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Trump and his intelligence experts
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Savor Dam wrote:
Don Exnihilote wrote:
Why Russia, of course. I hear they were sick and damn tired of the ABM treaty for starters.

Anybody else remember the "America's Biggest Mistake" billboards back when this was being debated ~45 years ago?

Heh. No it doesn't really work, at practical scale. Not that has been admitted, anyway. However, ours worked better than theirs did, and they wisely didn't go bankrupt trying to move that needle.

Going at that challenge again? Result would be the same...but why bother?

The "Star Wars" era of the Cold War was a thin reboot of the '60s Space Race, and we had less to show for it at the end of it. Sure, the USSR crumbled, but the technology dividend was not as rich.

Apply that resolve and innovation to something that might actually accomplish more than exhausting the resources of a rival.


Let's suppose that I agreed with all you just said; your argument fails totally to account for the following two words: nuclear proliferation.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 3:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Trump and his intelligence experts Reply with quote

Hashi Lebwohl wrote:
aliantha wrote:
Is our foreign policy being dictated by "Fox and Friends"?


Yes, our foreign policy is being dictated by someone but I don't think that Fox and Friends is the point of origin. Instead, they are merely a means by which that foreign policy is being disseminated.

Typically, though, the President is never the source of foreign policy--someone else is always whispering in the POTUS's ear regardless of who occupies the Oval Office.


Has Trump's foreign policy deviated from what he said he'd do on the campaign trail? AFAICT, he is doing exactly what he said he'd do. And most of the time he was making those promises, he was speaking off-the-cuff, not some prepared speech on a teleprompter written by someone else. I think he has big ideas and he's following his vision. Whether we agree with that vision or not is another debate. I don't think anyone is dictating his foreign policy besides him. Everything else (e.g. "Fox and Friends") is just mocking, not serious criticism.

I think it's ironic that the Dems have wanted us out of wars in the Middle East for a decade and a half (if not longer), and when Trump finally talks about making that a reality, NOW all of a sudden they are worried about him ignoring the intelligence reports? Well shit, where were you guys when the intelligence community was warning Obama about ISIS and leaving a residual force in Iraq?? If Trump had called ISIS the "JV team" and then they went on to form an Islamic State and invade a dozen or more countries, there is no way in hell he would have gotten a pass. It would have been irrefutable proof of his low intelligence and incompetence.

Or lets take it back to GWB and his intelligence of WMDs. Back then, it was cool to make fun of Presidents for blindingly trusting intelligence reports that turned out wrong. But now we're supposed to assume that our intelligence agencies are infallible bastions of truth?

If you all had been consistent critics of Presidents ignoring intelligence reports, your concern here would have a tiny bit more credibility. As it is, including the Fox and Friends cheap shots, this thread is just another demonstration of Trump Derangement Syndrome.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 4:43 pm    Post subject: Re: Trump and his intelligence experts Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
Or lets take it back to GWB and his intelligence of WMDs. Back then...

There are actually posts of mine here talking about just this, how having recently worked in the IC, I was giving credence to the reports and broadly supported the invasion of Iraq (though I strongly disagreed with how we went about it, especially where it concerned changing total force calculations to include contractors and later with the mess of reconstruction). What I learned years later was that this wasn't the case at all. The IC was saying the reports of WMD were spurious at best. Instead, the administration ignored the IC and cherry picked sources (like Screwball) to get the war they wanted (outing assets in the process, even). I think they and I both learned a hard lesson there, and while I can't speak for them, it certainly started me on the path to being the liberal bastard that I am.

As for getting out of foreign wars, I'm still all for it. I just think we've fucked over the Kurds and destabilized enough of the region the last decade that I'd like for us to do it rationally, not precipitously.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Syl, I don't doubt that every President cherry-picks intelligence that backs up their preconceived notions. They've already made up their minds about what they want to do, and then use whatever evidence they need to justify this, and ignore the evidence that contradicts it.

Ultimately, intel is just information. It doesn't recommend a course of action in itself. It depends entirely on what one's goals and priorities are. That's why--even if true--this idea that Trump ignores intel that he doesn't like shouldn't scare people. He would do it no matter what, even if they succeeded in getting him to listen to it. No President is going to let some FBI analyst dictate his policy . . . especially not a President who feels that the intel agencies are out to undermine him.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also meant to say, thanks Luci!
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Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do-back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarathustra wrote:
I also meant to say, thanks Luci!


yer welcome. literally. Laughing
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Syl, I have no cause to chide your very reasonable take on the matter, except to observe that bureaucratic inertia will always justify the status quo no matter what. Absent a WWII style victory or Vietnam style defeat, there will always be loud voices objecting to any kind of change in the strategy or the mission. Indeed, can anyone suggest a criteria for success other than absolute victory that might be invoked to forge a broad consensus for withdrawal? Consequently our alternatives will always be limited to indefinite occupation under a cloud of ambiguity, or a withdrawal that isn't going to please everyone. Like it or not such inscrutable judgments will always devolve to the vision and instincts of a single individual, which is why we have a commander in chief not a committee of public safety. I for one find Trump's limited aims to be eminently reasonable, and thus far the precipitous withdrawal has been confined to fervid Democratic rhetoric.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 3:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought the idea in Afghanistan was to train the locals to manage their own internal conflicts...

Z wrote:
AFAICT, he is doing exactly what he said he'd do. And most of the time he was making those promises, he was speaking off-the-cuff, not some prepared speech on a teleprompter written by someone else. I think he has big ideas and he's following his vision.

Personally, I think he spouts word salad and his handlers scramble to make something akin to coherent policy out of it. Wink

Anybody catch the interview of Trump on Meet the Press last weekend? Here's the transcript, plus a little taste:
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/transcript-president-trump-on-face-the-nation-february-3-2019/

Quote:
MARGARET BRENNAN: The Senate Republicans voted, the vast majority of them said that they don't support what you're doing. That what you're doing risks national intelligence by a precipitous withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan. Doesn't that concern you?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I ran against 17 Republicans. This was a big part of what I was saying, and I won very easily.


She asked him his opinion about the Republican senators who are worried about the idea of a troop pullout, and he started talking about the 2016 primary. Shocked

One more excerpt that's off-topic for this post, but it got a lot of attention in the mainstream media.

Quote:
MARGARET BRENNAN: Cause you have an acting AG until you get Barr confirmed--

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: An acting defense secretary. An acting chief of staff. An acting interior secretary.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP. It's OK. It's easier to make moves when they're acting.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you are going to shake up--

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Some, and some not.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --positions.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Some are doing a fantastic job. Really- I like acting because I can move so quickly. It gives me more flexibility. But- but actually, some of the names you mentioned, they're doing a fantastic job.


In response, a number of folks have observed that Cabinet positions require Senate approval *precisely* so that they have the authority to act with the full backing of the US government. Decisions made by acting secretaries may not be legally enforceable.

And btw, the White House has not even nominated people for 150 of the 705 positions that need Senate confirmation. And Trump has been in office for more than two years.

Yeah, he's doing a *great* job...
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 3:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

aliantha wrote:

And btw, the White House has not even nominated people for 150 of the 705 positions that need Senate confirmation. And Trump has been in office for more than two years.

Yeah, he's doing a *great* job...
I haven't been following this closely . . . or at all. But I bet people on the Watch didn't count Presidential nominees during Obama, either.

But I did find this after a short search:

Quote:

More than 30 judicial nominees had passed committee muster and were awaiting floor votes at the end of the year before Senate Democrats blocked them.

Doesn't do any good to nominate people if the Dems are just going to block qualified nominees.
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Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do-back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2019 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is only a sound point if indeed THAT is the reason for the White House shortfall in nominations.. which of course it is not.

Not EVEN nominated 150 of 705 positions required given the legal enforceability issues attached to those positions is concerning.

Of course Trump prefers to work like this .. this way he can legitimately cherry pick advice and not be held to it. And if it all goes sloppy he can quasi legitimately claim plausible deniability.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 6:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's cute that you guys can pretend to be concerned that Trump isn't filling the government up with his own hand picked, Republican nominees. If he doesn't fill those positions, then the Dems have a greater chance of filling them with their own people. But you're sooo concerned! Right? Damnit, Trump, when will you hurry up and pick more Republicans to rule us??? Laughing

I guess if you're absolutely determined to find things to criticize Trump about, this will do. But I don't buy the outrage. The government is doing just fine without those nominees. Do you all even know what positions they are for? Or if those positions are necessary? Do you just assume that every government job is necessary? There's no waste there?

Nonissue. Boring. Disingenuous outrage. Next.
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Remain faithful to the earth, my brothers, with the power of your virtue. Let your gift-giving love and your knowledge serve the meaning of the earth ... Do not let them fly away from earthly things and beat with their wings against eternal walls. Alas, there has always been so much virtue that has flown away. Lead back to the earth the virtue that flew away, as I do-back to the body, back to life, that it may give the earth a meaning, a human meaning. -Nietzsche
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hear many departments have had their IG nominee blocked. Gee I wonder why that is.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 4:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are only 11 IGs (IsG?) appointed by the President. As for blocking them, it must be a Democrat conspiracy. Wink

Two things to consider, though. One, nominees used to require a 60+ vote from the Senate to confirm and now it's only 51, so that changes the dynamic quite a bit in a narrowly divided Congress.

Two, after the staggering amount of Obama's nominees blocked, not to mention the dereliction of duty when it came to Merrick Garland, Republicans should probably expect every trick in the book to be pulled out against them. Of course, Democrats can be really dumb about that kind of thing, so who knows?
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Syl] wrote:
and now it's only 51, so that changes the dynamic quite a bit in a narrowly divided Congress.


That's exactly right, of course.
A serious advantage for Reps in the current term, cuz it's not all that narrow anymore, not like last session.
But Dem's block?? Not common/likely...
Cuz...
For example...
The "blocked judges," mentioned upthread...
Mitch M. COULD have...INSTEAD of piling them up in a package, and hoping Dem's would agree to pass them without debate...COULD have been bringing them to the floor in a timely fashion, allowing the debate to proceed, and then using his unstoppable Rep majority to approve them no matter WHAT the Dems wanted.
Of course, Mitchy had a decent reason for hoping that...the Dem's were coerced into agreement to big packages undebated at least twice already last year.

Mitch HATES debates, and many other normal things. It is his fault, and occasionally another Rep's, not the Dem's. Because, as things stand, the Dem's have nearly zero power to block anyone Trump wants to nominate for any position. The most they can do is slow the vote down for a bit...
Hell, they can't even stop judges being confirmed that are rated as NOT QUALIFIED [[and 2 are Fed. appellate!]]

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2019 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

aliantha wrote:
In response, a number of folks have observed that Cabinet positions require Senate approval *precisely* so that they have the authority to act with the full backing of the US government. Decisions made by acting secretaries may not be legally enforceable.


If the decisions made by acting Secretaries are not legally enforceable then why bother having them at all? No, if someone leaves a Cabinet post, for any reason, and their replacement is apointed as "Acting Secretary" then that replacement person has the full legal authority to execute the powers of that office until a permanent person is appointed/confirmed.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 3:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hashi Lebwohl wrote:
aliantha wrote:
In response, a number of folks have observed that Cabinet positions require Senate approval *precisely* so that they have the authority to act with the full backing of the US government. Decisions made by acting secretaries may not be legally enforceable.


If the decisions made by acting Secretaries are not legally enforceable then why bother having them at all? No, if someone leaves a Cabinet post, for any reason, and their replacement is apointed as "Acting Secretary" then that replacement person has the full legal authority to execute the powers of that office until a permanent person is appointed/confirmed.

But temporary appointments are not meant to last in perpetuity. Any operation is crippled, to a larger or lesser degree, without stable leadership at the helm. Cabinet departments aren't any different.

And I'm not making up this idea that an acting secretary's decisions may cause legal problems down the road.
Quote:
Lawyers, government watchdogs and veterans of past administrations warn that Trump's reliance on acting officials and former lobbyists could lead to a litany of problems.

Controversial decisions made by acting secretaries could be challenged in court by injured parties who dispute the legitimacy of the appointed department head, as has already happened with acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker. Temporary leaders may not be equipped to respond to a major crisis like a terrorist attack or take the lead in implementing crucial policy directives.

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/01/03/trump-cabinet-democrats-1080817

Translation: You don't want a figurehead in charge of government when the shit hits the fan.

(Politico, btw, is a Capitol Hill newspaper. Liberals think it leans right and conservatives think it leans left -- which is always a good sign. Wink )

Of course, some of us on the left think Trump's foot-dragging in filling so many government positions, together with the recent government shutdown, are part of the far-right's strategy for shrinking the size of the federal government...
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 3:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree that we don't want a temporary leader to be permanent but a legally-appointed temporary person still has the full legal authority represented by that office, even if we don't like that person or the method by which they were appointed. Legal challenges serve only to invalidate the system.
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