Sleeping In On a Black Friday

After a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with our folks and two of their good friends we came home and took a nice nap, and after that we dropped in on a heck of hootenanny at Kirby’s Beer Store, where our good friend Blind Tom Page and four other topnotch players from our surprisingly strong local music scene were playing some tasty Americana. After that we came home and watched the last hour of Martin Scorsese’s excellent movie “The Irishman” on Netflix, and after we finish penning this essay we plan to sleep late and forego the Black Friday shopping frenzy.
If it’s not too late, we’d advise you to do the same. The Wal-Marts are shopping malls are always unusually crazy on the day after Thanksgiving, and the same bargains will be available on Saturday when the shopping is less crazy, and for those who are up to date with these computer thingamajigs that bring us the latest Scorsese movie there’s Cyber Monday coming up when you can get even better deals and have them delivered to your porch.
Better yet that you forego all the crass commercialism of Christmas, or at least procrastinate to the last possible moment, and do some act of kindness rather than spending scarce money, as far as we’re concerned. After giving thanks to God for America and its democratic institutions and tasty meals and awesome music the nation rightly turns its attention to the miraculous and all-important birth of Jesus Christ, but we think our American ancestors were right to spend a only a week or so on it and try keep in it mind throughout the year and look forward to to celebrating Christ’s more all-important resurrection on a hopefully warmer Sunday Easter in the spring.
The weather around here was brutal on Thanksgiving, and probably will be until after Easter, but we’ll try to avail ourselves of the warming holiday spirit this cold and dark season somehow engenders. We’ll keep our eye on the nation’s politics, which looks to be turbulent, but try to keep the seasonal faith that it all works out well in the end..
The damnable corporations and the Christians and the popular culture have commenced the holiday season sooner than we would prefer, but our folks and their friends are doing fine enough despite life’s tragedies and there’s great music being played at Kirby’s Beer Store, so we’ll try to give thanks to God for each and every day. In a few short weeks we’ll celebrate Christ’s birth, and start looking forward to His resurrection in the far-off spring.

— Bud Norman

What the Scandals Obscure

All the news lately is about the Democrats’ increasingly rapid rush to impeach President Donald Trump for all sorts of increasingly plausible reasons, and that might well redound to Trump’s benefit. There’s always an outside chance it all turns out to be a “deep state” conspiracy that vindicates the president and exposes all his enemies, and for now it’s distracting attention from some worrisome economic news.
You might have never heard of the Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index, but the stock markets watch it closely enough they took a dive on Tuesday when it reported that for the second consecutive month the manufacturing sector of the economy was in contraction, this time more severely than the month before. Farm bankruptcies are lately up, too, along with farm suicides, and growth in both the overall American economy and the interconnected global economy is clearly slowing, with several big and important national economies already in recession.
Which is bad news for assembly line workers and farmers and stockholders and eventually everyone else in the entire world, but it’s also very bad news for Trump. Despite three years of unrelenting scandals and outrageous “tweets” and deliberate provocations Trump has generally stayed above 40 percent in the public opinions because the grow domestic product and stock markets were up and the unemployment was rate low. The trajectory wasn’t much higher than it had been during the last six years or so of the hated administration of President Barack Obama, but it gave Trump and his talk radio apologists something to brag about, so all the die-hard Trump fans and a lot of the more reluctant supporters were willing to put up with all the rest of it.
All the rest of it is pretty hard to put up with, though, at this point even for the die-hard fans, and harder still if Trump can’t run for reelection on the boast of the the greatest economy ever. He won his first Electoral College victory despite losing the popular vote by three million or so because of the Republican party’s longstanding hold on the prairie and southern states and a mere 70,000 votes spread around the usually Democratic Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and Michigan, where they bought into his promises that he’d revive the agricultural and manufacturing sectors. Neither are faring at all well at the moment, many economists fear the service sector will be dragged down along with them, and if current trends continue for another 13 months Trump might well lose to even the looniest left nominee the damn Democrats might come up with.
There’s a strong argument to be made, after all, that Trump’s unilaterally waged trade war against most of the world is the primary cause, or at least has something to do with it. The tariffs have raised prices on foreign goods not only for the Wal-Mart customers but also for the manufacturers of everything that requires foreign parts, which is a lot stuff, which is bound to be bad for business. Of course the retaliatory tariffs have essentially barred America’s farmers from the lucrative global markets they’d come to rely on, but Trump boasts that “I sometimes see where these terrible, dishonest reporters will say ‘Oh Jeez, the farmers are upset.’ Well they can’t be too upset, because I gave them $12 billion and I gave them $16 billion this year.”
Of course Trump didn’t reach into his own pocket for that sum of money, which is more than Obama spent on the automakers’ bail-out, which at the time outraged all the farmers and the rest of Republican party, but we expect a lot of farmers will be mollified, along with a lot of laid-off factory workers, even if they still come out on the short end of the stick. Part of Trump’s appeal to these voters is his shared hostility toward the pointy-headed know-it-alls from the coasts who want to take away their semi-automatic rifles and reconfigure the ethnic makeup and sexual orientation of America, and they’re willing to endure the pain while Trump delivers the greatest trade deals ever.
>He’s not yet delivered one, though, and at this point he seems unlikely to strike one in time for reelection. The Chinese dictatorship can endure its people’s hardships more easily than an American president with a pesky free press and upcoming election ever can, and being stereotypically inscrutable Asian types they regard the next 13 months or so as a mere blink of the eye, whereas Trump likely sees it as a hellish eternity. Trump is still feuding with the European Union and the Brexit-ing British, along with most of South America and Africa and all the Asian countries that used to be on board with a Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty aligned against China, until Trump pulled out of the Obama-era pact. Restoring mutually beneficial trade among the nations seems out of reach for the next 13 months or so, much less the greatest trade deals ever.
The smart money on Wall Street seemed to think so on Tuesday, and we expect that the factory workers and farmers will also notice if Trump’s grandiose promises aren’t kept. There’s no longer any semblance of a free market Republican party and none of the damn Democrats are willing to abandon their traditional protectionist instincts and thus don’t have much to say about it, as they do seem more preoccupied with reconfiguring the ethnic makeup and sexual orientation of the country, so we’ll sit on the sidelines and see how it all turns out. If the economy isn’t rosy come election day, the rest of it will smell very bad.

— Bud Norman