Sunday, August 25, 2019
There are more than a few "Trump's gone nuts" moments below. Not the
first time this has happened, but the count is definitely rising (and
continuing as the G-7 articles arrive). The Fallows links below offer
an extended opportunity to plot Trump's decline. Also see Steve M:
Even if Trump is impaired, he won't go quietly. He cites Charles
Pierce recalling the 1984 Reagan-Mondale debate as the occasion when
he realized that Reagan exhibited clear signs of Alzheimer's. I recall
watching that debate, and thinking I've never seen a more one-sided
drubbing, yet Reagan went on to a landslide victory that November.
On the other hand, I also came away very annoyed with Mondale, who
scored many of his points by being more resolutely (recklessly even)
anti-communist than Reagan -- whose own Cold War ardor was undoubted
but, at least in person, tempered by his genial incoherence.
Trump's incoherence is less benign, partly because he projects a
degree of menace (resentment and vitriol) Reagan never projected.
But also Reagan was never his own man. He was the front guy, hired
as the face and mouth, reading from prepared scripts, happy to be
playing a role, while his evil "kitchen cabinet" called the shots.
Trump has always been a one-man show, with few (if any) competent
advisers, but with great faith in his ability to wing it. Early on,
all presidents are dazed and overwhelmed at first, allowing their
staffs to hold sway over the administration. However, deference and
ego eventually favor the president, who eventually take charge of
what matters most. It took GW Bush well into his second term to get
out from under Cheney's thumb. Obama and Clinton evolved faster
because they knew more, but in both of those cases early staff
decisions did a lot of damage. Trump got saddled with a lot of
hardcore GOP regulars early on, but most of them have been purged,
allowing Trump to replace them with flunkies distinguished mostly
by their sycophancy. The result is that when Trump wigs out, we
no longer have the comfort of "adults in the room" to contain
I imagine you could plot two curves here. One shows the increased
fragility of the administration (and really the whole country) as
competent people are replaced with ones who are less so (and/or are
too crooked to know better). The other would is the increasing
likelihood that Trump himself will break down and blow something
up. (Too early to call his performance at G-7, but it should be
enough to give you a fright.)
The Democratic presidential campaign thinned out a bit, with
Jay Inslee, and
John Hickenlooper ending their campaigns. Meanwhile,
Joe Walsh will offer Trump some token ultra-conservative opposition.
Some scattered links this week:
Trump advisers are scrambling to sell the idea that a recession isn't
going to happen. I've heard that the "yield curve inversion" has a
perfect record of predicting recessions (10 for 10, no false positives),
but in some ways Larry Kudlow's assurance that there won't be a recession
Dear Democrats, the mainstream media are not your friends: "Misplaced
trust in the media has repeatedly led to disastrous debates."
Blame economists for the mess we're in: "Why did America listen to
the people who thought we needed 'more millionaires and more bankrupts?'"
Peter Baker/Aurelien Breeden:
Iranian official makes surprise appearance on sidelines of G7 summit.
This is how Trump will tank the economy and his presidency.
Trump and the fragile belonging of American Jews: "The president's
spree of anti-Semitic comments reveals why Jews can't feel truly safe
in his America." Related: Jack Mirkinson:
Trump is reportedly being a raging anti-Semite because he's mad Jews
don't like him more:
It gives me a stress headache to have to repeat this basic fact, but
thinking that Jews will support you because you do some (terrible)
stuff in Israel is . . . wait for it . . . really anti-Semitic! Not
every Jew thinks that aligning with the far-right in Israel is a
great plan. Not every Jew is (gasp!) even a Zionist or a supporter
of Israel in the first place! It's almost as if Israel and Jewishness
are two different things.
Not that this sort of nuance is ever going to make it through the
Fort Knox-like vault of stupidity surrounding Trump's brain.
Bipartisan support for Israel is dead. That's a good thing. Related:
Did Netanyahu just kill Washington's 'Pro-Israel' consensus? I doubt
it, at least beyond repair, but Netanyahu's alignment of his right-wing
policies with Trump and the Republican is increasingly bothering Democrats
who otherwise wouldn't give Israel a moment's critical thought. And this
is a case where the rank-and-file are miles ahead of the political class,
as it's become blindingly obvious that the Israeli right is treating
their minorities with the same contempt America's right threatens.
Peter Blake/Keith Bradsher:
Trump asserts he can force US companies to leave China. But they
haven't been "US companies" for ages now. Most are multinationals, with
significant non-American ownership stakes, but I doubt if many of the
nominal US citizens would put their patriotism above their bottom-line
interests, even if they thought Trump represents patriotism in some
peculiar way. As for American equity stakes in China, most of them are
in joint ventures they don't have this sort of control over.
'American Carnage' exposes the Republican slide into Trumpism:
Review of Tim Alberta's book (subtitle: On the Front Lines of the
Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump), which is
on my reading list, probably next up.
The Republican Party's political elite is obsessed with cutting taxes
for the wealthy, but it recognizes the lack of popular support for its
objectives and is forced to divert attention away from its main agenda
by emphasizing cultural-war themes. The disconnect between the Republican
Party's plutocratic agenda and the desires of the electorate is a tension
it has never been able to resolve, and as it has moved steadily rightward,
it has been evolving into an authoritarian party.
The party's embrace of Trump is a natural, if not inevitable, step
in this evolution. This is why the conservatives who presented Trump as
an enemy of conservative-movement ideals have so badly misdiagnosed the
party's response to Trump. The most fervently ideological conservatives
in the party have also been the most sycophantic: Ryan, Mike Pence, Ted
Cruz, Mick Mulvaney, the entire House Freedom Caucus. They embraced Trump
because Trumpism is their avenue to carry out their unpopular agenda.
Trump is melting down because China won't give in on trade.
Trump says Jews should love him because he's almost literally Jesus.
After carefully parsing the tweet, all Trump's really saying is that he
loves being praised by an idiot ("Wayne Allyn Root is a Christian who
converted from Judaism as well as a notorious conspiracy theorist and,
naturally, a huge Trump fan"), which doesn't necessarily mean Trump's
an idiot too (although it's no argument against, either). For more on
Root, see Zachary Pleat/Courtney Hadle:
The extremism of Wayne Allyn Root, who was promoted by Trump.
'A deep and boiling anger': NBC/WSJ poll finds a pessimistic America
despite current economic satisfaction.
US confirms Israel behind recent attacks in Iraq. Also:
Israel attacked Syria 'to prevent Iranian strike on Northern Israel; and:
Israel planning to attack Houthis in Yemen. Clearly, Netanyahu's
reëlection campaign is in full swing. Also, he clearly has no worries
that Trump will allow the UN or any major Western power to condemn
such flagrant acts of war, let alone impose sanctions or any other
form of punishment.
Andrea Dutton/Michael E Mann:
A dangerous new form of climate denialism is making the rounds.
If Trump were an airline pilot: The latest in a circular file of
notes posted when Trump does something dismaying (following his 152
installments on the 2016 campaign, written as
Time Capsules), plus I don't know how many since Trump took office.
I imagine that the only reason Fallows hasn't turned these into book
form is that he hasn't figured out how deep the hole is. He explains:
The one thing I avoided in that Time Capsule series was "medicalizing"
Trump's personality and behavior. That is, moving from description of
his behavior to speculation about its cause. Was Trump's abysmal
ignorance -- "Most people don't know President Lincoln was a Republican!" --
a sign of dementia, or of some other cognitive decline? Or was it just
more evidence that he had never read a book? Was his braggadocio and
self-centeredness a textbook case of narcissistic personality disorder?
(Whose symptoms include "an exaggerated sense of self-importance" and
"a sense of entitlement and require[s] constant, excessive admiration.")
Or just that he is an entitled jerk? On these and other points I didn't,
and don't, know.
However, the last couple weeks seem to warrant further consideration:
But now we've had something we didn't see so clearly during the campaign.
These are episodes of what would be called outright lunacy, if they
occurred in any other setting: An actually consequential rift with a
small but important NATO ally, arising from the idea that the U.S.
would "buy Greenland." Trump's self-description as "the Chosen One,"
and his embrace of a supporter's description of him as the "second
coming of God" and the "King of Israel." His logorrhea, drift, and
fantastical claims in public rallies, and his flashes of belligerence
at the slightest challenge in question sessions on the White House
lawn. His utter lack of affect or empathy when personally meeting
the most recent shooting victims, in Dayton and El Paso. His reduction
of any event, whatsoever, into what people are saying about him.
When W.E.B. Du Bois made a laughingstock of a white supremacist:
"Why the Jim Crow-era debate between the African-American leader and
a ridiculous, Nazi-loving racist isn't as famous as Lincoln-Douglas."
The latter was Lothrop Stoddard, a "versatile popularizer of certain
theories on race problems" -- especially those of Madison Grant, head
of the Bronx Zoo (where he exhibited an African Pygmy), also of the
American Eugenics Society (which 'thought 'worthless' individuals
should be sterilized"), lobbyist for the Johnson-Reed Immigration
Act of 1924 ("which shut down most immigration to the US"), and
author of The Passing of the Great Race (Hitler called the
book "my Bible"). The debate question was "shall the Negro be
encouraged to seek cultural equality," and, well, you can guess
the rest. Well, maybe not: the first thing that popped into my
mind, which was "why stop there?" Du Bois was too erudite and
refined, too much of a gentleman, to belittle his sorry opponent.
Stoddard went on to become a major Nazi apologist, and died in
ignominy. Du Bois survived him, became a Communist, eventually
giving up on the nation he had spent most of his life most so
eloquently trying to integrate and save.
When Kamala was a top cop: "If elected, can the candidate be trusted
to hold government officials accountable and oversee a progressive
criminal-justice system? Her past says no."
Susan B Glasser:
Mike Pompeo, the secretary of Trump: "How he became a heartland
evangelical -- and the President's most loyal soldier."
Pompeo, an evangelical Christian who keeps an open Bible on his desk,
now says it's possible that God raised up Trump as a modern Queen Esther,
the Biblical figure who convinced the King of Persia to spare the Jewish
people. He defines his own job as serving the President, whatever the
President asks of him. "A Secretary of State has to know what the President
wants," he said, at a recent appearance in Washington. "To the extent you
get out of synch with that leader, then you're just out shooting the
breeze." No matter what Trump has said or done, Pompeo has stood by him.
As a former senior White House official told me, "There will never be any
daylight publicly between him and Trump." The former official said that,
in private, too, Pompeo is "among the most sycophantic and obsequious
people around Trump." Even more bluntly, a former American ambassador
told me, "He's like a heat-seeking missile for Trump's ass."
Long piece with a lot of biographical detail: things I knew, like
his relationship to the Kochs, but with more details and clarification.
In particular, he's always touted himself as this great entrepreneur,
but if he was so great, how come he quit to become a political toady
for a bunch of rich guys? Even in the latter capacity, you'd expect
more money to stick to his fingers.
The prophetic pragmatism of Frederick Douglass. The subject of
a recent biography, David W Blight: Frederick Douglass: Prophet
After ICE: "On Aug. 7, immigration agents arrested 680 factory workers
in Mississippi. Here's what happened next."
David A Graham:
Why the $1.45 trillion F-35 still can't get off the ground.
Our democracy's founding ideals were false when they were written. Black
Americans have fought to make them true. Introduction to a series of
articles published last week as
The 1619 project in The New York Times Magazine. Other essays
in the series:
Needless to say, this series hasn't been warmly received by pundits
on the right, who may have given up on defending slavery and/or Jim
Crow but would much prefer that no one else dredge such subjects up,
let alone suggest that they have any persistent effects.
Trump's contradictions dominate and disrupt another G-7.
Today's Republicas use the filibuster just like the segregationists did.
Well, not exactly. Most segregationists could credibly claim that they
only used the filibuster on the one issue that mattered most to them,
whereas Republicans since 2008 use it for literally everything (aside
from their occasional "nuclear option" exceptions used to confirm
racist judges). The key thing to understand about the filibuster is
that it's designed to keep a political majority from doing things
they were elected to do. That was why segregationists embraced it,
and why Republicans have lately adopted it. It should be why Democrats
finally move to get rid of it -- unless, that is, they're not really
serious about changing things.
What if Obama had dropped Biden in 2012? Well, obviously, we wouldn't
have Biden as a serious candidate right now. But Obama's only alternatives
would have been to pick Hillary Clinton (who could have demanded the job
in 2008, but didn't object to Biden) or someone younger designated as his
successor. But Obama never gave any evidence of trying to build a legacy,
or even a party beyond what he needed for his own reëlection. I doubt he
ever thought Biden was a brilliant choice, but he was a safe one, and
hadn't done anything especially scandalous as VP, so caution argued
against making a switch. And if Democrats are so nostalgic for Obama
they're willing to pick Biden over such obvious clones as Booker and
Harris (or for that matter Castro), he's probably better off to remain
When Trump talks about Jews, he's really talking to evangelical
Trump was just being sarcastic about thinking he's the 'chosen one,'
okay? Sure, there are cases where one should admit that Trump was
just trying to crack a joke. We shouldn't take those too seriously,
or risk being charged as humorless scolds ourselves. (Trump's plead
to Russia to hack Hillary's emails is one such case, although the
evident fact that Russia went straight to work and hacked Hillary's
campaign's emails makes the clip awfully tempting.) But surely part
of the problem is that Trump isn't very funny, or more precisely:
he's unable to establish the human bond that clues us in to when
he's being flippant, as opposed to his array of other speech modes.
He brags a lot, alternately praises or disses others, and speaks
in vague and/or confusing terms about all matters of substance.
It's tempting to dismiss all of his utterances as lies, because
further taxonomy isn't worth the trouble (e.g.: is he serious or
ironic? is his untruth ignorance or deceit? are his lies deliberate
Factory woes grip swing states that flipped for Trump in 2016.
Trump is prioritizing the climate's destruction over his own reelection.
How Britain came to accept a 'no-deal Brexit': "The debate over Britain
leaving the European Union has polarized the country and normalized what
was previously unthinkable."
How the religious right transformed Israeli education. I submit
that it's impossible for an American to read this and not be reminded
of the rationalizations for Jim Crow laws, or to not detect the fond
desires of America's Christianist right. No wonder those are Israel's
staunchest supporters in the US. They are full of envy. (Needless to
say, so are the mad bombers; see the Ditz links above.)
Unlike the United States, which enshrined separation of church and state
in its Constitution, Israel is defined, in its basic law, as a "Jewish
and democratic state" -- a muddled term that breeds near-constant battle
over its meaning. Since its founding, Israel has had to rely on a series
of fragile compromises between its secular leadership and its religious
community. . . .
In the past decade, since Netanyahu came into power, Israeli society
has undergone a process so transformative that a new Hebrew word had to
be brought into use for it: "hadata," or "religionization." Manifestations
of hadata appear throughout civic life. On some public buses that pass
through ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, women have been forced to sit in
the back, for reasons of "modesty." In the military, female soldiers are
officially given the same opportunities as males, but the presence of
just one religious male soldier in a unit can prevent female soldiers
from serving there. Such discrimination is often done in the name of
supposed inclusiveness: in order to accommodate the strictures of
observant Jews, certain adjustments have to be made. Yet those called
on to "adjust" are almost always women or members of the L.G.B.T.
community. Just this week, Israel's attorney general said that cities
could enforce gender segregation at public events, adding that "the
justification for the separation is greater if the events are attended
by a public that desires to be separated."
How life became an endless, terrible competition: "Meritocracy prizes
achievement above all else, making everyone -- even the rich -- miserable.
Maybe there's a way out." Author of the book, The Meritocracy Trap: How
America's Foundational Myth Feeds Inequality, Dismantles the Middle Class,
and Devours the Elite. Could be that this book has come too late,
appearing as it is after Chris Hayes: Twilight of the Elites: America
After Meritocracy, which argues that "meritocracy" is a sham argument
intent on justifying inequality in a rigged oligarchy, and Robert H Frank:
Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy, which
which shows that success hardly ever has anything to do with merit. Still,
ever since I read Hegel's "master-slave dialectic," I've enjoyed the
argument that slavery destroys the master as well as the slave (maybe
not as quickly, but as surely).
Today's meritocrats still claim to get ahead through talent and effort,
using means open to anyone. In practice, however, meritocracy now excludes
everyone outside of a narrow elite. Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale
collectively enroll more students from households in the top 1 percent of
the income distribution than from households in the bottom 60 percent.
Legacy preferences, nepotism, and outright fraud continue to give rich
applicants corrupt advantages.
Group of top CEOs says maximizing shareholder profits no longer can be
the primary goal of corporations: A new statement from the Business
Roundtable says "business leaders hould commit to balancing the needs of
shareholders with customers, employees, suppliers and local communities."
I'll believe it when/if I see it (in particular, when I CEO salaries
dip back toward pre-1980 levels). But by this point, anyone should be
able to see that the exclusive fetish for short-term profit leads to
the looting and pillage of companies, shortchanging both customers and
employees, and any communities foolish enough to grant or lend them
Everything you think you know about 'free speech' is a lie: "How
far-right operatives manufactured the 'crisis' of free speech with
books, think tanks -- and billions of dollars."
Ella Nilsen/Li Zhou:
Why Steve Bullock is refusing to help Democrats win a Senate majority.
Real Americans: Review of two books: Jill Lepore: This America:
The Case for the Nation, and Suketu Mehta: This Land Is Our Land:
An Immigrant's Manifesto.
Damian Paletta/Jeff Stein:
Trump's wild week of tax ideas continues with new promise if GOP sweeps
The surprisingly great idea in Bernie Sanders's Green New Deal: electric
David Koch has died at 79. Here's how he changed American politics.
Not much temptation to cut the recently dead some slack in this case,
although I suspect the following writers are giving him too much credit.
It's always been Charles Koch who called the shots, both in business and
in politics, and David's role has always been to support his older brother.
I don't know what David's heirs are likely to do with all that money, but
I'd be real surprised if any of them (unlike the other two Koch brothers)
ever tried to buck Charles. I guess I have a certain grudging admiration
for Charles and what he's accomplished -- not that he ever would have
done so in a fairer and more just society. But David was just a bloke
who was given enormous riches and used them to fortify his ego while
making the world that much poorer.
For more on Koch (and the Kochs):
How David Koch changed the world: Interview with Christopher Leonard,
author of Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate
Power in America. Here's Leonard's reply when asked "what does David's
death mean for everything he worked for on climate change?":
David Koch's tragic passing will have no impact whatsoever on the political
strategies of the Koch network or the operation of the corporation. Charles
Koch has always been the center of gravity for that, not David.
The machine will continue to go forward as it has, even without David
Koch at the forefront.
"David Koch walked the walk": a libertarian on the Koch brother's
legacy: Interview with Nick Gillespie former editor-in-chief of
How the Koch brothers and other family capitalists are ruining America
(title courtesy of
David Koch's monstrous legacy: This is about right:
David Koch died before he could reap the full bounty of his works.
We will not be so lucky. His legacy is poisoned water and dirty air,
decimated unions, and Donald Trump. No amount of arts patronage can
purify that stain. It is likely not coincidental that the small
government the Kochs desire would leave artists and scientists at
the mercy of billionaires' largesse. It's as if he and his brother
wanted to pitch us all on their vision for the world: If we let
their companies gobble as much as they could, they would throw us
a scrap or two. Never enough to live on; just enough to hold us
until the next handout. They would allow us a glimpse of beauty,
a mirage of progress, so that we would readily accept a cage.
Billionaire David Koch, who reshaped American politics and paved the
way for Trump, has died.
David Koch escaped the climate hell he helped create. By the way,
Kahn also wrote:
Bernie Sanders' $16 trillion climate plan is nothing short of a
David Koch, a bad man, has died.
David Koch's death reminds us that billionaires are the black holes of
Charles P Pierce:
The Koch money was a primary vector for the prion disease that's infected
the Republican Party: "David Koch's worst legacy, however, will be on
The Koch network replaced the Republican Party.
Want to reduce the power of the finance sector? Start by looking at
Adam K Raymond:
Sarah Sanders passes through the revolving door, joins Fox News.
Also: Matt Gertz:
Of course Fox News hired Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
The 6 things you most need to know about Trump's new climate plan:
"It could actually increase air pollution, and it's a pretty bad deal."
Trump keeps pushing anti-Semitic stereotypes. But he thinks he's praising
Jews. Well, he also thinks he's the "least racist person in America."
He's also a "stable genius." I'm struck by how matter-of-factly Trump's
statements are identified as a racist, and even more so as anti-Semitic.
Trump's new favorite poll inflates his approval rating by about 10 points.
The bizarre-even-by-Trump-standards past 72 hours, explained.
President Donald Trump repeatedly threatened to release ISIS fighters
in Europe as a form of punishment for countries like Germany and France;
said he's strongly considering trying to change the Constitution by
executive order (it doesn't work that way); indicated he hasn't ruled
out trying to illegally serve more than two terms; rewrote history
during comments about Russia's expulsion from the G8 that framed the
situation in the most pro-Kremlin manner possible; and, despite five
draft deferments, joked about giving himself the Medal of Honor.
That was Wednesday. And that's an incomplete list of all the outlandish
stuff Trump said on that day alone. . . .
Some of it is laughable. Some of it -- the anti-Semitic tropes, for
example -- is not. All of it is evidence that more than two and a half
years in the role haven't helped Trump settle into his job. In fact, if
the past 72 hours are any indication, things in the White House are
less settled than ever.
Trump echoes NRA talking points, showing that "background checks" talk
was all a charade.
Martin Selsoe Sorensen:
In Denmark, bewilderment and anger over Trump's canceled visit. Also:
Rick Noack/John Wagner/Felicia Sonmez:
Trump attacks Danish prime minister for her 'nasty' comments about his
interest in US purchase of Greenland.
Amy Davidson Sorkin:
The failure to see what Jeffrey Epstein was doing: "Money offers one
explanation for why people seemed to ignore the obvious. But money, here,
is really shorthand for a range of ways to exert influence."
Jonathan Swan/Margaret Talev:
Trump suggested nuking hurricanes to stop them from hitting US. Also
Trump wanted to nuke hurricanes to stop them from hitting US coast.
Slightly different subject, but Stieb also wrote:
In war on the press, Trump allies weaponize bad posts.
Trump 2020: Be very afraid. Reporter goes to Cincinnati, immerses
himself in a Trump rally, loses his bearings and part of his mind.
Hopefully, he'll detox and recover -- if not fully, at least enough
to earn his keep.
Socialism never? and
The seduction of socialism. Thomas is worried about the youth of
America being seduced by the aura of socialism, an allure he aids by
spreading the net wide enough to include George McGovern (pictured
at the top of one article) and Che Guevara. He offers McGovern and
Walter Mondale as proof that Americans will never elect a socialist,
while complaining that "people who wear Che Guevara T-shirts are
ingorant of history and of the number of people Guevara killed
during and after the Cuban revolution." I guess I don't know that
number either, or how many people Bautista killed trying to put
the revolution down, but one figure I'm pretty certain of is that
life expectancy in Cuba is much higher now than it was before the
revolution -- despite all the hardships imposed by the US embargo
(you know, the one Obama ended, and Trump restored). Thomas thinks
"socialism has long needed pushback in America from those opposed
to it," as if red scares, smears and McCarthyite witch hunts never
occurred to anyone before. I mention this because I was skimming
through Bhaskar Sunkara's The Socialist Manifesto: The Case for
Radical Politics in an Era of Extreme Inequality when I noticed
Thomas' rant. After a rather silly introduction, well over half of
the book sketches out a rather comprehensive history of socialist
(well, mostly communist) political movements, including a frank
disclosure of purges, gulags, and starvation in Russia and China --
the sort of history Thomas wants us shocked with. I knew nearly
all of this, but by the time it was done I found myself wondering:
does anyone really need to know this history? Why not just start
from scratch with current conditions and trends and known and well
reasoned solutions, ditching the historical baggage (not least the
term "socialism")? I had a cousin ask me recently whether I'm a
Republican or a Democrat, so I said Socialist -- not normally how
I identify myself, but my political identity was forged in response
to the Vietnam War, and I've never forgiven the liberals/Democrats
for their authorship of that. My cousin immediately translated
Socialist to Democrat, much to my chagrin but for all practical
purposes she was right, as my socialism and their liberal democracy
are converging these days. On the other hand, the side that really
works hard to bury its history is the one Thomas and his ilk belong
Anya van Wagtendonk:
Evoking 1968 at town hall, Bidenasks: What would have happened if Obama
had been assassinated?
Kenneth P Vogel/Jeremy W Peters:
Trump allies target journalists over coverage deemed hostile to White
Trump quotes conspiracy theorist claiming Israelis 'love him like he is
the second coming of God'.
The political status quo is no match for climate change.
Burning down the house: Review of two recent books on climate change:
David Wallace Wells: The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming,
and Bill McKibben: Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself
Thirty-two short stories about death in prison: "These stories don't
mention Jeffrey Epstein, but they are about him."
Fed Chair Jerome Powell says he can't fix trade war's damage to the
Michael Bennet's plan to prevent and end recessions, explained.
Yglesias is right that there are a lot of good ideas in here. In
particular, this shows that someone has learned from the mistakes
Obama's crew made in crafting their 2009 "stimulus" bill. The fact
is that the main thing that kept 2008-09 from plunging us as deep
as the Great Depression was "automatic stabilizers" -- and thanks
to Republican austerity policies, they've been weakened since. One
idea that hasn't been discussed enough is:
Create a "fast track infrastructure fund" -- a special pool of money
that state and local governments could tap during a downturn if they
do the advance planning needed to get projects off the ground quickly.
Extended low interest rates, the Fed's main tool, should have led
to a major (and much needed) infrastructure project, but the misguided
expectation of a quick recovery and the insistence that public works
projects be "shovel-ready" for immediate impact kept them from being
included. A ready-to-go project list would be a big help in filling
demand gaps, as well as paving the way for wise investmentss. I'd go
even further: since every recession recovery since the late 1980s has
been week, it might be a good thing to plan on a constant long-term
level of stimulus. Even more certain that we need more and better
America has a million fewer jobs than we thought.
Trump's failed plan to buy Greenland, explained. Minor update to
the previous week's explainer, the main change being the insertion of
"failed" into the title.
Brandy Zadrozny/Ben Collins:
Trump, QAnon and the impending judgment day: Behind the Facebook-fueled
rise of The Epoch Times.
Trump escalates the US-China trade war by announcing tariff hikes -- on
How bad would a recession be for Trump in 2020? 8 experts weigh in.
One thing no one mentions here is that a recession starting near
election time could be bad for Democratic chances of implementing
programs based on higher tax rates and more spending. The argument
would be that higher taxes would further shrink the economy, and
more spending would lead to unsustainable levels of debt. (Sure,
feel free to gag when your hear Republicans saying this, but what
matters is whether the Democrats' econ team caves in, which they
did in 2009.) It's an irony (or perhaps a tragedy) of history that
practically the only times when left-democratic parties gain power
are when they have to set their agenda aside to salvage failing
capitalist systems. As for election results, conventional wisdom
may not be infallible. In 2008, McCain had no effective answers
to the collapse, but the Tea Party turned out to be very effective
politically in 2010. What they offered was total crap, but enough
people bought into it to render Obama and the Democrats impotent,
which is a big part of why the long recovery didn't help Hillary
in 2016. A new recession will regenerate the Tea Party, and Trump
will jump right on that bandwagon.
Mitch McConnell is calling on Democrats to keep the filibuster. He
ignores just how much he's done to blow up Senate rules.
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