The State Department plays “Telefon”

by on February 17, 2017 at 7:23 am in Current Affairs, Political Science | Permalink

Senior state department officials who would normally be called to the White House for their views on key policy issues, are not being asked their opinion. They have resorted to asking foreign diplomats, who now have better access to President Trump’s immediate circle of advisers, what new decisions are imminent.

…“My nagging suspicion is that the White House is very happy to have a vacuum in the under-secretary and assistant secretary levels, not only at state but across government agencies, because it relieves them of even feeling an obligation to consult with experts before they take a new direction.”

Here is the article, solve for the equilibrium…

1 Dick the Butcher February 17, 2017 at 7:32 am

If so, they did it to themselves.

When was President Trump’s Secretary of State finally approved?

In an adult-run organization, the President interacts with the Secretary of State, not a gang of under-secretaries planted by Obama to sabotage the Presidency.

2 Bill February 17, 2017 at 7:44 am

Dick,

Choice:

Is this a Well run Machine or

A

Trainwreck.

If you want to say that it is because of the slow appointments, you only have to look at how he “organized” his campaign and ran that too as a well run train wreck. By the way, narcissist when they fail blame others. You do not want to be near this guy unless you, too, are able to deflect and blame those below you, or, in this case the media or Congress.

3 HGW February 17, 2017 at 8:03 am

There is no downside to ignoring these pompous State Dept bureaucrats.

What valuable advice have these senior State Dept “experts” provided in the past half century? What have they ever accomplished?

80% of the U.S. State Dept could be abolished today without any practical loss of functionality to the American people.

4 Bill February 17, 2017 at 8:12 am

Re your last line: Is it you, Boris?

5 Thiago Ribeiro February 17, 2017 at 9:22 am

I think its very, very unfair what has happened to General Flynn, the way he was treated and the documents and papers that were ILLEGALLY, I stress that – illegally leaked. Very very unfair.

6 Thiago Ribeiro February 17, 2017 at 9:40 am

Stop taking my name or I will crush you, you jingoist dog.

7 albatross February 17, 2017 at 8:38 am

How would you tell if their advice was valuable or not, as an ordinary voter?

8 Willitts February 17, 2017 at 8:48 am

Massive foreign policy failures and quagmires lasting for decades.

9 derek February 17, 2017 at 9:15 am

The Obama administration and Clinton made the point of elevating the State department as an expression of the US foreign policy as opposed to the Pentagon. The results make W look like a genius.

In my field there is a rule that thou shalt not question the designs done by mechanical engineers. So I ask who the hell designed this mess that doesn’t work? Experts indeed.

10 Dick the Butcher February 17, 2017 at 11:39 am

HGW: 100% correct. If the entire State Department were taken away in one blow and replaced with 15,000 monkeys with smart phones. The monkeys would be better than has been the State Department the last 100 years.

11 msgkings February 17, 2017 at 11:50 am

So edgy! Dick gets it, fight the power!

12 Fazal Majid February 17, 2017 at 12:14 pm

@Bill
Just one recent example: they provided advice on how to manage Iraq’s occupation, which was stonewalled by the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Bremer trio of Dunning-Kruger fools, to disastrous effect
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/19/world/struggle-for-iraq-planning-state-dept-study-foresaw-trouble-now-plaguing-iraq.html

13 Bill February 17, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Hmm. That sounds like you are in favor of the State Department.

14 rawlings February 17, 2017 at 4:06 pm

…that year 2002 State Department ‘advice’ was a $5 Million ‘study’ that merely restated very well known information about Iraq’s recent history and current problems.
Anybody following international news reports closely would have had the same information — and certainly the Pentagon & White House intelligence agencies had no need for this expensive, duplicative State Department input.

Bush/Cheney/Neocons ignored all common sense anyway, no matter the source.

15 Dick the Butcher February 17, 2017 at 11:59 am

Bill,

If President Donald J. Trump’s campaign was a “train wreck;” how do characterize the losing campaign that corrupt, incompetent Hillary “organized?” She cheated like crazy; had 24/7 dishonest support from the mass, lying media; and still she lost.

He’s been in office four weeks. And, you think he is responsible for the horrid ticking time-bombs Obama wrought and that President Trump needs to resolve.

They can delay him. They cannot stop him.

“They” are the lying media, corrupt academy, and hold-over Obama regime/deep state operatives that are viciously opposed (the end justifies the means) to President Trump, America, and us 62 million irredeemable deplorables.

Finally, it’s going to be a long eight years for you guys and gals. So sorry, Nancy!

16 msgkings February 17, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Why did you change your name from Heorogar?

17 Dick the Butcher February 17, 2017 at 1:12 pm

I’m impressed. There is intelligent life on this site. Beowulf characters no longer fit the situation.

18 prior_test2 February 17, 2017 at 7:53 am

‘solve for the equilibrium’

Trump remains president, and U.S. allies learn how to go beyond the formula of relying on the U.S. in exchange for letting the U.S. get its way?

19 Bill February 17, 2017 at 8:07 am

Yep. And, a multi polar world….someone with hegemony in east asia, someone in the middle east, someone in western europe, and someone in the old soviet empire.

20 derek February 17, 2017 at 9:23 am

And how is that different from the last 16 years? Would anyone in the middle east in their right mind want the US to get involved? Or would anyone in their right mind risk counting on Washington for long term support in a tough situation?

If we want to solve for the equilibrium, consider Sri Lanka. How about Egypt? How about Libya? How about Syria? How about Turkey? How about Iraq?

All these situations show very clearly the costs of dealing with the US and the benefits of dealing with someone else.

And it has nothing to do with Trump. It is, as he said, the mess he inherited.

By the way, if Israel wanted to solve their problems they simply need to get China interested. Sri Lanka shows the way. The wailing and gnashing of teeth was noticeably missing from the denouement of that situation.

21 Art Deco February 17, 2017 at 8:03 am

Equilibrium? This is The Guardian serving as a conduit for some cheesy character in the Foreign Service. It tells you flat nothing other than the FSO in question has a complaint, is happy to blab to reporters and The Guardian is happy to use him. That’s presuming their source isn’t fictitious, which, in this day and age, it may be.

22 A Black Man February 17, 2017 at 9:46 am

But it is catnip for nutters like anon who will fill up the comment sections. Almost all news sites are clickbait these days. As you correctly point out, their “sources” are mostly fictitious. That’s why the whole “fake news” gambit blew up in the face of the Left.

23 anon February 17, 2017 at 10:38 am

Just doing my civic duty.

24 anon February 17, 2017 at 3:21 pm

In which John McCain does his civic duty.

https://twitter.com/SenJohnMcCain/status/832639984096063492

25 Ricardo February 17, 2017 at 10:45 am

If the sources are fictitious, then surely the president should avoid hysterical statements about “illegal” leaks. Can’t have it both ways.

26 A Black Man February 17, 2017 at 11:13 am

You should familiarize your self with the fallacy of the undistributed middle.

All wars are media wars, because all wars are propaganda wars. Trump has to counter the fake news. That does not make the news less fake.

27 anon February 17, 2017 at 11:21 am

It is not in the interest of the nation to say “news is fake.” It is in the interest of a man. You are putting that man before nation.

This is sad, but to tell the true history, fake news was discovered in specific stories. Those stories were fact checked.

The lesson should have been that we do fact checks. Instead, some have taken the very superficial and dishonest view that “fake news” are strong words, to be used whenever you want.

Fact check not required.

28 Dick the Butcher February 17, 2017 at 12:05 pm

In war, the first casualty is truth. The lying, liberal media (redundant), the corrupt academy, and deep state/Obama regime holdovers are at war with President Trump. They hate Trump and they are acting accordingly. All’s fair in war. That’s all you need to know.

29 anon February 17, 2017 at 12:13 pm

I wonder how many can step back and realize that while yesterday’s news conference was motivational, the implicit instruction was for you to get out and fight True News?

Some take to it like ducks to water, but surely it must give pause to many.

I mean, just read Dick and Edgar. Is that you?

30 edgar February 17, 2017 at 11:33 am

Exactly. Soros has hundreds of journalists he groomed through Pro Publica in place in news organizations throughout the world. When he gets tired of using the Slim-Bezos-Bloomberg cartel he can always use his friends at the Scott Trust to peddle a narrative or two. The chutzpah of it all is that Trump even tried to make peace with Soros but Soros had already blown up any hope of secure communications between world leaders: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/05/nsa-gchq-encryption-codes-security By frying Flynn, the deep state NSA and US intelligence community have demonstrated that they now have nothing left to sell and are completely off the leash and accountable to no one. Death throes of a corrupt former-republic. Don’t call me complacent and don’t laugh at my tinfoil hat.

31 msgkings February 17, 2017 at 11:54 am

You are complacent. And that tinfoil hat of yours is hilarious.

32 Dick the Butcher February 17, 2017 at 1:17 pm

You and anon self-identify as two of the 32% of Americans (Gallup September 2016) that refuse to recognize the facts: the media is 100% bullshit 100% of the time. You tinfoil hats are asinine.

33 msgkings February 17, 2017 at 1:22 pm

If you want to make a point, it’s best to not post obvious clown food like “the facts: the media is 100% bullshit 100% of the time”. That obviously, literally, can’t possibly be even close to a fact.

34 Dick the Butcher February 17, 2017 at 1:23 pm

I meant to type “You tinfoil hats is asinine.” lol

Good night, gang, I need to pack to go to ice fishing with a bunch of liberals who will cry over Trump the entire weekend as I take their money at poker.

35 Dick the Butcher February 17, 2017 at 1:28 pm

OK! That’s reasonable. I submit that The media apparently is 89% bullshit 78% of the time,.

36 msgkings February 17, 2017 at 1:33 pm

Apparently.

37 dan1111 February 17, 2017 at 8:06 am

I am shocked that an Obama appointee and someone Trump just fired think the Trump administration is a disaster!

I’m not a fan of Trump, and by all appearances things are not going great, but…consider the source. I think we would all be better off just judging Trump on the results. This sort of insider analysis from obviously hostile sources does not add anything meaningful to the conversation.

38 dan1111 February 17, 2017 at 8:09 am

It’s not just biased, but nakedly self-serving. The one source is basically saying “Now the State Department won’t be able to operate for months since people like me were fired!”

39 Willitts February 17, 2017 at 8:47 am

Exactly. It’s self aggrandizing and self aggrieving.

40 Daniel Weber February 17, 2017 at 10:15 am

When we most need a sane opposition, they all seem to be on crazy pills.

41 msgkings February 17, 2017 at 11:54 am

Not all. Some, and they get the headlines.

42 albatross February 17, 2017 at 2:57 pm

+1

43 Anon7 February 17, 2017 at 12:44 pm

The guy was one of the many Foggy Bottom bureaucrats who–surprise!–thinks that their positions are critical to good governance based on their supposed expertise.

44 Brian Donohue February 17, 2017 at 8:10 am

There’s that elastic word ‘expert’ again. Not sure how well it applies to a field of study with that includes people who know a lot about the subject involved yet disagree fundamentally with one another.

45 Thiago Ribeiro February 17, 2017 at 9:22 am

I think its very, very unfair what has happened to General Flynn, the way he was treated and the documents and papers that were ILLEGALLY, I stress that – illegally leaked. Very very unfair.

46 Thiago Ribeiro February 17, 2017 at 10:26 am

I told you to stop impersonating me! I will not tolerate it!

47 Thiago Ribeiro February 17, 2017 at 11:17 am

I think its very, very unfair what has happened to General Flynn, the way he was treated and the documents and papers that were ILLEGALLY, I stress that – illegally leaked. Very very unfair.

48 Thiago Ribeiro February 17, 2017 at 1:11 pm

I take all I’ve said back! Brazil is a third world shit hole that will forever be bested by our superiors, the Argentinians! USA! USA!

49 Thiago Ribeiro February 17, 2017 at 1:59 pm

I am ordering to sfop using my name!!!

50 Thiago Ribiero February 17, 2017 at 2:14 pm

What happens if I don’t obey your order?

51 Evil Paraguayan February 17, 2017 at 3:20 pm

MUHAHAHHAHA!!!

52 Sam the Sham February 17, 2017 at 9:49 pm

Thiago, the best antidote to hostile trolls is silence. For those of us who know your name, we know when you’re being faked. Ignore him, and he’ll go away.

53 Troll me February 19, 2017 at 3:41 pm

Sam, I completely agree. We should uphold our right to silence while being brainwashed.

Never call out brainwashing or hostile propaganda geared towards sabotage of motivation and division of a nation one friendship, family member and working relationship at a time.

By such means, we will WIN WIN WIN WIN WIN!

54 Axa February 17, 2017 at 8:13 am

Assume Trump’s presidency as a hostile takeover of a company. Would a CEO cry that people in the target company is not “cooperating” or shut up & work hard to stabilize the acquired organization?

Also, journalists may be “too focused” on Trump. How long does is take anyone to start being productive in a new job, a few weeks? Trump’s childish attitude promising instantaneous results begs for hard criticism. But, perhaps it’s time to calm down, if Trump acts like in a foolish way, journalists should exercise some restrain and not point at the foolish action with “I told you so” attitude. Letting the guy work a few more weeks is better, right now journos are perceived by reading public as 100% emotional.

55 anon February 17, 2017 at 8:24 am

Not to put too fine a point on it, the guy who campaigned on “kill their families” then “accidentally” killed nine children under the age thirteen. From the article.

Do you think that might go beyond journalists asking “foolish” questions?

56 albatross February 17, 2017 at 8:36 am

The Yemen attack looked just like a zillion other raids and drone strikes, in which bystanders got killed, nothing at all like an explicit policy of killing families of terrorists as a deterrent. That would indeed be terrible policy, illegal and immoral and unproductive, but it doesn’t seem to be happening, nor does there appear to be any movement in that direction yet.

57 anon February 17, 2017 at 8:42 am

It is somewhat opaque to us, but we know that an estimate of collateral damage is in every plan. We know that some plans are rejected on that basis. We know this plan was not rejected.

A working press would put it to the government, “do you have a commitment to minimize civilian casualties?”

And then a conventional government would say “yes we do.”

58 kevin February 17, 2017 at 9:31 am

A conventional government would say we have “a commitment to minimize civilian casualties” because that’s simply the conventional thing to do. Unless you are objectively qualifying what you mean by “minimize” and doing a cost benefit analysis no one can hold you to that statement and its meaningless. I can appreciate trumps desire to cut through the BS and not doing something just because its conventional. (which of course isn’t to say he shouldn’t do anything conventional, just that that alone is not a reason to)

59 anon February 17, 2017 at 9:48 am

It is important though, because it does state the right public morality.

A public morality is a guide for ones self, and a bridge to the right sort of others.

60 Fazal Majid February 17, 2017 at 11:55 am

@anon

One of the children, Anwar al-Awlaki’s 8-year old daughter, was also a US citizen, in no way responsible for her father’s treason or crimes.

Obama’s conventional government, like W’s, sidestepped the issue by conveniently redefining all “military age” males as enemy combatants, whether actually fighting or not. This and the abominable practice of “double-tap” drone strikes against first responders are unquestionably grave violations of international law.

Trump may be a train wreck in the making, but the retroactive hagiolatry of his predecessors is indefensible.

61 anon February 17, 2017 at 12:19 pm

Don’t put words in my texts that I never wrote. I certainly understand the corrosive nature of war, and the slippery slope of “minimum” civilian casualties.

Look again at what I did write.

“Minimum civilian casualties” is an important line to hold. It is far better than, to use another example:

O’Reilly said, “Putin’s a killer,” to which Trump replied, “There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think — our country’s so innocent?”

62 anon February 17, 2017 at 12:23 pm

Seriously people, understand that criticisms of past military actions are NOT being used for reform, but to take the dogs off the leash.

63 Ricardo February 17, 2017 at 9:35 am

So you concede that the present Commander in Chief of the armed forces is “childish” but find it regretable when the media accurately report this. Why? Journalists wouldn’t be doing their job if they failed to report on bizarre, childish and unstable behavior coming from the President. That failure would be an example of bias.

64 Axa February 17, 2017 at 10:00 am

Conceding? haha, I’m not a Trump supporter, just an observer.

My experience with people is that the more you push something, even if that something is true, the more resistance and distrust you will face.

I’m did not say it was wrong to point at his failures, I only said perhaps is not the best time to point at his failures. Telling the truth is important but timing too.

65 Ricardo February 17, 2017 at 11:54 am

Fair enough but I would leave considerations of timing to politicians and activists. I would agree that not everything that not every clownish tweet or off-hand comment of Trump’s is newsworthy but a lot of other stuff associated with him and his administration genuinely is.

66 Mr. Econotarian February 17, 2017 at 10:00 am

A CEO who just took over a company would encourage those who aren’t willing to change to leave. But he or she would also work very hard to improve the morale of the acquired workers, and to incent the most competent to stay. The CEO also wouldn’t be saying stupid or insensitive things via Twitter to partners, investors, or customers. Even the roughest corporate firing doesn’t have the CEO tweeting that someone “betrayed” the company.

67 Axa February 17, 2017 at 10:07 am

Exactly. From this perspective, even if some people from Obama’s administration are effectively betraying the new government, a competent CEO would just suck it up and work to keep other workers motivated. It’s not acceptable to play the “people betrayed me” card. His job consists in taking decisions while being hated by half the country. Complaining about opposition just signals that the guy didn’t knew the trouble he was getting into……very very amateurish.

68 anon February 17, 2017 at 10:15 am

Be careful. One “crafted meme” is that the whole government was hired by Obama, and that every one of the thousand signing onto the State Department’s dissent channel must be a liberal or Democrat.

That’s not how the civil service works. For many it is a career.

69 anon February 17, 2017 at 8:16 am

Ha. As early comments trickle in “the President has always been at war with the Government.”

We are at a sad decision point though. In yesterday’s crazed press conference, and presumably the coming “campaign rally,” the President is asking followers to reject all reality, but accept his last statement on any given matter.

This is how democracies die. I hope his followers have more sense.

70 derek February 17, 2017 at 9:30 am

It is already a twitching corpse if a Georgetown professor can openly speculate on a coup as a solution to a political setback and not be pilloried both in the media and in every conversation, especially in Washington, then the situation is probably beyond repair.

The noise coming out of Washington has confirmed my conclusion that Washington is filled with half-wits. They seem intent on setting themselves up to be the most blitheringly stupid bunch of people in existence, as well as the most expensive. And ineffectual. I don’t know if Trump will manage to impose some level of competence and rationality on the bunch, I’m beginning to doubt it. But if these buffoons believe that their problems end if Trump is gone they are beyond any rationality.

71 anon February 17, 2017 at 9:37 am

Pause and consider that you don’t have to give a partisan answer. Especially you, the foreign observer, can remain aloof.

And I am pretty sure the nonpartisan answer is the one lifted from a US Civics textbook written 50 years ago.

That it is not the President’s job to “impose order” on Washington.

(per our textbooks, the Pentagon also does not do foreign policy, re. your comment above.)

72 MOFO February 17, 2017 at 4:22 pm

“Pause and consider that you don’t have to give a partisan answer”

God that you might consider the same thing.

73 anon February 17, 2017 at 4:54 pm

Just a squeaky wheel for the fact based reality.

74 anon February 17, 2017 at 4:59 pm

Just so you understand what we are facing, the President has claimed that ALL THREE NETWORKS are fake news.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/832708293516632065

75 Thomas February 17, 2017 at 10:19 pm

“No, really, I am right, here’s a tweet to prove it.” You sound like the lyijg, dishonest, Clinton campaign hacks that are the MSM.

76 Rich Berger February 17, 2017 at 8:24 am

Poor experts – didn’t TC let them know that they are declining in status?

77 Brian Donohue February 17, 2017 at 8:39 am

We understand the MSM has always been overwhelmingly anti-Trump and would provide a locus of #resistance, even unto a farcical re-enactment of McCarthyism over Russia that Trump correctly swats aside.

Someone made the point last night that an adversarial press is more healthy than a fawning press. I agree.

We understand that the career civil service has always been overwhelmingly anti-Trump and would provide a locus of #resistance.

Not sure how healthy this is in either direction, but can anyone be surprised at this ongoing dust-up?

There has been a theory of a ‘deep state’ floating around for some time. Now people are openly rooting for this ‘deep state’ over Trump in the name of democracy.

Did you know that the USA survived for more than 150 years before the CIA even existed?

78 Willitts February 17, 2017 at 8:45 am

The “surprise” is that liberals have spent decades packing agencies with like minded people the same way that have packed academia. With a republican president, the agencies won’t deliver the goods. With a democrat president, the agencies become a de facto fourth branch of government without accountability.

The civil service is supposed to be non-partisan with the exception of political appointees and their staffs. Of course people have their own beliefs and opinions, but they have a duty of loyalty to the current president and agency head.

79 anon February 17, 2017 at 8:45 am

Many officers of the government swear to defend the Constitution. It would be a tragedy of a President asked for personal loyalty instead, and forced them to choose.

It sounds like this is what happened with Flynn.

80 Art Deco February 17, 2017 at 3:21 pm

Many officers of the government swear to defend the Constitution.

And yet we end up with travesties like Roe v. Wade and Obergefell.

81 TMC February 17, 2017 at 4:27 pm

No, it sounds nothing like that.

82 anon February 17, 2017 at 4:50 pm

Check out Evan McMullin (@Evan_McMullin):

https://twitter.com/Evan_McMullin?s=09

83 Willitts February 17, 2017 at 8:40 am

Lurking behind all these accusations of Trump being at odds with the agencies is the unspoken fact that these agencies have been deliberately packed with liberals, and they are openly defying their boss. This is not about Trumps aloofness but their lack of loyalty and duty.

Another unspoken truth is that agencies are unlawfully trying to act as a fourth branch of government independent of the others. They are openly defying Trump, grating against increased oversight by congress, and trying to protect deference to agency rules. Simply put, these unelected bureaucrats and leftist ideologues want to be accountable to no one.

84 Alain February 17, 2017 at 10:01 am

Remember when the military, predominant staffed by republicans, staged a coup against the very liberal Obama?

Yeah, me neither.

Liberals are showing their colors. That they are repugnant and that they do not, in any way, believe in democracy. The left is pure evil, remember this at the ballot box.

85 RobZ February 17, 2017 at 11:08 am

The Intelligence Community is not at all packed with liberals.

86 Art Deco February 17, 2017 at 3:20 pm

Philip Giraldi, Michael Scheuer, and Aldrich Ames were all CIA employees (or putatively so, in the case of Giraldi), so we can attest that they employ anti-semites, palaeocranks, and traitors.

87 carlospln February 18, 2017 at 11:30 pm

‘very liberal Obama’

You’re crazier than a shit house rat.

88 Todd February 17, 2017 at 8:41 am

Isn’t something like this what you would expect with national foreign policy being run by a web “journal” publisher and a son-in-law? Who expected competence? The equilibrium involves asking how long Tillerson will last before he bolts or gets blamed for the ineptitude. Same with Priebus.

89 anon February 17, 2017 at 8:57 am

We have a crazy situation with a polarized Presidency. An aggregate 39% of Americans support Trump. But 85% of Republicans do. Only 8% of Democrats do.

That has to be what is playing out on this page, as conservatives re-up for Trump.

That will be tragic, if as I say, they must reject all news, all expertise, to do it.

If they toe the line to believe only Trump.

90 A Definite Beta Guy February 17, 2017 at 9:34 am

Yeah, there’s a partisan divide, but you’re throwing blame ONLY at the Right. The Left operates under a delusion that Trump is Time-Travel Hitler. And they think he’s only there because of the insidious conspiracies of the NRA and the Koch Brothers. Who are passing Laws against “Democracy” using Law-fare on the Supreme Court.

Basically the Left thinks they are fighting a Hitler supported by the Slave Power.

Trump isn’t a genius. I know that. I am pretty sure every Conservative here knows that. We’re discounting the Establishment Opinion of people who think he is Time-Travel Hitler. Journalists are basically paid PR people for the Progressive movement. Who cares what they say?

PS: Illinois is proposing a 150 basis point increase in the income tax (again) representing a 33% increase in the tax burden (again) and it’s still going to leave a multi-billion dollar hole in our budget (again).

91 anon February 17, 2017 at 9:44 am

I will agree that some have had a hair trigger on the Hitler thing, and some have seized on every hint of a scandal. To name one guy a bit too far gone for me:

https://twitter.com/JohnAllenPaulos

It is kind of surprising, be because he must have the maths IQ, but he is a bit Trump nutty.

But. If you want to get even this moderate a bit worried, conceive of a President who while literally at odds with the Constitution calls for mass rallies of his supporters.

It might be a fair call that is what his weekend will be.

92 Rich Berger February 17, 2017 at 10:50 am

Time-Travel Hitler? Nice turn of phrase. I wouldn’t be sure that Trump isn’t a genius; he’s gotten further than almost anyone could have imagined. He is adept at making adjustments on the fly and has shaken up official Washington, Dem/Repub/permanent gov.

The Koch Bros. despise him, last time I checked. And his press conferences are vastly more interesting and (dare I say it?) entertaining than the Obama snoozers.

93 anon February 17, 2017 at 10:58 am

Interesting like this? Trump was so off the wall that he could not understand a softball question from a sympathetic reporter. The guy set it up for Trump, “we love you, just say something to support us.”

https://twitter.com/stevesilberman/status/832327991740899329

In response, Trump essentially says that calling him a loving grandfather was an attack by an unfair press.

94 anon February 17, 2017 at 3:06 pm

Update: 85% of Republicans support Trump, but the number of Americans identifying as Republican drops to 23%. From Pew.

95 TMC February 17, 2017 at 11:04 pm

From Gallup:

In Jan. 2009 (9-11), right before former President Barack Obama was sworn into office after his landslide electoral college victory over Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a majority of Americans (51%) identified as Democrats when including leaners. As early as Feb. 1, Democrats still had a slight edge in party affiliation nationwide, 47% to 42%

Now, only 43% with leaners self-identify with the Democratic Party. Without leaners, it just 25% juxtaposed to 36% in Jan. 2008.

For Republicans, 28% excluding leaners self-identify with the GOP, up only 1 point from 27% in 2008. But including leaners puts them 4 points higher than 8 years ago at 44%. Still, the shift is largely from the loss of independents, who backed President Donald J. Trump by large margins in most battleground states in November against Hillary Clinton.

Republicans Independents Democrats
2017 Jan 4-8 28 44 25
2016 Dec 7-11 28 39 29
2016 Nov 9-13 27 40 30
2016 Nov 1-6 27 36 31

96 The Other Jim February 17, 2017 at 10:22 am

It’s amazing how we’re getting all this inside information about private conversations within the Trump Administration, and 100% of it is unrelentingly negative, and Cause For Deeply Serious Concern.

I guess it’s just good luck for the press to have stumbled on these Completely True Stories, and bad luck for Trump that no positive private conversation ever gets stumbled on. Not even one! Wow, that’s bad luck.

97 jim jones February 17, 2017 at 10:26 am

Amazing that every media outlet is carrying same stories (Chaos,Russians,etc.). There must be a Central Propaganda Institute somewhere.

98 Rich Berger February 17, 2017 at 10:53 am

“If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” – General George S. Patton, Jr.

No CPI needed.

99 Thiago Ribeiro February 17, 2017 at 11:58 am

I think its very, very unfair what has happened to General Flynn, the way he was treated and the documents and papers that were ILLEGALLY, I stress that – illegally leaked. Very very unfair.

100 Thiago Ribeiro February 17, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Stop using my name!

101 TMC February 17, 2017 at 5:00 pm

“There must be a Central Propaganda Institute somewhere.”

Needs a catchier name, JournoList maybe.

102 Josh K February 17, 2017 at 10:32 am

equilibrium = vacant State Department decisions, and much higher tendency towards decisions that would normally be outliers. Lots of tail risk.

103 Donald Pretari February 17, 2017 at 10:55 am

How long until there’s a group in the administration called The Plumbers?

104 Tom February 17, 2017 at 11:48 am

With the ‘Telefon’ headline, I immediately thought Tyler was referring to that old Charles Bronson movie where a rogue KGB bureaucrat activates brainwashed sleeper agents to wreak havoc on America. Seems like there could be some parallels here….

105 Thiago Ribeiro February 17, 2017 at 1:17 pm

Is this the sound of the swamp being drained, that horrible weeping and gnashing of teeth? Paint your doorframe with Lamb’s blood; God cometh for the “experts” and bureaucrats tonight.

106 Thiago Ribeiro February 17, 2017 at 2:00 pm

I say, shut up, you moron!

107 Pete February 17, 2017 at 1:32 pm

TC,

I’ve read and enjoyed MR for a few years.

The comments section is pretty depressing of late though.

As I read ‘Dick the Butcher’ and ‘Edgar’ and some others I feel as though I’ve somehow mis-clicked and landed at Redditt or 4chan.

The ‘I personally have the answer, everybody else is an idiot’, gross oversimplification, good versus evil themes, and end justifies the means assertions do a severe disservice to the school of data-driven economics.

I wonder TC or Alex if you have any interest in moderating to encourage a data-driven discussion?

108 Lanigram February 17, 2017 at 2:34 pm

>…data driven discussion…

Zzzzzzz…

109 Harun February 17, 2017 at 2:39 pm

The amount of people who supposedly love data, but end up pretty ideological is quite large.

110 A Definite Beta Guy February 17, 2017 at 5:38 pm

What data-driven discussion were you expecting out of this post?

111 Thomas February 17, 2017 at 10:29 pm

WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE VOXSPLAIN THE ILLEGAL AND TARGETED WIRETAP OF THE TRUMP TEAM AND THE SUBSEQUENT LEAKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AND HIS SUPPORTERS????

112 Ricardo February 18, 2017 at 2:56 am

Every informed person knows that the government can and does eavesdrop (legally) on phone conversations involving foreign government officials and intelligence agents. There is no such thing as a private communication with a foreign government official or intelligence agent and Michael Flynn was clearly unqualified to hold any position involving national security if he failed to realize that.

113 prior_test2 February 18, 2017 at 4:51 am

Well, maybe the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency wasn’t paying attention to how that works?

114 anon February 17, 2017 at 5:09 pm

When the President of the United States tells you not to believe not just the @nytimes, but also @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, and @CNN.

It really is time to break glass on the fire alarm.

Again: https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/832708293516632065

115 Thomas February 17, 2017 at 10:31 pm

When Obama appointees wiretap the incoming administration and catch Flynn saying what Obama said to the Russians in 2008 (on a hot mic) and then leak it to the left-wing media who pretend like they care. #ObamasWatergate

116 prior_test2 February 18, 2017 at 4:50 am

You are aware that the U.S. has definitely been wiretapping every single Soviet/Russian ambassador to the U.S. since the the end of World War II.

One would certainly expect a former head of the DIA to know this, by the way.

This is also why there was no difficulty in exposing Flynn’s profoundly clumsy and/or utterly stupid lying – it isn’t as if the Soviets/Russians aren’t aware of this reality. As a matter of fact, it is a surprise to learn that any American honestly believes that the U.S. is not wiretapping every single call of the Russian ambassador using the American phone system. Further, it would be equally surprising to think that any American would believe that the Soviets/Russians don’t record every call their ambassador to the U.S. makes.

In other words, the person Flynn talked to already knew what Flynn said – it was Flynn lying to the FBI, the Vice President, etc. that is the surprise. Normally, Americans are expected to lie to the Russians for American gain when dealing with the Russians, and not to their fellow Americans when assuring the Russians that the Trump Administration will not punish the Russians for interfering in American affairs. Transcripts exist – who knows, we might all get a chance to read them in the near future.

I miss the old style Republicans, you know, the ones that used to believe that the greatest opponent the U.S. faced was the Soviet Union/Russian Federation. Republicans who could be reliably counted on for decrying the Democrats for being weak in opposing Russian aggression.

117 TMC February 17, 2017 at 10:47 pm

So Trump is several years behind. Most people have known not to trust any of those propaganda agencies.

118 anon February 18, 2017 at 11:32 am

I am pleased to say that dozens of people I respect, including Alex and Tyler, did more or less “break glass” in the last 24 hours. That is important.

https://twitter.com/NC5PhilWilliams/status/832789035668033538

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