Screwers and Screwees


Trump’s Potential New Shutdown Screw

Funding for the government will run out again on February 15. Assume, for the sake of the discussion, that Republicans and Democrats reach an agreement on permanent funding before that time, and assume that Trump doesn’t like it.

He will have three choices. One, he can sign the bill and reopen the government, and perhaps throw in a “state of emergency” for good measure. Or not. Two, he can veto the bill and see if the Senate and House override his veto. Or, three, he can sit on the bill for ten days, before deciding whether to sign or veto it.

Today is February 4. If there is to be a deal between the Senate and the House, it will not come ten days before February 15. It probably will not come ten minutes before February 15.

So Trump can have fun shutting down the government again.

I wouldn’t put it past him.

The Nancy Pelosi National Emergency Screw

Experts on the subject—of whom I am not one—tell us that if Trump declares a national emergency, Nancy “can trigger a process that could require the GOP-controlled Senate to hold a vote on such a declaration by Trump — which would put Senate Republicans in a horrible political position.”

If so, it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

Winners and Losers

Traffic sign for Winners or Losers - business concept

A highly recommended morning read: Thomas B. Edsall, The ‘Rotten Equilibrium’ of Republican Politics: Charlatans rise. Government falls.

Edsall presents data conclusively demonstrating that Republicans are now winning most of the economically backward states and districts while losing just about all the economically prosperous jurisdictions. These graphics tell the story.

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He then considers at some length the implications of these data. For example, will it henceforth be in Republicans’ interest to prevent economic growth, lest the newly enriched become generous and therefore liberal?

Go Ahead, Plutocrats, Make My Day

make my day

Why did the shutdown end? Enquiring minds want to know.

Lots and lots of ink has been spilled linking the end of the shutdown to declining poll numbers for Trump and Republican politicians. I agree that had something to do with it. But let me tell you the real reason. And I am deadly serious about this. But, first, let me ask you a question.

Would you be seriously inconvenienced by a temporary inability to travel by air among New York, Washington, Chicago, and Los Angeles? (Maybe add Boston, Dallas, and Houston, for good measure.)

No, I thought not.

But the United States is ruled by people who would be seriously discommoded by such an event. The top one percent travel by commercial airlines. The top one tenth of one percent travel by private jet, but they still needed the air traffic controllers to be up and running.

At the point in time when the top one percent were seriously inconvenienced, they spoke to their lackeys and the shutdown came to a screeching halt.

End of story.

The Dawn of a (Possibly Short Lived) Three Party System

Meanwhile, we learn, Wall Street freaks out about 2020: Many of the nation’s top bankers want Trump gone, but they’re growing anxious about some Democratic presidential contenders. And Mr. Starbucks, Howard Schultz, steps up to throw his had in the ring for the Sensible Moderate Common Sense Pro Prosperity Pro Business Radical Middle Normal Party—an event that has caused some progressive pundits to hurl themselves onto the fainting couch.

As for me, I long ago predicted that a three party system would likely result from our present political debacle. And I say, if Mr. Schultz wants to run, let him run.

The kind of people who will be attracted to the Sensible Moderate Common Sense Pro Prosperity Pro Business Radical Middle Normal Party are the folks who think universal health care is the work of the devil. But I think their string has run out. Most normal advanced market economies have universal health care. There is no plausible reason why we should continue to be different.

And so, if the right is split into a raving ethnonationalist party calling itself the Republican Party, and a Sensible Moderate Common Sense Pro Prosperity Pro Business Radical Middle Normal Party representing the economic interests of the top one percent, I say: Bring it on. Just go ahead. Make my day.


Readers today come from toward the end of the alphabet: Romania, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, and the United States. Howdy, yall.

Genius or Idiot?

rudy clown

In Rudy Giuliani Is Possibly a Legal Genius, But Probably Just an Idiot, Jonathan Chait writes,

It is certainly true, as a public relations strategy, that there is some gain in manipulating the media’s perception of what counts as “news.” Scandals that get broken by news outlets tend to attract far more attention than revelations offered up for attorneys for the president. Giuliani floated a highly incriminating admission, but before the media could absorb and amplify it, quickly led reporters into a surreal netherworld. Trump’s involvement in the Moscow project during the campaign is both a disclosed fact (old news!) and a charge Trump’s supporters can deny. And by the time reporters sort through the confusion and nail Giuliani down to one position, he’ll have dazzled everybody with a new confession.

Of course, he’s probably just an idiot. On the other hand, with a client facing as many points of legal vulnerability as Trump, is there really a better strategy?

Aardvark’s Animadversion

Well, whether he is a genius or an idiot or something else, he is clearly a lawyer with two big problems: his client is provably guilty, and his client lacks the sense God gave him, in consequence of which the client is a danger to himself and others.

I think the best explanation of Rudy’s odd behavior is that he tries to “get ahead of the story” by admitting the really bad facts, and then constructing the least implausible “explanation” that he can find.

When he tries that approach, his client is pissed off, and his client orders him to go back to the old strategy—lying about the provable facts.

This is where Rudy makes his biggest mistake.

Instead of withdrawing as counsel, which is what any sensible person would do in such a circumstance, he obeys his client, retracts his admission of provably facts, and thus beclowns himself.

And for what?