quixotic campaign lawsuits, reportedly asked to be paid $20,000 per day for his services. He denies that. “I never asked for $20,000,” Giuliani told The New York Times, which cited “multiple people briefed” on the alleged compensation request. “The arrangement is, we’ll work it out at the end,” Giuliani said, calling the Times‘s sources “complete liars.”

As for the 2024 run, Trump reportedly told Senator Kevin Cramer that if the lawsuits don’t “work out, I’ll just run again in four years.” That’s according to an official close to the lawmaker.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Pentagon, under new management as of this month, said Trump ordered a rapid troop drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the number of US soldiers will drop to 2,500 each just a week before Joe Biden is set to take office. This was not unexpected, but some believe it’s misguided. At the least, the timing is suspect and seems like a rather blatant attempt to court disaster ahead of Biden’s inauguration.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Tuesday of a “very high” price for rash, “uncoordinated” decisions, while Mitch McConnell spoke in harsh terms, cautioning that such a move, if not executed properly, is “likely be even worse than President Obama’s withdrawal from Iraq back in 2011, which fueled the rise of ISIS [and] would be reminiscent of the humiliating American departure from Saigon.” Mac Thornberry, another top Republican, said “the Taliban has met no condition that would justify this cut.”

Trump’s relationship with the Taliban is “complicated,” to say the least. The group effectively endorsed his reelection last month.

Again, it’s not so much the decision itself that’s cause for concern. Rather, it’s the timing, the risk of poor execution, and suspicions that Trump is driven by ulterior motives that have very little to do with extricating the country from “endless wars” (as he puts it).

Just minutes (literally) after the announcement, the Green Zone in Baghdad came under attack from five rockets, forcing the US Embassy to activate an air defense system.

On Monday evening, The New York Times said Trump had to be “dissuaded” last week from launching strikes against Iran’s main nuclear site. Apparently, even Mike Pompeo warned Trump that such a move would be too risky. According to the Times, Pompeo, Mark Milley, and Trump’s acting Defense Secretary all told the president “that a strike against Iran’s facilities could easily escalate into a broader conflict in the last weeks of [his] presidency.” You’ll note that January 3 is the anniversary of Trump’s brazen decision to assassinate Qassem Soleimani.

Late Tuesday evening, Trump fired Christopher Krebs, America’s top cybersecurity official. Krebs’s “crime” was debunking the myriad false claims Trump and his allies have attempted to float about the election. Specifically, Trump was irritated by the joint statement posted by members of Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council Executive Committee, who on November 12 warned voters about “unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections.”

“The recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 Election was highly inaccurate, in that there were massive improprieties and fraud – including dead people voting, Poll Watchers not allowed into polling locations, ‘glitches’ in the voting machines which changed votes from Trump to Biden,” Trump said. “Therefore, effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated.”

None of Trump’s statements about the election are true.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, Bloomberg said the SEC is rushing to finalize plans that could force Chinese companies to delist from US stock exchanges. This is just the audit story again (see here and here for more) only with a renewed sense of urgency. “The SEC move is unusual because most agencies stop issuing major new policies after a presidential election, especially when a new party is taking power,” Bloomberg wrote, adding that the outgoing Jay Clayton could “force the SEC’s Republican and Democratic commissioners… to go on record in stating whether they support tougher rules for Chinese companies” before Biden’s SEC pick takes the reins.

This is what you can expect over the next several weeks as Trump moves to complete “unfinished business” on his way out the door. He still hasn’t conceded, and likely won’t.

Stocks closed off record highs, in an uninspired session. Retail sales for October were lackluster and Jerome Powell again emphasized the need for fiscal support during a virtual discussion hosted by the Bay Area Council. “The next few months may be very challenging,” he warned. At this point, you have to think Fed officials are exhausted with the sideshow in D.C., where McConnell blamed Democrats (again), and insisted that Republicans “want to pass more virus relief.” As ever, that’s misleading.

To be frank, Nancy Pelosi isn’t much help. Both parties are waiting to see how the Georgia runoffs play out before getting serious about stimulus. The fact is, most of America’s elected representatives don’t care about their constituents and if they do, they aren’t showing it. The ones who do care (it’s a short list) are branded “radicals” for wanting to actually do something meaningful for the people who put them in office.

Without more stimulus, the recovery will invariably stall. At that point, the Fed will be forced to shoulder the burden of sustaining whatever momentum there is, with predictable results: More QE will inflate the value of the financial assets concentrated in the hands of the rich, and inequality will be commensurately perpetuated.

It won’t seem like “austerity” in D.C. because the public thinks deficits and the national debt are a sign of “recklessness.” Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle will perpetuate that notion, as they always do. There will likely be another virus relief bill, but it won’t be adequate, and Republicans will bemoan “another $1 trillion.”

Then, three years from now, everyone will look up and blame the Fed for exacerbating the wealth divide and blowing “bubbles,” with no recognition whatsoever of the role played by fiscal failure inside the Beltway. Congress’s “radicals” will remind voters that there is a better way. But the electorate will be discouraged from supporting them, as both Republicans and centrist Democrats foist some version of the “Marxist” ghost story on a populace that isn’t educated enough to know any better.

And all just in time for a certain former president to dust off the red hats and hit the campaign trail with a familiar schtick that still resonates precisely because nothing has changed.


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20 thoughts on “No, ‘Seriously’

  1. This is very disturbing. The vol-driven models don’t care, but how about the rest of us? Are you all that comfortable that the wounded walrus will not unleash revenge-driven mayhem during his last weeks in office?

  2. A bit of good news is that there has not been blood curdling news about finishing business with North Korea.

    Right now, all else being equal, and assuming the tenor of the Biden presidency is credible and all the while initiatives are blocked by the Red Senate, Trump would have to be favord to win in 2024. Let’s hope for a robust, post-COVID economic recovery and jobs.

    Our nation was abandoned by our elites. But, we still have the Fed.

    1. OTOH, what is the Fed if not an elite institution?

      It just happens to not be gangrened by R politicians…

      NB: It’s fine to be conservative ; you’re wrong about everything but it just doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things. OTOH, Republican politicians aren’t conservative and they’re NOT benign.

      1. i am no Trump fan, but your characterization of the Soleimani killing is a bit unfair. Iran has been killing Americans since 1979. Soleimani himself had the blood of many American citizens and our allies on his hands. He was a legitimate military target. The world is a better place without him. And, notice how quiet Iran has been for a year?

        1. He was, in fact, a legitimate military target. However, it was still an assassination. The reason I’m so keen on driving that point home isn’t because Americans should shed any tears for Qassem, but just to make sure that people understand there is a difference. I think you (wittingly or not) captured it very well, actually. Qassem was a “military target.” That’s something different from a deranged Sunni jihadist. Indeed, Soleimani was the very last person you wanted to see through your binoculars if you were a Sunni jihadist fighting in Iraq and Syria. He was a legend. He was also a murderer. And, yes, the tactics he encouraged Hezbollah to employ were, at times, terrorist tactics. But I think your characterization of him (i.e., “military target”) is MUCH more accurate than the “terrorist” label that the administration applied in a rather transparent effort to convince an uneducated public that he was no different than the very people he fought against (i.e., Sunni extremists).

          1. I appreciate your thoughtful response. And yes, while you do not know me, my words are always purposeful. No doubt that the Administration issued propaganda by labeling him a “terrorist”. And I also agree that it was an assassination. He was clearly targeted specifically and not as collateral damage in a broader strike. It seems that we agree completely. All the best.

  3. The nation and media need to move on from the orange one, The sooner the better. He will continue to throw outlandish ideas and stories out, some with a minuscule bit of truthiness (but never truth) that makes them harder to ignore, but no one says the media has to cover these easy stories anymore. Particularly when there are so many other important issues facing the country that should be covered. If the media (and we) cannot break the addiction what we thought would be a respite will be incredibly short lived. We need a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 and for the orange one. For the orange one we already have the vaccine. It’s within us already. We just have to allow ourselves to be vaccinated.

  4. Dig if you will a picture…September 2021. The vaccine roll out has been surprisingly smooth. Once Trump’s daily chaos injections were put aside on January 20, a lot of the rancor has subsided. Realizing that those who get vaccinated can live an unrestricted life again, most of the populace has opted to get vaccinated. Disneyworld has seen record attendance this month. In fact, everything has seen record attendance. Most of the MLB games in September have been sellouts. The service economy has come roaring back. Some of the old restaurants are missed, but there are many new concepts that have sprung up into the void–when the old trees burn down, it’s tragic, but this gives room for new trees to sprout. Donald Trump’s TrumpTV, after a strong rollout in April, has seen declining ratings over the summer, although there was a blip at the time the first indictments were announced in August. This soon subsided, however, leaving Trump railing “unfair” into the ether, with few listening. Just as Don Rickles had his time in the sun, so too did Donald Trump, apparently. Dig if you will a picture…of Fonzi jumping a shark.

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