Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Friday, September 7, 2018


We're probably all going to forget about the anonymous New York Times op-ed in a few weeks, but in the meantime, I've dropped a lot of thoughts on it in various locales. The following is a preservation of those.

The anonymous New York Times op-ed is a pointless rehash of the same old complaints we've been hearing about Trump since he descended the golden escalator. He is "amoral," "unprincipled," "not a real conservative," "not a real Republican," "petty," "unpredictable," "impulsive," "fond of dictators," etc. etc. etc. As far as information, it reveals absolutely nothing. And without a name attached to it, it confirms none of the old suspicions it so thoroughly catalogs. To be sure, most of the analysis of the article is focused on who might have written it, a clear sign that no one regards the essay as bringing out some hot new revelation.

Moreover, the piece is sloppy in the extreme. For some unfathomable reason, the author chose to include in an anonymous essay, the following:
"There is literally no telling whether he might change his mind from one minute to the next," a top official complained to me recently. 
One wonders whether the "top official" remembers who he said this to.

On balance, the op-ed is far more useful to Trump than damaging. The very existence of the piece lends credence to the president's claims that he is fighting against an entrenched system, justifies his more paranoid comments, and offers explanation for stories of White House chaos. If it is to be believed (one might be forgiven for doubting, which I'll address more later), it confirms the existence of a deep state by denying and renaming it.
This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state. It’s the work of the steady state.
The essay credits Trump with many successes, including increasing American prosperity, deregulation, tax reform, military robustness, and alludes to more. In short, the writer credits Trump with making America great again.

The author goes on to point out that, despite what he or she considers a soft touch with Vladimir Putin, Russia has been called out and sanctioned by the administration. The author means to credit the “steady state,” but at the end of the day, the president runs the White House no matter what an op-ed says. Just before pointing this out, the essay amazingly juxtaposes under the heading of "preference for autocrats" Trump's dealings with Putin and those with North Korea's Kim Jong-un, the latter of which many Americans have come to regard as successful, as the regime has been seen dismantling missile test facilities in a tangible move toward disarmament.

I'm jumping around, but look again at the op-ed's opening sentence: "President Trump is facing a test to his presidency unlike any faced by a modern American leader." One could be forgiven for thinking this is 3D chess when the op-ed aligns so much with Trump's message. One almost detects a wink when the writer mentions "instability" just before describing the cabinet's abandoned consideration of invoking the 25th Amendment. Could this be the work of a stable genius?

Whoever the author actually is, it's probably a disgruntled McCain fanboy. The brief paean to the late Senator near the end suggests that, as does the subtle nod to the 2008 McCain slogan "country first." (As opposed to the xenophobic America first?) The essay's frequent return to concerns about leadership style and civility capture the "theme" of McCain's multiple funerals. As if to put a fine a point on it, after hand-wringing over Trump's impulsiveness and mental state, the writer concludes that it is uncivil discourse that is the "bigger concern." Wow!

Let me close with some astute observations from The Real Gitabushi (@brainfertilizer):

Some people think things through by talking them through.  Some leaders throw out crazy ideas to see the responses, because sometimes you learn more where the parameters are, or the difference between actual rules and culture, by thinking outside the box. 
Moreover, every good leader listens to his subordinates. Trump said from the beginning he was going to build a strong team (probably said "the best team, very luxurious, gold-plated, uses the best words"). Why wouldn't he listen to them? 
But if this hypothetical good leader did listen to his subordinates, did bring up crazy ideas to push people to think outside unnecessary constraints, and talked through issues to come to decisions, how might a resentful, immature, conceited subordinate portray that? 
I submit to you that such a staffer would write a letter to the NYT, describing themselves as a Senior Staffer or Adviser, and in the letter, would take credit for all the good decisions coming out of the Admin, in disregard of the possibility Trump might be leading the process. 
Compare and contrast to how Obama "led." Obama got played by his staffers. They'd give him a brief description, give him two extreme choices and the one he wanted, and he'd choose the one they wanted every time. [LINK: What Does Obama Do All Day? The Daily Caller]
Then compare/contrast to the actions and outcomes of the Obama admin vs Trump's: Obamacare vs Tax cuts; JV vs ISIS demolished; Red Line waffling vs bombing Syria & Russian assets; hiding NK nuke developments vs Kim wanting to denuclearize soon. [LINK:]
I know from my time as a General's aide that one of the most vital acts as a leader is asking questions.  It is when you ask questions that you find the weak points in someone's proposals, or in someone's plan. If you just read a summary, you are are the mercy of the writer. 
Everything I hear about Trump is that he interacts.  he pushes.  He may throw out wild ideas, and so he gets called an idiot over and over and over. But he learns things. He shakes things up, gets people to think about what can be done that hasn't been done before. 
As @instapundit has said: Trump has enacted the most conservative accomplishments of any POTUS in his lifetime. I've said Trump is the most unabashedly pro-US Citizen POTUS in decades, or maybe close to a century. 
Maybe he's not afraid to look like an idiot to get better ideas.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Unintentional comedy: A look inside Trump immigration facility

This video had me rolling: LINK

MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff was one of a small group of reporters allowed inside the largest facility for immigrant children in the U.S.

Jacob Soboroff: "It's essentially a prison."

Soboroff: "It's truly an unbelievable thing to see. I mean, it's almost hard to wrap your head around."

Soboroff: "You go inside and there are hundreds of kids at a time in line for chow, doing activities."

Lawrence O'Donnell: "Uh, Jacob, have you seen any of the images or video that we're showing right now?"

Soboroff: "I did catch a glimpse of them, Lawrence. One of the most striking ones ... there's a mural of ... Donald Trump right in that cafeteria."


To be fair, I can understand how scenes such as these might look terrifying to someone who's never been to public school.