What next from this mishap of a President?

EDITOR'S NOTEBOOK

BY ART CULLEN

I am not sitting on 40,000 bushels of beans in the bin, and I wake up with a pit in my stomach wondering what load of bricks President Trump will lay on the Midwest this morning.

He was blustering and bluffing last week about imposing tariffs on Mexico as a revised North American Free Trade Agreement hangs fire in Congress, Canada and Mexico. Then on Friday, he tweeted a deal that would avoid raising tariffs by 25% on Iowa’s top pork and corn customer. Mexico would beef up its southern border security to stem the flow of refugees from Central America fleeing civil war, drought and drug gangs.

Except …

Mexico agreed to this deal in December. Both the United States and Mexico have since been trying to marshal funds to muster the effort, and meet with leaders in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to press them to solve their problems at home. Trump grew impatient and threatened more tariffs. The commodities markets took another hit. Manufacturers called their Republican senators, who in turn pressured Trump to lay off for once.

So he did. Trump endorsed the deal reached in December. The Mexicans promised to do better. Their president, Andres Lopez Obrador, went to the border on Sunday to raise the V sign with both hands for the cameras, declaring the friendship of the Mexican people with the United States. He was cheered. The Mexicans will get 6,000 National Guard troops to the mountainous border at their own pace. The refugees are likely to continue, according to most people who study the issue.

One of the main reasons the refugees are coming is because of drought.

It is driving refugees from the Middle East to Holland, and from the southern Mexican state of Chiapas to Storm Lake. Hundreds of Guatemalans live undocumented in Dubuque, looking for a way into asylum and exploited by employers during their wait in the shadows. The New York Times interviews Guatemalan mothers who watched their children starve to death while other young women fled with their children.

Iowa farmers, meanwhile, worry about the rain and soybeans tumbling by a quarter of their worth since December. Tyson worries about its Mexican export market, not to mention avian swine flu.  John Deere workers wonder which market Trump will cut off tomorrow for their world-class green tractors.

You could call your representative, but it is Steve King.

Or you could impeach the corrupt imbecile. But then you get Mike Pence, who managed these “negotiations” with the Mexicans with a wink and a lie. This deal had been in place for months, and we just ratcheted up trade tensions for no apparent reason.

And Trump declares a victory.

For whom?

They held up a flood disaster bill over flooding for Puerto Rico. They are doling out disaster payments for the trade wars with our neighbors and China — a total of $27 billion over the past two years — that were completely unnecessary if they had just left things alone, and actually tried to negotiate with the Chinese. The US government is subsidizing a giant meat company from Brazil, JBS, which competes with Tyson, because of the trade war.

The most likely scenario is that Trump takes a deal from China that leaves Asian pork and soy markets with lasting damage for Iowa farmers, in exchange for working with the Chinese on technology theft and currency manipulation. In short, a bad deal that endorses the status quo like the faux deal with Mexico. More of the same with volumes more of fear all around.

None of this considers all the other things that the President is doing with the Saudi Arabians, the North Koreans and the Russians.

It leaves us glued to this perverse drama played out on cable TV shows and “social” media posts on Facebook and Twitter. Is the sky falling or is it just angry? If I switch to the Twins to have Eddie Rosario lift my spirits with another home run, what calamity am I missing from the cable news talkers that otherwise would drive me to seek cover? Can things be normal? Can I have my friends back? Can we serve the Chinese pork burgers in Muscatine again, like Terry Branstad used to do with Xi Xinping? Where have you gone, Congressman H.R. Gross? His most famous quote: “I last took marching orders in 1916.” He fought in World War I. He voted against the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. He thought the Vietnam War was too expensive. They used to make Republicans like that.

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