Trump Goes Viral

the respect he deserves

Yesterday, the New York Times sucked its thumb at some considerable length on the theme Trump Keeps Talking. Some Republicans Don’t Like What They’re Hearing: Aides and allies increasingly believe the president’s daily briefings are hurting him more than helping, and are urging him to let his medical experts take center stage.

Amen.

And let all the people say: Amen.

Paul Krugman, meanwhile, sucked his thumb upon the question of whether American Democracy May Be Dying: Authoritarian rule may be just around the corner. His piece enlarged upon the travesty of the Wisconsin primary and the fact that goodly portions of the Republican Party believe that only Republicans have the right to vote and the right to win elections.

This is a truth, but it is not a new truth. Things have been headed in this direction for a long time.

Krugman thinks that we may turn into Hungary. That is a possibility. But, in Hungary, the political opposition is divided among themselves. Here, the situation is different.

I don’t think Trump can win in 2020, except maybe by massive voter suppression. If that does happen, I think the majority of the country will view him as an illegitimate president. I think that courts, governors, and legislators in progressive states will begin just to disregard what will be going on at the federal level. The overall situation will be really bad, but it won’t exactly be Hungary.

Meanwhile, as I advised in a fairly recent post: Orange Man, just keep on talking. Just keep on talking.

Just let it all hang out.

Onward Christian Soldiers

Three Commentators on the Barr Speech

Catherine Rampell, Is this Barr’s cry for help?

I sympathize with Ms. Rampell. I really do. When I attempt what I think is witty tongue-in-cheek humor, people sometimes think I am being serious—but weird.

Ladies and germs, please be advised: Ms. Rampell’s tongue is wedged deep within her cheek.

Paul Krugman, God Is Now Trump’s Co-Conspirator: Bigotry, both racial and religious, is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

Professor Krugman’s tongue is not lodged within his cheek. No, Professor Krugman is as serious as a heart attack.

Krugman writes,

So what’s going on here? Pardon my cynicism, but I seriously doubt that Barr, whose boss must be the least godly man ever to occupy the White House, has suddenly realized to his horror that America is becoming more secular. No, this outburst of God-talk is surely a response to the way the walls are closing in on Trump, the high likelihood that he will be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors.

Arius Aardvark, Onward Christian Soldiers

It’s possible that Krugman is right. But I fear the truth may be much worse than he imagines it to be.

I fear the truth may be that Barr was speaking from the heart and—in a monumental display of irony deficiency—meant exactly what he said.

Don’t Look at the Wall! Whatever You Do, Don’t Look at the Wall!

Mene Mene

My, my, my. Things sure are getting interesting, aren’t they?

Here are three good night/early morning suggested sources for your reading pleasure.

We’re Saved by His Idiocy

Paul Krugman, Luckily Trump Is an Unstable Non-Genius: His mental deficiencies may save American democracy

Krugman plows no new ground here, but I do like to see someone of national prominence agreeing with a point I have often made.

Losing the Military

Mark Bowden, Top Military Officers Unload on Trump: The commander in chief is impulsive, disdains expertise, and gets his intelligence briefings from Fox News. What does this mean for those on the front lines?

And it’s not just the top brass. Reports are beginning to come in telling of the despair of the Special Forces over the treatment of their Kurdish brothers.

And do, please, remember that every Trump-loving, Fox-viewing family out there in the great American heartland has sons and daughters and cousins in the U.S. military.

Losing the Evangelicals

Nancy LeTourneau, How Trump Betrayed the Court Evangelicals

That would be by letting the Turks have at the Kurds, who count many Christians among their number.

But mark my words, folks. The “court evangelicals”—the likes of Pat Robertson and Franklin Graham: Rabbi Jesus had their number. These folks are no more Christian than Xi Jinping is a Marxist.

They are glomming on to Trump’s weakness. The disembodied hand is beginning to write on the wall: “M E N E M E N …”

When the time comes, they’re going to toss Trump in the trash like a used condom.

I Think This All Calls for a Little Music. Don’t You?

Three Kneelings and Nine Knockings

kowtow

Paul Krugman, Trump and the Art of the Flail: Protectionism is worse when it’s erratic and unpredictable.

As you have probably Sherlocked out from the subtitle, Krugman—who has a Nobel Prize in international trade economics—contributes to the discussion by distinguishing predictable and steady protectionism from erratic protectionism. He concludes,

Protectionism is bad; erratic protectionism, imposed by an unstable leader with an insecure ego, is worse. But that’s what we’ll have as long as Trump remains in office.

And, now, follow the logic through to the next step. What Krugman knows, Xi Jinping also knows. Which means it should be, and very probably is, a very high item on President Xi’s bucket list to get the Trumpster out of the White House.

Which, in turn, means that Xi is not going to let the Trumpster off the hook like Mexico and Canada did with their NAFTA redux deal.

Which means that there won’t be a China deal at all. Or, if there is a China deal, it will be accompanied by a whole lot o’ kowtowin’ on Trump’s part.

**

The kowtow, or the three kneelings and the nine knockings. Kneel down, knock your head vigorously on the ground three times. Get up. Do it again. Get up. Do it again for the third time. Described as an athletic exercise designed to leave no doubt in anyone’s mind about who was the superior and who was the inferior.

This is What Happens When a Very Stable Genius is Driving the Bus

trade tactics

Paul Krugman has a Nobel prize in economics; in fact, the scholarly work that won him the award was in international trade. I have neither a degree nor a Nobel prize in economics. Neither Krugman nor I have been awarded degrees or honors in mind reading. And, though I gave up my youthful start as a sinologist, I may know just a bit more than he knows about Chinese statecraft. Or maybe not.

In a recent post I attempted to reverse engineer what the Chinese are up to. If the topic is of any interest to you, you need to read Krugman’s August 8 column on the same topic.

I read the Chinese leadership as royally pissed off and offended by the Trumpster. I believe they have taken the first steps in a ruthless campaign to stick it to Donald Trump, deep in a place where the sun don’t shine. They have in fact given him a choice: go through with his threats and see economic chaos, or back down from his threats and look like a shmuck.

Krugman, who is probably a nicer person than I am, seems to see the Chinese leaders as gently trying to “teach Trump ecomics.” But, at this point, it’s pretty naïve to think you can teach Trump anything. And if the Chinese leaders are afflicted by any shortcomings, naivete is not among them.

But Here’s the Important Point

Or, rather, several important points, all made in Krugman’s piece.

Xi Jinping goes into this international trade poker game with a much, much stronger hard than Trump thinks Xi has.

Trump goes into this international trade poker game with a much, much weaker hand than Trump thinks he has.

Krugman, who possesses a Nobel Prize in the economics of international trade, spells out the details.

Trump does not understand what he is doing. That’s the kind of language we often use, as a rhetorical way of disagreeing with someone’s position. But it this case, it’s not rhetoric. It’s not hyperbole. It’s the God’s honest truth.

Earlier on, Trump did have some people around him who knew what they were doing. (We may question their moral character, in choosing to work for Trump, but at least they were professionally competent.)

Now, Trump has fired all the people who knew what they were doing. He has surrounded himself with boot licking idiots.

Even the idiots have recognized his international trade folly, and have tried to talk him out of it. And he has not listened to them.

And as to Trump’s supporters and enablers, including the farmers, the Prophet Hosea has a few prophesies you might wish to consider:

sow the wind

Some Things are Complicated, But Others are Bleeding Obvious

bleeding obvious

Fredda Foxy has called my attention to a message from Paul Krugman on the topic of how to run against a bad man. Fredda and Paul seem to have some kind of email relationship. I can’t find the Krugman message on the internet, so I reproduce it below, as Fredda forwarded it to me.* And I want to compare Krugman’s obsesrvations with this alarming news from Jonathan Chait: Democratic Progressives and Centrists Are Both Committing Strategic Suicide.

Now, ladies and germs, some things are complicated, while others are bleedingly obvious and dorically simple. Let me mention a few of the latter.

One. If you are fighting a war, you really need to understand the battlefield. Will you be fighting on the plains? In the hills? In swampy territory? And if you don’t know where your battle is being fought, then you had bloody well better make it your business to find out.

The Chait article has two points, the first of which is that the nice Democratic politicians who are talking about restoring the filibuster, so they can make nice on the playground with the folks from the Republican side of town—those folks really don’t know shit from Shinola.

The plutocrat/racist coalition is in a fight to the death to hang on to power. There are some people you just can’t be nice to. I don’t mean you need to yell at them and hurl bucketsful of epithets plucked from Roget’s Thesaurus. I mean you can’t give ‘em and inch, because, friends and neighbors, they will take a mile.

Two. If your adversary is shooting himself in the foot, then please don’t stop him. Just let him do the work for you.

A great principle of advocacy is Don’t Tell ‘Em, Show ‘Em. Yes, we should not normalize un-American behavior. Yes, we should “call out racism.” But mostly we should just let Donald Trump SHOW everyone exactly what kind of person he is.

Three. It will probably be a close election. But we have a 9.3 percent advantage (fivethirtyeight.com, likely and registered voters, as of this evening). Trump is now at 43.2 percent support. He will keep most of them, but I think a bunch more Nuremburg rallies will peel off a few, and he’ll be down at around 40. At that level, with any luck, his ass is grass.

That said,

Four. We must not press our luck. Chait has it exactly right. We need to push for those parts of the progressive agenda that poll well, and not take chances on those parts that don’t poll well. Chait elaborates:

A new poll by NPR tests most of the ideas Democrats have debated so far. The party has a wide array of proposals that enjoy public support — a Medicare option for everybody, a $15 minimum wage, a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who are in the country illegally, a wealth tax, and other things. But several of the issues Democrats are running on poll badly. In particular, decriminalizing immigration laws, giving health-care subsidies to undocumented immigrants, and replacing private insurance with Medicare are ideas that sound bad to most Americans.

Progressives have waved away such objections by insisting people who have private insurance don’t like it and would be glad to be moved onto a public plan. …

Well, we do have polling on this. NPR’s data shows that letting people “choose between a national health insurance program or their own private health insurance” is a 70 percent issue, while a Medicare expansion “that replaces private health insurance” is a 41 percent issue. And that is without accounting either for the large tax increases that would be needed to finance it or the effect of a massive countermobilization by insurers and the entire medical industry. These risks are all the more difficult to fathom given the much safer alternative available to candidates: a Medicare expansion plan that could be financed exclusively by taxing the rich and which would leave employer insurance in place.

Despite these grim numbers, activists have pressured leading Democratic candidates to put themselves on the wrong side of public opinion. Just 27 percent of the public supports decriminalization of the border, and 33 percent favors the extension of health-insurance benefits to undocumented immigrants, yet during the second Democratic debate, the latter position was endorsed by every candidate onstage. …

Centrism is not a political panacea, nor is it a myth. Its value matters in some ways, and not at all in others. Popular opinion is sensitive to high-profile public issues that can easily be reduced to understandable slogans on the news — “take away your insurance,” say. It is not sensitive to obscure Senate traditions — “Senator Jones refused to vote to restore the judicial filibuster” does not sound like a devastating attack. …

For the moment, the Democratic Party is clinging to centrism in the places where it has no value, and throwing it aside in the areas where doing so comes at great cost.

* Paul Krugman, Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The great majority of Americans consider Donald Trump unpresidential. A plurality consider his recent Tweets racist; half believe his campaign coordinated with Russia. It’s fair to say that most of America finds Trump pretty vile.

The question for Democrats is what to do with that reality. The thing is, it’s a lot less relevant politically than you might imagine. Most of the people who consider Trump vile would never have voted for him anyway, and many of the rest will vote for him despite their personal distaste, because they hate liberals more.

Yet it would also be wrong to say that Trump’s unique awfulness is irrelevant. His approval rating is remarkably low given growth over 3 percent and unemployment under 4 percent. And perceptions of character do drive votes: the Clinton email “scandal” — yes, it was fake, but it was relentlessly hyped by the media and fueled by James Comey’s misbehavior — almost surely swung the 2016 election.

So how should Democrats be handling this election? I’ve seen a lot of commentators lecturing the Dems about not making the election all about Trump. But who’s actually doing that? On the campaign trail, the leading progressive candidates barely talk about Trump; Elizabeth Warren, for example, spends most of her time laying out her policy proposals. The only major contender who really does seem to put attacks on Trump at the core of his campaign is … Joe Biden.

On the other hand, not making the campaign about Trump at all — in effect, normalizing him — would surely be foolish. Maybe only a few percent of the electorate can be swayed by reminders that a terrible man sits in the White House, but that could easily be the margin of victory.

The question is how to balance these concerns; and that’s mainly up to Nancy Pelosi, not the presidential candidates. I think I understand why Pelosi isn’t moving forward with impeachment, although she knows as well as anyone that it’s richly deserved: She probably doesn’t have the votes, even in the House, and doesn’t want to give Trump anything he could call a win. On the other hand, it is puzzling how low-energy House Democrats have been at pursuing Trump’s multiple scandals — and his tax returns!

At the same time, Democrats need to sell their policy agenda. For the most part, concerns that they’re moving too far left are, I believe, overblown: centrists may be horrified at proposals to raise taxes on the wealthy and expand social benefits, and they may imagine that the nation as a whole shares their horror. But polling actually shows that such proposals are highly popular.

The one thing that worries me is the rush to embrace a purist version of “Medicare for all” that eliminates private insurance. That seems like an unnecessary political risk on an issue where Democrats have a huge inherent advantage, since there are less disruptive ways to achieve universal coverage.

So can Democrats walk and chew gum at the same time? Can they run mainly on things Americans want, like guaranteed health care, while also reminding voters that a terrible person occupies the White House? The fate of the republic may hinge on the answer.

 

 

 

 

 

Three Reasons Why We’re Losing the Trade Wars

trade war

Paul Krugman lays ‘em out:

First, belief that we can easily win trade wars reflects the same kind of solipsism that has so disastrously warped our Iran policy. Too many Americans in positions of power seem unable to grasp the reality that we’re not the only country with a distinctive culture, history and identity, proud of our independence and extremely unwilling to make concessions that feel like giving in to foreign bullies. “Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute” isn’t a uniquely American sentiment.

In particular, the idea that China of all nations will agree to a deal that looks like a humiliating capitulation to America is just crazy.

Second, Trump’s “tariff men” are living in the past, out of touch with the realities of the modern economy. They talk nostalgically about the policies of William McKinley. But back then the question, “Where was this thing made?” generally had a simple answer. These days, almost every manufactured good is the product of a global value chain that crosses multiple national borders.

This raises the stakes: U.S. business was hysterical at the prospect of disrupting Nafta, because so much of its production relies on Mexican inputs. It also scrambles the effects of tariffs: when you tax goods assembled in China but with many of the components from Korea or Japan, assembly doesn’t shift to America, it just moves to other Asian countries like Vietnam.

Finally, Trump’s trade war is unpopular — in fact, it polls remarkably poorly — and so is he.

This leaves him politically vulnerable to foreign retaliation. China may not buy as much from America as it sells, but its agricultural market is crucial to farm-state voters Trump desperately needs to hold on to. So Trump’s vision of an easy trade victory is turning into a political war of attrition that he, personally, is probably less able to sustain than China’s leadership, even though China’s economy is feeling the pain.

Through the Looking Glass on October 9, 2018

looking glass

Paul Krugman tells us that Republicans are an authoritarian regime in waiting. Unfortunately, this is not hyperbole.

Christopher Browning, emeritus professor of history at Chapel Hill, finds our situation similar to the circumstances that gave rise to fascism.

Politico, which used to be the house organ of the Republican Establishment. posts POLITICO race ratings: The GOP House is crumbling. May it be so.

A post on the Washington Monthly web site collects the now-familiar but still welcome story of how many self-proclaimed Republican intellectuals have jumped from the Trump train: Neocons Paved the Way for Trump. Finally, One Admits It. Max Boot charts his journey through—and out of—the conservative intellectual movement. See also my earlier post.

There are several reports digging into the stories of traditional Republican women who, likewise, are bailing out. For example, Jennifer Pate and Julie Vann:

“He is just the most amoral person,” said Jennifer Pate, a recently married 31-year-old devoted churchgoer in San Antonio, raised in that city by what she called “very conservative” parents in a church where women still can’t be pastors. “He is everything—I don’t have kids yet—everything I don’t want my kids to grow up to be. He’s entitled. He’s pompous,” Pate told me.

“His honesty is in question,” said Julie Vann, a 68-year-old in Beavercreek, Ohio. She points to Trump’s company’s multiple bankruptcy filings. “That was just his way of doing business,” she says. “And that’s the same way he thinks now. He doesn’t care who gets hurt as long as he wins.” Vann is still a registered Republican, but she has been supporting Democrat Theresa Gasper against incumbent Republican Mike Turner in Ohio’s 10th Congressional District.

Donald, meanwhile, has concluded that his path to victory lies in keeping the progressives hopping-up-and-down mad, not just simmering along at a slow bubble on the back burner. In that manner, he clearly believes, he can point to the “liberal mob” and thus motivate his own rabble to get to the polls.

The Trump strategy is hatred on steroids, magical thinking on steroids, fear on steroids, cruelty on steroids. His problem is that it also means cognitive dissonance on steroids. So it isn’t going to work with Tom Nichols or with Jennifer Pate or with Julie Vann. Their cognitive dissonance reached the breaking point, so they broke.

We will just have to wait for the election to find out how many former Republicans are of like mind with Julie, Jennifer, and Tom, and how many are prepared to abandon reality, to ignore logic, to decry decency, and to embrace the magical thinking of the Cult of Trump.

While we work for the right side in the election, and while we await the results, here’s a word of advice from your Dutch Uncle Arius: righteous anger is justified in response to stupidity and cruelty, but some humor can be a very potent weapon, too.

Siamese beard

 

The Quest Goes On

sand

The search proceeds apace. The quest goes on. We have not yet reached our goal.

Understandably, many want to bury their hands in the sane rather than continue to practice amateur abnormal psychology. The thought that the most powerful man on earth suffers from deep mental deficiencies does not please.

If, faced with this circumstance, you choose to emulate the ostrich, then I feel your pain and I understand your attitude. But I do not applaud your stance. I would, instead, recommend continued attention to, and curiosity about, the calamity we face.

IMHO, worth a read today is Ezra Klein’s post, Why is Trump undermining NATO and the EU? He just told us. To sum up,

Trump looks at Europe and he sees a scary vision of America’s possible future: a continent overrun by immigrants, nations giving up their borders to a continental super-government, cultures collapsing under the weight of migration and assimilation and political correctness. …

And then Trump looks around, and he’s told America needs to be spending money to defend Europe when the true threat he feels is the very immigrants it’s letting in, that our great allies are in NATO even though Trump doesn’t find any sympathetic voices when he attends those meetings, that America needs to protecting a continent and culture that won’t even protect itself.

Meanwhile, Paul Krugman analyzes it this way:

So Donald Trump went to a NATO summit, insulted our allies, then made the absurd demand not just that they increase defense spending — which they should — but that they raise it to 4 percent of G.D.P., much higher than the bloated military spending in his own budget. He then claimed, falsely, to have won major concessions, and graciously declared that it is “presently unnecessary” to consider quitting the alliance.

Was there anything our allies could have done that would have mollified him? The answer, surely, is no. For Trump, disrupting NATO doesn’t seem to be a means to an end; it’s an end in itself.

Does all of this sound familiar? It’s basically the same as the story of the escalating trade war. While Trump rants about other countries’ unfair trade practices — a complaint that has some validity for China, although virtually none for Canada or the European Union — he hasn’t made any coherent demands. That is, he has given no indication what any of the countries hit by his tariffs could do to satisfy him, leaving them with no option except retaliation.

So he isn’t acting like someone threatening a trade war to win concessions; he’s acting like someone who just wants a trade war. …

What’s his motivation? Part of the answer is that anything that weakens the Western alliance helps Vladimir Putin; if Trump isn’t literally a Russian agent, he certainly behaves like one on every possible occasion.

Beyond that, Trump obviously dislikes anything that smacks of rule of law applying equally to the weak and the strong. At home, he pardons criminal bigots while ripping children away from their parents. In international relations, he consistently praises brutal strongmen while heaping scorn on democratic leaders.

So of course he hates the international institutions created by an infinitely wiser generation of U.S. statesmen, who understood that it was in America’s own interest to use its power with respect and restraint, to bind itself by rules in order to win the world’s trust.

He may complain that other countries are cheating and taking advantage of America, that they’re imposing unfair tariffs or failing to pay their share of defense costs. But as I said, those claims are made in bad faith — they’re excuses, not real grievances. He doesn’t want to fix these institutions. He wants to destroy them.

Aardvark’s Addendum

All true, in my opinion. But, in the pieces quoted above, Klein and Krugman both leave out another key aspect of this madness: his tendency to create a crisis and then pretend to believe he has solved them. Viz his continued delusion that North Korea has already reached an historic agreement on nuclear weapons. Viz, his crowing about have extracted billions in new NATO spending, a claim that was false and was promptly denied by leading European statesmen. One could go on.

So let me ask this: if he has a rooted desire to destroy NATO, as Krugman argues and as much evidence suggests, then why does he announce that the allies have caved to his demand and the problem is now solved?

These are not the actions of a sane bad person, or even the actions of a sane Russian agent. They are the actions of a mad Catherine the Great who, without any help from Grigory Potemkin, orders the creation of her own pretend villages.

Trump’s love for gradiosity is getting in the way of his love of destruction, and his love of destruction tends to thwart his grandiose superhero act. Where does this go from here:? Enquiring Minds Want to Know.

**

Greetings to readers today from the United States, Canada, Germany, and Sweden. And congratulations to some of you for living in a sane country.

enquiring

How Will YOUR STATE be Affected by Trump’s Trade War?

Ask the folks who know: the United States Chamber of Commerce! Visit https://www.uschamber.com/tariffs today, and click on YOUR STATE to learn more about the economic pain and suffering that your very own state will soon experience.

After picking yourself up from the floor, please scroll down to the bottom of the page and fill out the Chamber’s handy email form. There you can add your name to a Chamber-endorsed message, to the general effect that Trump should fold his tariff orders five ways and stuff them down where the sun don’t shine.

To top your evening off, just before getting out the Jack Daniels, read Paul Krugman on business and the trade war. To sum up: it just couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

 

 

I Has Conspircy Thery

conspiracy

Paul Krugman predicts that Trump’s trade war is going to result in terrible economic disruption—quelle surprise—and that, when the disruption becomes evident even to those of the meanest intelligent, Trump and his minions will respond by finding someone to blame. Quelle surprise encore.

Globalists, speculators, rootless cosmopolitans, people like George Soros.

I think you get the gist.

Sounds about right to me.

Those Russian social media bots are gonna be hard at work, again.

Gonna get ugly, folks.

rothschild

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Aardvark.

Many of the Founding Fathers were Deists. They believed that God, the Divine Clockmaker, had wound up the universe, set it going, and then stepped back. But, at least for some of them, their experiences during the Revolution made them rethink their theology. So high had been the odds against them, that they came to believe there really was a Divine Providence that blessed America.

Well, we need some of that old fashioned Divine Providence again, because the odds are that we’re in for multiple tragedies.

There is Turmoil at the National Security Council, From the Top Down.

The President discusses national secrets in a public dining room.

Decisions affecting national security exhibit malevolence tempered by incompetence.

Is economic policy any better? Paul Krugman writes,

And on economics — well, there’s nobody home. The Council of Economic Advisers, which is supposed to provide technical expertise, has been demoted from cabinet rank, but that hardly matters, since nobody has been nominated to serve. Remember all that talk about a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan? If you do, please remind the White House, which hasn’t offered even a ghost of a concrete proposal.

But let me not be too hard on the Tweeter-in-chief: disdain for expertise is general in his party. For example, the most influential Republican economists aren’t serious academics with a conservative bent, of whom there are many; they’re known hacks who literally can’t get a number right.

Or consider the current G.O.P. panic over health care. Many in the party seem shocked to learn that repealing any major part of Obamacare will cause tens of millions to lose insurance. Anyone who studied the issue could have told them years ago how the pieces of health reform fit together, and why. In fact, many of us did, repeatedly. But competent analysis wasn’t wanted.

This evening we learn that Justice Dept. warned that Flynn could be vulnerable to Russian blackmail, officials say. And, from another source, we are told that the President will interview David Petraeus as a possible replacement for General Flynn. I hope Petraeus accepts the job–on the condition that he can bring along his mistress, because he is going to need all the comfort he can get.

Plainly, reason and common sense have failed us. Democracy has chosen unwisely.

If we survive, it will be because God has Blessed America Again.

Trumped by the Constitution

jesus_constitution

How will the Supremes React to the Total Unreviewability Claim?

Here’s a follow-up on two earlier posts, here and here, about yesterday’s Ninth Circuit ruling.

I direct your attention to a lengthy and thoughtful piece by Richard Primus, entitled Will the Supreme Court Back Trump? As Prof. Primus rightly observes, the conventional wisdom is that the four liberals on the Court will jerk their knees and go with the Ninth Circuit, while the remaining four will go in the opposite direction.

But don’t be so sure, he argues—discussing persuasively and at considerable length the many cases in which courts have affirmed their right of judicial review, even over matters affecting national security.

By contrast, thus far, Trump’s legal team is in full throated denial of the courts’ right to review anything, once the magic words “national security” are uttered by Minority President Trump.

If the case reaches the Supreme Court, Primus predicts, all four Democrats will reject it, as will Justices Roberts and Kennedy. Only the knees of Thomas and Alito will jerk in an authoritarian direction.

For what it’s worth, I think that prediction is sound. But don’t take it from Aardvark. Take it from Professor Primus, who, we are told, is the Theodore J. St. Antoine Collegiate Professor at the University of Michigan Law School. A person with that title must surely know what he is talking about.

Why Did Trump’s Legal Team Assert Total Unreviewability Instead of “Rational Basis” Review?

To reiterate and amplify prior observations,

One, it might (conceivably) just be a matter of incompetent lawyering.

Two, it might be authoritarian zeal overcoming any impulse toward good lawyering.

Three, someone might have instructed them to take this extreme position.

Or, four, they might not have conceded the applicability of “rational basis” review because they didn’t have no friggin’ rational basis.

The most plausible explanation is number four.

Will They Try to Clean This Up?

Unidentified but surely unimpeachable sources say they are now rewriting the executive order, presumably to make it more bullet proof.

Having Redrafted the Executive Order, Will They Take the Position that the TRO Just Went Poof?

If Aardvark, Heaven forfend, were on Trump’s legal team, he would surely think about giving that one a shot.

Does Trump Have a Master Plan to Use a Forthcoming Terror Attack as the Basis to Overturn Our Constitutional Order?

I don’t know, although Paul Krugman evidently does.