Morning Ed: World {2017.02.02.Th}

Huh.

Iceland is a country, but it has a population half the size of El Paso (a third the size of El Paso metro). So with that and low crime generally, it’s not hard to imagine how a crime that may or may not even get attention here could rock an entire country.

Well this bodes ill.

Hmmm, I hope this doesn’t pan out.

I suppose Macron as Trump makes sense along a particular axis, but not the most salient ones. Among other things, Macron has experience in government and seems to me to be coming from a pretty different place ideologically. They represent the Dr Jekyl and Mr Hide of the political center.

Lyman Stone looks at illegal immigration rates and attempts, where they’re coming from and at what rate.

The interesting relationship between Shakespeare, falconry, and our language. {Via Aaron David}

From Greginak: Meanwhile in the rest of world. Yet there has been talk of removing sanctions on Russia and Trump has a noted affection for Putin and there was the consensus of the IC about Russia’s influence on our elections.

“If you can’t help cities advance progressive policies, then just leave us alone,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said. “Don’t punish cities for our immigration policies because you want to please your base by pretending to do something about immigration reform. Just actually do smart immigration reform and then cities won’t have to have distinct immigration policies in the first place. And, dear god, stop tweeting.” {via Jaybird}

What if I just like the Mercator projection because I think Greenland is awesome and doesn’t get enough attention?


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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148 thoughts on “Morning Ed: World {2017.02.02.Th}

  1. About the “society is broken” – it seems that mostly (entirely?) people in more-developed countries were surveyed. I wonder what folks in a small town in rural Kenya would think, or people in Vanuatu. I’m wondering if “brokenness in society” is something you are more inclined to notice, and be concerned about, when your belly is full and you have somewhere to go to get out of the rain?

    That’s not saying society isn’t broken; it’s just saying maybe people in the West notice it more because we’ve fulfilled the most basic of Maslow’s needs.

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      • I suspect they notice it in different ways. That someone who is a subsistence farmer sees an entirely different set of problems than the person who is an office worker in a city.

        I think of the (probably apocryphal) story about two women at a UN meeting talking – one from the US, one representing a rural, tropical nation. The US woman was complaining about non-inclusive language (e.g., “man” instead of “humanity”) and the woman from the tropical nation was essentially, “I’ll get back to you on that once we can reduce infant mortality to the level your country experiences.”

        I mean, a lot of the stuff I bitch about, I realize that I have the privilege to bitch about it because I’m not worrying about how to stay physically safe or where my next meal is coming from.

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  2. The Icelandic murder article reads less like an international news piece and more like something I’d read in my hometown newspaper.

    At least the police were able to quickly make an arrest.

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    • It reads like a Scandinavian detective story, too.

      My hunch is that Scandinavian noir is so popular, and so good, because it reflects the angst of people conditioned into a facade reserve and stoicism, by society and breeding alike. What, they wonder, lies behind the polite, but too short, and too unfelt, “Tack” and “God drag” that people say to each other. I don’t know my neighbour, I don’t know my cousin, I don’t know my child.

      So when something like this happens, it brings forward what, so far, is just subconscious fears. What are other people really thinking? What are they really doing?

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  3. I find it perplexing that everyone still talks about Trump and “Trump esque” politicians being not from the right or the left when Trump so far has been a pretty bog standard Republican. The big distinction is that he says some of the quiet parts very loudly.

    I guess the media can only learn so much…….

    Speaking of Trump his tweets on Iran are showing that he might cause a major international incident via twitter and he managed to turn off one of the nations that was rather pleased with his victory in the Anglosphere.

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  4. Two things on the Israeli student at the building school on Gabriola Island
    they’ve backed down
    – it is entirely unsurprising to me that Gabriola Island would be a centre of getting it wrong on opposing Israeli policy without being punitive toward individual Israelis.

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  5. I’ll agree that the IPSOS poll where so many think ‘society is broken’ isn’t good. I wonder, though, do all those people think it is broken in the same way? Or do they split into very different groups, thinking things are broken in very different ways?

    Sort of how all the people who polls said ‘disapprove’ of Obamacare. They split into two groups: One that wanted repeal, and the other that thought it didn’t go far enough.

    I have thought that the coalition that Reagan put together on the right has been fracturing for quite some time. They barely held together this time. I don’t think that coalition will hold together under Trump.

    And at the same time, the fault lines on the left are clear, too. Lots of people don’t think the status quo is what they want, but their vision for the future is very, very different.

    I think in 5 to 10 years time, we might see a very different clustering of policies finding homes under the red and blue banners.

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    • By far, the most concerning thing is this:

      There are real splits in the desire for a strong leader who is willing to break the rules (overall, on average 49% agree and 25% disagree). Support for a strong leader who will break the rules is especially high in France (80%), but also in Israel, Italy, South Korea, Turkey and India. Half of Germans and Swedes, though, oppose the idea, while many other countries are divided, with significant minorities on both sides of the argument – in Spain, South Africa, North America (US and Canada) and parts of Latin America (Argentina and Mexico).

      France, of course, has an election coming up. And the center-right candidate appears to have exploded.

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    • So, the Ipsos poll has 70% or more of those surveyed in the following countries saying that their country is broken:
      Poland
      Spain
      Brazil
      Mexico
      South Africa
      Hungary
      Serbia
      South Korea
      Argentina

      The following countries have 40% or fewer surveyed agreeing with the same statement:
      Belgium
      Canada
      India
      Israel
      Japan

      I’m no international traveler. Are the people wrong?

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    • Yeah, it’s the same when certain conservative media figures on Twitter have been going, “the media only has a 19% approval rating.”

      Yes, that sucks as a number, but that also has a large segment of the Left who sees the media as corporate controlled pushing neoliberal economics and giving right wing extremists cover by treating them as normal.

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  6. The falconry article is essentially a travel section puff piece, but with more than the usual bullshit.

    We have the observation that a handful of falconry terms have made it into the general language. This is unsurprising, to anyone who knows how language develops. This banality is presented in breathless tones, but that is routine for the genre. Some of the specific claims are dubious, e.g. “fed up” and “hoodwinked,” but we can let that pass.

    Then there is the mysterious claim that these terms are peculiarly Anglo-Irish. I have no idea why anyone would think this. My befuddlement doesn’t mean it isn’t true, but some scrap of a hint of justification for the claim would have been nice.

    Then we get to Shakespeare, and the bullshit really starts flying:

    William Shakespeare. Experts still argue about how much falconry Shakespeare actually practiced in real life, but he was no doubt personally acquainted with the sport, as his plays carry more than 50 references to falconry.

    This is the same logic as you see by “anti-Stratfordians” arguing that Shakespeare couldn’t have written all those plays. Only someone who had been to Venice, the argument goes, could possibly set a play in Venice, and since we know Shakespeare never visited Venice, is logically follows that he didn’t write those plays. This is not a chain of logic that stands up to close examination. Here we see it going in the other direction: Shakespeare mentioned falconry, and only someone who did falconry, or at least was “personally acquainted” with it, could possibly mention it. Huh? My guess is that this is a tale passed around among falconers because it is gratifying to their egos, not because it actually makes a lick of sense.

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  7. I’ll call out the links i sent it. Russia is again attacking the Ukraine. Does this get any attention on the news? Trump’s pal is going hard on taking over another country and what is Trump doing? Threatening Mexico and hanging up on one of our staunchest allies. Oh and ordering SEAL raids without proper intell or back up. But again, Russia is moving in on the Ukraine.

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  8. I look forward to someone explaining to me how police provocation led the crowd in Berkeley last night to throw pipes through windows, throw bombs at cops, set the building on fire, and pepper-spray women who were being interviewed.

    Because, y’know, I’ve had it explained to me quite thoroughly on this site how every bad thing that happens at protests is because of police provocation.

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  9. Well “US military officials” are not necessarily “US military officials *with knowledge of the preparations or the planning*” – because they probably aren’t, otherwise the article would have said it.

    Plus, these military officials are stating not facts, but opinions. At best, assessments, even before any AAR has been filed.

    The fact that they had the Osprey on standby and multiple CAS units, all based on the phib just off shore means they really *did* have backup. So if you want to believe in US Military officials that are *contradicting the publically available facts*, well, Sean Spicer would love to talk to you.

    Other reporting states that the only reason the mission didn’t go forward in the waning days of the Obama admin was the moon. As in, they were waiting for a new moon and the darkest night.

    I’m not even going to worry about how the medic source is probably Al Qaeda aligned, because they’ve finally identified that some of their story is from Al Qaeda aligned sources.

    I find very little evidence that President Clinton would not have also greenlighted this operation, with the same results.

    As for Ukraine, well, McCain and Romney, who both frequently said the Russians were bad hombres, have now been proven correct. What shall we do about it? I’m not inclined to do too much, because Ukraine is not actually a treaty ally, and you know, nukes and all that.

    (edit – comment is in regard on this story and this comment above.)

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    • Sources are sources. If the raid went well, nobody would question unnamed sources, they would just applaud. If they dropped into a camp that was far more well defended then they planned then that is bad intell. If the raid looked good a couple months ago that in no way means the situation hasn’t changed. That O had looked at doesn’t mean the plan is good now. I’m sure the SEALS want current intell, not from a couple months ago. But whatever.

      Oh yeah we have no treaty responsibilities to the Ukraine. It does seem sort of coincidental how fast the russians are moving just a week into Trump’s presidency though given all the hoopla and Trump’s Putin fandom. It easily looks like Putin has a free hand to take Ukraine.

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      • It easily looks like Putin has a free hand to take Ukraine.

        What exactly did Obama do to stop Putin from invading and or leave Ukraine once he had already invaded? Write him a very angry letter?

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        • Aside from the sanctions which Putin wants removed there wasn’t a ton he could do. But of course Trump has talked about getting rid of those sanctions. But my comment wasn’t about Obama. What do you want Trump to do? Get rid of the sanctions like he has talked about or give harder push back?

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          • Meh it sounds like you are throwing crap on the wall and blaming Trump. The sanctions are still in place and clearly they aren’t enough to stop Putin. Sounds like Obama’s fault to me.

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            • Trump has admitted he likes and gets along with Putin. Tillerson certainly knows how to work with Putin. So what gives? What is Trump saying or doing? Why has he talked about getting rid of the sanctions? What do you want to do? Go harder at Russia?

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              • Okay the sanctions were tweaked. From your article,The move immediately led to speculation that the Trump administration had significantly eroded the Russian penalties, but experts and former officials quickly cautioned that Treasury was mostly fixing a technical glitch that may have created unintended consequence for American exporters.”

                Let me clutch me pearls in horror as they fix a problem.

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                • I’m glad that technical fixes to Russian sanctions are such a high priority instead of trying to patch things up with our allies he took a dump on yesterday. Face it, if Obama had done the same thing to Australia yesterday you would be howling at the moon.

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                  • I see that your Trump derangement syndrome prevents you from being happy that Treasury fixed the sanctions. Since that is the case you segue into whining about the call with Oz.

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                    • It’s not derangement if the glove fits. Honestly, I think the optics of the timing are awful. Following up dressing down two allies with tweaking sanctions on a rival the next day looks terrible. And optics are a big part of diplomacy.

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                      • The tweaking made the sanctions better not worse. That’s supposed to be a good thing I guess, unless you are a liberal Then you scream, “he changed the sanctions” without looking at the implication of those changes.

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                        • They didn’t make them more effective, they just made it so that company’s could make payments to FSB as an electronics regulator. While pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, the timing of easing Russian sanctions now is questionable.

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                          • The “timing” bothers you? From your article, “In fact, according to a former official and news reports, the move was likely planned during the Obama administration.” I guess they should have waited a couple of months

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            • When you’re struggling under sanctions, your behavior is at least partially determined by whether you think changing your behavior will change the sanctions. If you know the sanctions are going away, the fact that they still exist should have no effect on your behavior. The Russian economy is fragile and vulnerable to economic pressure. Economic sanctions aren’t a silver bullet, but they’re probably the best way to apply pressure.

              Anyway, it’s probably just a coincidence that Russia escalated now. I’m expecting a lot of weird timing coincidences where Trump does something dumb and then something bad happens immediately after over the next few years.

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                • I think we’re about to see your theory tested. My hypothesis is that it won’t hold up. Hopefully we can revisit this discussion once we know how things turn out.

                  Obama’s biggest foreign policy mistake was underestimating Russia’s desire to expand its influence. A lot of his supporters, including me, made the same mistake. That should have been clear from at least 2014, and it seemed like we had all learned our lesson and were on the same page.

                  Unfortunately, since Trump came along, Republicans have suddenly decided that Russia is pretty darned OK, so I don’t expect to see a lot of push back as the sanctions ease.

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              • To a certain extent his options are limited by Obama’s missteps. I think he should give arms and training to the Ukrainian’s and even offer to station troops there.

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      • I’m not saying the Yemeni op wasn’t a clusterfish. I am pointing out the drumbeat that is trying to portray this as particular failure of Trump. A drumbeat that has been picked up by people that should know better (like you and e.g. Chris Hayes). A drumbeat that is superfluous in that the Trump admin has more particular failures each day than most admins have in their entire term. A drumbeat of a particular failure, and not a more general failure that may further show an organizational rot – a rot which also allows undisciplined Trumpalos to drive around their organizational vehicles (badly) on interstates in the Ohio valley.

        Do you really want those military officials cited by Reuters, willing to cast blame without all the facts and without any personal or professional responsibility – do you really want them speaking for ‘the resistance’?

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        • When we have such a bountiful cornucopia of fail it’s bound to happen that we each fix on one more than another. Trump life is like box of chocolates each made of Fail. And somehow, no matter which you choose first, each chocolate has more layers of Fail than the previous.

          So we agree raid was some degree of a cluster. Fine enough.

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          • Oh, we’re also limited by what we can do with Russia as long as we’re keeping a sizeable military footprint in Afghanistan, because the logistics choices are either

            1) go through Pakistan* but the bad parts of Afghanistan,

            2) go through the former Soviet stans, all with significant Russian influence** but which mostly go through the good parts of Afghanistan

            *and the routes through Pakistan are not exempt from bad parts

            ** which has largely left the logistics alone, except for Kyrgyzstan when Manas was going full bore

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            • Our options with Russia are limited. We can sanction and give speeches and lend, mostly moral, support to Ukraine. We can send troops to train in the area, like Poland and the Baltics, which we have done. But we are limited.

              It seems more like Putin is acting like he has a free hand and Trump’s policy is to be fine with that. It’s a couple weeks in and Putin is ramping up. Trump/Tillerson have connections, open and suspected hidden ones, with Putin. My point is more that we are seeing the new policy towards Russian aggression and it ain’t good. Especially given the recent Russian history with our elections according to the IC. The aggression in the Ukraine is a more important story, imho, then the Yemen raid, but i doubt it will get much attention.

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        • From my layman’s perspective:

          1. Presidents get credit and blame for damn near everything, whether or not they had anything to do with it; Trump getting blamed here is more a product of the Cult of the President than of Trump’s particular issues.

          2. The Reuters report does a terrible job of pinning down failures on Trump’s part; the failures it alleges seem like questions that should be resolved well below the President’s level (which may reflect genuine problems with the management of US counterterrorism operations; I don’t think this is the first time excessively detailed WH involvement has been alleged).

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          • You are certainly correct that the Prez gets ultimate blame and/or credit. That is fair since they are the ultimate decision maker. It’s also unfair since they can’t, nor should they, be involved in the detailed planning and if the actual operators, intell, etc don’t’ get it right there isn’t’ any way for the prez to know that.

            I have heard conservatives say Carter was a bad prez because the Iranian rescue mission failed. Like Carter should have been checking air intakes on planes to see how much dust they suck up. As an aside, i bet Carter would have done that.

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            • This is where temperament comes into play. One could reasonably criticize Obama’s judgment regarding (eg) Libya, but there have been exactly no reports that he wasn’t thoughtful, considered and thorough in the evaluation process leading to his decision. (Even Obama himself admits that while conceding it was a mistake.)

              Trump, on the other hand, is widely regarded as impulsive, unthoughtful and slapdash in his actions, hence the analysis you’re critiquing as unfair. Personally, I don’t think it’s unfair. Especially after Trump called the operation a “success”.

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              • Let’s take another example: Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Criticizing Bush for incompetent execution of the invasion-phase of the war operation would be an example of partisan point scoring. Criticizing Bush for the actual goals of the war (per PNAC, to keep eurasian oil flowing to the West) would be the same (even if you disagree with that goal). But you can legitimately criticize Bush – and by extension his proxies in the Presidential decision-making process – for mind-blowing levels of incompetence in disregarding every other aspect – primary, secondary, tertiary, practical, consequential, etc – of that war.

                Let’s just hope Trump doesn’t wanna go get that oil back, like he’s being signaling.

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              • I don’t think it’s unfair, in the sense that I think any President would be criticized for the same; I just think it’s a dumb to expect the President to supervise operations (especially of this small scale) personally.

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                • Why not? As you say, it’s his ass on the line.

                  Unless of course we’re racing to the bottom, here, where the new norm is that since Presidents get criticized no matter what they do they simply shouldn’t care about getting things right.

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                  • It’s not his job, and most Presidents (including this one) don’t have and should not be expected to have the competence to meaningfully contribute to the planning or execution of a raid of this sort.

                    The policies governing these types of raids are certainly within the President’s purview, including the authorization of individual raids should he choose to assume responsibility for it; it could well be that there are good criticisms of Trump around this raid! But not sitting in the Situation Room to observe the raid in real time does not strike me as a good criticism, unless someone can demonstrate a need for direct Presidential intervention while the raid was in progress.

                    The idea is not that the President shouldn’t care about getting things right; it is that the President should not be mucking about in details properly dealt with by subordinates, especially in areas in which the President lacks competence.

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                    • That’s not an ideal I’d advocate for Presidential decisionmaking. I thought the term “commander in chief” entailed a higher level of responsibility. Especially in circumstances like we’re talking about. But I also understand it’s easy to get distracted by shouting at Australian Prime Ministers because of a refugee exchange and all that.

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                      • I suppose I just fail to understand why responsibility and micromanagement are synonymous in the minds of so many. The managers up the chain from me are definitely responsible for my work, but it would be wildly irresponsible of them to take time out of their days to watch me writing code.

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                        • but it would be wildly irresponsible of them to take time out of their days to watch me writing code.

                          Ironically, watching you write code is exactly analogous to watching a special ops team take out a target live on a computer screen. :)

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                • Adding: given that this was the first military op of his presidency you’d think he’d be more concerned about a real success than relying on his ability (well…) to sell it as a success even when it wasn’t. But that ain’t how Trump rolls!!!

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                  • The only thing that surprises me is that monitoring from afar the real time info flow is actually kinda cool & interesting, and I would think especially so if one has a flair for showmanship and drama – and even more morbidly fascinating if things are increasingly going tango uniform.

                    In other words, he had an exclusive, premium ticket to the livestream of one of the ultimate reality shows in human existence – and he declined the invitation.

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                • “The buck stops down the hall. With the guy I hired. I hired only the best buck-stoppers. Best buck-stoppers on the market. It’s amazing. Guy’s name? Fredrick Douglass. Absolutely amazing guy. He’s going places. He’ll be known more and more for his contributions, especially being totally responsible for this Yemen thing, massive success. Just amazing. Nobody said it was possible, but I did it. And Fredrick Douglass? He’s there to catch that buck like a pro. Great hands. Huge hands. Smaller than mine.”

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              • Personally, I don’t think it’s unfair.

                Of course it’s unfair. But the last thing anyone should be worried about is being unfair to the President of the United States.

                My only wish is that people would be as unfair and overly critical to their guy as they are to the other guy.

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  10. For a bit of good news, in recent polling, the SPD has surged after choosing a new leader.

    #Germany poll [@ARDde]:
    CDU/CSU 34% -3 – (Merkle)
    SPD 28% +8 – (Social Democrats)
    AfD 12% -3 – (anti-immigrant “populists)
    Die Linke 8% -1 – (old East German Lefties)
    Grüne 8% -1 – (Greens)
    FDP 6% +1 – (Libertartians)

    50% want an SPD-led govt vs 39% for CDU

    I’ll note that it’d be kind of incredible that if by the end of 2017, the two countries with the largest Muslim populations in Europe nominate centrist pro-EU pro-refugee parties while the UK and US basically wilded out and elected Trump and left the EU.

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    • Is it? I mean I’ve noticed that anti-immigration fears seem to hold outsized sway in states with fewer immigrants.

      Texas, for instance, does not appear to be gripped in quite the anti-Hispanic immigrant xenophobia as other states. (Anti-Muslim, yes, but strangely we have a low Muslim population).

      It’s been a pretty common thing to see people with the least exposure to scream the loudest, whereas everyone else has realized….the sky hasn’t fallen and everything’s fine, why are you screaming, the food’s delicious.

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      • There is some truth to this. I’ve known quite a few people in Alaska to be terrified of the Mexican hoards yet our borders are just a little bit removed from the Rio Grande.

        Although, to be fair, i did see a taco truck in the summer.

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  11. As long as we’re talking about polls…

    Snicker.

    Less than 2 weeks into Donald Trump’s tenure as President, 40% of voters already want to impeach him. That’s up from 35% of voters who wanted to impeach him a week ago. Only 48% of voters say that they would be opposed to Trump’s impeachment.

    Beyond a significant percentage of voters already thinking that Trump should be removed from office, it hasn’t taken long for voters to miss the good old days of Barack Obama…52% say they’d rather Obama was President, to only 43% who are glad Trump is.

    Hows that Trumpey-Changey thing workin’ out for ya?

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  12. The coherent, correctly targeted criticism of Trump and his admin regarding the Yaklaa Yemen operation is as follows.

    The basic premise of GWOT & OEF is that areas around the world outside of the control & authority of a duly consituted government are almost invariably havens for violent extremists. These violent extremists, in turn, present a national security threat to the US. This national security threat consists of two parts – the potential of extremist violence conducted on US territory and the potential of extremist violence conducted in the terroritory of US Allies. The Allies, in turn, ran the gamut from formal longstanding treaty allies (i.e. NATO), longstanding bilateral partners (i.e. Aus, Nz, Jpn, ROK), more contigent bilateral partners (PI, most of the rest of SE and S Asia), and then frenemies like the GCC states, Pakistan, Russia, and China.

    Both the Bush and Obama administrations filly accepted and acted on this premise and its lemmas as described above. The difference in them was execution that varied both between the administrations and within the span of each administration. To wit, obviously OIF breaks this basic paradigm, but furthermore the balance between 1) building up government so that there is less land & population outside of government control and 2) blasting the snot out of potential extremists in areas beyond government control – the balance between 1) and 2) varied of the course of each administration.

    There were statements and inferences that a Trump administration would upend this basic premise. More importantly the basic premise may not be true. I do not think it is true.

    But what this event shows is that Trump and his admin has more or less bought into the legacy GWOT & OEF. And has bought into conducting operations with the almost the lowest level of Allies, the GCC states (in this case the UAE), But all this fighting is now, and has been for a long time, a combo of a Sunni vs Shia and intra Sunni multiple regional (and multi ethnic) (but not global) war.

    So the only maybe kinda silver lining in the Trump cloud ain’t there.

    And I don’t see even Justin Raimando getting off the Trump Train to recognize we’re fighting rich schmuck monarchs’ wars for them.

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    • Well stated. I’d actually say most of the premise is A) true but that B) we are fighting in civil wars and for oil soaked rich folks in simultaneously true. They aren’t exclusive. Smedley Butler would recognize a lot of what is going on. While i think the premise is mostly correct that doesn’t mean the costs of extending the war into every nook and cranny is worth it nor does the threat warrant it.

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      • I don’t think the premise that wild untamed places are critical base of extremist attacks against the United States because it really wasn’t even that true on 9/11. The main plot was primarily planned and executed from the ungovernable tribal areas of Hamburg Germany, Central Florida, and the Vegas Strip.

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        • I’ve been to Central Florida and Vegas so i don’t think that proves your point.

          But anyway wild chaotic places can be useful bases for “bad hombres”. They do use them for training camps and places to hide. But of course they don’t absolutely need them since there will always be a Florida. And there will always be wild places. Those places don’t even have to be that big. So trying to get rid of wild places is impossible and wouldn’t even solve the problem even though bad guys will gravitate to them. Also our bombing/raiding/intervening in places is very often going to make them wilder. Just like supporting one side in a civil war is always going to blowback at some point.

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    • Occam’s razor probably favors your view, but there is an alternative account: given that Yemen was included in the recent highly controversial EO’s list of Banned Countries this could be a bit of tail wag. I’m not convinced it is – it seems more like a continuation of Obama’s policies, as you point out – but I wouldn’t exclude it as an option.

      Either way, tho, from a functional pov, Trump’s decision to act in Yemen constitutes an unchanged continuation of the previous two president’s GWOT policies irrespective of whether doing so actually “puts America first” (or alternatively, since that phrase isn’t so well known, “Makes America Great Again.”)

      Next thing you know, he’s gonna have the US invade Syria solo under the authority of NATO. (Every president needs at least one war, after all!)

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      • It’s a tail wag (if I’m understanding you correctly) in that there *was* a substitute teacher/new step-dad trying to be the ‘cool’ dad going on.

        All the reports do agree that a faction in the Pentagon (either people in the actual building, USCENTCOM Hq – and/or its Navy-Marine Corp component, USSOCOM HQ – and/or its Navy-Marine Corp component, or most likely some essential combo of all the above) has wanted to ‘lean in’ on Yemen and specifically AQAP for a couple of years now. (Rebooting from when most ops had to be halted when the govt of Yemen was deposed)

        The Obama admin, by its own admission (like, the tweets of Biden nat sec advisor) slow rolled this, and then ran out the clock, lest they bind the next admin. (Deferring action during the lame duck is fine, Bush Jr did the same thing. Bush Sr did not, and thus Clinton was stuck with what would become Black Hawk Down)

        Now, the Obama admin officials *are* making a bit too much of the interagency process. The staffing of the State department, for instance, had absoluting no bearing on this op, not given its parameters.

        But what is known, and probably a contributing factor, is that ops in Yemen against AQAP have been primarily the CIA’s baby, with the DoD in a supporting role, if involved at all.

        This op was reversed – DoD was on point. And the current Presidential Natl Sec Advisor (Flynn) has a longstanding beef with the institutional CIA – so it is very likely that they were sidelined in the prep and execution of this op, and that might have been part of the intel failure.

        (People who say military commanders/officials didn’t have input (like Fred Kaplan) are self evidently wrong – the military ran this operation from head to tail.)

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  13. Trump warns Israel that new settlements ‘may not help’ achieve Middle East peace

    While the statement carefully parsed it words, it marked a step away from what some Trump officials — and the president’s designated new ambassador to Israel — have said in favor of settlements. … Trump has surrounded himself with at least three close advisers for whom Israel and its security are a paramount concern — his son-in-law, Jared Kushner [and two others]. Trump recently said that if Kushner — who has no foreign policy background — can’t bring peace to the region, “nobody can.”

    Kush for the win!

    Report

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