Trump and Putin: Some 1980s Background

 

What do interviews in the 1980s and 1990s with Donald Trump tell us about his attitudes toward Russia and nuclear weapons?

The interviews are oblivious to world events taking place at that time. They are basically gossip columns by Lois Romano and William E. Geist, 1984; Ron Rosenbaum, 1987; Mark Singer, 1997. Descriptions of Trump’s lavish quarters and sycophantic workers, his expensive clothes, and his ease in getting a table at a restaurant figure prominently in the introductory paragraphs.

Nuclear issues and Russia are minor parts of the Romano and Singer interviews and even less of Geist’s, but what Rosenbaum capitalizes as The Problem, nuclear proliferation, is central to his interview. The interviewers all knew that the subjects were likely to come up, but seem not to have prepared. Rosenbaum cites a recent article of his and a visit to a nuclear silo control room as preparation, along with his revulsion at one proposed and rejected aspect of nuclear doctrine and sharing in the then-common wisdom that the summit at Reykjavik was a failure.

That lack of preparation leads to weak questions and no followup.

Here are the bullet points I compiled on Trump’s comments in those interviews:

  • Trump is a gifted negotiator
  • Previous negotiators have been inadequate
  • Trump doesn’t want to reveal his thinking
  • “It would take an hour-and-a-half to learn everything there is to learn about missiles . . . I think I know most of it anyway.”
  • Building up suspense with the interviewer by canceling and renewing the interview
  • Inflating himself by implying high-level connections
  • “The Subject” is utterly secret, but Trump is willing to dish about it in a public restaurant
  • Nobody else understands the danger

We have heard all of this recently. Trump’s general approach has not changed.

In 1997, Singer recalls Trump’s 1987 comments about working with the Soviets “to coördinate a formula for coping with Armageddon-minded lunatics.” This is an introduction to the appearance of Alexander Lebed at Trump’s offices. Lebed was a candidate for president in the 1996 Russian elections, running in favor of a more dictatorial government at a time when Russian institutions were in flux. He also argued that a large number of suitcase nuclear weapons had escaped the Russian government’s control. There was then and is now no evidence for that.

The entire discussion with Lebed is trivial, but he compliments Trump: “I told the New York Times I was talking to you because you are a professional—a high-level professional—and if you invest, you invest in real stuff. Serious, high-quality projects. And you deal with serious people. And I deem you to be a very serious person. That’s why I’m meeting you.” Trump sums up the meeting: Lebed is a tough guy that you “wouldn’t want to play nuclear weapons with,” but he loves Trump.

Rosenbaum felt his interview was important enough to reprint it in Slate. It also appeared in a book that was reviewed in June 1987. Thus, the interview must have been earlier in the year, before Trump’s July trip to Moscow.

Rosenbaum describes in detail how Trump softened him up. Referring coyly to nuclear proliferation as The Subject. Canceling the interview and then rescheduling it. Worrying that some reporters might make him look like an idiot. And it worked. Rosenbaum says “I’ve come to feel protective about Donald Trump.” He believes that Trump is serious. And knows how to make deals. He also writes in sentence fragments like this.

Financier Bernard Baruch’s presentation in the United Nations in 1946 of a plan to prevent the arms race shows that businessmen can have good ideas about such things, Rosenbaum tells us. If he had dug further, he would have found that the Baruch Plan was based on the Acheson-Lilienthal report, written by a committee of statesmen and scientists. Baruch had the background to appreciate it, but he could never have written it himself. And, though President Harry Truman appointed him to do the presentation because of his experience as a negotiator, the Baruch Plan was firmly rejected by the Soviet Union.

So Rosenbaum gives in to the nihilism that elected Trump: “What could we possibly have to lose by placing all nuclear negotiating in the hands of Donald Trump?”

Trump’s story is disjointed and disorganized, but a few themes stand out. Trump almost cancels the interview because he wants to keep his thoughts on The Problem secret, but then he and Rosenbaum talk about it at a restaurant where Trump admirers keep butting in. Trump is concerned about crazy leaders like Muammar Qaddafi getting nukes and has special animus toward the French for allegedly selling nuclear technology carelessly. He believes that a nuclear weapon could be miniaturized to briefcase, even tape recorder size.  He gives no evidence for any of this.

A great negotiator is needed. Not necessarily him, he says, but someone like him who could negotiate a much better deal than people in government service who are paid low salaries because the private sector doesn’t want them.

He intersperses commercials for Trump properties into the conversation.

Another commercial for a Trump property and his deal-making skills, this one much longer.

The gist of Trump’s deal, in a wordy and unclear description, seems to be an agreement between the United States and the Soviets to squeeze economically any other nation that they deem to be behaving badly with respect to nuclear weapons. No carrots, just sticks. “You do whatever is necessary so these people will have riots in the street, so they can’t get water. So they can’t get Band-Aids, so they can’t get food. Because that’s the only thing that’s going to do it—the people, the riots.”

He seems to want to roll back France’s nuclear status.

They’ve got the bomb, but they don’t have it now with the delivery capability they will have in five years. I f they didn’t give it up—and I don’t mean reduce it, and I don’t mean stop, because stopping doesn’t mean anything. I mean get it out. If they didn’t, I would bring sanctions against that country that would be so strong, so unbelievable…

At this point, Rosenbaum draws back a little and recognizes that this is not a plan. But he feels protective of Trump’s vision.

 

The interviews were poorly done, with too much deference to Trump, who was clearly manipulating the interviewers. Tendencies appear that we see today in his words and actions. Whether he has a well-formed plan remains unclear.

Trump’s (and Rosenbaum’s) concerns about the fragility of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty were wrong. Since 1987, Pakistan, India, and North Korea have added themselves to the list of countries holding nuclear weapons. Iran was moving down that road, but the world responded and held them back. South Africa and Libya gave up their nuclear weapons programs.  A total of nine nations hold nuclear weapons, and four are outside the NPT. Not perfect, but not as bad as projected by Trump. Economic sanctions played some role in the outcome, but not to the extent Trump expected.

In 1987, Trump saw collaboration with the Soviet Union as a way to use brutal force against countries to bend them to his will. That he chose to meet with Alexander Lebed in 1997, who felt that Russia needed to be more dictatorial in its government, suggests that those views continued. His current siding with autocratic governments in Saudi Arabia and Egypt to force certain behaviors on Qatar follows this pattern.

His admiration for Vladimir Putin is of a piece with this. It is possible he still believes a nuclear duopoly can be enforced across the world. His desire to ally with Putin suggests that he is unsure about his ability to pull off such a maneuver and needs a stronger, more knowledgeable partner. The entire scheme is similar to the workings of organized crime, a part of the New York real estate mileu. Subsequent events, like his attempts to co-opt James Comey and Preet Bharara, also suggest tactics of organized crime.

Does this mean, as Sarah Kendzior says, that Trump has a plan to join with Putin to control nuclear weapons across the world? Trump’s track record so far argues against a long-range plan. But his inclinations could lean toward such an arrangement if the opportunity presented itself. Whether Putin would find Trump an acceptable partner in such an enterprise, or if he even sees such an enterprise as worthwhile, are other questions.

 

Graphic from The Daily Star.

Cross-posted to Nuclear Diner.






142 replies
  1. 1

    […] Cross-posted to Balloon Juice. […]

  2. 2
    Corner Stone says:

    Whether he has a well-formed plan remains unclear.

    Can’t spell “nuclear” without the word “unclear”.
    The whole thing screams of wannabe tough guy mafioso going around to smaller nations telling them he hopes they’re ok with the agreement he is proposing.

  3. 3
    amk says:

    Guess all the other nuke nations will just roll over and play dead.

  4. 4
    Jeffro says:

    His admiration for Vladimir Putin is of a piece with this. It is possible he still believes a nuclear duopoly can be enforced across the world. His desire to ally with Putin suggests that he is unsure about his ability to pull off such a maneuver and needs a stronger, more knowledgeable partner. The entire scheme is similar to the workings of organized crime, a part of the New York real estate mileu. Subsequent events, like his attempts to co-opt James Comey and Preet Bharara, also suggest tactics of organized crime.

    Ya think?
    Trumpov’s “desire to ally with Putin” has nothing to do with nuclear weapons and everything to do with maximizing the grift and playact at being a authoritarian strongman. Full stop.

    Does this mean, as Sarah Kendzior says, that Trump has a plan to join with Putin to control nuclear weapons across the world? Trump’s track record so far argues against a long-range plan. But his inclinations could lean toward such an arrangement if the opportunity presented itself. Whether Putin would find Trump an acceptable partner in such an enterprise, or if he even sees such an enterprise as worthwhile, are other questions.

    Trumpov’s “plan to join with Putin to control nuclear weapons across the world” sounds just like this, inside Trumpov’s head: bip-a-zee-bip-bip-bop-badoop-a-whoop. That’s about the level of what’s going on up there these days.

  5. 5
    Corner Stone says:

    I honestly hope Trump does have some kind of plan re: Qatar. Even if it’s stupid or malignant. A plan would at least denote a series of threads to combat, repair, anything. My thought is again he wants to bully somebody, he takes strength from his new best friend Saudi, and feels good that with a wink and a nod he can cause this smaller nation to quake in their boots and starve their children.

  6. 6
    Jeffro says:

    Also, Betty, what’s the recent Reince Priebus quote that Rick Wilson’s making fun of? I’m seeing some reports that Trumpov has given ol’ Rinse until July 4th to “clean house”…?

  7. 7
    Jeffro says:

    @amk: Whaddya think – Macron going to play along with Trumpov’s plan to just hand over its nukes? El to the Oh El.

  8. 8
    Oatler. says:

    Racked up a lot of billable hours to Milton, Chadwick & Waters…

  9. 9

    Thanks Cheryl. It’s great to have a knowledgable person here working on this stuff.

  10. 10
    Leave them behind says:

    We deserve what we are getting. Lazy, entitled aholes. All of us.

  11. 11
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Jeffro: Man, I’ve heard of some unrealistic deadlines in my life, but that’s just ridiculous.

  12. 12
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo fka Edmund Dantes says:

    You make the mistake that so many do. Anyone who has any degree of familiarity with dealing with and collecting disputed funds from developers implicitly recognizes what he is – the typical bullshit artist from that industry.

    Developers are generally not smart, speak in vague generalities and hyperbole about their skills/accomplishments and gloss over their frequent crashing and burning. In his case, he’s had an easier run doe to the cushion of great inherited wealth and connections.

    To a great extent, I blame a fawning media and a tendency for NYC to reward fame for the sake of fame in the creation of Donald Trump. For the selection as president, I blame white voters in the South and Midwest – he represents their Id.

  13. 13
    Sphex says:

    @Leave them behind: Will no one rid me of this meddlesome troll?

  14. 14
    Mike in DC says:

    Sessions will testify publicly tomorrow before the Senate Intel committee. Expected to invoke exec privilege on the question of his conversations with Trump prior to firing Comey.

  15. 15
    Hoodie says:

    @Jeffro: Obama nailed it – Trump is, first and foremost, a bullshitter. His “plans” are about getting people to pay attention to him, give him money and/or status. The other aspect of his personality is resentment of anyone who doesn’t buy his bullshit (e.g., Comey) or gets more attention (e.g., Obama). The Russians know this, which is why they so easily use him. My guesses is that they’ve indulged and cultivated his fantasy that he’s an historic figure making world-changing deals for which he will receive boundless admiration.

  16. 16
    Jeffro says:

    @Hoodie: I thought it was funny that the ill Douche already has his own unit of time (a la Tom Friedman’s “Friedman Unit” of six months)

    A Trumpov unit is two weeks.

  17. 17
    Jeffro says:

    @SatanicPanic:

    from the Politico article about Priebus having until the 4th…

    Another outside adviser who regularly speaks to the president said that Trump often threatens employees with the prospect of being fired to motivate them to do better, prompt them to resign, or to use them as an example for other staffers of what it can be like to be on his bad side.

    “Trump will literally ask anyone who will listen, ‘Do you think Reince is doing a good job?’ or ‘Do you think that I should get rid of him?'” said that adviser, who has been asked that question by Trump.

    Sounds like a heck of a manager/businessman, that Trumpov!

    Maybe he should just nominate that Kool-Aid swilling aide he’s banging, Hicks? I’m sure she couldn’t do any worse that Rinse at managing this shit-show.

  18. 18
  19. 19
  20. 20
    Fair Economist says:

    @Jeffro:

    I’m seeing some reports that Trumpov has given ol’ Rinse until July 4th to “clean house”…?

    And you thought cleaning the Augean Stables was bad…

  21. 21
    hovercraft says:

    @Jeffro:

    Not always, he is also fond of “a short period of time”.

  22. 22
    Fair Economist says:

    @Jeffro:

    I’m sure she couldn’t do any worse that Rinse at managing this shit-show.

    The Republicans can always get worse. Remember when Bush was the worst president ever?

  23. 23

    @Fair Economist: Maybe we should redirect the Potomac.

  24. 24
    Corner Stone says:

    “Well, I’m looking for truthful test-uh-mony.”
    /Richard Painter

  25. 25
    germy says:

    @Mike in DC:

    Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said Sessions requested that the committee hearing be public.

    “He believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him and looks forward to answering the committee’s questions tomorrow,” Flores said.

    The hearing will be held Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.

  26. 26
    Jeffro says:

    meanwhile…no need to look into that Russian hacking or anything, Mr. President…after all, what could go wrong?

    Hackers allied with the Russian government have devised a cyberweapon that has the potential to be the most disruptive yet against electric systems that Americans depend on for daily life, according to U.S. researchers.

    The malware, which researchers have dubbed CrashOverride, is known to have disrupted only one energy system — in Ukraine in December. In that incident, the hackers briefly shut down one-fifth of the electric power generated in Kiev.

    But with modifications, it could be deployed against U.S. electric transmission and distribution systems to devastating effect, said Sergio Caltagirone, director of threat intelligence for Dragos, a cybersecurity firm that studied the malware and issued a report on Monday.

    And Russian government hackers have already shown their interest in targeting U.S. energy and other utility systems, researchers said.

  27. 27
    Corner Stone says:

    @germy: Do we think Sessions is going to lie his ass off, or do we think he is preparing the groundwork for shipping Trump down the river?

  28. 28
    germy says:

    Here’s the important part: (he negotiated with Burr; it’ll be a nice public brick wall; a big wall)

    Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Sessions negotiated details of the hearing directly, according to aides familiar with their talks. While the hearing will be held in public, there has been no time scheduled — at least as of Monday morning — for Sessions to stick around and testify in a closed hearing to discuss classified matters, according to those aides, who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

    While several committee members — including Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) — had voiced support for a public hearing, other members have complained that doing so will inevitably lead to a brick wall, where Sessions will say he cannot discuss certain matters in public. That prompted at least some members of the committee to push for a closed hearing, or at least some allotted time to meet with Sessions privately after the public forum, aides said.

  29. 29
  30. 30

    I am not going to speculate what T and his minions are going to do. Its a fool’s errand, even if you assume the worst, they exceed those expectations. They must be fought with all we have got.

  31. 31
    Jeffro says:

    @Corner Stone: I’ll go with “lie his ass off”, mostly by omission/claiming executive privilege.

  32. 32

    @Le Comte de Monte Cristo fka Edmund Dantes: I think we have to analyze Trump on at least two levels. One is that me may have a strategy and plans in the sense that policy analysts think of, and the other that, as you say, he is a bullshit artist. I see aspects of both in his words and actions.

    He is also erratic and likes to surprise people, so he frequently deviates from both modes of operation and changes them up.

    The trick is not to become wedded to any one way of looking at him, but to be prepared for ths possibilities.

  33. 33

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    He is also erratic and likes to surprise people, so he frequently deviates from both modes of operation and changes them up.

    In what way has he surprised you?

  34. 34
    hovercraft says:

    @Corner Stone:
    He’s been a smarmy piece of shit for decades, lying his ass off, I suspect he’s smart enough to walk right up to the line but not cross it, but he’s been lying foe son long that he may just do it out of habit, assuming that he can get away with it.
    So I guess I’m saying he’ll lie in a way that he thinks he can wriggle out of it, the only problem is that Mueller is not the senate or the rubes in Alabama who’ve not only voted for him repeatedly, but also elected Roy Moore to their Supreme Court even after he was kicked out.

  35. 35
    Corner Stone says:

    I could watch Aaron Franklin make BBQ pits all day long.

  36. 36
    Fair Economist says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    @Fair Economist: Maybe we should redirect the Potomac.

    Nah, these days we have laws about disposal of toxic waste, and rivers aren’t acceptable.

  37. 37
    pamelabrown53 says:

    @Corner Stone: @27.

    I’ll go with with the “lie his ass off” for a thousand, Corner Stone. First of all, he was always a back bencher with a storied history of racism and xenophobia. He’s probably drunk with power. Plus he’s too dim a bulb to realize that “shipping Trump down the river” just may be in his own self interest.

  38. 38
    different-church-lady says:

    Thanks for making this blog more readable, Cheryl.

    @Corner Stone: The first deliberately, the second accidentally.

  39. 39

    @schrodingers_cat: In one sense, not at all. His actions as president are uninformed and theatrical, just as they were in the campaign. But he does a lot of tactical surprises, like last Friday’s undercutting of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s trying to cool things with regard to Qatar. Within two hours, and with Tillerson sitting in the front row. Or refusing to endorse Article V in his NATO speech, after his aides had said he would.

    Those surprises and reverses make it hard to know what he would do in a difficult situation, just the opposite of what our allies need, which is why they are saying they have to consider how they would go it alone. And perhaps that is a Trump policy too, to remove America from a stable role in the world.

    It’s those kind of things that make it necessary to look at what Trump does from at least two angles.

  40. 40
    different-church-lady says:

    @Fair Economist: We need curbside recycling for waterways.

  41. 41
    Jeffro says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Still looking for the strategy…any strategy…other than let his full freak flag fly and continue to be rewarded by the GOP for it.

    He’s busy right now letting his Cabinet go around the table and praise him. His own quote praising himself was “Never has there been a president, with few exceptions, who’s passed more legislation, done more things…” (h/t Brad Jaffy and Politifact)

    Maybe he’s so out of touch with reality, he’s about to fade into the Dark Dimension?

  42. 42

    @Cheryl Rofer: In a difficult situation or any situation really, he makes things worse. Can you think of any exception because I cannot.

  43. 43
    hovercraft says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    He is also erratic and likes to surprise people, so he frequently deviates from both modes of operation and changes them up.

    The trick is not to become wedded to any one way of looking at him, but to be prepared for ths possibilities.

    As you say he’s a bullshit artist who hasn’t studied anything, He formed his opinions decades ago, but those opinions are based on, I hesitate to call it cursory, it’s more like fortune cookie depth of knowledge, we’ve seen this repeatedly, he says he knows something and can solve it easily, and then when people with actual knowledge explain it to him, he discovers it’s complicated.

    I appreciate your effort to explain his “thinking”, what I find to be the saddest thing apart from Twitler’s lack of depth, is the ‘reporters’ contorting themselves to try and make his bullshit seem like something resembling a coherent strategy/ position. Thanks.

  44. 44
    Corner Stone says:

    Trump doesn’t give a shit about anyone. Not Melania, not Barron, not Ivanka. Nobody. Stop acting like Melania is the new “moderating” force on this president. She hates him and he doesn’t consider a thing about her.

  45. 45
    Mike J says:

    @LAO: “National security is not a talismanic incantation”

  46. 46
    pamelabrown53 says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    I wonder if there is too much wedding to Trump’s POV based on his cognitive abilities in the 80’s. Maybe his bullshit skills were razor sharp in the 80’s but it appears those skills are deteriorating.

  47. 47
    Corner Stone says:

    I hate all these media clowns who have swallowed the hook and are all parroting the same stupid CW garbage line back at us.
    He went golfing on Mother’s Day instead of spending time with Melania and Barron.

  48. 48
    Corner Stone says:

    @Jeffro:

    He’s busy right now letting his Cabinet go around the table and praise him.

    “His ballsweat was as of the finest Ambrosia.”
    /Mulvaney

  49. 49
    LAO says:

    @Mike J: One can only hope that the Supreme Court agrees.

  50. 50
    Corner Stone says:

    NO! NO! NOOOOOOO!!! I HATE HER FUCKING VOICE!! HER FACE! GGGAAACCCKKK!!!

  51. 51
    different-church-lady says:

    @hovercraft:

    he says he knows something and can solve it easily, and then when people with actual knowledge explain it to him his magic-wand fails in a very public way, he discovers it’s complicated.

  52. 52
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Jeffro:
    I guess this means that come July 5, Reince’s sorry butt is toast. We all know the problem at this White House starts with the man in the Oval Orifice; there’s no way to clean it up without firing Trump himself. Which, of course, Priebus cannot do.

  53. 53

    @Amir Khalid: I wouldn’t be so sure. He is yet to fire anyone for being incompetent. He fires competent people so RP is here to stay.

  54. 54

    @pamelabrown53: One of the things that I left out of these two pieces on Trump’s 1980s interviews was a comparison of his cognitive abilities. It’s hard to make a judgment on the basis of written quotes – some of the tells of declining cognitive skills are hesitations and mispronounciations – but from what I see in these interviews, there’s not much change in cognitive abilities.

    He diverts to talking about his various sorts of wonderfulness (then, his properties; now, his vote count). He won’t talk specifics under the excuse that he doesn’t want to give away his secrets. He diverts his attention from the interviewer to other people. It seems to be the same thing we see today.

  55. 55
    different-church-lady says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Stop acting like Melania is the new “moderating” force on this president.

    This time for sure!

  56. 56
    Corner Stone says:

    “Appren…tiss…ship??” What magic is this? Another innovation freshly created by the Honored Trump Kingdom!

  57. 57
    Amir Khalid says:

    @different-church-lady:
    I’ve been comparing Trump to Mundungus Fletcher. But as you point out here, there’s a fair bit of Gilderoy Lockhart in him as well.

  58. 58

    There is no deep thinking, no strategy or even tactics. There is a desire for dominance and making more money by any means possible. That’s all.

  59. 59

    @Fair Economist: This is why America isn’t Great anymore. Hercules would weep.

  60. 60
    Corner Stone says:

    Experienced based education in law school?
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

  61. 61
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Corner Stone: I dunno why you torture yourself with TV.

  62. 62
    Corner Stone says:

    You mean that person has passed a certification test.

  63. 63
    Felonius Monk says:

    @Corner Stone:

    NO! NO! NOOOOOOO!!! I HATE HER FUCKING VOICE!! HER FACE! GGGAAACCCKKK!!!

    Specificity, please. And don’t hold in your displeasure. :)

  64. 64
    Corner Stone says:

    @SatanicPanic: I’m just waiting for CSI: Miami to come on.
    This was no accident….[shades]…this was murder
    YYYYEEEAAAAHHHHH!!!

  65. 65
    Corner Stone says:

    @Felonius Monk: I would but, sadly, once again I have been told I don’t get to decide what I do with my time or what I comment about here. So maybe another day, eh?

  66. 66
    Jeffro says:

    @Corner Stone: True enough (also: gross)

  67. 67
    Brachiator says:

    ..The entire scheme is similar to the workings of organized crime

    The entire scheme is similar to a parody of organized crime.

    Great post pointing out how empty Trump’s thinking is, and how long he has held onto his stale, useless ideas.

    Worst of all, he seems to believe his own bullshit.

  68. 68
    Mike J says:

    WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Transparency Caucus, introduced the Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement or “COVFEFE” Act. This bill codifies vital guidance from the National Archives by amending the Presidential Records Act to include the term “social media” as a documentary material, ensuring additional preservation of presidential communication and statements while promoting government accountability and transparency.

    https://quigley.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/quigley-introduces-covfefe-act

  69. 69
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Corner Stone: Oh OK. I’m not trying to get on your case, I just find talking head TV makes me angry about everything. I think that’s the point of it.

  70. 70
    different-church-lady says:

    @Felonius Monk: I know — that could be nearly anyone.

  71. 71
    Jeffro says:

    @Corner Stone: @different-church-lady:

    Ivanka, on the cover of some dumb “People”-ish magazine this week: “Why I Disagree With My Dad” or some such nonsense

    Ivanka, also this past weekend: “I didn’t realize the level of viciousness directed at my dad” etc etc. Honey, your dad’s the ORIGINAL BIRTHER… who by the way made fun of a handicapped reporter, tore into some Gold Star parents, tried to fat-shame a former Miss American, and peeps on underage girls in their dressing room. Dropping your dad into a blender wouldn’t even really approach the fucking ‘level of viciousness’ he deserves.

  72. 72
    hovercraft says:

    @Corner Stone:
    The man lives in an alternate reality, did you catch his :
    Donald Trump Hosts Propaganda Cabinet Meeting To Bask In Praise

    This morning the cable news networks dropped everything to focus on a Trump cabinet meeting, where nothing happened except for a staged photo-op and a round robin love fest so every cabinet member, including Mike Pence said their names and pledged fealty to King Trump.

    It was a bizarre scene out of some Junior High after-school group who had been punished and forced to go to detention. Part of their punishment was to praise their principal, clearly.

    Trump spoke for a few minutes about all of his imagined accomplishments, boasting about how well President Obama’s economy is performing, (taking credit for it), and even citing great unemployment numbers that he repeatedly called fake during the presidential election.

    He finally turned to his propaganda round table and made each cabinet member state their names like children at a Motel Six seminar.

    Vice President Pence opened up by saying, “Thank you, Mr. President. The greatest privilege of my life to serve as vice president to a president who is keeping his word to the American people. and assembling a team that’s bringing real change, real prosperity, real strength back to our nation.”

    That’s all Pence was allowed to say and Trump cut him off. …………..

  73. 73
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Jeffro:

    Trumpov’s “plan to join with Putin to control nuclear weapons across the world” sounds just like this, inside Trumpov’s head: bip-a-zee-bip-bip-bop-badoop-a-whoop. That’s about the level of what’s going on up there these days.

    Pretty much. Have you seen the DTrump letterman interviews collection? Noticeable decline, maybe a factor of two (crude listening estimate) in reaction time.
    Links at end of this piece: Using Discourse Analysis to Assess Cognitive Decline
    Very dangerous, potentially. (Depending on quality of contingency plans.)

  74. 74
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Sphex:

    I really wish the troll would go pay a dominatrix to get the abuse he obviously craves rather than inflicting his sick desires on us over and over again. But, like the creepy guys who use airline reservation lines as their own personal masturbation calls, he’s both too cheap and too much of an exhibitionist to do it.

    Maybe if we can find him a dominatrix who will spank him in front of the White House while a crowd pelts him with rotten tomatoes, he’ll finally leave us alone.

  75. 75
    LAO says:

    O/T: A little excitement in my office this afternoon — a taxi cab overheated and blew up on Fifth Avenue (in front of Lord and Taylors). I’m sure the RWNJ will co-opt this and make it a failed terrorist threat.

  76. 76
    Jeffro says:

    @hovercraft: that’s what I was referencing up in #41. Off in his own little praise-world…

  77. 77
    Brachiator says:

    @Jeffro:

    .Ivanka, on the cover of some dumb “People”-ish magazine this week: “Why I Disagree With My Dad” or some such nonsense

    This was immediately mocked with some great Internet gifs, etc. I can’t link properly with this device, but they are worth the laugh.

    Anyone ever ask Ivanka or the other adult Trump children what they thought of their daddy’s Birtherism?

  78. 78
    Alain the site fixer says:

    @Sphex: Don’t worry, we’re working on an all-new, super-exciting widget to make your experience better. More news soon on that front – stay tuned!

  79. 79
    different-church-lady says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    like the creepy guys who use airline reservation lines as their own personal masturbation calls…

    That’s a thing?

  80. 80
    hovercraft says:

    @different-church-lady:

    I stand corrected ; )

  81. 81
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Butthurt Jordan Trombone (fka XTPD):

    My favorite reply: “Does liking Putin turn your skin orange?”

  82. 82
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Jeffro:

    But with modifications, it could be deployed against U.S. electric transmission and distribution systems to devastating effect, said Sergio Caltagirone, director of threat intelligence for Dragos, a cybersecurity firm that studied the malware and issued a report on Monday.

    Keep firmly in mind the possibility of a false flag operation as an attempted escape from otherwise insurmountable legal troubles. (Or “false false” :-)

  83. 83
    different-church-lady says:

    @Alain the site fixer: Finally, a Smite button!

  84. 84
    Immanentize says:

    @Mike in DC: Sessions cannot invoke it — only the President can. But I take your point

  85. 85
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    But, like the creepy guys who use airline reservation lines as their own personal masturbation calls

    This…what…I mean…the fuck?

  86. 86
    different-church-lady says:

    Well, at least we know Spicer is still alive.

  87. 87
    Immanentize says:

    @Corner Stone: Hey, now — go easy. I was the Director of Clinical Programs at two different law schools and experiential education is not only a real thing now, it is accepted as a necessary norm of accreditation (the ABA now requires 6 credits of skills education before graduation)..

  88. 88
    Corner Stone says:

    @Immanentize: That is hilarious bro. That’s all a scam and if you’re honest you know it.

  89. 89
    eric says:

    Interesting legal issue: Can there be executive privilege after Sessions recused himself for matters encompassed by the recusal?

  90. 90
    Corner Stone says:

    Law schools do two things. They beauty pageant showcase talent for top 10 firms. And they take in that phat cash.

  91. 91
    Jeffro says:

    For those with a minute to look it up (’cause I don’t know how to post the link): Chuck Schumer and his staff have an effin’ hilarious tweet up mocking Trumpov getting his ass kissed around the table by his cabinet. That is quality trolling right there. (Same with the D congressman who introduced the “COVEFEFE ACT” today)

  92. 92
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo fka Edmund Dantes says:

    @Jeffro:

    Why are utility systems connected to the internet?

  93. 93
    Immanentize says:

    Cheryl, On point with your post —

    The NNPT was designed as a duopoly of nuclear power. In fact, the whole Atoms for peace (on of my favorite ever US-euphemisms) was part of the NNPT deal — The nuclear signatory states, but really the US and the USSR (and not really England, France or China) agreed to share nuclear power — and most importantly secure the fuel cycle — for non-nuclear states. Of course nuclear power wasn’t the panacea that the developing world thought it might be….

    Anyway, I can see where this original idea of client state control would appeal to a guy like Trump. It’s like the gangster Star Trek episode where Kirk divides up the territory but takes a piece of the action (for the federation). The problem is one he doesn’t understand — the nuclear genie cannot be so easily contained and many of the countries in the old duopoly are not interested in a client relationship. Which means, in order to recreate that world, first a bunch of bombs would have to be dropped….

  94. 94
    different-church-lady says:

    @Le Comte de Monte Cristo fka Edmund Dantes: Porn addiction.

  95. 95

    Here’s an excerpt from Trump’s cabinet meeting this morning. I’ve been very critical of Rex Tillerson, the silent Secretary of State, but he looks as if he knows how wrong this is.

  96. 96
    Immanentize says:

    @Corner Stone: Not true. I am sorry if that was your experience. Law Schools of today are not the cash cows for Universities they were even as recently as the 1990s I really have no idea where your information comes from, but it is at the very least, out of date.

  97. 97
    Alain the site fixer says:

    @different-church-lady: lol. Perhaps not quite so…dramatic. It will be cool though

  98. 98
    Miss Bianca says:

    @different-church-lady: I didn’t know about the airline reservation thing, but I can tell you from personal experience that there are creeps out there who use – or used to use – the Planned Parenthood hotline for their fantasy lives.

    Ask me how I know? Because “condom guy” was a thing, back in the day. As in. “how do I put on a”.

  99. 99

    And here is Chuck Schumer’s office meeting today.

  100. 100
    Immanentize says:

    @Corner Stone: Top 10 firms have been out of the business of seriously recruiting in law schools for at least 7 years. Almost all firms now hire laterals who have at least 5 years experience and have proven ‘book.’ There is still some hiring out of law school ,but it is very limited and even those generally go to two or three years of judicial clerkships first. The old model is collapsed and the new model cannot afford to spend time training new attorneys. Firms are aggressively pushing ‘skills training’ back into law schools so they don’t have to spend the resources on that effort.

  101. 101
  102. 102
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @different-church-lady: Every time I see this text I think someone’s going to post this Monty Python clip. (“Next time, definitely!”)

  103. 103
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Miss Bianca: I was gonna say- any open phone line that creepy doods can reliably expect women to answer is gonna get this kind of call. Men can be gross.

  104. 104
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Mike in DC: So absolutely useless testimony, in other words.

  105. 105
    Ruckus says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    There is a difference in the delivery and in the awareness. He used to be more at ease with the bullshit. Now he is winging it. And a bullshitter winging it is just responding to what is said to/around him. No plan, no formulation of ideas, very little coherence to anything good, bad or petty. He has always been shallow, always about himself but there was a plan (badly formed, badly executed, but a plan) about something as the basis of his bullshit. It usually involved him making money or gold plating something. Now he can’t even stay on plan, bullshit in one direction. It is possible that the bigger stage and brighter lights have just magnified his flaws but nothing is as smooth or believable. Unless one has their own reasons for believing in him, say a moronic racist 20 yr old, or an old white guy who thinks this might be his big chance to make it big. His followers are people who have heard exactly what they want to hear. Truth or reality means nothing to them. They are rubes.
    But you are right that his talent to bullshit has always been….. just a talent to bullshit. All I’m saying is that he’s not nearly as good at it as he used to be and the decline in his one talent looks to me a lot like early(ish) dementia.

  106. 106
    Corner Stone says:

    @Immanentize:

    Top 10 firms have been out of the business of seriously recruiting in law schools for at least 7 years. Almost all firms now hire laterals who have at least 5 years experience and have proven ‘book.’ There is still some hiring out of law school

    Alright, so you don’t know anything about this. Thanks

  107. 107
    Immanentize says:

    @Corner Stone: And you do? I doubt it very much because you are not reflecting any reality. Are you even a lawyer?

    ETA Great way to bring the facts, brother. Nothing like an ad hominem, to demonstrate your mighty might eh?

  108. 108
    jl says:

    Thanks, this is an informative post. Good to get a view of Trump’s BS pattern over long time horizon.
    No time to read all the comments now, but another long term pattern is Trump’s obsession with using national security pacts as an excuse for absolutely outrageous extortion. And that continues with his BS on NATO. A half-hearted commitment to Article 5 is dragged out of him, but he now demands payments to the US from countries to make up for what he deems to be past underpayment. This is Trump just making stuff up and violating treaty commitment. His behavior on this topic alone amounts to an impeachable offense, IMHO.

    Trump’s Still Gunning for NATO
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/e.....g-for-nato

    My only question for Cheryl, if she is still here, is whether she thinks a long history of similar incoherent BS from Trump can be used to indicate any future coherent policy from this dangerous clown. How does this strand of his BS on nukes and Russia fit in with his recent musings that the US should hand out nukes like candy to US allies? Remember his ideas to give nukes to Saudis, Japan and South Korea during campaign.

    He just wings BS as he goes along. Past obsessions just pop more often than other ideas when he improvises more BS, I think.

    Anyway, I’m drafting a letter to my Congresspeople asking them to start demanding impeachment hearings for Trump, on three grounds: obstruction of Russian investigation, unwillingness to abide by NATO treaty obligations, and willful and self-acknowledged violations of emoluments clause. I’ll keep a copy handy, since very good chance I’ll have opportunity to send it again later, with other grounds for impeachment added.

  109. 109
    bemused says:

    @hovercraft:

    That was sickening. No job in the world is worth having to kiss that deviant’s butt.

  110. 110
    Captain C says:

    @Jeffro: If Rinse has half a brain any pride, he’ll mess things up as badly as possible, including upper-decking all the White House toilets, before leaving.

  111. 111

    @Immanentize: What you say is true in some sense, and figures in current criticism of the NPT: the nuclear weapon states connived to keep their nukes and set up the NPT to keep others from getting them. But there is more to it than that. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, when the NPT was new, there was a general concern about the spread of nuclear weapons. Ireland was the first country to propose a draft of a nonproliferation treaty. Obviously, the states that had them weren’t going to give them up, so they were grandfathered in with their nukes under the cover of promising to work toward nuclear and general disarmament.

    In the Rosenbaum interview, what Trump is talking about is quite different: The US and the USSR would get together to levy crushing economic sanctions on nations they decided shouldn’t have nukes, including France, to foment social unrest, at which point the duopoly would disarm them. That’s about how two mafia gangs might deal with a third.

  112. 112
    Mike in DC says:

    @Patricia Kayden:
    Well, denying the Mayflower Hotel meeting with Kislyak would be useful to the Special Counsel.

  113. 113
    Corner Stone says:

    @Immanentize: No, I’m not a lawyer. That’s why I have a sense of the reality of this situation. Tell us about OCI. Tell us it has vanished among Big Law over the last 7 years or whatever marker you want to make. You think recruiting 5th years with “a book” HAHAHAHAHA is something law firms do? Fifth year attorneys in private law have zero book. They may have gone on a handful of RFP’s, if their equity partner is a good sort or in LIT been a second chair once.
    Fifth years with a book? Are you fucking crazy?

  114. 114
    Captain C says:

    @schrodingers_cat: From the NFL’s point of view, it was good that he ran the USFL into the ground.

  115. 115
    ruemara says:

    @Jeffro: Just watched that and yes, it was hilarious.

  116. 116
    different-church-lady says:

    @Ruckus:

    It is possible that the bigger stage and brighter lights have just magnified his flaws…

    No place to hide it anymore.

  117. 117
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Trump doesn’t give a shit about anyone.

    This is not true. He obviously cares a lot about one person. Cough.

  118. 118
    Immanentize says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    Cheryl,

    I heard that during the Obama administration (early on — like 2009) there was an idea floated about being a nuclear guarantor against first strikes. I.e. that the US would agree to act as security back up for any country that was attacked in a first strike — in order to create some broad level deterrence. Was this just egghead gossip or was such a thing ever considered?

  119. 119
    MomSense says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    Hahahahaha!!!

  120. 120
    jl says:

    @hovercraft: Effing Trump is going nuts before the whole nation’s eye. The miserable GOP does nothing about it.

  121. 121

    @jl:

    My only question for Cheryl, if she is still here, is whether she thinks a long history of similar incoherent BS from Trump can be take to indicate a coherent policy from this dangerous clown.

    That was what I was struggling with as I wrote this post. If it were an easy question to answer, I would have posted last Wednesday or Thursday. I think that there are general themes that persist – the mafioso style, the admiration of Russian/Soviet rulers. But no coherent policy that I see.

    I think someone else has collected Trump’s nuclear musings. They’re not coherent, although you can make them fit into the idea that he’d like total control to parcel the nukes out as he sees fit.

  122. 122
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    but from what I see in these interviews, there’s not much change in cognitive abilities.

    Watch for the changes in reaction time to interviewer words, not content.

  123. 123
    Mnemosyne says:

    @different-church-lady:

    Sadly, yes. My BFF found this out while working the reservation line night shift at the now-defunct Continental Airlines.

  124. 124
    jl says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: It’s an idiotic and dangerous idea. Nuts. A kind of nonsense that Trump would think is genius. An idea of such genius, no one else can understand how brilliant and effective it would be.

  125. 125
    Jeffro says:

    @Captain C: he’s probably conflicted…he’s being fired, sure…but he’s one of the few (fair or not) who’s going to get a lifeboat here by getting off the Trumptanic early…

  126. 126
    Jeffro says:

    @ruemara: Schumer is doing pretty well with the trolling. Ted Lieu is awesome at it too.

  127. 127
    Ruckus says:

    @different-church-lady:
    What gets me is that it really never was all that difficult to see, it’s not like he tried to stay out of the limelight. It’s like going from a 20,000 watt stage to a 50,000 watt stage. Yes there are more lights but it’s not like there never was enough to see the flow of bullshit on the smaller stage.

  128. 128

    @Immanentize: I vaguely recall something like that, but no specifics. I think it was not an official proposal.

  129. 129
    Jeffro says:

    @jl:

    It’s an idiotic and dangerous idea. Nuts. A kind of nonsense that Trump would think is genius. An idea of such genius, no one else can understand how brilliant and effective it would be.

    I know, right? What could possibly go wrong?

    Everyone thinks we’re doing fine on this front, btw…but we’re really just living on borrowed time. It’ll be unthinkable until it happens.

  130. 130
    Immanentize says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Thanks. I am sure it would never be policy — Israel cough Israel — but it is a great conversation starter for students….

  131. 131
    hovercraft says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:
    Amy’s not the only one in that family that’s got jokes!

  132. 132

    Jeffrey Lewis has a great article about the real ways we need to think about reducing nuclear weapons in the world.

  133. 133
    LAO says:

    @Immanentize: @Corner Stone: You know, I mean not be the best lawyer in the world (or my 2-person firm) but I did a year long clinic in law school (before it was required) and it was the single best thing I did in law school.

  134. 134
    hovercraft says:

    @bemused:
    I didn’t actually make it through the ass kissing portion, listening to him call himself the most accomplished president since FDR was more than enough for me. The man is demented and delusional, fortunately for us apart from his fans, no one else is buying this shit.
    I do find it funny that all these “strong, alpha male”, CEO cabinet secretaries are willing to debase themselves for this buffoon. I thought the fact that they were all “rich and accomplished” was supposed to make them independent.

  135. 135
    different-church-lady says:

    @Ruckus: His mental issues were never our collective problem before now. He could be publicly insane and then go away into his private world — out of sight, out of mind (double entendre intended). We weren’t in business with him.

    Whether the idiots who voted for him ever considered this I have no idea.

  136. 136
    Christopher Walker says:

    @Leave them behind:

    Whaddaya mean “we”, pal?

  137. 137
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jeffro:

    I just saw a really interesting talk by a woman who wrote a book called Fierce Conversations. One of the things she said was, “Problems develop gradually, then suddenly.” As in, most people ignore the gradual build-up to a problem until it builds up to an insurmountable one.

    I’m fully expecting a whole lot of Sure, Hillary and the Democrats were right about Trump, but they were right for the wrong reasons whining from the MSM when Trump finally shits the bed so catastrophically that even Fox News can’t ignore it any longer.

  138. 138
    Corner Stone says:

    @LAO: But I’m sure you’re the cutest. *wink*

  139. 139
    Shalimar says:

    @LAO: Same here. I spent most of my time 3rd year in a volunteer program for small claims court mediation and it was the most useful education I had in law school.

  140. 140
    Ruckus says:

    @LAO:
    @Shalimar:
    One can do all the book learning in the wold but it takes practical experience to learn the how. Even the military. They train the what. They practice the how. I’ve taught people with a 4th grade education and people who got Ds in HS math to use trigonometry. By teaching them the how. If I try teaching them the what, their eyes glaze over and they are lost. It’s good to know the what if you plan on being one or teaching the mathematicians of the world but most people need only the how. And this holds for most subjects and people. Lawyers and doctors do need at least the what for their specialties. And there are others who need the what to understand the how but far fewer than one would imagine. But now with the world becoming more technical I think that is changing for far more people. I have a cousin who is a chip designer. He certainly has to know a fair bit of what was, is and might be.

  141. 141
    J R in WV says:

    @Oatler.:

    “Racked up a lot of billable hours to Milton, Chadwick & Waters… Willlwe, Cheatem and Howe…”

    Fixed that name for ya!!

  142. 142
    No One You Know says:

    @Jeffro: “My dad.” She sounds six years old when she says that. I find the personalization makes me grit my teeth. I don’t give a fab about your “dad,” sweetie. I’m talking about the POTUS. All you’re doing is advertising that you’re still six years old. With Jared, you look like a teenager who knows she’s gonna get screwed at the prom. The last time you looked like an adult, you were openly lusting after Justin Trudeau.

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