Adventus

"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Is it Wednesday Yet?


It's not the tariffs, it's the Fed!

When the week has been insanely chaotic (and it's only Tuesday), you need someone to put it all in context:

It’s one thing, and fairly risky, to go all-out “maximum pressure” on China and Iran, but at least that’s a strategy. It’s another thing, and simply bumbling, to do so, then to admit having “second thoughts” about escalating tariffs against China (then to have a spokesman backpedal on that) and to welcome a dialogue with Tehran (only to have President Hassan Rouhani blow him off).

Similarly, it’s one thing, though unconstitutional (and, therefore, a mindless bluff), to order U.S. companies to stop doing business with China, as Trump did just before the summit. But another then to say, at the press conference afterward, that President Xi Jinping is a “great leader” who will make a deal soon, and once he does, the companies should stay put and “do a great job.”

That came complete with links to back all the factual statements in it.  You can go to the original to find them. The point is that, as early as this morning, news on NPR was still catching up to what Trump said last Friday, and not quite getting around to the fact he blew it all up by the press conference in France on  (checks news):  Monday.

But it's okay!

“It’s the way I negotiate. It’s done very well for me over the years, and it’s doing even better for the country.”

Sure!  That's true!  In Alternative Trump World, where he didn't buy an airline and drive it into bankruptcy, and run a casino (!) into bankruptcy, and buy a football team and watch it completely collapse!  But here's where I disagree with all similarly situated analyses that assume Trump has a goal, a telos, an end, a purpose, in mind.

The fundamental problem with Trump’s meanderings, I suspect, is that he doesn’t know what he wants. If Xi wanted to end the trade war now, it’s not clear what he would need to do to coax Trump to an armistice. Nor is it clear what Rouhani would need to do in order to get the sanctions on his country lifted. In both cases, Trump smashed up the works—imposing enormous tariffs on China, withdrawing from a multinational nuclear deal with Iran—believing the other side would simply fold in the face of America’s power and his own deal-making prowess.

No, he doesn't.  He just wants to smash and grab and if he can't grab, he can at least smash.  This is a man who ran a casino into the ground.  He has no idea what it means to "win" a negotiation.  he thinks he wins at everything, and when he doesn't, it's always someone else's fault and he walks away clean.  He is literally a legend in his own mind.  He doesn't expect anyone to fold; he thinks they have already.  Else why this?

China steals intellectual property and engages in unfair trade practices; this is unconscionable, and too many past presidents have done too little about it. But slapping 25 percent tariffs on all Chinese goods doesn’t address the problem and, in fact, distracts from a search for solutions. Iran funds terrorists and builds ballistic missiles with the range to attack U.S. allies, but pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal—which had led to the dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear program—does nothing to address those problems either. (It would have been better to use the deal as the starting point for moving on to other issues, just as, during the Cold War, successive arms control treaties with the Soviet Union dealt with an ever-expanding set of disputes.)
What Trump knows is "Obama did it, so the opposite is good!"  He knows that, and he knows he's a powerful negotiator.  Neither statement can be said to be a fact, but Trump doesn't care:  they are facts to him.  He knows what he wants:  he wants people to tell him how important he is.  And if they won't oblige, he'll do it himself.

Trump is doing much more damage than he knows. At least some of those around him know this, but no one has the backbone to tell him. 
True, but even if you told him, he wouldn't listen.  After all, a hurricane is headed toward Puerto Rico again.  When will it stop?  And after all the money Congress appropriated for recovery from the last hurricane!  When is Puerto Rico gonna take responsibility for this?

You gotta admit, somebody who thinks like that is not secretly believing his brilliant skills are going to bear fruit.  He thinks they already have and, if they don't, it's somebody else's fault.  Like Puerto Rico's, for being an island in the path of a hurricane.

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