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Donald Trump’s Disturbing Obsession With, And Ignorance About, Nuclear Weapons

Trump Nukes

NBC News is reporting that President Trump told military and diplomatic adviser earlier this year that he wanted to dramatically increase the size of America’s nuclear arsenal: (emphasis mine)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation’s highest ranking national security leaders, according to three officials who were in the room.

Trump’s comments, the officials said, came in response to a briefing slide he was shown that charted the steady reduction of U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960s. Trump indicated he wanted a bigger stockpile, not the bottom position on that downward-sloping curve.

According to the officials present, Trump’s advisers, among them the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, were surprised. Officials briefly explained the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup and how the current military posture is stronger than it was at the height of the build-up. In interviews, they told NBC News that no such expansion is planned.

he July 20 meeting was described as a lengthy and sometimes tense review of worldwide U.S. forces and operations. It was soon after the meeting broke up that officials who remained behind heard Tillerson say that Trump is a “moron.”

Revelations of Trump’s comments that day come as the U.S. is locked in a high-stakes standoff with North Korea over its nuclear ambitions and is poised to set off a fresh confrontation with Iran by not certifying to Congress that Tehran is in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.

Trump convened a meeting Tuesday with his national security team in which they discussed “a range of options to respond to any form of North Korean aggression or, if necessary, to prevent North Korea from threatening the U.S. and its allies with nuclear weapons,” according to the White House.

The president’s comments during the Pentagon meeting in July came in response to a chart shown during the meeting on the history of the U.S. and Russia’s nuclear capabilities that showed America’s stockpile at its peak in the late 1960s, the officials said. Some officials present said they did not take Trump’s desire for more nuclear weapons to be literally instructing the military to increase the actual numbers. But his comments raised questions about his familiarity with the nuclear posture and other issues, officials said.

Two officials present said that at multiple points in the discussion, the president expressed a desire not just for more nuclear weapons, but for additional U.S. troops and military equipment.

(…)

Officials present said that Trump’s comments on a significantly increased arsenal came in response to a briefing slide that outlined America’s nuclear stockpile over the past 70 years. The president referenced the highest number on the chart — about 32,000 in the late 1960s — and told his team he wanted the U.S. to have that many now, officials said.

The U.S. currently has around 4,000 nuclear warheads in its military stockpile, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

As Daniel Larison notes, what Trump suggested in this July meeting is hardly surprising, and is pretty much consistent with Trump’s overall character:

Increasing the arsenal to return it to its mid-Cold War size is an insane thing to want to do. The expense alone would be ruinous. It would require abrogating all of the arms reduction and limitation treaties the U.S. has ratified over the decades. In the very unlikely event that could be done, the arms race it would set off would be extremely dangerous. A huge increase isn’t going to happen, but the fact that Trump didn’t understand any of this and had to have it explained to him is alarming.

The purported reason for Trump’s desire to have a bigger arsenal is sadly typical for him: he doesn’t want to be associated with having a relatively smaller nuclear arsenal, but wants to be known for having the biggest one simply as a way to boost his ego. Since Trump is a militarist, it is not all that surprising that he would want to waste vast amounts of money to build large numbers of massively destructive weapons just for the sake of having more of them. It tells us just how terrible his judgment is that he thought anything like this would be a good idea.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about disturbing comments from the President regarding nuclear weapons that go back to his time as a candidate. All the way back in December 2015 at one of the last debates among Republican candidates for President before voting actually began, talk radio host and Law Professor Hugh Hewitt asked Trump about the components of America’s nuclear arsenal. This was a standard question that Hewitt had asked all of the candidates who had previously appeared on his show, and which even now remains an important question given the fact that the Defense Department is in the middle of a review of the state of the U.S. nuclear arsenal that is expected to address issues such as the state of the so-called ‘nuclear triad,’ which refers to the combination of land, sea, and air-based launch system that the U.S. relies on to ensure the existence of a viable nuclear deterrent. As I noted at the time, Trump’s response to Hewitt’s question was glaringly incoherent and demonstrated the fact that he was essentially ignorant about one of the most important aspects of future nuclear weapons policy. Several months after that, during a Town Hall broadcast on Fox News Channel, Trump was similarly incoherent when asked a question about his nuclear deterrent strategy. At other points during the campaign, and in a few exchanges since he took office, Trump has also made controversial comments about nuclear proliferation that seemingly encouraged the idea of a nuclear arms race among the powers in the Middle East and in Asia in response to the North Korean threat. Another incident occurred in August 2016, when MSBNC reported that a foreign policy expert who was briefing the Trump campaign that at one point Trump asked him why the United States can’t use nuclear weapons.

These comments from the President regarding nuclear weapons are particularly disturbing, though, because he’s making them as President in the United States. As the NBC report goes on to note, the main reason that America’s nuclear stockpile has decreased over the past several decades are manifold, and due both to treaties between the United States and the former Soviet Union that led to dramatic reductions in stockpiles by both countries. This process began decades ago with the process beginning under President Nixon in 1969 with a process known as the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks  (SALT) which led to two separate treaties. The first was the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and other agreements that were entered into in 1972. This group of agreements came to be known as SALT I and included an agreement that placed certain limitations on the deployment of both Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles. The second was SALT II, a treaty that was negotiated over a period of seven years from 1972 to 1979 under Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter and which represented the first real agreement to reduce the stockpiles of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. and which led to the first rudimentary efforts by both nations to verify compliance. These treaties also helped to vastly improve relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union after a period during the 1950s and 1960s during which both nations had come dangerously close to confrontations that could have led to the exchange of nuclear weapons. A new round of agreements came as a result of the START series of talks that began with a plan first proposed by President Reagan in 1982 that gained significant momentum after the rise to power of Mikhail Gorbachev as leader of the U.S.S.R. Those talks led to the START Treaty in 1991, and New START, both of which have resulted in significant reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles.

What all this history means, of course, is that Trump’s proposal would undue nearly fifty years of negotiations, treaties, and side agreements that have proven to be quite successful in reducing the size of nuclear arsenals on the part of both the United States and Russia, and to some extent has arguably had an impact on the policies of other nations such as China, India, and Pakistan. It would most likely lead to a complete collapse of the current nuclear weapons treaty between the U.S. and Russia, and would inevitably result in Russia increasing its own stockpile in response to American action. All of this would also happen at a time when the United States is attempting to do something about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and would likely lead to some change in nuclear weapons policy on the part of China as well. The fact that Trump apparently hasn’t even considered these possibilities before tossing out idiotic ideas like this is yet another demonstration of the fact that he clearly doesn’t have a clear understanding of the nature or power behind America’s nuclear arsenal, which is something of a terrifying thought given the fact that he now controls that arsenal and that there is essentially nothing that stands between him and a nuclear football that could change the course of human history in a matter of less than a half hour.

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Facebones says:

    Once again, Trump is obsessed with strength and dominance and being bigger. The jokes about overcompensation write themselves.

    ReplyReply

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  2. Hal_10000 says:

    I’ve said many times: the truly disturbing thing about Trump is not just that he’s ignorant about government, diplomacy and law. It’s that he is unwilling to learn. Here we are, two years past when he came down that escalator and he knows less than he knew then. He can’t be bothered to learn even the most basic facts about one of the most important aspects of his office.

    If we survive him, it will be a miracle.

    ReplyReply

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 1

  3. inhumans99 says:

    I found it odd that President Trump ordered the MOAB to be dropped on Afghanistan this year, seemingly out of the blue but hey, he is the president so he should know stuff we do not, right?

    We never did learn if there were any tangible results other than a whole mess of destruction, did we take out a key target (a warlord, nascent warlord, high level Taliban), actually choke off some of the tunnels used to hide from U.S. / Afghani forces, something, anything?

    I honestly believe that once President Trump learned we have such a powerful “manly” and bigly bomb in our arsenal he wanted to see a real world demonstration, so the reason we dropped this one level below nuclear power bomb might be as simple as that.

    What worries me and now even some folks in the GOP is that President Trump wants to get to “play” with the toys, I mean weapons, in his toolbox, so he is has been goading North Korea for the past few months because he wants a real world demo of a nuclear bomb being used.

    It is like President Trump see this big neat toy that he wants to play with, and he is all c’mon dad, I mean General Mattis, let me play with the bomb, pretty please, and up until now his da…I mean top general has been able to say, President Donnald Trump you put down that weapon right this instant and go wash up for dinner. The problem is that simply setting off a test in the Nevada dessert will not do the trick for our President, he is itching to use a nuke so bad it makes him squirm in his throne…I mean seat.

    Sometimes it feels like we in America are living in a surrealist painting and if we just click our heels three times we will end up waking up in a bed in Kansas while a family member expresses joy that you are finally awake after sustaining a bad fall. I know…if only, right?

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  4. Kylopod says:

    If there was ever a better case for electing a woman president….

    ReplyReply

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  5. James Pearce says:

    there is essentially nothing that stands between him and a nuclear football that could change the course of human history in a matter of less than a half hour.

    But Eminem “destroyed” Trump at the BET awards….

    Oh, that’s right. That is “essentially nothing.”

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  6. al-Alameda says:

    @James Pearce:

    But Eminem “destroyed” Trump at the BET awards….
    Oh, that’s right. That is “essentially nothing.”

    Well, all the so-called adults, many of whom are in the Republican Party, who claim to be appalled by Trump, have certainly not destroyed Trump.

    But I do understand: it’s a lot easier to mock Marshall Mathers than it is to level strong reality-based criticism of Trump, his cabinet, and of a majority of those 62 million people who were attracted to his “tell it like it is” infused toxic behavior.

    ReplyReply

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  7. Roger says:

    This is not esoteric stuff. I learned about the nuclear triad as an undistinguished poli sci major at an unimpressive liberal arts college 40 years ago, so I was stunned that Trump’s answer to the debate question showed he was completely unfamiliar with the term. I became worried when his public comments as the campaign continued showed that he had no interest in learning what any eighteen year old with an interest in world events already knew. But his enablers just keep chugging along.

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  8. Mister Bluster says:

    Increasing the arsenal to return it to its mid-Cold War size is an insane thing to want to do.
    He is Kim Jong Trump
    The expense alone would be ruinous.
    He is Kim Jong Trump.

    The purported reason for Trump’s desire to have a bigger arsenal penis is sadly typical for him: he doesn’t want to be associated with having a relatively smaller nuclear arsenal penis, but wants to be known for having the biggest one penis simply as a way to boost his ego.
    He is REPUBLICAN President Pud.

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  9. Mister Bluster says:

    @Roger:..But his REPUBLICAN enablers just keep chugging along.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  10. al-Alameda says:

    @Kylopod:

    If there was ever a better case for electing a woman president….

    As Rod Serling might intone:

    “Imagine if you will, our first woman president, imagine too, that she was one of three women who dominated the political landscape this primary season – Anne Coulter, Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin? Imagine President Sarah Palin.”

    ReplyReply

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  11. Neil Hudelson says:

    @James Pearce:

    I’ll just go ahead and cut short the conversation that you want to have:

    You think the Masters of the Left “sent out” Eminem, somehow specifically to defeat Trump. You’ll not explain how this, logistically, would work, but you’ll insist it is so. Commentors will state that that’s nonsense, that no one is controlling Eminem, and that your fixation with celebrities is bemusing at best.

    You’ll then counter that the left is dependingon Eminem to fix all of their problems, and that somehow this means that “hard working people behind the scenes” can’t do their job or something.

    Commentors will ask why you think a celebrity performing a song at an awards show prevents other people from doing their jobs.

    You’ll not reply to this, even when its asked of you many times.

    You’ll then bring up some unrelated movie critique as evidence that you are correct. The last two examples were “Detroit” and “Mother.” I’m guessing this time you’ll state that Blade Runners’ poor showing is something something mumble mumble the left sucks. This comment will cause many people to ask you just what the hell are you talking about. You will not respond.

    Flash forward to next week, when some celebrity, somewhere, says something. And we will repeat this all again.

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  12. Kylopod says:

    @al-Alameda:

    “Imagine if you will, our first woman president, imagine too, that she was one of three women who dominated the political landscape this primary season – Anne Coulter, Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin? Imagine President Sarah Palin.”

    Believe it or not, I think we’d be in safer territory now with any of those women (two of whom have actual government experience) than with President Small-Hands.

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  13. KM says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Thank you. Got caught up in the trap last time and was this close to falling into it again. It always does come back to the same arguments ad nauseaum, doesn’t it?

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  14. KM says:

    Trump’s from the era when nukes were a frightening but useful tool that would eventually need to be employed against Those Damn Commies. Much to people like him chagrin, decades later we haven’t set them off against our enemies. They do not see this a victory for humanity or even for us – it’s somehow a failure to be the biggest bad-ass on the block if you’re not punching people in the face constantly. Then again, they think bully is a synonym for bad-ass.

    Trumpie wanna see things go boom. Big boom, the bigly bestest boom evah!! Huge people huge! Murcia #1~~!!

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  15. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Frankly, I think the fact that Trump wants to take away NBC’s “license” for reporting this story is just as scary as the story itself. This infant-man is threatening the First Amendment on a near daily basis. And there is no one even trying to stop him.

    ReplyReply

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  16. gVOR08 says:

    @inhumans99:

    … if we just click our heels three times we will end up waking up in a bed in Kansas.

    Post Brownback, could we wake up in a blue state please.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  17. grumpy realist says:

    Yeah, the “what happens afterwards?” never seems to occur to these people…

    Well, the Brits are in their own uncontrolled cart madly careening towards the edge of the cliff, whooping and hollering all the way, looks like we’re going to do something equivalent as well.

    And let’s not even think about the coterie of religious nutcases who think that a nuclear war is just dandy because it will bring on the Rapture.

    I just hope I can get off this planet soon….

    ReplyReply

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  18. gVOR08 says:

    As I asked yesterday, has WIKI put Trump’s picture on the Dunning-Kruger page yet?

    ReplyReply

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  19. MarkedMan says:

    I’ve felt (and expressed repeatedly here) since Trump first became the likely nominee, that it was a basic test of the Republican Party and all its members and leaders. And they have failed. The number one priority among Republicans in Congress should be ways to tie Trump’s hands when it comes to declaring war. The Dems would certainly cooperate. And the leadership should make it clear to him, if only behind the scenes, that if he attempts to start a war they will impeach him, and if attempts to use a nuclear weapon, they will impeach him and initiate actions and investigations that will destroy his and his families business interests and render them complete paupers. As disproportionate as it might seem (radioactive deaths for millions vs the financial interests of a bunch of real estate wannabes), I think that latter threat is about the only one he will take seriously.

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  20. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @KM: That’s why I stopped reading Pearce posts. And Bunge. And JKB. And Bob the whoever.

    ReplyReply

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  21. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @MarkedMan:

    …it was a basic test of the Republican Party and all its members and leaders. And they have failed.

    This.
    That Republicans are essentially being silent as a madman rages around the White House is appalling. Are tax cuts for wealthy contributors really so important that they warrant risking the safety of potentially millions of people? And this is not hyperbole. One wrong tweet by the crazy immature guy with the awful haircut could cause the other crazy immature guy with the awful haircut to pop off a nuke in the atmosphere, thus potentially irradiating portions of the west coast that are downwind. The Seattle urban area is 3M+ people, alone. Portland, another 3M.

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  22. grumpy realist says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: Oh, I’m sure the nuking of the West Coast engines of commerce would be considered just “collateral damage” a la Dr. Strangelove.

    (The reason why I keep seeing a parallel with Brexit is both carry the same “we’ll worry about the aftereffects of jumping off the cliff later and let someone else handle the details.”

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  23. Mikey says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    Are tax cuts for wealthy contributors really so important that they warrant risking the safety of potentially millions of people?

    Do you even have to ask?

    ReplyReply

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  24. James Pearce says:

    @al-Alameda:

    But I do understand: it’s a lot easier to mock Marshall Mathers than it is to level strong reality-based criticism of Trump

    Oh, I was pumping my fist along with Eminem just like everyone else. But then I was thinking….why is this being left to the rapper?

    And then I remembered.

    @Neil Hudelson:

    You’ll then counter that the left is dependingon Eminem to fix all of their problems, and that somehow this means that “hard working people behind the scenes” can’t do their job or something.

    All the good hard working people behind the scenes are definitely doing their jobs. They just seem to think their job is the destruction of Harvey Weinstein or the veneration of Colin Kaepernick, superficial BS that’s so easily countered by superficial BS from Trump.

    Who is going to break a sweat? Who is going to leave some of their knuckle skin behind?

    ReplyReply

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  25. Lit3Bolt says:

    @James Pearce:

    Dude, go for a walk. You’re not bringing balance to the Force, and your war against Strawmen has become a campaign of attrition.

    Until you can name names, establish connections and sources, and actually form a working hypothesis in the real, observable world, I’m going to have to assume you’re simply talking out of your ass.

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  26. michael reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    You’re an idiot, Pearce. Almost as dumb as the president you pretend not to actively support. @Neil Hudelson nailed you to the wall like Bob Corker did Trump. You’re an empty suit. You add nothing, you say nothing, you mean nothing.

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  27. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @MarkedMan:

    …it was a basic test of the Republican Party and all its members and leaders. And they have failed.

    The dozen or so women who have come forward and accused Comb-over Donnie of groping them all have bigger balls than any Republican in Congress.

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  28. MarkedMan says:

    A vital question: “Why was the Republican Party so susceptible to this obvious loser?” FWIW worth, I think Reagan started this trend. He won on the theme, “Problems aren’t that hard. Government is incompetent and is part of that problem, not part of the solution. We can just put good sensible people in office and the problems will be solved in no time.”

    The modern Republican in general, and especially the modern Republican in Congress, has no respect for governmental knowledge and experience. The Fox News viewer (very large overlap there) amps that up to knowledge and experience in general are worthless. The only proof of worth is having a lot of money. The only opinions worth listening to, the only solutions worth considering, are those from so called successful men.

    And so the Republican congress critter came to rely on the wealthy conservative hobbyists not just for money, but for opinions and guidance. And that guidance was almost uniformly from blowhard egotists who had no understanding of anything outside their specialty, if that. And were protected from their disastrous views by their wealth. Quite frankly, realistic people are no longer attracted to the Republican Party.

    An example. It has been pretty obvious to anyone who knows about health care that Obama care threaded a very fine needle. There isn’t another way to cover everyone in an affordable way without a gigantic and politically impossible change to the system. What astounded me in the whole Republican Repeal fiasco was how many of these drooling congress critters were completely taken off guard when they finally understood that all the bloviating by their Patrons over expensive scotch was just hot air. And that their Party wonks were just bullish*tters. (Paul Ryan can best be described as a stupid person’s idea of a wonk.)

    So when Trump came along they automatically a) believed he couldn’t make things worse and b) that he must be smarter than he seemed because he was rich. The Republicans are the equivalent to all those members of Jim and Tammy Fayes church: they believe in what they believe because it makes them feel good. And anyone who tries to point out the flaws must be vilified and attacked.

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  29. MarkedMan says:

    Could Pearce be a Russian plant or other troll? To be honest, he seems too well spoken for that.

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  30. KM says:

    @MarkedMan :

    The only proof of worth is having a lot of money. The only opinions worth listening to, the only solutions worth considering, are those from so called successful men.

    That’s not quite correct. There are plenty of rich liberals that are absolutely *hated*. If they truly believed in the ethos that a successful businessman is worth listening to, Soros, Gates, Zuckerburg et al wouldn’t have the reps they do on the right. I mean, by MBunge’s standards, they’re worth x1000000 of us and what have we done with our lives? No, conservatives want you to have money AND be like them in order to be admired.

    To them, actually succeeding in business is kind of unnecessary to be a businessman – you just need to be “rich” and speaka da con language.

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  31. Franklin says:

    @James Pearce:

    Who is going to break a sweat? Who is going to leave some of their knuckle skin behind?

    I think we understand that celebs speaking out isn’t doing it for you, and that’s fine. But what I don’t understand is who exactly do you want to do something, and what? Is it something you could do yourself, since you seem frustrated with everybody else’s effort?

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  32. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    @Neil Hudelson nailed you to the wall like Bob Corker did Trump.

    Dude, Bob Corker is making way in the Senate for someone more Trumpian to take his place. He got off one cute little Tweet but his career in politics is effectively over.

    Who exactly is nailing who to the wall here?

    @Lit3Bolt:

    Until you can name names, establish connections and sources, and actually form a working hypothesis in the real, observable world,

    Look, if the American left wasn’t so hollow –in the TS Eliot/ Joseph Conrad sense– no one would ever ask me that question.

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  33. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Mikey: Alas, you’ve hit on the problem. With apologies to Marked Man, the Republicans had no alternative to failing the test–Trump and AHCA and Health Care Freedom Act (AKA Skinny Repeal) and Graham-Cassidy and the pending “tax reform” are who these guys are. They seem to not even realize how destructive these proposals will be to the economy and the society at large. How could they possibly not have failed and how can they not fail again in 2020?

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  34. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker: And while I’m still here, allow me to add the Travel Ban and the AGs position that businesses should be able to fire gays and transgendereds and “make coal king again” in energy and The Wall (no matter who pays for it) and “finally standing up to NK” and… well, the list is probably endless. The modern GOP: if the founders of the party had known what it would become, they’d probably have stayed Whigs.

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  35. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I’ve felt (and expressed repeatedly here) since Trump first became the likely nominee, that it was a basic test of the Republican Party and all its members and leaders. And they have failed.

    They are still in place as a majority in the House and Senate and hold the WH. They are positioned to cut taxes for their sponsors and are gutting regulation, especially environmental regs, as we speak. In what way have they failed by their standards?

    But yes, the country has always had a large pool of the ignorant and inattentive. Our supposed elites are supposed to lead, not exploit, the worst of the electorate. Republicans want us to believe this is all the fault of Trump, and once they get rid off, or outlast, Trump, then all should be forgiven and we should go back to seeing them as the daddy party. Trump is the a culmination of Republicanism and Conservatism, not an aberration.

    I changed that from “the culmination” to “a culmination”. If something doesn’t change, it’s going to get worse than Trump, a lot worse. Remember the Mercers have Cruz waiting in the wings.

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  36. MarkedMan says:

    @gVOR08: oh, they haven’t failed “by their standards”. But they have certainly failed their country.

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  37. Gustopher says:

    Eh, what’s the worst that could happen?

    I mean, besides the extermination of all life on Earth.

    But, those environmentalists who devoted their time and energy to slowing global warming will be so pissed that they wasted their life driving around in a Prius instead of a Mustang — CO2 was basically a non-issue. Stupid liberals and their stupid liberal hobby horses. We showed them.

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  38. DrDaveT says:

    @Franklin:

    But what I don’t understand is who exactly do you want to do something, and what?

    He hasn’t answered that question the other 47 times we’ve asked; there’s no reason to think he will answer it this time, either. He also will not answer if you ask who he thinks “the Left” is, or what actions people NOT a part of “the Left” should be taking.

    He will, however, reliably denigrate any action by anyone as making the problem worse, because mumble.

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  39. Lit3Bolt says:

    @James Pearce:

    Engaging you in reason is my personal hell.

    1. Who is “the Left?” The Democratic party? Socialists? Celebrities? Academia? Educated people? People of color? Randos you’ve engaged in rando message boards like this one? You’ve sprayed all of them with your firehose of accusation, yet these are all independent groups and people with wildly disparate agendas and political beliefs. The only thing they can (barely) agree upon is that Republicans are bad, which is enough for you to hate them apparently.

    2. You assume there is a borg-like Hive-mind of liberals you consult each other before they go on stage or on TV or in a movie. I don’t know what “liberals” have to do with Eminem except some of them like his music, and I guess now his politics. Beyond that, it’s just so much cultural noise, but you seem focused on it with laser like intensity. Something in your news feed?

    3. You apparently like Republicans because they demonstrate “strength.” You hate the Democrats because they display “weakness.” What does this mean? Who knows, you won’t tell us. When we press you for hard examples and definitions and sources, you say “TS ELIOT! THE CRITERION! JOESPEH CONRAD! THE HEART OF DARKNESS!” as if random historical name dropping means anything to the current conversation.

    4. You assume Democrats are as fully in control of the culture war as Republicans are. This is patently false, because Democrats do not have nearly as many dedicated, billionaire-funded channels dedicated to the destruction of the other political party as Republicans do (ie Fox News, Rush Limbaugh). Do you think Eminem is more politically powerful than Rush Limbaugh? Donald Trump, the POTUS? Rupret Murdoch? The Kochs? He’s a rando celebrity and it will be forgotten, unless the Right wing media CHOOSES to make him an enemy, like they have done for Jemelle Hill and Colin Kaepernick.

    5. You appear to be extremely credulous for right-wing news, and highly dismissive of any left voices. I think you’d benefit from leaving your bubble and reading TPM or Washington Monthly for a bit.

    You’re a disingenous little bastard, God knows why I try with you. Most of us at OTB wear our hearts on our sleeve, but not Pearce! Mysterious Pearce, magical Pearce, always ready with a dismissive sneer to “teh Left” but offers benign acceptance to nuclear war from the Right.

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  40. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Gustopher:

    It’s one way to “roll coal.”

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  41. James Pearce says:

    @DrDaveT:

    He hasn’t answered that question the other 47 times we’ve asked

    “Our dried voices, when
    We whisper together
    Are quiet and meaningless
    As wind in dry grass”

    (Not to be obscure, but sell your house and move to Topeka with all the other liberal pilgrims.)

    @Lit3Bolt: 1. All these independent groups and people with wildly disparate agendas and political beliefs cannot be classified by the very general term “teh Left?” I never capitalize it. I try to use it as an adjective. Perhaps I fail.

    2. I do not assume liberals are borg-minded. I assume they are peacocks, showing off for other peacocks, and instead of, like, doing stuff, they look in the mirror and primp and then they go and strut around, trying to impress and making that obnoxious sound.

    3. I do not like Republicans at all. T.S. Eliot though…yeah, I’m a fan.

    4. The Democrats had won the culture war until they went, “Oh, and another thing.”

    5. I don’t read any right-wing news.

    But…I do want this engraved on my headstone: “Not Pearce! Mysterious Pearce, magical Pearce, always ready with a dismissive sneer.” Like, that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.

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  42. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    [blah blah blah Hollow Men blah blah] Not to be obscure, but sell your house and move to Topeka with all the other liberal pilgrims.

    …which is a somewhat erudite and yet inept way of, yet again, failing to answer the simple question.

    and instead of, like, doing stuff,

    What stuff? Oh, sorry, right — you don’t answer that question. My bad.

    (Setting aside for the moment the fact that you have no idea how any of us actually spend our time and money when not posting here or reading your latest evasion of that question. We could tell you about it, but you’d no doubt just dismiss it as primping and strutting.)

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  43. James Pearce says:

    @DrDaveT:

    We could tell you about it, but you’d no doubt just dismiss it as primping and strutting.

    Probably, but more likely I’d dismiss it as ineffective.

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  44. James Pearce says:

    @James Pearce:

    I’d dismiss it as ineffective

    Relevant.

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  45. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @James Pearce:

    But…I do want this engraved on my headstone: “Not Pearce! Mysterious Pearce, magical Pearce, always ready with a dismissive sneer.” Like, that’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.

    yeah… gotta say, that’s one of the first things you wrote that I actually believe.

    what an epitaph. glad you have some awareness of the sum value of your life. good job.

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  46. James Pearce says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: So I take it you don’t want to move to Topeka….

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  47. Grewgills says:

    @James Pearce:
    Nobody outside of rural Kansas wants to move to Topeka. If your yardstick for effective political activism is pick up stakes and move your life to a place with less opportunity for yourself and your kids to have a couple more blue votes in a red state, then you are way more off the rails than I thought. Jesus man, what are you smoking?

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  48. James Pearce says:

    @Grewgills:

    If your yardstick for effective political activism is pick up stakes and move your life to a place with less opportunity for yourself and your kids to have a couple more blue votes in a red state, then you are way more off the rails than I thought.

    I’m descended from Volga Germans who pulled up stakes and moved to Kansas over a hundred years ago.

    I’m not off the rails. I’m arguing for a more intrepid approach. That it can’t even be imagined is telling.

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  49. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    Probably, but more likely I’d dismiss it as ineffective.

    Of course you would; it’s the only thing you have a demonstrated ability to do. If you’d been there when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, your comment would have been “What’s the point? He’s gonna die again anyway. Poser.”

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  50. Grewgills says:

    @James Pearce:

    I’m not off the rails. I’m arguing for a more intrepid approach. That it can’t even be imagined is telling.

    No, you are well off the rails if anything short of picking up stakes and moving away from family and friends to somewhere with far less opportunities for myself, my wife and my daughter to add one blue vote to a sea of red is ineffective in your book. There are many more politically effective uses of my time and effort. Moving to Crapistan isn’t in the top 20 best political uses of my time or effort.

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  51. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    I’m arguing for a more intrepid approach.

    …that you decline to describe. Like Bartleby the Scrivener, you prefer not to.

    I hate to break it to you, James, but you are not arguing for anything. You only argue against. Until you actually propose a concrete course of action, no one will believe that you have any useful ideas at all.

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  52. James Pearce says:

    @Grewgills:

    moving away from family and friends to somewhere with far less opportunities for myself

    I already know that most people on the left only have a few bucks, and maybe a few hours, to devote to the causes that they claim are so important to them. I’m asking for a deeper commitment, something that might take days, months, years even and might require more of you than a donation or some good vibes.

    I’m assured that these people exist, and yes, Eminem and Colin Kaepernick and Rose McGowan certainly do exist. But c’mon.

    I mean, after all, you’re not moving to Crapistan to vote for Democrats. You’re moving to Crapistan to work on it to make it less crappy. That’s your opportunity.

    @DrDaveT:

    you are not arguing for anything.

    To the contrary, I’m arguing for a more goal-oriented approach that is less impressed\not impressed at all with mood affiliation.

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  53. Grewgills says:

    @James Pearce:
    Right, so for people on the left anything short of complete subordination of everything in their life to political activism doesn’t count as real action in Pierceworld. Got it, you’re totally not off the rails. Completely realistic and rational, that’s you buddy.
    I know nothing we do short of moving to an extremist sh!ihole will be up to your standards, which I’m sure you are living up to, but we are working from here to make the world a better place as we can.

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  54. James Pearce says:

    @Grewgills:

    so for people on the left anything short of complete subordination of everything in their life to political activism doesn’t count as real action in Pierceworld

    No, I’m calling for revising our ideas of what we consider to be “political activism.”

    A few years ago, I watched a drone video from an environmentalist who was concerned about pig waste lagoons. Let me rephrase: This dude was soooo concerned about pig waste lagoons, his big idea was to film them with a drone and make a documentary out of the footage.

    He did not devote his energies to engineering a better way to dispose of pig waste than using anerobic lagoons. He just said, “Here’s a problem. Someone else should solve it.”

    Now highlighting issues so that other people can work on them isn’t a problem as long as there are people working on them. And I’m sure there are people working on the pig waste lagoon problem, but chances are….they’re not environmental activists.

    So I suppose you can make your quips about Pierceworld (Pearceworld?) and whatnot, but I no longer wonder why so many problems “seem” unsolvable.

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  55. James Pearce says:

    Also relevant.

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  56. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “He did not devote his energies to engineering a better way to dispose of pig waste than using anerobic lagoons. He just said, “Here’s a problem. Someone else should solve it.”

    He was bringing attention to a problem that was being kept hidden by people whose financial interests demanded it be kept hidden. You may think this is inconsequential, but the hog farmers didn’t, as they pressured their bought and paid for legislatures to pass laws making it illegal to photograph farm activity. I think they knew something that you haven’t quite figured out yet.

    Meanwhile, if your standard for political action comes down to “if you care about global warming, the only acceptable response is to invent an entirely new way of generating power that does not emit any greenhouse gasses,” then you have simply declared that no action is good enough for you.

    Meanwhile, what precisely are you doing to live up to your standard? Since you think liberals are narcissists, what plan have you devised to fundamentally transform all their personalities? I mean, aside from whining in a comments section?

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  57. DrDaveT says:

    @James Pearce:

    To the contrary, I’m arguing for an unspecified but more goal-oriented approach that would be less impressed\not impressed at all with mood affiliation if I ever actually told you what it was.

    Fixed that for you.

    Can you honestly not tell the difference between a concrete recommendation and a platitude? “I’m arguing for doing it right instead of doing it wrong” is a slogan, not a policy recommendation. What, specifically, would your more goal-oriented approach have people actually do?

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  58. James Pearce says:

    @wr:

    You may think this is inconsequential, but the hog farmers didn’t, as they pressured their bought and paid for legislatures to pass laws making it illegal to photograph farm activity.

    Pity, then, that the “activist” didn’t pressure his corruptible legislature, only needing to be bought and paid for, to pass laws mandating better waste disposal practices.

    Pity, then, that he thought it would be more useful to film the lagoons than engineer a better one. And hey, maybe he’s a camera operator, not a waste disposal expert, so I can forgive him for doing what he can. Maybe it’s even noble that he’s “doing what he can.”

    But maybe what we need for this particular problem is a waste disposal expert motivated by the prospect of financial gain, not an activist motivated by “raising awareness.”

    So, no I have not declared any action “not good enough.” I have, though, declared that noble but ineffective activity is “not good enough.”

    what precisely are you doing to live up to your standard?

    @DrDaveT:

    What, specifically, would your more goal-oriented approach have people actually do?

    One thing I do –and you all hate me for it– is to pipe up every time the anti-white male nonsense creeps up. I’m always here to remind you that white men are not the enemy, that the triumphalism on representing the interests of women and POC is often unearned and possibly an illusion.

    And yes, that is neither precise nor specific, but issues are complex and the “protest until Democrats in power do something” method has been an unmitigated failure.

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  59. Grewgills says:

    @James Pearce:

    One thing I do –and you all hate me for it– is to pipe up every time the anti-white male nonsense creeps up…

    This in a nutshell is why you are no longer worth responding to. Your standard for other people is to pick up stakes and move to a red state, or to become an engineer and design solutions for major problems, etc. and that protesters are ineffective and should do something else instead. Yet, when asked what you do, you make annoying comments on political blogs. The hypocrisy is truly astounding.

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