No Balls at All

No, Charles Blow, Democrats are not “bringing their letter openers to a gunfight.” And in no way, shape, or form are they “scared witless.”

Democrats face an unprecedented and challenging situation. It shows neither lack of wit nor shrunken cojones to proceed cautiously and think carefully about how to play the cards they have.

Jerry Nadler is a mensch. And so is Nancy Pelosi.

Mr. Blow’s colleague David Brooks makes the opposite mistake: accusing Nadler of declaring a bogus constitutional crisis.

Jonathan Chait roasts Brooks on a spit and eats him for lunch.

Em … em … good.

We do have a constitutional crisis on our hands. Crises are not handled well by folks who stick their heads in the sand. Nor is JUST DO SOMETHING!!! likely to lead to an optimal outcome. Cojones are wonderful, but you need to think with your frontal lobe.

Get a grip, people.


Joe Biden as Rorschach Test

rorschachI haven’t reached a fully considered opinion about Joe Biden as a presidential candidate. But here are two people who have done so—and come out in very different ways:

Paul Waldman, Why Joe Biden can’t escape controversies over his past

David Brooks, Your Average American Joe

But as a start toward a more fully considered opinion, I recall to mind a fundamental axiom from 35 years as a professional advocate: Don’t Tell ‘Em. Show ‘Em.

Biden has begun his current presidential quest by telling people to vote for him because he is not Donald Trump.

I, for one, find that quite a compelling argument. And so, apparently, does David Brooks.

But I surely to shit would not rely on that argument to carry me over the finish line. Because I think my fellow Mericans, as a whole, care a great deal more about health care and inequality than they care about Donald Trump’s many failings.


Greetings to readers today in India, Italy, and the United States. I feel your pain at the political dysfunction in your countries, and hope you feel mine.


The Thugs for Trump Club

David Brooks writes,

Cohen has left the Thugs for Trump club and passed that baton to certain House Republicans. I would have loved to have been in the strategy session when the House Republicans decided to be incurious about Trump’s sins and crimes but to rip the skin off Cohen.

Normal people have moral sentiments. Normal people are repulsed when the president of their own nation lies, cheats, practices bigotry, allegedly pays off porn star mistresses.

Were Republican House members enthusiastic or morose as they decided to turn off their own moral circuits, when they decided to be monumentally unconcerned by the fact that their leader may be a moral cretin?

Do they think that having anesthetized their moral sense in this case they will simply turn it on again down the road? Having turned off their soul at work, do they think they will be able to turn it on again when they go home to the spouse and kids?

This is how moral corrosion happens. Supporting Trump requires daily acts of moral distancing, a process that means that after a few months you are tolerant of any corruption. You are morally numb to everything. You end up where Representative Jim Jordan blandly ended up Wednesday, in referring to the hush-money scheme: “I think it’s news we knew about.”

I’ve heard the rationalizations. This is gang warfare. We have to do everything we can to defend our team. The other team leaves us no choice. Those are the sorts of things people say to give themselves permission to yield to their venal ambitions. Those are the sorts of things rookies and amateurs say.

Blood and Soil


Do not miss David Brooks today:

[A]s Trump reshuffles his administration yet again, we see the remnants of the B and C teams replaced by members of the D team. Over the past few days, there’s been a lot of gossip over whether Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker will keep his job. But it almost doesn’t matter, because from here on out, it’s Whitakers all the way down.

If conservatism is ever to recover it has to achieve two large tasks. First, it has to find a moral purpose large enough to displace the lure of blood-and-soil nationalism. Second, it has to restore standards of professional competence and reassert the importance of experience, integrity and political craftsmanship. When you take away excellence and integrity, loyalty to the great leader is the only currency that remains.

It will be recalled that Paul Krugman predicted this.

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Scare Tactics, Real and Phony; Ridicule as the Antidote for the Ridiculous


Scaring the Bejessus Out of Them

Health care is the top issue for American voters, and more people like the Affordable Care Act than dislike it. Immigration is an important issue, but health care significantly outranks immigration as a source of concern.

Meanwhile, David Brooks, cluelessly, thinks progressives should be preaching about the evils of Trumpism, not what voters actually care about: health care.

Bad idea. With each new outrage, Trump seems to solidify his support among his peeps. You aren’t going to talk themselves out of their lunacy with logic and facts.

Instead, you have to scare the bejeesus out of them. With actual facts, not stuff you just pulled out of your rear end. Like the fact that the Republicans want to rob them with their tax code and then kill them by taking their health away.

Ridiculing the Ridiculous

And when we’ve finished scaring them, let’s add some humor. The antidote to ridiculous claims is, I submit, ridicule.

Thus Dana Milbank helpfully explains All the reasons the migrant caravan is totally a national emergency. Inter alia,

The migrants in the caravan:

Have his tax returns and are planning to release them.

Are members of Nikki Haley’s presidential exploratory committee.

Have the Russian kompromat on Trump.

Are Russian colluders coming to turn themselves in to Robert Mueller.

Are climate-change scientists.

Have the n-word tape Omarosa claims to have heard.

Are Simon & Schuster employees carrying a reprinting of Bob Woodward’s “Fear.”

Are deported mothers coming to reclaim the detained children Trump lost.

Are accountants coming to put Trump’s businesses into a blind trust.

Are Saudi bankers coming to demand Trump repay their loans.

Pollyanna Despairs


Some Republicans said reasonably appropriate things about Trump’s abandonment of the Western alliance and embrace of our enemy. That’s nice.

But there is good reason for despair. Take, for example, Rand Paul’s craven defense of Trump on PBS News this evening.

Robert Kagan persuasively tells us that Things will not be okay with the international order.

And then there’s David Brooks. We like David Brooks, but Good Lord in Heaven, he has often sounded a lot like Polyanna. But tonight David minces no words in The Murder-Suicide of the West.

I am sure these worthies know much more than I, but I haven’t quite given up hope.

The 42 percent who have stuck with Trump thus far have accepted or embraced racism.

Torturing children? No problema.

Taking a sledgehammer to NATO? Whatever.

Telling the FBI and the CIA to go to hell? Well, the deep state must have had it coming.

But hit them in the checkbook with a botched trade war? I don’t think so.

Remember that a goodly portion of Trump’s 41 percent are people who care only for wealth. In their New Testament, the love of money is the root of all that is good and beautiful.

So here’s where we seem to be tonight. If Trump does the sensible thing, pulls back on his trade war, declares victory, and awards himself a great bloody big gold medal, we may all be screwed. But if he continues to overplay his hand on international trade—if he digs the hole deeper, and then keep on digging—then some of those 41 percent are going to wake up and smell the coffee.

His hard core will be there, but give then enough economic pain, and the hard core will shrink and shrink. They will be reduced to the kernel of Roy Moore supporters, who can’t even carry Alabama. And God will truly bless America again.


Note: Apologies for three metaphors in one sentence. Greetings to my many readers in western Europe. And to my one reader in Russia. Probably the KGB. Hope y’all are havin’ a nice day.