54, 32, and 12

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A Quinnipiac University poll released a few days ago asked voters this question: “In the 2020 general election for president, if Donald Trump is the Republican candidate, would you definitely vote for him, consider voting for him, or would you definitely not vote for him?”

54 percent picked “definitely not vote for” Trump.

32 percent picked “definitely vote for” Trump.

12 percent picked “consider voting for” Trump.

Those percentages add up to 98—which, obviously, is almost everybody. The rest either said they “didn’t know” how they would vote in 2020, or they just refused to answer at all.

Let’s compare these numbers with Trump “approvers” and “disapprovers,” as derived by aggregating polls of “likely and registered voters.” (Today’s results as presented by fivethirtyeight.com are shown above.) Having done so, let us draw some lessons and articulate some working hypotheses.

A Foundational Working Hypothesis—and a Metaphysical Possibility

My foundational working hypothesis is that the above numbers are generally accurate. Accurate, that is, in this specific and limited sense: that they accurately reflect the verbal responses that the entire population would give, if and when asked these same questions by another pollster.

That leaves open the metaphysical possibility that a whole bunch of people might be systematically lying to pollsters about their true beliefs and their true intentions.

I do not believe that to be the case, but, yes, it’s a metaphysical possibility.

Conclusion One

“Approve” and “disapprove” are broad terms, subject to varying interpretations by people who are asked for their opinions. Moreover, I don’t think we ever “approve” or “disapprove” every single thing about any other human being, including even the Trumpster. So “approving” or “disapproving” requires some weighing and balancing of the good against the bad. How you weigh and balance the good versus the bad in another person depends on your values. And different people have different values.

With that thought in mind, observe that the percentage of people who “disapprove” of Trump corresponds pretty closely to the percentage of people who say they will not vote for Trump in 2020, come hell or high water.

That is to say, around 53 or 54 percent of us.

Conclusion Two

By contrast, 32 plus 12 adds to 44, which corresponds very closely to the percentage who “approve” Trump.

I am cursed with a logical mind, so I will spell out this conclusion: About one quarter of the people who tell a pollster they “approve” of Trump are not at all sure they will actually vote for him next time.

Conclusion Three

Even if the 32 percent all turn out at the polls for Trump, and even if the 12 percent who are Trump-cautious also vote for the Trumpster, we still win by about nine or ten points—which implies we also win in the Electoral College.

That’s provided turnout is strong among the 54 percent who definitely won’t vote for Trump.

Conclusion Four

We may be cautiously optimistic in attitude, but we should still be prudent in our actions. That’s not something I deduce logically from the poll numbers. It’s a conclusion I reach when I read the numbers in light of the dire and tragic consequences that would flow from a second term for Trump.

Conclusion Five

We badly need to garner lots of votes from the 12 percent. To have a reasonable prospect of doing so, we need to have an accurate understanding of what the hell the 12 percent might be thinking.

I am no advocate of mendacity or hypocrisy. But different people are moved by different arguments. We need to be making truthful and sound arguments that will rev up our base but simultaneously appeal to many of the 12 percent.

These are not necessarily the same truthful arguments that you or I, personally, would find most persuasive.

Trump’s Working Hypothesis

Trump’s working hypothesis—his “theory of the case”—seems to be that some of his support is weak because some of his supporters fear he may not be enough of a racist thug to suit their taste. So he feels a need to remind them constantly that he is, indeed, a racist thug of the first water.

And a need constantly to remind them to be very afraid of people with brown skin and of people who live in cities, not on farms.

That’s what Trump believes. And, you, dear reader—whose life experience differs from mine and whose gut tells you different things than my gut tells me—might believe it, too.

But I am persuaded that Trump’s working hypothesis is a delusion. And that it’s really important that Trump continues to act on that delusion.

I believe that many of the 32 percent surefire Trump voters are people who revel in Trump’s validation of their stone cold racism, and who enjoy congregating together in large numbers so they can bay at the moon in unison.

But logic tells me that if, at this point in time, you are the kind of person who enjoys Nuremburg rallies, then you are already a surefire Trump voter, not a semi-reluctant passenger on the Trump train.

Better Working Hypotheses about the 12 Percent

Here are several related, rational—and possibly correct—explanations of what is going on.

  1. The 12 percent are comprised, disproportionately of Republican-identifying women, rather than men.
  2. The 12 percent are comprised, disproportionately, of self-identified Republicans who live in cities or suburbs, not in rural areas.
  3. As a group, the 12 percent are much more likely to vote for Trump if he dials down his horseshit, and much more likely not to vote for him if he dials it up.
  4. Working assumption number four is that the 12 percent, as a group, are more affluent than the 32 percent, as a group. Being fairly affluent, their health care situation is, mostly, under control. That being the case, they are fairly susceptible to arguments that Democrats will disrupt the health care system to their considerable prejudice, at least in the short run.
  5. Many of these people hated and despised Hillary Clinton—for reasons good, bad, or indifferent. We are much more likely to garner their votes if we offer up someone who is inherently likeable and who does not suffer from significant character defects.
  6. How the economy is doing will strongly influence how many of the 12 percent hold their noses and vote for Trump.

Trump Celebrates 400 Years of Illegal Immigration

Jamestown

Irony challenged, as ever, today Trump gave a speech celebrating the first meeting of an elected legislature in the Jamestown colony.

One of my ancestors was among that 144 illegal immigrants who arrived in Jamestown on May 13, 1607. A few years later, there came a time when the American Dream just wasn’t workin’ out for him. So he joined a party of raiders, aiming to beg, borrow, or steal—with a strong preference for stealing—food from the Native Americans.

The latter were not best pleased. Illegal immigrants, they might reluctantly tolerate. Illegal immigrants committing crimes, not so much. Illegal immigrants committing crimes against their property? That crossed a line.

They left one of my ancestor’s party alive, to carry this account back to Jamestown:

[The chief] caused [my ancestor] to be bound unto a tree naked with a fire before, and by women his flesh was scraped from his bones with mussel shells, and, before his face, thrown into the fire, and so for want of circumspection [he] miserably perished.

According to an oral tradition, the Natives also said the following, in words or substance, to the witness as he was just leaving the village: “Ttell your confederates that illegal aliens who commit crimes must suffer condign punishment. So the adult criminals had better watch out. But we don’t put kids in cages. What do you think we are? Savages?”

200 Years Later: Migrant Caravans of Illegals Without Visas

During the first decade of the nineteenth century, a migrant caravan of illegal immigrants traveled along the Old Federal Road from South Carolina into the Creek Nation. At that time legal entry into the Creek Nation required a visa. These folks didn’t have no stinkin’ visas. They were, you might say, sin paperless.

Finding a spot they liked, the caravan of immigrants sin papeles settled down and started to build farms. Two of the young people found a preacher and decided to tie the knot in 1809. That is how I come to be sitting at this computer today, blogging away.

All of this illegal immigration was just too much for the Natives. They became decidedly restless. The illegal immigrants assembled in stockades, which they called “forts.” There were quite a number of them. Fortunately, my ancestors did not pick Fort Mims.

Fort Mims

Wake Up and Smell the Flop Sweat

Trump in a corner

Eugene Robinson, Trump’s escalation of racism means one thing: He’s worried about reelection:

Some traumatized Democrats may have lost all faith in polls following the 2016 election, but Trump hasn’t. We know he pays close attention to the numbers. …

Indeed, the Fox News national poll of registered voters showed Trump losing to former vice president Joe Biden by 10 points, 49 percent to 39 percent. It also showed him losing to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) by six points and edging the other top-tier Democratic candidates, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), by a single point each.

Another survey released last week must have made Trump break out in a cold sweat. A Quinnipiac poll of registered voters in Ohio — a state Trump won in 2016 and absolutely needs to win again — showed him trailing Biden by eight points, 50 percent to 42 percent, and statistically tied with all the other leading Democratic contenders. Losing Ohio would almost surely mean a landslide electoral defeat.

The Robinson piece doesn’t discuss in any detail exactly why juicing up the racism might be linked to fear of losing. Instead, Mr. Robinson attributes Trump’s recent behavior to underlying temperament. And, surely, temperament is a big part of it. But here’s the other thing. Health care is important to the voters, and they have decided they now like Obamacare. Taxes are important, and the voters don’t much cotton to big tax cuts for the immensely wealthy.

Trump and his enablers fall back on fear and race-baiting because fear and race-baiting are all they’ve got.

Not genius. But not exactly clownishness, either. Just the only tactic a cornered animal has left to employ.

The Small Difference Between Two Large Numbers

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Over at the B School, they teach that profit or loss is the small difference between two large numbers.

In 2018 Donald Trump thought he was going to juice the base by revving up the racism. The election took place on November 8. On that day, the fivethirtyeight.com aggregation of polls of “likely and registered voters” showed Trump “disapprovers” and 52.4 percent, and Trump “approvers” at 44.0 percent. A difference of 8.2 percent.

And what was the actual result? The actual result, in the aggregate popular vote for members of the House of Representatives, was 8.6 percent.

So let’s compare apples to apples. What do the comparable fivethirtyeight.com numbers look like this morning?

Donald Trump “approvers” have slipped from 44.0 percent to 42.9 percent.

“Disapprovers” are no longer at 52.4 percent. They are now at 53.6 percent.

The difference is no longer 8.2 percent. It’s now at 10.2 percent.

And that’s “approval” versus “disapproval.” Remember that recent Fox poll I posted about? The one where a small percentage of those who told the pollster they “approved” Trump turned around and picked Biden over Trump in response a subsequent question? It’s likely that the 42.9 percent who “approve” of Trump, as of this morning, include a small number who will vote Democratic.

So please buck up, folks. Trump is not a political genius, he’s just a metaphorically blind man who has grabbed hold of a piece of the elephant and foolishly think he understands the whole thing.

Is Donald Trump a Political Genius or a Clown Irrestibly Driven by His Vile Impulses?

I just said the talking heads talk this morning of two silly questions. And the question posed in the headline above is, of course, the second of these. It is occasioned, of course, by the fact that yesterday’s vile tweetstorm took place before Trump’s announcement, in the afternoon, that he was going to replace the competent Director of National Intelligence with a boot licking sycophant, someone inclined to enable Trump more effectively to fulfill his mission as a Russian intelligence asset.

Those focusing only on the vile tweetstorm picked “clown irrestibly driven by his vile impulses.” But other talking heads, looking at the two things together, thought that “political genius” might be the better choice.

The question is silly because the dichotomy is false.

six blind men

The poem tells us that the six blind men were not unintelligent: in fact, they were “to learning much inclined.” Feeling the elephant’s tail and “seeing” a rope was not an act of “genius,” but neither was it evidence that the blind man grasping the rope was a “clown.” What happened, simply, was that each of the six, familiar with only part of the evidence, drew a reasonable but incorrect conclusion from the limited evidence within his grasp.

Donald Trump sees and understands that a large portion of our population are stone cold racists. Because he has no moral limits, and because he, himself, is a stone cold racist, Donald Trump correctly understands that he can maximize the political enthusiasm of those who think like him—by maximizing the vile, racist tweets and the mob chants.

So far, so bad.

But, metaphorically “blinded” by his incapacity to understand the non-racists and anti-racists among us—or, indeed, to count them—Donald  Trump erroneously thinks his race-baiting strategy is the way to win reelection.

And what should progressives do? Progressives should take a lesson from Brer Rabbit. We should take every occasion to shout, “Please, Donald, o please, please don’t throw us into that racist briarpatch!”

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And the Smile on the Face of the Tiger

lady from Niger

There was a young lady of Niger

Who smiled as she rode on a tiger.

They returned from the ride

With the lady inside

And the smile on the face of the tiger.

A Tiresome Rhetorical Question with an Obvious Answer

This morning the talking heads talk yet again of two tiresome questions. In this post I will address the first of these: Why aren’t the Republicans standing up to Trump’s racism?

This is not a difficult question. Let us, please, roll back the film for several decades. In my early youth, the Democrats were willing to put up with racism in some parts of our country in order to gain votes for a New Deal economic agenda. But, beginning in the 1950s, the Supreme Court forced us to address the issue of racism. And in the 1960s the Democrats decided they would have to address the issue legislatively, even though they would royally piss off a good portion of their base.

That left the racists without a comfortable political home. (Just as, BTW, the Never Trump anti-New Deal Republicans are without a comfortable political home today.)

Seeing a political opening to gain votes in their long effort to roll back the New Deal, Nixon and the Republicans adopted the Southern Strategy. In The Long Southern Strategy,  we are reminded that the ensuing developments were complex and took place in distinct stages. But that was the essence of it: coopt the racists to oppose any expansion of the New Deal and, if possible, to roll it back.

Fast forward to the year of Our Lord 2019. Though some still support it, the roll-back-the-New-Deal strategy is vastly unpopular. Obamacare, for example, currently enjoys wide support. By contrast, Republicans have no coherent health care plan. Currently they don’t even have a health care plan at all—except to pursue a suicidal lawsuit to take away the protections enjoyed by those with preexisting conditions.

Pretty much all the political steam and emotional oomph has left the anti-New Deal agenda. Pretty much all that is left is the racism.

And a bunch of empty-suited Republican pols have got in front of a mob of peasants with pitchforks. If a pol stopped in the middle of the road and urged the mob to calm down, it would not work. The peasants would keep on running. They would run over the empty-suited pol, pausing only long enough to stick their pitchforks through a vital organ or two.

Changing the metaphor, the Republican pols have taken a ride on the tiger, and they have wound up inside.

So, children, would you please cease and desist from bootlessly inquiring, Where oh where are the Republicans?

**

Good morning—or afternoon or evening, as the case may be—to readers in Austria, Germany, the Philippines, Thailand, and the United States, all places where they know something about peasants with pitchforks.

The Darkest Hour is Just Before Dawn

darkest

Came across these two articles late this afternoon. Cumulative, but, IMHO, worth a look, nevertheless.

Jonathan Chait, Why Trump Spent his Summer Vacation Sending Racist Tweets:

The best explanations for Trump’s actions are often the stupidest ones. Trump has decided the answer to “how I spent my summer vacation” will be sending racist tweets, primarily because that was the thing that he felt like doing at those moments, contradicting the pleas of most of his fellow Republicans.

Yet these impulsive thumb-rants amount to some of the most important and revealing communications of Trump’s presidency. For one thing, they convey the beliefs that have undergirded his career. As Victor Blackwell points out, Trump reserves terms like “infest” and “infestation” — which most people use only to describe diseases or vermin — exclusively for nonwhites. As much hate as he might generate for a target like, say, the mainstream media or transnational institutions, he would never describe the New York Times as an infestation.

Ed Kilgore, Trump’s Hate Offensive Could Turn Off White Working-Class Women

Yeah, not to mention royally pissing off more than half of the voters who showed up last time. Not to mention making every single African-American hopping-up-and-down mad.

Kilgore writes, “If Trump were being purely strategic, he’d tone down the hate-rage and the racism while continuing to pound away at the vulnerable points of the progressive agenda. But that may not be in his DNA. And it’s possible the joy he takes in turning Americans against each other could be his undoing.”

Shhh!!! It’s a Secret!!! Nobody Tell Him!!!

Yes, it probably is in his DNA. But sometimes, faced with mortal danger arising from behaviors deep within their DNA, people manage to wake up and smell the coffee, curb their compulsions, and save themselves from destruction.

Sometimes they save themselves before it is too late.

And sometimes they don’t.

Trump doesn’t face just the indignity of defeat in 2020, he faces the likelihood of indictment and jail.

So, please, nobody tell him that his racist rants are leading to his own destruction. Encourage him, instead, to give witness to his inner asshole at every opportunity.

This thing is bad, and it’s getting worse, and it probably needs to get worse before it gets better. Sometimes it has to get very dark, before the dawn breaks.

A Matter of Definition

seeds

Washington Post, Trump attacked Baltimore. The city’s newspaper wrote a scathing response.

You will remember he also said downtown Atlanta is vermin infested.

In his lizard brain, black folks are all vermin. So it follows, as a matter of definition, that a majority black congressional district is “infested” by the “vermin” who constitute its majority population.

The Baltimore Sun Would Like You to Know: “Better to Have Some Vermin Living in Your Neighborhood Than to be One”

vermin

From the Baltimore Sun Editorial Board:

In case anyone missed it, the president of the United States had some choice words to describe Maryland’s 7th congressional district on Saturday morning. Here are the key phrases: “no human being would want to live there,” it is a “very dangerous & filthy place,” “Worst in the USA” and, our personal favorite: It is a “rat and rodent infested mess.” He wasn’t really speaking of the 7th as a whole. He failed to mention Ellicott City, for example, or Baldwin or Monkton or Prettyboy, all of which are contained in the sprawling yet oddly-shaped district that runs from western Howard County to southern Harford County. No, Donald Trump’s wrath was directed at Baltimore and specifically at Rep. Elijah Cummings, the 68-year-old son of a former South Carolina sharecropper who has represented the district in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1996.

It’s not hard to see what’s going on here. The congressman has been a thorn in this president’s side, and Mr. Trump sees attacking African American members of Congress as good politics, as it both warms the cockles of the white supremacists who love him and causes so many of the thoughtful people who don’t to scream. President Trump bad-mouthed Baltimore in order to make a point that the border camps are “clean, efficient & well run,” which, of course, they are not — unless you are fine with all the overcrowding, squalor, cages and deprivation to be found in what the Department of Homeland Security’s own inspector-general recently called “a ticking time bomb.”

In pointing to the 7th, the president wasn’t hoping his supporters would recognize landmarks like Johns Hopkins Hospital, perhaps the nation’s leading medical center. He wasn’t conjuring images of the U.S. Social Security Administration, where they write the checks that so many retired and disabled Americans depend upon. It wasn’t about the beauty of the Inner Harbor or the proud history of Fort McHenry. And it surely wasn’t about the economic standing of a district where the median income is actually above the national average. No, he was returning to an old standby of attacking an African American lawmaker from a majority black district on the most emotional and bigoted of arguments. It was only surprising that there wasn’t room for a few classic phrases like “you people” or “welfare queens” or “crime-ridden ghettos” or a suggestion that the congressman “go back” to where he came from.

This is a president who will happily debase himself at the slightest provocation. And given Mr. Cummings’ criticisms of U.S. border policy, the various investigations he has launched as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, his willingness to call Mr. Trump a racist for his recent attacks on the freshmen congresswomen, and the fact that “Fox & Friends” had recently aired a segment critical of the city, slamming Baltimore must have been irresistible in a Pavlovian way. Fox News rang the bell, the president salivated and his thumbs moved across his cell phone into action.

As heartening as it has been to witness public figures rise to Charm City’s defense on Saturday, from native daughter House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, we would above all remind Mr. Trump that the 7th District, Baltimore included, is part of the United States that he is supposedly governing. The White House has far more power to effect change in this city, for good or ill, than any single member of Congress including Mr. Cummings. If there are problems here, rodents included, they are as much his responsibility as anyone’s, perhaps more because he holds the most powerful office in the land.

Finally, while we would not sink to name-calling in the Trumpian manner — or ruefully point out that he failed to spell the congressman’s name correctly (it’s Cummings, not Cumming) — we would tell the most dishonest man to ever occupy the Oval Office, the mocker of war heroes, the gleeful grabber of women’s private parts, the serial bankrupter of businesses, the useful idiot of Vladimir Putin and the guy who insisted there are “good people” among murderous neo-Nazis that he’s still not fooling most Americans into believing he’s even slightly competent in his current post. Or that he possesses a scintilla of integrity. Better to have some vermin living in your neighborhood than to be one.

The Difference Between George Wallace and Donald Trump

Wallace and Trump

Unlike Trump, who is a sociopath, George Wallace actually had a conscience, though he frequently chose not to do its bidding.

Otherwise, these thoughts by someone named Jonathan V. Last, are apt:

Sometimes I like to catalogue what it is Republicans have gotten from the Trump administration. There’s a short list of accomplishments:

Mitt Romney’s corporate tax cut

Marco Rubio’s judicial nominees

Rand Paul’s foreign policy

Bill Clinton’s personal ethics

And George Wallace’s sense of decency and decorum.

You laugh, but I’m pretty sure that it’s that final item that’s actually the big payoff for Trump’s base. They don’t put up with “Send Her Back” so that they can get the other stuff. They put up with the other stuff so that they can get to shout “Send Her Back.” …

Got that? Rush Limbaugh now tells conservatives and Republicans that all that “concern for the deficit and the budget” was “bogus for as long as it’s been around.”

I wonder how many of those Tea Party type Republicans realized that.

Funnily enough, I suspect that the answer could well be “All of them.”

Because this may be one occasion where Rush is telling the God’s honest truth.

Keep that in mind the next time conservatives tell you that you have to vote for Trump because it’s a binary choice and if the Dem wins then it’ll be human sacrifices, dogs and cats living together, and mass hysteria.

And ask yourself: Do these people really care about this stuff? Or is this like the “deficit and budget” malarky they spent two generations crying about?

Ask the Women

women high up

Ronald Brownstein, Will Trump’s Racist Attacks Help Him? Ask Blue-Collar White Women. His strategy rests on a bet: that these voters will respond just as enthusiastically to his belligerence as working-class white men.

Well, they did ask the blue collar white women. Read Brownstein’s article to find out what the women said.

Three Choices

Confederate MAGA

We are moving rapidly toward a point where the Trumpster will need to pick one of three alternatives.

Alternative One would be, from his perspective, by far the most prudent choice.

Alternative Two would be much riskier than Alternative One, but far less risky than Alternative Three.

Alternative Three would be, from his perspective, a really bad option, because it leads to his likely defeat, followed in due course by his likely indictment.

Alternative One

Work out a Spiro Agnew-type deal under which he resigns from office in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

Alternative Two

Cool it with the racist rhetoric—because your base damn well knows who you are, and your base is pretty much as worked up as it’s going to get. Stop the inflammatory tweets. Talk in general terms about the economy and national greatness.

Do these things, and you have a shot at winning reelection and avoiding indictment, maybe until the statute of limitations runs out on your various crimes.

Alternative Three

Keep on dialing up the racism and xenophobia to a fever pitch. Keep on standing in front of howling mobs. About 27 percent of the voters will be thrilled. But you will motivate the hell out of the large number of people who despise you. And you will drive away the Republican women. Bigly. And then you will lose the election, be indicted, and spend some time in the hoosegow.

Which Will He Choose?

Damned if I know.

The talking heads are saying “he’s delusional” and “he can’t help himself.” And that may be true.

I know that, if I were in a situation like the Trumpster’s, I would take the Spiro Agnew deal, get out of Dodge, and buy a dacha on the Black Sea.

But I also know that this is what happened earlier this morning.

Trump Assails Congressional Critic, Calling His Majority-Black District a ‘Disgusting’ Rat-Infested ‘Mess’:

WASHINGTON — President Trump lashed out at a leading African-American congressman on Saturday, calling him “a brutal bully” and denouncing his Baltimore-based district as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.”

Mr. Trump singled out Representative Elijah E. Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland and chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee who has been a leading critic of the president. Only two days ago, Mr. Cummings was authorized by his committee to subpoena work-related text and emails on personal accounts by White House officials, including Mr. Trump’s daughter and son-in-law.

Mr. Trump did not mention that in his string of Twitter messages on Saturday, but instead suggested that Mr. Cummings was unfairly attacking Border Patrol agents. Beyond denouncing Mr. Cummings’s majority-black district as a rat-infested mess, he also made a vague charge of corruption by suggesting federal money sent there “is stolen” and demanding an investigation, without offering proof or elaborating on what he meant.

What the hell was he trying to do? Bully Elijah Cummings into submission? Elijah Cummings? I really don’t think so.

Make his racist base happy with another racist tweet or two? Well, 25 or 30 percent of the population will be happy, because they are racists and they love racist tweets. But they were going to vote for him anyway. And his hateful rhetoric will terrify another goodly portion of his sometime voters. Because they will intuit, rightly, that his rhetoric is so hateful as to put at risk the whole plutocratic + racist political project.

Think about this. If a reasonable number of African-Americans show up to vote in Georgia, then, there goes Georgia. Maybe the same thing might happen even in Alabama: remember what happened in the special election for the Senate.

Given his perilous position, does it make any sense on God’s green earth for Donald Trump to walk around waving a sign that says “I HATE BLACK PEOPLE AND HOLD THEM ALL IN UTTER CONTEMPT”?

Does the pope shit in the woods?

pope in the woods

The Fab Federalist Five Ride Again, or, Say What?

say what

Yesterday, in a 5-4 ruling in Trump v. Sierra Club, the Supreme Court allowed the transfer of military funds to build part of Trump’s border wall. The one paragraph opinion of the majority reads, in full, as follows:

The application for stay presented to JUSTICE KAGAN and by her referred to the Court is granted. Among the reasons is that the Government has made a sufficient showing at this stage that the plaintiffs have no cause of action to obtain review of the Acting Secretary’s compliance with Section 8005. The District Court’s June 28, 2019 order granting a permanent injunction is stayed pending disposition of the Government’s appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and disposition of the Government’s petition for a writ of certiorari, if such writ is timely sought. Should the petition for a writ of certiorari be denied, this stay shall terminate automatically. In the event the petition for a writ of certiorari is granted, the stay shall terminate when the Court enters its judgment.

“Section 8005”?

Say what?

Back when I was practicing law in Noo Yak, it was customary, when citing a statute or regulation, to cite the statute or regulation in such a way that a reader would know what in the hell you are talking about. If I had prepared a draft legal opinion referring only to “Section 8005,” my boss, Mr. Potatohead, would not have been best pleased.

But I am a resourceful person, and checked out the mysterious “Section 8005” on the google machine. From which I learned that, when the Secretary of Defense transfers money from one use to another use, the new use must be a military one, the transfer must be occasioned by some unforeseen circumstance, and the new use must not be for a purpose for which Congress has previously denied funds.

It surely sounds to me as if transferring military funds to build a wall on the border strikes out on all three counts.

But wait!

Assuming arguendo—and we shysters do love to go about assuming arguendo—that the transfer violated the law in the abstract, who has legal “standing” to make the claim. Anybody? For any reason? For example, what about people who enjoy strolling through the great outdoors in drug running corridors?

The government said nope, those kinds of people don’t have standing.

Yes we do have standing, said the Sierra Club.

Well, said the Fab Five, we don’t think your case on standing is strong enough to justify a preliminary injunction, while the case is litigated, decided, and appealed. And, so, pending the outcome of the case, Trump can go ahead and spend some military money on the border wall.

And, with that, President Pyrrhus has earned another famous victory—one that will probably allow his to build a few more miles of his wall that was so unpopular that a Republican-controlled Congress would not appropriate money for it.

**

This is what comes of having literate friends. In a post yesterday, I noted some readership from the Bailiwick of Jersey and make some reference to Brexit. I am now in receipt of apparently definitive information on the topic of Brexit and the island of Jersey. My informant summarizes the Jersey government’s situation as “knee deep in shit, with a stiff upper lip.”

Never Again

Michelle Boorstein and Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Trump appears to attack ‘The Squad’ on behalf of the Jewish people. Here’s what that sounds like to Jews.

David Frum, What If They’re Not Coming for the Jews This Time? Trump poses a new test for the American Jewish community.

To sum up the two articles: it’s complicated.

To sum up Trump: if anyone thinks he wouldn’t turn on the Jews in a New York minute, they are sadly mistaken.

Remember, back last year, when George Soros was financing all those migrant caravans full of scary brown people?

Well, sure as shootin’, come 2020, old George is gonna be back at it again, a-financin’ of them there caravans.

And, if you don’t believe me, than I can make you a really good deal on some Heights in Golan.

* *

This evening I see that I have my first reader from the Bailiwick of Jersey. I was going to say, “Sorry about Brexit.” But Wikipedia tells me y’all have a “special relationship” with the European Community, so I hope that continues.

Sleepy Beats Dopey

seven-dwarfs

The sample polled by Fox in its most recent poll disapprove of Trump by six points (51 percent to 46 percent). That makes them materially more Trump-friendly, as a group, as compared to the samples of people polled by others; for example, fivethirtyeight.com this morning, in its poll of polls, shows ten percent more disapproving (53.1 percent) than approving (43.1 percent), among “polls of likely and registered voters).

Nevertheless, in this relatively Trump-friendly sample, Fox shows Sleepy Joe beating Dopey Don by ten points (49 to 39 percent).

And, among this relatively Trump-friendly group of voters, Fox shows Bernie the Socialist beating Dopey Don by six points (46 to 40 percent). (I think we might as well call Bernie Grumpy. Don’t you?)

Fox has Trump winning against Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris by one point.

Among the sample Fox polled, the percentage voting for Trump varies between 39 percent (Biden) and 42 percent (Warren), a range of three percentage points. Fox shows a materially greater difference from one Democratic candidate to another. Biden gets 49 percent, whereas Warren gets only 40 percent.

Initial Takeaways

First initial takeaway: absent a big change of circumstances, Trump has a ceiling of about 42 percent. If the Democrats nominate a ham sandwich, only 42 percent of the voters will exercise the franchise in favor of Donald J. Trump.

Second initial takeaway: there is a disconnect between the percentage of Trump “supporters” in this population (46 percent) and the Trump voting ceiling (42 percent).

How to explain the discrepancy? One way explanation is that some of the people Fox polled lack precision of verbal expression and generally cannot find their ass with both hands.

Another possible explanation is that some voters are prepared to say they “support” Trump, e.g. because of low taxes or maybe the fetuses, but are unprepared to hold their noses and actually vote for him again. Who knows?

“Crossing the Line”

Question 54 in the Fox poll was interesting: “Do you feel Donald Trump’s recent tweets, in which he criticizes four minority Democratic congresswomen and tells them to go back to the countries they came from, were an acceptable political attack of did those tweets cross the line? There were three choices: “acceptable political attack,” “crossed the line,” or “don’t know.”

Ten percent said they didn’t know, 27 percent picked “acceptable political attack,” and 63 percent chose “crossed the line.”

I think we may assume that the 27 percent fully agreed with Trump’s sentiments, and that these 27 percent are the hard core of the hard core. By contrast, those who opted for “crossed the line” might have had a couple of different thoughts in mind. Undoubtedly, many of them picked that option because they found Trump’s rants abhorrent and un-Americans. Others, however, might have said to themselves, “Well, I second Trump’s emotion, but I’m afraid his choice of words will offend many others, and so what Trump said was counterproductive.”

A Important Message from Your Friends at Fox News

Third preliminary takeaway: In any event, I think Fox News wanted to send the Trumpster a big message: the Nuremburg rallies are doing a wonderful job—of inciting exactly 27 percent of our fellow Mericans into an ethno-nationalist fever pitch—but are scaring the shit out of the rest of us.

“The Judiciary Committee is Investigating Whether to Recommend Articles of Impeachment.”

constitution

The Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives has filed legal proceedings seeking disclosure of the grand jury materials employed by Muller. (The court filing is here.)

Let me refer you back to my effort to summarize the law on the extent of Congress’s power to investigate the president and the executive branch. To summarize the summary: even absent impeachment, Congress’s power to investigate is very broad. Even absent impeachment, Congress’s legal power to investigate should suffice to get the goods on Trump.

That said, the House of Representatives’ power to fish for relevant information is at its strongest when it is acting in its constitutional role as a sort of grand jury, considering whether or not to impeach (indict) the president for “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

The truth is that the House is in fact considering whether to impeach Trump. It may or may not take that step—for a variety of reasons, some good, some bad, and some indifferent. But the fact is that impeachment is under active consideration.

Based on high constitutional law—and also on the maxim, “when all else fails, tell the truth”—the Judiciary Committee today told the truth, asking the district court in Washington, D.C., to authorize access to grand jury material so that it may perform its constitutional obligations.

A headline in its legal filing states, and I quote, “The Judiciary Committee is Investigating Whether to Recommend Articles of Impeachment.”

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar Speaks

Ilhan

Don’t want to hear her? Well, then, kindly crawl back under the rock from which you recently emerged.

And for once—just this once—try really hard to be a credit to your race.

From today’s New York Times:

Throughout history, demagogues have used state power to target minority communities and political enemies, often culminating in state violence. Today, we face that threat in our own country, where the president of the United States is using the influence of our highest office to mount racist attacks on communities across the land. In recent weeks, he has lashed out unprompted against four freshman Democrats in the House of Representatives: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and me, from Minnesota.

Last week, as President Trump watched the crowd at one of his rallies chant “Send her back,” aimed at me and my family, I was reminded of times when such fearmongering was allowed to flourish. I also couldn’t help but remember the horrors of civil war in Somalia that my family and I escaped, the America we expected to find and the one we actually experienced. 

The president’s rally will be a defining moment in American history. It reminds us of the grave stakes of the coming presidential election: that this fight is not merely about policy ideas; it is a fight for the soul of our nation. The ideals at the heart of our founding — equal protection under the law, pluralism, religious liberty — are under attack, and it is up to all of us to defend them.

Having survived civil war in my home country as a child, I cherish these values. In Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, I saw grade-school children as young as me holding assault rifles in the streets. I spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya, where there was no formal schooling or even running water. But my family and I persevered, fortified by our deep solidarity with one another, the compassion of others and the hope of a better life in the United States.

The America we arrived in was different from the one my grandfather had hoped to find. The land of opportunity he imagined was in fact full of challenges. People identified me in ways that were foreign to me: immigrant, black. I learned that these identities carried stigmas, and I experienced prejudice as a visibly Muslim woman.

But the beauty of this country is not that our democracy is perfect. It’s that embedded in our Constitution and democratic institutions are the tools to make it better. It was in the diverse community of Minneapolis — the very community that welcomed me home with open arms after Mr. Trump’s attacks against me last week — where I learned the true value of democracy. I started attending political caucuses with my grandfather, who cherished democracy as only someone who has experienced its absence could. I soon recognized that the only way to ensure that everyone in my community had a voice was by participating in the democratic process.

Today, that basic promise is under threat. Our democratic institutions have been weaponized. The Trump administration has sought to restrict people from exercising their voting rights. It has sought to undermine the basic checks and balances of our Constitution by not respecting subpoenas from Congress. And the president has used overtly racist rhetoric to strike fear and division in communities of color and religious minorities across the country.

The idea — explicitly expressed by this president and enshrined into law by executive order — that people from certain Muslim-majority countries cannot enter this country is not just bad policy; it is a direct threat to liberal democracy. The chants of “Jews will not replace us,” shouted at a rally in Charlottesville in 2017 by white supremacists, whom this president tacitly accepted, are a direct attack on the values of religious freedom central to the founding of our nation.

The reasons for weaponizing division are not mysterious. Racial fear prevents Americans from building community with one another — and community is the lifeblood of a functioning democratic society. Throughout our history, racist language has been used to turn American against American in order to benefit the wealthy elite. Every time Mr. Trump attacks refugees is a time that could be spent discussing the president’s unwillingness to raise the federal minimum wage for up to 33 million Americans. Every racist attack on four members of Congress is a moment he doesn’t have to address why his choice for labor secretary has spent his career defending Wall Street banks and Walmart at the expense of workers. When he is launching attacks on the free press, he isn’t talking about why his Environmental Protection Agency just refused to ban a pesticide linked to brain damage in children.

His efforts to pit religious minorities against one another stem from the same playbook. If working Americans are too busy fighting with one another, we will never address the very real and deep problems our country faces — from climate change to soaring inequality to lack of quality affordable health care.

The only way to push back is to be unequivocal about our values. It is not enough to condemn Mr. Trump’s racism. We must affirmatively confront racist policies — whether the caging of immigrant children at the border or the banning of Muslim immigrants or the allowing of segregation in public housing. It is not enough to condemn the corruption and self-dealing of this administration. We must support policies that unmistakably improve working people’s lives, including by strengthening collective bargaining, raising the minimum wage and pursuing a universal jobs guarantee.

The consequences of this fight will not just be felt here at home but around the world. Right-wing nationalism in Hungary, Russia, France, Britain and elsewhere is on the march in ways not seen in decades. America has been a beacon of democratic ideals for the world. If we succumb to the fever of right-wing nationalism, it will have consequences far beyond our borders.

The proudest moments in our history — from the Emancipation Proclamation to the civil rights movement to the struggle against fascism — have come when we fight to protect and expand basic democratic rights. Today, democracy is under attack once again. It’s time to respond with the kind of conviction that has made America great before.

So, to Sum Up

Pyrrhus on Horeseback

We spent the day focusing on a profusion of unrefuted facts proving, beyond peradventure of doubt, that Trump is a traitorous, sociopathic, narcissistic lying sack of shit.

However, we learned no new facts today.

It was, accordingly, a huge victory for President Pyrrhus. And the progressives were compelled  to slink away with their tails between the legs, rending their garments in a paroxysm of despondency.