Friday, February 3, 2017


When we set up the 2017 program of the Freiburg-Madison-Gesellschaft in January I proposed to discuss the presidency of Donald Trump. The remark of my President Toni was, "On the first of February a Stammtisch about Trump? Ten days are too short. O.K., Manfred you do it."

And I made it calling the topic of the FMG-Stammtisch: The first 10 days of an alternative America. Here is my introduction to the discussion:

Tonight we notice that #POTUS - stands on Twitter for President of the United States - has done more in his first 10 days than many a president in the usual 100 days.

At the moment President Trump governs via Twitter and by executive orders. Twitter replaces press conferences. When the president-elect, i.e., #realDonaldTrump twittered that the new Air Force One was too expensive the shares of Boing faltered. His twittering as #POTUS will have considerably more weight. Here is the latest:

A response to Federal District Court Judge James Robart's ruling temporarily blocking two provisions of the "Muslim Ban" executive order: The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned! - Donald J. Trump twittered via #realDonaldTrump.

Executive Orders (EOs) have been numbered over the last 100 years. So Executive Order 13.765 signed by President Trump interred ObamaCare. What we call Dekrete (decrees) are comparable to laws in the States.

This is how the satirical television show Extra drei pictures
 the great executive ordinator (©NDR)
EOs appear to be vigorous. Since Trump's popular approval in the States presently is only around 45% he tries to convince his critics by telegenically signing EOs with popular topics. Governing via EOS shunting the House of Representatives reminds me of the Notverordnungnen (emergency ordinances) in the Weimar Republic.

This does not seem too bad since EOs must pass the House of Representatives if money is involved. However, in asking the Mexicans to pay for their wall President Trump undermined the budgetary power of the House. If Mexico does not follow through he will levy a 20% duty on all Mexican goods to pay for it. Is that the start of a trade war with Mexico?

President Trump presenting EO 13770 with Vice President Mike Pence (left) and
Secretary of Defense James Mattis (right) applauding (©AFP)
When #POTUS had signed EO 13770 "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States" temporarily suspending entry, regardless of visa, of citizens of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen for 90 days and entry of citizens from Syria indefinitely protesters invaded US international airports over the last weekend. Note that Saudi Arabia and Egypt where Trump has business interests are not included in the ban.

When I was watching the protests at Kennedy Airport live on Facebook a young American called the entry ban to the States un-American. Is it un-American or alternative American?

The NYT wrote: President Trump's wave of directives reverses years of American policy on immigration, trade, health care, abortion and the environment.

In spite of an exceptional advertising in the Badische Zeitung the FMG-Stammtisch audience was not big. Were the people scared like two attending American ladies: What is going on in the States? Did other people think that ten days were too short a period to seriously discuss decisions of the Trump administration?

First topic: Why did Hillary Clinton lose? She represented the Washington establishment that already at the time when I was traveling the States was regarded as filthy by many of my fellow scientists. Donald Trump promised a terrific cleanup and to care for those Americans who feel being left behind.

The cleavage of the American society runs between town and country. While the city of Madison voted Democrat the rural state of Wisconsin swung Republican. Trump promised those citizens in left-behind regions to reopen their factories and mines and so it is not surprising that these people were looking for alternatives. Will Donald Trump voters discover that their president, in fact, is part of the establishment and will his supporters soon find out that they jumped from the frying pan into the fire?

If the Trump administration finds the money to build the wall at the Mexican border where does it find American workers? The overall unemployment rate in the States is only 4.8% hence lower than the one in Germany with 6.5% although there are regional differences. Will those people from Alaska (unemployment rate 6.9%) rush to the Mexican border to help to build the wall?

Investing in America's infrastructure is a good thing. Financing should be no problem in simply making more debts. But again where to find the necessary workforce in the States?

Levying taxes on imported goods will be complicated. Trump's plan to produce goods in the States will make them more expensive and thus disadvantage American people of low income. In particular, the auto industry is a global affair. BMW's plant in South Carolina exports 70 percent of the vehicles made there and while Germans do not buy Chevrolets they buy Opels from a factory at Rüsselsheim owned by General Motors.

On the other hand, European leaders understood Trump's message well that NATO countries may no longer base themselves on the States for their defense but must invest more in their own military forces.

We agreed to meet again in three months to rediscuss President Trump and his administration.

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