Is He an Actual Toady, or Does He Just Play One on TV?

Generally, it’s a sign of insanity when you see a pattern that has eluded every smart person in the world but yourself. So if you detect a sign of insanity in me, that’s fine. But I still see what I see.

Among the commentariat, the consternation and puzzlement over Barr’s toadying behavior grows from day to day. See supra.

Right now, folks are perseverating, bigly, on how much Barr is going to redact from the Mueller report. The question is important, and the perseveration is understandable.

But as important as the coming redactions may be, of equally great importance is what part of the Mueller report will NOT be redacted. What will we see? And how bad will it be for Trump?

So, here is what I think may have happened. I think Trump got wind of what the redacted Mueller report will look like. I think he threatened to fire Barr’s sorry ass on twitter, and that right speedily, unless Barr would gin up some headlines about the purportedly rotten oranges of the Mueller report. Thus, when the redacted but still bad report comes out, Trump and his minions will be able to jump up and down with distracting claims about rotten oranges.

And I think Barr did what he had to do.

As you know, I also think Barr came back to Washington to do an as yet unidentified Task X. Barr would have known that he had no hope in hell of accomplishing Task X without sticking around for some months. And you cannot stick around Trump for some months without your reputation going to hell.

Sometimes, to get the job done, a good lawyer has to take a bullet.

Enquiring Minds

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Lots of good news today.

For one thing, it looks like a Democrat is about to buy The National Enquirer. That should be a hoot.

Fight fire with fire, that’s what I say.

In more good news, it appears that on any given night, only seven tenths of one percent of our population are watching the Faux News Network. The overarching theme  of this Politico thumbsucker seems to be that, regardless of what you may have thought, Fox News didn’t make its viewers crazy. They were already crazy before they started watching.

There Shall be Showers of Blessings

… For the Tax Preparation Industry

This morning, a truly invaluable member of my posse has called my attention to this story: The House passed a bill banning the government from creating ‘free’ tax-preparation software like TurboTax, forever. The story emphasizes the bipartisan nature of the impetus to screw the taxpayer—and the related bipartisan nature of the generous contributions of the taxpaying industry like TurboTax and H&R Block. I believe my friend may have seized on this information as yet another occasion for cynicism.

I, on the other hand, view this glass as half full, or maybe more than half full. In my estimation, it provides a shining example of what Big Greed can achieve when it gets over its infatuation with Big Racism—and, instead, just buys everybody.

That’s how things were back in the good old days at Dewey Cheatum & Howe. The Dewey Cheatum Good Government PAC made no ideological distinctions. We gave with a generous hand to politicians of all persuasions, for the far right to what passed for the far left. Pols of all genders, ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations benefitted from our largesse. Our lobbying competitors, marveling at our success, were left behind to eat our dust.

At Last We Will Find the Oranges!

Meanwhile, in other good news, WILLIAM BARR GIVES TRUMP WHAT HE WANTS, FORMS TEAM TO INVESTIGATE THE F.B.I: Rep. Jim Jordan said the reported investigation is what Republicans have “been calling for.”

Yes, those hidden oranges will all come to light.

MuellerReportOranges

The Bad News and the Good News

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The Bad News: Britain is Going to Hell in a Handbasket; So is Europe

Therese Raphael, Remainers, Be Careful What Brexit You Wish For: Delaying or watering down Brexit will give its supporters just what they want: a grievance.

The Bad News: Trump is Taking Us to Hell in a Handbasket

Gret Sargent, Kirstjen Nielsen just revealed how Trump’s pathologies and lawlessness will get worse.

She was fired because there were limits to her cruelty and lawlessness. Trump has none.

The Good News: Maybe the Right Leader Could Save Us

George Packer, Is America Undergoing a Political Realignment?

Perhaps the Democratic Party, and with it a majority of Americans, have reached the point where fine-tuning a grossly unjust economy and a corrupt political system no longer cuts it. Perhaps, after decades of inequality and rule by organized money, a critical mass of the electorate is ready to hear radical solutions—a wealth tax, a public insurance option, a green economic program, sweeping political reforms, even constitutional changes. Perhaps this means a realignment of the party and the country to the left. We won’t know until the election. If so, then it’s past time.

But realignment depends on political leadership, which isn’t just a matter of ideology or policy. Campaigns tell stories, and in politics as in literature, style matters as much as plot. Roosevelt and Reagan, ideological opposites, both won by speaking in a way that gave Americans a sense of dignity and belonging and made them hopeful. They didn’t win by haranguing the public. They didn’t win by implying that anyone who disagreed must be either stupid or venal. They didn’t assemble majorities by degrading Americans into identity blocs. They didn’t force their party to pledge allegiance to the most extreme positions, or turn politics into a joyless exercise in orthodoxy. They hammered their opponents, but they did it with a smile.

The choice between radical solutions and a unifying appeal is a false choice. If the Democrats end up with a hectoring, humorless, disdainful, divisive candidate who doesn’t speak to the whole country because he or she doesn’t have a vision for the country, then we’ll almost certainly enter the darkness of a second Trump term. If they choose a leader whose radicalism is hopeful and whose anger is generous, then we might just have a realignment.

Strategy? I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Strategy

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Martin Longman, Trump Doesn’t Understand Game Theory

Longman explores the difference between chess and poker. A brilliant analysis.

Martin Longman, Donald Trump Doesn’t Know How to Negotiate:

We can see Trump’s failure as a negotiator anywhere we care to look. It’s most consequential on the international stage, particularly on the negotiations over denuclearization with North Korea, but also with Iran and trade negotiations with China. He doesn’t succeed because he doesn’t understand how to do the basics. You want all the information you can get. You need to know the rules and the motives of every player and all their possible moves. You need to give people a reason to do what you want, and if they have no such reasons then you have to create them. You need to understand whether you’re playing one-on-one or in a team game.

Uno Mas: Why the Boys Over at the Business Roundtable are Having a Cow

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Complementing the two reads recommended in the immediately preceding post: Donald Trump’s Never-Ending Campaign Keeps Getting Angrier: His rallies and speeches seem untethered from any sort of policy agenda ahead of the 2020 presidential election:

Halfway through the term, Trump rallies are getting longer, the rhetoric hotter. His grievances are ever more pronounced, with consequences for a political coalition Trump hasn’t been able to expand. …

Trump’s blend of personal attacks and insults, his focus on enemies and preoccupation with seemingly peripheral issues such as the size of his crowds, risk scaring off the suburban voters and college-educated women whom Republicans hope to keep in the fold. The Wall Street Journal/NBC News polling shows that among suburban woman, Trump’s job-approval rating dropped from 44 percent to 39 percent from February to March.

Recent appearances seem untethered to any sort of strategy to drive a policy agenda ahead of the 2020 presidential election.