Mueller Is Probably Toast, so Then What?

First, Trump probably will can Mueller. It would be entirely in character for him to do so, after all:

  • Trump is a child of privilege, who has never been made to suffer consequences for any misdeed he has done. First his father’s wealth, then his own (mostly inherited from his father) have seen to that.
  • He’s a complete authoritarian, who cut his teeth on in the fascist microstate that is the capitalist corporation, and who has little or no appreciation for any more-democratic alternatives to fascism.
  • He has all the intellectual sophistication of a petulant preschooler, so is unwilling or unable to consider the consequences of his actions.
  • Many of the individuals who surrounded him and helped talk sense into him have now departed.
  • Before those individuals departed, it is known Trump tried to fire Mueller. He was persuaded to not do so after it was explained how this would likely be against his best interest in the long run.

So, it’s all but inevitable. Then what? That’s the big question.

First, the Republicans are much more captive to the White House than they were in the Nixon years. Those were a far more bipartisan time than ours, as evidenced by Nixon’s landslide victories; such victories would not have been possible without a lot of Democrats crossing party lines to vote for Nixon. So that makes an impeachment threat much less plausible than it was for Nixon.

But it’s not quite so simple. It’s looking more and more like there’s a so-called “blue wave” coming. Sooner or later, the rats will start deserting the sinking ship of Trumpism, preferring to save their own careers over the now-lost cause of saving their party’s majority. But it may take until they lose badly this November for that to happen.

Moreover, if the Democrats take just the House of Representatives, impeachment still becomes much more likely. The House will be able to launch its own investigation, which will be run entirely by the legislative branch, and thus be entirely outside the control of the executive one. They’ll be able to dig up dirt on Trump then make it public in order to shame the Senate into convicting the president and removing him from office.

Of course, this is still the same Democratic Party that let Bush basically get away with the Iraq War we’re talking about, so it must be kept in mind that there’s no guarantee of anything happening unless the Democrats are forced by pressure from below to make things happen. That makes widespread protest and disruption of business as usual when the inevitable occurs a necessity.

Finally, the Right Font?

I think I may have found it: TeX Gyre Schola, a free Century Schoolbook clone. It’s been around for years, which hopefully has given people plenty of time to work the glitches out of the thing. (Glitches being the bane of open source fonts, and one of the reasons people still pay for commercial fonts.)

Century Schoolbook, like most of the serif fonts in the Century family, is a modern serif font. It’s not exactly the sort of modern serif font I typically really like; glyph sizes tend to be wider and the variation in the font weight less than in typical 19th century typography. Both were of course deliberate design decisions made in the name of creating a font easy for children to read (it’s not called Century Schoolbook for nothing).

However, those minuses tend to become plusses on the Web. Even the best screens pale in comparison to the resolution a low-end laser printer (much less a printing press) can deliver. That makes reproducing the fine details in most modern serif fonts tricky. So the very same features that make larger sizes of this font easy for beginning readers tend to improve on-screen legibility for smaller sizes of it.

Being a TeX font, it has a lot of glyphs, which makes for larger font files and slower web download times. If anything makes me dump the new design, that will probably be it.

And So the Trade War Begins

Actually, there’s a silver lining to this dark cloud. It’s going to hurt the farmers and the capitalists, and both groups tended to lean towards Trump in the election. Thus, it’s going to hurt Trump’s base of support.

But we’re only beginning to enter the woods on this one, and this case the woods is more like a jungle full of vipers ready to strike and jaguars ready to pounce. The worse the economy gets, the more likely the regime is to start a war in order to distract from it, and a war with North Korea in particular could easily escalate into a nuclear conflict with China.

Much of it depends when the Republicans in Congress start deciding they need to pay more attention to the wishes of their Wall Street paymasters than the adult toddler in the Oval Office, and consequently act to seriously rein in or remove Trump.

A Second Post Today

I don’t do this often, but this article raises some points I feel compelled to comment on.

The Democrats’ Rightward Tilt on the Economy Hurt Them

After for decades supporting trade policies that gave the middle finger to the working class, increasing numbers of the working class decided to give a middle finger to the Democrats:

Union leaders in Ohio and elsewhere watched in frustration during the 2016 election as significant portions of their workforce ignored union endorsements of Democrat Hillary Clinton and voted for Trump instead. Jack Hefner, president of United Steelworkers Local 2 in Akron, estimated around a third of his membership voted for Trump despite the leadership’s support for Clinton.

“Labor’s been beating the drum that these trade deals are bad, so here comes Trump saying the same thing, which made it really hard for us,” Hefner said. “He stole our playbook.”

Given how close the election was, the conclusion is therefore even more damning: The Democrats’ rightward tilt probably cost them the election.

Trump’s Tariffs are a Disaster

That’s because Trump overall is a disaster. He has no real concept of empathy, no ability to put himself in another’s shoes. It’s all about his ego, all the time.

That makes him highly likely to do things, particularly delicate ones, in ways that merely serve to needlessly provoke and inflame others. Things like rapid changes in trade policies that will serve to provoke harmful trade wars.

Prior Administrations’ Free Trade Policies Are Not Much Better

None of the above is to say that Free Trade has been good for society overall. It clearly has not. The rich have gotten richer, while those on the bottom have seen their incomes stagnate or backslide. This has been the case during administrations run by both parties.

The Takeaway

A retreat from free trade was needed, but not the one that Trump is giving us. The most likely outcome of what we’re getting is a trade war that will do far more harm than good.

Trade wars are a bad thing and very easy to lose. In fact, the most common outcome of a trade war is for all sides to end up worse off than if there had been no trade war at all.

Fuck Julian Assange

It’s become increasingly obvious that he did willingly choose to collaborate with the Trump campaign, despite Trump’s well-known fascistic, authoritarian tendencies (which even other Republicans were commenting on during the campaign).

Doubtless, this decision was part of a way to retaliate against Hillary Clinton for her role in an administration that persecuted him, but that’s just a juvenile temper tantrum. I don’t like Hillary much either, but Trump was clearly the worse of the two choices.

After all, what did Assange’s efforts get him? A superpower led by its most corrupt, least transparent regime ever, one threatening to start wars in various spots worldwide, one of which could easily escalate into a nuclear conflict between China and the USA. That’s in addition to a tremendous impediment to progress on global warming.

Assange has shown he was willing to gamble the world’s future for the sake of his petty personal feud with Hillary Clinton. Fuck you very much, Julian.

Politics Is War by Other Means

In war, it tends to be best to worry more about defeating the enemy more than it is to worry about being nice to the enemy in order to make him like you.

In politics, therefore, “If they go low, we go high” is not always the best policy. What is the best policy depends on the particulars of the situation. What exactly do “going low” and “going high” mean? What are the chances of victory with each strategy? Are there any principles which must be compromised to follow either? If so, how important are those principles? And so on.

What made me think of this is the case against gerrymandering that is currently in the Supreme Court. The chance of an anti-gerrymandering verdict has been increased because it’s not just Republicans doing dirt to Democrats; in Maryland, the Democrats are quite reasonably being accused of doing the converse.

Nobody much likes to admit it, but the show that Supreme Court justices put on about adhering to higher principles rather than just going for what their gut wants is quite often just a show. Witness how often conservative justices forget about states’ rights the minute they are asked to rule against a state doing something they consider unacceptably too far to the left.

If it were just red states doing gerrymandering to the disadvantage of Democrats, it would be much more likely that the conservative justices would find some pretext for ruling in favor of a state’s right to gerrymander. Instead, Maryland has helped to give them motive to find some pretext for ruling the opposite way.

A Bad Article on Multiple Levels

The Washington post said: The vegans came to protest his restaurant. So this chef carved a deer leg in the window.

First, there is no such protest group as “The Vegans.” Saying there is makes about as much sense as reporting that “The Jews” did something when only a particular subset of them did. Veganism is a dietary choice, full stop. All you need to do to become vegan is refrain from eating any animal products. There is no organized movement you must join and adhere to.

Second, the restaurant was targeted not because it simply served meat, but because:

  • It served a particularly cruel meat product, foie gras, and
  • Its advertising crassly tried to portray the establishment as an ethically responsible dining choice.

In other words, the restaurant’s owners basically painted a huge target on their backs, then act surprised when that target starts attracting brickbats.

And yes, foie gras is a particularly cruel meat product, far worse than the norm.

The Key to Printing 19th Century Modern Serif Fonts

Use the highest resolution you can. Do not trust the defaults at a print shop to be reasonable. Do not trust the defaults for your software’s PDF generator to be reasonable.

Both defaults might well be reasonable for most of the fonts popular with contemporary tastes in typography, but the fonts popular in the 19th century were crafted in part to show off how the ink and paper technology of the day had progressed to the point where the fine details they employ were possible.

I found that when using Monotype Modern, the thin parts of the strokes showed up so poorly with 10 point body text at the default printer resolution, that the readability of the resulting text was seriously compromised. This might be part of the reason why such fonts have a bad reputation for readability: modern print technology can fail them.

Do everything at the highest resolution possible. An output of 1200 DPI is the bare minimum, with 2400 DPI being better (letterpress printing with hot type had an effective resolution of around 2000 DPI). By “1200 DPI” I mean 1200 DPI in both axes, on a black and white printer. (Color printing uses clusters of 4 dots, and printer makers use weasel wording to flatter their products, so a “2400 DPI” color printer has only the resolution of  600 DPI black-and-white one.)

Using the highest resolution the printer can print should not typically cost more; most shops charge the same per-page fee whether you tell their laser printer to print at a degraded resolution or its best resolution. If you can’t even get 1200 DPI, take your business elsewhere; the shop you are using has substandard technology.