The Triumphalism of the Left

There’s a lot of celebrating that some group on the left has figured out the secret to defeating Trump. After all, he lost on health care.

This couldn’t be more wrong.

Trump was always going to fail on health care, because the Republicans never had a plan that could pass Congress. They kept saying “trust us, we’ll come up with a bill”, but eventually push came to shove, and they had nothing that could pass Congress. It was the most predictable thing in the world.

Except now, it’s somehow proof that the Left has hit upon a successful formula for beating Trump. And somehow, (probably because Russia), they’re going to win win win.


I stand by my prediction from last month. “I don’t expect his administration to make any significant changes, outside of the two critical issues of Immigration and Abortion.” When you give a complicated system to an incompetent man, normally, very little happens.

I do intend to imply that he *will* end up making significant changes on those two issues.

On Abortion, it will probably just be “his Supreme Court pick” and nothing else. On Immigration, I still think the path forward for Trump includes a complete shutdown on all new resident visas, from all countries. It gets him a “Muslim ban” legally. Do you have a better scenario where that happens?

Failure for the GOP on Health Care really doesn’t impact these things too much.


There’s an argument that goes, roughly, “Trump is getting bribes from the Russians! There has to be evidence of when he set this up!”.

  1. Donald Trump is the most bribable president in living memory. His entire campaign could be translated as “Please bribe me”. The Chinese gave him some trademarks. The Russians … well, there’s been talk for at least 5 years that Trump has debts to Russian banks, and they’re in position to do something about that.
  2. Note that while “accepting bribes” may be illegal under US law, that’s no motivation for other countries to refrain from it, if they can get away with it. Theoretically, Trump could be impeached for violating the emoluments clause. That is 100% dependent on Republicans in Congress wanting him out. There is no other recourse of any sort available, even if he admits it publicly.
  3. Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and Roger Stone all had shady connections with Russia that were public well before the election. It doesn’t take a shady dossier, a conspiracy theory, or any secret memorandum to prove this; the evidence was public *during* the campaign.
  4. There’s a certain rhythm to shady business dealings, a certain respect. Do I think Donald Trump promised Terry Branstad the ambassadorship to China in exchange for his remaining neutral in the Iowa caucuses? No. Do I think they both understood that a position would be available for Branstad if Trump won? Definitely. And remember, this was tantamount to endorsement in a world where everyone in the GOP thought Trump is a ludicrous candidate. (see also: Jeff Sessions)

My take: Trump almost certainly is getting bribes from the Russians, probably not in cash under the table, but in arms-length business deals. It doesn’t need a conspiracy for that to happen. So there won’t be any “smoking gun” to prove Trump’s involvement in any deal.

A completely useless graph.

Then again, I’m not sure how the whole Russia thing didn’t sink him in August. Maybe it will sink him this time.

About the Steele dossier

I’m fairly certain that it’s going to amount to nothing, no matter how many tweet-storms Seth Abramson makes. In short: everything Steele ever knew was already in the published dossier, why would he know more now?

  1. The word “dossier” doesn’t mean nearly as much as it did before the internet. We don’t need a spy agency or a newspaper archive to know where Donald Trump was on June 25th of last year, we can just check their Twitter page.
  2. This is the dossier most famous for the semi-mythical “golden showers Trump video”. I don’t believe that tape exists.
  3. I do believe that somebody told Steele that their friend said he had seen the tape. That doesn’t make the tape real. Remember Curveball and the Iraq War. Or, its fictionalization in In The Loop. Sometimes informants are just delusional, or are promoting their own interests.
  4. By the Wikipedia account, Steele is “a retired British MI6 agent with expertise in Russian matters”. I’m not sure whether he’s supposed to be obtaining this information as a journalist or as a spy.
  5. The constant implications that “Steele said something publicly and nothing happened, thereby corroborating the theory that the Russians were onto him” are ludicrous from a logical point of view. Vladimir Putin has more problems than the US right now. In Belarus, Lukashenko has fully broken with Putin.
  6. Overall, expecting anything other than the already-public known facts to be revealed (and expecting all the salacious rumors from the dossier to be *disproved*) seems irresponsible at this time.
The peril of all historical comparisons in today’s politics.
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