The Trump Kleptocracy

November 29, 2016

Can those of us worried about the direction that the PEOTUS is leading us with his appointments, his choice of family members invited into diplomatic meetings, and his obvious lack of concern for conflicts and corruption keep the volume on the Outrage Meter at 11 for each and every event that provokes such emotion? Won’t the clapper on the Alarm Bell of Injustice simply wear out at some point? Won’t people simply stop hearing it?

Conservative writer Ben Shapiro thinks so. He recently appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources and said as much. Conservative writer and Twitter must-follow David Frum has repeatedly said that the little outrages are all a plot to distract people from the gigantic outrage of Trump’s use of the office to enrich himself. Keep your eyes off @realdonaldtrump and on the money.

We’re still just learning how to deal with this. It’s all new, but it’s going to get old very quickly.

There’s much to be concerned about, but the most egregious thing isn’t the railing against the cast of Hamilton. It’s the blatant shaking down of foreign governments, both where Trump has properties and where he doesn’t. It’s already been made quite clear to foreign leaders that Trump’s Washington and New York hotels are the places to stay when visiting the Administration. They do so for the same reason that I make sure I drink MillerCoors products when I’m out with their distributors, why I rented from Hertz when calling on Ford, and why I pick the hotel I do when calling on my hotelier clients. The fact that we know that the PEOTUS has already asked Argentina and Scotland for favors for his properties, and the Indian owners of a Trump-affiliated property are making much of their connection to Trump only make this worse.

Those Trump supporters concerned before the election about the potential for corruption with the Clinton Foundation remain strangely silent about these troubling facts.

At this point, all I’ve heard from my Trump-supporting friends is that I should, “Calm down. The Dow is up 3% and your taxes are going to be cut and companies will be repatriating billions in cash and everything’s going to be fine. Besides, he hasn’t done anything yet!” They offer no substantive defense of the (grossly inexperienced) nominees, his thin-skinned disposition, the social media distractions, the shakedowns, or the personal benefits being lined up.

On the plus side, I’ve learned the name of the clause in the Constitution relating to the personal enrichment of federal employees. It’s called the “Emoluments Clause.” Expect to hear more about this over the next little while.

I wonder if Trump’s strategy is the lay the ground rules now while still technically a private citizen so that everyone knows how to play the game, so that he doesn’t have to do anything shaking down after he takes the oath at Noon on January 20. Accrue all the benefits now, and harvest the rewards later. The damage is done. I doubt he’s thought it through that thoroughly. Based on his decision making pattern thus far, I’m expecting President Trump will govern by the “Seat of His Pants Doctrine.”

The League of Ordinary Nations has a new member. The Trump Kleptocracy reigns.

Interesting Pictures (If You Like This Sort of Thing)

August 28, 2011

“There are three kinds of lies.  “Lies, damned lies and statistics.”

This quotation is often attributed to former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, although the coinage is in doubt. Personally, my money is on Mark Twain.  Not because of any particular knowledge but because it sure sounds like something he’d come up with.

In general, I’m in agreement with the assessment of the use of numerical analysis to bolster weak arguments.  I’m in the business of making presentations and I can make a graph dance with data designed to show only the side I want you to see.  I don’t mess with the data, only the way the data is depicted in the picture.  It’s not remarkable, but you’d be surprised how many presenters don’t pay attention to the power of their pictures and how many audiences don’t realize they’re being manipulated.

With that said, I present three charts that are making their way around the Internets now that we’re done with the Hurricane Hysteria (for now).  The data in the charts is not complicated and therefore not subject to the kind of manipulation discussed above (that’s the way to tell if you’re being toyed with–ask yourself about the underlying complexity of the data.  If it should be simple but appears complex, you’re being played).  All three charts concern federal spending and the budget deficit.  The data is sourced from the Budget of The United States and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  I have not independently sourced or verified the data.

The charts were originally produced here, and the author of that site is responsible for the captioning (of which I’m not necessarily a fan).  Further, I think that the accuracy of the estimates for 2012 and 2013 should be highly discounted, given the dismal performance of the U.S. economy.  I think it’s fair to say that the only way the numbers depicted become reality is with a rather substantial economic turnaround–one that has not made itself apparent at this point.

Recently, former Bush II speech-writer David Frum (author of the phrase “axis of evil” and other bell-ringers) wrote what I think is the most provocative and eye-opening couple sentences about the state of political discourse and economic thought and information on his blog, FrumForum.

Imagine, if you will, someone who read only the Wall Street Journal editorial page between 2000 and 2011, and someone in the same period who read only the collected columns of Paul Krugman. Which reader would have been better informed about the realities of the current economic crisis? The answer, I think, should give us pause. Can it be that our enemies were right?

So, in the interest of providing information that might run counter to your current thinking on the topic and with all the caveats noted above, here are the graphs.

It's a lot of money, but certainly not as big a change as some would like you to think it is.

Not information you'll get from watching CNBC.


%d bloggers like this: