The Bad News and the Good News


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


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.



Incapable of Strategic Thinking

This morning, two Politico writers serve up a lengthy thumb-sucker titled How Trump Conspired with the Freedom Caucus to Shut Down the Government.

If you read it, you will learn nothing that will surprise or shock you. Nevertheless, IMHO, it’s worth a read, just to wallow in the details.

The takeaway is that the President of the United States entirely lacks the mental capacity to engage in strategic thinking.

Think about that.

Think about it really hard.

Can Think Strategically

Also recommended this morning: Sean Wilentz, writing in the The New Yorker, The “Reputational Interests” of William Barr.

Unlike our president, William Barr can, beyond peradventure of doubt, think strategically. In fact, he is probably as incapable of thinking unstrategically as The Donald is lacking in the capacity for strategic thinking.

Please read the Wilentz piece; there’s a lot there, and I won’t try to cherry pick it.

But my takeaway is that Barr is either acting as a shill for The Donald—and an awkward and ineffective shill at that—or he is doing a good job pretending to do so.

As a reality-based thinker, I do my best to follow where the evidence leads me. And I will cheerfully, and without mental reservation, concede that evidence is mounting that Barr is fully on board the Trump train.

Nevertheless, in my view, the evidence at this point is far from conclusive that William Barr—who has spent his career as well-compensated chief towel boy in the plutocratic brothel—is acting straightforwardly and in good faith toward The Donald. Because lots of the plutocrats running the brothel have figured out that The Donald lacks the capacity for strategic thinking—see first recommended article, supra—and is, in consequence, headed straight down the crapper in 2020. I remain of the view that Barr is playing a double game: acting in ways that will simultaneously please The Donald and induce The Donald to act self-destructively, so that he can be replaced with a more malleable useful idiot.

Morning Reality Check

A Famous PR Victory

This morning, some of the talking heads were allowing as how the Barr “summary” of the Mueller Report gave a PR “victory” to Trump and his enablers.

The Barr “summary” is dated March 24. On March 23, 52.6 percent of registered or likely voters “disapproved” of Trump, while 42.9 percent “approved.”

As of today, 52.2 percent “disapprove,” and 43.3 percent “approve.”

Conclusion: something—presumably, that something being the Barr “summary”—has caused four tenths of one percent of our voters to change their minds about Trump. Meanwhile, that something, whatever it is, has not affected the remaining 99.6 percent of our electorate.*

A Famous Victory over Mexico

Trump’s false claims about Mexico’s immigration system

Screen Shot 2019-04-04 at 9.33.50 AM

The Washington Post reports, “Trump says Mexico began to detain thousands of Central American migrants at its southern border only this week. Let’s not beat around the bush here — that’s totally false.”

A Famous Birth in the Bronx, Germany

Richard Wolfe, Why did Trump say his dad was German? He lies so much he doesn’t know the truth

*Data are from the poll averages shown by My heart told me to use the “all adults” average, because it’s less friendly to Trump. But my head told me to use the average of polls of “likely or registered voters,” because it better tracks the way people actually vote. So that’s the one I used.

Just Call Me Nostradamus

gay event

I have two predictions. I’ll bet a lot of you are thinking the same thing. But, as far as I know, no one has said this for publication.

Prediction Number One

As soon as Trump figures out that Mayor Pete is a threat to him, he’ll unleash a tweetstorm of vicious anti-gay mockery.

Prediction Number Two

Journalists will call on Republican politicians and spokesbots either to support or denounce the slurs. And a general shitstorm will ensue.

The Oranges of the Mueller Report


“That trek up is one of the great treacherous treks anywhere, and Mexico has now, because they don’t want the border closed.”

Jennifer Rubin points out,

In the past 24 hours, Trump — who will be 74 in November 2020 and is “tired,” according to aides — has:

  • Falsely declared multiple times that his father was born in Germany. (Fred Trump was born in New York.)
  • Declared that wind turbines cause cancer.
  • Confused “origins” and “oranges” in asking reporters to look into the “oranges of the Mueller report.”
  • Told Republicansto be more “paranoid” about vote-counting.

He is increasingly incoherent. The Post quotes him at a Republican event on Tuesday: “We’re going into the war with some socialist. It looks like the only non, sort of, heavy socialist is being taken care of pretty well by the socialists, they got to him, our former vice president. I was going to call him, I don’t know him well, I was going to say ‘Welcome to the world Joe, you having a good time?’” Even when attempting to defend himself, he emits spurts of disconnected thoughts. “Now you look at that [presidential announcement] speech and you see what’s happening and that speech was so tame compared to what is happening now, that trek up is one of the great treacherous treks anywhere, and Mexico has now, because they don’t want the border closed.” …

Collectively, we need to stop treating his conduct as normal. Politicians should start saying aloud what we all intuitively understand: Trump is unraveling before our eyes.

Meanwhile, The Plum Line posts Fresh signs of Trump’s unfitness have emerged. How can Democrats deal with this?

The specific “fresh signs” to which the author refers are Trump’s repeated threats to “close the southern border.”

My own hope is that he follows through on the threat. It will serve the plutocrats right, for relying on a mad man to con the rubes and keep their taxes low.

The Trump Administration is bound to end badly. Let’s just get it over with. I think the sooner it ends (badly), the less bad it will be.