92 thoughts on “Journal During the Trump Regime (5)

  1. General Stanley McChrystal, who retired during the Obama Administration, said in a recent interview that Trump is a liar and an immoral figure. His blunt and direct comments provide a pretty good summary of what most generals think about the President’s character.

    Is there a good reason generals like McMaster and Mattis should refrain from speaking out now? If not, these guys really need to speak out and let the public know that Trum is unfit.

    1. Sure I can think of a lot of reasons. The one that leaps to mind is he is the commander in chief, the leader of the nation’s military. Of course there is a time when one must speak the truth about a bad leader, but I don’t know if the moment is clear. I’ve known some teachers I didn’t think were very good, but even after I left the school I was teaching at, I wouldn’t tell the students that, you know?

      1. I think the key question is how bad is Trump. Does he pose a serious threat to the nation? Assuming the answer is yes, what are some good reasons that would justify not speaking out? Let’s put it another way. Suppose Trump launches a nuclear missile, and we later find out that the generals and politicians genuinely worried that Trump would do such a thing, and that he posed a threat to the nation in other serious ways. Can you think of a scenario that would vindicate these people for not saying anything?

        1. No of course not, but I don’t know what generals know. The key question you mention is exactly the question any of us would have to answer. But that’s not the question I was answering; I was answering the “any reasons they should refrain from speaking out NOW” question.

          1. No of course not, but I don’t know what generals know.

            I’m working on the assumption that what they know is likely much worse than what we know. And even if it’s not, what we know is really bad. He’s not reading his briefings, and sometimes ignoring their advice. He hasn’t been using a secure phone. He gave highly classified intel to the Russians.

            I guess if they know something that would indicate things are far less bad than they seem, then their silence would make sense. But I can’t imagine what the scenario above would look like.

          2. You keep saying you can’t imagine, but of couse you can. Generals know all kinds of stuff they don’t tell us, like what might happen if the president orders a strike. You know they have to have discussed it. Or under what circumstances an insubordination would be called for. Or that the guys with their finger on the button can’t actually push the button, or maybe those guys won’t, like that guy in WarGames.

  2. You keep saying you can’t imagine, but of couse you can. Generals know all kinds of stuff they don’t tell us, like what might happen if the president orders a strike.

    I don’t think this is a great example. My understanding is that the POTUS can order an attack, without getting consent from anyone else. Now, in reality, various people in the chain can refuse to follow his orders, but I think that is really problematic and troubling in another way. To put it another way: Having a plan to undermine or thwart the intentions of the POTUS isn’t really a great vindication for not speaking out. That is, “Don’t worry you guys. The POTUS may be unhinged and dangerous, but we’ll prevent him from starting WWIII, even if we have to create a Constitutional crisis to do so.” If this is the case, the better alternative seems to be to speak out.

    1. Okay, of course it’s problematic and troubling, but those are examples of possibilities based on my EXTREMELY pathetic knowledge about the military, the government, and their relationship. Man, my dad says stuff every day about the military that I didn’t know. Maybe my examples aren’t even in the right area code, but as I keep saying, generals know all kinds of stuff we don’t know.

      Here’s a different area code that is also imaginable. What if speaking out against the White House would give (metaphorical) ammunition to the wrong people, and the generals know exactly who’s listening and what they are listening for? What if to say something now (especially now, for instance) puts people at risk, people who are doing something extremely important that we’d rather not know about?

      Here is yet another: what if the real concern this very minute is not what Individual #1 might do to someone else, but what someone else is this close to doing to us? And what if the only thing preventing it from happening is the understanding that we have a crazy person in charge? This might seem completely off the hook, but consider how we think about North Korea, or (once upon a time) Libya. We tiptoe around certain things because those leaders are crazy and unpredictable. Maybe our military leadership knows something similar about the way other countries see us right now, and maybe that’s the only thing reliable for the moment?

      I’m saying all this because you seem convinced that these men should speak up. Really, neither you nor I know anything about whether they should or not. I’m not saying they SHOULDN’T speak up, but these guys have a different perspective from ours. Remember when you were telling me about John Waihee telling your class about how every bit of state legislation is looked at through the lens of a tenuous racial peace? Man, most of us would never look at legislation about public elementary schools as having anything to do with that issue, but the leaders at the highest levels of government apparently have to.

      Maybe there’s something like that in play. I’d be willing to bet on it, something we can’t even conceive of with our minuscule amount of understanding. Or shoot: maybe the public elementary school thing is EXACTLY the issue at hand: that if certain things go too far one way, we’ll find ourselves in a actual (not metaphorical) race war, and maybe we’re a lot closer than we think.

      1. I’m saying all this because you seem convinced that these men should speak up. Really, neither you nor I know anything about whether they should or not. I’m not saying they SHOULDN’T speak up, but these guys have a different perspective from ours.

        Right, but I meant what I said when I said I can’t imagine what would vindicate their silence. You’re offering me possibilities, and I appreciate that.

        Here’s a different area code that is also imaginable. What if speaking out against the White House would give (metaphorical) ammunition to the wrong people, and the generals know exactly who’s listening and what they are listening for? What if to say something now (especially now, for instance) puts people at risk, people who are doing something extremely important that we’d rather not know about?

        I think this is an interesting and plausible possibility. Judging this possibility is a little difficult without knowing of a specific example.

        I also need to correct my original premise. The generals (and others) actually have spoken out against Trump. Mattis’s resignation letter and Kelly’s comments were more indirect, but it puts Trump in a negative light. McChrystal’s comments were more direct and harsh. (Tillerson said harsh things as well.) There’s also that anonymous op-ed from someone in the administration, claiming that they’re protecting the nation from Trump. So, to correct myself, there have been generals who have spoken out. However, what I’m asking for is something more direct and public–like General McChrystal’s comments–and maybe more frequent (like comments from James Comey, Jim Clapper, and John Brennan). I’d even like to see a joint press conference with Mattis, McMaster, Kelly–even Tillerson, Gary Cohn. And I’d want something like this because I think it would reach and impact those who citizens who are inattentive and/or confused about the politics. I think this would make things a lot clearer and impactful.

  3. (Didn’t read the article)

    1/6/2019

    1/8/2019

    1. Effects of federal government shutdown

      My understanding is that a continuing resolution (CR) to re-open government (temporarily) has enough votes that it would pass, but Mitch McConnell doesn’t want to bring the CR to the floor for a vote.

      On related note,

      I feel the same as Ornstein, except I’m pretty sure that Ornstein knows way more about Congressional history than me.

      1/23/2019

    2. Trump Says He Will Soon Sign Bill to End the Shutdown

      The bill will reopen the federal government, at least until February 15. Trump in today’s announcement said the following:

      (Who can believe that we actually have a real emergency at the southern border, given these comments?)

      Some other comments from twitter:

      edit

      I thought this was funny and on point:

      I wonder how many Americans think Trump is just full of hot air–he brags and talks tough, but that’s all that is, talk. (I think most of the other world leaders have concluded this a long time ago.) I also think he’s totally in over his head.

  4. I didn’t read the article above; too scared.

    1/5/2019

    For what it’s worth, I find McFaul, a former Ambassador to Russia, to be a reasonable, moderate guy.

    1/6/2019

    Lying about threat at the Southern border.

    Edit

    Why Trump’s claims carry little weight.

    1/7/2019

    One year ago this month, the Trump administration’s Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security issued a report with an unsubtle title: “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” The document insisted, among other things, that three-quarters of the people convicted on international terrorism charges in the U.S. were foreign born.

    In other words, if we want to stop terrorism, we’re going to have to stop dangerous immigrants.

    It wasn’t long, however, before people started reading the report and noticing some rather flamboyant deceptions. In order to arrive at their conclusions, for example, Trump administration officials counted people accused of committing terrorist acts on foreign soil, but who were brought to the United States for prosecution. The administration also arbitrarily decided to exclude instances of domestic terrorism, despite their severity.

    (I would think some people from DOJ should resign over this report, especially since DOJ won’t correct this.)

    This reminds me of his tweet where he mentions he can pardon himself. I tend to agree with those who believe Trump can be impeached if he declares an emergency in order to build a border wall.

    You guys think this is hyperbolic? I ambivalent. If there is large support among Congressional Republicans, though, that would definitely worry me.

    Edit: 1/10/2019

    The claim may not be so hyperbolic.

    Not satisfied that the party is dead, Graham sets his sights on America.

    1/12/2019

    1/10/2019

    Good thread here providing commentary on the above:

    (On a side note, Susan Hennessey is one of the most sensible and wise people on my politics twitter. She’s one of a few that serve as a kind of ballast for me, when it comes to political discussions.)

    edit

    This is foolish, because building a wall isn’t the best way to secure the border, and wrong because it’s authoritarian and harmful to the people who really need help. Trump’s putting his political well-being over the well-being of those who are recovering from disaster.

    1/11/2019

    Along with threatening to shut down the government for “months, even years,” this is another statement that undermines his claim that we’re in an emergency.

    2/15/2019

    Trump seems to acknowledge that there isn’t a national emergency that justifies building a wall.

    Trump’s ethics, lack of self-awareness, and mental capacity is truly remarkable and astonishing. Put these all together and it seems like he literally has no shame and/or he is incredibly dumb. Some combination of these elements is at play, and it’s truly remarkable. You don’t have to be a lawyer to realize what he’s admitting is bad for him. And this is one of many examples–admitting that he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation; admitting he was trying to build a tower in Russia during the campaign because he didn’t want to give up business opportunity in case he lost; saying that anyone would try to get dirt on a political opponent, including from a hostile foreign power; saying, “Who knew health care was so complex?”

    My theory is that a rich person he has largely been able to behave with impunity. He could be foolish, unethical, immoral, shameless, and suffer little or no consequences. The GOP, Fox News, and prominent conservative pundits have only enabled this to continue. The country need several of these entities to join with Democrats and progressives to stand up and say, “No! These behaviors are unacceptable,” and mete out appropriate consequences if he continued.

    2/25/2019

    1. Another example from the wall fight of why I can’t take Trump seriously

      1/31/2019

      I haven’t read the report, so I don’t know if this is accurate. But if so, his own administration isn’t supporting a wall as a way to combat drug trafficking.

    2. I’m kinda hoping Trump’s followers buy the following con:

      That way, we don’t have to shut down the government.

  5. Amusing Chart on Rationalizing for Trump’s Wrongdoing

    By the way, for what it’s worth, the chart is very similar to the descriptions of the way the Russians handle when they do something wrong. From what I remember, it starts with incessant denial. It gradually works towards admission, accompanied with whataboutism or “everyone does it” justification.

  6. This is well done. I highly recommend it.

  7. Some of Trump’s tweets this morning

    I’m concerned by the number of Americans who either agree with Trump or who think that maybe he has a legitimate point. I would love if I were being unreasonably worried about this. I would love if most people thought these claims were utterly ridiculous and didn’t take them seriously. I’m just not sure about the numbers in either category, but I wish I were more confident that the numbers were small.

    (For other examples of Trump’s unreliability and lying look at a few posts up about Trump’s comments about the border wall.)

  8. I checked imdb and the series and episode are on it. Whether someone added voiceover or other modifications, I don’t know, but thi is pretty interesting.

  9. Evaluating Whether Romney Can be a Good Leader for Republicans and America

    This response gets him a check in the negative column.

    By the way, the op-ed he wrote recently gets him a check in the positive column. But if his actions aren’t consistent with what he wrote I think he will deserve more than one negative check marks.

  10. There’s so much to comment on, but here’s one thought that comes to mind: How many Americans actually believe Trump over the press, with regard to chaos in the Trump White House? Much of the reporting comes from the comments from within the White House. If Trump is right, most of the mainstream press would be lying or at least grossly distorting the comments. That’s hard to believe. And if that’s not hard to believe, you can just look at Trump’s tweets and public comments, and the way his administration is operating. It’s hard to imagine that one following the news closely would conclude that the Trump White House is running smoothly. One example based on this tweet. Trump says, “There’s no one in the White House but me.” I guess he’s alluding to the people leaving his administration? There are many unfilled leadership positions in the government right now, and several key positions that are filled by interim personnel. Or does he mean, right now as he tweeted this? If that’s what he means, it’s an odd and kinda dumb rebuttal. That you’re alone proves the White House isn’t chaotic?

    Going back to my original question. If it’s not clear to most Americans that the so-called “FAKES” (news media and Trump critics) have way more credibility than Trump, with regard to whether his administration is chaotic versus well-run, I think that’s a problem. And I think it’s mainly a breakdown or failure of the press and information filtering in our society.

    1. Trump’s lack of credibility, Part 2

      This is total gaslighting. The opposite is closer to the truth.

      One example:

      This last point is important because the Trump administration (e.g., Treasury Department) has been tough. Mattis, and Nikki Haley have taken tougher stances on Russia. But not Trump himself. (Also, his administration has sanctioned Russia, but also slow walked implementing one’s imposed by Congress and also recently sought to remove some on a prominent oligarch.)

      Some other examples:

      I’m pretty sure Trump said Russia questioning people like McFaul was a “good idea,” and he would consider it.

    2. Trump’s Lack of Credibility, Part 3

      Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, gave a very different picture regarding ISIS, Iran, North Korea and the threat at the Southern Border.

      Who believes that Trump knows more than these intelligence professionals? Does anyone know if Trump has offered an evidence and sound arguments to bolster his claims (e.g., that ISIS is defeated, the southern border is insecure and poses a huge national security threat, etc.)? He seems to be just making stuff up.

      1. Trump’s response:

        Trump claimed that ISIS was already defeated.

        My impression: This is normal part of Trump’s con. To wit, “Everything was terrible before I came, and now since I’ve come into the picture, everything is better than it’s ever been.” It all seems very hollow to me.

        Trump, the guy who says he knows more than the generals, and that he consults himself on foreign policy because he has a very good brain. This guy is calling the US intelligence community naive.

        By the way, this seems like strawman argument by Trump. I don’t think anyone in the US IC is saying Iran is not a threat. They’re saying the evidence is that Iran is sticking to the agreement not to build a nuclear weapon.

        Good thread on the Iran deal and Trump’s disagreement with the US intelligence community:

        1/31/2019

        I think there’s a pretty good chance that Trump hasn’t read the full testimony himself, or doesn’t fully understand it.

  11. Tulsi Gabbard decides to run for president in 2020

    I’m not a fan. What I know of her positions on Syria has also made me very wary of her.

    Here’s a thread by a journalist. I’m not sure how credible each point is, but I’m going to post the thread as something to consider and examine:

    Also, this

    1/23/2019

    Thread on some of the votes Gabbard has not been present for:

    2/7/2019

    The problem isn’t Gabbard’s more anti-war, anti-regime change position. The problem relates to her difficulty acknowledging atrocities committed by Assad and calling him a brutal dictator. Before the Iraq invasion, did any politician who opposed the invasion also have trouble acknowledging Sadaam Hussein’s atrocities and brutal regime? I can’t think of any off the top of my head, but I don’t think this doing so should be so difficult.

  12. I highly recommend the interview below, especially if you don’t fully understand why Americans involve with money laundering, corruption and blackmail relating to Russians is such a big deal. The interview also sheds light on why the Russian president hates sanctions like those from the Magnitsky Act. And there’s more–a lot of information in a 40 minute interview!

  13. This article is loaded with red flags and alarm bells. It feels like a loud cry for help from senior military officers. Worth reading.

    The many examples deal with two major themes: 1) Trump is way too unpredictable and rash, making decisions that the military didn’t know about or doesn’t fully understand, and 2) Trump is politicizing the military in ways that are making senior officials really uncomfortable.

    1. This op-ed, written by the guy who oversaw the fight against ISIS, is a good companion to the CNN piece above. Frpm the op-ed:

      The president’s decision to leave Syria was made without deliberation, consultation with allies or Congress, assessment of risk, or appreciation of facts. Two days after Pompeo’s call, Trump tweeted, “We have defeated ISIS in Syria.” But that was not true, and we have continued to conduct airstrikes against the Islamic State. Days later, he claimed that Saudi Arabia had “now agreed to spend the necessary money needed to help rebuild Syria.” But that wasn’t true, either, as the Saudis later confirmed. Trump also suggested that U.S. military forces could leave Syria within 30 days, which was logistically impossible.

      Worse, Trump made this snap decision after a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He bought Erdogan’s proposal that Turkey take on the fight against the Islamic State deep inside Syria. In fact, Turkey can’t operate hundreds of miles from its border in hostile territory without substantial U.S. military support. And many of the Syrian opposition groups backed by Turkey include extremists who have openly declared their intent to fight the Kurds, not the Islamic State.

  14. Encouraging witnesses to commit perjury was part of the articles of impeachment drawn up against both Nixon and Clinton. https://t.co/QxvcmK8POw— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) January 18, 2019

    According to the buzz I’m seeing, this could be huge. From my vantage point, Trump has done so many things already, some that seem worse than this, that I’m not reacting as strongly as others. Apparently, if Trump did direct Cohen to lie to Congress, this was one of the articles of impeachment that was being drawn up for Nixon.

    FLASHBACK:Klobuchar: "A president persuading a person to commit perjury would be obstruction. Is that right?"Barr: "Yes."Klobuchar: "You also said that a president — or any person — convincing a witness to change testimony would be obstruction. Is that right?"Barr: "Yes." pic.twitter.com/cn8WDKLUjI— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 18, 2019

    Obstruction of justice is a big deal, but I feel like there was enough to know that it almost certainly occurred, if not violating the letter of the law, definitely the spirit of it.

    Having said this, I also wonder about the trustworthiness of the two sources for the story. It sounds like they’re from the Mueller team? And As far as I know, no information from the Mueller team has leaked. I’m skeptical there would be a leak now. And the sources aren’t from the Mueller team, where would they come from?

    1. I don’t fully understand how this is threatening a witness. I know this is not the first time Trump has said something like this about Cohen and his father-in-law, though. But if it is a threat, this would just be another blatant example of obstructing justice.

      Regarding Trump’s previous comments that could be seen as threatening Cohen, this excerpt for a Hill article, which references comments Trump made on Fox News interview regarding Michael Cohen’s upcoming testimony, can be seen as such:

      While Trump said last week he is “not worried” about the hearing, he has railed against his former fixer and lawyer since he began cooperating with federal investigators, labeling him a “rat.”

      “Well, there is no information. But he should give information maybe on his father-in-law, because that’s the one that people want to look at,” Trump said on Fox News, in comments that Democrats have also suggested were intended as intimidation. He also said Cohen was in trouble on “loans and frauds and taxi cabs.”

      “Because where does that money — that’s the money in the family. And I guess he didn’t want to talk about his father-in-law — he’s trying to get his sentence reduced. So it’s pretty sad. It’s weak and it’s very sad to watch a thing like that. I couldn’t care less,” the president continued.

  15. Thread from Nancy Pelosi’s Deputy Chief of Staff. I’m not sure how much spin there is in this, but if it’s accurate, this is another bad thing Trump did.

  16. Hypothesis: Trump Never Wanted to be President

    We’ve talked about this hypothesis before, I think–namely, the idea that Trump never thought he would win. Bruni expands that to, Trump never wanting to win. This is believable, although I’m even less certain about that.

  17. I’m not posting this because I’m recommending this. I’m writing now because I’m feeling a range of emotions–sorrow, anger, disgust, shame–that I want to get off my chest. There are many things that occur in the news that evoke these feelings, I’m not sure why some get to me more than others….The way the boys have mock the man is right of out a Hollywood movie–like the Cobra Kai boys in The Karate Kid. Maybe there is some misunderstanding on my part–maybe they weren’t or didn’t intend to mock the man. I hope I’m making an error. If not, this is really disturbing to me for some reason–and there’s a lot to be disturbed about.

      1. Here’s one of the boy from the school, explaining/defending his side:

        It’s not very convincing to me.

      2. I’ve now read several pieces (The Atlantic (Caitlin Flanagan), The National Review (David French), and Reason.com (Robby Soave) that I’d considered are more supportive of the boys; at the very least, I would say these articles offer tacit support by placing more criticism on others, including Nathan Phillips and the Native American group he was with, the Black Hebrew Israelites, and even the press.

        I haven’t watched all the videos, but I don’t think these three articles exonerate the Covington Catholic boys. I do think they make the original video seem less bad than it was. For example, Phillips approached the Covington boys, which is quite different from the boys going up to Phillips and surrounding him.

        Still, even details like that don’t dramatically change my reaction. I see this through the experiences I’ve had in Hawai’i, and it is totally inconceivable for me to see a group of high school kids react in the same way to a elderly, Native Hawaiian man approaching them, and chanting in their midst. I’m curious to know if you guys agree with me on this or not.

        Things might be different on the mainland. I also suspect these students live in a place with very few Native Americans and/or a place where Native Americans aren’t viewed with a certain social and cultural deference.

        One other question to you guys: If this happened in Hawai’i, could you see an outbreak of violence?

  18. The short version: During the campaign, Trump lied about his attempts, with the Russian government, to build a Trump hotel in Russia. That information could have made a huge difference. Trump expressed admiration for Putin and refused to say anything negative about him, and he publicly cast doubt about Russia interfering in the election, among many other things. This creates the strong impression that Trump did this to increase business opportunities in Russia. That is, Trump put his business ahead of the country’s interest.

    Here’s what I want to say about this. With most presidents, most people assume they want to do what’s best for the country. They may want what’s best for themselves as well, but we don’t doubt that they genuinely care about the well-being of the country, and will largely put the country ahead of their own interests. Most of the time, this is a reasonable assumption. Indeed, to not assume this seems unreasonable, the type of thing only a hyper-partisan would think.

    But Trump is doing things that raises serious questions as to whether he really does care about the country’s interests, that he cares about serving the country rather than just serving himself. The incident above is one critical example. Not releasing his tax forms, for a dubious reason (they’re being audited), even though he said he would, and not divesting his business, even though he pretended he did are too egregious actions that legitimately raise doubts about his commitment to serving the country

    I could also point to actions and words that raise doubts about his commitment to democracy and democratic institutions and values. Things like calling the election rigged, suggesting he would not accept the election results, calling the press the enemy of the people–I could go on. To think a POTUS doesn’t value and believe in democracy and democratic institutions is another example of hyper-partisan thinking. But in this case, I think there is solid, and even overwhelming evidence, that this type of thinking is fairly accurate.

  19. Mueller Indicts Roger Stone

    Apparently, CNN was there at the arrest, and this has annoyed some on the right, including the POTUS. They seem to believe there was inappropriate leaking. I want to post a tweet by Trump today and two good responses to it. First, Trump’s tweet:

    Now, the two responses:

    and

    At best, Trump was entirely clueless that Stone, Manafort, Trump Jr. and other attempted to reach out to Russia for information to hurt Hillary. By itself, this stretches credulity too far. But if that doesn’t do the trick, Trump’s own comments suggest he knew and was OK with reaching out to Russia for this assistance. He publicly asked for Russia to release stolen emails, and he’s also said that anyone would try to get political dirt on an opponent (including a country like Russia). I really do not understand when people, including journalists, say there is no evidence for collusion. Maybe they mean they are referring to evidence that can prove a law was broken. Whatever the case may be, at this point, there is overwhelming evidence, in my opinion, of cooperation and coordination between the Trump campaign, including Trump himself, and Russia. Whether laws were broken or not is a separate issue. What we know now is sufficient for serious political consequences against Trump, including the start of impeachment investigation.

    Note:

    This is one of the things that I’m taking on faith. I tend to trust Farkas, and others that have said this.

    Edit

    Some excerpts from today’s indictment that strongly suggest to me that coordination and cooperation occurred between Trump campaign and Russia, via Stone and Wikileaks. (I believe “Organization 1” is Wikileaks and “Person 2” is Jerome Corsi.)

    edit

    Speaker Pelosi’s recent twitter thread:

    Roger Stone’s indictment makes clear there was a deliberate, coordinated effort by top Trump campaign officials to subvert the will of the American people during the 2016 Election. #FollowTheFacts

    Pause: “Deliberate, coordinated effort” by Trump campaign officials to work with a U.S. adversary to disrupt and undermine our democracy–while, I should note, Trump wasn’t attempting to build a Trump Tower in Moscow!

    .@realDonaldTrump’s continued efforts to undermine Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation raises the questions:

    What does Putin have on @realDonaldTrump, politically, personally or financially?

    Why has the Trump Administration continued to discuss pulling the U.S. out of NATO, which would be a massive victory for Putin?

  20. This doesn’t look good.

    1. Chuck Todd asked Marco Rubio about this this morning. I can’t remember the response because I wasn’t super interested, but Rubio’s answer seemed reasonable. I haven’t finished listening but I’ll reverse it a few minutes and see if I can catch it. Or you can just check it yourself.

      1. Yeah, it was Kevin McCarthy. Sorry. And his response was reasonable if you give him the benefit of the doubt. Wouldn’t blame anyone for not giving it.

        1. He claims the Democrats are disorganized. If that’s true, then the delay is reasonable. But this is a he said/she said situation for me. Actually, do you think the GOP deserves the benefit of the doubt, especially when considering the Rep. Nunes’s behavior in House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Paul Ryan allowing him to chair that committee?

        2. I’m not informed enough to not give him the benefit of the doubt. He did say the members have already been informed of their assignment, though, so that seems like it would be easily verifiable by someone who knows how to do that. Plus, McCarthy isn’t Ryan or Nunes. I honestly don’t know anything about this guy, although I didn’t love his interview with Todd.

          1. Why does it seem to be taking so long, though? (If it is indeed taking longer than normal.) And why are all the other committees except for intelligence chosen?

            Plus, McCarthy isn’t Ryan or Nunes.

            Yeah, but the comments I’ve seen by him don’t indicate that he’s that much different. This is the guy that said to Ryan and other GOPers that he believes Trump was one of two guys being paid by Putin (the other being Rep. Dana Rorhabacher). They claimed to be joking, but this is one of those that seemed like joking about something they believed to be true.

          2. Yeah, I haven’t the faintest clue. Just pointing you toward a Republican who actually commented on it when asked by a journalist. Did the Rubio interview leave you with any impressions?

        3. Update:

          The update here is a response by a Republican who sat on a panel (to choose Republicans for committee spots?). He did not blame Democrats for being disorganized. Instead, he said that many Republicans were vying for the positions, implying that this was the reason for the delay.

      1. I can’t really remember what he said specifically about the other topics.

        In general, I find Rubio frustrating as a politician. He seems smart, and maybe even charismatic. He’ll say things that make me perk up, thinking he could be a good leader, but then his actions and words, often in relation to Trump, seem to put a lie to all that. Oh, I just remembered something he said in the interview, and it relates to this. Rubio basically said that wikileaks is a Russian front, so if you’re working for them that’s really bad, or something to that effect. If he really believed that, I would expect him to be much more aggressive in standing against Trump.

          1. I don’t know if he will run in the next presidential primary, but I do think he has presidential ambitions. What’s your impression of him in terms of how he would be as a president? Do you have a positive, negative, or neutral view?

  21. Generally no one dies in information warfare, but while I believe “warfare” might not be the most ideal term, it’s close enough. Democrats and Republicans should be uniting the country to push back against this.

  22. I’m curious to hear impressions of the publisher (and the two reporters) from the excerpts above. This did not leave me with a favorable impression, and that might be putting it mildly. I respect Haberman and Baker, but my initial reaction was that this was the time when the publisher and the reporters really should have pushed back harder, instead of make nice.

    I should say that parts of the Daily podcast that I heard about this interview definitely affect my reaction. Specifically, on the podcast, the publisher talks about a previous conversation he had with Trump, expressing his concern over Trump’s use of “fake news” and the “press as the enemy of the people,” and how dangerous that could be. The publisher said that Trump listened and said he’d think about this. Ten days later, he goes back to attacking the Times using “fake news.” To me the anecdote made me think of someone attempting to reason with a dictator, with the dictator blowing the person off in the end.

    The recent, on the record interview, is the second meeting. The publisher taking the same deferential approach seemed wrong and cringeworthy. A part of me feels like this was the time to stand up to Trump–to more forcefully decry his use of fake news. When Trump said the stories were unfair, why not ask him to bring up some specific examples? Or, maybe the Times should just accept that Trump isn’t capable of dealing with the truth. Maybe I’m wrong here, but I’m a little disturbed by the approach.

    2/17/2019

    Trump’s tweets today:

    These tweets make the New York Times publisher, Sulzberber, look bad, weak.

  23. “… senior intelligence briefers are breaking two years of silence to warn that the President is endangering American security with what they say is a stubborn disregard for their assessments.” That’s the part of the lede from the article below.

    What’s being said is consistent with what’s been reported in the past, and while it’s not surprising, the article is still alarming. It reiterates that precarious position the country is in with Trump as a president. It may not be illegal for a POTUS to ignore at intelligence reports or get angry when they contradict his positions, but what is Trump’s intellectual capacity and knowledge is extremely low? (There are examples in the article of this). And when the President hasn’t divested his business, how can we be sure his foreign policy is based on the country’s interest ahead of his own? This is an intolerable, dangerous situation–and the people in Congress must know this.

    I can’t help but feel that this strong evidence for a massive failure in way our society informs the public about political matters. A big part of that failure is the GOP leaders and conservative media like Fox News.

  24. Zerlina Maxwell goes on to say that there isn’t more outrage because the children aren’t white. A part of me feels like the lack of outrage is partly related to being overwhelmed with so many other things, but I also can’t really dismiss what she’s saying. Look at Puerto Rico, too. The policies that lead to families separations is one of the worst, cruelest things that this administration has done.

  25. Worth reading, as this is so timely and on point.

    I think many people know that the Founding Fathers set up a governmental system to prevent the Executive from abusing their power and becoming a tyrant. But it’s good to read quotes like the ones above as it shows their acute level of awareness and concern for this problem. They concluded that the danger would likely always exist, and I think we’re seeing strong evidence that they were right.

  26. I’m often critical of conservatives and Republicans, but here’s an example where I’m critical with someone on the left:

    This is a bad take in my opinion. I would guess that even people like Yglesias would understand, and maybe even sympathize with, the Bush Administration’s desire to apprehend Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, as well as protect the country from another terrorist attack. To me, this was the driving force behind creating those black ops sites and utilizing torture and other methods of dubious ethical and moral merit. (Maybe Yglesias disagrees with this?) In other words, they broke norms and likely crossed human rights lines–but they did so for very understandable, legitimate reasons. This doesn’t exonerate the Bush Administration, but the nature of the reasons is really important.

    Compare that to Trump’s violation of norms and human rights. Are there any legitimate and compelling reasons for not releasing his tax forms, divesting his business; calling the election rigged; suggesting he might not accept the election results? What about violations of norms relating to the DOJ and FBI?

    Or what about policies that lead to separating immigrant families? As far as I know the best rationale is that this will deter immigrants from coming to the U.S. I guess if you think immigration is too high and poses a serious threat to the nation, then you may sympathize with this motivation. Personally, I don’t see immigration as equivalent to stopping terrorism.

    1. This is FLYING around Twitter right now. I’m becoming a fan of her even though she’s on the other side of the street from me.

  27. Aiding and Abetting Russian Attempts to Sow Division and Chaos in Our Country

    Two things about the last sentence–“The Dems are trying to win an election in 2020 that they know they cannot legitimately win!”

    1. This is one of many examples of Trump behaving more like a dictator than a leader of a liberal democracy. The former will cast doubt on results that aren’t favorable to him, the latter seeks to bolster trust in the process, not actively undermine it.

    2. Trump’s advisers and intelligence chiefs have told him, and the public, that Russia is attempting to sow discord and chaos in our country. When he says things like this, isn’t this aiding and abetting their efforts? If he’s not compromised or if he’s not trying to please Putin in order for business opportunities, why’s he doing this? Is it that he just thinks like a dictator?

  28. You know how there’s an ignorant loud-mouth sitting at the end of a bar–complaining about how bad things are, attributing it to stupid and incompetent people in charge, implying that he would do a much better job? We’ve elected that guy as president. Here’s one of many comments that made me think of this:

    My comment sounds like snark, but I think my description is accurate. Trump is shockingly ignorant of many things, and his intellectual capacity and emotional maturity seem so low that thinking that the comments that suggest this are just an act is entirely reasonable. Indeed, to assume that he’s actually as dumb and immature as he sounds makes me feel unreasonable.

    Off the top of my head, here are some other comments that come to mind: that we should have taken Iraqi oil after we removed Sadaam Hussein; “who knew healthcare was so complex;” rich people build walls around their homes so we should build a wall on the southern border; inability to understand why we pay to have troops in South Korea, even after the Secretary of Defense explains that doing so prevents World War III; saying he doesn’t think he needs to prepare much for talks with Kim Jung Un, because it’s all about attitude and wanting to get things done.

  29. I’m not going to disagree with the analogy, but I find it an interesting one for you to go to. 🙂 Spend a lot of time in bars, do you?

    1. It’s the first thing that came to mind, and it’s a good analogy, don’t you think? I guess I could have said something like, “You know how you have a loudmouth friend that shout at the TV when you’re watching sports or tells you how the president is an idiot,” but that sounds hit too close to home, so I didn’t want to go there. Hahaha.

      (Note: In case it’s not clear, I’m referring to myself.)

    2. Sure it’s a good analogy, but it’s a cliche that I don’t think you’re sure actually exists. I actually go to bars and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it. 🙂

      And yes, I knew the loudmouth you were referring to.

  30. As if the Trump Russia story isn’t crazy enough, this story adds more crazy to the mix.

    The data points don’t prove anything conclusive, but they are something to consider seriously, I think.

    What the public didn’t know in the early months of Trump’s presidency was that Donald Trump Jr. had secretly met in Trump Tower in early August 2016 with a longtime emissary for the Saudis and its closest ally, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), George Nader, and two figures from the world of intelligence: Erik Prince, founder of the notorious firm known as Blackwater, and an ex-Israeli intelligence agent named Joel Zamel.

    Nader, according to the New York Times, said the Saudis and the UAE wanted to help Trump win the election. Zamel proposed a covert social media campaign. Trump Jr. swears that nothing came of the meeting — even though a sleazy social-media campaign exactly like the one Zamel proposed helped Trump narrowly win the Electoral College. When Trump became president, he could have gone anywhere for his first international trip: He went to Saudi Arabia. When the Saudis and UAE split with Qatar — a key ally where American troops are stationed — Trump baffled his own administration by trash-talking Qatar.

    In July 2017, the president invited his good friend David Pecker to the White House and — after chatting with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who was developing close ties with MBS — the two men had dinner with Kacy Grine, a French businessman who’s a longtime adviser to MBS. Two months later, Pecker went to Saudi Arabia and met personally with MBS and Grine and pitched business opportunities.

  31. The book is by Andrew McCabe, who I believe was the acting FBI director at one point. If true (and I don’t have a good reason to doubt it), the comment is one of many statements and behaviors pointing to an odd affinity for Putin and authoritarian rulers, generally. Why does Trump believe Putin over our intelligence agency? Even if you put aside two of the most likely explanations–cooperating with Russia to win the election or wanting business with Russia–this behavior is highly disturbing, warranting significant political consequences for Trump. As a citizen, I can’t trust him to serve the interests of the country….I’m just thinking about how Trump allowed the Russians into the White House, with the U.S. press, and gave them highly classified intelligence. Enough is enough.

    1. Man, if these quotes are accurate, I’m not sure what the right word is to describe my immediate reaction, but “rage” comes to mind. I mean, what the heck?! “I don’t care. I believe Putin?” He’s telling that to our intelligence guys? How are they supposed to feel? Why the heck does he believe Putin over our IC? A part of me feels the reason doesn’t matter–a quid pro quo, colluding on the election. What if Trump believe Kim Jong Un or any other foreign adversary over our IC? Something is very, very wrong, right? I would think Congress would have to vigorously investigate or do something–not just let this go. It’s crazy.

      Watch the entire 60 Minutes interview below:

      Additional footage and comments from and about the interview.

      As Scott Pelley, the interviewer, mentions how extraordinary it is to learn that Rosenstein and McCabe were discussing ways to remove the President, one thought came to my mind: The press must present information to the public, in a clear and easy to understand way whether valid reasons exists for considering this, or if this is simply a political act that would subvert the will of the people. Either possibility is enormously significant. Either there is a good reason to believe the President is unfit, mentally incapacitated enough that the acting AG and acting FBI director seriously discussed the 25th amendment, or they’re two people who are trying to remove the president without a legitimate reason. The press should do the same thing for whether the Russia investigation is justified. In the interview, 60 Minutes mentions the White House response, which described the Russia investigation as “baseless.” Having followed the investigation and Trump’s responses, I strongly disagree with this claim. I’m confident that if the press presented the facts showing whether an investigation is warranted or not, the public could see the Russia investigation is not without good cause.

  32. Important idea to keep in mind for the times we’re living in:

    1. Another important thing to understand:

      (I don’t know who the Friedman is, but I agree with what he’s saying.)

  33. I don’t want to give my reaction to the interview, but I’m putting this here because I liked it, and I think Mitchell would, too; Don might, too, but I’m less certain.

    This is kind of amazing if this is real. (I wondered if it was at some points.)

  34. If you haven’t read anything about Russian intelligence, this gives a brief overview, including some historical background.

    Indeed, the first senior defector from the new Bolshevik state, Boris Bajanov, fled to British India in 1928 with assassins on his tail. Bajanov, Stalin’s personal secretary, reported that the Kremlin’s primary foreign policy was to use covert means to weaken its enemies from within, so that if war came, it would be easier to win.
    The Cheka and its successors sowed chaos abroad with propaganda, disinformation and sabotage while managing mass arrests and gulags at home. Bajanov added that Soviet cultural and diplomatic institutions were simply cover mechanisms meant to hoodwink Western intellectuals, foment commercial and political unrest and undermine democracies from within. In other words, their purpose was to throw dust in the eyes of educated people in the West. Over the years, defector after defector came to the West with the same story.

    One anecdote I didn’t know, which also illustrates the lengths Russian intelligence will go through, as well as the clever deviousness involved, deals with Stalin’s secret police, the Checka (which essentially became the KGB, and which has not morphed into the FSB) created an underground opposition group to Stalin, in order to attract dissidents and trap them. (I actually don’t know if they created it, or someone subverted and took control of this group.) Still, this brilliant, in a diabolical way.

  35. Question for the Day: Ten years from now, if an American is shocked to learn about Trump’s level of ignorance, corruption, authoritarianism, incompetence and the danger the country faced because of this, will this be mostly the fault of that person or the press?

    I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, the reporting contains enough information for someone to draw these conclusions. On the other hand, knowing whether to trust the reporting or not isn’t always easy. Additionally, I’m uncertain about the amount of time one would have to spend to get this information. If the amount of time and energy is too high, then I would put more of the blame on the press. Additionally, I tend to feel they should be doing more to raise the public’s alarm about what’s going on.

  36. This is a long article, but I recommend it. Two anecdotes seem to be getting justified attention–one involving Fox News having the story about Trump paying off Stormy Daniels–during the election, but deciding not to run it, ostensibly to help Trump win; and the other involving Trump pressuring Gary Cohn to get pressure DOJ not to allow a merge that would help CNN–i.e., Trump wanted to punish CNN for negative coverage. This occurred while FCC and DOJ didn’t oppose merges that helped Fox News.

    But there’s one over-arching theme that stands out to me–namely, that Murdoch, Fox News, and many of the biggest pundits on his show are putting profits ahead of the health of a democracy, but also conservative principles they supposedly believe in. They’re trying to whip up fear and outrage to make money, and they don’t seem to care about the damage this could do to the country. I wonder if Fox News viewers actually care about being manipulated in such a cynical way. Do they genuinely care that they’re not really getting fair and balanced information?

    On a related note, seeing the extent to which responsible journalism depends on Murdoch–and any other owner/publisher of a news agency–is extremely troubling. If the article is accurate, what Murdoch is doing is incredibly irresponsible and poses a serious threat our democracy. Apparently, there is very little that can stop him.

    One last thing. the way profits influence news making occurs in the more mainstream, center-left press as well, and this is also very troubling and problematic as well. My sense is that publishers and editors of these entities genuinely try to behave in responsible ways–but they don’t always succeed, and it’s troubling that so much depends on their sense of civic duty.

  37. The effort to count Trump’s lies has value, but this alone isn’t what the public needs to know.

    Here’s what the public needs to know, in my opinion:

    1. How is Trump’s lying significantly different from previous president? In my view, the difference isn’t just in quantity, but quality–that is, the type and context of these lies. For example, Trump claims that he had the biggest inaugural crowd. This goes against what we can actually see. Additionally, the lie isn’t to serve the interests of the country, nor does there seem to be a good political reason for doing this. He seems to want to believe this for his ego.

    The press needs to show the way Trumps lying is different from other presidents, and tallying the lies is not sufficient for achieving this.

    2. Has the number and nature of lies Trump crossed a line–to the degree that reasonable people can and should conclude that Trump has almost no credibility and he will more often act and speak in bad faith rather than good?

    Again, the press should present evidence in a way that clearly shows this is the case or not.

    For both of these points, I think the press is not doing a good job.

  38. Three important stories today:

  39. One of main oversights that the American public should be outraged about. Here’s what I’d expect from a normal POTUS. First, if not creating a bipartisan commission, similar to the one after 911, the POTUS would gather all his agencies and work hard to create a plan to deal with this. My understanding is that very little has been done–Trump has not directed or lead the agencies to come up with a plan; they’ve been trying to do this without Trump’s leadership. Second, I would expect the POTUS to speak about this publicly–condemning and warning Russia and other nations against doing this and also educating the public, and, crucially, trying to unify the nation (or at least avoiding and saying things that exacerbate divisions). I would expect the president to bolster trust in key institutions–like the FBI, other intelligence agencies, our electoral process, etc.

    Trump seems to be utterly failing in all the above, and, as far as I know, he or his administration haven’t provided any explanation for this. Therefore, I can’t help but conclude that he is failing in his duty to protect our country–specifically, the electoral process and broader information landscape. Moreover, not only is Trump derelict in this duties, but he has done things to undermine the trust in these key institutions and increased polarization (See comments about immigrants).

    If you ask me, this is the kind of thing should end his presidency, or come very close to it.

  40. Trump is not only costing tax payers when he travels like this, but visiting his resorts generates revenue for him. Of all the bad things Trump does, this isn’t the worst or most threatening to the republic, but there would be a huge outcry if any other POTUS did this (including not divesting and releasing their tax forms).

  41. I know little about Mayor Buttigieg, but I really liked this letter. It represents the type of sentiment and leadership that makes me proud to be an American. It is also the type of thing that Trump seems incapable or unwilling to say.

  42. I don’t know if I’m being uptight or misunderstanding something, but the tweet demonstrates the degree to which the Republican Party has fallen.

    Prior to Trump, I would be utterly shocked by the GOP making a statement like this.

  43. If Trump loses in 2020, what are the odds that he will accept the results and step down quietly? (Will he even step down at all?)

  44. My knee-jerk reaction is not to put much stock in this comment. For one thing, this is edited footage, and such videos can really be misleading. Second, I would guess that many people who attend these type of political events, especially in support of someone like Bannon, would be political extremists, if not crackpots. And I also tend to believe this makes up a relatively small percentage of the population.

    Having said all that, I must say that I’m a little nervous and uneasy about whether the number of these people are much larger than I think.

  45. How big of a deal are tweets like this from Trump?

    On some level, I don’t care. Trump not divesting his business, his strange behavior with Russia, policy of separating immigrant families, and many more things are more important than childish insults.

    On the other hand, we could see these tweets as signs of mental and emotional instability, and maybe at levels that pose a serious risk to the nation and the world.

    By the way, this is a guy who has called himself a “very stable genius.”

    Edit

    I’ve been hearing that Trump has recently been make critical remarks of John McCain. No idea why. I’m not sure if this is a new one, but if it’s another in a series of critical remarks, this is just more evidence that something is really wrong with him.

    3/21/2019

    Today:

  46. One of the most disappointing, dismaying and infuriating things in the Trump era is the GOP’s response, or lack thereof, to Trump’s words and actions they know are awful. Here’s an example:

    The upside? If decency and loyalty are not enough, then how about enforcing important norms and values. To me, Congress and the media are in a similar position to a boss or any person in authority. For people in authority, tolerating words and behavior is equivalent to conveying such words and behavior are acceptable. Republicans don’t want attacking a dead war hero and Congressman to be acceptable, but by not vigorously speaking out or taking action that’s what they’re doing in my opinion. And this applies to all of Trump’s inappropriate and reprehensible rhetoric and actions.

    Every time I hear a story like the one above, a tension arises within me–a sense that people that know better should be doing something, but they’re not. It is uncomfortable. This is the same feeling I get when I know I should speak up or do something, but I don’t. I feel like I’m constantly experiencing this since 2016, and it’s not pleasant.

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