Door One or Door Two?

door 1 door 2

Unlike some other observers, I believe that David Von Drehle, in a Washington Post op-ed, has accurately identified the choice that Xi faces:

… Xi faces a test regarding President Trump.

Whatever one thinks of Trump’s trade-war goals, his tactics appear to have left him at Xi’s mercy. The Chinese people — 60 percent of whom spend less than $10 a day— are far more accustomed to economic pain than Trump’s Americans, and they have no meaningful right to vote. So Xi can probably afford to absorb the economic pain necessary to push the trade war past Election Day. This would greatly increase the chance of a recession in 2020 and damage the American president’s chance of reelection.

On the other hand, Xi also has the power to make a few token concessions that would allow Trump to claim victory in the trade war. Markets would give a hearty cheer; Trump would crown himself the China slayer. But Xi might gain four more years of severe disruption in the West.

The hard-power choice here is probably to stay the course on trade negotiations, spreading the pain unevenly and disproportionately on China’s impoverished majority. In the People’s Republic, it’s always the people who suffer. Confronting a U.S. president and potentially ending his career would ratify China’s arrival at superpower status.

Yet Xi may stand to gain more from the soft-power play, graciously springing Trump from the trap he stepped in. Trump’s reelection would gratify his supporters and demoralize everyone else, further depleting the soft power of the United States. It’s shocking that a U.S. president has given such juicy options to the Chinese leader. We’ll learn how canny Xi is by the choice he makes.

As I said, I believe Von Drehle is rightly identified the choice. But he thinks Xi should pick door number two. By contrast, I believe Xi will decide that he, like a great many others, cannot take four more years of Trumpism. Xi has Trump over a barrel, and I think he is going to stick it in and just keep on pumping.

But, as the man said at the end of the quote, “We’ll learn how canny Xi is by the choice he makes.”

Two Repentant Sinners, Having an Epiphany

prodigaql son

Emma Green, Why Some Christians ‘Love the Meanest Parts’ of Trump: The writer Ben Howe grew up in the world of conservative evangelicalism. When he looks at the religious right now, all he sees is a thirst for power and domination.


Howe is still an evangelical, but he thinks—and thinks very correctly—that Trump and his “evangelistic” enablers are given evangelical Christianity a very bad name.

Scaramucci still supports Trump’s plutocratic agenda, but has come to realize that worshipping a jackass is not the best long-term strategy to advance that agenda.

I do not respect Ben How or Anthony Scaramucci, and I do not plan to invite either to my next dinner party. Nor do I claim that Ben How or Anthony Scaramucci is representative of the worlds from whence they came—respectively, evangelical Christianity and plutocracy. I do not necessarily predict that their exit from the Trump Train presages a wider disembarkation among their respective brethren and sistern.

But I will say this. As it becomes clearer with every passing day that Trump is headed down the crapper in 2020, and that he is going to take a lot of R politicians with him, I would not be at all surprised to see a lot of former Trump enablers striking their paws to their foreheads in the sudden realization that they could have had a V8..



Some of today’s readers come from Denmark. We love you, and we love Greenland. Please keep it.

Very, Very Afraid

be afraid

Bruce Gyory, New Polls Show That Trump Should Be Afraid. Very Very Afraid: It’s not that his approval rating is low (although it is). It’s that his disapproval rating is so high.

Prof. Gyory, “a Democratic political strategist and an adjunct professor of political science at SUNY-Albany,” addresses the same issues I have addressed in recent posts on polling data, reaches essentially the same conclusions I have reached, but provides a much richer and more detailed analysis.

But if you want to skip all the pesky data and just cut to the chase: “Trump will lose unless the Democrats fail to nurture and corral [the] majority of opposition to Trump’s presidency.”


It’s Mighty White of Trump to Make Us Want to Celebrate National Brotherhood Week

mighty white

Reuters, For Trump, appeals to white fears about race may be a tougher sell in 2020: Reuters/Ipsos poll:

The July 17-22 poll … found that 29% of whites agreed that “America must protect and preserve its White European heritage,” down 7 points from a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted in August 2017 and 9 points down from another Reuters/Ipsos poll in August 2018.

The poll also found that 17% of whites and 26% of white Republicans said they strongly agree that “white people are currently under attack in this country,” a drop of about 6 points and 8 points respectively from 2017.

The Business Roundtable Gets the Memo

wake up and smell the coffee

In case you don’t know it, the Business Roundtable is made of the chief executive officers of America’s largest corporations.  You will not be surprised to learn that it has a long history of reactionary economic initiatives.

Man Bites Dog, Bigly

Today, the Business Roundtable issued a statement rejecting an important rightwing ideological claim, viz., that corporations must work exclusively for the benefit of their shareholders. Instead, it has adopted the retro left position, that was the prevailing orthodoxy in the pre-Reagan era, to wit, that corporations need to balance the interests of all their “stakeholders,” including their workers, the communities in which they operate, their customers, and of course their shareholders, too.

The controversy is described here.

Indeed, the new statement is inconsistent with the Roundtable’s prior position: hat the interests of stakeholders such as employees are only “relevant as a derivative of the duty to stockholders.”

Now, at this point, my good friend Red Ruby, down at the progressive table at Happy Acres, is thinking that I have wimped out on the evils of big business. Please let the record reflect that I deny the allegation and defy the allegator. The CEOs who make up the Business Roundtable have not suddenly decided to sell all they have and give it to the poor. No, the CEOs who make up the Business Roundtable have awakened, smelled the coffee, and gained some insight on what they need to do to protect their long-term prosperity.

Today’s statement from the Business Roundtable  follows:

Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation

Americans deserve an economy that allows each person to succeed through hard work and creativity and to lead a life of meaning and dignity. We believe the free-market system is the best means of generating good jobs, a strong and sustainable economy, innovation, a healthy environment and economic opportunity for all.

Businesses play a vital role in the economy by creating jobs, fostering innovation and providing essential goods and services. Businesses make and sell consumer products; manufacture equipment and vehicles; support the national defense; grow and produce food; provide health care; generate and deliver energy; and offer financial, communications and other services that underpin economic growth.

While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders. We commit to:

  • –  Delivering value to our customers. We will further the tradition of American companies leading the way in meeting or exceeding customer expectations.
  • –  Investing in our employees. This starts with compensating them fairly and providing important benefits. It also includes supporting them through training and education that help develop new skills for a rapidly changing world. We foster diversity and inclusion, dignity and respect.
  • –  Dealing fairly and ethically with our suppliers. We are dedicated to serving as good partners to the other companies, large and small, that help us meet our missions.
  • –  Supporting the communities in which we work. We respect the people in our communities and protect the environment by embracing sustainable practices across our businesses.
  • –  Generating long-term value for shareholders, who provide the capital that allows companies to invest, grow and innovate. We are committed to transparency and effective engagement with shareholders.

Each of our stakeholders is essential. We commit to deliver value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities and our country.

August 2019