A tip of the hat to Hans, who helpfully adds that Düsseldorf is located in Germany–and that the carnival float might be taken as a good reason to nuke Germany.
Here’s another one I set aside for a suitable occasion. Now is a suitable occasion.
A tip of the hat to Hans, who helpfully adds that Düsseldorf is located in Germany–and that the carnival float might be taken as a good reason to nuke Germany.
Here’s another one I set aside for a suitable occasion. Now is a suitable occasion.
It is the evening of February 27, the evening before the Big Speech Before Congress? Should we watch the Big Speech Before Congress or should we wash our hair?
On the one hand, the instinct to avert one’s eyes is profound. How would you feel about an invitation from the Aardvark’s to watch an endless loup of last night’s Academy Awards fiasco? I’ll bet you would find you had some other pressing commitment, like changing the cat litter.
On the other hand, there is something compelling about the chance to watch history in the making, as King Lear’s madness bursts into full flower, in front of the entire world.
Yes, I appreciate that the Mad King theme risks becoming shopworn and tribe. But take a gander at this evening’s article, Trump giving lawmakers whiplash on Obamacare.
President Donald Trump is giving Washington a case of whiplash when it comes to his plan for Obamacare, saying one moment that he’s going to kill it and replace it with something “great” and then publicly flirting with letting it implode the next.
Whether the White House can repeal and replace the law this spring — as Capitol Hill leaders say is the goal — largely depends on the president’s ability to focus and outline the specifics of what he would like, while convincing reluctant GOP members to back a plan. So far, his rhetoric has been all over the place, offering differing timelines and ideas, depending on the venue and the person he’s speaking with.
“Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated,” Trump said Monday morning. He added to the GOP’s nervousness by refreshing the idea that Republicans should maybe just let Obamacare collapse under the weight of rising premiums and volatile exchanges — though he claimed it wasn’t an idea he would pursue.
“Let it be a disaster, because we can blame that on the Dems that are in our room — and we can blame that on the Democrats and President Obama,” Trump told Republican governors. “But we have to do what’s right, because Obamacare is a failed disaster.”
Huddling with insurance CEOs, Trump talked up how fantastic his Obamacare replacement would be without giving details. Separately Monday, he said it would be very difficult to do something good.
On balance, I will probably watch, with my old friend Jack Daniels by my side, praying for the millions whose health he endangers as he drowns in policy considerations beyond his grasp.
The congressional seat vacated by the unspeakable Tom Price is up for grabs in a special election to take place April 18.
No less unimpeachable a source than the Daily Caller reports that the Democrat is currently running ahead.
A Republican loss would truly put the fear of God into a bunch of people who need to come to Jesus. As one commentator writes, The Future of Obamacare May Depend on a Georgia Special Election.
OK, folks, time to put your money where your mouth is. Donate now. Aardvark and Dr. Aardvark did.
… from yours truly, Arius Aardvark, also known as Mr. Confirmation Bias.
Even as he lies about objective facts, he accurately report’s what’s on his mind. The proof lies in the fact that he accurately describes what he is thinking even when what he is thinking makes his speech sound like a tale told by an idiot. See Trump: ‘Nobody Knew That Health Care Could Be So Complicated’:
President Donald Trump told a bipartisan group of governors at a White House reception Monday morning that GOP tax reform would have to wait for lawmakers to move on repealing Obamacare, cautioning that, “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”
“I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject,” Trump said.
For health policy experts and Democrats who spent the last eight years overhauling the nation’s health care system in the face of GOP intransigence, Trump’s admission that health care is hard dripped with irony. Republicans, in the mean time, voted repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but made little progress on settling on what their replacement would look like, a conundrum that is haunting them now.
I Did Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Workout. It Nearly Broke Me. Pumping iron with RBG’s personal trainer is no joke.
A propos President Trumplethinskin’s decision to stay away from the correspondents’ dinner for fear of being roasted, Hunter of Daily Kos writes,
Donald Trump has been in office a month, and it’s been clear since the first weekend that he’s mentally not fit to do the job. His narcissistic obsession with battling those that would say even the slightest word against him consists the near-entirety of his day job, as he whines about leaks from his own administration, and the horror of reporters reporting on the leaks coming from his administration, and the double-horror of reporters reporting that despite what ol’ snuffleface has been yelling there are indeed multiple investigations into the actions of Trump’s campaign team vis-a-vis that whole Russia tampering with our elections business.
The man who launched his political career claiming that the then-current president was not even a real American has been completely crippled with rage that, after gaining the same office, people are saying nasty things about him. He was unprepared for Saturday Night Live to make fun of him. He was flummoxed by reporters wanting to ask him questions about things other than his own greatness. He was sent into spasms of tiny-fingered rage over someone, somewhere in Washington, not agreeing with his latest baffling pronouncements.
And now the whole of the White House appears to be engaged in one long round of babysitting the manchild through each one of his tantrums. If it means bashing the notion of a free press, they’ll do it. If it means lying to the public about things that are trivially disproven fifteen minutes later, they’ll do it. Don’t ask the manchild’s administration hard questions, American reporters, or by gum maybe we just won’t have press briefings at all anymore, you meanies.
All in an effort to protect Donald Freaking Trump from having hurt fee-fees. Good God, what a pathetic little child. Scratch that—it’s the whole White House. There’s apparently not a single inch of backbone to be found in the manchild’s entire team. Forget reporters, we need to send in a team of top scientists to study this new species of somewhat-sentient snowflakes!
Donald Trump’s presidency is a black swan event.* Among the astonishing variety of cognitive biases to which we humans are heir, the normality bias causes us to “believe that things will always function the way things ‘normally’ function”–and thus to fail to recognize a black swan event for what it is.
Fortunately, Aardvark himself suffers no such biases. Regrettably, many of our fellow citizens do labor under the normality bias.
Just how many? Well, now we know.
Question 27 in the new NBC/WSJ poll asks whether, since the election, the media has been fair and balanced toward Trump, too critical, or not critical enough. 51 percent picked “too critical.”
This at a time when the nation’s foreign policy is in a state of incoherence.
A time when cabinet members must repeatedly clean up Trump’s mess.
A time when Trump’s lack of focus and inability to understand policy issues prevent him from doing a foundational job of any president—developing legislation and presenting it to Congress.
Boswell’s Life of Johnson records,
I told him I had been that morning at a meeting of the people called Quakers, where I had heard a woman preach. Johnson: “Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”
What is surprising here is not that Trump is doing a bad job, it is that he is not doing the job at all.
What will it take for everything to recognize the truth? Unfortunately, it will require calamity. And calamity is likely.
* (1) The event is a surprise (to the observer). (2) The event has a major effect. (3) After the first recorded instance of the event, it is rationalized by hindsight, as if it could have been expected; that is, the relevant data were available but unaccounted for in risk mitigation programs. The same is true for the personal perception by individuals.
Many among the commentariat continue to think that he will. I would like to present a qualified counter-prediction. First,
(1) Trump’s driving force is his craving for adulation.
(2) Trump’s white working class supporters are, for the present and the foreseeable future, the only significant source of Trump adulation.
(3) Therefore Trump will behave in such a way that, in his thinking, is likely to preserve and enhance the adulation of the white working class, and avoid behaviors likely to staunch said source of adulation.
(4) Though severely delusional—and profoundly inclined toward magical thinking—Trump maintains some contact with reality.
(5) Though Trump lies all the time, he does not lie about his mental state. Even when it would benefit him to lie about what he is thinking; he does not do so. Instead, his congenital lying mostly involves imaginary “facts” that, were they true, would reinforce the things he believes.
(6) Trump has repeatedly claimed that the Obamacare replacement will be better for his supporters than the existing system, and he has repeatedly claimed he will preserve Medicare and Social Security. These may be lies, but they are not the kind of lies Trump habitually tells. They relate to his plans–his mental state–about which he does not usually lie. They are not false “facts” that support his rooted convictions.
(7) Hence, a prediction: as and when Ryan and his cohorts come up with concrete legislative plans that would screw over the white working class, Trump will not in fact go along. That is because (a) though delusional and prone to magical thinking, he maintains some contact with reality, (b) screwing over the white working class would be diametrically opposite to the main goal of his life—preserving their adulation of Trump, and (c) because lying about, say, the actual effects of the Ryan health plan is not the sort of thing Trump lies about, and because telling that kind of lie would be contrary to his need for working class adulation.
In The Myth of the Passive President, Lowry writes,
The view of Trump as little more than a presidential auto-pen has turned out to be wholly mistaken. First, it underestimated Trump’s ability to establish air, sea and land dominance in the nation’s political conversation to the exclusion of all other Republican voices. Two, it failed to appreciate how necessary presidential leadership is to getting anything done on Capitol Hill.
At this rate, congressional Republicans won’t send the president anything significant to sign, let alone set the agenda. …
[Trump’s] hold on the GOP base is formidable, and his core supporters are nothing if not vociferous. Couple that with his prodigious media megaphone, and Trump could break isolated senators or members of Congress resisting his congressional agenda like a twig.
If, that is, he has such an agenda. No one knows what his infrastructure plan is. Or what he wants on the Obamacare replacement, which will badly divide Republicans (one reason that Republican leaders hoped to sidestep it). Or where he comes down on the contentious issue threatening the ultimate passage of tax reform, the border adjustment tax that House Republicans support but faces stiff opposition in the Senate. …
If Trump turns out simply not to have any interest in legislation, it likely won’t augur a period of strong congressional governance, but of drift and perhaps outright failure.
Capitol Hill is dependent on Trump, not just to sign bills, but to lead. Republican don’t need him merely to be president; they need him to be a good president, which means that in his busy days he must find a little time for Congress.
Not only will Trump continue to eschew coherent legislative leadership of his party, he will also—if I’m right in the analysis presented in the first part of this post—dynamite those parts of the Ryan agenda that would most deeply screw over the white working class.
White House officials said a report disputing the threat posed by travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries included in President Donald Trump’s executive order was “not the intelligence assessment the president asked for,” according to a report published Saturday by the Wall Street Journal.
“The President asked for an intelligence assessment. This is not the intelligence assessment the President asked for,” an unnamed senior administration official said as quoted in the Wall Street Journal’s report. ,,,
The Associated Press reported on Friday that it had obtained a draft document of the report, which concluded that citizenship of the countries included in Trump’s ban is an “unlikely indicator” of terrorism threat level.
From other reporting, it appears that the Trump team is going to beat a strategic retreat from its “no judicial review at all position,” and retreat to the “rational basis test” of judicial review.
The state of Washington, the ACLU, and their ilk will argue for the harder to meet “strict scrutiny” test of judicial review, but the government will hold fast to the “rational basis” best. That’s their (new) story and they’ll be sticking to it, all the way to the Supreme Court.
Problem is: if the standard of review is “rational basis,” then you need a basis, and the basis needs to be rational.
Here, the government has singled out seven countries, but the italicized phrase above implies that citizenship in those countries is not a rational basis for concluding that a would-be visitor or immigrant is more likely than anyone else to be a terrorist.
Worth a read on several counts, but let me draw your attention to what Sullivan (who got the happy phrase from Josh Barro) calls the Trump-curious.
Aardvark calls them the fans leaving the stadium in the early innings.
The key, it seems to me, are those voters best described in Josh Barro’s lovely formulation, the “Trump-curious.” Gallup finds them much lower in support for early Trump than they were for late Obama. They don’t like chaos or incompetence — and they’ve seen their fair share of both; they’re not going to like seeing people’s health insurance taken away from them. Nor do they enjoy unnerving scenes of mass deportations. They voted for Trump in part because they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Clinton but also, one suspects, out of a gamble that Trump may be good for the economy. If the economy goes south — and remember, Trump inherited a low unemployment rate and a long stock-market boom — they could leave in droves. It’s vital we don’t push these people away from the opposition by too dogmatic or leftist a stance. It’s crucial to keep a calm, moderate, and sane voice directed at exactly this 15 percent or so; and to simply hold Trump constantly accountable for the results of his policies, especially on health care and jobs. If we can’t remove him, we can neuter him. And for that, the coalition of opposition has to be as broad as possible.
“It’s my hope that gallery is going to look like America,” said Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), who is leading an effort to have his colleagues bring diverse guests Tuesday and will be joined by Rhode Island Dr. Ehsun Mirza, a Muslim-American born in Pakistan. “It’s another reminder to the president that he’s not the arbiter of patriotism.”
The Ninth Circuit issued its ruling in State of Washington v. Trump on February 9. Fairly soon thereafter, we learned that Trump would not take an immediate appeal to the Supreme Court nor ask for an en banc reconsideration by the circuit court, but would instead issue a revised travel ban. The revision, we were told, would be coming sometime soon. It is now February 21. It’s still allegedly coming sometime soon.
Politico has a lengthy thumb sucking story this evening. But let me try a shorter answer to the question.
First, we may definitively reject any thought that the elapsed time is due to difficulty in draftsmanship, or, as Aardvark likes to say, draftspersonship. Aardvark knows from legal draftspersonship. This is not something you whip out in half an hour. But, as a matter of drafting, if you have someone who actually went to law school, you should identify any problems, find appropriate language, critique the language, make any tweaks, and tie the damn thing up in a pretty pink package in a matter of a couple of days.
Second, I see no persuasive evidence that substantive issues about who should be banned and who shouldn’t be banned ought to take a tremendous amount of time to resolve.
No, I think the problem is that they ain’t got no stinking evidence to back up the executive order—and Trump is trying in vain to get the intelligence agencies to manufacture some to fit the case.
(CNN)Republican Rep. Mo Brooks said Thursday that protests at town halls around the country might prevent Republican lawmakers from repealing the Affordable Care Act.
“I’ll tell you, Toni, there are a, in my opinion, a significant number of congressmen who are being impacted by these kinds of protests and their spine is a little bit weak,” the Alabama congressman said in an interview on “The Morning Show with Toni & Gary” on WBHP 800 Alabama radio. “And I don’t know if we’re going to be able to repeal Obamacare now because these folks who support Obamacare are very active, they’re putting pressure on congressman and there’s not a counter-effort to steel the spine of some of these congressmen in tossup districts around the country.”
Brooks continued, “And you may not even see a vote to repeal Obamacare, you might see something where they call it a repeal but really it’s an amendment. You and I have talked about this before. We need an outright repeal of Obamacare and then whatever’s gonna come after it, fine, let’s have that discussion. But this monstrosity needs to be repealed and right now, in my judgment, we don’t have the votes in Congress to pass a repeal bill, in part because of what these people are doing.” …
“Quite frankly, I don’t know that this administration supports a full repeal,” he said. “To the contrary, the president has expressed support for some of the provisions that are in Obamacare. And if that’s the case, if that ends up being the administration’s position, then that is not a repeal of Obamacare, that’s an amendment to Obamacare.”
When the host referred to a popular Obamacare provision allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, Brooks said that wasn’t the only element of the law that Trump supported.
“It’s bigger than that, Toni,” he said. “Remember when Donald Trump publicly stated during the campaign that he’s going to make sure everybody has health insurance? OK? That’s Obamacare.”
As Aardvark types, it is the afternoon of Friday, February 24. A little more than a month into the Trump presidency, debate continues as to whether he’s actually crazy or a relatively sane person pretending to be crazy, for some perceived tactical purpose.
But a consensus is beginning to form.
This morning the odious Charles Krauthammer writes about the recent spate of instances where Trump’s ridiculous statements on important foreign policy and defense matters have been contradicted by senior officials.
In Trump and the ‘madman theory,’ Krauthammer, tongue buried so far in cheek that he can hardly speak, addresses the occasional benefits of pretended madness as a tool of foreign policy, a la Nixon and Kissinger. Krauthammer concludes,
To be sure, a two-track, two-policy, two-reality foreign policy is risky, unsettling and has the potential to go totally off the rails. This is not how you would draw it up in advance. It’s unstable and confusing. But the experience of the first month suggests that, with prudence and luck, it can yield the occasional benefit — that the combination of radical rhetoric and conventional policy may induce better behavior both in friend and foe.
Alas, there is also a worst-case scenario. It needs no elaboration.
No, it does not need much elaboration. But take a look at the discussion this morning involving Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations.
It’s known as the “Trump Slump.” And I know of no reputable travel publication to deny it. …
A drop of that magnitude, if continued, would reduce the value of foreign travel within the U.S. by billions of dollars. And the number of jobs supported by foreign tourists and their expenditures in the United States—and thus lost—would easily exceed hundreds of thousands of workers in hotels, restaurants, transportation, stores, tour operations, travel agencies, and the like.
While, earlier in the year, the Administration had boasted of saving 800 jobs in the Carrier Corporation, the drop-off in employment resulting from the travel ban would eclipse that figure.
According to the Global Business Travel Association, in only a single week following announcement of the ban against certain foreign tourists, the activity of business travel declined by nearly $185 million.
This morning brings the report that exiled Speaker John Boehner has well and truly spilled the beans. The repeal and replacement is “not going to happen.”
Boehner, who resigned in 2015 amid unrest among conservatives, said at an Orlando health care conference that the idea that a repeal-and-replace plan would blitz through Congress is just “happy talk.”
Instead, he said changes to former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement would likely be relatively modest.
“[Congressional Republicans are] going to fix Obamacare – I shouldn’t call it repeal-and-replace, because it’s not going to happen,” he said. …
On Thursday, Boehner said the talk in November about lightning-fast passage of a new health care framework was wildly optimistic.
“I started laughing,” he said. “Republicans never ever agree on health care.”
“Most of the framework of the Affordable Care Act … that’s going to be there,” Boehner concluded.
Aardvark hopes he is right. But, ladies and germs, let’s war game this out.
Pretty clearly, Trump’s best move would be to make minor changes to Obamacare, spin it as repeal and replace with new Trumpcare, and declare victory. But a segment of the Republicans in Congress will not go along with any such proposal. That means that in order to accomplish the benign flim-flam, you are going to need a lot of Democrats. But to write the legislation, put together the coalition, and then bring the thing off, you need someone with flexible ideology and lots of political savvy.
Who is this person? Surely not Paul Ryan, who has dedicated his life to the advancement of Ayn Rand’s agenda. Probably not Mitch McConnell. Probably not Tom Price, who lacks the ideological inclination to keep the Obamacare framework. Not Donald Trump, who cannot find his ass with both hands. Not anyone presently around Donald Trump.
What does this mean going into the 2018 elections? No repeal and replace. Nothing that can be spun as repeal and replace. Lots of people angry that Republicans reneged on a major campaign promise. Lots of people scared shitless that they will lose their health care. Every problem in the health care system now blamed on Republicans, not Democrats.
Trump will find a way to claim that somehow this is all the Democrats’ fault. But that dog is not going to hunt.
From now on, you can reach us at trumpedprogressives.com.
Yes, yes, I know. Dot com isn’t really correct, because we are not a business. But it’s easier to remember than the alternatives.
And, not to worry, the old URL, trumpedprogressives.wordpress.com, will still work. It redirects to the new URL.
To celebrate Aardvark’s rebirth, Hans has helpfully supplied this depiction of the young Aardvark.
A friend has called Aardvark’s attention to A Medical Theory for Donald Trump’s Bizarre Behavior, wherein a physician suggests that Trump’s behavior may well result from long term untreated syphilis—and that Trump had damn well better see his favorite physician for what Kinky Friedman calls a checkup from the neck up.
Well, this explanation is probably true. Many people are saying it. There is lots of talk about it on the internet. Anyone who doubts it is obviously an enemy of the American people.
Anyway, whether it’s syphilis or something else, there surely is something rotten in Denmark.
And by the way, if Kinky Friedman has somehow escaped your radar screen, please rectify the oversight as soon as possible. I suggest you read all his novels.
In a poll conducted in November, after the election, 56 percent of respondents told Quinnipiac that they believed Trump to be a “good leader”; 38 percent said they were of the opposite opinion. That means a fair number of Hillary voters bought the Trumpster’s act, and accepted his claim to be a brilliant businessman who knows how to manage effectively.
By January the 56 percent figure was down to 49 percent. Earlier in February it was 47 percent. Now it’s down to 42 percent—which means that a nontrivial portion of those who voted for Trump in November have now grasped that he is not a “good leader.”
The fans are slowly getting up and leaving the clown show.
This info from Josh Barro, Trump has a problem: Americans increasingly think he’s incompetent.
In Trump’s ‘Apprentice’-style hiring is upending Washington Politico enlarges on the incompetence of Trump’s hiring decisions:
Trump can plan to pick one person one minute and change his mind the next. He can think of a name and immediately tell advisers he wants that person for a particular job. There is no discernible rhyme or reason or formal vetting process to many of his hires, allies and aides say, with no formal questionnaires or protocols — and several Cabinet appointees’ confirmation struggles brought the downsides of such an approach into stark relief. He cares, above all, about appearance, loyalty and strength — a word he often uses. …
“It can be very random,” one person who has been heavily involved in a number of the searches said. “You can mention a name, and he will want to hire the person. Or he can veto someone, and you’re not really sure why.”
The descent into madness continues.
Investors counting on major U.S. tax reform in 2017 are going to be disappointed, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
The problem is that lawmakers and Donald Trump’s administration are going to be so caught up figuring out how to repeal Obamacare that coming up with a new corporate tax system will get pushed to the side, economists at the bank led by Alec Phillips wrote in a note Wednesday.
“This process is likely to take longer than expected, which is likely to delay the upcoming debate over tax reform,” they said. “The difficulty the Republican majority is having addressing a key political priority suggests that lawmakers might ultimately need to scale back their ambitions in other areas as well, such as tax reform.” …
A delay to tax reform has been cited as a risk by other banks as well, which have warned it could spell trouble for a stock market that has priced in Trump’s pledges for a “phenomenal tax plan,” as well as scaled-back regulation and a boost in fiscal spending. Goldman itself says that the prospects of tax cuts have played a huge role in the 10 percent rally the S&P 500 Index has seen since Nov. 8, but that the risks are continuing to rise.
Aardvark is fond of the term “priced in”—it’s something that we savvy financial types might say. But it appears that, while the market priced in big tax decreases, it didn’t price in the Republican’s inability to make coherent policy. It didn’t price in White House’s inability to find its ass with both hands. It didn’t price in the objection of the great unwashed to having their health care yanked away.
Trump and arrogant lawmakers can swear up and down that protesters in their districts are paid phonies. What they cannot ignore are the legions of small businesses, importers, retailers and consumers who will surely conclude that they’ll be worse off than they are now with the border adjustment tax. It is the sort of issue (tax cuts for the rich! price hikes at Walmart!) that can set off a wave election.
Ryan might persist with the border tax adjustment gimmick, but it likely will mean the end of his tax reform effort. That would be some economic karma if a non-conservative, distortional tax grab knocked the legs out from under a GOP that has decided to discard its fiscally responsible free-market positions.
Aardvark confidently predicts a continuing clusterfuck.
WASHINGTON — A fight over an order that would rescind protections for transgender students in public schools has erupted inside the Trump administration, pitting Attorney General Jeff Sessions against the secretary of education, Betsy DeVos.
Ms. DeVos initially resisted signing off on the order and told President Trump that she was uncomfortable with it, according to three Republicans with direct knowledge of the internal discussions. The draft order would reverse the directives put in place last year by the Obama administration to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice.
Mr. Sessions, who strongly opposes expanding gay, lesbian and transgender rights, fought Ms. DeVos on the issue and pressed her to relent because he could not go forward without her consent. The order must come from the Justice and Education Departments.
Mr. Trump sided with his attorney general, these Republicans said, telling Ms. DeVos in a meeting in the Oval Office on Tuesday that he wanted her to drop her objections. And Ms. DeVos, faced with the choice of resigning or defying the president, has agreed to go along. The Justice Department declined to comment on Wednesday.
Though an official order from the administration was expected to be released as early as Wednesday, Mr. Sessions and Ms. DeVos were still disputing the final language.
Today, Aardvark welcomes new readers from Iceland. Velkomnir, lesendur. A great fan of Icelandic mysteries, Aardvark years to visit your country. Dr. Aardvark, not so much.