Donald trump, ha ha ha

17505215_10154622397135787_3263008678759612417_o Tired of tossers6, I seem to be having a ha ha ha series. And it's time for a two-month review of my brilliantly prescient Trump predictions. Except not really, because it's too early, but I think the failure of his repeal of Obamacare is a good time to take stock, without breaking my resolution to not post too much politics too often2.

[Picture: us at The Bridge at Clayhithe7. We were supposed to be going to HoRR but it was cancelled due to bad weather... as you can see.]

There are many people going "nya nya" to Trump; here's one in The Atlantic from the Republican viewpoint. Since repeal of Obamacare was a major campaign promise, Trump looks (a) stupid and (b) a failure5. It is worth noting, in passing, that even if the bill had been passed it would have broken any number of promises but I'm doubtful that would have mattered too much, because everyone has a memory like a goldfish nowadays and most of those promises were forgotten seconds after they were uttered. The only meaningful promise was repeal-and-replace; that failed. To me, Trump's failure to persevere looks... I struggle to find the one key word that sums it up. Instead of knuckling down to it, instead of rolling up his sleeves and settling in for some hard work persuading doubters, threatening the malleable, and reworking the bill to make it acceptable to enough Republicans1, he just gave up. It looks lightweight; careless; petulant. He has long been indifferent to the truth; this makes him indifferent to reality. To say the obvious thing that everyone else has said, it makes his much-vaunted claims to be a peerless dealmaker look suspect. Naturally, he'll move quickly on to the next thing in the hope that the public's goldfish-like mind forgets all about it. In this case, the next thing is tax reform. This is more promising, there are lots of sensible things that could be done, so he may have some luck3, 9. But the USAnian tax code isn't a giant bureaucratic disaster area for no good reason: it's that way because decades of effort by special interest groups have made it that way, and they haven't gone away. Is trump brave enough to cut through them? No, of course not. Ryan might be.

Anyway, my prediction here - based on not very much - is that his core support will not be at all happy about the failure of repealing Obamacare, but they'll kinda forgive him this one4, 8 and see what else comes along. Another major fuck-up will be much harder to explain or pass over; so I'd expect them to be more careful, and therefore slower, about the next one. If we get really lucky, this failure will give the saner heads amongst his advisers some leverage over the nutters.

And so, onto my prediction-review, which as promised won't be in detail, I'll just review my overall prediction is “minor”. I think that's looking good so far, which admittedly is not very far.

Incidentally, to revive a possibly-unjustly-passed-over discussion, you might like to read RD's comments on Influence of high-latitude atmospheric circulation changes on summertime Arctic sea ice?.


1. Obviously, that was going to be tricky. The softer ones thought the bill was too hard, and the harder ones thought the bill was too soft. It wasn't clear how moving to one side or another would help. Moreover, the more the public heard about the bill the worse they thought of it, so having the party horse-trade over messy provisions in public would be a loser too.

2. Don't get me started on the ridiculous over-reaction to one murderous nutter on Westminster bridge, totally belying our much vaunted claims to "keep calm and carry on".

3. Timmy for example reports Munchkin saying as much. But (a) he would say that and (b) Timmy then proceeds to prove himself wrong by pushing for the entirely sensible but entirely doomed idea of abolishing corporation tax.

4. The immigration ban thing isn't going brilliantly either. But he's demonstrated that "his heart is in the right place"- i.e., he's prepared to be gratuitously unpleasant to brown foreigners - so that will be alright for him I expect.

5. As Newsthump puts it, “Trump wants a solid win next week,” we were told by an insider. “So we’re trying to arrange a competition to find The Most Orange Man in Washington as quickly as possible, and we’ve asked the Kool-Aid man not to enter.” Let's hope that their other point, White House staffers have been ordered to find things Trump can win at in short order to bolster his falling ratings, and have variously suggested rock, paper, scissors, a game of Buckaroo, and war with North Korea doesn't come to pass.

6. If you want more convincing that Scott Adams is a tosser, you can read his completely ridiculous post about how Trump's failure was great, because he now looks like a failure, rather than Hitler. To me, this is silly because Trump-as-Hitler (to consider for a moment SA's deliberately OTT framing) is a problem for him with his opponents; but Trump-as-incompetent is a problem with his supporters, which is far more of a problem.

7. GPS trace. Yes, I know we're slow. That's because that boat was a scratch mixed quad, not the M1 VIII.

8. I don't think they should forgive him this one, and there are people saying things like The spectacular failure of Trumpcare exposed the president as the inept fraud we suspected he was all along. But as far as I can see the people saying that are people who, like me, thought he was a bozo all along.

9. Not everyone thinks tax will be any easier.


* Arctic Sea Ice update: everything is proceeding exactly as we had foreseen - some token sea ice, and another nice graph.
* Maybe the Republicans will LGBTQ our health care after all - Brian at Eli's.
* Why Do Democrats Feel Sorry for Hillary Clinton? Andrew Sullivan via Timmy

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Ryan? Brave?

Are you trying for a third career as a comedian?

[Do you think that's so unreasonable? I think that unlike Trump he has principles (though, of course, principles that you'd disagree with) -W]

By Raymond Arritt (not verified) on 25 Mar 2017 #permalink

> the USAnian tax code isn't a giant bureaucratic disaster
> area for no good reason: it's that way because decades
> of effort by special interest groups have made it that way,
> and they haven't gone away.

True, true. The crafting of loopholes is remunerative.

Now, could the entire tax code be replaced by an honest carbon tax? I look at the bling and watch and crap ads in, say, the New Yorker and think about what rich people burn.

And wonder....

By Hank Roberts (not verified) on 25 Mar 2017 #permalink

"this makes him (D Trump) indifferent to reality. "

Seriously. You just noticed this?

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 25 Mar 2017 #permalink

Is trump brave enough to cut through them? No, of course not. Ryan might be.

"Brave" is not the word I would use to describe Paul Ryan. He will do what his donors want, which is to reduce taxes for the wealthy, regardless of the hole it blows in the budget. It doesn't take a lot of bravery to do that--sociopathy, maybe, but not bravery. There's a reason Charles P. Pierce called him the Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 25 Mar 2017 #permalink

Ryan isn't close to my favorite, he is stunningly incompetent anything other than PowerPoint. The latest fiasco of health care "repeal and replace" isn't the first or the last time. While he often lies, he at least appears to know that he is lying, unlike Donald Trump, who isn't even visiting reality on alternate Thursday mornings yet.

However, as Ryan is the most powerful officeholder in the government, and is also second in line to the office of President (after the VP Pence) and there are far worse on the Republican side of the House, I'm rooting for him to keep his position. Sure, he is just awful. And sure, I disagree on various matters of policy. But that is far better than Trump.

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 25 Mar 2017 #permalink

Repeal and replace was the Republican slogan.

Trump's promise was everyone is gonna be beautifully covered. He would have been damaged either way.

By Victor Venema … (not verified) on 25 Mar 2017 #permalink

A) Is there a psychologist in the house? What happens to a malignant narcissist like Trump when he is called out for being a loser? Does he just ignore reality? Or what. This is an especially interesting question when we realize that said narcissist has access to the US nuclear codes.
B) Are there any spooks in the house tonight? How do you assess the facts the Don T. 1) Was in lock step with soviet born and possibly KGB trained Orly Taitz as a birther believer, 2) Likes to marry Slavic women 3) Selected a Putin associate as National Security Adviser/Advisor 4) Ended up with the Putin funded Paul Manafort as his campaign director! 5) Ended up with a Putin admirer, Steve Bannon, as his Chief Fucking Strategist! 6) Selected an attorney general who lied about his dalliances with the Russian Ambassador . 7) Is looking like he had big loans from Russian investors/mobsters and 8) Is so far up Putin's butt that he know Putin's polyps by their first names.

To say the obvious thing that everyone else has said, it makes his much-vaunted claims to be a peerless dealmaker look suspect.

Now might be a good time to mention that The Art of the Deal was ghostwritten.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 26 Mar 2017 #permalink

Some updates. It is Sunday morning in eastern USA and the news has come in that the incredibly tasteless and aggressive soviet born Boris Epshteyn has just been removed from the Trump inner circle. Epshteyn, another abrasive soviet born operative in the Orly Taitz style, has apparently been under surveillance by USAnian intelligence agencies.

So give the Trump administration another shake boys and girls! See how many more Russians fall out! The Republicans were incredibly easy to infiltrate, with their abhorrence of reality and science, and their belief in fairy tale ideologies. Flag grabbing and flattery is a great lubricant. So we now have the spectacle of the effing Republican party infested with Russian operatives and Russian lovers at the the highest level. But the Republican cartoon elephant blindly moves on, hopping, skipping, throwing flowers, oblivious, like everything is hunky dory. La la la la laaaaa....Nothing unusual here. Nothing at all......

Oh yeah, and Trump has apparently decided to sharpen his knives and go after Paul Ryan. Last night he tweeted to his followers to watch a TV show on which the TV host called for Paul Ryan to quit.

So the question is, will Paul Ryan be able to muster enough support amongst Republicans to have Trump removed for treason? Paul has a real opportunity to man up and face down the bully. Unfortunately, he has a life long reputation as a brown nosing suck up to authority figures, and it is kind of questionable whether or not he will be able to manifest the cajones needed to stand up to Trump and the Russians.

Stay tuned.

Boris Epshteyn has just been removed from the Trump inner circle

Moose and squirrel will be pleased.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 26 Mar 2017 #permalink

Is true, Boris has been ejected.... but agent Natasha Fatale, aka Kellyanne Conway, still has keys to executive washroom!

Well, I read it on Wikipedia so it must be true.

As you say he has "principles" he believes in, like most homo sapiens. But bravery is more than simply not being a nihilist. Would he do what he thought was right even if it put him in danger? Would he stick to his principles at risk to his own career? I've seen precious little evidence of that.

SteveP (#10) says "he has a life long reputation as a brown nosing suck up." That's a little extreme to the other end, but is closer to the mark than "brave."

[Well, don't treat it as a prediction -W]

By Raymond Arritt (not verified) on 26 Mar 2017 #permalink

"Arctic Sea Ice update:"
The projection of sea ice extent falls to zero at "estimate of about 2065."
The projection of sea ice volume reaches zero in "2021."

I've often wondered what the internal climate model sea ice volume declines looked like. And how the decline in modeled sea ice extent compares with the modeled sea ice volume. Does the modeled volume crash first?

Also, both the past sea ice extent trend and more so sea ice volume trend are measurements with uncertainty and errors, both in measurement and due to the chaos of weather.

Lastly, extrapolation of the center estimate into the future is ignoring the chaos of weather. Answer shouldn't be in precisely year blah, but in year blah +/- 2 standard deviations, or something like that. Or maybe 3 standard deviations.

In volume, we are about 3 standard deviations away from zero ice.

By Phil Hays (not verified) on 26 Mar 2017 #permalink

"Trump’s failure to persevere looks"

His quick retreat makes me think that he never expected success with the "plan" this early in the game. He can have subtle changes to the ACA implemented (shortening enrollment periods has already been done) which, individually, don't seem to amount to much but when taken together can lead to an implosion of the current system. Then, "Just as I predicted would happen, Obamacare has been a disaster. Perhaps now you'll listen to us."

Re Ryan: I've not seen any indication he has a shred of integrity, or a bit of decency, or a desire for anything other than power.

Notorious as the radical mullah's capacity to launch a murderous nutter or two a year may be, co-ordinating the actions of muderous nutters is notoriously difficult.

9-11 pretty well exhausted a decade's supply , and imventing new Departments of Homeland pseudo-Security has at once caused a lot of innocents to die of old age waiting in airport lines, and proven about as much a force in the world as the anti-Trojan Horse league and the Pearl Harbor Distant Early Warning Line.

No iron law prevents doing nothing from being cost-effective at the margin.

Paul Ryan has already revealed his bravery by putting out budgets that assert major saving by closing of loopholes while refusing to spell out what loopholes he's referring to.

Republican "tax reform" means the same thing it always has. Tax cuts that almost exclusively benefit the very rich. These will be undertaken simultaneously with large increases in military spending. This will result in exploding deficits that they can subsequently blame on Social Security and Medicare, and use as excuses to cut these programs.

By Carl Greeff (not verified) on 26 Mar 2017 #permalink

Welcome to the kakistocracy!

By David B. Benson (not verified) on 27 Mar 2017 #permalink

Now, could the entire tax code be replaced by an honest carbon tax?

Oooooh, bad idea.

If the government or some part of government becomes dependent upon the carbon tax, then there will be substantial incentive for them to keep us burning carbon, to keep that revenue stream alive. It'll end up being counterproductive.

I do not want regular government operations to be dependent upon a carbon tax for revenue.

Here's sorta an example: the police supposedly give out speeding tickets to protect us, right? To reduce dangerous traffic accidents in the community? But once police departments became dependent upon that funding, they started setting up quotas and speed traps. Safety wasn't the goal any more; money was.

By Windchasers (not verified) on 27 Mar 2017 #permalink

Paul Ryan brave? For what, bravely lying through his teeth for years about his budget plans and the ACA? As a supposedly 'serious policy wonk' he's utterly fraudulent

By Steven Sullivan (not verified) on 27 Mar 2017 #permalink

A loss and an embarrassment to be sure, but please spare me the hysterical reactions. For you non-USAnians, there was another duo that suffered the melt-down of a health-care plan: Bill Clinton and his policy-wonk wife Hillary. Did not end their political career if I remember correctly.

For my work last fall I assisted a local-level political campaign on an environmental issue, and at a crucial point our opponents made a gigantic error - they didn't file a ballot argument that would be circulated with the voter information to every resident in the city. Everyone on our side was trying to figure out what the multidimensional strategy behind it was. There was no strategy - our opponents just screwed up, and we crushed them in the election. Likewise, don't read too much into Trump's strategy over AHCA.

As for Paul Ryan, he's a strange one and I don't get him. His tax plan makes Trump look like a socialist. OTOH, he called out Trump for being racist last summer, after Trump locked the nomination. Weird.

And Tom C, you might remember what happened to the Democrats in Congress in '94 after ClintonCare sputtered out. If the Republicans don't rack up a few wins, they could head in the same direction.

By Brian Schmidt (not verified) on 27 Mar 2017 #permalink

You need a uniquely bad category for The Donald.

By David B. Benson (not verified) on 28 Mar 2017 #permalink

"Now, could the entire tax code be replaced by an honest carbon tax? I look at the bling and watch and crap ads in, say, the New Yorker and think about what rich people burn."

Stern said that the UK's carbon tax should be some £30 to £40 billion. About 5% of current tax revenues. So, probably not so much really.

By Tim Worstall (not verified) on 17 Apr 2017 #permalink

Hank Roberts:

Now, could the entire tax code be replaced by an honest carbon tax? I look at the bling and watch and crap ads in, say, the New Yorker and think about what rich people burn.

"Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best"
-Bismarck (who seems to be the actual source of multiple mis-appropriated aphorisms).

One hopes for the most honest carbon tax possible that that doesn't actually exacerbate the situation beyond BAU. Here in the US, it will be necessary to monitor any proposed legislation and be prepared to amp your involvement. "Democracy is not a spectator sport" (open-source aphorism).

Just brought to my attention by "Timmy", Hank's remark about the ads in the New Yorker struck a chord. Whilst sitting at my kitchen table recently, I was (honest!) also contrasting the magazine's 0.1% target demographic as evidenced by the advertising OOH, and OTOH it's sustained, high-quality editorial content. It occurred to me that "those people" are the audience one would most hope to reach*, for the outstanding reporting by Jane Mayer, Elizabeth Kolbert, Jill Lepore inter alia, all bravely drawing back the curtain on AGW and other large externalities. YMMV.

Yeah, if the New Yorker is a vehicle for any agenda other than an accurate record of events, it employs the most skillful disinformers I've encountered in the 45 years I've been reading it 8^(!

* The very rich may well be different from you and me. If we're so smart, why ain't we rich?

By Mal Adapted (not verified) on 17 Apr 2017 #permalink

No iron law prevents doing nothing from being cost-effective at the margin.

Come on Russell, don't type with your head empty. Who's talking about an 'iron' law? Whose law would it be? Does it commensurate benefits and costs globally? Whose weightings does it use? Are there relative-winners and losers (losers and loserers)? If so, what happens at the tails of the distribution? Do the relative-winners include you and everyone you care about?

We know you've thought about this some, Russell. Please keep at it!

By Mal Adapted (not verified) on 17 Apr 2017 #permalink

Waaaah! William!

[Feeling fuller now ;-? -W]

By Mal Adapted (not verified) on 17 Apr 2017 #permalink


[Feeling fuller now ;-? -W]

Pushing it through at my normal rate now. Ta!

By Mal Adapted (not verified) on 17 Apr 2017 #permalink