Journal in the Trump Era

My Trump regime threads are mostly repositories for articles, tweets, etc., which I’ve tried to organize by categories (e.g., Russia scandal, corruption, etc.). I’m starting this thread to post responses I have for certain events, articles, etc. I could start separate threads, but I’ve been overwhelming the site with political posts, and I don’t want to do that. I’m hoping that I can post most of my thoughts and comments in this one thread, and that should not flood the site with politics.

For my first post, I want to comment on this remark:

If this is true, I take this to mean that Trump will be more of a populist, and that will include attacking the Republican party, something that I expect thrills Steve Bannon. If this is true, here are some thoughts off the top of my head:

1. I don’t see how this will work. If he alienates or attacks the GOP, they will not cooperate with him, at best, and Trump will be even less effective in passing legislation. At worst, the GOP could turn on Trump, ramping investigations, vociferously condemning him, and even move more quickly to impeach him.

2. The key with all of this is the reaction of the Republican base. Will more of them side with Trump or with GOP? At least, Republican voters will be split, which probably will be sufficient to make Congressional Republicans comfortable turning against Trump. Also, my guess is that Americans in the middle, including those who only passively pay attention, will likely support this turning against Trump. My guess is that bipartisan opposition will signal that Trump is really bad, and so they will turn against him–or at least feel like opposition to Trump is legitimate. At that point, Trump is finished.

3. Even if the last point is true, Trump can and probably will cause a lot of damage. He will likely go out kicking and screaming. What is clear is that Trump is a whiner, excuse-maker, someone who will blame everyone but himself, and he will recklessly attack anyone and anything. I’m particularly worried that he will attack democratic institutions–accusing of some conspiracy against him (e.g., the deep state, etc.) The danger is that significant numbers of Americans will believe him and then act out violently because of this.

4. In some ways, if Trump could break away and then enact certain policies–like an infrastructure plan, increase taxes on the wealthy, provide universal coverage–these things could make him very popular in the country, and possibly lead to a second term victory. But I don’t see how he could accomplish any of this. The Republicans would oppose much of this. Perhaps there would be a way to compromise on this, but the notion that Trump has the ability to do this is laughable.

Am I missing something? Could breaking away from the GOP actually benefit Trump? That’s a possibility, but I don’t see what it is right now.

107 Responses to “Journal in the Trump Era”


  1. Reid

    Comments on Trump’s Signing Statements of the Russian Sanctions Bill

    Trump signed the sanctions bill from Congress today, and I wanted to comment on the signing statements of that bill.

    I favor tough measures to punish and deter bad behavior by the rogue regimes in Tehran and Pyongyang. I also support making clear that America will not tolerate interference in our democratic process, and that we will side with our allies and friends against Russian subversion and destabilization.

    It’s good that the second sentence is included. It should also be mentioned that Trump has not commented on Russia’s recent action of kicking out U.S. diplomats.

    Still, the bill remains seriously flawed particularly because it encroaches on the executive branchs authority to negotiate. Congress could not even negotiate a healthcare bill after seven years of talking. By limiting the Executives flexibility, this bill makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together. The Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President. This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice.

    I think these are valid points, and I agree with them. But his strange actions towards Russia, including denying that they interfered in our elections, and lack of transparency (not releasing his tax forms) have essentially pushed Congress towards this bill. The bill basically signals they don’t really trust Trump to handle Russia appropriately.

    Yet despite its problems, I am signing this bill for the sake of national unity.

    “National unity” stands out because I don’t believe he cares that much about this, and I don’t recall him speaking about this very much.

    It represents the will of the American people to see Russia take steps to improve relations with the United States.

    Two things:

    1. We’re placing sanctions because Russia interfered in our elections, and we don’t want them to do it again. That’s the reason for the sanctions. Ultimately, if they stop interfering in our elections, then yes, that can improve relations between our countries, and yes, that would be a good thing. But let’s be clear that this is sending a message that we are angry about what they did, and the sanctions are a consequence for their inteference.

    2. This is the sort of statement that neutralizes Trump’s few statements of pushing back against Russia. It’s like when he says, “Russia interfered in our elections…but it could’ve been others, too.” It creates the strong impression that he’s deeply resistant to saying anything bad about them. Is he afraid of saying something bad?

    On some level, I can understand that you’d soften the language when you’re trying to improve relations, but this doesn’t seem to be the time for that. Russia did something really bad. The language should be firm and even though. Additionally, Trump isn’t a diplomat. I can see him softening his language when his self-interest is at stake, but he hasn’t really done that when the country’s interests are at stake.

    I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.

    The first two sentences are…what? bad form? inappropriate? I’m at a loss of how to describe it, but it doesn’t reflect well on Trump in my view.

    As for the last sentence, it’s hard to take seriously, especially what’s happened in the last six months.

  2. Reid

    Why We Separate Military and Civilian Rule

    From The Federalist: It’s Not Good to See So Many Generals in the White House

    Tom Nichols, a professor at the Navy War College, explains why. This isn’t something I could explain well, so I found this article worth reading.

    In almost every developed society, military officers think of themselves as more honorable and upright than the civilians around them, and to lean on the generals when the White House is off the rails encourages the notion that the officer corps is the only real reservoir of virtue and competence in the nation. It’s a deeply unhealthy and wrong-headed notion, especially in a constitutional republic.

    and

    The reliance on martial virtue in the face of presidential chaos is dangerous not because it raises the threat of a coup, but because it creates an invitation to a kind of soft praetorianism, if only by sheer default. If Congress becomes acclimated to the idea that the military, instead of the legislative branch, should be watching over the president, why shouldn’t the American people and even the military itself come to the same conclusion?

    (Had to look up praetorianism–corrupt military despotism.)

  3. Mitchell

    My dad actually said we shouldn’t rule out the possibility of a coup, and I started to pshaw him until I remembered that I am out of the pshawing business.

  4. Reid

    I wouldn’t dismiss the idea, but I’d be surprised if that happened, although I guess it depends on how you define a coup. If Trump ordered a nuclear strike and the generals disobeyed and then the cabinet removed Trump using the 25th amendment, would that be a coup?

  5. Mitchell

    Not by my understanding of the term, but I wouldn’t rule ot a flat-out military ousting. Only because I’m out of the ruling-out game.

  6. Reid

    I understand we’re you’re coming from, but I have a hard time imagining a scenario where Mattis, Kelly, McMaster would take over the government, especially via military force. I have no reason to believe they don’t respect our system of government. Would they essentially usurp the power of Congress and the courts? I can’t see that.

  7. Reid

    Process for Launching Nuclear Weapons

    America’s Nuclear Response Procedure Explained by Tom Nichols

    The process is the same if we launched first.

    Short answer: The POTUS is the one that makes the decision, and the POTUS is the one that can countermand the initial decision to attack.

    Have a nice weekend!

  8. Reid

    52% of Republicans Would be Willing to Postpone 2020 Elections if Trump Said This Was To Ensure Only Eligible Voters Participated

    An Atlantic post covered a recent poll about this today. I’m hoping the poll is flawed or inaccurate, because if not, this is a really alarming result for me. I would hope that vast majority of Americans–including many Republicans–would pushback hard if Trump tried to do something like this.

    Sarah Kendzior, one of the people I follow on twitter, has been the most alarmist when it comes to Trump. She studies authoritarian regimes, and she has been waraning that he will attempt to suppress votes or control elections so he can stay in power. I’ve reacted with some degree of skepticism–not because I don’t believe that Trump would do this, if he thought this was possible, but that there would be too many obstacles that would prevent him from doing this. Politicians and citizens wouldn’t allow this. But this recent poll, if true, suggests, that I’m wrong.

  9. Mitchell

    Knowing what I know now, if I were asked in 2016 if I were willing to postpone the election, I would have been sorely tempted to say yes.

  10. Reid

    Haha…or were you being serious? In any event, I’m not sure what that would achieve. Plus, the circumstances are pretty different–unless it seemed like Trump was about to win and Obama asked to postpone the election.

  11. Mitchell

    I’m being serious. I can see why a supporter, in the face of an unfavorable result, would support a delay in the election process.

  12. Reid

    But you wouldn’t be OK if Obama delayed the election with a weak reason, right? It’s understandable that you’d wish the election could be delayed, but not that a sitting POTUS would do this for political purposes.

  13. Reid

    Worried Because Trump Won’t Go Down Easy

    I read a thread from a former federal prosecutor explaining why he thinks that there’s a good chance Muller already has Trump’s tax forms. Someone in the thread asked, “Is that why Trump is escalating things with North Korea?” That question left me with a sinking feeling: What if Trump launched an attack on North Korea. Could we be certain that he wasn’t doing this as a way to distract and find a way out of the investigation? I wouldn’t feel that way at all. In fact, I would suspect he would attack to do just that. This makes me queasy.

    I’m worried that as the noose tightens Trump will act out in desperation–whether it’s launching a nuclear strike or something similar. One thing I feel fairly confident about: He’s not going to just sit back and passively be convicted or impeached, and he won’t care much about the damage this will cause the nation.

  14. Mitchell

    I wouldn’t be okay if any president did that. I was kind of responding to the news that supportors would be okay with delaying the election, not whether delaying the election itself would be okay.

  15. Reid

    But the poll question included Trump saying to delay the election to ensure only the legally eligible citizens voted. That’s an important detail, in my view.

  16. Reid

    Trump Rhetoric Empowers Dangerous Fringe Violence

    An interview with Michael German, a former undercover FBI agent and senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, from Cipher Report.

    On the police response at some of these demonstrations by white supremacists:

    And yet the police response wasn’t adequate enough to prevent these running street battles. In fact, it appeared the police were standing back and allowing these street battles to go on, which only meant the next rally people were going to be better prepared to commit more violence. And it conditioned these groups that have been hyper-violent in the past, these far right groups, to come expecting the police would let you commit acts of violence.

    In Portland, Oregon, the police actually let the people from the militia groups participate in arresting their political opponents. That was also true in Huntington Beach, where it’s almost like the police are sanctioning them to apprehend people and bring them to the police, which is extraordinarily dangerous to give these groups the idea that they have the authority to put hands on people, much less put hands on their political opponents.

    On how there is a component of participants in these white fringe groups that are not really driven by ideology:

    People who thought violence was necessary were people who liked violence. And they weren’t people who were necessarily there because they were drawn to the ideology, but rather were drawn by acceptance in a group that accepted their interest in using violence or trafficking weapons or manufacturing explosives, and weren’t particularly ideological at all. And if the group had turned around and said, “Oh, our agenda is now the opposite of what it was yesterday,” they would say, “Fine.” These people who are involved in the violence tend to see themselves as soldiers rather than as ideologues.

    On how authoritarian governments obtain police powers:

    If you look at the ways authoritarian governments obtain police powers, this is exactly how they do it. They sort of turn a blind eye to street thuggery and allow people to commit political violence against opponents of the government. That street violence becomes unbearable for the public, who demand that the government do something about it so the government can justify stopping protests altogether. And, of course, what the government is really interested in is stopping protests against government policies. We’re seeing that kind of thing, where there are a number of bills in state legislatures that would remove civil liability from people who run over protesters in the street. That’s taken on a very disturbing aspect with the latest murder in Charlottesville.

    On how Trump’s remarks about Charlottesville played with these groups:

    They were extremely pleased with Trump’s response, and in fact saw a tacit sanctioning of their activity and their point of view. You always have to understand that these communities are used to receiving communication from the mainstream world through these dog whistles, through very subtle messaging, where people would say something like “Islamic terrorism,” call it “radical Islamic terrorism.” That tells these people, okay, that person is anti-Muslim. So for the average person to hear that, they wouldn’t assume that that was the intent.

    For an audience that’s attuned to dog whistles, to see that it was a few days before Trump would finally denounce Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan and doing so in a way that looked like a child being forced to eat broccoli, they recognize very well that, okay, this person agrees with us and is supportive of us. They just have to play the game to be in the political system that they’re in, and they understand that, wink wink, nod nod, everything’s fine, we can still praise this person and continue to organize under the umbrella of pro-Trumpism.

    Related comments from Sarah Kendzior in a Fast Company article:

    For a normal president, Charlottesville and its aftermath would be a disaster. For Trump, it is a gift he gave himself. He has stoked and cultivated his racist base for years, and now they may provide what he craves most: an act of violence so severe he can use it as a pretext to strip away citizens’ rights. Trump has never hidden his hunger for riots, repeatedly deeming them a cleansing force. He has threatened to have “the Feds” invade cities like Chicago purely because of crime; his response to terrorist attacks, when not smug self-congratulation, has been demands for darker policies.

    In other words, Trump may do what autocrats have always done: create or exploit a crisis in order to consolidate power. By framing Charlottesville as caused by two equally violent sides, Trump is developing a framework through which to crush opponents of racism, who also happen to be opponents of Trump. By showing he will protect his neo-nazi followers, he encourages them to riot again, as they will not be blamed by him. The blame would fall squarely on the anti-racist protesters, who Trump would claim provoked the violence (we can argue, if you wish, whether striking the nazis who descend upon your city is an act of violence or an act of self-defense). This propaganda would likely be aimed at his eroding base of moderate Republican supporters. This group has grown frustrated with Trump but–and this is important if you want to understand the power Trump has over them–highly value law and order.

  17. Reid

    Keeping Score for Political Pundits and Prognosticators and Why That is Important

    I’ve spoken about tracking the analysis of NFL draft experts, as way to get a sense of how reliable they are. This would involve going back and looking at the comments made about players and then comparing them to those players several years later. We should not only get a sense of how often individual experts are correct, but also a baseline among the experts, which is also something valuable.

    I think we should do something similar with journalists and political pundits. In the Trump era, I would not only like to see us identify and track the opinions, analyses, and predictions made by prominent journalists, but I’d also like to do the same for fact-based reporting (versus editorials) as well. How often is the New York Times right or wrong in their reporting? And let’s compare this to publications like Breibart and Drudge Report.

    Doing can accomplish several things:

    1. It would give the public a sense of who is reliable and to what degree. Assuming that the mainstream press is generally reliably, this should boost the public’s trust in them, while weakening the trust in less reliable sources;

    2. It can provide a strong incentive for accurate reporting–which is ultimately what will serve the public.

    This will probably take a lot of work, but I would like to see someone do this. (Maybe Columbia Journalism Review or Pro Publica could be the ones tracking this?)

  18. Reid

    Is Trump Trying to Start a Race War?

    Here’s a quote from Steve Bannon that worries me:

    I’m worried because I really think this formula be really effective. For example, if identity politics dominates public discourse, and Trump is able sign a huge infrastructure package, or do anything to expand jobs–he would be extremely difficult to stop politically. (So far, Trump doesn’t seem to have what it takes to get the infrastructure bill through Congress, but I think this formula would be highly effective. It’s pretty scary.)

    But why do I ask if Trump’s trying to start a race war? For starters, take his comments about the Charlottesville incident, especially yesterday’s comments. And now look at these two items today:

    Why is Trump’s lawyers sending an email with that kind of rhetoric? From a legal standpoint it doesn’t make sense. I can’t help but feel Trump either intentionally had these emails leaked, attempting to incite progressives and Democrats.

    And then look at this:

    I didn’t realize Trump is having a campaign-rally style event next week in Phoenix. The Mayor worries that Trump may announce that he’ll pardon Joe Arapio, a staunch birther among other things. I agree–if Trump does that, so soon after the Charlettesville event–that one can’t help but see this as an attempt to inflame racial divisions.

    If this reading is correct, Trump could be setting a trap for anti-racist protesters–baiting them to emphasize identity politics and overgeneralize whites, implying that they’re all racists, sexist, etc. He might also want them to act violently, hoping this will increase, giving him an opportunity for him to use police force to crack down on this.

    Edit

    Bannon actually called a journalist at a progressive magazine, American Prospect, to make the comment I quoted above. It makes me even more suspicious as to his intentions. First thought: Progressives read the magazine and Bannon wants to rile them up? Or maybe get them on his side with populist policies that would appeal to the left? Is there a savvy reason, or is Bannon just losing it? I have no idea.

    Bannon even trashes the far right:

    He dismissed the far right as irrelevant and sidestepped his own role in cultivating it: “Ethno-nationalism—it’s losers. It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more.”

    “These guys are a collection of clowns,” he added.

    I’m not sure what to make of that.

    He’s also openly talking about his power and influence in the White House, which seems to have gotten him in trouble earlier:

    “I’m changing out people at East Asian Defense; I’m getting hawks in. I’m getting Susan Thornton [acting head of East Asian and Pacific Affairs] out at State.”

    This comment–and the interview itself–is the type of thing that I thought got him in trouble with Trump…Maybe he went to this magazine because Trump and others like Trump don’t ever read it. But why give this interview?

    Edit (8/17/2017)

    Short thread by Maggie Haberman of the NYT

    Not that this is part of a concerted, well-thought out plan (although I can’t dismiss it, either), but what he says could conceivably create a “permission structure” for police (immigration enforcement officers) to rough up protesters, immigrants, etc. Ugh.

  19. Mitchell

    I know you want my thoughts on this but I’m pretty much a blank. I don’t think what’s-his-name is trying to start a race war, but I think he does want to provoke the masses as much as he can, in whatever form. Trying to figure out his strategies or intentions is counter-productive to keeping this country from tipping over. Deal with what’s in front of you. Deal with his actual words and actions and forget about his thoughts. It’s the only practical way to keep things as close to normal as we can get them.

    As for Bannon, I don’t care. I just honestly don’t care, which may be a disappointment, but there are too many things more worth my concern. I’m fine reading whatever you’re thinking about him, but I don’t have anything to contribute.

    I think we can be encouraged for the moment that approval ratings continue to slide and that so far, the houses of Congress have (barely) done the right thing with the most critical legislation. If we still exist at the midterm elections, we’ll get a better idea of where the rest of this country actually feels about what’s going on. That could be a real disaster if it goes the other way, and I’m not ruling that out.

  20. Reid

    If you don’t really care about Bannon, that’s fine. I appreciate the feedback you gave.

    Deal with his actual words and actions and forget about his thoughts.

    I think that’s what I’m doing–his thoughts and words lead me to suspect that he’s either heightening racial tensions or someone else is encouraging him, too. There’s also a connection with the way he seems fixated on Chicago crime, hinting that he’s going to intervene to provide law and order. It’s hard not to think this he’s trying to find an excuse push for a police state.

    The forwarded email from his lawyer just seems odd, too. Maybe the people surrounding him are racists and his lawyer was careless or stupid. I can’t rule that out, either.

    Also, if he does go to Phoenix and say inflammatory things that are racial in nature–including egging the crowd on by talking about pardoning Arpaio–is it not appropriate to wonder if he is try to inflame racial tensions?

    That could be a real disaster if it goes the other way, and I’m not ruling that out.

    If the Democrats mishandle identity politics, that could happen.

    Edit (8/16/2017)

    From New York Times

    Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, said in an interview that if Democrats want to fight over Confederate monuments and attack Mr. Trump as a bigot, that was a fight the president would win.

    “President Trump, by asking, ‘Where does this all end’ — Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln — connects with the American people about their history, culture and traditions,” he said. “The race-identity politics of the left wants to say it’s all racist,” Mr. Bannon added. “Just give me more. Tear down more statues. Say the revolution is coming. I can’t get enough of it.”

    I can see the drool dripping down his chin, and I’m worried the far left is going to oblige.

  21. Reid

    WaPo, New York Times, and Politico have been doing incredible reporting of the inner workings of the White House (via a lot of leaks). I’ve been reading a bunch of these, and my sense is that they are pretty reliable. Lately, I’ve avoided these articles, but today I read one from Politico.

    If you’ve followed these articles, what they make clear, in my opinion, is that Trump is wildly unfit. It’s something the American people should know.

    This specific article basically gives examples of how Trump’s anger and disdain at attempts to control him from his staff lead to impulsive decisions by Trump. Here are two passages that demonstrate this:

    The controversy over his response to the Charlottesville violence was no different. Agitated about being pressured by aides to clarify his first public statement, Trump unexpectedly unwound the damage control of the prior two days by assigning blame to the “alt-left” and calling some of the white supremacist protesters “very fine people.”

    “In some ways, Trump would rather have people calling him racist than say he backed down the minute he was wrong,” one adviser to the White House said on Wednesday about Charlottesville. “This may turn into the biggest mess of his presidency because he is stubborn and doesn’t realize how bad this is getting.”

    and later,

    In one stark example, the president’s dislike of being told what to do played a role in his decision to abruptly ban all transgender people from the military: a move opposed by his own defense secretary, James Mattis, and the head of the Coast Guard, who vowed not to honor the president’s decree.

    The president had grown tired of White House lawyers telling him what he could and could not do on the ban and numerous other issues such as labor regulations, said one informal White House adviser. While multiple factors were in play with the transgender ban, Trump has grown increasingly frustrated by the lawyers’ calls for further study and caution, so he took it upon himself to tweet out the news of the ban, partly as a reminder to the lawyers who’s in charge, the adviser said.

  22. Reid

    Good thread on the civil service workers in the federal government and the notion that they are “holdovers” from a previous administration. This is a former member of the Obama administration, writing about working with civil servants (who also worked with the Bush 43 administration).

  23. Reid

    Several posts above, I mentioned the idea of having a scorecard for the media, in terms of evaluating the accuracy of their reporting. Benjamin Wittes, from Lawfareblog does something similar towards his concerns about Trump that he made during the campaign last year. It’s a good post.

  24. Reid

    Trump Would Be a Horrible Spy

    The main point of this article is that Trump would be a horrible spy–he isn’t trustworthy and can’t controlled. I think few would dispute both points. I agree and because of this, I have a hard time believing the Russians would attempt to recruit Trump as a spy–i.e., someone who will secretly give them information. I also find it hard to believe that they would choose him as a puppet–someone who would run the U.S. in the Russian interests.

    However, I can see them choosing Trump as a disruptor, someone who will polarize and divide the nation, attack key institutions, undermining democracy in a variety of ways. Trump is capable of that and has proven to be a human havoc machine. Whether this is a result of Russian efforts or not, Trump is doing things to weaken our nation in a way that benefits Russia and other nations like it.

  25. Reid

    Battle for the Soul of the Nation

    That was piece written by Joe Biden in The Atlantic. I wanted to comment on a few of lines:

    Today we have an American president who has publicly proclaimed a moral equivalency between neo-Nazis and Klansmen and those who would oppose their venom and hate.

    We have an American president who has emboldened white supremacists with messages of comfort and support.

    Some Americans may disagree with this, as they’ve heard Trump denounce hate. The main problem is that Trump delays his response, and equivocates, particularly when it comes to denouncing groups like the KKK, neo-Nazis or white supremacists and white nationalists. Just like when David Duke supported him, Trump can’t immediately denounce these groups–which, really, should be the easiest thing to do.

    Was there violence by anti-racist protesters? I believe there was, and I don’t think that’s right. However, I believe the POTUS has to be clear that white supremacist groups are not morally equivalent to people who oppose them. If civil rights activists responded violently to white supremacists during the Civil Rights Era, I wouldn’t support that. But I wouldn’t say both sides have a problem. It’s important that the Trump was clear that white supremacist and white nationalist groups are wrong and that people who oppose them are in the right. He didn’t do that clearly and emphatically enough and because of that he’s empowered those white supremacists and white nationalists.

  26. Reid

    The Making and Breaking of the Legend of Robert E. Lee an op-ed by historian, Eric Foner.

    One of my takeaways from this is that allowing General Lee a prominent and honorable place in our society might have be allowed, might have some value, even if he ultimately lead a rebellion against the nation, in maintaining and continuing the practice of slavery. What’s the value? The value lies in healing ensuring the successful reunion and reconciliation between the North and South.

    Unfortunately, one consequence of this seems to be the awful Jim Crow South, and once again black Americans, once again, just like at the founding of our country, paid the most for this.

    The vague sense I get is that the primary justification for honoring Confederates like Lee, by making statues of them, etc., is to avoid repudiating and thereby wounding the sensibility and thinking of some white Americans–even if this sensibility and thinking heavily rooted in notions that should be repudiated.

    I feel like there is a better, albeit difficult, alternative: namely, to talk openly and honestly about the problems of slavery and racism; to talk openly and honestly about how losing cultural and social status can make someone feel fearful and angry–and that this is human feeling, not necessarily a racist one. I feel like if we could talk about all of this in constructive, compassionate way–this approach would be a better way.

  27. Reid

    This is disturbing and worries me a little.

    Edit

    Rep. Rohrbacher met with Julian Assange and supposedly the latter gave the former juicy information on Clinton and the Democrats (or something to that effect). Apparently there’s a meeting being set up between Rohrbacher and Trump so the former can pass on the information.

  28. Reid

    I agree with this:

    And those in his campaign felt the same way, and tried to make the most money out of the situation as possible. Not sure if that’s correct, but it would explain a lot.

  29. Reid

    Not So Much Thor as Loki

    Molly McKew has been one of the few people claiming that we’re at war with Russia. That may sound like an exaggeration but she’s done a great job of explaining this position, most recently here, explaining the Gerasimov Doctrine, which describes the Russian approach to war:

    a vision of total warfare that places politics and war within the same spectrum of activities—philosophically, but also logistically. The approach is guerrilla, and waged on all fronts with a range of actors and tools—for example, hackers, media, businessmen, leaks and, yes, fake news, as well as conventional and asymmetric military means. Thanks to the internet and social media, the kinds of operations Soviet psy-ops teams once could only fantasize about—upending the domestic affairs of nations with information alone—are now plausible.

    One of the key principles is to weaken adversarial nations, by sowing discord and chaos within those nations, widening existing social crack or undermining the faith in key government institutions and leaders.

    As an example, look at the recent update from Facebook, regarding anonymous accounts coming from Russia. Here’s what they discovered:

    In reviewing the ads buys, we have found approximately $100,000 in ad spending from June of 2015 to May of 2017 — associated with roughly 3,000 ads — that was connected to about 470 inauthentic accounts and Pages in violation of our policies. Our analysis suggests these accounts and Pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia.

    We don’t allow inauthentic accounts on Facebook, and as a result, we have since shut down the accounts and Pages we identified that were still active.

    • The vast majority of ads run by these accounts didn’t specifically reference the US presidential election, voting or a particular candidate.
    • Rather, the ads and accounts appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum — touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights.
    • About one-quarter of these ads were geographically targeted, and of those, more ran in 2015 than 2016.
    • The behavior displayed by these accounts to amplify divisive messages was consistent with the techniques mentioned in the white paper we released in April about information operations.
  30. Reid

    Rep. Charlie Dent (R) Announces He Won’t Run in Next Election

    My reaction: a bit concerned. I don’t want moderate Republicans to leave office. I also don’t want competent politicians to leave Congress as well. Who will replace them? More extreme politicians who either don’t really understand politics and governing or don’t care? Not good.

  31. Reid

  32. Reid

    This is Stressful

    I understand if we hear sirens warning of an incoming nuclear missile, we, in Hawai’i, have about 12-15 minutes before the missile hits. I heard the likelihood of a missile launched at us is low, but these tweets by Trump aren’t reassuring.

    He’s so unfit. I can’t believe the Congressional Republicans are subjecting the country to Trump. (And I’m not going to mention his comments about Kaepernick and Steph Curry.) Graham-Cassidy bill has been stressful, too.

  33. Reid

    “America Has a Racial Demagogue as a President

    That was a line from an op-ed from Michael Gershon. I agree with that. Here’s some evidence for this:

  34. Reid

    How Fake News Turned a Small Town Upside Down

    That’s the title of a recent New York Times Magazine piece about a 2016 incident in Twin Falls, Idaho involving three children:

    There were two boys, a 7-year-old and a 10-year-old, and a 5-year-old girl. The 7-year-old boy was accused of attempting some kind of sex act with the 5-year-old, and the 10-year-old had used a cellphone borrowed from his older brother to record it. The girl was American and, like most people in Twin Falls, white. The boys were refugees;…

    Several websites and media outlets and anti-Muslim groups took this incident in a way that I would describe as fear-mongering and demagoguery.

    One thing that stood out to me is that there are certain fears that people or parents have that are really irrational, but very compelling at the same time. For example, for me, I think I tend to exaggerate the danger of my children being kidnapped. Not to say that there is zero risk, but I think I have a tendency to worry about this more than is rationally warranted. And yet, that fear can be really compelling and powerful. Something similar seem to be going on with regard to the fear of immigrants–particularly those who seem especially alien, like Muslims. Combine that with the threat of terrorism that have been committed by people from Muslim countries, and that only adds to the fear.

    This reiterates the importance of having a national discussion about the fears (and resentment) that some of the white majority may feel with regard to losing this majority status. I think if we can acknowledge this fear and resentment–and not automatically label this as racist or white supremacist (although there definitely could be overlap)–I think we can diffuse these feelings.

    Additionally, we need to increase the understanding of Islam and Muslims. I feel like the characterizations are not based on good information and a good understanding. The irony, to me, is that American Christians and many Muslims share a lot of values and views, particularly on social issues. I think there are other similarities and these similarities should generate empathy between the two groups, if not a bond. But we need to move past fear-mongering to get to that point.

    Finally, we need some discussion about the aspects of our society and culture that involve not only diversity of culture and thoughts, but a blending of these things. Every person that comes here from another place, over time, begins to move away from the culture of their homeland. This process continues with their children and their children’s children. Part of this can involve marrying into individuals from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. We can emphasize what is lost in the process (and there are things that are lost), or we can choose to emphasize what is gained–and there is a lot that is gained, where everyone benefits. I think we need to talk more about the latter.

    All of these things can prevent or at least lessen the type of incident that occurred in that article.

  35. Reid

    An Example of Demonizing Immigrants and Those That Are Different

    I don’t know if I’d go so far as calling Carlson the “face of white nationalism,” but Maza makes some very good points. In any event, what’s seen in the video is very similar to the fear-mongering that is covered in the Times Magazine piece in the previous post.

    On another note, I want to address some points about one of the points that Carlson seems to make in some of the excerpts: namely, the concern that the core culture and value of the country could be threatened by immigrants. Personally, I believe that if high numbers of immigrants coming into the country can have a radical and destabilizing impact upon the culture and society–but I think this is true for immigrants from European countries as well. Suppose something catastrophic happened in French and millions of French people emigrated to the U.S. over a few years. I think this could have a really destabilizing effect on our culture and society.

    A few thoughts about this:

    1. I do think that we the culture in the U.S. is Eurocentric, in terms of values and system of government. And I think we should be concerned if that is no longer the case.

    2. When I say our culture is Eurocentric, I mean that European (Anglo) culture is a crucial part of the culture. However, what is American isn’t just purely European. American culture and society is a blend of non-European cultures as well, and this is a net positive in my view.

    3. My sense is that American culture and society are dynamic entities, constantly involving. All cultures and societies are like this. I think we’re better equipped to assimilate and amalgamate new cultures into the existing American culture and society.

    But going back to point #1, this doesn’t mean that the culture and society can be destabilizing from a massive influx of immigrants, particularly in a relatively short amount of time. (I think all societies and cultures are vulnerable to this.)

    4. I’m not comfortable with the way the far right (ethno-nationalists) and far left (multiculturalists) talk about this issue. I think there is a better way to talk about immigration and its effects on our culture and society.

  36. Mitchell

    You say that a massive wave of immigrants can be destabilizing and then you say it doesn’t mean that it can be destabilizing.

    I’m not sure I like where you’re going with this, but I’m willing to hear you out. It’s possible that I am far, far, far left on this when I thought I was just left.

    I realized some time ago, sort of to my surprise, that I value inclusion to the point where it was negatively affecting my ability to lead, and I know from working with you that you’re aware of the tradeoffs between inclusion and effectivenes. It’s reshaped the way I lead, when I’m put in positions of leadership, because I don’t want to make inclusion a lower priority, but I do want to make the best use of collaboration and time. I’m saying all this to say that I see where too much inclusion can be a problem administratively (that is, making sure everyone’s needs are met in a society where we try to make that happen), but I think the tradeoffs are worth it in favor of maximum inclusion, mostly because I think we can handle it. We (America) might be slow to adjust, but we’re built for crisis. Bring it on.

  37. Reid

    You say that a massive wave of immigrants can be destabilizing and then you say it doesn’t mean that it can be destabilizing.

    Yeah, I probably wasn’t clear enough on this, so let me clarify what I meant. A massive wave of immigrants coming into the country in a relatively short period of time can really destabilize a country–in a way that poses a serious threat to the stability and well-being of a country. (If the immigrants have costly needs, that’s another way the immigration wave can really harm the country, too.) Because of this, I think we have to monitor the number and rate of immigrants coming into the country. The numbers and the rate could be quite high–I don’t really know what the appropriate numbers/rate would be, and I think reasonable people can disagree on the specific numbers/rates. However, my position is that both the number and rate should be monitor. I disagree with people who believe the number and rates don’t matter.

    My second point is that while European culture and values is or near the center of our culture and society, a big part of who we are involves a hybridization of different cultures, and over time this hybridization has been ongoing; the process is dynamic, and I make two points from this:

    1. We can absorb and integrate other cultures and people, as long as the rate of change isn’t so dramatic. In this way, American society and culture is more resilient to changes that can occur from immigration;

    2. The process of hybridization and blending of cultures means that everyone is losing the purity of their home culture, and the American culture of the past may be “dying,” if you want to look at it that way. But the process also involves adding something–you could say the culture is changing, growing, and I would argue that, on balance, it can get better. (The society and culture can also change for the worse, but that can occur from non-immigration sources as well. Indeed, I think those sources are more of a threat.)

    Does that make sense?

    I realized some time ago, sort of to my surprise, that I value inclusion to the point where it was negatively affecting my ability to lead, and I know from working with you that you’re aware of the tradeoffs between inclusion and effectivenes.

    Wait, I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “inclusion,” here. I’m also not sure that inclusion within the context of a workplace and inclusion in the context of immigration and a the stability of a country is the really comparable. The contexts might be really different. ?

  38. Mitchell

    Yeah, it makes more sense now, although I think I did get that much from your original post. I honestly don’t think the rate of change is really an issue, because in parts of this country who resist the change, ANY rate of change is too quick. In parts of this country that don’t, I don’t see a problem. There may have been a huge influx of Micronesians in Hawaii, for example, changing the way parts of this town look and feel, but bring it on. We can work it out.

    No, the inclusion of immigrants is not comparable to the inclusion of diverse points of view in the workplace. I was using my views of inclusion at work as an illustration of how I’ve only recently come to realize how deeply important inclusion is to me. Inclusion of multiple voices on a project at work, or inclusion of multiple ethnicities in my community. I want it all.

    But there are tradeoffs when we include multiple voices and multiple cultures, so maybe it is comparable. In theory, we want everyone to have a voice. In practice (at work and in the community) that can slow things down and cause problems.

  39. Reid

    I don’t think the openness to change or ethnic diversity is the only, or maybe even the main, factor. If thousands of Japanese immigrants come to Hawai’i, tensions caused by difference in language, values, or social norms would likely result. You don’t think that could create instability, possibility tearing society a part? I don’t think that’s so crazy.

    This reminds me of something Governor Waihe’e. The main thing he worried about was race relations in Hawai’i, which surprised me. But I think I understand why he feels this way. Why do people in Hawai’i basically get along? Why isn’t there the type of social unrest in places like the Balkans, for example, or the mainland U.S.? Could the situation in Hawai’i change? What would cause that? I think the issue is complex, and it’s hard to answer that last question.

    However, I think it’s fair to say that a massive influx of immigrants in a relatively short period would be disruptive–and it would likely be more disruptive if the immigrants have different language, values and social norms. Some societies may deal with this situation better than others, but subjecting a society to such a test would be unwise, and it should be avoided where possible in my opinion. (On another note: There’s talk that the Russians tried to foster conditions that would lead to a mass Syrian immigration to the West. That is they tried to weaponize immigration. From a strategic standpoint, it’s an ingenious, albeit extremely devious and despicable.)

    No, the inclusion of immigrants is not comparable to the inclusion of diverse points of view in the workplace

    Oh, so inclusion equals including or allowing for different points of view? If so I think that’s really, really different from what we’re talking about here. I totally support different views, different types of people in an workplace–and even in our country. It’s what makes the U.S. strong, and I love this aspect of our country. Yes, it can lead to problems and challenges, but I don’t think that’s the same sort of problems I’m talking about.

  40. Mitchell

    I know but what I’m talking about is, in the workplace, if a committee has to get something done, the more people you include on the committee, the slower the process. And the more insistent you are that everyone has a say, the slower the decision-making. I’m not talking just about diversity of thought, although that’s part of it, but the conviction that the group should not move forward until everyone’s reservations are considered or everyone’s idea given thought. I know you like a more streamlined process based on having worked with you.

    I’m not arguing that a massive influx of immigrants wouldn’t be disruptive. I’m simply saying that I think the benefits outweigh the disruption.

  41. Reid

    What you describe in your first paragraph is basically how I understood what you meant. The problems there are very difficult from the ones that I’m referring with regard to massive influx of immigrants.

    Let me try and make some analogies using the workplace. Suppose you had a massive influx of workers, let’s say they’re from the mainland, and they’re joining a Hawai’i organization. Half are from the mainland, while the other half are from Hawai’i. Let’s suppose further that the mainland employees are very task-oriented, while the Hawai’i employees are more socially oriented. That is, the former cares far more about completely tasks and less about social relationships and rituals, whereas the priorities are flipped with the latter.

    The organization is in danger of breaking a part because you have two factions that have a different set of values. To get more nuanced, we could examine difference in terms of social norms and customs–e.g., different ideas about appropriate ways of speaking and interacting with others.

    To me, this is far different from the hassle that can arise when you try to accommodate different opinions or even more individuals. What you’re talking about can make the work less efficient and more of a hassle, but it generally doesn’t tear the organization a part.

    In the case of immigrants, you can also have different languages that can weaken social cohesion. I think that’s partly the dynamic involved with the tensions in Quebec, where they seem to periodically discuss seceding from Canada. Or look at the way Sunni and Shiites lead to civil unrest, including violence. Same with the Catholics and Protestants in Ireland. When you’re bringing in large numbers of immigrants, with different languages, religions, values, and social norms, there’s threat of destroying the society by creating civic unrest and even civil war.

  42. Reid

    How Can This Be?

    Even if the NSA didn’t warn them of this, how can Kushner proceed to use private email for official business? Remarkable on many levels.

  43. Reid

    Could the Russians Have Gotten Targeting Information by Stealing Data from Facebook, Google, etc.?

    In this clip, Joy Reid asks Malcolm Nance if Russians needed help in knowing which individuals and groups to target in America with fake news and other inflammatory information (to help Trump/hurt Clinton and/or widen existing divisions).

    Nance says no–an American(s) had to help, given what we know so far. But I’m wondering: Couldn’t the Russians have gotten some of this information by stealing data from companies like Google or Facebook? The companies could be banks or universities or any institution with a lot of data on U.S. citizens and groups. Just a thought.

  44. Reid

    Run, Rex (Tillerson)! Run!

    This op-ed on Rex Tillerson is harsh–or, better yet, biting.

  45. Mitchell

    That was a terrible read. The writer makes the point in the first 25% of the column but drags it out like he or she is being paid by the column inch. I’m not saying it’s not harsh or biting. I’m saying it was too long. Ouch.

  46. Reid

    Terrible read because it was too long, but not terrible because the writer calls the Secretary of State a Trump’s dog, in a way that ratchets up the humiliation–some may say, in juvenile way that is inappropriate for a paper of record? Someone actually criticized WaPo for publishing the op-ed–because, I assume, for the way it humiliates and insults the Secretary of State. To me, that’s a more compelling critique and a more interesting question than if the piece was too long. (I actually think you have a valid point, though.)

  47. Mitchell

    It was too long because while most of us can tolerate that infantile writing voice for a paragraph or two, nobody wants to read 20 column inches in that style.

    I also think the writer makes it clear that she or he is not humiliating the secretary of state, but that the secretary’s boss is doing all the humiliating. All the writer is doing is pointing it out.

  48. Reid

    …nobody wants to read 20 column inches in that style.

    I don’t know, I read the whole thing. I was curious to see where it went, how it would end. Looking back, I think it could have been shorter, though.

    I also think the writer makes it clear that she or he is not humiliating the secretary of state, but that the secretary’s boss is doing all the humiliating.

    Really? I’m dumbfounded. It makes me want to re-read the article to see if I misread it. Trump certainly doesn’t come out looking good, but the title of the piece is “Donald Trump’s dog.” Tillerson–he’s Trump’s dog. I don’t see how you can think the piece isn’t a major insult to Tillerson. And maybe “insult” isn’t the right word, but the piece seems to be harshly mocking Tillerson for allowing Trump to treat him that way….No, insult is probably fitting, too.

  49. Mitchell

    No, it is an insult to Tillerson, but the writer is pointing out that it’s his boss who’s doing the insulting. Pointing out that someone is a dog isn’t necessarily humiliating the person. Treating someone like a dog is.

  50. Reid

    Treating someone like a dog is.

    But allowing yourself to be treated like a dog is also humiliating, too, right? The writer is mocking Tillerson hard for doing just that.

  51. Reid

    From NBC News: Tillerson’s Fury at Trump Required Intervention from Pence. This provides some context for the op-ed on Tillerson above.

    Some things that stand out, that really don’t have to do with the tensions between Tillerson and Trump. First, a comment from State Department spokesperson, R.C. Hammond, regarding Tillerson’s comments about Trump’s remarks about Charlottesville incident. (“The President speaks for himself,” Tillerson said.)

    The president, according to Hammond, told Tillerson he was upset with his comments when he saw them the first time. But, Hammond said Trump told Tillerson, after watching the interview a second and third time, the president understood that Tillerson was trying to say Trump is the best person to convey what his values are.

    Still, the message was clear that Trump wanted Tillerson to defend him more, Hammond said.

    This strongly reinforces the impression that Trump mainly cares about people either defending him against critics or saying nice things about him. Reading the above made me think of some of the comments Trump made on his visit to Puerto Rico yesterday. For example, about the Puerto Rican Governor, Trump said:

    “He started right at the beginning appreciating what we did…He was giving us the highest grades.”

    or regarding Representative Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon,

    “She was saying such nice things about all of the people who have worked so hard. Jenniffer, do you think you can say a little bit about what you said about us?”

    His desire for people to praise him or say “nice” things about him borders on obsession, suggesting deep insecurity or narcissism. It’s disturbing, embarrassing, and worrisome. (Let’s remember he’s making these comments above while visiting an island devastated by a storm.)

    Here’s Trump’s response to the NBC story today:

    A response from Tillerson about the story:

    More:

    Thought this was funny:

    (Trump “shot” paper towels into a crowd in Puerto Rico, like he was shooting a basketball.)

    Edit

    By the way, John Kerry said this about Obama, after a heated dispute, would this be a big deal? I tend to think not. Is it really unheard of for the Cabinet secretaries or other high level officials to say something like this about the POTUS? Publicly, this would definitely not be appropriate, but privately?

    Having said that, a big difference with Trump is that he really is ignorant and clueless. So when Tillerson says something like this–the meaning isn’t simply that he disagrees strongly with a specific decision, but he actually thinks the President is truly a moron. (If Kerry said this about Obama, I’m pretty sure it would not mean that Kerry thinks Obama isn’t intelligent, knowledgeable, or competent.)

    Also, this is quite something. In 2014 tweeted the cartoon below (ostensibly in reference to President Obama). The cartoon has Thomas Jefferson saying, “I keep thinking we should include something to the Constitution in case the people elect a f**king moron.”

    Edit

  52. Reid

    Corker says the three above have a sound and coherent policy–while some in the Trump administration do not. (“I’m sorry,” he says right after making this point.) Hard not to conclude that Corker is implicating Trump in this.

    Regarding this view:

    In other words, several Congressional GOP think that without Kelly, Mattis, and Tillerson, the world could be in chaos–presumably from Trump. If that’s the case, this would be one of several compelling reasons to impeach Trump.

  53. Reid

    Is the Government Competent Enough to Keep Us Safe?

    I’m beginning to have my doubts:

    From Politico: John Kelly’s Cell Phone Compromised

    Also (which I didn’t get to read):

  54. Reid

    This Pisses Me Off

    Jonathan Chait has an article commenting on the Congressional Republican reaction to Senator Corker’s comments about Trump and the feud between the two of them.

    Basically, several Congressional Republicans want Corker and Trump to stop feuding. The real issue is whether they agree with Corker or not–Is Trump really unfit? Does his recklessness pose a significant risk to the country and even the world–in the form of starting WWWIII?

    I’m convinced most of them know Trump is wildly unfit and does pose a serious threat to our country. But they’re essentially putting their careers and their policy agenda ahead of protecting the country. I realize that giving up one’s political career is a big sacrifice, and they are all called to protect the country and the Constitution. If the POTUS presents a serious threat, it’s a catastrophic dereliction of duty to fail to remove the POTUS from office. Putting their careers or policy agenda ahead of protecting the country is not only reprehensible, but it makes them totally unfit for office.

  55. Reid

    This is Something That Even Rational Conservative Critics of Liberal Bias in the Media Could Not Defend

    Trump is accusing the media of “making up stories” relying on sources that “don’t exist.” This is a crazy. Or, if it’s true, it’s huge, huge scandal–and Trump should back this up with proof (just like he should have had proof when accusing Obama of ordering wiretaps of Trump Tower).

    I don’t think rational conservative critics of the mainstream press would go this far. They should say this publicly, but my guess is that they won’t.

  56. Reid

    How Can GOP and Conservative Media Allow Trump to Get Away With Making Up Crazy Claims?

    To me, the issue is beyond the specific lies, but goes to the person himself: namely, anyone who would constantly make up crazy claims as frequently as Trump does should be censured–much of their credibility and legitimacy should be lost. The GOP and conservative media don’t respond in that way, and because of that they tacitly approve of it. They’re primary ones allowing this to continue, and I really revile them for doing so.

  57. Reid

    Dark NRA PSA

    I wanted to write a few quick thoughts about this.

    1. When Trump supporters speak about unprecedented attacks upon Trump (especially negative coverage from the mainstream media), they almost always bypass whether the coverage is justified or not. To me, this is the main question. I wish we could have a national discussion about this topic, closely examining two opposing narratives: Trump is saying and doing awful things so the MSM coverage and negative response is appropriate or Trump really isn’t awful–that he’s actually competent and trustworthy, etc.–but powerful people are out to get him.

    If someone is elected, and they behave in authoritarian and kleptocratic ways–if they don’t show respect for the rule of law or democratic institutions; if they behave like a demagogue–then then anger and hostility seem like an appropriate, wholly American response in my opinion. Is this an accurate depiction of Trump? I think a very compelling case could be made for this.

    2. This is the second NRA ad I’ve seen that I find worrisome–for it’s inflammatory language, laying the groundwork for violent insurrection in the event Trump is removed from office. For Trump supporters (or anyone) this should automatically de-ligitimize the NRA. Go back to the Clinton impeachment. If some left-leaning organization spoke like this, even though I supporter Clinton, that organization would lose all of their credibility with me, and I’d reject what they were doing. This kind of thing should be out of bounds for all Americans, no matter who you support or what your political ideology is.

  58. Reid

    Theory Explaining Trump’s Approach to the Presidency

    I don’t really a fully formed theory, so what I’m about to say will largely be fumbling around, in an attempt to formulate and articulate that theory. With that, here’s the theory in a nutshell:

    Trump is approaching the presidency like he approached his business. Specifically, he’s waging a public relations campaign, transforming and limiting the arena of the presidency to the arena of a publicist. That is, Trump isn’t operating in the normal arena presidents, where governing, leading, crafting public policy occur. Instead, he’s dealing with words and images via the media, including social media like twitter.

    As a promoter and publicist, here are my impressions on his approach:

    1. The key objective is to make himself look successful, a winner. Just keep hammering away at how smart, great he is. Never give in or appear weak. Truth and lies don’t matter–just say and do whatever it takes to achieve these ends.

    2. Attack and embarrass your enemies. This is the other way Trump defines winning. It’s important to note that most of this is done through the media. That is, Trump will say something to embarrass or make any enemy look bad through a reporter, press conference, tweet, etc. It’s a war of words.

    I also think that to Trump, what happens outside of this media sphere is less important. Or, to be more precise, Trump is focusing his energies on controlling what happens within this media sphere. But as a result, he’s neglecting what’s happening outside of it. So, the unity of the country, the health of the economy, the stability of international relations, etc.–these things don’t seem to concern Trump as much. He’s all about managing his image. And “his image” is the operative phrase here. Even though he’s the POTUS, what he’s doing is still almost entirely about him.

    My guess is that he’s doing this not only because this is what he knows–it’s the only thing he knows. Governing a country, leading a nation, creating laws and policy for that nation–he knows almost nothing about and doesn’t possess the competence in this area. It’s human nature to avoid tasks that we’re not competent in. I think this is what Trump is doing.

    I also think that he could be acting this way because he is a narcissist in the clinical sense.

    Is what I’m saying outrageous, a sign that I’ve lost all ability to be fair? I can’t rule that out. However, does the theory explain Trump’s not only outrageous but puzzling behavior? I have a feeling it does. Certainly, if you take what you know about governing, leadership, policy making, as well basic assumptions about the goals of POTUS (e.g., enacting policy they believe in; unifying the country; keeping the country safe, etc.), a lot of Trump’s words and actions don’t make sense, and it seems counterproductive. Again, my sense is that the theory I’m suggesting would do a better job of explaining Trump’s actions.

  59. Reid

    From Foreign Policy: An Old Colonel Looks at General Kelly

    A thousand years ago when I was about to begin my military career, a wise old retired Marine colonel, a veteran of the carnage at Tarawa, gave me some advice. Paraphrased here, he said:

    So you want to be a career soldier? Good for you. But remember that the longer you stay in uniform, the less you will really understand about the country you protect. Democracy is the antithesis of the military life; it’s chaotic, dishonest, disorganized, and at the same time glorious, exhilarating and free — which you are not.

    After a while, if you stay in, you’ll be tempted to say, “Look, you civilians, we’ve got a better way. We’re better organized. We’re patriotic, and we know what it is to sacrifice. Be like us.” And you’ll be dead wrong, son. If you’re a career soldier, you may defend democracy, but you won’t understand it or be part of it. What’s more, you’ll always be a stranger to your own society. That’s the sacrifice you’ll be making.

    Relatively short piece offering a good rebuttal to General Kelly’s and the WH’s recent remarks, suggesting those in the military and the military way of doing things are superior to democratic civilians and democracy in general.

  60. Reid

    On the Clinton-Obama Selling Uranium to Russians

    This was re-tweeted by David Frum:

    More

    Edit

    Not sure how credible the person tweeting this is, but worth considering points made in this thread:

  61. Reid

    Senator Jeff Flake’s Speech

    Here’s Senator Flake’s speech. It’s worth reading:

    Mr. President, I rise today to address a matter that has been much on my mind, at a moment when it seems that our democracy is more defined by our discord and our dysfunction than it is by our values and our principles. Let me begin by noting a somewhat obvious point that these offices that we hold are not ours to hold indefinitely. We are not here simply to mark time. Sustained incumbency is certainly not the point of seeking office. And there are times when we must risk our careers in favor of our principles.

    Now is such a time.
    It must also be said that I rise today with no small measure of regret. Regret, because of the state of our disunion, regret because of the disrepair and destructiveness of our politics, regret because of the indecency of our discourse, regret because of the coarseness of our leadership, regret for the compromise of our moral authority, and by our — all of our — complicity in this alarming and dangerous state of affairs. It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end.
    In this century, a new phrase has entered the language to describe the accommodation of a new and undesirable order — that phrase being “the new normal.” But we must never adjust to the present coarseness of our national dialogue — with the tone set at the top.
    We must never regard as “normal” the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country – the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions, the flagrant disregard for truth or decency, the reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have all been elected to serve.
    None of these appalling features of our current politics should ever be regarded as normal. We must never allow ourselves to lapse into thinking that this is just the way things are now. If we simply become inured to this condition, thinking that this is just politics as usual, then heaven help us. Without fear of the consequences, and without consideration of the rules of what is politically safe or palatable, we must stop pretending that the degradation of our politics and the conduct of some in our executive branch are normal. They are not normal.
    Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as “telling it like it is,” when it is actually just reckless, outrageous, and undignified.
    And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else: It is dangerous to a democracy. Such behavior does not project strength — because our strength comes from our values. It instead projects a corruption of the spirit, and weakness.
    It is often said that children are watching. Well, they are. And what are we going to do about that? When the next generation asks us, Why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you speak up? — what are we going to say?
    Mr. President, I rise today to say: Enough. We must dedicate ourselves to making sure that the anomalous never becomes normal. With respect and humility, I must say that we have fooled ourselves for long enough that a pivot to governing is right around the corner, a return to civility and stability right behind it. We know better than that. By now, we all know better than that.
    Here, today, I stand to say that we would better serve the country and better fulfill our obligations under the constitution by adhering to our Article 1 “old normal” — Mr. Madison’s doctrine of the separation of powers. This genius innovation which affirms Madison’s status as a true visionary and for which Madison argued in Federalist 51 — held that the equal branches of our government would balance and counteract each other when necessary. “Ambition counteracts ambition,” he wrote.
    But what happens if ambition fails to counteract ambition? What happens if stability fails to assert itself in the face of chaos and instability? If decency fails to call out indecency? Were the shoe on the other foot, would we Republicans meekly accept such behavior on display from dominant Democrats? Of course not, and we would be wrong if we did.
    When we remain silent and fail to act when we know that that silence and inaction is the wrong thing to do — because of political considerations, because we might make enemies, because we might alienate the base, because we might provoke a primary challenge, because ad infinitum, ad nauseum — when we succumb to those considerations in spite of what should be greater considerations and imperatives in defense of the institutions of our liberty, then we dishonor our principles and forsake our obligations. Those things are far more important than politics.
    Now, I am aware that more politically savvy people than I caution against such talk. I am aware that a segment of my party believes that anything short of complete and unquestioning loyalty to a president who belongs to my party is unacceptable and suspect.
    If I have been critical, it not because I relish criticizing the behavior of the president of the United States. If I have been critical, it is because I believe that it is my obligation to do so, as a matter of duty and conscience. The notion that one should stay silent as the norms and values that keep America strong are undermined and as the alliances and agreements that ensure the stability of the entire world are routinely threatened by the level of thought that goes into 140 characters – the notion that one should say and do nothing in the face of such mercurial behavior is ahistoric and, I believe, profoundly misguided.
    A Republican president named Roosevelt had this to say about the president and a citizen’s relationship to the office:
    “The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.” President Roosevelt continued. “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”
    Acting on conscience and principle is the manner in which we express our moral selves, and as such, loyalty to conscience and principle should supersede loyalty to any man or party. We can all be forgiven for failing in that measure from time to time. I certainly put myself at the top of the list of those who fall short in that regard. I am holier-than-none. But too often, we rush not to salvage principle but to forgive and excuse our failures so that we might accommodate them and go right on failing—until the accommodation itself becomes our principle.
    In that way and over time, we can justify almost any behavior and sacrifice almost any principle. I’m afraid that is where we now find ourselves.
    When a leader correctly identifies real hurt and insecurity in our country and instead of addressing it goes looking for somebody to blame, there is perhaps nothing more devastating to a pluralistic society. Leadership knows that most often a good place to start in assigning blame is to first look somewhat closer to home. Leadership knows where the buck stops. Humility helps. Character counts. Leadership does not knowingly encourage or feed ugly and debased appetites in us.
    Leadership lives by the American creed: E Pluribus Unum. From many, one. American leadership looks to the world, and just as Lincoln did, sees the family of man. Humanity is not a zero-sum game. When we have been at our most prosperous, we have also been at our most principled. And when we do well, the rest of the world also does well.
    These articles of civic faith have been central to the American identity for as long as we have all been alive. They are our birthright and our obligation. We must guard them jealously, and pass them on for as long as the calendar has days. To betray them, or to be unserious in their defense is a betrayal of the fundamental obligations of American leadership. And to behave as if they don’t matter is simply not who we are.
    Now, the efficacy of American leadership around the globe has come into question. When the United States emerged from World War II we contributed about half of the world’s economic activity. It would have been easy to secure our dominance, keeping the countries that had been defeated or greatly weakened during the war in their place. We didn’t do that. It would have been easy to focus inward. We resisted those impulses. Instead, we financed reconstruction of shattered countries and created international organizations and institutions that have helped provide security and foster prosperity around the world for more than 70 years.
    Now, it seems that we, the architects of this visionary rules-based world order that has brought so much freedom and prosperity, are the ones most eager to abandon it.
    The implications of this abandonment are profound. And the beneficiaries of this rather radical departure in the American approach to the world are the ideological enemies of our values. Despotism loves a vacuum. And our allies are now looking elsewhere for leadership. Why are they doing this? None of this is normal. And what do we as United States Senators have to say about it?
    The principles that underlie our politics, the values of our founding, are too vital to our identity and to our survival to allow them to be compromised by the requirements of politics. Because politics can make us silent when we should speak, and silence can equal complicity.
    I have children and grandchildren to answer to, and so, Mr. President, I will not be complicit.
    I have decided that I will be better able to represent the people of Arizona and to better serve my country and my conscience by freeing myself from the political considerations that consume far too much bandwidth and would cause me to compromise far too many principles.
    To that end, I am announcing today that my service in the Senate will conclude at the end of my term in early January 2019.
    It is clear at this moment that a traditional conservative who believes in limited government and free markets, who is devoted to free trade, and who is pro-immigration, has a narrower and narrower path to nomination in the Republican party — the party that for so long has defined itself by belief in those things. It is also clear to me for the moment we have given in or given up on those core principles in favor of the more viscerally satisfying anger and resentment. To be clear, the anger and resentment that the people feel at the royal mess we have created are justified. But anger and resentment are not a governing philosophy.
    There is an undeniable potency to a populist appeal — but mischaracterizing or misunderstanding our problems and giving in to the impulse to scapegoat and belittle threatens to turn us into a fearful, backward-looking people. In the case of the Republican party, those things also threaten to turn us into a fearful, backward-looking minority party.
    We were not made great as a country by indulging or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorying in the things which divide us, and calling fake things true and true things fake. And we did not become the beacon of freedom in the darkest corners of the world by flouting our institutions and failing to understand just how hard-won and vulnerable they are.
    This spell will eventually break. That is my belief. We will return to ourselves once more, and I say the sooner the better. Because to have a heathy government we must have healthy and functioning parties. We must respect each other again in an atmosphere of shared facts and shared values, comity and good faith. We must argue our positions fervently, and never be afraid to compromise. We must assume the best of our fellow man, and always look for the good. Until that days comes, we must be unafraid to stand up and speak out as if our country depends on it. Because it does.
    I plan to spend the remaining fourteen months of my senate term doing just that.
    Mr. President, the graveyard is full of indispensable men and women — none of us here is indispensable. Nor were even the great figures from history who toiled at these very desks in this very chamber to shape this country that we have inherited. What is indispensable are the values that they consecrated in Philadelphia and in this place, values which have endured and will endure for so long as men and women wish to remain free. What is indispensable is what we do here in defense of those values. A political career doesn’t mean much if we are complicit in undermining those values.
    I thank my colleagues for indulging me here today, and will close by borrowing the words of President Lincoln, who knew more about healing enmity and preserving our founding values than any other American who has ever lived. His words from his first inaugural were a prayer in his time, and are no less so in ours:
    “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
    Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.

    Edit

    The following thread is a good footnote:

  62. Reid

    Americans Can’t Say They Had No Idea How Bad Trump Is

    Well, they can say this, and it might be true. But there are enough indications–including Republicans making comments and speeches–that Trump himself is a big problem and threat to our country.

    Senator Corker had more comments today.

  63. Reid

    Greg Sargent is an op-ed writer who seems to have the same thoughts and ways of thinking with regard to Trump. This piece about Senator Corker’s warnings about Trump is no exception. Here’s one key point:

    If Corker genuinely believes Trump poses such a severe danger, then surely it is a serious abdication on the part of his colleagues that they are not also sounding this warning. What “issues” could possibly justify this silence by Corker’s own lights?

  64. Reid

    If Trump Were a Co-Worker, He Would Have No Credibility and Would be a Pariah

    Trump wants us to believe that Hillary Clinton was colluding with the Russians. Even if you don’t think this is crazy claim, right off the bat, recalling past claims should come close to discrediting this claim. There’s the claim that Obama ordered wiretaps on Trump Tower; that he had proof that Russia didn’t interfere with our elections. He’s also a conspiracy theorist who suggested that climate change is a Chinese hoax, Ted Cruz’s dad was involved with the Kennedy assassination.

    How can anyone take him seriously? Am I really being biased here, guys?

    To me, if we had Trump as a co-worker, he would be ostracized in the work place. If he wasn’t fired and persisted to behave the way that he does, I suspect you might see hostile reactions to him. And yet, the vast majority of reporters (particularly at the White House) or on Capitol Hill don’t really react this way. Why is that?

    I’m not really sure what’s going on. Maybe the press doesn’t know how to react–or maybe they can’t react the way we would to a co-worker. But the result is that people treat Trump with more credibility and regard than he actually deserves. In the process, his behavior is normalized as well. Something is really wrong with this, and it’s disturbing to me.

    Here’s another example:

    The Ivy League, intelligent comments just make him seem off to me. Who says this? And going an Ivy League school or being intelligent doesn’t mean that one can’t behave in an uncivil way. But, to me, the idea that the press is to blame for creating this impression has zero credibility, and I think it’s highly disturbing if Trump genuinely believes this. The public has his comments, from the campaign until now, that provide compelling evidence that Trump is not only uncivil, but much worse. I think many of his followers wouldn’t even agree with Trump here. My sense is that many would acknowledge that Trump is uncivil, rude, etc.

  65. Reid

    Fox News

    The claim is crazy and totally inappropriate. Wouldn’t this be a big blow to their credibility?

    Another thing that frustrates me is that I think statements like this are driven by the desire for profits–they’re giving what the audience wants to hear, what will keep them watching–but I suspect most of the Fox News viewers don’t know this or believe this. Or am I wrong?

    To me, like the Congressional Republicans, if the Fox News doesn’t defend Trump, they’ll lose–in this case financially. I’m almost certain this is the case, so there’s a powerful financial incentive for the type of commentary above. In my view, they’re selling out the country and it’s ideals for money. I wish there were a way to have a national conversation about this, with Fox News viewers.

  66. Mitchell

    You seem to think that simply letting him speak for himself isn’t enough. Your incredulity that so much of the public doesn’t see what you see is warranted and valid. I’m equally incredulous. But those who don’t judge the guy based on what they see him actually say and do aren’t going to be swayed by any amount of interpretation or explanation by the media. They already don’t trust the media.

    We each must deal with this ridiculous reality in our own way, so I understand you need to express yourself and I would encourage it if it helps. But most of what you’ve shared in these past couple of posts is super duper obvious. I sincerely hope that somehow your working through this out loud is helping. It would make me scream if I tried to do that.

  67. Reid

    They already don’t trust the media.

    I feel like you might be overestimating how big this “they” really is. But I can’t know that for sure. Was it Hillary Clinton’s words and actions that primarily caused people to see her in a bad light or was the nature of the coverage a bigger factor? I do think the former plays a part, but I believe the latter made a difference as well.

    But most of what you’ve shared in these past couple of posts is super duper obvious.

    Meaning: other people are reacting the same way I am? Because I don’t really get that sense. (Don, if you’re reading this, are you reacting the same way?)

    I don’t get the sense that the journalists or Congress is reacting this way, either–not publicly.

  68. Mitchell

    I think it’s huge enough to elect a president. And no, it wasn’t just Clinton’s words and actions, but she didn’t do anything as blatantly outrageous. She did things that were political and complicated. She didn’t actually say “grab them by the pussy.” Reid, if these things don’t convince people of what we have in that office, the other stuff isn’t going to do it either.

    I don’t mean that other people are reacting the way you are. I mean that your interpretation and takeaways are obvious. I don’t know how other people are reacting; I think we’re all reacting in our own ways in order to deal with this ridiculous reality. I actually don’t even know how you’re reacting unless by reaction you mean how you feel about things. In which case, I think an enormous number of us feel the way you feel.

    But it’s fine. I’m not telling you what to think or how to feel, obviously. I’m only saying I hope that expressing yourself this way helps in some way. It’s not my way of dealing, also obviously. In fact, this amount of discourse about it already has me wanting to rip my own eyeballs out.

  69. Reid

    I think it’s huge enough to elect a president.

    Are you saying that mistrust in the media significantly contributed to Trump winning? (I assume “it” refers to the number of people who mistrust the media.) I sort of think the opposite. There were large enough voters that trusted the aggregate impression created by the mainstream media–namely, that Hillary and Trump were essentially equally bad (which, to me, is a ridiculous notion).

    I don’t mean that other people are reacting the way you are. I mean that your interpretation and takeaways are obvious.

    Obvious to whom? You think the majority of Fox News viewers know that Fox is telling them things primarily out of the desire for profits; that they’re afraid of being more honest because that would hurt their bottom line? You think it’s obvious to the vast majority of voters–including Trump supporters and those that don’t follow the news so closely–that the Congressional Republicans know that Trump might be crazy, but they’re protecting and enabling him because they want tax cuts for the rich? You think most Americans believe that Trump has zero credibility–that he’s a literally a conspiracy theorist and fabulist?

    If this were the case, I would expect their reaction to be similar to mine. If someone keeps lying and says crazy stuff, you might first roll your eyes and ignore them, but if avoiding them isn’t an option, the reaction I’d expect is disgust and hostility. You get that from the anti-Trump people, but from people are in the middle or Trump supporters, I don’t think they’re reacting that way.

    I’m only saying I hope that expressing yourself this way helps in some way.

    I think it does, but even if it didn’t, expressing these feelings and thoughts, trying to talk about them with others, is just something I’d do in situations like this. If we were co-workers and something like this was happening, I’d likely reach out to others, unless I thought they were totally closed to discussion.

  70. Mitchell

    I’m sorry, Reid. I can’t continue this conversation. It’s not you. It’s the eyeballs I keep wanting to gouge out of my own face.

  71. Reid

    Come Let Us Reason Together

    I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this before, but it’s been on my mind again, especially after reading the opinions and narratives pushed by the pro-Trump crowd. The idea is to construct at least two theories or narratives about Trump, including specific theories/narratives about Trump-Russia, and hold them up side-by-side, while also trying to fit in new facts and information as they occur in real time. In this way, we can see which theories or narratives seem more plausible.

    Also, if certain theories espoused by one side have been proved to be unfounded, even nutty, then we should also factor that in.

    We should also put all the names of those who support each theory/narrative–in a way that puts their credibility and reputation on the line.

    I wish someone would do something like this. It’s not going to convince the fanatics on either side, but I think there are enough reasonable people out there that this would be a useful approach.

  72. Reid

    From Commentary: Bad Advice from the Wall Street Journal to Trump

    Not just “bad,” but irresponsible to me. What’s the advice?

    “Mr. Trump can end this madness by immediately issuing a blanket presidential pardon,” Rivkin and Casey insist. That pardon, they advise, should be provided to “anyone for any offense that has been investigated by Mr. Mueller’s office,” including the president himself.

    WSJ and other Trump supporters are trying to soil Mueller’s integrity and reputation as well. Not all Republicans/conservatives feel this way:

    Edit

    Here’s WSJ’s editorial board, basically, putting out Trump WH narrative about the dossier, and questioning the legitimacy and integrity of the FBI, Mueller, and Comey. In my view, if they’re completely wrong about this, and they’re just helping Trump with his propaganda, I’m not sure how they’re going to live this down in the future.

  73. Reid

    Interesting and information video.

  74. Reid

    Maybe Trump is a Budding Authoritarian Because He’s Completely Ignorant About Our System of Government

    That sounds like a cheap shot, but read this short CNN article. Here’s a quote:

    “I look at what’s happening with the Justice Department. Well, why aren’t they going after Hillary Clinton with her emails and with her, the dossier?” Trump said, referring to the law firm Perkins Coie saying it had paid Fusion GPS to compile a dossier of information on Trump and Russia on behalf of Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

    “I’m very unhappy with it that the Justice Department isn’t going,” Trump said.”I am not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing. And I am very frustrated by it.”

    He’s candor here suggests he’s totally clueless about why it’s important that the POTUS not interfere with the DOJ and FBI in the way he’s pining for. I think we should have a national discussion about this topic. It would be good to talk with Trump about this, too.

    Edit (11/3/2017)

    Repeated what he said again today:

    Edit (11/3/2017)

    Senator Bob Corker responds:

    Almost every Congressional Republicans would say the same thing–or at least know this is true. Most are silent. They are failing our country.

  75. Reid

    “…”the one that matters is me. I am the only one that matters.”

    That’s what Trump said in the context of discussing unfilled positions in the State Department.

    This Hill article has more of the quotes from the Fox News interview, where Trump doubles down on saying that he doesn’t need to fill many of the positions in the State Department, explaining that “it’s called cost savings.”

    I really think he has really little understanding of how the State Department functions and how many personnel it needs to function properly. The statement that he’s the only one that matters is stunning. I’m almost speechless, particularly in explaining my reaction to it. Has any POTUS ever said anything like that, or even thought anything like this? I don’t claim to understand how the State Department functions, but I’m almost certain that the POTUS is not the only one that matters–when it comes to foreign policy and foreign relations. What he saying is not only ignorant, but almost megalomaniacal.

  76. Reid

    One of Many in the Category of “You Can’t Make This Up” For the Trump Presidency

    I believe the context of the excerpt below is that Trump says he can’t really remember if he talked with George Papadopoulos.

    Go to 1:08, where Trump says he has one of “great memories of all time.”

    This is hilarious, on one level, but it’s kinda worrisome, too. The other things he says in this are troubling, too.

  77. Reid

    Now That We Know Leaks Can Be An Act of (Info)War, How the Press and Public Deal With Them?

    When I read this Daily Beast article, about a recent revelations of ties between Wilbur Ross, the Commerce Secretary, and a business partly owned by Putin’s son-in-law, I asked where did this information come from; or more specifically, where who leaked the millions of documents (known as the “Paradise Papers”) that contained this information?

    As far as I know the information hurts Trump and his team, but I think it’s more important to know if the information is accurate and who is releasing the leaks and the possible reasons for this? Is it a foreign government or a cutout for that government; or is it a whistleblower?

    I’m not sure how to answer the question above, but I would assume a starting point is to be very cautious and circumspect with any information that comes from a leak. And to ask about the accuracy, the entity providing the leaks and possible reasons for doing so. Off the top of my head, I would say the press probably shouldn’t release the information unless they get satisfactory answers to these questions (which, hopefully, occurred in this case).

    Edit

    By the way, I’m not sure if others would agree with me, but in my view, the information being accurate isn’t sufficient for the press to release and report on it. In today’s world, I believe information warfare poses a greater threat, particularly to open democracies, the press have also become de facto participants in information warfare: namely, they provide a vital defense from information warfare. If they don’t do this, they will, intentionally or not, augment and aid information warfare actions by adversaries.

    (Concern: If not releasing information is in the public’s interest, but comes at a significant financial cost–i.e., missed opportunity to make money.)

    Edit 11/6/2017)

    This thread gets at what I’m concerned about:

  78. Reid

    What is Truth?

    Some thoughts on the above. By “truth,” I’m guessing McKew means “facts.” If so, I don’t really agree with her. That is, I don’t agree that facts will save us. While facts are crucial, particularly for something like political discourse, I feel like some (including journalists) have placed too much important upon facts–or at least conferred a level of importance that is inappropriate. Facts have to be organized, selected or ignored–without this the facts aren’t meaningful. What will save us (from Kremlin propaganda and manipulation) are honest individuals and institutions, like the press, who will not only present facts, but also present the most important facts in a way that provides the most meaningful and accurate understanding of a situation. (This would include important contextual information.)

    I do not like the use of the word “truth” in this context. I would not call reporting by a skilled and knowledgeable journalist, working in good faith, about a particularly issue or event as “truth.” This suggests that the reporting is definitive or absolute. This doesn’t mean that reporting is strictly relative. My position is that reporting can be more accurate and meaningful or less so. Another way of saying this: journalism is intersubjective, not objective.

  79. Reid

    Carter Page Would Make the Coen Brothers Marvel

    On a lighter note, here is an excerpt from the marathon closed Congressional hearing with Carter Page:

    If Page isn’t mentally ill, he is a remarkably odd and/or foolish. (I’m beginning to think that he’s mentally unwell.)

  80. Reid

    This is true, but it’s also true that we need to think about the way the white majority may resent and even fear these changes. I really believe that dealing with this with sensitivity and nuance–versus treating this callously or as if this is simple, black and white matter–in more ways than one–is crucial to teh future of our country. And by this I mean that this is potential existential threat to our country.

    (Note: I have a strong feeling I could not say this with others, particularly those on the mainland–not without strong push back. That’s not bad, if I thought there was a decent chance to have a meaningful conversation about this. But I suspect the chances of that are somewhat low.)

    Also, I’m not sure if the following is true, but if it is, it’s the kind of the thing that makes me feel good about our country. This is America:

    At the same time, this is the kind of thing that worries me as well–specifically the way many white Americans may react to this. This is like throwing salt in the wound, and the more this sort of thing occurs, the more I fear white Americans will turn to a person like Trump.

    Edit

    The vibe I get from this: Screw working class whites. I feel like this is the wrong message. For one thing, I think much of their interests could align with Democrats more than Republicans, even with Trump in office. Trump and the GOP policies don’t seem favorable to the working class. Second, the attempt to reach out to working class whites says that they matter; and it can counter impression of condescending liberals. The working class whites may still not vote for Democrats, but they could hate them a lot less–and that would be significant.

  81. Reid

    The Public Needs a Lesson in Russian Strategic Deception: It’s What You Want to Hear

    That’s the title of this Just Security piece. I think it’s important to understand. Here are two key paragraphs in my opinion:

    Russia benefits from our naivete. What we need to do first is open eyes to the consistent, decades-long pattern of Russian attacks. Corruption, espionage, lies, disinformation and deception are the routine tools of Putin and the Kremlin, and will continue to be so into the indefinite future. We would be better served to assume ill-intent, and not feel obligated to uncover conclusive evidence of wrong-doing in every case. Totally uncorrupted business is an aberration in Russia, and we have decades of experience with their use of disinformation and deception to push any agenda that damages U.S. and western cohesion. While we may not find incontrovertible proof every time, the cumulative and historical effect is that Americans should preserve a very healthy skepticism when evaluating the motivations of the Russian government – guilty until proven innocent. What’s more, because so much of what Russia does is secret and managed by the intelligence services, we are rarely going to be able to develop the kind of “evidence” that we would like to divine guilt or innocence.

    As I’ve written recently, I believe that collusion is possible and that the much-maligned Steele dossier is more right than wrong. However, I also suspect that it will be very hard to prove. Into this atmosphere Russian intelligence will certainly look to frame the narrative to fit their interests. They may, for example, provide a false lead suggesting collusion with the Trump campaign, only to pull the rug later to try to discredit the whole investigatory enterprise. Or they may allow the release of a false and weak form of kompromat on the President to suggest they don’t have anything stronger. Who knows what exactly their craft will deliver to a segment of the population ready to believe a certain narrative. The recent flood of information on Russian troll factories and use of social media may be part and parcel of a Russian effort to divert our attention away from possible collusion. I don’t know. They certainly left many fingerprints in their use of social media platforms. At the very least, however, what we do know is that Moscow will most likely seek to muddy the waters and make it hard to know what information is real, and what’s not. A basic awareness of strategic deception can help us avoid these traps, and pry ourselves loose when we’re found in one.

  82. Reid

    A Tiny Bit That Makes Me Think of My Hypothesis on Trump-Russia

    If the description above is accurate it reminds me of my impression of Kremlin thinking. Cunning deception, no matter how diabolical, in the attempt to gain power is acceptable, even admirable. Trump echoing this sentiment feeds this impression that the Russians have been cultivating Trump for years–it could be just informal discussions about politics, leadership, and governance. Not only is Trump oddly deferential to Putin, but he seems to think the same way about all these things.

  83. Reid

    Bad on Multiple Levels

    Off the top of my head…

    1. Trump affirms the principle that taking advantage of people is acceptable. If people allow themselves to be taken advantaged of, that’s their fault.

    2. I believe Trump really believes this, and it’s how he has operated and how he operates now. He will abuse power and behave unethically if he can get away with–and he’s trying to do both.

    3. Justifyies, enables, and even encourages other leaders to behave badly, if they can get away with it.

    This is pretty awful leadership, both domestically and on the world stage. I’d call this approach un-American as well, at least based on the America and American presidents I’m used to, and have admired.

  84. Reid

    How Do You Explain Trump’s Devotion to Putin?

    From the New York Times a transcript of Trump’s remarks last night(?) on Air Force One. One main takeaway: Putin said he didn’t interfere in our elections, and Trump believes him. It seems like because Putin says this over and over when Trump meets with him, Trump has no reason to doubt Putin, despite what our intelligence agencies have been saying. In relation to this, see below:

    and

    Right now, the most compelling hypothesis involves Putin having compromising material and some possible psychological manipulation.

    Beyond some obvious problems, how can Americans trust that the Trump administration take necessary steps to protect the country from current and future interference and information warfare? I don’t think we can. Trump should speak to the country about this, but he doesn’t–and I’m sure people would believe him. Basically, he doesn’t believe Russia interfered with the elections, so why would he do anything to protect the country against current and future attacks?

    Edit

    So odd. Trump seems to know that he can’t oppose our intelligence community, but he still can’t get around to saying anything bad about Putin.

  85. Mitchell

    You believe he doesn’t believe there was interference? I don’t.

  86. Reid

    At this point, I really don’t know. When Trump says that he had the largest inauguration crowd? When he says that millions voted illegally for Hillary? Does he know these are lies? Sometimes I think he knows, and sometimes I wonder if he really believes these lies. Does the difference matter to you? If he’s deluded, that might be worse, but if he’s simply lying about this, that’s pretty bad.

  87. Mitchell

    It matters to me because if he truly doesn’t know the truth about Russian interference, he may not be culpable. If he knows, he’s more likely to have direct involvement. That’s a huge difference.

  88. Reid

    It matters to me because if he truly doesn’t know the truth about Russian interference, he may not be culpable.

    By this, I assume you mean that Trump doesn’t have personal knowledge that the Russians interfered. Let’s say he doesn’t have this knowledge. We can assume that he has information from our intelligence agencies about this, right? If so, the fact that he has denigrated this assessment (referring to it as a hoax by Democrats, referring to Clapper and Brennan as “hacks”) is highly problematic and raises questions about why Trump is doing this.

    Also, if he made attempts at working with Russians to interfere with elections isn’t that bad enough?

  89. Reid

    Evidence That What Drives Politically Active Evangelicals is Not Christianity

    At least what I think is suggested by this chart and by support of Trump and Roy Moore. It suggests to me that Christianity wasn’t the primary driver for opposition to Bill Clinton’s moral failings as well. If I had to guess, I’d say the primary driver is culture–specifically the type of culture wars we’ve seen since the 60s.

  90. Mitchell

    I no longer know what we’re disagreeing about with the Russian thing. I don’t know what he knows from our intelligence agencies. Plus, he already has a record of lying about crap, so he could easily be lying about it being a hoax by the Democrats. I’m not ruling out anything, though.

    I think you’re making a strange leap with the survey graphic. I think it’s as reasonable to think that white evangelicals are more open to separating their religious values from their political values, or (as I have) framing their political values in the context of their religious values that makes such judgments a lot easier.

    I am completely in favor of separating church and state, and this is 100% the result of my religious values. I would bristle at someone saying that because I don’t judge a politician by moral failings that my judgment is not driven by my religious values. They are all driven by my religious values.

  91. Reid

    I no longer know what we’re disagreeing about with the Russian thing.

    Same here. I also feel like I’m having a harder time knowing what you’re saying and implying. I’m not sure why that is.

    I think you’re making a strange leap with the survey graphic.I think you’re making a strange leap with the survey graphic. I think it’s as reasonable to think that white evangelicals are more open to separating their religious values from their political values,…

    But for many evangelicals, that hasn’t been the case, right?
    My understanding is that many evangelicals opposed Bill Clinton due to his moral failings. If that’s true, then why support Trump or Moore? How do you explain the change from 2011 and 2016?

    I am completely in favor of separating church and state, and this is 100% the result of my religious values.

    I guess it depends on what we mean by “religious values.” By this, I mean teachings from Christianity, the Bible, theology–versus attitudes towards religion that stem from the culture and times we live in. In my view, I think all of these things are jumbled together, and it’s hard to know whether one’s political position stems from religious beliefs or something cultural. (This is why I have a big problem with people who condemn Islam based on the actions of terrorists with a Muslim background. Did Islam cause this or are other cultural/historical/political forces a bigger factor? I think it’s the latter. I think it’s a similar situation with politically active evangelicals.)

  92. Reid

    I Would Say This is Collusion

    ..if Wikileaks is indeed a cutout for Russian intelligence.

    From The Atlantic The Secret Correspondence Between Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks

    Julia Ioffe, the reporter of piece, got emails between wikileaks and Trump Jr. It seems clear that they were cooperating during the campaign. I think we already know enough information, but if you needed more, I would think this should be damning.

    Edit

    From October 14, 2016, from Politico

    Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said Friday morning that despite rumors and suggestions to the contrary, the Republican presidential ticket has absolutely nothing to do with the avalanche of Hillary Clinton campaign emails released in recent days by WikiLeaks.

    “Nothing could be further from the truth,” Pence said when asked by Fox News anchor Steve Doocy if Donald Trump’s campaign is “in cahoots” with the website releasing the emails. “I think all of us have, you know, have had concerns about WikiLeaks over the years and it’s just a reality of American life today, and of life in the wider world.”

    Edit

    Based on comments and the actions we know about (e.g., “Russia if you’re listening…” etc.), it seems clear that Trump and his campaign didn’t think there was anything wrong with working with Russia or anyone else to win the election. Trump Jr.’s meeting with the Russian lawyer (among others) shows a clear willingness to get “dirt” on Clinton. The article above shows a level of cooperation and coordination.

    (It’s also important to note Trump has acted in ways that support a the possibility of a quid pro quo–e.g., removing giving lethal weapons to Ukraine in the GOP platform, removing sanctions, and then not enforcing them; attempting to give back the two Russian compounds that were taken from them, giving highly classified intel to the Russians, etc.)

    Edit

    Radical transparency and publishing raw data without context is fine for everyone except Assange and wikileaks. Annoying, but not surprising.

  93. Mitchell

    Yeah but without a direct connection to the person in office, I don’t think there’s anything impeachable here. That’s my main concern: can we get this guy out of office? With the balance in the Congress what it is now, you need something specifically, directly damning of the officeholder. I think.

  94. Reid

    Yeah but without a direct connection to the person in office, I don’t think there’s anything impeachable here.

    You don’t think Trump should be held responsible if prominent individuals in his campaign coordinated with Russia to win the election? That is, Congress should impeach Trump only if he himself directly colluded with Russia (e.g., spoke directly with Russians to coordinate efforts)?

    Honestly, I don’t know if this alone would justify impeachment, but it seems wrong that Trump shouldn’t be accountable for this. To me, this would fall under the broader umbrella of Trump’s unfitness for office.

  95. Mitchell

    Based on the behavior of GOP lawmakers this year, does it seem to you that anything short of direct involvement will prompt either the House Republicans to vote in favor of a trial or the Senate Republicans to vote to convict? It doesn’t to me.

  96. Reid

    Oh, when you said, “…I don’t think there’s anything impeachable here,” you meant there wasn’t anything that would lead the House to impeach and the Senate convict? If that’s what you meant, I think I’m with you. Or, I’ll put it this way: Trump could do a lot of bad things and the GOP Congress would not impeach him.

    But I was thinking about something that many justify impeachment–something that would convince people sitting on the fence.

  97. Reid

    From The New York Times: Justice Dept. to Weigh Inquiry Into Clinton Foundation

    This is real worrisome. Trump has expressed frustration that the DOJ isn’t looking into the Uranium One deal, and now it looks like the DOJ is going to consider if they should appoint a special counsel to do just that. That is, the POTUS is essentially ordering the DOJ to investigate his political opponent.

    The following thread suggests that what transpired may not be as bad as it looks:

  98. Mitchell

    Yeah, I don’t think it’s wise for the House to even talk about impeachment until it believes it has the (likely) votes to bring the trial AND it thinks the Senate is likely to convict. Congress would only have one shot at it, and I don’t think it (or we) can afford to screw it up.

  99. Reid

    Shoot, I don’t think we’re on the same wavelength (again). I don’t see the delay of the House as a sign of wisdom. It’s more an indication that they want their tax cuts. Maybe that’s related to what you’re saying, but your description makes it sound like the House would impeach, but they’re being practical and in that way exercising sound judgment. If I’m reading you right, I wouldn’t characterize them that way.

  100. Mitchell

    Yeah, that’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m just saying that since I’m rooting for impeachment, I don’t see the developments you cite as reason to be encouraged along those lines.

  101. Reid

    You mean, the new revelations really don’t increase the likelihood that Congress will impeach/convict? If so, I agree. I was mainly speaking to whether there is good grounds for impeaching Trump, and maybe I was thinking specifically of those who may be on the fence–i.e., the new information should convince those citizens on the fence.

  102. Reid

  103. Reid

    McConnell proposes Sessions as a write-in to replace Moore

    From CNN

    Personally, I find this suggestion disturbing. The GOP can repudiate Moore, possibly win the seat, and–here’s the really disturbing part–Trump can appoint an AG that will protect Trump, including firing Mueller. Ugh.

  104. Reid

    Fox News Coverage Dictated Largely By Money

    This piece from Raw Story, on the surface, suggests the opposite, because the piece shows several tweets about Shep Smith’s debunking many points of the Uranium One conspiracy story. If Fox News allowed Smith to do this, doesn’t this suggest that Fox News coverage is not driven by profits? I think there is some truth to this, but I think it’s more of the exception. My sense is that if the response in the article represents the larger Fox News viewership, then it sends a strong message to Rupert Murdoch: namely, you will lose viewership and profits if you don’t feed their worldview. It will be interesting to see watch Shep Smith and the nature of his coverage–as well as the coverage and content going forward. If we see more of this, then that would go against my hypothesis. I wouldn’t bet on this, though.

  105. Reid

    Is the Steele Dossier Credible?

    From The Guardian, an excerpt from a new book, Collusion by Luke Harding. (I found the excerpt compelling, for what that’s worth.)

    How much stock should we put in the Steele dossier? Steele relied heavily on sources, sometimes second or third hand, so I wondered why he could trust them. The section below answers some of this and more:

    How certain was Steele that his sources had got it right and that he wasn’t being fed disinformation? The matter was so serious, so important, so explosive, so far-reaching, that this was an essential question.

    As spies and former spies knew, the world of intelligence was non-binary. There were degrees of veracity. A typical CX report would include phrases such as “to a high degree of probability”. Intelligence could be flawed, because humans were inherently unreliable. They forgot things. They got things wrong.

    One of Steele’s former Vauxhall Cross colleagues likened intelligence work to delicate shading. This twilight world wasn’t black and white; it was a muted palette of greys, off-whites and sepia tones, he told me. He said you could shade in one direction – more optimistically – or in another direction – less optimistically. Steele was generally in the first category.

    Steele was adamant that his reporting was credible. One associate described him as sober, cautious, highly regarded, professional and conservative. “He’s not the sort of person who will pass on gossip. If he puts something in a report, he believes there is sufficient credibility in it,” the associate said. The idea that Steele’s work was fake or a cowboy operation or born of political malice was completely wrong, he added.

    The dossier, Steele told friends, was a thoroughly professional job, based on sources who had proven themselves in other areas. Evaluating sources depended on a critical box of tools: what was a source’s reporting record, was he or she credible, what was the motivation?

    Steele recognised that no piece of intelligence was 100% right. According to friends, he assessed that his work on the Trump dossier was 70-90% accurate. Over eight years, Orbis had produced scores of reports on Russia for private clients. A lot of this content was verified or “proven up”. As Steele told friends: “I’ve been dealing with this country for 30 years. Why would I invent this stuff?”

    Here are some other reason to believe the report. Steele’s first report stated, “Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting TRUMP for at least 5 years. Aim, endorsed by PUTIN, has been to encourage splits and divisions in the western alliance.” (emphasis added)

    Whatever the reason, Trump has been exacerbating splits and divisions in the country. I don’t think the Kremlin could be happier in this regard.

    And what about this:

    “So far TRUMP has declined various sweetener real estate business deals, offered him in Russia to further the Kremlin’s cultivation of him. However he and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals.

    (empahsis added)

    What we know so far lends credence to the part in bold. And,

    “Former top Russian intelligence officer claims FSB has compromised TRUMP through his activities in Moscow sufficiently to be able to blackmail him.

    This would explain Trump’s odd deference to Putin.

    On Steele and Democrats Frustration That FBI Didn’t Make Trump’s Russia Ties During the Campaign More Public

    I understand the frustration, by both. However, I think there are legitimate reasons for the FBI to be so vocal about those ties. There’s no doubt that Trump and his supporters–including those in the conservative media and prominent Republicans would cry foul, say this was politicized attempt to cause Trump to lose the election. Now if the conservative media and Congressional GOP stood behind these reports, putting country ahead of partisanship, maybe the FBI could have made this information public. Even in this situation, a lot of chaos could have occurred, including violence.

    In a way, not publicizing these connections might prove to be best for the country. One thing this story suggests is that the FBI and Obama administration, if they were really out to get Trump, could have attempted to do a lot more to hurt him. My sense is the well-being of the country as a whole factored heavily in their decisions not to more aggressively publicize ties between Trump and Russia.

  106. Reid

    I agree with this, and the process should be non-partisan. Along similar lines, we should have a national discussion about red lines for politicians–lines that are basically outside of political ideology. Here’s a list of examples:

    –guilty of a serious crime like murder or rape;
    –treasonous behavior;
    –being mentally unstable or insane;

    If we create such a list now, especially of items that existing politicians aren’t guilty of, then such a list would have a better chance of being formulated in a non-partisan way. And then we can apply this from here on out.

  107. Reid

    Taken Together, I Would Think This Crosses a Line

    And recently tweeted yesterday–the temerity stops me in my tracks:

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