Trump’s game

Love this from Dave Leonhardt:

Throughout his business and political careers, Donald Trump has had an important advantage: He is willing to lie, frequently and shamelessly. [emphases mine]

Most other people in public life view reality as a limitation. Trump does not. If telling falsehoods is more convenient or helpful to him than telling the truth, he tells falsehoods. It’s worked out very well for him — making his business look more successful than it was, helping him land a primetime television show and, of course, allowing him to win the most powerful political office on earth.

And this works out great for Trump in politics as journalistic norms 1) really don’t like calling out people for being liars, though Trump is working to change that, and 2) count on politicians actually having shame.

Ahhh, but criminal justice norms about obstructing justice.  Those are different.

In his 15-plus months as president, Trump has added a second bit of shamelessness to his approach. In addition to lying, he has also been willing to obstruct justice.

Yes, there is still much about his actions that we don’t yet know. But the evidence that he obstructed justice is abundant: The attempts to end the investigation of a close ally, Michael Flynn; the clearing of rooms, to apply pressure to people in private; and the firing of James Comey as F.B.I. director (among other examples you can read here).

The list of questions that Robert Mueller wants to ask Trump, which was reported yesterday by The Times, shows that Mueller understands Trump’s ways. There are several dozen questions on the list that Mueller gave to Trump’s lawyers, and many of them are highly detailed. But they revolve around two themes: obstructing justice and lying.

The questions try to pin down Trump’s behavior and to tether him to reality in ways he rarely is. And the questions go into great detail about Trump’s efforts to impede justice.

Donald Trump has gotten away with lying and with making up his own rules for a very long time. There is no guarantee that the game is finally up. But it’s encouraging to see that Mueller at least understands Trump’s game.


Are SUV’s for suckers?

I’ll lay my cards on the table here… I don’t like SUV’s.  They are way more fuel inefficient just so people can have a car they think is more prestigious and sit a foot higher off the road.  Except for you, dear blog reader, you have a perfectly legitimate reason for having an SUV.  Yeah, I have a minivan in addition to my Jetta, but that is obviously all about practicality (you try taking a family of 6 on vacation without one).

Anyway, I was particularly struck by this line in an Op-Ed about Ford’s unfortunate decision to essentially abandon the passenger car market:

American carmakers spent the years around their great bailout professing their ardor for a new generation of fuel-efficient vehicles, but in the end they were only too happy to steer people back into S.U.V.s, which are more profitable.

Call it the S.U.V. Profit Paradigm: Added height elevates the price people are prepared to pay for what is essentially the same vehicle. S.U.V.s and crossovers sell at higher prices than cars of equivalent size, but they cost little, if anything, more to build.

Obviously, there are some people who have very legitimate needs for an SUV and it fits their lifestyle better in many ways.  But, lots of people are just paying extra for height.

About that belief in God

Interesting new Pew study that looks at what Americans really mean when they say they believe in God.  For very many, that whole guy in the bible thing, not so much:

Of course, my favorite part is that belief in “some higher power” represents belief in God to some, but a lack of belief in God to others.  As for the God of the Bible split:

The survey questions that mention the Bible do not specify any particular verses or translations, leaving that up to each respondent’s understanding. But it is clear from questions elsewhere in the survey that Americans who say they believe in God “as described in the Bible” generally envision an all-powerful, all-knowing, loving deity who determines most or all of what happens in their lives. By contrast, people who say they believe in a “higher power or spiritual force” – but not in God as described in the Bible – are much less likely to believe in a deity who is omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent and active in human affairs.

I find this chart really inter sting.  Especially that way more people think God has rewarded them than think God has punished them (seems to me, you cannot really have one without the other):


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