How Worried Should We Be?

Over the past few weeks, several readers have written to inquire as to my overall level of concern.

Not for markets, nor for the economy. But rather for the world, and specifically for the fate of centrist politics in advanced democracies, and thereby for democracy itself.

The first thing I say is that it doesn’t much matter what I think. I could, in theory, drop the pseudonym, crank up the volume and endeavor to make some manner of editorial “splash.” (“Allow me to reintroduce myself, my name is…”) Don’t hold your breath. The risk-reward’s highly asymmetric. And the motivation anyway wouldn’t be pure. It’d be more vanity project than crusade. As it stands, I’m just a ghost with a modest cult following, not a difference-maker. I don’t expect that to change.

The second thing I say is that I’m honestly not sure how concerned I should be, nor how concerned anyone else should be. Donald Trump doesn’t have it in him to be a real dictator. But by design or by accident (and I tend to think it’s mostly the latter), he’s in a position to usurp America’s system of governance. And he’s not a man known for restraint. As Joe Biden put it, sounding every bit his age, Trump has “the morals of an alley cat.”

For her part, Marine Le Pen probably does have it in her to be a dictator, but she’s learned over the past decade that the path to power for France’s radical right ironically goes through a softer image. Still, she is her father’s daughter. The electorate’s vulnerable. And she’s a highly — highly — effective demagogue.

Is it entirely out of the question that the immigration situation in Europe could deteriorate enough by the 2027 French elections that a newly-elected President Le Pen could convince a hypnotized nation to assault immigrants in the streets? Or to round up Muslims? What to do about immigrant businesses? And what to do with Muslims once they’re rounded up?

In the US, Biden’s debate performance made a second Trump term far more likely. If Trump’s reelected, he’ll surely drop the federal election interference case against himself and while it’s admittedly far-fetched to believe he’d have a political rival assassinated by US special forces, the Trump team surely spent the last 24 hours gleefully contemplating what Monday’s Supreme Court decision might mean for the implementation of a second-term agenda.

I don’t think the reality of the SCOTUS immunity decision’s set in for most people just yet: Trump would spend a second term knowing he’s immune to criminal prosecution for any act which he can contend was part and parcel of his “official” presidential remit. Such a contention needn’t necessarily be plausible depending on whether he gets a sympathetic court. And unless two justices die or retire, the highest court in the land will be sympathetic.

That might turn out to be irrelevant. Maybe things go so well for Trump in a second term that he doesn’t see any utility in pushing the envelope. And maybe he’s so satisfied (and so old) by year four that he simply declares his job “here” done and retires to a gilded hotel suite or a seaside golf resort. (“America’s great again. You’re welcome.”) But what if it doesn’t go like that? Let me ask you this: Is it realistic to expect Trump not to test the limits of the immunity conferred by the Supreme Court on Monday?

There’s no way for markets to price those risks. There’s no hedge for what I’m alluding to above. But it’s worth noting that the US yield curve bear steepened in the wake of the debate, a function of “the perception that the likelihood of a Trump victory in November has markedly improved,” as BMO’s Ian Lyngen and Vail Hartman put it, adding that “Monday’s Supreme Court ruling on Trump’s potential immunity regarding acts surrounding the 2020 election results was viewed as a net positive for the former President’s prospects of being elected in the fall.”

Meanwhile, BNY Mellon’s John Velis wrote of a “France/Trump premium pricing itself into bonds.” A victory for the political fringe in France “would, the market fears, increase public spending and erode fiscal stability,” Velis said, adding that Treasurys are reflecting higher odds of a Trump win and the “inflationary effects of proposed tariffs, a reversal of favorable immigration policies [and] potential further fiscal deterioration as a result of deep tax cuts.”

Coming full circle, who knows. Who knows how concerned anyone should be. What I do know is that the odds of a surreal outcome for two of the world’s foremost democracies have increased materially — dramatically, even — over the past three weeks. And I don’t think most observers are capable of wrapping their minds around the implications of a worst-case going forward. We’d all like to believe “it can’t happen here.” But it’s happening right now, right in front of our eyes.


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78 thoughts on “How Worried Should We Be?

  1. If he wins and is still alive in 4 years I have to imagine he goes for a third term. “The constitution only says you can’t do three terms in a row” seems like plausible enough redneck logic to persuade his base, including 5/9 of the supreme court, to march. I also think it’s highly likely he puts out warrants for Biden and Pelosi on day one. Maybe Obama. Maybe random people who post funny shit about him on social media. Who knows, he’s insane. But I bet he doesn’t “disappoint” with his antics.

    As an aside, is anyone else wondering if property in the US is about to get much less valuable? Hard to predict given that he’s probably going to rip inflation, but I could see a serious brain drain / divestment of foreign owned property if things get weird.

    1. Property values are one thing, but when it comes to actually moving (you hear a lot of people saying things like “I’m leaving if he’s reelected!”) is that the world’s so damn dangerous. There are only three countries in the world where you can go and be confident that at no point in your lifetime will your home be overrun or bombed by a foreign power: The US, China and Russia. Canada too, but only because of the US. I’m not moving to China. Nor Russia. Maybe Canada, but not anytime soon. I’d mention India but… well, I’m not moving there either, and besides, there’s a tiny, tiny, tiny chance they stumble into a nuclear exchange at some point.

      1. Well, maybe my property on US soil isn’t being “overrun or bombed by a foreign power”; however, I feel like I am getting fleeced by a “local branch” of the US government.

        One of my rental properties is in a location where the local government is in the process of enacting a local ordinance that will override existing 50 year old zoning laws – to remove my right to rent my property on a short term basis. Furthermore, in the 8 years since I purchased the condo, my real estate tax rate has gone from being 3 times higher than the real estate tax rate charged for properties owned by full time residents to being almost 10 times higher than what full time residents pay. Since I am not a full time resident of that state, I do not have a say or vote on this matter.

        1. Silver lining for possible Trump takeover likely could be rolling back of onerous regulation of STRs. See still-red AZ MAGA-controlled legislature…

        2. There is a saying in the mining community that “our rules are written in blood”. Meaning that people were maimed and killed before each of our rules was adopted. Ignore the rules and you may suffer a similar fate.

          Likewise in other fields, ‘onerous regulation’ is due to the results of unregulated behavior. Industrial discharges into streams and rivers was once unregulated and rivers became so polluted that they caught on fire. Now we are entering an era where capital is deregulated and individuals are regulated more every day. All hail your oligarch overlords!

          Sorry about your real estate taxes but it’s likely that they are the result of your short term renter’s behavior or maybe local deep pockets have found a way to profit from you selling the property. Highlighting profit as another reason for ‘onerous regulation’. Once again, all hail your oligarch overlords!

          1. We know full well what unregulated capitalism looks like in the USA. Love Canal and Ludlow Massacre. Both the direct result of unregulated capitalism and heavy industry if not mining.

            I like it seems you, worked in heavy industry including somewith nuclear weapons industry. Regulations and knowledgeable regulatory agencies are necessary to protect us in this ever complex world we live in. Lawyers, the legal system and congress are not places to resolve complex technical matters and to balance risks. The people behind this push are arrogant and subscribe to a philosophy that is doomed to failure. Do we fail it now through impeachment of the Supreme Assholes or do we wait till more damage has been done?

            The people pushing this are not people who have worked in a mine nor worked at designing modern industrial facilities. Industry is not clamoring for this change due to a desire to save money because preventing calamities is much cheaper than cleaning up messes. No regulations only encourages the bad operators who care less about human life and humanity. A race to the bottom with dead bodies and ruined lives along the way.

      2. I mean, good point. I’d take my chances here over any of the places you mentioned. But at what point do the odds of Ireland getting invaded become lower than the odds of getting the knock from the thought police?

          1. As a US expat, I’m guessing there are plenty places that won’t be ‘bombed during my lifetime’ that offer higher quality of life for those of us who are willing, able & experienced enough to make that happen without complaint.

            If I were to guess which countries likely WILL be bombed during my lifetime, I’d guess US, China & Russia are right up there… Regardless of that, there are clearly cleaner & safer & pleasant-er places to reside, even for Americans.

  2. Trump could have spearheaded a Congressional fix of immigration in his first term- but he didn’t. Now, with 8M job openings in the US, we actually need more workers/immigrants. If Trump gets elected, we will see what actually happens with immigration, but I doubt that “what actually happens” will include rounding up and deporting immigrants. The logistics of that would be pretty difficult and then we would still be short workers.
    I have yet to hear Trump say that he has a plan for “intelligent immigration”. He will say anything to get elected.

    1. :headdesk: :headdesk: :headdesk:

      Where are those job openings? 14 months unemployed and counting here. WHY WON’T ANYBODY TELL ME WHERE ALL THOSE JOB OPENINGS ARE?

      None of the recruiters I’ve talked to in the past year can find them. I can’t find them. WHERE ARE THEY? Somebody please tell me! Please! Please!

      1. The jobs are all around: they are in the food service industry, warehouse labor, Starbuck’s. They all pay $16-20 an hour (in a high cost-of-living area). The entry-level jobs for college graduates pay $19-23/hr and are highly-sought-after, and therefore competitive, because they could actually, possibly, lead to a better job and a career. Within my family there are two young college grads, one of whom endured a nearly-year-long stint of unemployment before finally finding a job in her field in a distant state. The other is still looking after several months. There are pockets of demand for skilled/educated workers, but for the most part, it’s not a good job market. And I’m not sure what’s going to change that.

        1. Yeah, this is something employed people/economists/pundits tend to forget. Unemployed people with diplomas aren’t interested in working for McDo. Or driving trucks. Not just b/c it lacks prestige (at some point, most people are willing to sit on their pride) but mostly b/c it closes the path towards your initial career goals and ambitions. That’s not something people will give up on easily or happily.

          Maybe the US is more tolerant in that respect but, in France and (I suspect) most of Europe, taking a job “just to survive” will be held firmly against you in any professional setting.

          1. True here too. However there are ways to step back in same industry to relaunch. This does however risk developing a stigma.

          2. In my case, The problem with those “jobs” is solely that working 40 hours a week at them pays less than my rent and bills cost. I can’t consider that a “job”—anything that takes me away from the job search for 4 weeks while only paying 3 1/2 weeks of expenses, and causes me to continue to have to dip into my retirement savings to eat, is not income, it’s a net expense. A job would enable me to survive, not cement my path to bankruptcy. I know a handful of other professionals who have, for instance, gotten cashier jobs at Home Depot, but they’re in the same boat, it’s not viable. For the record, I myself was recently offered $25 an hour (1099 gig, so no benefits, and takehome a fair bit under $20 an hour after taxes—about 1/3 less than the first temp job I got in IT back in the 90s) to do some of the most sophisticated programming I’ve never done, extremely technical stuff. I eagerly took the job, and happily did it to the very best of my ability, absolutely without complaints, for the full three weeks before the company said they couldn’t afford to pay me and let me go.

            I’ve actually had two other offers to work at $25 an hour just since that one ended. So I don’t need to take a job at McDonald’s. If I’m willing to keep spending my retirement savings on groceries, I can easily find work in my own field at a hair over McDonald’s pay, and I’d enjoy it, rather than have slog through a shift dealing with customers and working a register. And if I couldn’t do that, McDonald’s in my area pays $20 an hour, and I would take it if I could live on it. The problem is not the jobs, it’s the pay.

        2. Nothing to say to @Joey except thanks for chiming in—after a year of this, this id still intuitively strange to me, but—it’s such an isolating experience that every time I see somebody simply acknowledge that it’s happening, it’s material comforting and I appreciate it. Yes, what you’re describing is what I’m seeing.

          Throw in that a lot of people feeling the pinch are in their 40s and 50s… Even a few months ago, I knew age discrimination was real, but I never imagined it would be something that I would actually have to deal with. But now I’m hard-pressed to chalk up a lot of what I’ve experienced to anything else. It’s becoming common job advice nowadays, if you have over 20 years of success in your field, to chop your résumé down to 10 or 12 years at the absolute most. (I even have ridiculous coloring spray that I use to attend my salt-and-pepper mustache and eyebrows back to brown before zoom interviews…Not a huge deal, but if you knew me personally, you would know how out-of-character it is for me to be concerned about something like that.) So on top of what your young family members have dealt with, a lot of us are dealing with that, too. It’s pretty brutal out there. The sense of despair is unique in my experience, and intense.

          And, as noted in my last comment here, I would happily take those low-paying jobs, if they at least covered my rent and didn’t require me to keep spending my retirement savings on groceries.

          As it happens, I know how things are in HCOL areas. I live in San Francisco, one of the highest of the high… Sometimes I used to like to shock my friends on Facebook by posting pictures of what $150 In groceries or a $30 meal looks like in my neighborhood. But for decades that was compensated for by how easy it was to make heaps of money here… Overall, even with the cost of living, I socked away way more money here than I would’ve anywhere else (Hence being able to live, even at San Francisco prices, for over a year without any income, and probably still able to stick out another year before I’m homeless.) And for a long time even as things got very expensive here and rent skyrocketed, the basic necessities like food weren’t too bad. Until everything turned around, and the cost-of-living kept crawling upwards, while the pay suddenly reverted to 1990s levels.

          I have a yardstick that I like to use: how many burritos I can buy at my corner taqueria with what I make in an hour. 25 years ago, as a beginner in this field, I could buy seven burritos with what I made in an hour. Now as a very experienced senior consultant and software engineer I can buy two—on the rare occasions I can find someone to pay me at all for what I do. That, to me, tells the whole story.

          It just kills me. If I were to show you my portfolio, I can guarantee you’d be amazed. I have interviewees luck with slack-jawed stupefaction of things that I have done. I’m a very skilled software engineer, and more than that, it means I’m a very skilled creative problem solver and algorithmic/technical thinker, And was 25 years of independent consulting under my belt, it means I know a ton about communicating with non-technical people, helping parse out their problems in ways they can understand, etc. This week, just as a hobby, I optimized a very complicated WordPress site that was getting consistent 40s in PageSpeed Performance to improve that to a consistent 99, with 100 for Best Practices and 92 for SEO, without any visible change in UX. Not that long ago I built from scratch an entire programmatic database-driven SMS group messaging system to manage and archive a marketing company’s client communications. I wrote databases to track research cell lines in the development of a cancer therapy for which the patent eventually sold for $1billion. In three weeks I wrote a working comprehensive automated QA testing framework for an SaaS website on a platform I had never used before. And with all that, nobody can find any way that it’s profitable for them to have me come work for them for more takehome than I would make as a McDonald’s cashier.

          I just don’t get it.

          1. Could the ‘problem’ be your location? I know there are lots of software jobs in Colorado, Kansas City and other places. These jobs do not pay like San Francisco has but the cost of living is much lower. Large sized breakfast burritos sell for $8.50 in this area. I split in two and eat half then other half 2-3 hours later.

            I had a career in heavy industry and found that moving gave me more job flexibility. I could jump industries government to Mining to power to gas to oil and repeat.

          2. No, location isn’t really an issue, as most jobs that I’m qualified for have become remote. The few interviews I have landed have been scattered all over the country, often for companies I don’t even actually have an office location, and I do indicate on applications that I would be willing to relocate, even though privately I’m reluctant to.

            Where I’m at is certainly an issue in terms of the expenses, but at the same time, I’ve been rooted here for 25 years, I have an apartment with five rooms full of crap, and the stress and expense of finding another place to live and relocating to some other area of the country is expensive, too, in terms of both money, and on my psychological and emotional resources which are, if the manic length of answers here don’t make clear by themselves, past the breaking point already.

            Once I have some stability then I can consider throwing a move on top of it.

            Do I wish I had left when I had the resources to? Yeah, although for a few years there, people around me were getting these spectacular rent-control buyouts from their landlords, and I thought if I hung around long enough I’d get one too. If I’d had any clue this was coming I would’ve left, but I didn’t, so waiting around for a free $125k seemed worthwhile. In fact, for a little over a year I was a digital nomad, instead of giving the place up I rented a room in it out to somebody else and kept the lease while I was on the road.

            So I’m kind of hoist by my own petard. I don’t blame anybody else for it.

      2. I was referred to a job at Microsoft, applied and was not selected. I reached out to my referrer and lamented that the Workday AI probably screened me out, he said that he didn’t think the job even existed. This job was posted on LinkedIn multiple times for multiple locales and didn’t exist in any of those postings at all.

        How many of the 8 million open jobs are just zombie openings that are never actually filled?

        1. Same thing happened to my bro in law at Amazon. My employer also has multiple openings posted just to get people in the system with no immediate need for them

        2. I’ve seen this repeatedly, and even been directly told as much by a corporate honcho… “we’re not even hiring this quarter, we might next quarter.“ Unfortunately that was a side comment during a very wide ranging conversation (and a troubling one, as he made me get dressed and shaved and get on a zoom call so that he could tell me that they weren’t even going to give me an interview… He felt I deserved better than an impersonal rejection email… great, thanks man) so I let it go by, but I really regret not asking him why the hell he’s advertising a job opening when he doesn’t have one.

          I don’t know what those ghost jobs are or why they’re posted but there are definitely a lot of them. I refuse to believe that when I see a job that seems tailor-made for my skills and experience, in my area, where there aren’t a lot of people who do what I do, and it’s been posted for six months, and I’ve applied twice without even ever having my résumé submission acknowledged, something is very strange.

      3. My daughter and her husband, both senior managers in tech/IT have been out of work as a result of acquisitions for a year and a half. I’ll tell you about those jobs. No one over 50 is getting one without an inside invitation. AI has taken over HR and AI has no class and no ethics. It doesn’t care who you are, what you know, or what management actually wants. Good luck, sir!

        1. I’ve talked to a number of recruiters about this… Happily, no, AI hasn’t taken over the hiring process. People talk about ATS like it’s making decisions, but it’s not, ask any recruiter, it’s just a way of tracking applicants. Pretty much the only way an automated decision is made against someone is if they had answered a real showstopper question on the original form wrong, The sort of yes/no checkbox that failing to check shows you don’t even have the most fundamental requirements for the job.

          The actual problem with automation & AI in the process is that services now allow people to send out job applications to hundreds of openings at once (they call it “spray & pray”), and hiring managers are buried. You could be the most qualified applicant in the world, and the odds of your résumé even getting seen at all now are much lower, because hiring managers are getting hosed down with an unmanageable torrent of completely irrelevant applicants. The last hiring manager I spoke to said she got about 1000 resumes for a single senior-level opening in my fairly obscure specialty.

    2. Stephen Miller has plans for mass deportations ready to go. “On Day One!” Along with legal teams standing by and prepped to fend off the early legal challenges. He is quite public about it.

      This does not appear to the kind of detailed preparation people would be making id this is just an idle “campaign rally promise” sure to be quickly forgotten.

      1. Miller is scarier to me than anybody else in Trump’s sphere. Most of them are clowns when you come right down to it, they’re demagogues vying for the spotlight. He doesn’t strike me that way, it seems like there’s something darker driving him than the obvious narcissism that powers most of them. He seems like they kind of guy who might be content to stay out of the limelight and coolly plot something truly dangerous.

        1. +1. He’s damaged and I suspect he’d actually be pretty okay with concentration/extermination camps for his outgroup(s).

      2. Steven Miller is one of the scarier ones out there. However project 2025 is much more comprehensive and not likely to be completely undone by any responsible president in 8 years. Seven Miller therefore could just be a sideshow under which 2025 operates.

        1. Did you see the headlines today about what that Heritage Foundation flack said now? “The second American Revolution will be bloodless, if the left lets it be.” Horrifying, but fortunately, horrifying enough that it’s likely to backfire. They’re so eager to troll that they’ve leapt right into not even disguising anymore that they outright want to overthrow the USA. If anyone at the Heritage Foundation has any smarts at all, as an organization they will back away from that comment real fast.

  3. You’ve made the point on several occasions, but I think it’s worth reiterating: Trump is probably too incompetent or won’t live long enough to become dictator himself, but he does open that door to someone who is more competent. I’m still somewhat doubtful Trump will win when push comes to shove (I expect polls are underestimating the anti-Trump sentiment out there and do expect enough voters would split their tickets to give the dems the house), but my hope is that if he does win, his followers either splinter or whatever “establishment” Republicans still exist take the reins and pull the party back at least somewhat back to their old ways which still aren’t great but at least shouldn’t result in completely undermining the basic foundations of our country.

    1. Yeah, the age thing’s a factor. You do generally want some runway if you intend to be a dictator. It feels like “one-term dictator” is a bit of a waste. Like, “Well, congrats on making it happen, but why’d you go through all that trouble if you were only going to rule for four years?”

      1. There’s always Ivanka, Jared and…Barron – waiting in the wings. Remember Papa Doc, Baby Doc…Marcos…NK……

      2. “Why….for four years?” Simple – to stay out of jail and avoid bankruptcy from previously lost lawsuits. Plus free room, board and travel. Great medical plan, etc. and IMMUNITY!!!

  4. Don’t forget there is always Jr. to carry on. Javanka would like another run at the billions too. Maybe even Barron would like to get in on the grift.

    1. See, this is what worries me. Americans love nepotism. We had yhat father/son presidential tag team not all that long ago, as if it’s entirely reasonable to believe that a single nuclear family would produce a father and son who were both the single most qualified person out of 350 million people to run the country just 8 years apart. And now, we’re not just talking about the kids of a politician, we’re talking about the kids of someone who’s also the star of a reality show, as well as being the singlemost massively successful businessman and real estate tycoon in history (or at least plays that on TV… same difference.) In the eyes of a lot of Americans, that’s some serious leadership qualifications right there.

    2. And, to follow up on my above comment, today I saw a headline that a new poll says the only Democrat who is currently polling ahead of Donald Trump is… Michelle Obama.

      You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.

      Seriously, people think they’re voting for prom king and queen, or something.

      1. They should take a hint and run Michelle Obama. Give the people what they want. Run her at the top of the ticket and pick a centrist, white male as the VP. Can you imagine the ratings on a Trump vs. Michelle Obama debate? Everybody in the world would watch.

        1. Ugh. No, you’re totally right. But… ugh. I dream of a world where that wasn’t the best option.

          It’s once again a question of whether to enable the addict. Yeah, you’re right. But I hate to feed into the ”Being the spouse or child of a president males you electable!” thing. As well as the idea that the Democrats don’t need to move on. We saw in 2016 that a substantial part of the country was so eager to put the past behind them that they would put an orangutan in the White House. So what did the Democrats do next? They run the vice president of the administration that was a reaction to. And now that that’s not working out? I know, let’s run the first lady of that administration.

          Honestly, Pete Buttigieg eventually turned out to be a more flawed candidate than I’d hoped, but he’s the only thing the Democrats have had that’s felt to me like forward movement in decades (don’t even ask me about Newsom and Harris, I’ve been holding back a rant about them that someday I will post.) Put him in there, If only to say, “hey, we’re no longer trying to turn back the clock to a 2008 that’s never going to happen again.”

          1. Did you look at that poll? i.e., the actual results? It’s just one poll, but she leads Trump among registered voters by 11ppt. If that’s even close to accurate, she’d win in a landslide. It’s surely not that simple. And the margin’s surely not that wide. But who knows? What if it is? 11ppt in a US presidential race in July of year four is a helluva lead.

          2. No I didn’t look that far into it, I just blanched at the very suggestion and moved on. All right, well, seeing as how our leaders are supposed to represent the will of the people, if any particular someone is what a lot of people want in a candidate then maybe I don’t have much grounds to complain, but privately I’m always gonna wish there was a better way, and believe that a lot of people make very shortsighted and only shallowly considered choices.

          3. What makes you question her capacity to serve, exactly? The biggest impediment is her own refusal to run. She’s eminently capable.

          4. I took a look at that poll. Two immediate reactions:

            1.) If she really can beat Trump that decisively then I say run her. That’s the top priority, of course. And beating him by 10 points would be better on a number of different levels than beating him by 1.

            ) I wonder, if these polls were conducted asking people to identify who they preferred by policy positions rather than by candidate identity, how different the responses would be. I assume pretty vastly, across the board, unspecific to any one person named. I stand by my “Prom king or queen” comment.

            As to her qualifications: I don’t know what they are. That’s the problem. I know she’s for healthy kids, which I do agree with, but beyond that, I’m not aware of any qualifications. I haven’t seen how she governs in action, I haven’t heard her policy ideas. I said in 2016 that I didn’t believe President of the United States was an entry-level job and I still feel that way. To me, being in a nuclear family with someone powerful just isn’t enough experience. Let’s see how she handles a few terms in a position of political power herself, let’s see for sure how she governs, before we decide to make her the leader of the free world.

            Obviously I often find your opinions and analysis credible, that’s why I pay money to read them, so if you say she’s capable, sure, I’m likely to give it more benefit of the doubt than if a lot of other people were to say it. And if you were to write a thought-provoking piece supporting it well, I’d definitely devour it (hint, hint). But the fact is, as of now, I’m unaware of what you’re basing that opinion on. What are her policies? What’s her track record? If I knew those things I might have more of an opinion about her.

            When I said I blanched, it’s just at the idea that the only person the Democrats can find in their entire national party who win an election against an orangutan (and an explicitly white supremacist orangutan at that, how is that being forgotten by so many?) is someone with no experience as an officeholder or stated policies that I’m aware of, and, who is yet another emissary from a political regime that huge swaths of the populace, on both the left and the right, rejected in stronger terms than had been seen in decades. Agree with them or not, Occupy and Trumpism both erupted on Obama’s watch. Do the Dems really want to keep trying to bring back something that made that many people that discontented? Clinton handed the US to Trump on a plate. Biden, despite winning in 2020, is now doing the same. Why are we even talking about bringing back a third personality from the Obama administration?

  5. The irony is that it was a federal indictment of trump that caused this to go before the highest court, and now we have an immunity decision that makes trump stronger and more emboldened. Maybe it’s time to leave it alone for a bit. 2 years ago this guy was banging away in all caps on Truth Social. Now he’s back to haunt us, because we couldn’t just let it be. Run a new, ordinary democratic candidate, leave trump alone the way Nixon got left alone, and let the history books tell the story of 45. Instead, every action seems to serve the opposite purpose, to just make the guy feel more aggrieved, entitled and (increasingly) empowered to seek retribution. I’m not sure “we” (the political establishment, the media, ordinary citizens) are doing our part to keep things on the rails. It’s as if we’re conjuring the evil we’re fighting against by trying to stop it. Like, if we’re worried a candidate for president will weaponize the justice department if he gets into office, then it might not be smart to create a scenario where an impartial observer (who’s not obsessed with the cathartic pursuit of leaving trump financially ruined, embarrassed, and imprisoned) might accuse us of–you guessed it–weaponizing the justice department by indicting a presidential candidate DURING AN ELECTION YEAR. Even if the charges are legit, it’s terrible optics, and obviously many unintended consequences.

    1. Giving a narcissistic grifter a pass is not likely to improve things for his victims. It will only embolden this type of person. Only with consequences can behavior be changed.

      1. I see your point, and I myself do think the prosecutions are 100% valid, legitimate, and should have gone ahead, But he does have a point that Democrats keep kind of shooting themselves in the foot. Two impeachments attempts accomplished absolutely nothing but make him look more like a victim, too. And even though I support them, it is something to chew on, there’s a straight line from the indictments to this new judicially-legislated presidential immunity. I suppose, and this isn’t a fully formed thought but just kind of spitballing, but perhaps the Democrats have taken too much of a blunderbuss approach, trying to nail him on anything and everything they can, opening up many possibilities for blowback. Maybe something more surgical was called for.

      2. as i wrote, an impartial observer who’s not obsessed with the (evidently impossible) pursuit of the religious high that will come in the moment trump is exiled forever might argue we should be pragmatic and not just take actions that feel good, despite serving at cross-purposes with our ultimate interest. Good luck bringing consequences to that guy. Americans on the left are on tilt. Time to move on from our internal psychological need to balance the scales of justice. The guy was out of the picture. We brought him back. Learn the lesson. Let it go.

        1. I remain deeply suspicious of your comments “nuck,” eloquent though they usually are. I don’t think you’re as impartial as you claim to be.

          The answer to existential threats isn’t “ignore them and hope they go away.” Yes, there’s a case to be made that Trump was done when he was reduced to hawking NFTs of himself dressed as a NASCAR driver for $99. I wrote a whole article based on exactly that premise, in fact. But are you willing to apply that same logic to everybody else in the world who’s probably a criminal but who’s i) not likely to commit any more crimes by virtue of being washed up, and ii) likely to reclaim the limelight and cause problems if prosecuted? If so, I guess that means the universal get out of jail free card is to be i) washed up, and ii) capable of causing trouble if bothered in retirement.

          Also, just more broadly, your comments all have one thing in common: They’re internally consistent and well-stated, but when you pan out and ask, “Ok, what’s this guy actually trying to say?” they don’t pass the proverbial smell test.

          The opposite of your comments is a comment that sounds crazy, but when you pan out and look at it from a common sense perspective, makes complete sense. So, for example, I’d argue that what should’ve happened on January 7 (the “day after,” so to speak) is this: The FBI should’ve gone over to the White House, walked in there, told the Secret Service to step aside, put Trump in handcuffs, told Mike Pence “Congratulations, you’re president now,” walked Trump outside, thrown him into a black van and shipped his ass off to an undisclosed location, never to be heard from again.

          That sounds crazy, and therefore not worth taking seriously (unlike your comments, which sound rational and thereby worth deep consideration), but when you pan out and think about what it is I’m actually saying, it makes all kinds of (common) sense: Trump’s a textbook domestic terrorist and he tried to violently overthrow the United States government on national television, in front of the whole damn world. He doesn’t get a trial. He gets a free plane ride to a CIA black site.

          As for his redneck brigade, it’s real simple: The Pentagon should’ve said, “Listen, Trump’s gone now and he ain’t comin’ back. If any of you still want to overthrow the government, we’ll be here, in D.C., with tanks and Black Hawks. So, you know, f–k around and find out.”

          At some point, somebody has to stop this guy. Every few months since 2016, last month’s “unthinkable” becomes this month’s reality. To put it as bluntly as I possibly can: How long is this going to go on before somebody, somewhere in the US government, grows some balls? He’s not some menacing former general. Or some enterprising former spy. He’s a clownish reality TV show host. A tacky real estate developer. A silver-spoon, draft-dodging, tax-evading moron. The kind of guy who would’ve been on the wrong end of the worst scene in Deliverance. It’s incredible to me that nobody has called his bluff yet.

          1. Also: A Supreme Court justice who rules that a president’s immune from criminal prosecution is a traitor. All six of those conservative justices should be in jail. Sorry. Not sorry. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person in the country anymore who thinks decisions sometimes need to be made based on common sense and common sense alone. Common sense is what keeps us alive when we leave the house every day, after all. And yet we’ve completely abandoned common sense when it comes to this one guy for reasons I honestly can’t discern on most days.

          2. I’d add another criteria to the get out of jail free card idea, and it’d be “former president”. Dealing with what trump did on and in the leadup to January 6th could have been handled in a few ways. 1) indict, 2) pardon, likely in exchange for an agreement to not seek public office again, 3) remove from society in some extrajudicial fashion. Now with the benefit of hindsight, 2 and 3 seem like they would have been more prudential decisions if the goal was to end his political career. Trump’s fundamental political message is that the establishment is corrupt and incompetent, will root out and destroy any outside voice, is particularly hellbent on destroying him personally, and that, by the transitive property, he is the persecuted surrogate for the American citizen (a Jesus analogue). Given this, Russia collusion narratives, impeachment over a conversation with Zelensky, and now federal indictments are like biblical miracles, vindication of his theology. So I’d think that if we’re going with strategy #3, we best not miss. We keep missing. Nixon under any other circumstance should have been indicted and sent to prison. Ford pardoned him with the justification, “My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over”. The pardon gave us psychological permission to move on, and Nixon got a pass because “he was a president”. End of story. Fair? No. But that’s not the point. Trump’s actions at the end of his term were treasonous in the “common sense” use of the term, if apparently not in the legal sense. Much, much worse than Nixon. To the point of truly disturbing. So much so that as January 6th happened, 90% of the country looked on in horror. A pardon would have made trump a pitiful figure. A rambling, 80 year old preacher on Truth Social, to be ignored by the public for the rest of his life. January 6th put him in political cryostasis. And then we cheered as the Biden justice department put trump back on the front page IN AN ELECTION YEAR (seriously), reanimated for a final shot at redemption. How’s that working out?

          3. This is exactly what I’m talking about with your comments. This sounds very intelligent until you step back and ask “What’s this guy really trying to say?” Here, it’s this: This situation is everyone’s fault except Trump’s. So, everybody’s fault except the guy who tried to violently overthrow the United States government.

            You don’t need a bunch of complicated analysis. The guy tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. We all saw it. On television. We all heard him, on a recorded line, instruct Georgia’s election officials to “find” votes. He’s a traitor and a criminal. In every sense. “Common” sense, “legal” sense and every other “sense.” A corrupt lawyer in a robe can pretend otherwise, but nobody’s going to believe it. Not even Trump’s supporters. News flash: They know he’s a criminal. They just don’t give a damn. Sure, some of them buy the “deep state” bullsh-t, but a lot of them know he lost the election and still like that he tried to overthrow the government. In other words: A lot of them want a dictator.

            You can do all the rhetorical gymnastics you want to do, and we’ll all clap for your floor routine, but it ain’t gonna change what everybody saw and heard. He did what he did. He said what he said. We didn’t hold him to account because we’re apparently too spineless to stand up to the “You’re fired” guy and his pet rednecks.

            And no, sorry, you don’t get a get out of jail free card because you’re a former president. That’s not how the system works. Well, it is now, apparently. Now, you can blackmail the United States government by threatening to unleash a Cracker Barrel parking lot on the Capitol. That’s where we are.

            Here are some amusing quotes from four people who should be indicted themselves (I put these in the Daily this evening for Plus subscribers, but they’re worth posting here too):

            “No one has ever said… that the president is immune from civil or criminal process. Why not? [Because] no one is above the law. And that is just such a foundational principle of the Constitution.” — Brett Kavanaugh, during his 2018 confirmation hearing

            “No man is above the law. No man.” — Neil Gorsuch, during his 2017 confirmation hearing

            “No person in this country is above the law, and that includes the president and it includes the Supreme Court.” — Samuel Alito, during his 2006 confirmation hearing

            “No one is above the law under our system, and that includes the president,” — John Roberts, 2005

            Gosh, they sure seemed to get it previously! It’s almost as if they’re just pandering to an autocrat now at the expense of the single-most important foundational principle of the entire republic. Or, more bluntly, it’s almost as if they’re acquiesced to the onset of authoritarianism come 2025 and want to be sure they’re on the right side of it.

          4. That’s an interesting point.

            I actually agree with you i.e., governing is (among other things) about taking life and death decisions. That’s that monopole on violence thing. And no one bat an eyelid when we blow up people half a world away but somehow we cannot touch Trump and his assorted cabal of traitors? Why?

            OTOH, it is said that “all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”. But here I am and while I’d (morally) support and cheer anyone (in power, with a democratic mandate of some sort) doing anything radical about Trump and the top echelons of the MAGA movement, the truth is I am also doing nothing (except posting here).

          5. Responding to your comment below, yes you are correct. The 6 “originalists” completely ignored the Constitution in this ruling. The Constitution states that the quid, the quo, and the pro must be reviewable in the case of presidential criminal activity by jurists of his peers. Roberts effectively said that no jurist can be provided evidence of the why in assumed criminal activity that would enable them to convict a president for criminal activity. This is spelled out in the Constitution and doesn’t require any additional case law to conclude.

            “The President … shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” To your point, the FBI should have black bagged him and sent his ass to Gitmo.

            “In cases of Impeachment … the Party convicted shall … be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.” The president has no immunity per THE CONSTITUTION.

            I’d add that all of the congressmen that voted to acquit Trump in his second impeachment for Treason should also be black bagged for enabling a criminal conspiracy.

            I have a sinking suspicion, and I understand that this would be a “conspiracy theory”, that I can’t shake about the current US party divide. Most of the GOP is on the take from foreign interests, likely Russia. Their messaging, lying, reposting of propaganda and absolute refusal to align with Constitutional norms are far too suspicious to be just a one off wholesale change of an entire party. The fact that they are universally aligned makes it more likely that the alignment is being driven by the same thing, money.

          6. This is actually a reply to your following comment, which is nested too deeply for me to reply to her directly, but you ask how common sense got so abandoned. Like a lot about what happens nowadays, the question calls to my mind my favorite movie, “Network“ (which I assume you must’ve seen by now— if somehow you haven’t, drop everything and find a way to watch it immediately, like, today.)

            The answer to your question, to paraphrase network chief Jensen’s explanation in that movie to deranged news anchor Harry Beale of why he should be a literal prophet preaching the religion of corporatism to the people:

            ‘Because Trump’s on TV, dummy.’

            It’s funny, if you think about it, because a city-full of people yelling “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” out their windows because a mentally unstable man on TV told them to is, like so many other things about that movie, eerily predictive of what’s happening today.

          7. I don’t know. I agree with your points that the reason this is all happening is because Trump is a criminal, not because anybody else made any bad decisions. But I see Nuck’s point in that the way the Democrats and the law enforcement agencies have gone about this appears to be inept, based on the outcome so far. I have no doubt it’s all causing Trump some private heartburn, At least I hope it is, but what’s it really doing? What have they accomplished? Without stretching too much, I could reframe Nucks comments as saying,If we had Dirty Harry, great, let’s go take out the bad guys, but if all we have are the Keystone Cops, maybe it would be better if we just kept them home instead of out bumbling around and causing trouble trying and failing to do good. I’m with you 100%, it’s absolutely ludicrous to suggest that Trump is being prosecuted for any reason other than that he broke the law, Or that we should look the other way on that for any reason. But there’s an element of realpolitik here. None of this has hurt Trump yet, none of it has brought him to any kind of justice—which was the goal, right?—or made him pay for anything he’s done in any way that he can’t easily afford, and, the way they’ve gone about things just may even have instead helped him accomplish his goals and thwart the law, and not just him, but now, more people like him down the line who he has won greater protections for. I do think that Is worth recognizing and thinking hard about. Even the hush money conviction, formerly a done deal, is in question again now because of this. What has anything accomplished in terms of reining him in? Right now, the only concrete outcome that isn’t at least still a little up in the air, up for appeal, or otherwise uncertain, has been something that benefits him and those like him.

      3. This morning the DOJ says it’s going forward with prosecutions against Trump they can get in before the next President is sworn. Trump thinks he can just go on his merry way, and there is some truth to that. But he still needs the votes to get there. We still have to play the ninth inning in a very tight game. Jack Smith is on the mound. I
        believe the DOJ is not going to pussyfoot and allow four months to pass without taking actions that shine more negative light on our wanna-be psychopathic ex-president. Whether or not he wins the election, which I doubt, I reckon he is going to experience some very painful headaches.

  6. Counterpoint: assuming that the SCOTUS ruling is going to give Trump leave to do bolder things he otherwise might’ve been afraid were illegal presumes that pre-consideration of what’s legal or what’s not has ever governed his actions. I’ve never noticed any evidence of that.

    I think it’s the next, craftier person who comes after him that we have to worry about.

    Since about 2016, I’ve felt that the one thing working in our favor is that Trump is basically Sideshow Bob. Yeah, he has evil intentions, but he’s also too much of an incompetent boob, it limits how much evil he’s actually capable of successfully accomplishing. At this point, what’s worrisome is that anybody who was a semblance of an adult in his previous inner circle is now gone, it’s a whole room full of Jack-in-the-boxes now. So who knows what direction things are going to go in. But that was a risk before this ruling.

    But the risk from this ruling is that Trump pushes the Overton window to where somebody slightly more evil and much more competent has a viable shot at the presidency… that’s a scary prospect.

    1. Project 2025 run by the authors would put a plan under trump. Bannon and Steven Miller would be happy to run the hit squads on any political enemies. I think in Bannon’s case ask forgiveness afterwards.

      I think your sanguine view is naivete at a time when we can ill afford to the luxury of being naïve.

  7. When I was 22 years old in my birth country of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez was leading the presidential poll elections. I was in shock, Chavez had just been pardoned and come out of prison to become the favorite, I simply could not understand how a guy that had failed to overthrow the government by force (because no one in the streets supported the coup), could become president by simply running for office. I had multiple conversations with concerned friends and friends that supported Chavez, the answer to could he become a dictator was unavoidably “it can’t happen here, Venezuela is the oldest democracy in Latin America and we have solid institutions.” I left when Chavez won, that decision resulted in me enjoying a life 100 times better than the people who stuck with it or left in desperation during the last 10 years. Every year it got worst, when people thought Chavez or Maduro could not gain more power or further dismantle the free press, the courts, the opposition or the economy they did just that. So can it happen here is the US? I believe the answer is a resounding yes, people tell me it is different here because Chavez was a socialist and Trump is just a loudmouth capitalist, but Chavez was not really a socialist, he was a demagogue and a populist who shrouded himself in the mantel of an ideology to usurp and maintain power, sounds familiar? Trump is not nearly as intelligent or charismatic as Chavez was, but he’ll have access to a lot more power and I have zero doubts a vindictive ahole like Trump will push the limits and in the process erase the rule of law in the US. I care about this country more than I’ll ever care about my birth nation, I have enjoyed opportunities and wealth most of my family in Venezuela will never experience, but I will not stay and fight, I intend to survive. H stated in the comments above that those claiming they’ll leave if Trump win are bluffing, I do not know about others but I do intend to leave, I purchased property in South America and secured an EU passport, will look at properties in Europe this year, may be I’ll risk being in a country that could eventually be attacked, or bombed, as H characterized the risk of not being in the US, China or Canada, I’ll take my chances, I know what happens to those that believe “it can’t happen here.”

    1. Another powerful comment. (I’d idly puzzled if you had fled Argentina.)

      It can’t or won’t happen here is an answer bred from life experience and inertia. You had to do a lot of work to prep t move offshore, twice. So you understand it is not a trivial undertaking.

      I keep remembering how I once thought “How could the Jews in Germany in the 1930s have been so oblivious to what was happening before their eyes. Well, it’s no longer so difficult to understand.

      But if we are lucky, Biden will step aside and the Democrats will offer an alternative to Trump who can actually win.

        1. I don’t think it would be suicide; more like the opposite. It would energize a disheartened Dem base and give crucial swing voters disgusted by the prospect of a Biden-Trump rematch a chance to renengage with the process. And whoever emerges from the convention as the nominee is likely to have near 100-percent support from Dems, the party, the liberal media, world leaders, etc. in the sprint to November. It’s just what this country needs after eight years of rule by olds.

    2. Thank you for your sobering view of the despots playbook. The heat is turned up gradually so that the frogs do not jump. I wish I had deeper roots in other parts of the world. But I do not. I also do not have resources sufficient to make life outside this country. Therefore I am going to try to lie low and keep my head down.

  8. I was raised by a parent who suffered from phobias, so my philosophy became worrying does no good. That said, I’ve been accused of worrying quite a bit. Since the debates in the Republican primaries in 2011 when I realized the obvious: the Republican Party primary voters were applauding loudly the most cruel annswers the candidates could come up with. I remember thunderous anpplause for the idea that if you were in a car anccudrnt and couldn’t prove you had insurance you should be left to die ant the scene. At the time the party was obsessed with maintaining the pre-existing condition status quo which kept millions of Americans from being ablue to qualify for insurance.

    One summer nigh at a book group of 20 or so mostly liberal people I predicted that if they didn’t win in 2012 that in 2016 the Republican nominee would be a candidate that would try to end democracy in the US and they’d have a decent chance of becoming President.

    All 19 or so other people in the room asked what I was smoking and said it could never happen here. Now, many if those people have passed on, book groups being popular among older people like myself. And I think in the last 13 years about 80% of the things that were necessary to happen to bring about the end of democracy have occurred.

  9. I don’t think the voters will put Trump back in there.

    He was a cancer, which we removed, and why would we put him back?

    However, I have been surprised before. Only time will tell I guess.

    If we do put him back, it is my opinion that the nation will have earned all the chaos that he is sure to bring. All the riots. All the criminality. National Guard tear gassing people. Police officers shooting black people in the back, knowing that they are immune. All the graft and bribe taking. The pardoning of 1400 J6 convicts. Project 2025 and the attempted firing of 50,000 career government workers. The appointment of two more far-right nut-heads on the supreme court. Kissing Putin’s butt. Tariffs on, tariffs off, tariffs on, and tariffs off of China again. Voter suppression in the subsequent 2028 election. And on, and on, and on.

    Chaos, incompetence, corruption, and willful disregard of anything resembling a fact or truth. These are Trump’s hallmarks.

    Haley said that “chaos follows Trump.” I prefer the much more direct “Trump creates chaos.”

    We live in dangerous times.

  10. A note on Marine LePen.

    While she’s more dangerous than Trump (but also committed no treason – apart from taking Russian money – so I’d be a bit unhappy at her being dealt expediently), I do think her rise is partly the fault of liberal elites being somehow desensitized to voters’ preferences.

    As someone said – if the liberal centrists don’t defend the border/control immigration, the fascists will.

    And that’s doubly true in Europe where existing badly digested immigrant population is high, where immigrants are lesser quality than in the USA and where the economy isn’t nearly as dynamic as in the USA…

  11. Kevin Roberts, whose uber-conservative think tank is behind the highly controversial “Project 2025” blueprint for a second Donald Trump presidency, made the comment during an appearance on Real America’s Voice. “We are in the process of the second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless if the left allows it to be,” Roberts said.

    The buried threat there is that we are going to win unless you try to stop us, and if you to stop us try we will stop you.

    What about this discourse is ‘conservative’. Would RADICAL not be a more apt moniker?

    1. I should have attributed the first paragraph as a quote from Daily Beast on Yahoo news feed.

      One thing these Supreme Assholes have done is to ignite emotions from disparate quarters, mostly in opposition to their rulings.

  12. There is a good chance of biden quitting the race. If Kamala gets the nod, I think trump loses. The Supreme Court desperately needs a lot of congressional oversight, term limits and be subject to the same ethics policy as the rest of the judiciary. It is a radical, arrogant, corrupt court.

  13. Ultimately this is why I think Biden should step aside from the 2024 nomination putting Harris at the head of the ticket with Whitmer as VP.

    This move accomplishes 2 things:

    It gives the Democrat Presidential campaign a solid chance for a massive momentum groundswell of support especially from independents (aka swing voters), young women (voter turn-out) and suburban white women (aka swing voters) especially in swing states.

    The second outcome is that Biden then becomes free to implement the unchecked authority just granted the President by SCOTUS in which he now has the authority to go scorched earth to protect American Democracy and the US Constitution. The moral and legal foundation has been established that such a move is warranted and prudent. Such moves would involve:
    A general declaration of Marshal law
    Declaring the Republican Party a terrorist organization and disbanding it entirely
    Disbanding the invalid body of the current SCOTUS
    Remove all licenses for organizations that use the term “News” in their name but intentionally lie and broadcast Kremlin/MAGA Nazi propaganda
    Removing statehood from states that intentionally suppress the vote of the will of its people thus removing Senators from these states from the Legislature.

    Every action above has a precedent and legal justification either via US common law or Constitutional provisions.

    It won’t happen (at least the latter point) because Democrats are cowards and generally stuck in the cognitive dissonance that the politics of shame still hold extremists in check. The unfortunate part is that unless we are willing as a society to do some “not good things” to protect the Democratic freedoms we’ve known in the US for nearly 250 years the end of our Democracy is almost all but assured.

    1. Can’t run two women on the ticket together. That’s a guaranteed loser in America. It could be Mother Teresa and Mary, Mother of Jesus and it’d be a loser in America. You’d be better off running The Rock and 2 Chainz.

  14. Trump is a psychopath- but the truly frightening thing is the people who will vote for him. Our economic problems are political and our po;itical problems are psychiatric..Remember who hates who. In the meantime, take a psychopath literally and seriously….No matter how much you fear and hate Trump, he’s worse than you think….

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