Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

When we were young, we knew that the answer, my friend, was blowing in the wind. Now that we are old, the virus is Spreain’ Though the Air.

As the virus keeps on spreading wildly out of control, Orange Man can only say, Que Sera Sera.

Finally, in our last musical offering for this evening, we learn that when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s when you recognize He’s a Moron.

L’Affaire Postale: The Insanity of It All

Screen Shot 2020-08-15 at 9.42.11 AM

This weekend, we Americana are all abuzz about what President Obama rightly termed Trump’s “kneecapping” of the Postal Service, in an effort to keep mail-in ballots from being delivered—and the wicked, treasonous nature of Orange Man’s behavior.

I second those emotions. But the thing that strikes me is the batshit insanity of it all.

One. How Testing for Covid is Like Counting the Ballots

Here is a point that seems obvious to me, though I am not aware that anyone else has addressed the issue.

Trump says that you only have covid cases because you test for covid cases. One is reminded of the question about the tree that falls in the. forest, where no one can hear it. Trump has a positive, definitive answer for that one: no, it doesn’t make a sound if no one hears it.

Trump’s view on ballots appears exactly the same: if I can somehow prevent the votes for my opponent from being counted, not only do I claim victory, but I actually do win the election.

But, as someone pointed out, if a woman chooses not to take a pregnancy test, that doesn’t keep her from being pregnant.

Trump’s beliefs are batshit crazy.

Not only that: he shares his batshit crazy beliefs with the rest of us, on the insane assumption that we will see this insanity as self-evident truth.

Two. Energizing the Democrats

See, for example, WaPo, Trump’s assault on the U.S. Postal Service gives Democrats a new campaign message:

Those most affected by reports of slowdowns in delivery services include veterans, senior citizens and rural residents who have long voted Republican, arming Democratic challengers and incumbents with a salient campaign issue. Democrats are already blanketing the airwaves, latching on to the opportunity to highlight support for an institution that has a 91 percent approval rating, according to an April survey by the Pew Research Center.

Three. Driving Down His Own Support

As has widely been reported, Trump has done a good job of sewing distrust of mail-in ballots among his own base, thus tending to drive down voting by his side.

Four. Forewarned is Forearmed: An Effort Doomed to Futility

Very simply, if I know the mail is an untrustworthy means of getting my ballot where it needs to go, then I can find other means of getting the ballot there. Delivery direct to an official dropbox. Taking it to a designated office. Whatever. And if I don’t drive, the Democrats have ample time to organize ways to get the ballots in.

It’s sheer madness.

The Human Symbol of the Doomed MAGA Project

Many have written of the wingnuts’ ridiculous struggle to find a coherent line of attack against Kamala Harris. Their bullshit will fast wash away, and they will very soon discover exactly what is wrong with Kamala Harris: her skin is darker than average, her mother came from India, her father came from Jamaica, and she is a highly successful professional.

And we surely don’t want no uppity, successful, dark skinned people in our neighborhood!

Most especially if they’re women.

No need to gin up the base with contorted, unpersuasive “constitutional” arguments. Because if there is anything that drives the base bananas, it’s an uppity, successful, dark skinned woman who is the child of immigrants.

The old world is dying. The new world is being born. The birth pangs are bloody, but utterly necessary.

This afternoon, Paul Waldman writes,

Harris represents just the kind of America that seems to fill Trump and many of his supporters with anger and fear. She’s a multiracial child of immigrants who rose to the heights of her chosen field. She went to Howard University and cooks Indian food with Mindy Kaling. She’s a walking demonstration of why America’s history as a magnet for immigrants makes us the most dynamic country in the world.

And if Harris becomes vice president — and after that, perhaps president — it will symbolize the fact that, for all his efforts to slam shut America’s doors, for all the miles of border wall he built, for all the people seeking asylum he turned away, for all the children he wrenched from parents’ arms and threw into cages, Trump could not make America “great” again in the way he promised.

This is a profound failure that Trump’s supporters will come to understand as time goes on, whether he wins or loses in November. America is still, despite his efforts, a land of immigrants. Older white people will continue to be shocked and angered when they hear people speaking Spanish or Mandarin or Somali in the supermarket. Our culture — our food, our music, our entertainment, our language — will continue to evolve and change. All that is what Trump said he would unwind. But he never could.

And while Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee precisely because the party’s voters decided he’d be least threatening to whites (and men, and older people) in the general election, Kamala Harris is a reminder to the MAGA set that, in the end, their project is doomed. I suspect that at some level, even they know it.

As do I suspect the very same thing, Paul. As do I.

As Far as I Can Tell, This is not a Joke

BBC, US calls for shower rules to be eaqsed after Trump hair complaints:

The US government has proposed changing the definition of a showerhead to allow increased water flow, following complaints from President Donald Trump about his hair routine. 

Under a 1992 law, showerheads in the US are not allowed to produce more than 2.5 gallons (9.5l) of water per minute.

The Trump administration wants this limit to apply to each nozzle, rather than the overall fixture.

Consumer and conservation groups argue that it is wasteful and unnecessary.

The changes were proposed by the Department of Energy on Wednesday following complaints by Mr Trump at the White House last month.

“So showerheads – you take a shower, the water doesn’t come out. You want to wash your hands, the water doesn’t come out. So what do you do? You just stand there longer or you take a shower longer? Because my hair – I don’t know about you, but it has to be perfect. Perfect,” he said.

Andrew deLaski, executive director of the energy conservation group Appliance Standards Awareness Project, said the proposal was “silly”.

With four or five or more nozzles, “you could have 10, 15 gallons per minute powering out of the showerhead, literally probably washing you out of the bathroom,” he told the Associated Press news agency.

“If the president needs help finding a good shower, we can point him to some great consumer websites that help you identify a good showerhead that provides a dense soak and a good shower,” he added.

David Friedman, vice president of advocacy at the organisation Consumer Reports, said showerheads in the US already “achieve high levels of customer satisfaction”, while saving people money.

The proposal could face court battles if it advances, Reuters news agency reports.

I get by with a little help from my friends. Thanks for this to old friend Penelope in Massachusetts


Biden and harris

According to the talking heads, she is both inevitable and exciting, at the same time. Not easy to do. A neat trick. Good for her. Good for Biden. And good for America.

But the consensus is that, during her short primary campaign, she screwed up both the organization and the message. Uncle Joe, himself, has had his share of screwups. Now is the time for both of them to rise to the occasion. I am cautiously optimistic.

Orange Man’s Brilliant Attack on Harris

Having had weeks and months to think about how to take Kamala down, Tim Miller summarizes the message from the right:

So to sum up:

Kamala Harris is a cop—

—who is an anti-police extremist.

A radical leftist—

—who is causing a “revolt” among Bernie voters.

A phony—

—who was too nasty to Joe Biden.

Follow the Money, or, Why am I not Surprised?


Politico, Bankers back Biden despite gains under Trump: Bankers’ preference for the former vice president comes even as the Trump administration has delivered in a significant way for the banks:

Executives and employees at the nation’s biggest banks are giving a boost to former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign for the White House, despite economic policies under President Donald Trump that produced record profits for the industry.

Contributions from individuals affiliated with the six largest lenders total $907,216 for Biden and $293,434 for Trump, according to a POLITICO review of campaign finance data. Biden has a significant fundraising advantage at every one of the banks — JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

The Republican Future (If Any): Jennifer Rubin Weighs In

Portrait Of Mysterious Fortune Teller Gesturing At Crystal Ball

Jennifer Rubin, Do we even need the Republican Party?

In my opinion, Ms. Rubin writes too many columns, often repeats herself, and frequently fails to add value. I say that even though I often agree with her—after she got over her 2012 love affair with Mitt Romney, and embraced the truth about Donald Trump.

That said, in my opinion, her observations on the possible future of the Republican Party will repay the reading. She writes, among other things,

A Republican Party that does not depend on White grievance and cultural resentment (leading to incessant whining that its members are victims of everything from Facebook to climate scientists to immigrants) and does not depend on what Brooks aptly describes as “an anti-government zombie Reaganism long after Reagan was dead and even though the nation’s problems were utterly different from what they were when he was alive” would frankly not have much to say. After you strip away those two failed themes, what’s left? …

The issue post-Trump then is twofold: What respectable ideology could the Republican Party adopt, if it wanted to? And, if a think tank could concoct an acceptable center-right ideology, what constituency could it possibly attract? …

We need a two-party system, but we do not have a two-ideology political culture if the price of admission is a reality-based, decent, inclusive and constitutionally respectful ideology. If there is to be, as I hope, a grand coalition from center right to center left that generally defends constitutional government, curbs on the excesses of the free market, globalization with a safety net, responsible international leadership and a determination to root out systemic racism, I am not certain what that leaves to the opposition. On the left, it might be Sanders-style socialism. But on the right?

Trump cultists and the proponents of zombie-libertarianism continue to drive the party into the ground, relegating it to a regional party of dead-enders. Maybe the real question is not what the Republican Party will believe and who will support it, but whether we need it at all. Perhaps there is no morally, politically and intellectually decent party of the right to be had.

Some Observations by One Without a Dog in this Fight

I am not, and never have been, a Never Trump Republican, or any kind of Republican at all. That is why I say I have no dog in this fight. If the Republican National Committee folds up shop, and the National Review goes the way of the dodo, it will be no nevermind to me. That is why I say I have no dog in the fight over the future of Republicanism.

From that perspective, I have four points to make here.

One. Whatever it is or isn’t that folks like Jennifer Rubin and David Brooks “need” by way of political branding is a subject of very tepid interest and importance. The issue of importance is what the plutocrats will think they need—and what they will think they can get away with.

Two. To date, the Republican party has been a coalition of plutocrats and of uneducated Whites with racial, cultural, and religious grievances. But, as each day passes, it is becoming clearer that this coalition is no longer a viable enterprise—and least insofar as “viability” means having a plausible chance of winning the presidency and control of the Congress.

Three. The white grievance folks, who make up between a quarter and a third of our population, will just have to marinate for a while in their own rancidness. While they sit there a-maranatin’, the plutocrats will have to decide what they are going to do—because recreating a winning coalition of the filthy rich and the uneducated grievance folk just is not a viable option.

Four. Ms. Rubin argues (implicitly) that the plutocrats might just be content to join a grand coalition for a while—seeing how many nominal Democrats they can coopt and buy off.

That may well turn out to be what happens. At least for a season.

The 2020 Lawyers’ Enrichment Executive Order


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.


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.