Sunday, August 23, 2020
The Democrats had their virtual convention last week. I didn't
watch any of it live. For that matter, neither did my wife, who's
got a much thicker skin for these things -- probably developed from
hate-watching Fox News, although in fairness she mostly does that
to watch them squirm on particularly embarrassing news days. I did
watch Stephen Colbert's nightly post-convention monologues, so I
got a taste of the virtual spectacle -- mostly selected for joke
potential. I've also read (or at least skimmed) the pieces, both
on the convention and on the Biden campaign, linked below:
Vox [Zack Beauchamp/Aaron Ross Coleman/Dylan Matthews/Nicole Narea/Ella Nilsen/Anna North/Andrew Prokop/Dylan Scott/Emily Stewart/Emily VanDerWerff/Li Zhou]:
Andrew Yang said the smartest thing about Biden at the DNC: "The
magic of Joe Biden is that everything he does becomes the new reasonable."
What it will take to fight the sexist, racist attacks against Kamala
Harris. Interview with Niambi Carter, author of American While
Black: African Americans, Immigration, and the Limits of Citizenship.
How politicians showed off their books at the Democratic National
Convention. Something I'm always curious about, but Cory Booker
didn't help himself by showcasing a David Brooks book.
Rating the Democratic National Convention: Highlights & bummers:
A friend's blog report.
Joe Biden likes you. On his acceptance speech. The speech itself is
here. Klein does some of his Why We're Polarized stuff, but
his main point is this:
The core of Joe Biden's politics is his talent at fulfilling the simplest
of political and emotional needs: Joe Biden likes you. That was the message
of this convention, and it's the message that has always been at the core
of his politics. Joe Biden likes you if you're a Democrat or a Republican.
He likes you even if you don't like him, because it's his job to like you,
no matter how you vote.
"While I will be a Democratic candidate, I will be an American president,"
Biden said. "I will work as hard for those who didn't support me as I will
for those who did. That's the job of a president. To represent all of us,
not just our base or our party."
If this sounds trite, consider the contrast it offers to the reality
we live in, and the politics President Trump models.
I must say I don't find that very reassuring. I get the contrast to
Trump, and I believe that the most basic lesson of life is how necessary
it is to respect other people (even ones very different from yourself).
Still, putting likability above commitment runs the risk of losing the
principles and allegiances that will get him elected in the first place,
and make him ineffective. Obama didn't just want to make bipartisan deals.
He was willing to make bad ones, just to look good to people who didn't
care. Biden may want to be liked by everyone, but he won't be -- indeed,
the depths of irrational invective and hatred Republicans direct at him
during the campaign should make that point inescapable.
American carnage: "In 2017, Trump promised to end 'this American carnage.'
Four years later, carnage defines his presidency."
Can Joe Biden unrig the economy? "Raising taxes on the rich would
help stop the economy from simply channeling income to 1 percent."
What everyone should learn from Michelle Obama.
Obama's Democratic convention speech gave a clear warning: Democracy is
at stake in 2020: As he's done so often in his career, Obama grasps
at the most anodyne, least objectionable position in a crisis. It is
true that Republicans have no respect for democracy, and if given the
chance will do anything they can to tilt elections in their direction.
Still, it does little good to defend democracy in the abstract when you
don't use of it to do popular things, or even practice the Preamble to
the US Constitution (establish justice, promote the general welfare,
etc.). When Democrats gained control of Congress and the Presidency in
the 2008 elections, they did nothing whatsoever to fight back against
the gross distortions of money in politics. They didn't even get rid
of the anti-democratic filibuster in the structurally un-democratic
US Senate. Don't get me wrong: it's good that Obama values democracy
now. It's just a shame that he didn't make better use of it when he
had the chance.
The Democratic convention highlighted gun violence. Here's what Biden
plans to do about it. Gun control isn't an unpopular issue, but is
is a polarizing one, so much so that I doubt it works as a political
issue, so I don't see any value in the Democrats bringing it up.
This is the future Joe Biden wants. Introduction to a series called
A Biden Presidency: "The Democratic nominee's policy vision,
explained." Other links in this series:
A Covid-19 victim's daughter delivered a moving account of her father's
death -- and a searing critique of Trump. This may be the sound bite
of the convention: "My dad was a healthy 65 year-old. His only preexisting
condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that he paid with his
Bernie Sanders just made the progressive case for Joe Biden.
Obama, Harris, and an unconventional convention.
Fox News thinks Joe Biden's DNC speech was "a home run": "Trump won't
be happy with Fox News's rave reviews of Biden's speech."
David E Sanger:
Top Republican national security officials say they will vote for Biden:
"In a letter released hours before Joe Biden delivered his nomination
acceptance speech, over 70 senior officials called President Trump
'unfit to lead' and outlined their support for his opponent." Every
vote counts, but some endorsements create associations you'd rather
not have. These, in particular, remind us that Biden has faithfully
supported decades of national security blunders and disasters. One
note is that the names most closely associated with Trump, while
sometimes being highly critical of him (e.g., John Bolton), are
still unwilling to break party ranks and commit to Biden.
Biden's 2020 message rests on Trump's fundamental Covid-19 failure.
Cites a major piece by Ed Yong:
How the pandemic defeated America: "A virus has brought the world's
most powerful country to its knees." Scott quoted this much:
A month before his inauguration, I wrote that "the question isn't
whether [Trump will] face a deadly outbreak during his presidency,
but when." Based on his actions as a media personality during the
2014 Ebola outbreak and as a candidate in the 2016 election, I
suggested that he would fail at diplomacy, close borders, tweet
rashly, spread conspiracy theories, ignore experts, and exhibit
reckless self-confidence. And so he did.
No one should be shocked that a liar who has made almost 20,000
false or misleading claims during his presidency would lie about
whether the U.S. had the pandemic under control; that a racist who
gave birth to birtherism would do little to stop a virus that was
disproportionately killing Black people; that a xenophobe who presided
over the creation of new immigrant-detention centers would order
meatpacking plants with a substantial immigrant workforce to remain
open; that a cruel man devoid of empathy would fail to calm fearful
citizens; that a narcissist who cannot stand to be upstaged would
refuse to tap the deep well of experts at his disposal; that a scion
of nepotism would hand control of a shadow coronavirus task force to
his unqualified son-in-law; that an armchair polymath would claim to
have a "natural ability" at medicine and display it by wondering out
loud about the curative potential of injecting disinfectant; that an
egotist incapable of admitting failure would try to distract from his
greatest one by blaming China, defunding the WHO, and promoting miracle
drugs; or that a president who has been shielded by his party from any
shred of accountability would say, when asked about the lack of testing,
"I don't take any responsibility at all."
When I scanned the article, I missed those but picked out a few
additional paragraphs, which struck me as germane, albeit less pointed
How did it come to this? A virus a thousand times smaller than a dust
mote has humbled and humiliated the planet's most powerful nation.
America has failed to protect its people, leaving them with illness
and financial ruin. It has lost its status as a global leader. It has
careened between inaction and ineptitude. The breadth and magnitude
of its errors are difficult, in the moment, to truly fathom. . . .
The U.S. has little excuse for its inattention. In recent decades,
epidemics of SARS, MERS, Ebola, H1N1 flu, Zika, and monkeypox showed
the havoc that new and reemergent pathogens could wreak.
Health experts, business leaders, and
even middle schoolers ran simulated exercises to game out the spread
of new diseases. In 2018, I wrote
an article for The Atlantic arguing that the U.S. was not ready
for a pandemic, and sounded warnings about the fragility of the
nation's health-care system and the slow process of creating a vaccine.
But the COVID-19 debacle has also touched -- and implicated -- nearly
every other facet of American society: its shortsighted leadership, its
disregard for expertise, its racial inequities, its social-media culture,
and its fealty to a dangerous strain of individualism. . . .
Despite its epochal effects, COVID-19 is merely a harbinger of worse
plagues to come. The U.S. cannot prepare for these inevitable crises if
it returns to normal, as many of its people ache to do. Normal led to
this. Normal was a world ever more prone to a pandemic but ever less
ready for one. To avert another catastrophe, the U.S. needs to grapple
with all the ways normal failed us. It needs a full accounting of every
recent misstep and foundational sin, every unattended weakness and
unheeded warning, every festering wound and reopened scar. . . .
Compared with the average wealthy nation,
America spends nearly twice as much of its national wealth on health
a quarter of which is wasted on inefficient care, unnecessary
treatments, and administrative chicanery. The U.S. gets
little bang for its exorbitant buck. It has the lowest life-expectancy
rate of comparable countries, the highest rates of chronic disease, and
the fewest doctors per person. This profit-driven system has scant incentive
to invest in spare beds, stockpiled supplies, peacetime drills, and layered
contingency plans -- the essence of pandemic preparedness. America's
hospitals have been pruned and stretched by market forces to run close
to full capacity, with little ability to adapt in a crisis. . . .
The federal government could have mitigated those problems by buying
supplies at economies of scale and distributing them according to need.
Instead, in March,
Trump told America's governors to "try getting it yourselves." As
usual, health care was a matter of capitalism and connections. In New
rich hospitals bought their way out of their protective-equipment
shortfall, while neighbors in poorer, more diverse parts of the
city rationed their supplies. . . .
At times, Americans have seemed to collectively surrender to COVID-19.
The White House's coronavirus task force wound down. Trump resumed holding
rallies, and called for less testing, so that official numbers would be
rosier. The country behaved like a horror-movie character who believes
the danger is over, even though the monster is still at large.
Yong has another piece out:
Long-haulers are redefining COVID-19.
Joe Biden has found his big idea: "It's not just about defeating
Donald Trump, but providing an off-ramp from this all-consuming political
moment." Still hard to get much of a grip on all this vacuousness. It
doesn't especially bother me if Biden doesn't come up with plans or
anything forward thinking until after the election, but the idea that
everything will be just fine if only we don't have Trump driving us
crazy almost daily seems a little myopic. While acting deliberately
may be too much to ask of a politician these days, shit happens, and
that means the president will have to react -- often, intelligently,
with care and maybe even cunning.
A night of magical thinking at the Democratic convention: "Democrats
are already in love with their future, in spite of the face that Joe
Biden has glossed over how he will get them there."
Doreen St Félix:
Michelle Obama's unmatched call to action at the Democratic National
Ordinary Americans stole the show at this year's Democratic convention.
Kara Voght/Rebecca Leber:
Biden's pitch to voters: What America needs now is empathy: After
Trump, a little empathy seems like a good idea. Still, remind me of
the old George Burns quote: "The secret of acting is sincerity. If you
can fake that, you've got it made." Biden's been trading in empathy
his whole career, all the while voting for special interests. What we
really need is someone to show us that government is on the people's
side, doing things that help everyone in tangible ways. Republicans
deny that this is even possible, which gives them an excuse for being
so awful at it. Democrats, including Biden, have often gone along,
touting deregulation and "market solutions" and austerity. But the
thing is, in a world as complex and interconnected as ours has become,
you need institutions committed to the public interest, and you really
need them to work. Empathy may give you motivation to do that, but
there are other motivations available, like survival.
On to the Republican Convention next week. For a preview, see
The Repubican National Convention: Who's speaking and how to watch.
Also not one but two hurricanes, one on Monday to open the RNC, a
second (bigger) one for its climax:
Hurricane warnings issued as Gulf Coast prepares for March and Laura.
Neither are likely to come close to the RNC in Charlotte. Here's some
early anticipation of the RNC:
Some scattered links on other subjects this week:
Ban yachts: "They're floating castles of crime, polluting our air and
water." By the way, there's a striking passage in Paul Krugman's The
Conscience of a Liberal, pointing out that during the era of relative
equality in the 1950s/1960s (what he calls, in a phrase that surely will
not stand the test of time, "the great compression") when private yachts
were virtually unheard of -- in stark contrast both to the "roaring '20s"
the scarily popular pro-Trump conspiracy theory, explained. More QAnon:
Donald Trump is losing his tech war with Xi Jinping. Lots of
interesting details here, but the big takeaway is that China has
a national economic plan which invests in world-class high tech
industries and is lifting itself to be a world leader, where the
US has a system (loosely speaking) of crony capitalism, where
privately-owned businesses (and not necessarily American ones)
can buy government favors but also gain much of their profits by
using low-cost labor and suppliers abroad, so their profits do
little (if anything) to help American workers, who (if anything)
get poorer in the bargain. One detail: in 2019, China applied
for more patents than the US. Over the last few decades, the main
thrust of American trade policy has been to force other countries
to pay intellectual property rents (to companies, not really to
America). China is now poised to capture the lion's share of that
income stream. I am very firm in my belief that patents are bad,
so my preference is to ban them everywhere. As the US sinks ever
lower in the patent tribute system, Americans should realize that
the patent system is a losing game. (Americans have long charged
China with cheating at that game, although the US didn't recognize
foreign patents back in the 19th century.)
What MLK and Malcolm X would do today: Interview with Peniel
Joseph, author of The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives
of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., a dual biography.
One of the things I write about Malcolm is that Malcolm is Black America's
prosecuting attorney, but he becomes the statesman. And Dr. King is the
defense attorney who becomes this pillar of fire. He becomes this man on
fire in the last several years of his life, and he's prosecuting and
castigating in a way that we never think about King.
What makes California's current major wildfires so unusual: "Dry
lightning, extreme heat, and Covid-19 are all shaping California's
efforts to contain massive, deadly blazes." Related:
Darryl Fears/Faiz Siddiqui/Sarah Kaplan/Juliet Eilperin:
Heat is turbocharging fires, drought and tropical storms this
At least 140 Western weather stations notched record highs in the past
10 days as a thermometer in California's Death Valley hit 130 degrees
Fahrenheit, one of the highest temperatures measured on Earth. Eighty
million U.S. residents are under excessive heat advisories. More than
35 wildfires are raging in California, burning 125,000 acres in the
San Francisco Bay area alone, threatening 25,000 businesses and homes
this week. Parts of the country are suffering drought conditions. And
in the Atlantic Ocean, a marine heat wave is fueling what is becoming
an unusually active storm season.
California has Australian problems now.
Colby Itkowitz/Amy Gardner:
Tennessee adopts new law that could strip some protesters of voting
Protesters who camp out on state property, such as the activists who
have demonstrated for months outside the state Capitol against racial
injustice, could now face felony charges punishable by up to six years
in prison. Convicted felons are automatically stripped of their voting
rights in Tennessee.
What it would take to end child poverty in America: Interview with
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA).
The tragedy of Hillary Clinton. This piece probably belongs with the
DNC pieces above, as it is based on her speech there, but if I couldn't
banish her from the roster, at least I sequester her here. Even Klein
admits, "nothing ensures ignominy like failure," and Hillary's failure
was a monumental one: she lost to Donald Trump. What Klein doesn't admit
is that she uniquely lost to Trump because her unacknowledged faults
precisely clouded Trump's far greater ones. Take corruption for instance:
Trump could paint her as Crooked Hillary because he had bought favors
from her in the past. Clinton's Foundation underscored her nouveau greed
because Trump had his own Foundation (one that did even less to disguise
its crookedness). Klein dabbles in counterfactuals, suggesting we would
be much better off had Trump lost to Hillary. But while he relishes the
idea of Hillary holding press conferences filled with facts and sound
advice, Hillary would have found herself on top of a broken government
system she couldn't control, likely faced with a hostile Congress --
chances that her Democrats would have won the House in 2018 were close
to nil -- and media, still saddled with scandals she could never explain
away. So she handles coronavirus a bit better -- maybe 110,000 dead now
compared to 170,000 under Trump -- and the economy a bit worse (Congress
wouldn't have given her anything like the CARES Act Democrats gave Trump),
and she'd wind up looking hopeless for reelection. Maybe that's all just
so unfair. Maybe in a true meritocracy her talents could have won out.
But Clinton's big break, which let her win a Senate seat in a state she
didn't live in, parlay that into Secretary of State for the rival who
beat her, and corner the 2016 nomination with no opposition (except for
a Vermont socialist she almost lost to), was as unmerited as picking the
right guy to fuck, and sticking with him while he goes out and fucks so
many others. Their bond was always their addiction to power, and they've
never escaped that scent. It even overpowered Trump's stink, and that's
why she lost in 2016, and became useless to us forevermore.
Why Republicans are failing to govern: "Does Mitch McConnell want
Trump to be a one-term president?" Republicans have proposed as a next
stimulus step a "$1 trillion HEALS Act," but they don't seem to be
serious even about that -- it just gives them some talking room as
they try to blame their failures on the Democrats, who've passed a
$3.5 trillion dollar package in the House. Seems like there should be
a lot of room for compromise there, especially when the alternative
is nothing. Klein posits "four theories for the GOP's governance crisis":
- It's Trump's fault.
- Conservative thinking has no room for Covid-19.
- They're worried about Tea Party 2.0.
- They've given up on 2020, and many are looking toward 2024.
That brings me to the explanation for GOP behavior that is almost
unanimous among Senate Democrats I've spoken to. They believe Republicans
are readying themselves to run the strategy against former Vice President
Joe Biden they ran against President Obama: Weaponize the debt -- which
Republicans ran up by trillions during the Trump administration -- as a
cudgel against anything and everything the Democrats want to do. Force
Democrats to take sole ownership of an economic response that's too small
to truly counteract the pain.
If Republicans are behaving like an opposition party that primarily
wants to stop Democrats from doing anything, that's because it's the role
they're most comfortable playing, and one many of them expect to reprise
Stocks are soaring. So is misery. "Optimism about Apple's future profits
won't pay this month's rent."
On Tuesday, the S&P 500 stock index hit a record high. The next day,
Apple became the first U.S. company in history to be valued at more than
$2 trillion. Donald Trump is, of course, touting the stock market as proof
that the economy has recovered from the coronavirus; too bad about those
173,000 dead Americans, but as he says, "It is what it is." . . .
Take the example of Apple, with its $2 trillion valuation. Apple has
a price-earnings ratio -- the ratio of its market valuation to its profits --
of about 33. One way to look at that number is that only around 3 percent
of the value investors place on the company reflects the money they expect
it to make over the course of the next year. As long as they expect Apple
to be profitable years from now, they barely care what will happen to the
U.S. economy over the next few quarters.
Another way to look at that price-earnings ratio is that investors
expect Apple to continue to make monopoly profits every one of the next
33 (or more) years. That's double the length of patents, so they're also
betting capitalism won't be very competitive in the next 33 years, that
the present cartelization will only deepen. There's nothing in history
to justify such expectations. Or another way to look at it is that rich
people today have way too much money, much more than they can invest in
actually producing things, so their only option left is to bid up the
price of assets only they can afford -- which offers the gratification
of making them appear to be even richer. Economists have a term for
that: bubble. Still, they only seem to be able to recognize one when
Trump, the mail and the unbinding of America: "The Postal Service
facilitates citizen inclusion. That's why Trump hates it." I suspect
that credits Trump with more depth than he has. He started railing
against the Post Office when he thought it was helping his arch-rival,
Jeff Bezos, so initially just another tantrum. Of course, he got even
more agitated when he discovered people could vote by mail. But Trump's
deeper problem with the USPS is basic Republican dementia: government =
bad; business = good; ergo hack government up and turn the pieces into
businesses, so they can figure out better ways to rip off customers and
feed the profits to the rich.
Trump's racist, statist suburban dream: "Racial inequality wasn't
an accident. It was an ugly political choice." This refers back to
Richard Rothstein's book, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of
How Our Government Segregated America, which is part of the story --
for more in that vein, see Ira Katznelson: When Affirmative Action
Was White: An Untold Story of Racial Injustice in Twentieth-Century
America -- but nowhere near all of it.
Trump sends in the economic quacks: "Now he's prescribing
hydroxychloroquine to fight recession."
Republicans have politicized almost every aspect of American life.
I think this is true, and that it's had an adverse effect both on
society and on politics. Republicans might counter that Democrats
have been politicizing things too, but looked at case by case you'll
find that's usually in response to Republican polarization. The big
example is climate change, which an increasing number of Republicans
doubt and deny because doing so has become part of their political
identity. That wasn't the case 30 years ago, when the "ozone hole"
was recognized as a common problem needing a technical solution.
Former DHS staff: Trump claimed "magical authorities" to break the
law: Touts a group called Republican Voters Against Trump (RVAT),
which have been posting videos of Republicans explaining why.
America is drowning in joblessness -- and swimming in cash: "Thanks
to the CARES Act, Americans hae saved roughly $930 billion more in
recent months than they were on pace to do before the pandemic."
Why Trump shouldn't compare America's Covid-19 outbreak to New Zealand's,
in one chart.
Melania Trump's changes to the White House Rose Garden, explained:
"She dug up trees and put in paved walkways."
Judge orders Trump to pay Stormy Daniels $44,000 in legal fees.
The permanent outsider: "President Trump has no idea how to run for
reelection as an incumbent.
Gaza's health sector at risk as Israel's week-long airstrikes continue:
"Israel has been bombing Gaza for eight days straight, all as part of what
Israel says is a response to incendiary balloons sent from Gaza into
Israeli territory." First I've heard about it, which gives you a measure
of how Israel has routinized its arbitrary violence against Palestinians.
No doubt there's more to link to here:
Out of China: An affair in a dangerous ditch. She spent 1980
working in China, chronicled in her marvelous book Forbidden
Fruit: 1980 Beijing, recapped here with further thoughts.
Paul R Pillar:
Trump's schadenfreude foreign policy and its political appeal:
The German word means to take joy in the suffering of others. Aside
from highly touted arms sales, that's about the only return Trump has
managed in foreign policy, and if/when those weapons are used you can
count them too. Trump has dashed any delusions one might have hoped
for based on his campaign. The author of The Art of the Deal
seems consitutionally incapable of making any deals at all. (The only
one so far has been the NAFTA band-aid.) What's the point of sucking
up to Putin, Xi, and Kim except to negotiate deals to reduce conflict
and stabilize relations? All he's managed to do with Russia has been
to dismantle decades worth of arms limits agreements, leading to a
renewed arms race. (Which seems, by the way, to be ok with Russia,
as one of their few viable export industries is arms.) Elsewhere,
he's repeatedly broken things, while encouraging "allies" like UAE,
Saudi Arabia, and Israel to break even more. His withdrawal from
the Paris Accords shows that his Bad Neighbor Policy -- not official
term, but the suggested as the polar opposite of Franklin Roosevelt's
Good Neighbor Policy, an attempt to build some good will that proved
invaluable in WWII -- permeates all levels. Pillar is right to point
out that foreign policy is not a zero-sum game: hurting other people
and countries doesn't help America; it often hurts, and not just in
loss of reputation, trust and prestige. So why does Trump do it?
Pillar tip-toes around several theories, noting that his policies
are more likely rooted in his understanding of domestic politics
than in any concern for the rest of the world, and coming closest
to the mark with "Trump supporters disproportionately exhbit traits
that make them more likely to feel pleasure from someone else's
pain." There's a much shorter word for Trump's syndrome: sadism.
The only thing that restrains us from talking about his "sadistic
foreign policy" is the sheer amount of indifference and ineptness,
which blunts the pleasure sadists obtain from the pain of others.
On the other hand, schadenfreude is a bit too kind, as it implies
a degree of sorrow Trump is simply incapable of.
The economic recovery that isn't: "Don't believe the story that
Trump will tell at the Republican convention." Related:
Pelosi's Kennedy endorsement and why people are so mad about it.
Air pollution is much worse than we thought: "Ditching fossil fuels
would pay for itself through clean air alone."
Trump's cloud of gossip has poisoned America: "The president's
insatiable need to traffic in rumor and conspiracy blows larger holes
in our shared reality with each passing day."
Kanye West is running for president -- seriously: He's getting on
the ballot in places like Ohio and Wisconsin. From what I've been able
to tell, his sole support comes from Republican operatives who won't
vote for him but hope he'll split some black votes away from Biden.
I seriously doubt he'll find many, or be any sort of a factor, but
he could kind of work as a "fuck it all" alternative to major party
candidates who are widely despised. Who he draws the most votes from
is so irrational it's impossible to predict. More: Ben Jacobs:
Kanye West's presidential campaign is both proceeding and unraveling.
Robert J Shapiro:
How Trump may be plotting to stay out of jail:
Donald Trump has a serious dilemma. If Joe Biden loses in November,
he can go home and settle in as a party elder stateman, as defeated
nominees have often done. But if Trump loses, he faces years of
intensive investigations by Congress and, assuming he pardons himself,
years of investigations by state prosecutors, likely criminal indictments,
and possible conviction and imprisonment. The investigations also could
expose some of his children to legal peril. And Trump assets -- and
those of the Trump Organization -- will be vulnerable to government
seizure if New York state prosecutors and courts find that his past
actions were part of an organized enterprise engaged in criminal
activity. . . .
In Trump's view, this could be his ultimate deal. He agrees to accept
the election results and retire peacefully, but only if Biden and
Democratic congressional leaders agree to shelve future investigations
and forgo federal prosecutions of him and his family and associates --
and call on state prosecutors and attorneys general to do the same.
If Trump loses non-trivially, I don't see that he has much leverage.
I don't see how he can throw a fit and simply refuse to leave. I don't
know that he can pardon himself, but I have entertained the idea that
he might resign after November in expectation of a President Pence
pardon, following the Ford-Nixon precedent, possibly extending to his
family and company if not to all of his confederates. (I doubt he cares
much about them anyway.) That still leaves possible state prosecution,
and civil complaints. I'm not much impressed with the power of Congress
to investigate Trump, so I don't see much worry there. On the other
hand, Trump does have two pretty strong points in his favor. One is
that although there is a lot he could be indicted for, it's almost
inconceivable that he would ever be convicted by a jury that hadn't
been rigged. The second is that it sets a rather nasty precedent for
a new administration to criminally investigate its predecessor. As
far as I know, that's never been done in the US -- well, until Trump,
who currently has the DOJ investigating "Obamagate." Nixon deserved
jail, but spared that spent the rest of his life out of politics and
relatively harmless. (Not that eulogizing him didn't tarnish Clinton's
reputation.) Obama never prosecuted anyone in the Bush administration,
which effectively turned Bush's many faults into his own -- a huge
favor to the Republicans, and a huge drag on his own ability to make
changes. If Biden wins, he will inherit a mess even more huge than
Obama did, so it's very important that he remind people how much
this has been due to the mistakes and ill intentions of Trump and
his gang. So whatever he does about prosecuting Trump, we need to
make sure that the full extent of his crimes and scandals are aired.
Perhaps this is time for some sort of "truth and reconciliation"
commission? With it you could grant some degree of amnesty for
honest testimony. You should be careful about how this is set up,
but the emphasis should be on getting to the truth, and learning
from it, and not on petty revenge. For a cautionary piece on why
you need to keep people aware of truth, see Ari Rabin-Havt:
We shouldn't have to remind people George W Bush was a terrible
president. But we do.
Trump is 'Fox's Frankenstein,' insiders told CNN's Brian Stelter -- and
here's the toll it's taken. Stelter has a book coming out next week:
Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth.
It's hard to escape the conclusion that everyone involved deserve each
other -- especially the ones who think they have scruples but don't act
How the US can fight corruption after Trump: Talking about foreign
policy here, although one reason the US has never done much about
limiting corruption abroad is that we tolerate so much of it at home.
The other reason, which isn't much touched on here, is that buying
off foreign officials is usually good for business (at least in the
short term, which with business is the only term that matters).
3 renters on getting screwed over by landlords during the Covid-19 housing
Joe Yerardi/Alexia Fernández Campbell:
Fewer inspectors, more deaths: The Trump administration rolls back
workplace safety inspections. Isn't this really what the Trump
administration is all about? This is part of a Vox series called
System Failure, a collaboration with
Center for Public Integrity. Other pieces:
How this year's primary season demonstrated the waning influence of
pro-Israel hawks: At least that's true within the Democratic Party,
where AIPAC efforts to purge Representatives critical of Israel have
largely failed. Most Democratic politicians are as obeisant as ever
to the Israel lobby, but rank-and-file voters have been drifting away
for years, partly as they recognize Israel as a racist warmongerer,
and partly as Netanyahu has personally aligned with the Republicans.
Biden was personally able to secure a pro-Israel plank in the Party
platform, but a more representative platform would have been a good
deal more critical.