The 2020 Lawyers’ Enrichment Executive Order

wealth

Washington Post, Trump signs four executive orders after economic relief talks with Democrats collapsed

I do not know how the courts will ultimately deal with all of the aspects of Trump’s latest effort this afternoon to garner unconstitutional power unto himself.

But I am sure that this afternoon’s development will do much toward enriching lots of members of the legal profession beyond the dreams of avarice.

 

Republican Party Futurology: Another Whack at the Piñata

whacking the pinata

John V. Last, Identity Politics Conservatism: conservative elites trying to come up with the next stage of Trumpism are out of touch with what Republican voters actually want:

I keep telling people that Trump is forever and no one believes me.

I get that. I don’t want to believe me, either.

But there are two ways to view 2016.

The first is that Donald Trump broke apart the fusionist Republican coalition by discovering that GOP voters have different policy priorities than GOP elites.

The second is that Donald Trump broke apart the fusionist Republican coalition by discovering that some large core of GOP voters are motivated primarily by identity-grievance politics and, unlike GOP elites, have no policy priorities.

Mr. Last correctly ascribes the first view—the erroneous perception—to David Brooks.

No, allows Last:

Do these people want tariffs, or free trade? Do they hate socialism, or do they want the government picking winners and losers according to the national interest? Are they pro-life, or are the deaths of 160,000 people just something that “is what it is”?

The Identity Politics Conservatism theory would say that these people don’t care a whit about the policies—they care about who is doing the policymaking. …

The logic of Identity Politics Conservatism suggests that all of this think tanking and speechifying is—at best—tertiary to what these voters care about. They do not want a new strategy for bringing tech giants to heel.

They want Lafayette Park.

If I could distill the difference between the Conservative Reformation and the Identity Politics Conservatism viewpoints to a single sentence, it would be this:

One theory holds that voters responded to Trump despite the tweets; the other posits that voters responded to Trump because of the tweets.

Wrong Again

This afternoon, David Brooks sucks his thumb at almost interminable length on the topic of the future of the Republican Party. Will Trump stick around after he loses, bigly? No, David allows: “My guess it that if Trump gets crushed in the election, millions of Republicans will decide they never liked that loser and jerk anyway.”

Nope. Wrong guess.

Proceeding from that incorrect premise, Brooks reasons his way to the conclusion that the “ intellectual future of conservatism will be wrestled over at a series of forums at the Center for Social, Cultural and Constitutional Studies at the American Enterprise Institute.”

I kid you not.

David is a nice fellow. Dr. Aardvark and I look forward to his weekly appearance on the PBS Evening News.

He’s so nice, in fact, that I’m not even going to try to sell him the Brooklyn Bridge.

deed

Here’s a Quarter, Call Someone Who Cares

TPM, Pelosi on Republicans: ‘Perhaps You Mistook Them For Someone Who Gives A Damn’:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had harsh words for her fellow White House negotiators Thursday morning in response to a question about why they can’t at least come together on a new deal for the most vulnerable people in the face of the pandemic.

“Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn for what you just described,” she quipped, earning a soft “jeez” from CNBC’s Jim Cramer.

Greg Sargent, The big, ugly disconnect handing over Trump’s response to the crisis:

President Trump has blithely declared that the most dire public health crisis in modern U.S. history will just “disappear” or “go away” nearly two dozen times since the novel coronavirus first arrived on our shores. It has been far and away one of the most consistent things he has said on any topic.

So is it any wonder that Trump’s position on the economic catastrophe it has unleashed is almost exactly the same?

A strange disconnect is hovering over two of the biggest events in our politics right now: the economic rescue talks in Congress, and Trump’s new ad campaign against Joe Biden, which boasts a retooled message that’s supposed to reverse Trump’s plummeting fortunes.

For Trump, both are proceeding as if the economic calamity we’re sliding into simply isn’t any kind of big deal at all, as if it’s something that will “go away” or “disappear” with little effort on his part, other than getting public officials to stop taking such nettlesome steps to combat the health crisis.

New York Times, The Unique U.S. Failure to Control the Virus: Slowing the coronavirus has been especially difficult for the United States because of its tradition of prioritizing individualism and missteps by the Trump administration.

An extended, illustrated thumb-sucker on the topic described in the headline and sub-headline.

Of course, one might also throw in the persistent, willful anti-intellectualism and science denial.

Baghdad Bob Keeps Telling His Peeps to Behave Like Jerks; His Peeps Keep Behaving Like Jerks; The Virus Keeps Spreading

This afternoon, the Washington Post lets us know that,

A new report suggests the summer’s surge of covid-19 infections and deaths has knocked the U.S. economy off its tentative path to recovery. Hiring slowed dramatically in July, according to an estimate by ADP, as businesses added fewer than 170,000 new jobs compared to some economists’ predictions of more than 1 million.

President Trump showed no sign of admitting the magnitude of the crisis. In wide-ranging, frequently erroneous comments on “Fox & Friends” Wednesday, he claimed covid-19 was spreading in a “relatively small portion” of the country (it is spreading nearly everywhere); said children are “virtually immune” to the virus (they are not); and once again insisted the outbreak will “will go away like things go away.”

Saving Lives is Verboten

The truth is forbidden. See John Cassidy in The New Yorker, earlier today:

On June 3rd, according to a running tallymaintained by the Times, the seven-day average for confirmed new cases of COVID-19 was 21,958. On Monday, August 3rd, the seven-day average was 60,202. That’s an increase of about a hundred and seventy-five per cent in two months. Since early July, as the virus has spread across the country, the number of deaths from COVID-19 has more than doubled. Even after a welcome decline during the past few days, the weekly average is still more than a thousand a day.

Confronted with these developments, Trump has become even more brazen in promoting an alternative reality. On Monday, he lashed out at Deborah Birx, the response coördinator of the White House’s coronavirus task force, tweeting, “So Crazy Nancy Pelosi said horrible things about Dr. Deborah Birx, going after her because she was too positive on the very good job we are doing on combatting the China Virus, including Vaccines & Therapeutics. In order to counter Nancy, Deborah took the bait & hit us. Pathetic!”

The President was referring to an interview that Birx gave to CNN’s Dana Bash over the weekend, and if you watch it, you’ll see that she didn’t “hit” Trump or his Administration at all. To the contrary, Birx defended the White House task force, saying that it had shifted course more than a month ago: after it became clear that the pandemic had entered a new phase, the task force adopted a more granular approach, providing individual municipalities and counties with the support and guidance they needed to address the rising number of cases, she said. She also pointed out that, in some places where they have been introduced, mitigation efforts seem to be having a positive impact. In hard-hit Arizona, Florida, and Texas, and in a half-dozen other states, new-case numbers have declined somewhat in the past two weeks, the Times’ interactive guide shows. (Case numbers are still rising in fifteen states and Puerto Rico.)

What was Birx’s offense? She openly acknowledged that the virus is spreading, and she warned people in Trump-supporting areas of the dangers that this presents. “I want to be very clear,” she said. “What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It’s into the rural as [well as] urban areas. And, to everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus.” Birx went on to say that people living in rural areas need to socially distance and wear masks—including at home, if they have potentially vulnerable family members. In other words, Birx used her media platform to try to save lives.

It’s Going to Get Worse

Boxers

I will apologize in advance if I am telling you things today that you already know. I try to focus on things you might not know, or on insights that might possibly have eluded you. But sometimes one needs just to sum up the lay of the land.

The lay of the land is not good.

The Pandemic. I sat this morning, drinking my last cup of coffee, thinking of the Boxer Rebellion—a time during which the “Fists of Righteous Harmony” indulged the belief that they were immune from bullets.

Despite their fervent conviction of their bullet immunity, repeated empirical experiments, I am sorry to say, proved them to be wrong.

Now, before we go on, let us all please have a good belly laugh at the expense of the Boxers. What silly people! If anyone deserved to receive Darwin Awards on a massive scale, surely it was the Fists of Righteous Harmony.

Ha, ha, ha. Ha, ha, ha.

Now, let us fast forward to August, 2020, a time when, as I previously reported, 11 percent of our adult population proudly proclaim that they do not wear masks. A time when 32 percent of our adult population claim to believe that Orange Man is doing a wonderful job dealing with the pandemic. A time when 154,471 of us have died of the pandemic. A time when pandemic deaths are surging in the Midwest. A time when we are on track to grow the death total to multiple hundreds of thousands.

The Boxers had nothing on us. Only about 100,000 people died in the Boxer Rebellion.

So, one might say, the joke is on us.

Or, to be more precise, the joke is on folks who would laugh at the Boxers and their bullet immunity while gaily waltzing down the street in Mississippi or Arkansas, maskless, still believing the malarkey that falls from the mouth of God’s Anointed One.

Depression Looming. As Reuters tell us, U.S. second-quarter GDP falls at steepest rate since Great Depression.

And that’s with the pandemic costing about 150,000 lives. Imagine how the economy will respond as we double and triple that number.

And, as Republicans in Congress keep looking for that phantom “V-shaped economic recovery”—a mirage as elusive as the Boxers’ bullet immunity—Congress dithers on a new recovery package.

The Mad King. One could go on at great length. For me, Exhibit A is how his calumnies against mail-in voting are wrecking his own slim chance at reelection. See, for example, thehill.com, GOP fears Trump attack on mail-in vote will sabotage turnout; Politico, Trump’s assault on mail voting threatens his reelection bid.

So, to Review the Bidding.

Mad King, utterly delusional.

Delusional minority of our population—who make the Boxers look fairly sane by comparison.

Looming loss of life on a scale yet unheard of.

And a new Great Depression on the way.

A Guest Post from Coaling Forest

whuppin

Apropos of Trump’s suggestion of election delay, Clarence Darrow, writing from deep within Coaling Forest, explains it all in this here guest post.

He knows he is in for an ass whuppin’. His people have told him as much.

His reptile essence is hunting for an escape. Cancelling the election is the natural response for him and his ilk.

He may have sense enough to know that even his asswipes in the Senate won’t go along with that. (Even they, I believe, badly want this episode over so they can slink back to their old more comfortable ways.)

Upon an impending defeat or, less likely, after one, he will quit and take his band of prehensile tail dragging fans with him—thereby sealing the vault of the GOP grave.  

These are some possible other signs to watch for:

    • he will replace Pence with Haley and scapegoat Pence for the virus fuckup;
    • he will not attend any of the debates (of this I’m quite sure), and
    • he will abandon his adopted party at the worst possible time for it to try a recovery in time for November.  

Look what he’s up to in Kansas with Kobach and McConnell.  

In fact, his vitriol toward the GOP will be worse that his venom toward the Dems.

sore loser

 

The Cake Appears to be Baked

baked cake

A new national poll, released today, asks this question:

Which of these statements describes you best? [I support President Trump, and there’s almost nothing that could change that/ I support President Trump right now, but I’m open to changing my mind if things change later/ I neither support or oppose President Trump/ I oppose President Trump right now, but I’m open to changing my mind if things change later/ I oppose President Trump, and there’s almost nothing that could change that/ Unsure]

and gets these answers:

Support Trump, won’t change 34%
Support Trump, could change later 8%
Neither support nor oppose Trump 2%
Oppose Trump, could change later 3%
Oppose Trump, won’t change 53%
Unsure 1%

So, almost everybody, even the lip readers, has an opinion on Trump.

A decisive majority of the country has made up its mind to vote against Trump.

And 42 percent of the country support Trump, but a fifth of those folks say they could see changing their minds.

Keep Calm

Call Batman

Politico, Trump floats delaying 2020 election

Jim Swift, Where Does Joe Biden Go to Get His Apology? The right mocked Biden for correctly predicting Trump might seek to delay the election.

Washington Post, McConnell and other top Republican officials rebuff Trump suggestion to delay the Nov. 3 election:

President Trump drew immediate rebukes from Republicans and Democrats alike on Thursday after floating the prospect of delaying the November election and claiming without evidence that widespread mail balloting would be a “catastrophic disaster” leading to fraudulent results.

The suggestion represented Trump’s latest, and most dramatic, attempt to undermine public faith in U.S. elections, which have grown more regular as polls have shown his political fortunes declining. The president has attacked mail voting nearly 70 times since late March in interviews, remarks and tweets, including at least 17 times this month, according to a tally by The Washington Post.

Thursday’s tweet came on the heels of a devastating report showing that the economy shrank nearly 10 percent from April through June, the largest quarterly decline since the government began publishing such data 70 years ago.

Senior Republicans, who often refuse to weigh in on President Trump’s controversial tweets, overwhelmingly rejected his idea Thursday that the election be postponed because of the risk of fraud.

“Never in the history of the country, through wars, depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in a television interview with WNKY of Bowling Green, Ky. “We’ll find a way to do that again this Nov. 3.”

The Witch Doctor

Oh, And Then There’s the Part About Illness Caused by Having Sex with Demons

From the—I kid you not—official White House transcript of last evening’s “briefing”:

Q    Mr. President, the woman that you said is a great doctor in that video that you retweeted last night said masks don’t work and there is a cure for COVID-19, both of which health experts say is not true.  She’s also made videos saying that doctors make medicine using DNA from aliens, and that they’re trying to create a vaccine to make you immune from becoming religious.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, maybe it’s a saying, maybe it’s not.

Q    So what’s the logic in retweeting that?

THE PRESIDENT:  But I can — I can tell you this: She was on air, along with many other doctors.  They were big fans of hydroxychloroquine, and I thought she was very impressive in the sense that, from where she came —

Q    It’s misinformation.

THE PRESIDENT:  — I don’t know which country she comes from, but she said that she’s had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients.  And I thought her voice was an important voice, but I know nothing about her.

Q    But she said masks don’t work.  And last week, you said masks —

Yeah, go ahead.  Paula.

Q   Last week —

THE PRESIDENT:  Go ahead.

Q    Well, real quick.  Last week, you said masks —

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  Thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you.

END

If My Grandmother Had Wheels: The Future of the Republican Party

wagon

A.B. Stoddard, Trump Torched the GOP. A Business Leader Could Rebuild It.

Righty-ho. And if my grandmother had wheels, she could ride on the railroad track.

The author does point out, correctly, that all of the Republican empty suits pressing their candidacy for 2024 are trying to inherit the Trump base.

Bret Stephens, What Will a Post-Trump G.O.P. Look Like?

The New York Times hired Mr. Stephens away from the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, to add a voice from the right to its editorial page. After yesterday’s column, I am not at all sure they got their money’s worth.

Stephens imagines what will happen if Trump and the Republicans suffer a decisive loss in November. (I skip over the part where he hypothesizes a Trump victory or a narrow loss.) In the case of a humiliating Trump defeat, he writes,

The infighting will begin the moment Florida, North Carolina or any other must-win state for Trump is called for Joe Biden. It will pit two main camps against each other. On the right, it will be the What Were We Thinking? side of the party. On the further right, the Trump Didn’t Go Far Enough side. Think of it as a cage match between Marco Rubio and Tucker Carlson for the soul of the G.O.P.

Both sides will recognize that Trump was a uniquely incompetent executive who — as in his business dealings — always proved his own worst enemy, always squandered his luck, never learned from his mistakes, never grew in office. Both sides will want to wash their hands of the soon-to-be-former president, his obnoxious relatives, their intellectual vacuity and their self-dealing ways. And both will have to tread carefully around a wounded and bitter man who, like a minefield laid for some long-ago war, still has the power to kill anyone who missteps.

That’s where agreement ends. The What Were We Thinking? Republicans will want to hurry the party back to some version of what it was when Paul Ryan was its star. They’ll want to pretend that Trump never happened. They will organize a task force composed of former party worthies to write an election post-mortem, akin to what then-G.O.P. chair Reince Priebus did after 2012, emphasizing the need to repair relations with minorities, women and younger voters. They’ll talk up the virtues of Republicans as reformers and problem-solvers, not Know-Nothings and culture warriors.

The Didn’t Go Far Enough camp will make the opposite case. They’ll note that Trump never built the wall, never got U.S. troops out of the Middle East, never drained the swamp of Beltway corruption, ended NAFTA in name only, did Wall Street’s bidding at Main Street’s expense, and “owned the libs” on Twitter while losing the broader battle of ideas. This camp will seek a new champion: Trump plus a brain.

These are two deeply unattractive versions of the party of Lincoln, one feckless, the other fanatical. Even so, all who care about the health of American democracy should hold their noses and hope the feckless side prevails.

A Fatal Flaw in the Analysis

Why in the world does Stephens imagine that “both sides will recognize that Trump was a uniquely incompetent”? Does he think Trump and his family will just disappear? Does he think the Trump cultists will suddenly deprogram themselves in a poof of magical pixie dust?

What in the world is he thinking?

A Man With a Plan. Not.

Theodore Roosevelt Steering a Ship
Cartoon image of Theodore Roosevelt, wearing raincoat, at helm of “Ship of state” 1902.

An Illustration of the Meaning of “Exponential Increase”

Businessinsider.com, US records its 4 millionth coronavirus case only 2 weeks after after hitting 3 million:

According to John Hopkins University, at least 4,021,000 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in the US as of Thursday. CNN reported that the US surpassed 3 million cases on July 8.

The rate of infection has continued to grow since the beginning of the pandemic. It took 99 days after the first case was reported on January 21 for the US to surpass its first million cases, CNN reported. It surpassed 2 million cases, 43 days after that, and 3 million just 28 days after that.

Plan? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ PLAN!

Politico, ‘Make America Normal Again’: Trump. backers plead for a virus plan

Trump’s political allies, alarmed by his sinking poll numbers, are warning that the president’s best chance to get reelected is to outline more detailed plans to conquer the coronavirus he keeps trying to wish away. They are advising him to offer people something concrete they can look to as the pandemic surges in dozens of states, eroding months of progress. …

Yet the president continued to offer contradictory messages, pushing again for schools to open in the fall, despite the concerns of public health officials. And he didn’t outline any specific plans for addressing complaints about the long wait for test results and the lack of contact tracing, one major key to curbing the spread of the disease. And he claimed that his administration had filled all its requests from states for supplies, though governors dispute that.

They’re “alarmed” by the poll numbers? Can’t they think of something else to be alarmed about, too?

What are they thinking?

Pardon Me if I Sound Morbid But …

… I’m beginning to doubt that I’m going to make it.

The National Association of Manufacturers Would Like You to Know That It’s Getting Out of the Clown Car

clown car

He’s killing off his base. But, that aside, here’s the real problem: he’s causing a big economic problemas for the National Association of Manufacturers.

And that is something up with which they will not put.

The Association writes,

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Manufacturers was joined today by several prominent business organizations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Retail Federation, TechNet and Intrax, in filing a lawsuit in federal court opposing President Donald Trump’s proclamation suspending new nonimmigrant visas.

“These overreaching, unlawful restrictions don’t just limit visas—they will restrain our economic recovery at a time when the very future of our country hangs in the balance. Manufacturers and program sponsors are going to court because these restrictions are far outside the bounds of the law and would deal a severe blow to our industry. We cannot let this stand,” said NAM Senior Vice President and General Counsel Linda Kelly. “Our industry should be laser-focused on leading our recovery and renewal, but these visa restrictions will hand other countries a competitive advantage because they will drive talented individuals away from the United States. These restrictions could harm every corner of our economy, as evidenced by the broad coalition that has come together to oppose them.”

“Our lawsuit seeks to overturn these sweeping and unlawful immigration restrictions that are an unequivocal ‘not welcome’ sign to the engineers, executives, IT experts, doctors, nurses and other critical workers who help drive the American economy,” said U.S. Chamber CEO Thomas J. Donohue. “Left in place, these restrictions will push investment abroad, inhibit economic growth and reduce job creation.”

“Innovation is absolutely key to surviving the economic crisis currently facing our nation, especially for retailers who’ve seen their stores forced to close and scrambled to find new ways to sell and deliver products,” said National Retail Federation Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel Stephanie Martz. “This proclamation is meant to protect American jobs but instead it threatens the millions of rank-and-file workers whose jobs rely on experts coming up with the latest technology to keep retail moving forward. Advanced computer and IT jobs are already hard to fill, and retailers need to be able to bring in talent from wherever they can find it. This sweeping measure could have a significant negative impact on their abiity to do that.”