Quick Takes: A County Trump Won Overwhelmingly Has Second Thoughts

A roundup of news that caught my eye today.

* China struck back.

China has implemented retaliatory tariffs of up to 25% on $3bn in food imports from the US, raising uncertainty over the possibility of a trade war between the two countries.

China’s ministry of commerce said it would be “suspending tariff concessions” on 120 US food products. Fresh and dried fruits, almonds, pistachios and wine would be subject to an additional 15% tariff. Eight other items, including frozen pork, would be subject to a 25% tariff. The tariffs would begin on Monday, the ministry said.

The tariffs were in line with a list of potential duties on $3bn worth of US products released two weeks ago in response to Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminium. The US president has also promised to levy 25% on $60bn in annual imports from China.

* In an article written before this announcement from China, Thomas Beaumont heard how a decision like this will affect Sioux County, Iowa, where Trump received over 80 percent of the vote.

The grumbling hardly signals a looming leftward lurch in this dominantly Republican region in northwest Iowa. But after standing with Trump through the many trials of his first year, some Sioux County Trump voters say they would be willing to walk away from the president if the fallout from the tariffs causes a lasting downturn in the farm economy.

“I wouldn’t sit here today and say I will definitely support him again,” said 60-year-old hog farmer Marv Van Den Top. “This here could be a real negative for him.”…

Brad Te Grootenhuis sells about 25,000 hogs a year and could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars if the tariffs spark a backlash from China. He said it’s possible he would abandon Trump if pork’s price decline continues and lasts.

* It seems that Trump has an unofficial presidential advisor.

It is difficult to fully understand the Trump presidency without first understanding Lou Dobbs, the Fox Business powerhouse host and one of the main precursors to Trumpism…

Dobbs doesn’t get to just interview and socialize with the president; he is involved in some of the administration’s more sensitive discussions. During the first year of the Trump era, the president has patched in Dobbs via speakerphone to multiple meetings in the Oval Office so that he could offer his two cents, according to three sources familiar with these conversations. Trump will ask Dobbs for his opinion before and after his senior aides or Cabinet members have spoken. Occasionally, he will cut off an official so the Fox Business host can jump in.

Dobbs, these sources all independently recounted, has been patched in to senior-level meetings on issues such as trade and tax policy—meetings that featured officials such as senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, former top economic adviser Gary Cohn, former chief strategist Steve Bannon, trade adviser Peter Navarro, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

* Racism seems to run rampant throughout this administration.

Nearly a third of the senior Interior Department (DOI) career officials reassigned under Secretary Ryan Zinke in a major agency reshuffling are Native American, even though Native Americans make up less than 10 percent of the Department’s workforce, a review by TPM has found.

The finding comes days after Democratic lawmakers demanded an investigation into whether Zinke discriminated when he reassigned 33 career officials last summer, and follows on reports that Zinke has repeatedly told DOI officials he doesn’t care about diversity — which prompted one member of Congress to accuse Zinke of working to create a “lily-white department.”

* During the 2016 campaign, Roger Stone wanted to paint himself as the insider, making predictions about the next Wikileaks revelation. All of that flipped once there was a criminal investigation into the Russian hacking and release of emails. But one of Stone’s attempts to brag might be coming back to haunt him.

The special counsel investigating alleged links between Trump campaign associates and Russians is looking into longtime adviser Roger Stone’s 2016 claim that he had met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to a person familiar with the matter…

In an email dated Aug. 4, 2016, Mr. Stone wrote: “I dined with Julian Assange last night,” according to a copy of the message reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Stone is a longtime informal adviser to President Donald Trump who at that point had no official campaign role.

The note, to former Trump adviser Sam Nunberg, adds to a growing number of times Mr. Stone claimed during the campaign to be in contact with WikiLeaks.

* Nathaniel Rakish writes, “Be Skeptical Of Anyone Who Tells You They Know How Democrats Can Win In November.”

Today, let’s use special-election results to try to answer a question that will be pivotal in the midterms: Which is a better representation of the true base partisanship of the United States, 2012 or 2016? By winning white, working-class areas (especially in the Midwest) but losing traditional GOP strongholds in suburbia and the Sun Belt, President Trump charted an electoral map that looked slightly but notably different from Mitt Romney’s four years earlier. Was that mini-realignment a Trump-only phenomenon, or will the new voting patterns stick around for this year’s congressional elections?

The answer will have big implications for Democrats between now and Election Day. If 2016 represents a new normal, then the party would do well to prioritize suburban districts that moved from Romney to Hillary Clinton, such as the California 45th, Illinois 6th or Texas 7th. But if the 2012 map still applies, then Democrats might be better off targeting districts that voted for Obama before they defected to Trump, like the Iowa 1st, Maine 2nd and New York 19th…

In short, special elections aren’t really telling us whether the 2012 or 2016 map is a better picture of current American partisanship. Our best guess is that the 2018-and-beyond map will be a hybrid of the two. Some of the voting patterns we saw emerge in 2016 may stick around, but the 2012 map still holds plenty of sway. We’ve already seen some reversion to the mean in “Trump country.”

* The man I would call the “moral compass of this country,” Rev. William Barber, had some words to share recently.

Four diseases, all connected, now threaten the nation’s social and moral health: racism, poverty, environmental devastation, and the war economy—sanctified by the heresy of Christian nationalism. Since the 2016 presidential election, when white rage propelled a candidate endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan into the White House, racism has been more prominent in public life. Nearly every politician in the United States condemned “hate” after the violence by anti-black, anti-Semitic, and anti-gay white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer. Racism and white supremacy, however, are not about hate. They are about power. The question is not whether politicians condemn hate, but whether they promote the policy agenda of white supremacy.

* Finally, here’s a random tune that caught my eye today. No…really 🙂

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.