There’s Damage And Then There’s Damage

The damage being done every day by the Trump Administration falls into two categories: that which can be reversed relatively quickly if a Democrat wins the Presidency in 2020, and that which will take much, much longer–if it can be reversed at all.

For example, Betsy DeVos is the gift that keeps on giving to for-profit “colleges” and religious voucher schools, but once she has gone–and it can’t happen soon enough–her efforts to reverse the student-centered policies of the Obama years can themselves be wiped clean.

On the other hand, there’s climate policy. We can’t recover the years we’ve lost in the increasingly critical, time-sensitive effort to keep the planet habitable. A Democratic administration will have to spend time and political capital just reversing the reversals of previous efforts to keep air breathable and water drinkable, let alone measures to halt climate change.

Most long-lasting of all–at least domestically– will be the damage done by dozens of unqualified ideologues who will sit on our federal courts for many years.

It’s hard to know the extent of the damage to America’s global relationships and reputation. Optimists believe Trump will be seen as a temporary aberration; I’m not so sure. (It sure doesn’t help when other countries see him getting away with caging children and green-lighting war crimes.)

And then, of course, there’s the damage his insane tariffs have done to the economy–especially but not exclusively to farmers. CNBC is not a “liberal” news organ; quite the contrary. So it was sobering to read the following from the CNBC website:

President Trump announced a month ago that his administration had clinched a trade deal with China. Well, actually, the first in a series of deals, which the White House now refers to as “phase one.”

Since then, countless declarations of “winning,” but agreeing to a deal only “if the terms are right,” have added to the year and half long conflicting cacophony of rhetoric about the content of any trade agreement with China.

 Bottom line? The constant bluster has blurred the reality of what a deal would even accomplish, if anything at all. The only way to shovel away the pile of broken promises and contradictory comments is to analyze the flow of maritime trade.

Why? With 90% of all items in a house transported over water, it is the purest form of showing supply and demand. The flow of trade is agnostic. It moves regardless of who is “winning” or “losing.”

And what does that “agnostic” flow show? That a deal, no matter how good, will never make up for the losses sustained during this trade war.

For a perspective on the losses, look no further than the Port of Los Angeles, the largest port in the country. U.S. exports to China from the bustling harbor decreased for 12 consecutive months. It suffered a 19.1% drop in export volume when comparing October 2019 with the same month in 2018.

 China’s retaliatory tariffs hit 96.6% of the purchases of U.S. exports that traveled through the L.A. port complex, with a price tag of $19.9 billion.

Add on the additional retaliatory tariffs from the other countries the U.S. is sparring with on trade, and that brings the total of impacted export cargo to $20.2 billion, or 28.8% of all export value through the L.A. port system. Considering 95% of the world’s consumers are outside of the U.S., the tariffs imposed on American goods have priced them out of the global marketplace.

Add to this analysis other reports strongly suggesting that America’s farmers will never recover the soybean markets they’ve lost during this trade war (other countries, after all, can grow and supply soybeans), and the picture is grim. And agriculture isn’t the only sector hurting;  CNBC says China is expanding natural gas trade with Qatar and Australia “while essentially shutting off the United States.” The retail and technology sectors have announced losses in the billions.

So as the bluster blows and promises of winning mount, the actual flow of trade paints a very different picture.

A picture that looks increasingly long-term.


  1. It is because of those long lasting, deeply embedded problems that I support Joe Biden who has “been there, done that” inside the White House and the government, especially regarding the damage done to our diplomatic relations with all of our allies and Trump’s close ties with our enemies. The Intelligence Meetings with presidential nominees will be provided by Trump staff; that alone is frightening because of the system of their own lack of knowledge, lies, misdirection and obfuscation they operate under daily. The international problems created by Trump in Ukraine, Syria and the possibility of South Korea being unable to “afford” his possible increase in paying to maintain our troops in that country, are all leading us closer to the possibility of war.

    “It’s hard to know the extent of the damage to America’s global relationships and reputation. Optimists believe Trump will be seen as a temporary aberration; I’m not so sure. (It sure doesn’t help when other countries see him getting away with caging children and green-lighting war crimes.)”

    It is not “a temporary aberration” with Russia steadily gaining strength and sitting in one of our evacuated military bases in Syria, or as the Ukraine situation is in a precarious position as Russia continues attempts to invade them and there are reportedly hundreds of immigrant babies and children lost somewhere within Trump’s bureaucratic nightmare which passes for our current government.

    Distraction from what is going in with this government, internally and outside our borders, is a ploy used by Trump and his minions regularly. I believe the sudden trip to Walter Reed Hospital was simply a Trump “pity party” distraction including the planned assurance it was not about his health…an added distraction to make him appear strong. My view could simply be due to the fact I just don’t give a shit about his health.

  2. If McConnell continues as Senate Majority leader, he will most likely continue to block court nominees and cabinet level appointments. It is perhaps more important that the Dems take the Senate or by some miracle win his seat than taking the Presidency. There’s a lot a Democratic Congress could do to blunt the idiot in chief and his accolites.

  3. “Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call
    Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall
    For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled
    The battle outside ragin’
    Will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
    For the times they are a-changin'”

    Lyrics from Bob Dylan’s hit song in 1964; they speaks to those Republicans in House and Senate today who are “stalled”; sitting mute and idle due to cowardice or loyalty to this country’s highest placed enemy…Donald Trump. The levels of damage mounts up but Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff are shaking their windows and rattling their walls with the Impeachment Inquiry which is uncovering them from their hiding places in plain sight.

  4. The problem with the trade negotiations is that Trump thinks he is dealing with the contractor who is putting in the wiring for a building. He keeps changing what he wants the contractor to do and what he is willing to pay for it. That kind of “strategy” doesn’t work when the guy on the other side doesn’t need what you are willing to pay. China can buy agricultural goods elsewhere if it has to. And the long delays screw the American manufacturers who have to know that their supply chains are going to be economically feasible.

  5. With regard to the EPA decimation and other environmental controls being destroyed, I see the scenario where the affected organizations that have lobbied for decades for regulation and control relief will sue and sue and sue. With all those lawyers involved, that should speed things along, shouldn’t it?

    It’s not a matter of the Senate overturn being more important than defeating Donald Trump. Mitch McConnell must be voted out. Democrats MUST regain control for the sake of sanity, commerce, the environment, peoples’ health and, lest we forget, redeploying the Glass-Steagall Act to slam the door of greed in the faces of commercial banks using depositor money to enrich themselves and create yet another financial bubble doomed to burst.

  6. We may never recover from many of the disasters brought about by the idiot in chief. Personally I fear his judges more than anything, but there is one thing that no one seems to mention and that is the damage to our collective psyche. Not only are we polarized, but many are stunned by the depths of depravity to which our country has sunk. How do we recover from that damage?

  7. Pat,
    I don’t see a “strategy” at all. If there is any goal it is to cause chaos as a way to manipulating the markets. Do or say something outrageous and watch the market go down the next day. Say something else and watch the markets go up. Who makes a profit doing that? Gee, could it be the Wall Street gang, the oligarchs, and bankers? AND the person and his party doing this get the ultimate ego feed; they get to strut about the world stage bullying any and all into submission.

  8. houston public school system,is, being taken over by the state of texas.. Diane Ravitch, see right colum…seems this would be the biggest charter school scam to date if it plays out…big question? if trump bails,leaves,gets pushed out via party,etc, how will the republican playbook look in November? will this sport a chance at keeping the status quo in washington? damage done,but “pastor pence and the holy rollers united”will then have a feather in their hat to push for their agenda going mainstream…and of course, kenya west will be the greatest ever putting together a new party from church!

  9. Wayne Moss @ 7:50 am, “Never Joe Biden. No more neoliberals. No more corporatocracy.”

    I agree 100%.

    Columnist Arwa Mahdawi writes, “Here’s the thing, though: we live in an age when wanting systemic change isn’t idealism, it’s realism. Unconscionable inequality and the climate crisis mean that we have run out of time for compromises. We have run out of time for vague promises of hope.”

    I am a Bernie supporter. Can he make all the changes he wants on day one, when elected POTUS -No. I do expect he will as he demonstrated through out his political career unwavering commitment to a Progressive Agenda.

    We do not need the Corporate Neo-liberal Democrats, who are mired in the mud of old status quo mediocrity and call themselves Centrists.

  10. Peggy – “Not only are we polarized, but many are stunned by the depths of depravity to which our country has sunk. How do we recover from that damage?”
    I see that as well, but what also frightens me is that most folks don’t think we have sunk – the behaviors we witness, the despicable tweets, the lies, the corruption, are slowly becoming normalized. I hear it frequently – “well that’s just how trump is.”

  11. Concerning the educational system, public education, the dumbing down of public schools has been fast tracked. When you have booked burnings spiking, funds being taken away from public schools and a record pace, you can see the agenda. Religious dogma should not be taught in public schools, especially to the youngest students. That should be saved for higher education (college) as part of history and civilization studies. Religious values should be taught in the home by parents and not by public education.

    As far as tariffs and such (trade wars) the Pacific partnership would’ve been a huge boon to the United States, Trump blew that up. The Paris Accord would’ve been a huge boon to the United States, renewable energy manufacturing and such, this was on a path to produce millions of jobs in the United States, that has been taken over by China. Of course we can always mine more coal, that’ll get everyone working! Every time the stock markets start to tank, Donald Trump roils against the Fed. The Fed then goes against its policy because Powell is afraid of those tweets.

    The tax cuts or I should say corporate welfare, has artificially valued corporations above what they should be. They keep trying to manipulate everything to keep the stock market artificially high. That is not sustainable. Around the world, Government debt hits $66 trillion, 80% of global GDP. This next crash that’s on the horizon, will make 2007 and 2008 seem like a run to McDonald’s. And let’s not forget the consumer debt, Experian claims that consumer debt reached $13 trillion in 2018, with unpaid revolving debt at 4.1 trillion, an all-time record high!

    Yes, this was a perfect time for a corporate tax cut, the rich just keep squirreling it away for a rainy day (apocalypse)! I think, this time, their calculations are probably skewed. October 24, 1929, was a terrible time and it lasted for almost 20 years. This time, with the world being so connected electronically, when wealth is connected symbiotically, when one goes everyone goes. It’s too bad, Trump is in so far over his head, he’s outsourced government. He could’ve been one of the greatest presidents ever, now he’ll be known as the most clueless and corrupt in history.

  12. Russia has not only taken over our taxpayer-funded airport in Syria, they are also now sharing China’s immense soybean market with Brazil and Argentina while Trump places our soybean farmers on welfare with more than twice what Obama spent in saving our domestic automobile industry (and thousands of jobs) resulting from Bush’s Great Recession (and all without a peep from his mute but big spending Republican sycophants). He keeps insisting that China is paying for the tariffs he has imposed on their goods when it is American importers who are paying for such tariffs by increasing prices to consumers in order to maintain their profit margins. No one in the world believes that China is paying for such tariffs except one Donald J. Trump, who doggedly continues to recite that they do, a scenario reminiscent of Big Brother in 1984, where Smith and others are required to believe not in what they can see or hear but rather in what Big Brother has ordained as truth. (Parenthetically, there is also the little noticed fact that our manufacturing sector with two consecutive quarters of loss is now in recession due to his tariffs.)

    Can we recover from what this ignorant and amoral looney has laid on us? Yes and no. In certain areas we can reverse the damage he has bequeathed us (executive orders, ending tariffs etc.); other areas will require time (e.g., repair of relations with NATO allies, reinstatement of environmental protocols etc.), but as I often note, you start from where you are, and our starting date is (I fervently hope) January 21, 2020. However, during the more than a year interim between now and then we must resist any further damage he and his silent legislators are going to foist off on us that will make our task harder to accomplish once back in power, so the message is the same, to wit: Tell the truth and shield our democracy from his incursions 24-7.

  13. Let’s have realism here, folks. FLIP THE SENATE is what counts. If the GOP keeps the senate, it doesn’t matter who the majority lead is (or to some degree) whether the president is GOP or DEM. Yes, I would be great to get rid of Mitch, but that would only be the cherry on top if the senate flips, or the crumb if we lose the cake…

  14. Lester,
    The supreme Court is what matters, that ship has already sailed. If someone wants to fight long enough, it doesn’t matter if you have the House, the Senate, and the Presidency, it can all be undone by the supreme Court.

  15. But if Joe Biden is the candidate, I will certainly be voting for him. Anything else is a vote for the orange one.

  16. John (in theory only as I am not a constitutional expert)…I think…

    If DEMS are in charge of Executive and Legislative branches, they can pass legislation which the Supremes would find it harder to override as at least some of the lower courts (as today) will support that and SOTUS rarely declares laws passed in DC unconstitutional. The challengers for such laws would be hard-pressed to show why their challenges were not just partisan riffs.

    Help me experts out their in Sheilaland….

  17. MAINTAINING REPUBLICAN CONTROL AFTER A DEMOCRATIC BLITZ, or how it is no longer possible to reverse Trump policies.

    To see how easy and cheap a continued republican control of policy will be…ASK THE REALLY RICH GUY, say one whose walled compound lays on the perimeter of Innisbrook Golf Club.

    Today, I did.

    My rich guy owns countless bank buildings and medical buildings. Nursing homes, hospices, hospitals and banks of all sort, pay their immense rent monies to him. So, radical change in banking regulations as well as new medical pay systems realistically threaten his cash flow.

    No problem, he says.

    (I’ll paraphrase his explanation) “Say, democrats gain a five vote majority in the senate and end up with a majority in the House of about 40. Although we could, we don’t have to buy half the senators and half the congresspeople (roughly 280); to overturn the majority, we only need to acquire half the margin that democrats enjoy in either house. That means I and my friends only need to buy, scare, or jawbone a little over half of the democrat-to-republican-difference, say 21 congresspersons and three senators, to reduce the majority vote enough to defeat any given bill. It won’t be hard to come up with $25 million, a million for each member of that D/R difference, and I doubt it will take that much. But if it requires more, there’s plenty where that comes from. Plus, we are now onto acceptable new tricks to scare votes to our side. There is no way the democrats can get in our way again.”

    My takeaway: we can no longer force change with the ballot. We must find a way to make change outside the ballot…ways that cannot be bought, scared, or jawboned away from the prize.

  18. Larry – thanks for sharing “real words from real people”…Best way to hit on these folks is to, at a minimum, make all campaign funding totally transparent and put large shackles on lobby influences. There are huge majorities of everyday Americans of both parties that support such legislation.

  19. Among the intractable problems Republicans will leave in the wake of their attempted coup are financial. Their committment to wealth redistribution through taxing only the middle class has decimated the ability of the Federal Government to collect revenue to even pay its bills much less accomplish important goals one of which is to avoid the economic tsunami of anthropogenic global warming consequences.

    We either invest in a solution or we pay to relocate and rebuild our civilization infrastructure which we now cannot in any way live without due to our numbers and technology. (Actually the reality is that we have no choice in re-sourcing energy as fossil fuels were never a sustainable source so our choice has always been to pay for both adaptation and re-sourcing at the same time or just re-sourcing. We have largely wasted the time when we could have a choice and cannot now avoid paying simultaneously).

  20. Larry, Lester,

    Interesting! Chief Justice Roberts seems to have a conscience, and a certain ethical and moral conscience. So possibly, I could be mistaken. It would be a shame, if, we had to go against our moral and ethical high ground, as it is now. I’m not saying that liberals are the end-all be-all to save the Republic along with the rest of the planet, but this 2020 election could be the last best hope to repair the dam.

    I’m not so sure that there won’t be a bloodletting before, during, or after 2020. Trump has laid the groundwork for fake media, fake polls, and fake elections already. There are enough gullible and bamboozled imbeciles out there that happened to be armed to the teeth. And they would be more than willing to self glorify and self aggrandize themselves because that’s the only way they can feel important.

    It really is a sad state of affairs, so many, feel so enamored, are so loyal, and so gullible, they would destroy the Republic just to stick it to the other guy! Of course, it’s like the guy setting on a large tree limb doing a little pruning, just up there sawing away, start to hear the timber crack, and then, he realizes, he sitting on the wrong side of the cut. As he’s falling to his death, he’s wondering if trimming that branch was a good idea, LOL!

    If there ever is a change, if there is a shift away from the GOP and the electoral college, that electoral college should be eliminated. Every president, anyone in elected office, should be elected by the popular vote! On top of that, gerrymandering on every level by any political stripe should be eliminated. There should be a grid system for voting districts instead of snakes, wafts of smoke, salamanders, and other ridiculous examples. That would be the fairest!

  21. “Religious values should be taught in the home by parents and not by public education.”

    Way I see it, the failure of the American public to think straight in the polling booth can be traced straight to faith type uncritical thinking.

    Parents WILL lie about reality to their children, and it teaches children lies and cognitive dissonance as a way of life.

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