Saturday, March 24, 2018

BTRTN: Lawyers, Neocons and Bunnies

Tom with the “SaturData Review” which updates key political indicators and highlights other pertinent info from the week. 

THE WEEK

The Warren Zevon song title that inspired the headline of this piece falls short of encapsulating the week, by a long shot.  There were indeed lawyers (John Dowd departing), neocons (John Bolton arriving) and a bunny (Playboy’s Karen McDougall unloading), but also so much more – a total of eight major stories populating a week that, even by Trumpworld standards, was overloaded, almost entirely due to Trump’s own actions.

We will cover it all as pithily as possible below.  But first we must report that, continuing an incredible pattern (under the circumstances) Donald Trump’s approval rating was unchanged last week at 42%, in the same general range it has been stuck in since last May, the high 30s/low40s, cold but not frigid.  His approval among Republicans remained in the 80% range, demonstrating that our GOP friends have an amazing tolerance for aberrant behavior, or an even more remarkable capacity to compartmentalize the policy Trump (or what passes for it) from the personal.  Or, they actually like him.

The late night, last minute, pension-denying firing of Andrew McCabe turned out to be the first sign of a distinct change of strategy in Trump’s handling of the Robert Mueller investigation.  It was shortly followed by a Trump Twitter-rant that directly assaulted Mueller, the first time Trump had mentioned Mueller by name, and a radical departure from the “if you’re so innocent, you should cooperate with Mueller” strategy championed by Trump lawyers Dowd and the wonderfully named Ty Cobb.  (Cobb has played the conciliator among the lawyer corps serving Trump, which is a shame because the identically-named legendary baseball player was infamous for pugnacity, sliding spikes high.) 

Not surprisingly, Dowd promptly resigned, or was more likely booted, just days later, the latest in a dizzying series of departures, and not the last one of the week.  The resignation was preceded by the hiring of a new attorney, Joseph deGenova, who believes, and I quote, that “…there was a brazen plot {within the Justice Department} to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton and, if she didn’t win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime.”  DeGenova clearly hails from the Anthony Scaramucci school of subtlety.

While this McCabe/Mueller/Dowd/deGenova drama unfolded, the only major story of the week that was not directly the result of Trump actions exploded with the revelation that Facebook had provided Mercer-supported Cambridge Analytics with the personal data of 57 million users, without their knowledge.  The firm then used the data for targeted messages on Trump’s behalf in the 2016 election, which has surely surpassed Lyndon Johnson’s 1948 congressional win in Texas for perhaps the most corrupt election of all time.  (Johnson saved his political career by defeating Coke Richardson in that race by a handful of votes, largely supplied by “Ballot Box 13” voters who shared the remarkable characteristic of being dead long before election day.)

What next?  Oh yes, Trump decided to set off a potential global trade war by announcing the imposition of tariffs on some $60 billion of Chinese goods.  While the market absorbed this development – with an abrupt 700-point sell-off – Trump quietly emasculated his steel and aluminum tariff of just a week ago by carving out allies Canada, Brazil, South Korea and Mexico (and others) from the tariff. Since these four are the largest importers of steel to the U.S., alone accounting for roughly half of U.S. steel imports, one has to wonder what was the point to begin with.

Image result for DO NOT CONGRATULATETrump also decided to give Vladimir Putin a call to congratulate him on killing campaigning his way to his latest “electoral” win.  We’re not sure what is more remarkable, Putin’s manipulation of his own election to garner 77% of the vote, or his manipulation of the 2016 U.S. election to get Trump to 48%.  Regardless, this might have been a minor story (after all, Barack Obama, in a different geopolitical era, called Putin in 2012 to do the same) had not word leaked that H.R. McMaster’s national security team had recommended that Trump not call Putin, with the colorful detail that they had stamped DO NOT CONGRATULATE on his morning briefing papers (the latest evidence that the White House is, indeed, a day care facility with Trump as Chief Child).  This leak itself became news, because only a very small group of people would have known this tidbit, and one of them leaked it within hours of the briefing reaching Trump’s desk, indeed within hours of the call itself. 

This leak (and the ignored advice that inspired it) might have been the fatal blow for H.R. McMaster as National Security Advisor, but he had been a dead man walking for weeks, if not for the entire year-plus since he replaced – remember this guy? – Michael Flynn.  McMaster’s briefing style never meshed with Trump’s briefing style, in that McMaster’s job, traditionally, was to give briefings and Trump simply does not like being briefed. Neocon flame-thrower John Bolton came off the shelf to replace McMaster; Bolton has recently advocated pre-emptively bombing both Iran and North Korea, so now we are faced with the prospect that the last voice (supposedly) in Trump’s ear prior to such decisions will be Bolton.  Trump may not think twice before acting on impulses, but Bolton does not even appear to think once.  Oh, great.

Now it was Karen McDougall’s turn, the second recent semi-notorious woman, after Stormy Daniels, to be linked with Trump romantically while he was married, to be paid off for her silence about their exertions, and then to seek relief from the contractual relationship.  If Mueller fails to nail Trump, McDougall, Daniels and/or Summer Zervos, the “Apprentice” contestant who has sued Trump over unwanted sexual advances, may do the deed.  Their cases could very well involve Trump depositions, hardly a happy prospect for the libidinous president.

On to policy!  Congress finally passed an omnibus spending bill and promptly took to the hills before one million anti-gun activists, led by the Parkland survivors, march on Washington, D.C. today to protest their inaction on gun control.  They left with the assurance of OMB Director Mark Mulvaney that Trump would sign the bill.  No sooner had they left that Trump instead threatened to veto the bill, which would shut down the government for two weeks.  This was clearly designed to be a bid for attention, since he apparently did not get enough for the week.  (He signed the bill yesterday just hours after this threat.)

I’m exhausted just writing this.  On to the numbers, which were, as mentioned, still as a pond on a lazy summer day.

THE NUMBERS

Trump’s approval rating was unchanged in the last week, holding at 42%.  The Dems continued to hold a commanding +6 point lead on the generic ballot, albeit 1-point closer than the week before and that would be enough to indicate a flip of the House in September of it held.   The Trumpometer dropped -2 points to +11, its lowest level since July, in the wake of the sharp drop of the stock market in response to the China tariff announcement, as well as an uptick in gas prices.  This means that our five economic indicators – the Dow, the unemployment rate, the price of gas, Consumer Confidence and the GDP -- are, on average, up 11% since Trump’s Inaugural in January, 2017. (The full chart and methodology explanations are at the bottom of this article.) 

SaturData Review
Jan '17   Inaug.
Jan '18 Year 1
Last 4 Weeks
Wk ending   Mar 3
Wk ending   Mar 10
Wk ending   Mar 17
Wk ending   Mar 24
Trump Approval
48%
41%
43%
41%
42%
42%
Net Approval
+4 pp
-14 pp
-11 pp
-13 pp
-13 pp
-12 pp
Generic Ballot
D + 6
D + 6
D + 4
D + 7
D + 7
D + 6
Trumpometer
0%
+19%
+12%
+13%
+13%
+11%

POLITICAL STAT OF THE WEEK

The national debt surpassed $21 trillion just one week ago, a 4% bump in just six months, since the end of the last fiscal year in September, 2017, or an 8% increase annualized.  Candidate Donald Trump promised to eliminate the entire $20 trillion debt he inherited from Barack Obama by the end of his presupposed two-term presidency.  He appears to be off to a bad start.  And he did not even get his Wall.

*******************************************************
Here is the complete SaturData chart with accompanying methodology explanations:

SaturData Review
Jan 2017   Post-Inaug.
Wk ending   Mar 17
Wk ending   Mar 24
Change vs. Last Wk
Change vs. Jan 2017
Trump Approval
48%
42%
42%
+0 pp
-6 pp
Trump Disapproval
44%
55%
54%
-1 pp
-10 pp
Trump Net Approval
+4 pp
-13 pp
-12 pp
-1 pp
-16 pp






Generic Ballot
D + 6
D + 7
D + 6
+0 pp
0 pp






Trumpometer
0%
+13%
+11%
-2 pp
+11 pp
Unemployment Rate
4.7
4.1
4.1
0%
-13%
Consumer Confidence
114
131
131
0%
15%
Price of Gas
2.44
2.68
2.72
-1%
11%
Dow-Jones
19,732
24,978
23,960
-4%
21%
Most recent GDP
2.1
2.5
2.5
0%
19%


Methodology notes:

BTRTN calculates our weekly approval ratings using an average of the four pollsters who conduct daily or weekly approval rating polls: Gallup Rasmussen, Reuters/Ipsos and You Gov/Economist. This provides consistent and accurate trending information and does not muddy the waters by including infrequent pollsters.  The outcome tends to mirror the RCP average but, we believe, our method gives more precise trending.

For the generic ballot, we take an average of the only two pollsters who conduct weekly generic ballot polls, Reuters/Ipsos and You Gov/Economist, again for trending consistency.

The Trumpometer aggregates a set of economic indicators and compares the resulting index to that same set of aggregated indicators at the time of the Trump Inaugural on January 20, 2017. The basic idea is to demonstrate whether the country is better off economically now versus when Trump took office.
The indicators are the unemployment rate, the Dow-Jones Industrial Average, the Consumer Confidence Index, the price of gasoline, and the GDP.


1 comment:

  1. Cobb has played the conciliator among the lawyer corps serving Trump, which is a shame because the identically-named legendary baseball player was infamous for pugnacity, sliding spikes high.) 500-325 dumps

    ReplyDelete

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