• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Trump Ignores Intel Experts

Donald Trump ShrugVia the Chicago Tribune:  Trump’s refusal to accept intelligence briefing on Russia stuns experts

Former senior U.S. national security officials are dismayed at Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump‘s repeated refusal to accept the judgment of intelligence professionals that Russia stole files from the Democratic National Committee computers in an effort to influence the U.S. election.

The former officials, who have served presidents in both parties, say they were bewildered when Trump cast doubt on Russia’s role after receiving a classified briefing on the subject and again after an unusually blunt statement from U.S. agencies saying they were “confident” that Moscow had orchestrated the attacks.

[…]

Trump has assured supporters that, if elected, he would surround himself with experts on defense and foreign affairs, where he has little experience. But when it comes to Russia, he has made it clear that he is not listening to intelligence officials, the former officials said.

[…]

Several former intelligence officials interviewed this week believe that Trump is either willfully disputing intelligence assessments, has a blind spot on Russia, or perhaps doesn’t understand the nonpartisan traditions and approach of intelligence professionals.

In short:  Trump’s answers in the debates contradict what he is being told by US career intelligence officers.

“I don’t recall a previous candidate saying they didn’t believe” the information from an intelligence briefing, said John Rizzo, a former CIA lawyer who served under seven presidents and became the agency’s acting general counsel. “These are career people. They aren’t administration officials. What does that do to their morale and credibility?”

Former acting CIA director John MacLaughlin said all previous candidates took the briefings to heart.

To quote Michael Hayden, former Director of both the CIA and the NSA:

“He seems to ignore their advice,” Hayden said. “Why would you assume this would change when he is in office?”

Indeed.

This is actually pretty damning–and moreso than is likely to be discussed in the press as it has a certain byzantine quality to it.  But if Trump is willing to ignore the advice of non-partisan careerists then this is further evidence of his lack of fitness to be president. Further, he seems to be  willing to construct his own version of events out of whole cloth (or, at least, highly unreliable corners of the internet).  Whether this is simply political opportunism or willingness to live in his own reality, I cannot say (but neither is comforting):

“I don’t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, okay?”

[…]

During the second presidential debate, Trump ignored what a U.S. government official said the candidate learned in a private intelligence briefing: that government officials were certain Russia hacked the DNC. That conclusion was followed by a public and unequivocal announcement by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security that Russia was to blame.

“Maybe there is no hacking,” Trump said during that debate.

Not only is what he is saying contradicting information that he is being given, he is, as Hayden note, providing the “the Syrian, Russia, Iranian narrative.”

On the one hand, a healthy, informed skepticism about intel reports is a good thing.  On the other, utterly rejecting them to score political points or because one thinks one can know reality from within one’s own skull is not.

Indeed, this kind of behavior is profoundly unserious and, indeed, exceptionally dangerous for someone who could be president.

h/t:  Occasional OTBer, Chris Lawrence

Related Posts:

About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. MarkedMan says:

    Trump lives in his head, as do many of his Fox News immersed fans. To say that he ignores something implies he is capable of assessing reality. He hasn’t generated much evidence of that.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1

  2. CSK says:

    To a rational person, this is, of course, further proof of Trump’s appalling lack of fitness for office. To a Trumpkin, it’s a qualification, proof that he’s not part of the establishment.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 1

  3. Mu says:

    They’re all going to be experts in “yes Mr. President, what would Mr. President like it to be”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  4. Mikey says:

    Not only is what he is saying contradicting information that he is being given, he is, as Hayden note, providing the “the Syrian, Russia, Iranian narrative.”

    He’s been providing the Russian narrative and parroting Russian propaganda for his entire campaign, so this isn’t surprising at all. In his view, rejecting the conclusions of our intel services is necessary because accepting them would mean taking an anti-Russia position.

    He will criticize anyone and anything…except Putin. He has always praised Putin. He takes Russia’s line on pretty much every issue in which Russia is involved. And he’s getting help from Wikileaks, another bunch of Russian stooges.

    What more do we need to see to conclude he’d be Russia’s man in Washington if he wins?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  5. gVOR08 says:

    Trump lies about everything. Why wouldn’t he lie about this?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A republican ignoring what is said in an intelligence briefing? I am shocked, shocked I tell you!

    On the other, utterly rejecting them to score political points or because one thinks one can know reality from within one’s own skull is not.

    Or set up their own personal intelligence analysts office with in the White House? Could never happen!

    Indeed, this kind of behavior is profoundly unserious and, indeed, exceptionally dangerous for someone who could be president.

    What could possibly happen should such a person ever reside in the Oval Office?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  7. Pch101 says:

    This what happens when a God complex meets Dunning-Kruger.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 0

  8. MBunge says:

    I hardly think anyone needs additional evidence that Trump is unfit for office, but I sure hope people remember how concerned they were with this when President Hillary Clinton gets us into a war/proxy war with Russia.

    Mike

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 30

  9. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Pence is trying to cling to reality, and acknowledge the hack:

    https://www.yahoo.com/news/pence-says-evidence-points-russia-email-hacks-155229651.html

    I have a feeling that Trump will soon hit his Capt. Queeg / Strawberries moment…

    “Mr. Ryan, you may tell the GOP for me that there are four ways of doing things in my campaign: The right way, the wrong way, the GOP way, and MY way. They do things my way, and we’ll get along. “

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  10. DrDaveT says:

    I think many of you are missing a key point here. When Rizzo said:

    These are career people. They aren’t administration officials.

    …he’s speaking gibberish as far as Republicans are concerned. Republicans can’t see that distinction. They consistently portray the Executive Branch — including career public servants — as a wholly-controlled subsidiary of the administration. If someone at the IRS does something, it’s because Obama told them to. If someone at EPA does something, it’s for partisan political reasons. If front-line workers at DHS prioritize A over B, it’s due to administration pressure.

    “He seems to ignore their advice,” Hayden said. “Why would you assume this would change when he is in office?”

    Because he will have replaced them with his own people (or at least tried to). If that doesn’t scare you even more than the idea of him ignoring the experts, it should.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 40 Thumb down 1

  11. CSK says:

    I think the Trumpkins are operating under the hope and assumption that Trump will replace all of these people with his own. They also think that this is within the purview of the president.

    Of course, what they’re really longing for is a banana republic dictator.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  12. grumpy realist says:

    @DrDaveT: Does Doubtful Don realize that he can’t just “stick his guys” wherever he wants in government? That for certain positions they have to be CERTIFIED/QUALIFIED? Or is he just going to get rid of all of that horrible elite learnin’ and readin’ stuff, anyhow?

    Dear Mr. Trump: thank you for sending us a totally crap inspector for this nuclear power plant, who missed all the incipient problems. We will now proceed to show you what happens.
    –sincerely, The Laws of Nature

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  13. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Here’s the hilarious part: Trump has a history of stiffing contractors for not doing their work properly, which if true (I really doubt it) proves that he’s incapable of hiring “really good people.” Right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  14. Guarneri says:

    “Indeed, this kind of behavior is profoundly unserious and, indeed, exceptionally dangerous for someone who could be president.”

    My god, next thing you know he might want to invade Iraq and then make the same mistake by offing the head of Libya.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 28

  15. DrDaveT says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Does Doubtful Don realize that he can’t just “stick his guys” wherever he wants in government?

    Of course not. He knows nothing at all about how the US government actually works, and doesn’t intend to learn.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  16. george says:

    @CSK:

    I think they’d say its a feature, not a bug. They want the whole system burnt down, to start again in some post-apocalypse world. You don’t chose a sane president to do that. Seriously, there’s a growing interest in such story lines, and its the best explanation for Trump’s rise. There have been other, even more racist and sexist guys in the primaries over the years, and none made it past one or two percent of the GOP primary. What Trump adds is insanity, the missing ingredient.

    I don’t think they’re going to find that future nearly as romantic (or even survivable) as in their dreams – old and physically weakening isn’t a great qualification for living in the burnt out shards of civilization, but if that’s what they want, Trump certainly is the way towards it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  17. grumpy realist says:

    @george: Great. We’re at the mercy of a bunch of idiots who think that if everything goes to pot, they can just press the RESET button, like they do in their video games….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  18. dxq says:

    Why I left the Republican Party to become a Democrat -Josh Barro

    Trump’s an emergent symptom of a festering illness.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  19. Laura Koerber says:

    I read an article on Vox about a book…yes, I know i am being obscure since I can;t remember the name fo the book…the gist of which was that a significant percentage of the voters are irrational, absolutely not interested in facts, and willing to change their basic beliefs to preserve their party allegiance.

    That’s a pretty good description of Trump supporters. The Republican party has, for years, presented itself as the party of a strong national defense. Now the nominee is a man who is under the influence of a foreign dictator from a nation Republicans have hated and feared for decades.

    So how do Trump supporters process this? They deny the connection. Widipedia is getting the emails by magic,. Trump has no connections to Russia. He did not say he would refuse to defend some NATO signatories. He did not change the Republican platform. He IS for a strong defense even tho he probably can’t fnd Syria on a map has suggested the use of nukes against civilian targets as a means of fighting ISIS….a nd so on. Just flat denial.

    And to support their denial they go to th econspriacy theories: the media is making things up, our intelligence experts are lying etc

    I find these people baffling because it is so foreign to my way fo functioning. I am a life long Democrat but I have no problem believing that a Democrat could do wrong or that the whole party could be wrong. IN fact I could give a list of both. If the wrongs added up high enough I would stop being a Democrat. I am very repsectful of acquired expertise.

    It’s easy to just brush Trump supporters off a stupid or crazy, but it is also kind of lazy and imprecise. I know some Trump supporters who are not stupid, crazy or racist for that matter. They are addicted to hatemongering. They lack bullshit detectors and will believe any obvious nonsense if it comes form their preferred hater sources. The seem to come from a sense of entitlement. They see themselves as very respectable hard working taxpayers (and they are) but they buy into any narrative that gives them the role of aggrieved victim, as if the mean old world was not recognizing them as the only respectable hardworking taxpayers around in a world of the undeserving.

    That’s the nearest Ican get to understanding them and I know it probably isn’t very near.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

  20. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Of course not. He knows nothing at all about how the US government actually works, and doesn’t intend to learn.

    I have a feeling that he hasn’t even seen Schoolhouse Rock’s I’m Just a Bill

    In debate #2 he confronted why Hillary didn’t change some of the laws herself when she was Senator.

    That shows a dramatic lack of understanding on how government and laws are actually passed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  21. george says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Never thought of it that way, but yeah, that kind of sums it up I think. What Trump offers that’s never been offered before is a F-this attitude. Previous racists/sexists/bring back the good old days types projected a sense of some imaginary Leave it to Beaver world of the 50’s. Trump’s offer is a complete wipe out of everything to start from scratch – I think in their mind Trump is the reset button, but not to some imaginary ideal past (ideal for them, not so much for anyone else), but to some complete disorder where everything starts from scratch.

    Its quite different than the reset Reagan represented, much more chaotic and lawless. Civil war is a common theme now, I don’t remember that during Reagan’s time. And again, the ironic part is most of the ones pushing it are old – I’m betting that’s not an advantage if civilization breaks down.

    Going through various right wing sites (I make a point of surfing both left and right wing, because confirmation bias is never useful) I notice there’s an element of eagerness in much of the writing; many are looking forward to Trump’s loss setting off the civil war – in fact many seem to be annoyed at those who suggest that Trump might win because they want a physical war, not a Trump gov’t (which they see as something that’d just be a long deadlock).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  22. CSK says:
  23. george says:

    @CSK:

    Good point. And reading the various forums, you get the sense that much of it is burning for its own sake – for the pure exhilaration of fighting and plunder, an attitude of doesn’t much matter what you’re fighting for so long as you’re fighting. Its ironically similar to a violent version of some of the back-to-nature movements from the sixties. There’s something of Rousseau in them.

    Though again, I don’t think many of them would long survive, let alone enjoy, the reality.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  24. gVOR08 says:

    I realize this business of it being the Russians who hacked the emails and fed them to Wikileaks was publicly announced, but even so, isn’t it a serious breach of protocol for intel guys to discuss what was in a briefing? Is this a sign the intel community fears a Trump presidency?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  25. grumpy realist says:

    @george: As said, we’re at the mercy of idiots who have confused a video game with reality.

    It’s the whole Nihilist/Anarchy Is Great schtick all over again. We seem to have to relearn that it’s a Really Bad Idea all over again every 100 years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  26. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Laura Koerber: Gee, I don’t know, sounds pretty close to me. You’re just being modest, that’s all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  27. Pch101 says:

    Donald Trump hasn’t said anything that hasn’t already been said by the likes of Pat Buchanan, George Wallace and a long line of segregationist politicians.

    Compare George Wallace’s 1963 inaugural speech to what you’ll find on your standard hard-right blog, and you won’t find much of a difference.

    This stuff isn’t new. It’s just particularly strident now because they haven’t held the White House for two terms and we’re having an election that will determine whether there will be a third term.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  28. Grewgills says:

    I think a few things are going on here.
    1) Trump admitting that the hack was Russian would blunt its effectiveness for him, so he denies it’s Russian. Political opportunism is the primary motivation, though I wouldn’t discount him living in a world of his own creation as a secondary motivation.
    2) Assange has a personal beef with Clinton and this administration for obvious reasons. Because of his personal beef he doesn’t care if he is being used as a tool by the Russians since their interests are aligned on this subject.
    3) I think that part of the back channel conversations between Assange and the Trump campaign involve Assange’s US legal troubles evaporating if Trump wins the election. It isn’t exactly Reagan’s guns for hostages, but pardons for emails seems likely to me.
    4) The GOP base doesn’t think all government employees are tools of the executive. They think that all career government employees are liberal tools and all appointed employees are tools of the executive. They also appear to believe that all government employees should be tools of the administration, but only when their man is in power.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  29. charon says:

    @Laura Koerber:

    . http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/10/14/12663318/bartels-achen-democracy-for-realists .
    .
    Back in May, Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels released Democracy for Realists, based on years of scholarship they’ve done on the ugly realities of how American voting behavior really works. It sheds crucial light on a question that liberals have been banging their heads over for months — why on earth would anyone vote for Donald Trump? Their analysis is both troubling and important: Throughout history, people in general have cast their votes for no particularly good reason at all, so there’s no reason to expect Trump supporters to be any different.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  30. george says:

    @Pch101:

    As I said, there’s one major difference – Trump is certifiably bat sh*t crazy. None of the others were. Malovent but rational was their approach, even Wallace. Wallace and the others wanted to move America back to some imaginary past that was perfect for everyone that mattered (ie white and male). Trump just wants to burn the whole thing down, and that seems to be getting a lot more traction than old fashioned racism/sexism.

    And as CSK pointed out, there’s not even talk of burning things down in order to build it up the way they want it. Its burning for the sake of burning. Which makes Trump their logical candidate – if you want to burn down a house, the guy you want in charge is the one running around with a lit flame thrower.

    There’s a wierd post-apocalpse element in their forums, something that wasn’t there in the past. To get an idea of what’s going on in many of Trump’s voters mind it doesn’t really help to read progressive sites, or even listen to Trump. Their own forums are pretty straightfoward about it – its burn the whole thing down. Wallace, Buchanan, and the other segregationists wanted to take over the ship. Trump and many of his followers want to sink it.

    Or maybe murder-suicide is the best analogy?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  31. gVOR08 says:

    @charon: Downloaded Democracy for Realists Friday. Haven’t touched it yet. Good to see your recommend.

    Bartels’ famous election model uses a measure of personal income. The various popular articles I’ve seen on it were vague as to what measure exactly. I saw a reference to his original paper a couple weeks ago and downloaded it. Turns out it’s per capita personal income, but the change from Q2 to Q3. The trend may be subject to some political control, but Q3-Q2 is basically random noise. This being Bartels’ point, that it’s mostly random. His other variable is terms of party incumbency in the White House. In ’20, with Dems in the WH for three terms, reelection’s gonna be tough per Bartels’ model.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  32. Pch101 says:

    As I said, there’s one major difference – Trump is certifiably bat sh*t crazy

    And that’s your medical opinion? Coming from the guy who equated Clinton’s bout of pneumonia with John McCain’s repeat cases of melanoma, you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t give that much weight.

    there’s not even talk of burning things down in order to build it up the way they want it.

    “Make America Great Again” isn’t an appeal to tradition?

    There’s a wierd post-apocalpse element in their forums, something that wasn’t there in the past.

    And you are suffering from selection bias.

    The average American does not spend much time reading political websites.

    Of those who do read them, only a fraction of those will ever post a comment.

    And of those who do post a comment, virtually none of them will be regulars.

    People who post regularly on political forums are complete outliers and far more devoted than most. You can’t judge broad groups of people based upon what you read in internet comments sections; they are not a representative sample.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

  33. Slugger says:

    While you guys are worried about intel and stuff, Mr. Trump spent last night focused like a laser on things that matter to America; I certainly agree with him that Saturday Night Live is past its prime. They haven’t been funny since Eddie Murphy.
    As far as intel goes, Mr. Trump is in close touch with Pootie-Poot. There is no better intel than the KGB.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  34. grumpy realist says:

    @george: Like the typical abusing husband who snaps when his wife is about to leave, murders her, and kills himself. “If I can’t have her, nobody will.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  35. An Interested Party says:

    …when President Hillary Clinton gets us into a war/proxy war with Russia.

    Yes, of course, because right now they are our very dear friends…the CDS is strong with this one…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  36. Terrye Cravens says:

    @MBunge: Oh please…Trump lies and you blame Clinton for a non existent war.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  37. Terrye Cravens says:

    @Guarneri: Actually Trump did support the invasion of Iraq…and the removal of Gaddafi from power in Libya.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  38. MarkedMan says:

    @george: you

    Civil war is a common theme now, I don’t remember that during Reagan’s time.

    During the 80’s the militia movement and posse comittatus (sp?) was a big thing. White Christian groups trained with machine guns and their leaders appeared on talk shows trumpeting their Christian patriotism. It died back significantly when Timothy Mcveigh blew up a government building in Oklahoma in order to trigger a white Christian race war. The building included a day care center and the death of all those pre-schoolers seemed to have a daunting effect, at least for a while.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  39. george says:

    @Pch101:

    And that’s your medical opinion? Coming from the guy who equated Clinton’s bout of pneumonia with John McCain’s repeat cases of melanoma, you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t give that much weight.

    No, if you re-read what was written, I was pointing out that the only way to know what health problems a candidate has is from medical analysis, either their own medical team or from outside professional analysis. Because I stated that was inherently true for all parties, you inferred that I equating Clinton’s bout of pneumonia with McCain’s cancer … and I note, without offering an alternative method of determining a candidate’s health to replace medical analysis.

    It occurs to me you also concluded I was stupid, and that nothing I write is worth taking seriously. That’s quite possibly true, its the Internet, I well could have a grade 6 education and an IQ four standard deviations below average. However that raises the question of why you’re bothering to reply to my comments? I’d suggest responding to idiots is a waste of your time.

    And no, bat sh*t crazy is not a medical analysis, just a simple colorful expression that seems to apply well in this case – solely my opinion of course. The counter point about making America great again as a slogan is a fair one, as there is some of that as well – national political rarely run on single, or even consistent themes. And yes, reading their forums and reports on their rallies is self-selected, but that’s the nature of almost all analysis of Trump’s supporters on all issues. Where do conclusions of their sexism and racism come from? From those same forums and rallies.

    You have to observe people to understand what motivates them. Since the only ones easily observed are the ones who post or attend rallies, that’s where conclusions come from. We might be completely wrong of course – its possible that the ones not posting or attending rallies are concerned with subtle economic and political analysis rather than the issues spoken of in public.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  40. george says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Interesting, I didn’t know that. I was living in Canada at the time, I suppose it wasn’t covered as well up here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  41. @Guarneri:

    My god, next thing you know he might want to invade Iraq and then make the same mistake by offing the head of Libya.

    Iraq was a major foreign policy blunder that has had lasting implications an ramifications. I think a Trump presidency would be even more disastrous.

    Actually, the US did not off Qaddafi. Yes, the US was part of what pushed him out of power. It is in a different category than the Iraq policy and is more complicated than I feel like getting into at the moment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  42. dxq says:

    I swear to god i saw someone complain at foxnews in a tweet that they were in the tank for hillary because they were barely covering Benghazi AT ALL anymore.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  43. Joe says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Because he will have replaced them with his own people (or at least tried to).

    One of Trump’s problems is scalability. Perhaps he can personally dictate the business of Trump corporation, whatever that is, but Trump does not have enough of the “best people” to populate a cabinet, let alone the political positions in myriad agencies, and that does not even get to the non-partisan career people. It takes hundreds of thousands of people to run a government. Out of every thousand, several dozen won’t care and a couple of hundred will be only marginally good at their jobs. No executive can fix that math. That’s just large group reality. Trump’s claims to the contrary – and his supporters’ willingness to believe them – are just more evidence of megalomania/crazy train.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  44. Pch101 says:

    @george:

    You have to observe people to understand what motivates them.

    You have to observe a representative sample with an appropriate sample size if you are interested in being accurate, otherwise you end up with skewed anecdotes from a self-selecting pool and a high margin of error.

    But claiming that Trump is uniquely nuts without any data to back that assertion or asserting that he is some sort of anomaly even though we’ve had plenty of other xenophobes and bigots in American politics would suggest you equate your gut feelings with facts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  45. george says:

    @Pch101:

    But claiming that Trump is uniquely nuts without any data to back that assertion or asserting that he is some sort of anomaly even though we’ve had plenty of other xenophobes and bigots in American politics would suggest you equate your gut feelings with facts.

    You’ll note that in this thread I pointed out a number of times that Trump was not unique in being racist and sexist. My argument is that he is unique in how crazy he is (speaking colloquially of course). He has several times suggested that if he lost the election it might result in violence. That the election is rigged. That his opponent belongs in jail … I assume I don’t have to go through the long list of things he’s said, things that have caused even conservative sites such as National Review to turn against him. Did Wallace ever say such things? Or Buchanan? Or any other of the fairly long list of candidates who were sexist or racist?

    If they had, then you’re right, my statement that Trump is uniquely nuts is incorrect. However, a quick Google didn’t turn up examples of similar statements from previous xenophobes and bigots – there was talk of a rigged election after Romney lost, but it didn’t come from Romney himself as far as I can tell. And none of them suggested their loss would result in violence. Or that their opponent belonged in jail.

    As far as I can, in a fairly long line of sexists and racists, he’s the only one making those kinds of statements. That makes him unique. However, I don’t follow politics that closely, so its quite possible that his statements are normal, in which case I retract my statement that Trump is particularly crazy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  46. Pch101 says:

    @george:

    things that have caused even conservative sites such as National Review to turn against him.

    National Review is an establishment conservative magazine. It opposed Trump from the start because of his views on trade and taxes as it supported his opponents.

    He has several times suggested that if he lost the election it might result in violence. That the election is rigged.

    Reagan called for a “bloodbath” at Berkeley and claimed that the film industry was being infiltrated by communists. Of course, we had McCarthy with his alleged lists of communists and Joe Wilson shouting that Obama was a “liar” and the birther movement and the rest of it. But sure, Trump invented the whole thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  47. MarkedMan says:

    @george: The wiki article on the Oklahoma City bombing has a good overview. Here’s the lead off:

    The Oklahoma City bombing was a domestic terrorist car bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, in the U.S. state of Oklahoma, on April 19, 1995. Carried out by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, the bombing destroyed one-third of the building, killed 168 people,[1] and injured more than 680 others.[2] The blast destroyed or damaged 324 other buildings within a 16-block radius, shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings, and destroyed or burned 86 cars,[3][4] causing an estimated $652 million worth of damage.[5]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  48. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: Sadly, I doubt that even something as horrific as this happening would keep a lot of Trump’s supporters off the crazy train. Some of them want to see the whole thing go to pot simply out of revenge, because the World Isn’t Treating Me Nicely. But a lot of them seem to want to see everything go crash simply for the sake of seeing stuff go crash. The fact that they won’t have food, clothing, shelter, or a functioning society is irrelevant.

    Sometimes I think we should take a few low-population states, move the people out, put a BIG fence around it, and dump anyone who is one of these idiots in it along with a gun/ammunition, a bag of seeds, and a hatchet. If civilization/good manners is something that is so irrelevant to them, let them see what it is like when they have to live without it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  49. Pch101 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    They want to eliminate the institutions that they see as liberal and go back to how things used to be.

    That may be nonsensical and based upon fantasy, but that is more paleoconservative than it is nihilistic. They think that the current system is corrupt or whatever, and wish to eliminate what they consider to be broken.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  50. Unsympathetic says:

    The problem is: Once you blow it up, YOU own what comes next.

    In business redesign, the phrase is “Don’t oppose, propose” – meaning that it’s not enough to just register an objection, you need to actively think through all the modes of failure and craft a comprehensive plan to address the issue at hand.

    The next actual plan I see from Trump and/or his supporters will, of course, be the first.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  51. IAdmitIAmCrazy says:

    Michael Gove, one of the leading Brexiteers who saw his candidacy to Prime Minister folding after a little back-stabbing on his part, quipped: “’I think people in this country,” declared Vote Leave’s Michael Gove, “have had enough of experts.” His fellow Brexiteers were quick to back him up.’ (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/10/michael-goves-guide-to-britains-greatest-enemy-the-experts/). This guy had been influential in government, an eminence gris so to speak in Hot-Air Dave’s entourage who only was demoted when he jumped ship on Brexit.
    Also: I am of the same age as The Donald. When in college, “the system” was the all-out enemy. Me seems, the Donald has an urge to recoup those “roaring twenties” for himself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  52. J-Dub says:

    @Unsympathetic:

    The next actual plan I see from Trump and/or his supporters will, of course, be the first.

    Trump will come up with “something” once he is elected. “Something” to replace Obamacare, “something” to defeat ISIS, “Something” to deport 11 million people.

    If you are running for President, you should already have actual plans, not plans to do “something”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  53. grumpy realist says:

    @Pch101: I don’t think a lot of them have even thought that far. They want to “blow things up” and that’s supposed to somehow magically fix everything.

    Heck, even ANARCHISTS have considered more about the future they want to see than these idiots.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  54. wr says:

    @Terrye Cravens: ” Actually Trump did support the invasion of Iraq…and the removal of Gaddafi from power in Libya.”

    Well, sure… then. But this is now and he’s changed his mind, so clearly he was right all along.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  55. KM says:

    @grumpy realist:

    I don’t think a lot of them have even thought that far. They want to “blow things up” and that’s supposed to somehow magically fix everything.

    Well, it does in the movies. The tropes is called Cozy Apocalypse and it’s where the End of the World isn’t *really* the end, just a mild inconvenience in the hero’s story. A lot of these people get their facts reality from TV. I forgot the name of the study but someone took the most common movie/TV mistakes (legal, medical, mechanical, etc) and tested to see if people knew the truth or not. Depressingly, the vast majority got it all wrong and specifically cited learning from the media instead of proper sources for their erroneous ways.

    If you want to despair, go ask the general public how to do CPR, how to put out a grease or electrical fire, if you will non-fatally disable someone by shooting them in the right shoulder (lungs!), if you should put something in an epileptic’s mouth during a seizure or not, or how to start a fire with no matches…. then ask how they knew to do what they just did. This is why the Red Cross uses zombies to teach disaster preparedness. Large facets of society are in love with the idea that it will all just crumble to dust just for the scenery gorn. Might as well use that fascination to teach them something useful for the far more likely hurricane or earthquake then the walking dead.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  56. Pch101 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    They want to “blow things up” and that’s supposed to somehow magically fix everything.

    If you think that something is bad or wrong, then it will seem like a good idea to stop the bad or wrong thing. That’s not uncommon thinking, particularly if one is generally opposed to change and believes that a reversion to some previous status quo is inherently a good idea (i.e. conservative.)

    From their standpoint, the “bad” institution is akin to bleeding and they want to stop the bleeding. It’s possible to hold that view without being nihilistic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  57. KM says:

    @Pch101:

    From their standpoint, the “bad” institution is akin to bleeding and they want to stop the bleeding. It’s possible to hold that view without being nihilistic.

    Fair enough, I suppose. To stop the bleeding, however, one must be able to identity the source of the blood flow and be able to staunch it. A more apropos analogy is hacking off/cauterizing multiple limbs without anesthetic or sanitized conditions in order to stop a messy gash on the temple. The blood gets in your eyes, you can’t see what the damage is, you’re delirious, everything hurts so you just start taking out what you can see (blood-covered hands vs unseen temple) to make it stop. A lot of blood but minimal real damage done for the head wound but the “cure” would be devastating if not fatal.

    These people do not understand the cause of their troubles and are willing to accept any “treatment” from the first quack they come across. Trump’s telling them their head wound is caused by gangrene in the limbs. Question is: are they dumb enough to get the hacksaw when stitches will do?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  58. Pch101 says:

    @KM:

    To stop the bleeding, however, one must be able to identity the source of the blood flow and be able to staunch it.

    They believe that they have done that. Unfortunately, hysteria and lousy research skills play too much of a role in how they form their ideas, but their intentions can be sincere. (One can be quite earnest without being very smart.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  59. al-Alameda says:

    @Guarneri:

    My god, next thing you know he might want to invade Iraq and then make the same mistake by offing the head of Libya.

    Like many Americans, Trump believed the case the Bush Administration was making and he supported going to war in Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with the events of September 11th.

    Libya? Republicans wanted it both ways. They wanted the Obama Administration to show strength and take out Qaddafi, and they wanted zero casualties in the process.

    I find it interesting that Republicans investigated Hillary Clinton 8 times concerning the death of 4 American officials in Benghazi, and investigated Ronald Reagan zero times concerning the death of 240 Marines in Beirut.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  60. grumpy realist says:

    OT, but related: the latest conspiracy du jour.

    This isn’t just jumping the shark, it’s sending a whole freakin’ LOAD of the fishies up into oblivion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  61. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Pch101: While I will still think such kindly-disposed thoughts for the rank-and-file (for the time being anyway), I am no longer amenable to supposing good motives of guys like Paul Ryan and the rest of his cohort (nor for Dr. Joyner and Mr. Mataconis, Esq. when they go on their “disgruntled losers who don’t deserve anything” tears). Ryan knows his suggestions are bad, he just assesses that they won’t hurt him and says “f**k it” about anyone else.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  62. Pch101 says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    I’m not claiming that they have good motives, but that they regard themselves as ultimately being restorative rather than destructive.

    That doesn’t mean that the stuff that they want to restore is worth a damn. One can be sincerely stupid or sincerely nasty; sincerity does not necessarily lead to virtue.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  63. grumpy realist says:

    Now Mrs. Trump (the one we got now) is claiming that Donald Trump is so malleable he can be egged on to say nasty things about women by a 3rd-rate talk-show host who’s 25 years younger than he is.

    And this is supposed to make us feel BETTER putting him in charge of the United States of America?

    (Arguments, how do they work?)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  64. Pch101 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Trump lives in a bubble of hubris, propped up by sycophants who enable his pompousness and dumbness.

    He’s not crazy, he’s arrogant. This general election campaign is probably the first time in his life that he’s been told how utterly inadequate and sub-par that he is, and he’s having real trouble coping with it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  65. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @grumpy realist: I actually thought that the Melania interview did more harm than good for Trump’s candidacy. But it also doesn’t reflect well on her, I just don’t think that she realizes exactly what Trump was boasting about.

    As well, apparently she doesn’t consider non-consensual groping as sexual assault. Forgetting Donald, I personally would not want her as FLOTUS.

    BTW, are our moderators on holiday, or is Trump just spewing out so much fodder for discussion that they can’t keep up?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  66. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Pch101: You may be missing my point. I don’t believe that they even care whether their ideas are restorative or not, as long as they personally will profit, they simply don’t care what happens to the country, its citizens, or the world.

    It’s like what I tell students when I substitute teach–well, at least I’m happy, and isn’t that what really matters?

    To call them lying pustules is unfair to all the actual pustules out there. Now, I’ll agree with Reynolds and go with if any of them change, I’ll welcome their repentance. I just don’t believe I’ll ever be called on to do it. I’ve lost any sense that they are anything worthwhile.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  67. C. Clavin says:

    So Trump trots out his wife to tell Anderson Cooper that the pu$$y-grabbing tape was all Billy Bush’s fault.
    WHAT A F’ING WIMP!!!
    And he calls himself strong and tough and he’s going to stand up to Putin and Netanyahoo!!!
    Right. Maybe your wife will. But you won’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  68. Jen says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: People do get busy, including the moderators!

    The “vote rigging” nonsense is what is concerning me most now. Not only is it an absurd claim, there is real danger in what Trump is trying to foment with this. It needs to be hammered down, NOW, by both Republicans and Democrats (and anyone else who wishes to join in).

    Trump is clearly grooming a portion of his audience to be receptive to the media enterprise he will be launching after the election. That these folks are being so blatantly used doesn’t seem to bother them. I hope he fails miserably.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  69. Pch101 says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker:

    I’m simply saying that they aren’t largely motivated by the desire to be destructive for the sake of it, and I’m implying that we won’t be able to figure them out if we assume that they are.

    The rank-and-file feel that the system is against them and that they are being cheated. They want to purge those institutions, laws, etc. that they blame for those feelings.

    I have no doubt that some of the leadership is manipulating them — Lee Atwater was an obvious example — but that doesn’t make them nihilists

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  70. C. Clavin says:

    Trump is now claiming that 1.8 million dead people will vote in this election.
    The man is delusional, and has no grasp of reality.
    Unfortunately he has conned a whole bunch of ignorant dupes. Jenos, JKB, bill, Guarneri…I’m looking at you.
    This is getting dangerous.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  71. grumpy realist says:

    @C. Clavin: I don’t know whether he’s really conned them at all, or whether they’re just being trolls.

    America might be the first country which ends up imploding because too many people were bored and thought that watching a revolution from their front porch would be amusing. With Russian internet trolls egging them on the entire way.

    We really ARE a nation of idiots.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  72. J-Dub says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Unfortunately he has conned a whole bunch of ignorant dupes. Jenos, JKB, bill, Guarneri…I’m looking at you.

    Trump himself is getting conned by Steve Bannon. Trump has become his puppet, spewing every conspiracy theory that Bannon feeds him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  73. charon says:

    @C. Clavin:

    The man is delusional, and has no grasp of reality.
    Unfortunately he has conned a whole bunch of ignorant dupes.

    These people were conned by the Conservative Entertainment Complex and the Republican Party long before Trump set out to exploit that con.

    See Rick Perlstein piece in the Baffler, “The Long Con”:

    http://thebaffler.com/articles/the-long-con

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  74. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Jen: Yes, I didn’t intend that to sound critical.

    And while I agree that the “vote rigging” and the subsequent foundation for delegitimizing the electoral process and ultimately the presidency (her)self is of great concern, I don’t know what anyone can do about the millions of Trump supporters that buy into his delusion.

    Furthermore, it just occurs to me that this is another big distraction (or misdirection) to change the current narrative that is embarrassing to Trump.

    One thing that I would give him credit for is that he is a master manipulator. I just pray that the voting public sees beyond the curtain.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  75. Pch101 says:

    Republicans have complained for 56 years that the 1960 election was rigged.

    The Trump campaign is a pastiche of right-wing memes, including MRA (men’s rights), xenophobia, old school Dixiecrat quasi-white nationalism, and McCarthyistic fear of The Other, along with the customary righteous indignation. The guy isn’t doing anything that hasn’t already been done already.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  76. @Pch101: Yes, but he is doing that in a new combo that has never been done at quite this scale. I think this is important.

    I understand that you want to rightly point out that a lot of the elements of Trumpism are not new. But I think you are underplaying the significance of this specific manifestation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  77. Pch101 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Aside from the internet making it more obvious, I would suggest that the only real difference today is that all of this zaniness is now channeled through a single political party.

    Gone are the days when the Democrats were a coalition of Catholic immigrants and the Southern Protestants who hated them, while blacks voted for Republicans who were fairly indifferent to their needs. Now we have one party that brands itself as the champion of minority interests while the other either opposes them outright or else claims that those minority concerns are not legitimate. The current party system is engineered for polarization.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  78. C. Clavin says:

    @Pch101:

    The guy isn’t doing anything that hasn’t already been done already.

    Emmitt Smith and Eric Clapton don’t do anything that hasn’t been done before…they just do it a lot better.
    Trump is on the other, darker, side of that equation..he’s taken everything bad about the Republican Party, re-jiggered it to fit his own particular brand of delusion, and turned it up to 11.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  79. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Pch101:

    I would suggest that the only real difference today is that all of this zaniness is now channeled through a single political party.

    But that’s a mighty big difference.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  80. @Neil Hudelson: You stole my response. It is a an extremely important fact.

    Further, it is all of the zaniness in question all at once and in the context of highly polarized parties.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  81. Pch101 says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    That is a big difference. But that difference isn’t limited to Trump, nor will Trump’s defeat make it go away.

    Even the supposed Republican party moderates indulge in variations of this, they just have a bit more finesse. It isn’t a Trump problem, it’s a GOP problem, and no, both sides aren’t doing it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  82. Blue Galangal says:

    @grumpy realist: I have a friend currently teaching in China who says that the Chinese are holding up Trump as an example of how democracy (not why, but how) doesn’t work.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  83. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Pch101: Allow me to revise by noting that while your topic is the base, mine is the leadership. I’ll agree; nihilism is a philosophy that requires more other centeredness than the typical leader in Congress possesses. As I was noting, they are oblivious to the effects of their belief except to the extent that they are personally benefited. I’m not even sure that they care that their contributors benefit.

    The leadership is never actually nihilistic; they are the guys who say “whoa! didn’t see that coming.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  84. grumpy realist says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: Given the (lack of) brainpower from people like Issa and Pence, are we really surprised?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0