Trump’s Pattern of Reckless Handling of U.S. Intelligence

This month the FBI went to Mar-a-Lago to retrieve U.S. documents (i.e., documents that belong to the U.S. government, not Trump), and we’re learning that a) the National Archives, the agency that is irresponsible for these documents have tried repeatedly, over a year, to get them back, and b) Trump had highly classified documents–in insecure facilities. There are various levels of classification for these documents, and Trump had among the most secretive and crucial–documents that only a few people have permission to see and documents that require special, secure facilities–both in terms of storage and viewing. For example, some of the documents involve information about the method and sources of vital information–i.e., the way we obtain highly secretive information and the actual individuals, which include individuals from other countries, who obtain this information.

In light of this recent information, someone mentioned a October 5, 2021 NYT article, which had this as the lede:

Top American counterintelligence officials warned every C.I.A. station and base around the world last week about troubling numbers of informants recruited from other countries to spy for the United States being captured or killed, people familiar with the matter said.

The article points out the problem wasn’t entirely new, and it pointed to problems with the process of recruiting agents (i.e., informants/spies), underestimating foreign adversaries, and other issues. But in light of recent news, I can’t help but wonder if foreign spies identified agents of the U.S. and captured and killed them. For example, check out this paragraph:

A breach of the classified communications system, or “covcom,” used by the C.I.A. helped to expose the agency’s networks in China and in Iran, according to former officials. In both cases informants were executed. Others had to be extracted and resettled by the agency.

Does the C.I.A. know the details of the breach or is it still a mystery?

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The Political Lens I Use to Understand the Current GOP

For a while now I’ve arrived at a way of understanding GOP politicians and their supporters–a way I expect many will consider proof of bias and/or irrationality. I want to describe the lens I use to understand the GOP, and lay out the reasons for this–including the reasons a more, seemingly reasonable approach doesn’t seem to work.

Let me begin by first discussing and describing the reasons people adopt specific political positions. Normally, they do so because they believe such a position is good for the country, and, relatedly, they oppose a position because they believe it is bad for the country. “Good/bad” in this sense generally refers to things like improving economic conditions, improving education, increasing the access and affordability to health care and housing, etc. To determine good or bad policies, most people rely on their values and and political principles. Of course, self-interest is also a key factor. That is, people support or oppose a policy to the degree to which it helps or hurts their personal interests. My guess is that personal interest is the biggest factor for most people.

While this may be true, political parties and politicians should rely more on what they believe is in the best interests of the country. Certainly, self-interest, in the form of power and wealth shouldn’t be the primary basis for their positions. Generally, if a party or politician supports a policy simply because it increases or protects power and wealth, that would undermine the argument for such a policy. Therefore, while self-interest is a legitimate reason for supporting a policy, it can’t be the only one–not if broad support is the goal.

For most of my adult life, I have assumed that Democrats and Republicans consistently chose their policy positions based on a genuine interest in the welfare of the country. Again, the quest for power always plays a role–and sometimes may supersede the country’s interests–but I didn’t doubt that the country’s interests were consistently a key driver.

Since Trump became President, I no longer feel that way about the GOP.

Normally, I would want to lay out a thorough argument for this position, but I’m impatient to describe the lens I use to understand the current GOP, so I’m only going to provide a brief explanation. In a nutshell, the GOP, in supporting Trump, have revealed that they don’t, or never did, value most of the political principles they’ve espoused–as Trump has violated, sometimes egregiously, them. At this point, I don’t know what Trump could have done that would have caused the GOP to oppose him. (Low taxes seems to be the one exception, although Trump never violated this principle.) Additionally, my sense is that the GOP really doesn’t seem serious or interested in solving major problems.

To keep and maintain power, they seem to have employed the following strategy. First, when Democrats are in power, obstruct and stonewall, so very little gets done. Doing so will deny any success that Democrats can use to win votes, without losing votes for the GOP. (Many voters seem to blame both parties when little is done in Congress–but they also don’t blame incumbents very often.) Second, go all in on the “culture wars.” I will have a lot to say about the culture wars–indeed, the political lens I use relates to my current understanding of this. I’ll go into that in the next post.

Hey! Check This Out–the Politics Edition (2022)

A thread posts or links about current events that don’t warrant a separate thread.

The first one I have is an NYT article about U.S. law firms cutting ties with clients–Russian oligarchs, specifically. That’s the good news. Apparently, Putin’s invasion is enough for these firms to put their values or at least their reputation ahead of profits. (Then again, if there wasn’t such strong public backlash, they may not have cut ties.) The bad news is that these wealthy oligarchs will likely find some firm, in the U.S. or West, to take them as clients. This is likely to be an ongoing weakness in the U.S. and Europe. I really hope I’m wrong about this last point.

A Critique of Bonhoeffer’s Notion of Stupidity and How This Relates to America in 2021

I saw a video on a passage from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s letters from prison. If you don’t know, Bonhoeffer was a German Christian, who was sent to prison after an attempt to kill Hitler. The passage in the video makes the claim that a stupid person is worse than an evil person. While watching the video, and later reading the passage, I found myself disagreeing at several remarks. I want to explore and explain the remarks I disagreed with. (Note: I haven’t read Bonhoeffer’s letters, so it’s possible that I’m missing important information regarding his ideas on this matter. Indeed, I’m not entirely clear what he means in some sections of the passage. Also, I’m unfamiliar with the youtube channel that posted this, “Sprouts,” so I don’t know their agenda or reliability.)

Here is the video I watched:

Suggestions for Killing Time Before Watching NFL Gamepass

As you guys know, I watch all the NFL games via Gamepass. To avoid spoilers, I have to avoid learning anything about the games. I don’t get TV stations, so the TV is not an issue. I do have to avoid some internet sites, and, in general, I would prefer staying off the internet, as I may accidentally learn about the games. Additionally, I’d like to find some activity that occupies my mind, since I do get antsy while I wait for the games to appear on Gamepass.

Do you guys have any suggestions? Some movie or TV show recommendations would be welcomed. I have HBO Max for at least a month, so I’m thinking of watching a TV series or movie on that.

Is Everything Happening all the Time?

In the 90s I read an interview with Frank Zappa where he expressed the belief that “everything was happening all the time.” That is, time is almost illusory–there is no real past, present, or future. Or to be more precise, such states are primarily based on perspective of a sentient individual. Here are Zappa’s comments:

Oh, the other thing that you have to realize is time doesn’t start here and end over there. Everything happens all the time….The reason I can say that is time depends on the point from which you’re looking at it. It only appears that things are transpiring because we are here. If we were someplace else, they would not have transpired yet. If you could move your point of reference to the event taking place, you could change the way in which you perceive the event. So, if you could constantly change your location, you could live the idea that everything is happening all the time.

When I first read this, I could not grasp this idea. Now, I think I have a better understanding of it, especially the part about the way the past, present, and future seemed (wholly?) based on perspective. On the other hand, how can everything be happening all the time? How can an individual be born, become a teenager, adult, elderly and then die–at the same time?! Those events don’t seem dependent on perspective (or are they?). This is something I have yet to grasp. If anybody can help me understand this better, I’d love to hear from you.

2021-2022 NFL Draft

This year’s draft seems unique, and I wanted to discuss some of the possible ramifications of this. For example, my sense is that teams have far less information about the draftees this year, due to the limitations created by COVID-19. Teams might not only have less information about the players’ talent and the way this projects into the NFL, but they may lack significant medical and psychological information. All of this creates unprecedented uncertainty, at least in terms of the last twenty years. Should teams change their approach to the draft because of this? And if so, in what way? I’ll address that in the first post.

2020-2021 Super Bowl: Buccaneers vs. Chiefs

I think the Chiefs will win—assuming they’re healthy. Overall, they’re just the better team in my view. If the Bucs play their best, they are on a similar level, but I don’t think they will do that. Specifically, I’m pretty confident Brady will turn the ball over, at least once. I would be surprised if he doesn’t.

My position will become clear by looking at the scenarios that the Bucs can win the game:

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