Monthly Archives: May 2019

How Trump Gets Mainstream Media to Do His Bidding

Question: what do you do when the president of the United States is a serial, pathological liar as well as an aspiring despot, and the speaker of the House is an entirely sane leader trying to do her job? Answer: You treat them symmetrically, as rival, squabbling politicians. No! That’s the wrong answer. But The New York Times, following the conventions of “objective” journalism, has been treating Donald Trump’s “spat” (the Times’s word) with Nancy Pelosi in exactly that [...]

By |2019-05-24T22:40:42-05:00May 24th, 2019|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

What Is the Stock Market Trying to Tell Us?

Every day, the news stories keep telling us that a deal with China is farther away than ever. Yet the stock market has been going up since the stalemate was announced. (It was down trivially today after being up this week and last.) What gives? A trade war with China keeps being described as an economic catastrophe. What do the wise guys on Wall Street know that orthodox economists don’t know? Herewith, four conjectures: First, the tariffs and the [...]

By |2019-05-22T16:52:46-05:00May 22nd, 2019|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Impunity: Understanding Trump’s Coup d’État

Trump’s categorical denial of any wrongdoing and his wall-to-wall efforts to block all investigations, whether by Congress or in other investigations such as the Deutsche Bank case, adds up to a blanket claim of impunity. As Richard Nixon claimed, if the president does it, it’s legal. Nixon’s contention, of course, was ridiculed and not allowed to stand. But that was in a different era—with independent courts, a Democratic majority in Congress, and even some principled Republicans. None of those [...]

By |2019-05-20T14:19:43-05:00May 20th, 2019|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Trump’s Itchy Trigger Finger

Earlier in the week, we were hearing from unnamed administration sources about small patrol boats of the Iranian Navy armed with missiles preparing to attack American warships. Are you kidding? Why in the world would Iran pull such a stunt and bring the U.S. into a war? This Trumped-up provocation has all the credibility of the phony Gulf of Tonkin incident, which Trump is probably too illiterate to know anything about. For that matter, it has all the credibility [...]

By |2019-05-17T17:41:12-05:00May 17th, 2019|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Over to You, John Roberts

The future of American democracy may literally come down to the decisions of one man, Chief Justice John Roberts. That’s because all of Trump’s efforts to place himself above the law—stonewalling subpoenas, telling his people to defy contempt citations, making dictatorial claims about executive power—will eventually end up in court. The Supreme Court. And as we all know, the current court is divided 5-4, with five far-right toadies and four beleaguered liberals. Though one of the five, Roberts, occasionally [...]

By |2019-05-16T00:51:48-05:00May 16th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Citizen Mueller

The other day, I suggested that Special Counsel Robert Mueller commit an act of civil disobedience and testify before Congress despite the objections of the Trump Justice Department, of which he is an employee. I’ve checked with a number of legal scholars, and it’s even simpler than that. He need only resign and he is free to testify. As long as he doesn’t divulge confidential grand jury matters, he can expand on the sometimes Delphic hair-splitting in his report, and [...]

By |2019-05-13T22:50:15-05:00May 13th, 2019|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Trump Got That Right

When The New York Times unearthed ten years of Trump’s tax returns showing losses in excess of $1 billion, Trump indignantly tweeted that this is simply how the real-estate game is played—pile up those paper losses while you make real money. Trump is right about that. The developer scam allows you to take deductions for depreciation while the property is actually appreciating, and find some other way to offset the capital gain when the building is sold. Not to [...]

By |2019-05-12T00:48:19-05:00May 12th, 2019|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

The True Constitutional Crisis Is Upon Us

Trump has now defined himself as simply above the law. Congress can issue all the subpoenas it wants, but if Trump stonewalls, it all ends up in courts. And the federal courts are increasingly as independent as, say, Poland’s, Hungary’s, Venezuela’s, or China’s. Robert Mueller must be kicking himself. He tried to play it straight and this is his reward. Suppose, instead of hinting at it, he had simply written: Were it not for the Justice Department guidelines (which [...]

By |2019-05-09T00:59:24-05:00May 9th, 2019|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Don’t Mess with LGBT Texans

The Texas legislature is considering a bill that would allow any person in a licensed occupation, such as plumbers, opticians, pharmacists, and even non-emergency doctors, to refuse service to someone who happened to be LGBT because it offended their religious sensibility. You know, God created Eve from Adam’s rib, marriage is between a man and a woman, and who is the government to mess with God’s will? You wonder why the racists didn’t come up with this ploy back [...]

By |2019-05-06T19:18:30-05:00May 6th, 2019|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments

Trump and China: The Art of the Cave-In

Several leaked reports from people “close to the negotiations” suggest that Trump will soon announce a trade deal with the Chinese government pretty much on China’s terms. This will serve Trump’s goal of changing the subject for one news cycle. But it will not serve the American economy. All the indications are that China will make an ad hoc agreement to buy a lot of stuff, but not alter China’s mercantilist system, nor its systematic theft of U.S. intellectual [...]

By |2019-05-04T21:41:11-05:00May 4th, 2019|Kuttner on TAP|0 Comments