22 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. Ways federal government shutdown affects national security.

      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.

  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.

  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.

  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

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