Please Believe the Lie I Just Pulled Out of my Ass

out of your ass

This morning in Europe, before the market opened in New York, Trump lied about having received two calls from China pleading to negotiate. Everyone with a scintilla of sense knows he just pulled the alleged calls out of his ass. And the spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministered said he didn’t know anything about any phone calls.

Nevertheless, reported the Wall Street Journal, “U.S. stocks climbed Monday after President Trump said China wants to strike a trade deal, signaling a potential de-escalation in trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies.”

It is metaphysically possible that the big money people believed the lie that Trump pulled out of his ass. Much more likely, I think, is that the big money people, hearing Trump’s lie, thought other people would believe it, so they might as well take advantage of some buying opportunities after last week’s market decline.

Likeliest of all, perhaps, is that lots of the big money people acted in anticipation that lots of other big money people would pretend to believe Trump, so they might as well bid up stocks one more day.

Wheels within wheels.

Meanwhile, Aaron Blake, whose title is “senior political reporter” for the Washington Post, sucks his thumb for many, many paragraphs on the topic of what will happen with the China trade war. There is not a whole lot of new material in the piece, but I think it helpfully sums up the evidence bearing on two key questions: Will Trump pursue his delusions about trade wars and tariffs to the bitter end? And, if so, what will be the consequence? Blake concludes,

It’s too soon to call this entire exercise a failure — China is paying a significant price, too, after all, and you never know what could ultimately come out of this — but we’re getting closer to a situation in which difficult decisions will have to be made about how far forward to press. It may not be the nuclear button, but there is such thing as mutually assured economic destruction, and it’s worth asking what happens when this truly gets into brinkmanship territory. (A president threatening to prevent U.S. companies from doing business in China isn’t exactly a sign of easing tensions.)

Not that we should expect Trump to tip his hand like he appeared to Sunday. Both Trump’s pride and his reelection are on the line, and that’s a volatile mixture. This is looking as though it may be the genuine test of his leadership that so many Americans feared.

Well, Let Me Say This about That

At three points, including the last sentence of the piece, Mr. Blake says that critics “fear” that Trump will be Trump and drive the economy into the tank. And perhaps that is true of some “Trump critics.” But it is not true of your humble scrivener.

I am a Trump critic and I “fear” the exact opposite: that Trump might have a rare semi-lucid day and wake up to the realization that he has got to crawl on his knees to the Chinese leadership and take the least bad deal they find it in their hearts to offer him.

As to the alternative, I wouldn’t say I welcome the coming recession. If I needed a heart replacement, I wouldn’t welcome that surgery, either. But sometimes you urgently needs things you don’t particularly welcome. And this country urgently needs a really bad recession to bring some folks to their senses.

Beelzebub for President

Beelzebub

Writing in the Washington Post, Aaron Blake sees 2 troubling signs for Trump in this new Fox News poll. The first of the two signs is the one I addressed in my post on Thursday: in Mr. Blake’s words, “roughly 4 percent of registered voters say they approve of Trump but they’re not ready to vote for him.”

This same four percent of registered voters told the Quinnipiac pollsters that they “would consider voting for Trump.” Apparently, what they meant was that they would consider voting for Trump if the Democrats nominate Beelzebub. But if, instead, the Democrats wind up picking any of their four current front runners, then it’s ixnay on the otevay for Rumptay.

The second problema for the Trumpster, which I didn’t discuss previously, is that, among people who say they don’t like Trump and they don’t like Biden, 43 percent would hold their noses and vote for Biden while only ten percent would hold their noses and vote for Trump.

Big switcheroo from 2016, when a whole lot of the people who didn’t like Clinton and didn’t like Trump decided to take a flyer on the Orange Man.

Mr. Blake sucks his thumb trying to explain the mystery in these numbers. I do not believe there is any particular mystery in it. When you are a miserable, rotten human being, that tends to dampen your popularity.

Now Before You Hop Up and Down …

hop up and down

… and accuse me of advocating complacency, let this be said. Yes, it’s a long way to the election. Yes, a lot could happen. And no, it is not God’s gospel truth that Trump’s absolute 2020 ceiling is 39 percent of the vote.

Even so, all the data currently available, taken together and interpreted with reason and common sense, point toward the conclusion that he’s circling the drain.

Maimonides and Mueller: A Guide for the Perplexed

perplexed

Washington Post, 5 persistent myths about the Mueller report

So here’s the thing. Let’s say that it’s your job to explain a complicated fact pattern, and to apply, to that complicated fact pattern, a set of subtle and recondite legal concepts. Let’s say that it is, then, your job to explain what you have done in a document of several hundred pages. Let’s say your intended audience is largely made up of people inclined to think in slogans rather than multi-step logical analysis. And let’s say you are working in an environment where a lot of smart but badly intentioned people are going to twist your words to make it sound as if you said something you did not, in fact, say.

And let’s say your object is to be widely understood, notwithstanding the audience’s innate disposition to think in slogans and to nod off when presented with an analysis of any complexity.

How do you proceed?

Well, first of all, you have to think very carefully about how your words might be misunderstood. And about how they are going to be twisted.

And then, having thought long and hard on these matters, you need to write REALLY, REALLY CLEARLY.

By these standards, the Mueller report is not quite up to snuff.

I don’t know why it’s not up to snuff. But the simplest explanation is that writing clearly about complex legal topics, for a semi-informed audience, is really, really hard to do. Trust me on this.

In any case, the Washington Post piece, by someone named Aaron Blake, cited above, provides some help for the perplexed.