Physics Quiz: Brownian Motion Versus Trumpian Motion

So, what is the difference between Brownian Motion and Tumpian Motion?

Actually, it is simple.

Brownian Motion is completely random, but follows scientific laws.

Trumpian Motion, on the other band, is completely random, but follows no laws or rules at all.

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I have the Perfect Title For the Best Book on the Trump Presidency: One Million Minutes

While the exact number is subject to change when the nightmare ends, the concept is clear.  The book would begin something like this:

The now concluded Trump Presidency consumed one million minutes, five thousand presidential tweets, 100 million dollars in investigations, and ten cabinet firings or resignations.

Those minutes were perhaps the most fragmented, fast moving, chaotic, destructive, shocking, confusing and testing minutes in our nation’s history.

The damage done to nation, planet, international system and human beings will take decades to assess fully. 

Above all, the story of those endless minutes is the story of the ultimate resilience of our institutions, notwithstanding the weaknesses and failures of so many who were to play roles in those institutions as they faced the test.

I am less confident of exactly how the book will end, but I am confident that the ultimate resolution will put us on the road to recovery.

 

Lets Face It — a Constitutional Crisis Is Certain

Calm, measured, careful David Brooks, on the News Hour Friday night, said something like this (reconstructed, not quoted):

Look Trump is transparent.  He has said — if you want to find my corruption go to the tex returns.  And he has said to Mueller, if you got the tax returns, I will fire you. So, we know exactly what will happen.  Mueller will go to the tax returns, Trmp will fire him, and we will have a constitutional crisis of some king.

I conclude that at this point we all actually know that a constitutional crisis is coming.  All that remains to find out is exactly what will trigger it, how the parties align at that point and perhaps how it will end.  Although I am pretty confident of the ultimate outcome.

This reminds me of my mother, who as 15 at the time of the events, saying that after Munich in 1938, everyone knew that war was coming, and that it was almost a relief when it finally did so.  Then people knew what they had to do.  I think it is the same now.

Now, the crisis could come from an attempted firing, it could be triggered by a refusal to comply with court or congressional orders, or less likely, it could be set off by extra-judicial illegal executive actions.  Nor do we know what the triggering event will be about.  It could be the now essentially admitted as to intent, Russia Collusion, the obstruction of justice claim, financial irregularities, or even the emoluments clause, to name just a few of the options.

But the outcome will depend on the willingness of the Courts and Republican politicians to enforce our constitutional norms. While it is clear that almost none of our Republican leaders have read or internalized Profiles in Courage, at some point the pain barrier will be reached.

Finally, I sometimes wonder what the definition of a constitutional crisis is?  Is it when one when of the corrective measures in the constittuion cuts in and works, as it did in 1974, or is it when that mechanisms are not triggered, or fail, causing a braoder legitimacy problem.  I hope we do not find out.

Murdoch Turns on Trump — an Inflexion Point?

This story, on CNN, has not gotten nearly enough attention.

Basically, Rupert Murdoch has had it with Trump, with editorials in his papers like the Wall Street Journal, trashing him.  As reported by CNN:

Murdoch’s most prestigious outlet, the Wall Street Journal, ran an eye-popping editorial in its conservative-leaning opinion pages on Tuesday.

Titled “The Trumps and the Truth,” the editorial scolded the president’s family for withholding information about Russia-related meetings and discussions.

It said the political realities of Washington “will destroy Mr. Trump, his family and their business reputation unless they change their strategy toward the Russia probe. They don’t have much more time to do it.”

The editorial also said that “denouncing leaks as ‘fake news’ won’t wash as a counter-strategy beyond the President’s base, as Mr. Trump’s latest 36% approval rating shows.”

It was the latest in a series of eyebrow-raising editorials. Last week Murdoch’s New York tabloid, the New York Post, labeled Donald Trump Jr. an “idiot” and “criminally stupid.”

Here, by way of reminder, is the Guardian’s 1997 story reporting on Murdoch’s endorsement of Blair and Labor in that election.

The Sun tells its readers today to vote Labour, switching sides after more than 20 years of unswerving support for the Tory party.

In a front page article headlined ‘The Sun Backs Blair’, the paper, which has a daily readership of more than 10 million, says Tony Blair should be the next prime minister.

The Labour leader is the ‘breath of fresh air’ that Britain needs, the editorial says. The Tories are ‘tired, divided and rudderless’ and no longer deserve support.

The paper declares: ‘This is the election for the millennium. In six weeks’ time, Britain will vote for a government to take it into the 21st century.

‘The people need a leader with vision, purpose and courage who can inspire them and fire their imaginations. The Sun believes that man is Tony Blair.’

Editor Stuart Higgins said last night: ‘This is not a decision we have taken lightly. We consider Mr Blair has all the qualities of leadership required to take this great country forward. The Tories are tired, divided and need a good rest to regroup.

No prizes for remembering who won that election, after a long Labour drought, or for noticing the current relevance of the phrase “tired, divided and need a good rest to regroup.”

If this is a precursor of where Fox News is going to go, it’s all over for the Donald.

 

 

How About “Frighteningly Unpatriotic” as a Label for the Trump Operation’s Newly Revealed Behavior

Obviously, the astonishing developments of the last few days remove from the Trumps any intent or mens rea defenses.  All that is left is that “nothing happened,” which in politics, or in adultery, does not really get you very far.

The developments have also caused the first upswing in  the use of the word “treason.”  There may well be a legal case, perhaps ultimately a compelling one, but for the target population of traditional low information Republicans, it may be a wall too far right now.

So let me suggest that the concept we should be pushing is “patriotism,” or rather the astonishing lack of it.  How can anyone truly patriotic, if and when approached by a foreign and hostile power offering partnership in interfering with our sacred democratic election process, do anything other than say “no,” and then call the FBI.  Nor, would we expect any patriot of another country to do anything other than that country’s equivalent.

Obviously, such an idea never occurred to anyone in the Trump operation.  But, I am sure that the vast majority of Trump voters, while happy to get hear of dirt on Hilary, would not want to be in partnership with Russia to get that dirt.  They are better and more patriotic people than that.

So I would experiment with phrases like “frighteningly unpatriotic to even consider participating with Russia to undermine our election system,” or “at best shockingly unpatriotic and maybe at worst treasonous behavior.”

The point is to use words that resonate with the Republican base.

 

 

“I Tried to Get My Dog to Eat My Homework, But He Didn’t” is Not Much of a Defense, Even for a Young Trump

Let’s get this clear (NYT).

President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign, according to three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two others with knowledge of it.

But, to the team’s apparent disappointment, the Russians were not handing over any such information.  I have bolded the words “before agreeing”

In other words, “I met with the dealer because they promised me get drugs, but they did not have any.”

There are lots of appropriate ways of responding to such an approach, including calling in the FBI, maybe altering you opponents, maybe ignoring it, or responding that any such meeting or transfer would be inappropriate and a possible crime.  But going to the meeting without any protective cover — apparently without even a memorialization of the invite and its context, leaves me breathless.

Bottom line:  “We wanted to collude, but were not able to.”  That admission will give far greater credibility to additional evidence of actual collusion, whether out of this meeting or others.

In any other context, this story alone would upend US politics, lead to a major investigation, and immediate doubt of the truthfulness of the denial of Trump senior’s knowledge.  Let’s hope we are not too numb.

‘Europeans Can’t Think of Building a Future Without the Americans’ — You Won’t Have To, But We Do All Have to Think Differently

Politico has a great article, with the self-explanatory title, itself a quote from the French Ambassador to the US – ‘Europeans Can’t Think of Building a Future Without the Americans’

Nor can I imagine a US without Europe deeply engaged with us.  (I am coming to be able to understand a Europe without the UK, or rather parts of it, but that is a much simpler matter, more related to Britain’s 150 year decline.)

What North Americans and Europeans have to do is understand that together we are one political  system, although not one nation.  Politics in one of these two mega nations (lumping Canada in with the US for now) are already deeply intertwined, and will get more so.  That is much more the case than any other large countries dyad.

As recent elections have shown, political events in one of the mega-nations trigger and influence those in the other — and not always in fully predictable ways.  Skilled demagogues, well actually all demagogues, will try to use events in one as a source of fear or reactionary possibility in the other, and building a positive “liberal system” vision will always require more nuance and time.

In short, in order to leverage each other, ideas have to flow between the two groupings as easily as capital already does.  We in the US have so much to learn about managing technology to limit the forces of inequality, and our friends in Europe have so much to ,learn about building greater flexibility into their economic system.

In the end, however, we have to learn to think about the impact on the European system of all that we do, and they have to do the same about us.  Think about how Trump’s failure to understand the nuances of this have enhanced European integration, and perhaps even saved Europe from disintegration.  The more Trump embraces Putin, the more the rest of Europe fears him, or rather both of them. I personally will not get tired of these kinds of winning.