Monday, March 18, 2019

Mueller or the worms?

This kind of observation has happened several times. Whenever the President really gets on a roll with a series of crazy tweets, commentators all say that "he must know something that has not become public yet that is causing this outburst."

Is there any reason to believe that's true? Because this has happened several times, can someone look back at the history to see if Trump's crazy twits correlate with stuff we later found out he knew about even if it wasn't publicly known at the time? After 2 years of this guy, with several unhinged tweetstorms under our belt, we should be able to get some actual data to test this often-trotted-out hypothesis.

Maybe it is true maybe it is not. To me, it seems just as possible that the spikes in crazy are just symptoms of Trump's personal mental decline, and not external events. The brain worms, if you will...

Sunday, March 17, 2019

does the Trump campaign have a plan?

I’m really curious how the Trump campaign people plan to deal with the fact that two states will bar him from the ballot in the 2020 race unless he releases his tax returns and a bunch more states are likely to follow before that election. The Constitution gives states broad discretion to decide the qualifications for getting on their ballot. I don’t think a court challenge to these laws will work. So what will he do? Will it get him to release the returns? Will he simply write off those states in the election? Will he try a massive write-in campaign just to keep his returns hidden?

Has anyone in his camp even thought about this stuff?

ADDING (3/18/19): Actually it looks like the Constitutional issue is less clear. States can't use their ballot rules to impose additional qualifications for president. (So they could not, for example, exclude a candidate who is under age 40 from the ballot because the constitution sets the age threshold at 35). The Courts could consider the rule requiring a candidate to publicize their tax returns as effectively adding a qualification for the office. I don't think that is what this is, because anyone could release their tax returns if they want. But with a conservative (and often overtly partisan, IMHO) majority on the Supreme Court, it would not be too surprising if the Trumpies are relying on the Courts to knock these state laws down.

Friday, March 15, 2019

The Globalization of America's Pathologies

There's a lot of awful things about the Christchurch, NZ attack. But what really struck me about the manifesto is this sentence: "I chose firearms for the effect it would have on social discourse, the extra media coverage they would provide and the effect it could have on the politics of United States and thereby the political situation of the world."

So dozens of Muslims were slaughtered in New Zealand because of our fucked-up political discourse, half a world away.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Wouldn't Brexit mean a more racially diverse immigration stream for Britain?

As much as I am interested in the internal politics of foreign countries, I will never really understand any other country's politics as well as my own.

The one thing I cannot get my head around about Brexiters--or at least the portion of Brexiters who were motivated primarily by xenophobia (you know, the ones who were so spooked by the prospect of "Polish plumbers" using the open borders of the EU to take their job)--is the selectiveness of the xenophobia. I mean, when the UK leaves the EU, it will still be part of the British Commonwealth. While the Commonwealth does not have open borders, it does give certain preferences and migratory benefits to citizens of other Commonwealth countries that want to move to Britain. So by leaving the EU, wouldn't that shift the immigrant stream flowing into Britain away from Eastern Europeans and towards Indians, Pakistanis, East Africans, etc.? Sure the net effect of Brexit would be a decrease in immigration into the UK overall, but wouldn't it also encourage immigration from non-European sources to fill the jobs that won't be taken by Polish plumbers because of Brexit?

Is that really what the British xenophobes want? If so that is pretty different from the racist anti-immigrant sentiment I am familiar with the U.S. Many outspoken anti-immigrant folks here don't seem to have a problem with Eastern Europeans (e.g. the President's current and first wife).

Friday, March 08, 2019

Trump is pushing for the steepest decline of American power in its entire history

Charging foreign hosts of American troops the full cost of housing and transporting those forces, plus a 50% markup will mean the closure of U.S. bases abroad, which means a steep reduction in American influence and its ability to project its power abroad.

I don't necessarily view that as a bad thing. If there were no U.S. bases abroad it would, for example, make a U.S. invasion of Iran impossible. But there is no way this is what Trump supporters had in mind when they expected him to "make America great again."

Thursday, March 07, 2019


My fair city is banning cashless stores. The general consensus is the ordinance was passed to save our beloved local institution of Wawa from Amazon. But I wonder how is a cashless store legal under federal law? Hasn't anyone ever read the fine print on an American greenback?

31 U.S.C. §5103 requires U.S. currency to be accepted "for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues." The Department of Treasury seems to have taken the position that this does not require private businesses in the U.S. to accept U.S. currency. But why wouldn't "all debts" in the statute include debts incurred to private businesses? Plus the language on U.S. bills is even clearer, it applies to debts "public and private."

Is this just one of those things where the law is pretty clear but no one actually minds if a store is cashless do no one bothers to make the law an issue?

Except, in this case, Wawa minds. Go get 'em Wawa!

Don Jr., Eric, and Ivanka are fair game

The reason it is usually a bad idea for members of the opposite party to "go after" a president's family members is because:  (a) the general idea that minor children should be off limits because they are children (2) just being related to someone is not a real connection to substantive policies and decisions that are worthy of political attack.

Neither of those reasons apply to the President's adult children (at least not Don Jr., Eric, and Ivanka--no one remembers or cares about Tiffany). All three have been assigned and have willingly taken on grown up roles in the Administration and/or Trump's business empire. None of them are very popular with the public (Ivanka is the only one who is more popular than her father, and only by a couple of percentage points). If the Democrats launched a substantive investigation against Don, Eric, or Ivanka, I don't think there would be any more blowback than any other Trump-related investigation. Team Trump would cry foul, but they do that to every investigation of the President or his people.