Begun The Trade War Has!

Apparently the brace of geniuses that are Commerce Secretary Ross and Director of the President’s Trade Council Peter Navarro have prevailed in their attempts to trounce the (((globalists))) in order to put America First and Make America Great Again. You’ll notice we’re punishing our oldest and strongest allies and partners here. Apparently they needed to do something to keep anyone from paying attention to the fact that the President’s promises regarding economic growth are DOA.

And that the Paul Ryan Tax Cut for the People Who Have Been Subsidizing His Entire Political Career and Lavish Lifestyle at the Expense of the Public Good Act of 2017 is, as anyone who could do even basic addition and subtraction without having to take off their shoes to get to 20 (cough – not Speaker Paul Ryan – cough) will tell you, a colossal failure at stimulating the economy. Though it is the massive handout to the people that needed more money the least!

Who ever could have predicted?

Also, noted felon, all around self righteous hypocritical scumbag and wife abuser Dinesh D’Souza is getting a full pardon. Because why not. Anyone want to wager that this didn’t go through the regular pardon process? Anyone, anyone?

Treated so unfairly that he never actually had to serve any time in prison. And got to continue all of his normal scams money making activities while serving his sentence doing community service in a half way house. As opposed to Matthew Charles who, because of an error, is now being sent back to prison because the Department of Justice under Attorney General Sessions can’t abide an African American man being treated decently within the criminal justice system. It is important to note that Kim Kardashian has been advocating for Charles to receive a pardon or clemency as part of her prison reform advocacy that brought her to the White House yesterday. It didn’t actually make a difference because Matthew Charles doesn’t make factually inaccurate, ideologically slanted, and proto-fascistic documentaries about the President’s political opponents.

Open thread!

Megan McArdle Knows Absolutely Nothing About Any Form Of War And Wouldn’t Even If A Member Of The Military Bit Her!

Which I wouldn’t recommend, because despite all the vaccinations they’re given, I’m pretty sure they don’t cover whatever variant of Jakob Cruetzfeldt disease afflicts libertarian pundits who have never held an actual job and have absolutely no real world experience. But I repeat myself!

Now that the throat clearing is out of the way, I want to make a quick follow on point to AL’s cataloguing of McArdle’s idiocy. Specifically that the US has never actually fought a civil war. A civil war refers to a form of low intensity warfare – as in less than interstate war* -where the supporters of two or more claimants to power fight for control of the state. The claimants may have either de jure (legal) or de facto (extant) claims to control the state. This is not what happened in the US in the 1860s. Rather, what we call the US Civil War was actually a rebellion in support of secession from the state in the attempt to set up a new one. There was no dispute as to the legitimacy of the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency. What was in dispute is that the southern states that would become the Confederacy refused to accept the election’s outcome and sought to breakaway and form their own nation-state.

Had supporters of Secretary Clinton, including Democratic elected and appointed officials at all levels of government, refused to accept the President’s election as legitimate and contested his inauguration, including violently, once they learned that the US intelligence community had determined that the Russians had interfered in the US election with the specific objections of electing the President, then we’d be talking about a civil war. That did not happen despite some of the comments posted here over the past 18 months or so…

What McArdle doesn’t understand, because she knows nothing about war – theoretically, conceptually, and/or experientially – is that there has been a low level insurgency in the US going back decades. We sometimes call this the culture war. Sometimes it’s referred to as the Southern Strategy, but it involves one of the two major political parties and its supporting movements, including religious movements, in the US refusing to accept the legitimacy of any other ones. It includes frequent use of dehumanizing language and threats of violence ranging from legislatively and regulatorily directing the power of the state, utilizing lawfare, and actually threatening and sometimes undertaking violence against their opponents or the objects of their dehumanization campaigns when the insurgents don’t get their way. And these people – elected, appointed, voters, supporters, pundits, etc – are McArdle’s fellow travelers! They are part of the larger political, ideological, dogmatic religious, and sub-cultural groups and movements that McArdle has been marinating in since she was an undergraduate.

They also make the mistake that they are the only ones that get to define patriotism and to actually care about the US and its ideals. They have convinced themselves that they are the only ones who can properly interpret the Constitution when in fact they are the poorest of linguistic and political historians of the late 18th Century, which leads to constantly misunderstanding and misapplying the Constitution. And they have deluded themselves into thinking that because their opponents believe in civility that their opponents are also unwilling to actually defend themselves in the political, ideological, social, religious, economic, and/or legal arenas. And those delusions include the mistaken belief that they don’t have the means to do so.

Right now the US is experiencing one of its periodic bouts of growing pains. As was the case in the 1780s and 1790s, the 1830s and 1840s, the 1860s, the late 1870s through the 1890s, during WW I, in the mid to late 1930s, and in the middle 1960s through the early 1970s, a period of imperfect progress is being met with a backlash against it. It is ugly. It is unpleasant. It is damaging. People who do not deserve to be hurt are being hurt. The real question that McArdle should have asked, yet is incapable because she is as the one who does not know how to ask, is what does it really mean to form a more perfect union? And what are the best ways to go about perfecting the union? Those are the real questions of American civic life. Not whether Democrats in urban areas know how to use guns.

Finally, that McArdle would even contemplate tweeting about this on Memorial Day weekend is insensitive and disrespectful for those who have given their life in service to the US. Discussing whether Americans should or could kill each other again en masse in pursuit of political power on this of all weekends should lead her to remove herself from opining. She needs to flee the public square and contemplate that the people who have given their lives for the US, with the exception of those fighting on behalf of the Confederacy, did so despite their political and ideological and regional and religious differences. They did it to ensure there would be a union to continue to perfect. McArdle is a poor excuse for a public intellectual. Unfortunately she’s an all too perfect an example of a poorly informed and poorly educated American ideologue.

And in case she or one of her followers sees her name in the post title on Cole’s twitter feed and decides to pop over and ask who am I to question her expertise in regard to war, here’s my abbreviated professional bio:

Adam L. Silverman is a consulting national security subject matter expert. In 2016 he assisted XVIII Airborne Corps in their strategic assessment of the Iraqi and Syrian Operating Environment for their deployment as the command element of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve. In 2015 he served as a Senior Fellow at SOCOM’s Center for Special Operations Studies and Research. Prior to that he served as a Subject Matter Expert with the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Security Dialogue and US Army Europe from June through August 2014. From July 2010 through June 2014, he was the Cultural Advisor and Professor of National Security and Strategy at the US Army War College. In June 2014 he was awarded the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal by MG Anthony A. Cucolo, III.

Dr. Silverman has advised and provided support to the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Security Dialogue, US Central Command, US European Command, US Special Operations Command, US Army Europe, the US Army Institute for NCO Professional Development, the US Army Sergeants Major Academy, US Army Special Operations Command, US Army Central, the US Army’s Office of the Provost Marshal General and US Army Corrections Command, I Corps, III Corps, XVIII Airborne Corps, 1st Armored Division, the 101st Airborne Division, the Department of State’s Near East and South Asia Desk, and JIEDDO’s Science Directorate. From NOV 2013 to AUG 2014 he served as the Cultural Advisor to the Commanding General of US Army Europe on temporary assignment. From OCT 2012 to NOV 2013 Dr. Silverman served as the Cultural Advisor to the Civil Affairs Branch Chief on temporary assignment. During 2012 Dr. Silverman served as the Cultural Advisor to the Commanding General of III Corps on temporary assignment from JAN through AUG. In 2010 he was the external subject matter expert on temporary assigned control to US Army Civil Affairs Branch’s Capability Based Assessment and then through JUN 2011 to the US Special Operations Command’s Joint Civil Information Management Test Development program. He previously served as the Cultural Advisor to the Commander, 2nd Brigade Combat Team/1st Armored Division from OCT 2007 through OCT 2008 and was deployed with the brigade in Iraq in 2008. Upon returning from Iraq he served as a social science advisor in US Army Training and Doctrine Command’s G2 (2009). He routinely provides operational support to a number of US Army, DOD, and other US Government elements. Dr. Silverman holds a doctorate in political science and criminology from the University of Florida, as well as masters’ degrees in comparative religion and international security.

* An interstate war involves two or more sovereign states whose militaries are fighting in uniform under their states’ flags with a minimum of a thousand battlefield deaths. Interstate wars will often include types of low intensity warfare, such as rebellions, revolutions, insurgencies, and terror campaigns on one or more sides of the conflict.

Open thread!

The Trump Administration Negotiates

Since before I joined Balloon Juice, since the 2016 campaign, I’ve said that Donald Trump stinks as a negotiator.

Most of us have some experience negotiating. One of my mentors said that every encounter is a negotiation. Some of our valued commenters are lawyers, whose jobs are mostly negotiation. We’ve bought cars or rented apartments. There are some basics that you learn just by living, unless you’ve lived an utterly protected life.

This thread is by an Obama administration official. I know that Twitter threads can be hard to read, but this one has some good links and visuals. And it’s not too long.

I Will Be Treated Fairly Or Else: Lesley Stahl Explains The Application Of The Trump Doctrine To The News Media

The President has had a long and largely unpleasant relationship with the news media since he declared his candidacy. As in he’s been unpleasant to the news media. A good chunk of this was set early on with his penning of reporters in at his campaigns and using them as foils, as well as his successful attempts to roll the cable, network, and print news media into treating him “fairly” or receiving an “or else”. He pulled this early and successfully in the primary season with Fox News when he demanded that Megyn Kelly be pulled from her moderator duties. When Fox refused, he scheduled a competing event.

At last night’s Deadline Club awards dinner, Lesley Stahl provided a very detailed explanation of how the President has applied the Trump Doctrine of “I will be treated fairly or else” to the news media. Talking Points Memo has the transcript:

“At one point he started to attack the press. And it’s just me and my boss and him, in— He has a huge office. And he’s attacking the press. And there were no cameras. There was nothing going on, and I said, ‘You know, that is getting tired. Why are you doing this? You’re doing it over and over, and it’s boring, and it’s time to end that. You’ve won the nomination (sic). Why do you keep hammering at this?’

“And he said, ‘You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all, so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.”

Here’s the video, which is set to start at the 21:23 mark with her stating what the President told her regarding how he treats the media and why:

Whether the Trump Doctrine is the result of just gut instinct or forethought doesn’t matter. Here we have a first person recounting of the President explaining it in regard to how he deals with the news media. Eventually his supporters are going to get tired of screaming “lugenpresse” at the penned in reporters at his rallies. Or telling them to get out of their country like the lovely gentleman below. Eventually one or more will actually attack and most likely kill a reporter. I certainly hope the news media has thought out how it is going to respond when that happens. Hope, however, is not a strategy.

Stay frosty!

Open thread.


Today In Rudys Giuliani! Or Is That Rudy Giulianis? Either Way…

Earlier today CNN viewers got to witness Rudy Giuliani attempting to explain and clarify to Chris Cuomo that what Rudy Giuliani had said to someone else was not what Rudy Giuliani actually said. Then Cuomo played a clip of Rudy Giuliani telling Charlie Rose something different and then another clip of Rudy Giuliani contradicting what Rudy Giuliani told Charlie Rose in an interview with George Stephanapolous. At which point Rudy Giuliani start screaming at Chris Cuomo. So that was a quatro-Guiliani appearance!

Just to make sure everyone is tracking:

  1. Rudy Giuliani is on Chris Cuomo’s CNN show explaining that what Cuomo understands Rudy Giuliani said on a different cable show is not accurate.
  2. Chris Cuomo then plays a clip of Rudy Giuliani explaining to Charlie Rose in 1998 that a sitting president, in this case President Clinton, is not above the law and is subject to a Federal grand jury subpoena.
  3. Chris Cuomo then plays a clip of Rudy Giuliani contradicting Rudy Giuliani by explaining to George Stephanapolous that a sitting president, in this case the current President, is above the law and not subject to a Federal grand jury subpoena.
  4. Rudy Giuliani then freaks out and starts screaming at Chris Cuomo that it is unfair to ambush Rudy Giuliani with one video of Rudy Giuliani contradicting Rudy Giuliani and then a second video of Rudy Giuliani contradicting Rudy Giuliani.

I’m still working the theoretical explanation out in this brave new world and emerging area of inquiry into multiple Rudys Giuliani or Rudy Giulianis (Rudys Giulianis?). I’m not sure if this is a purely infinite number of Rudy sort of thing – the InfiniRudy – or if there us a hard limit. Say DC Comics 52 parallel universes in the multiverse. That, of course, would include the Earth-3 universe where Rudy would be a quiet, pleasant, highly competent individual and Special Counsel Mueller would be an obnoxious, ignorant, raving blowhard.

I need to order more white boards from Amazon!

Play nice or a Rudy Giuliani will come over to your house and explain to you that what Rudy Giuliani said on a cable news show or to a reporter doesn’t mean what you think Rudy Giuliani meant when Rudy Giuliani said it.

Open thread!

Rudy Giuliani Needs To Sit Down With Rudy Giuliani So They Can Get Rudy Giuliani’s Story Straight!

The Mayor of 9-11 has some major issues. First among them is his mouth appears to be disconnected from his short and long term memory! Yesterday NBC reported that Rudy Giuliani told them that Special Counsel Mueller told him that the President can’t be indicted because of the 1970s DOJ Office of Legal Counsel guidance.*

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office has told President Donald Trump’s legal team that he won’t indict a sitting president, according to Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s lawyers.

“They (the special counsel’s office) acknowledge the fact that they can’t indict us,” Giuliani told NBC News on Wednesday, indicating that the information had been conveyed to Trump’s lawyers. “They know they don’t have that power. So their function is to write a report. We would like it to be the fairest report possible. But even if it isn’t, we’re prepared to rebut it in great detail, so we’d like them to do it.”

He added: “It’s as clear as can be that they don’t have the right to indict under the Justice Department rules. And I know they’re not going to indict.”

Unfortunately for Rudy Giuliani, Rudy Giuliani then told the Washington Post that Rudy Giuliani wasn’t actually at the meeting.

Let’s just emphasize the important news that Rudy Giuliani broke about Rudy Giuliani to Robert Costa in the transcripts that Costa posted in his tweet above – click it to embiggen the top right side of the transcript, which I’ve transcribed below for your convenience (emphasis mine):

The Washington Post: Did Mueller explicitly say he would not charge the President?

Giuliani: “He didn’t say that. One of his – I have to check with Jay, he’s in Israel right now. One of his top people told him that.

So according to Rudy Giuliani, who was clarifying to The Washington Post what Rudy Giuliani told NBC News, one of Mueller’s top people told Jay Sekulow, whose currently in Israel, that Special Counsel Mueller would not charge the President. Rudy Giuliani has now further muddied Rudy Giuliani’s messaging up by explaining that Rudy Giuliani doesn’t actually know what was specifically said because it was said to Jay Sekulow who is in Israel, but whatever it was it wasn’t said by Special Counsel Mueller himself.

Unfortunately, Rudy Giuliani who has now explained that Rudy Giuliani does not actually know what happened at this meeting between the Special Counsel and some of his personnel and Jay Sekulow because Jay Sekulow is in Israel and Rudy Giuliani was not there did not get with Rudy Giuliani who decided to further clarify Rudy Giuliani’s clarification of Rudy Giuliani’s statement that the Special Counsel told Rudy Giuliani directly that he couldn’t prosecute the President. Take it away Talking Points Memo!

He didn’t seem to want to give the answer,” Giuliani told the Post. “It reminded me of that scene in ‘The Godfather,’ with Sonny and the Godfather, where he said, ‘Oh, you’re going to take care of us? We can take care of ourselves.’ One of his assistants broke in and said, ‘Well of course, we’re bound by Justice Department policies.’ Mueller looked at him like, ‘Don’t interrupt me.’”

In case everyone has, like the various Rudy Giulianis, lost the plot here, let me summarize:

  1. Rudy Giuliani told NBC News that Special Counsel Mueller told him directly that he could not prosecute the President because of the 1970s guidance from the Office of Legal Counsel.
  2. Rudy Giuliani, in an attempt to clarify what Rudy Giuliani told NBC News, told The Washington Post that he doesn’t actually know what Special Counsel Mueller or his personnel told Jay Sekulow and he can’t find out because Jay is in Israel.
  3. Rudy Giuliani, in an attempt to sound tough and make Special Counsel Mueller look bad, as well as further clarify Rudy Giuliani’s clarification to The Washington Post of Rudy Giuliani’s (who comes from a family that was mobbed up) statement to NBC News, stated that Bob Mueller (who brought down John Gotti) is like an Italian mafioso from a movie.

According to The Washington Post:

A spokesman for the special counsel declined to comment.

Everybody clear?

Open thread!

* Neal Katyal who wrote the existing guidelines for DOJ Special Counsels had this to say about the 1970s Office of Legal Counsel guidance:

“This old opinion from 20 years ago does preclude, in general, the Justice Department from indicting a sitting president for constitutional reasons,” Katyal said. “But an exception can be given.”

Katyal repeated Wednesday that the rules “permit Mueller to depart from DOJ policy.”

Referring to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein, who is acting as attorney general in the context of the Russia investigation because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, Katyal said on MSNBC’s “All In With Chris Hayes”: “The way to do this is to ask the acting attorney general, so he does have a way forward.”

While I’m sure everyone will have fun with this in the comments, there really is no settled law on this. As a political scientist and criminologist I understand all three of the major legal theories/positions on this, and definitely have my own view on which is right, as well as why the OLC memo was written the way it was written during Watergate. That said, I expect that Special Counsel Mueller will play everything straight based on his career as a Federal prosecutor and Director of the FBI. Regardless, we will just have to wait and see.

Trump’s Open Door Policy…

Let anyone who wants waltz right into US cyberspace:

The White House eliminated the position of cybersecurity coordinator on the National Security Council on Tuesday, doing away with a post central to developing policy to defend against increasingly sophisticated digital attacks and the use of offensive cyber weapons.

A memorandum circulated by an aide to the new national security adviser, John R. Bolton, said the post was no longer considered necessary because lower-level officials had already made cybersecurity issues a “core function” of the president’s national security team.

If that seems suspiciously moronic to you too, well…y’all are not alone:

Cybersecurity experts and members of Congress said they were mystified by the move, though some suggested Mr. Bolton did not want any competitive power centers emerging inside the national security apparatus.

Bureaucratic politics and ongoing White House obedience to home office demands from the banks of the Moskva River trump US security once again. To continue:

President Trump began his administration with two respected veterans of cyber policy. He appointed Thomas P. Bossert, a lawyer in the administration of President George W. Bush, as the homeland security adviser.

The cybersecurity coordinator who reported to him, Rob Joyce, had run the Tailored Access Operations unit of the N.S.A. — the unit that, until it was reorganized and renamed, was responsible for breaking into foreign computer systems as part of United States covert operations.

Mr. Bossert was forced out on Mr. Bolton’s second day on the job, and Mr. Joyce returned to the N.S.A. on Friday. [links in the original]

This, from the same New York Times article quoted above, seems to me not MSM cluelessness but elegantly thrown shade:

It is unclear how those issues will now be managed in the White House. Mr. Bolton has virtually no cyber-related experience.

Though I am not a lawyer, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that inexperience — not to say stupidity — is no defense against charges of treason or other malfeasance.

This has been another update in the #WASF chronicles.

(Open thread, also too.)

Image: Potter Paulus, The young thief 1649.