Saturday, September 03, 2016

Update: Trump is Still an Underpants Gnome

A friend of mine posted a link to an interview with Donald Trump, calling it "Lucid, energetic, and on point!"

Now, this was on FoxNews, so you could expect it to be a very friendly atmosphere. Well, I couldn't care less about "energetic" because it says nothing about the merit of a position, and being enthusiastically wrong isn't a selling point.

But I was looking forward to hearing something lucid and on point. So here's the link:

That's a promising headline, no? I was really happy to see that this is a "two for the price of one" sort of link, as there was also an interview with Dr. Ben Carson to clarify some details. Great!

As with all Trump interviews, he spends the bulk of his time discussing what other people think of Trump according to Trump. And it's always good and wonderful and successful and well-received, etc, etc. It's tedious listening, but I kept my ear open because I want that headline justified.

Concerning the Wall and his meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico, what did he have to say? Only that "the wall will get built, and in fact that was sort of acknowledged if you look at the statement, and he [Peña Nieto] disagrees on who's going to pay for the wall, but that's a negotiation, and I will tell you that the United States will not be paying for the wall. Mexico will be paying for the wall."

Well no shit. Trump says he will tell you that, and in fact he has been telling you that, but that doesn't mean anything. All it says is that he'll keep saying it. It's bullshit, but he will keep saying it. It's a good thing that's all he's promising, because it's all he can deliver.

And... "sort of acknowledged"? What kind of confirmation is that?

In fact, Peña Nieto has released several statements saying flatly that Mexico will not pay for the Wall. So if this is a negotiation, understand that the current bargaining position of Trump is that he has nothing. At this moment, Trump doesn't even have the Presidency; so Peña Nieto has no incentive to concede anything whatsoever. This visit only served to highlight that.

Later in the interview Trump was asked why Latinos should vote for him, and his answer was that he would bring jobs and stop crime. Those are the role of business and police respectively, neither of which is Federal, but let's ignore that for the sake of politics. All things being equal, that would be a satisfactory message... the same message that every politician brings, actually. But all things are not equal. He's the guy who promised that he would be deporting 11 million illegal immigrants. That's a promise, by the way, on which he's had to backtrack. Today the message is that he will strengthen the wall; get rid of the "bad players" (gang members, drug dealers, the "cartel people" etc); then sit back, assess the situation, see where we are, and make a decision at that time.

That's no assurance if you're a natural born American voter wondering if your mother or father will be deported. Remember, if you came to this country 18 years ago and had a child, then you might not be able to vote, but they can. And Trump will not win them over; and probably not their friends either. And many of the swing voters will view his avoidance of this issue through the filter of confirmation bias, concluding that there's bad stuff to come, and he won't talk about it. Unfortunately, that doesn't stop at eroding his Latino support. Once you've fed the confirmation bias about racism, Black support is going to go with it.

In fact, as soon as I typed the above, I went looking for a link to confirm his current polling figures, and there it is, as of today: "Trump's Attempts to Woo Black Voters Are Having Opposite Effect". He's polling at 8% nationally among Blacks. 0% in Ohio. That's zero percent.


So I turned to Carson, interviewed by Greta van Susteren. Surely he would have some details about financing that Wall, since Trump's too busy stroking his ego to talk about it.

But no... it was another head-scratching WTF conversation.

van Susteren opened with this translated tweet from the Mexican President: "I repeat what I said personally, Mr. Trump. Mexico would never pay for a wall."

So who will? Dr. Carson offered this:  “Recognize that a lot of money is going to be saved by enforcing our borders, by not, you know, giving various types of benefits to people who are here illegally. That money is money that we otherwise would not have had and that can be applied to the wall and various other things. That’s I believe the spirit in which that comment is made. I don't think Mexico is going to write a check out and say here, pay for the wall.”

For the record... that is the UNITED STATES, taking money that we currently spend ON MEXICANS, and spending it ON MEXICANS. That is 100% entirely unlike making Mexico pay for a garden fence, much less a wall. Keep in mind, now, that estimates range anywhere from $10 to $25 billion dollars. The Washington Post estimates $25 billion, and they're probably closest to being right; it's a government project. So Trump would like you to believe that they will save a sizable portion of that on unspecified 'benefits'. This is despite the fact that the government will not, according to Trump, be targeting any people who are actually receiving those benefits; as these are not the drug dealers and "cartel people" that he mentioned. So the "plan" as revealed by Carson is to pay for it with an initial savings of zero.


Also, of the government benefits received by immigrant-headed households today, none of that is for the immigrants. It's for U.S. born children of those immigrants, all of which are bona fide native-born American citizens, who cannot be deported under U.S. law. All that you can do by removing their parents is to throw these children into foster care, actually increasing the burden on the taxpayers. The net result of any legal deportation is less than zero. It's negative. And all of this is to put up barriers at a time when more Mexicans are emigrating than immigrating.

OK, so they're not going to make any sense today.

I've debunked Trump's campaign rhetoric before, and there I noted another Wall financing scheme that has somewhat more direct merit than the one above. That is, he would either impound or impose stiff tariffs on wire transfers from the US to Mexico. Keep in mind that many of these are from people working near minimum wage and living well below those means so they can send money home. Of course this is also identical to using US money from the US to pay for it.

You're not supposed to notice that.

You're also not supposed to notice that if he follows through with deportation, then that money will dry up. It's going to dry up anyway. People will move away from that to PayPal, Internet banking, Bitcoin, or any number of alternatives. The people sending this money may not be tech-savvy themselves, but this is opens opportunities that are just too good to pass up for those that are. And the more he tries to close off these other means of commerce, the more he will damage the legitimate American businesses that depend on them.

Trump doesn't think. He emotes. And you who support him... well, I know you mean well, but I truly don't believe you're thinking, either. You're emoting with him. Otherwise you'd see that Trump is the classic model of an Underpants Gnome. He has some basic idea that he is just sure will result in Good Thingstm, but he hasn't the slightest clue whatsoever how to implement it.

via South Park

Could he still win the election? Oh, hell, anything's possible... he's running against an unrepentant walking security leak with faulty memory and a long history of cronyism and corruption. Rather than vote for that, 5% of Americans would rather write in the dead gorilla Harambe. But that same 5% would vote for the dead gorilla over Trump.

As for me, I'm going to vote for a candidate. I can't vote for the corrupt Democrat, and I can't vote for the incompetent Republican. So I will vote for a former governor with a proven track record as a chief executive who has demonstrated the ability to get diverse people pulling in the same direction. I'll vote for Gary Johnson. And if he loses, I still will have voted for the right person, unlike the people who chose instead to waste their votes.

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