Strategic Miscommunication

There is a long term International Relations concept called the security dilemma, or as I like to think of it, the insecurity spiral. The security dilemma is a Realist concept that arises from the lack of an international sovereign. Basically because there is no overarching international controlling power, the actions of one or more states, usually in regard to military preparations, can/are misinterpreted leading to other states undertaking responses that in turn lead the original actor or actors to respond, leading to more counter responses. All of which causes a crisis of security, an insecurity spiral, which increases the possibility of conflict.

To avoid a security dilemma states, intergovernmental organizations, and a lot of non state actors, try to utilize strategic communication. Joint Publication 5-0 defines strategic communication as:

… efforts to understand and engage key audiences to create, strengthen, or preserve conditions favorable for the advancement of … interests, policies, and objectives through the use of coordinated programs, plans, themes, messages, and products synchronized with the actions of all instruments of national power. Also called SC.

President-elect Trump’s recent, unsecured communications with many foreign heads of state have many concerned that these conversations are creating a type of security dilemma whereby the President-elect unintentionally or intentionally changes decades of American policy and strategic posture. And does so without the benefit of a State Department Protocol Officer, State Department pre-briefing to prepare for these calls, and secured comms to ensure that his conversations cannot be intercepted and used against the US (and our allies and partners) in the future. These communications have heightened tensions between India and Pakistan. And we now have an escalation in regard to the People’s Republic of China, which actually places the ongoing security of Taiwan at risk.

While some of this is a unique combination of the age of social media, 24/7 news media, and the Internet and a President-elect who seems addicted to social media and has a unique talent for capturing 24/7 news media, it is not unknown. To a certain extent the events that led up to World War I were the result of a classic security dilemma leading to a catastrophic insecurity spiral and the outbreak of actual war.

More recently, in the early 1980s, the aggressive attempts by President Reagan to pressure the Soviet Union led to a breakdown that almost led to war over the NATO war game known as Able Archer.

Able Archer was a 1983 NATO war game that was misinterpreted by the Soviet Union. The signals intercepts being made by Soviet Intelligence led them to mistakenly believe that NATO, led by the US and Britain, was preparing a nuclear strike against the Soviet Union. This almost kicked off a classic security dilemma as the Soviets mobilized in response to the war game. This was initially misinterpreted by NATO as the Soviets conducting their own, counter, war game. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed. After Able Archer’s conclusion, British Intelligence provided a complete report on the security dilemma that resulted from the strategic miscommunication to Downing Street, which then communicated to the Reagan Administration in order to prevent something like this from ever happening again. The documentary below details Able Archer, the Soviet Response, and just how closely everyone, on every side, escaped a war caused by misinterpretation from unintended miscommunication.



Quick House Update

I didn’t get around to the house update on Friday, so here is a quick mini update on the kitchen. We got the walls up and the room painted, and the counters are in:

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The kitchen might be done in the next week!



Breaking News — “No (DAPL) Pipeline?”

Goddess, I hope this isn’t another lie from “our” government…

The secretary of the Army Corps of Engineers has told Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault that the current route for the Dakota Access pipeline will be denied.

The proposed route led to a protest encampment by the Standing Rock Sioux and other activists.

The 1,172-mile pipeline is nearly complete except for a small section beneath a Missouri River reservoir near the encampment, which is about 50 miles south of Bismarck.

Archambault cheered the decision in a statement Sunday.

“I am thankful there were some leaders in the feral government that realized something was not right even though its legal,” he said. “For the first time in hisopry native American, they heard our voices. This is something that will go down in history and is a blessing for all indigenous people.

I heard the army corp of engineers will not grant the easement and they will reroute.

I would say that it is over.”…

Story’s been picked up by the AP / Washington Post.

ETA:



Open Thread: Masque of the Red(state) Death

Somewhere Jay Gatsby is going, “Ugh, tacky. ” But not Politico! “Trump attends donor’s ‘Villains and Heroes’ party — as himself”:

President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday night attended a lavish costume party on Long Island hosted by his biggest donors, the Mercer family…

According to a Saturday evening pool report, Trump’s motorcade arrived at the party at 8:35 p.m. As Trump entered, dressed in a dark suit, overcoat and tie, he was asked who he was dressed as. Pointing at himself, the president-elect mouthed the word “Me.” Neither his wife, Melania Trump, nor Trump’s children attended. Top aide Steve Bannon and former campaign manager Kellyanne Conway attended, with Conway dressed as Super Woman, according to the pool report…

Although Trump during the campaign decried the influence of big donors, the Mercer family played a major role in his campaign and has wielded vast influence in his transition.

The family patriarch, hedge fund tycoon Robert Mercer, donated $2 million to a pro-Trump super PAC that came to be run by his daughter Rebekah Mercer, who controls the family’s political operations.

Rebekah Mercer played a pivotal role in persuading Trump to bring on three close allies of hers to run the campaign — incoming White House senior counselor Bannon and top campaign officials Conway and David Bossie…

The Mercers have hosted the party at their estate on Long Island’s North Shore around the holidays in each of the past several years.

It’s become an increasingly hot ticket as the Mercers have become bigger players in conservative politics.

Robert Mercer and his youngest daughter, Heather Sue Mercer, are competitive poker players, and past years’ parties have featured blackjack and poker tables. The Mercers supply chips — free of charge — that can be redeemed at the end of the night for lavish prizes such as gold Rolexes, according to people who have attended.

Staff and security at the event were dressed as Hell’s Angels and retro Salvation Army members, according to the pool report.

So, I guess this was a sort of coming-out party for Rebekah Mercer, as the new generation of bloated plutocrat parasitizing our commonwealth.

Maybe the best outcome the rest of us can hope for is that Ms. “But She’s the Smart One” comes to blows with “Daddy’s Little Princess” before the Trump Kakistocracy can embed itself too deeply in the national hide. Because I suspect those two have as many issues to work out as their more-famous-for-now daddies…



Writers Chatting: Chapter One

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Welcome.

To get things started, I’m going to propose two topics, but don’t feel you need to stick to them, I just wanted to give us a place to begin.

jacy provided a great suggestion in the last writers post. With your first comment, introduce yourself, tell us a bit about what you’re writing, what experience you have and what you’re interested in. And remember my golden rules: kind, supportive and informative comments only, leave your snarky, critical, discouraging voice for another time and place.

First topic, by popular request: How to begin and how to stay focused. Hillary R has some very helpful advice over at her place and I’m going to start with this piece:

(1) Show it! Often we procrastinate because we’re afraid to show our work to anyone. (“Afraid” is probably putting it lightly—we’re often terrified.) So stop hoarding your work and start showing it. But be judicious: there’s no point in showing to clueless or callous people. Show only to kind supporters who “get” what you’re trying to do.

Start now! Show bits and pieces, or the whole thing. Invite any feedback, or certain kinds of feedback, or no feedback at all. (Tell your audience what you want!) The showing, not the feedback, is the important part.

(2) Finish small stuff. Finishing is a skill you can practice. If you’re a fiction writer, write anecdotes and vignettes. (Bring them to completion, and then show them.) If you write nonfiction, write up (and show) one small point instead of several big ones. If you’re stuck on a complex email, write (and send) several small ones instead. (Here’s how to overcome email overload.)

Click on over to the entire article to read the rest. She’s going to try and stop by to answer questions today. What helpful tricks do you have for starting and staying on your writing task?

Second topic, for those who are farther along, or who have actually published and can offer advice. What to do when it’s time to start the editing process. I’ve spent my life in theatre, film and television, so I understand collaborative art, the whole process is a group effort. But I am stymied when it comes to novels and short stories. How do you go about editing – finding a good editor, incorporating their input in what is a highly personal work, what boundaries to set, etc. So I would love to hear your thoughts and struggles in the editing process.

Okay that’s it, have at it…

FYI, to read all our group posts, just click on the Writing Group tag and it will pop all of them up in a window.



Afternoon Open Thread

When I posted a few days ago that I felt I needed to provide entertainment and distraction, I’m glad you guys took me seriously and sent me some fun things to post! Here are a few submissions:

Bystander sent a cute picture of Buster, who just turned 11:

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Our Buster turns 11 on Monday.  So we are celebrating with a few salmon roe along with this month’s flea/tick/heartworm treatment.  Buster is not a natural for the camera, hence no modeling career. Cheers, bystander

And Laura sent a few cute pix, here are two:

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And finally, I saw this yesterday. Swan man to the rescue:

Send me more stuff, I’ll post it. I also received some great recipes, so I’ll put this out there again:

if anyone wants to send me recipes and info on different holiday celebrations, please do. I would love to post about that – include photos!

Open thread.








Numbers are Hard

Just winging it:

The Trump administration is seriously thinking about not submitting a budget to Congress next year .

Although the Congressional Budget Act requires the president to submit the fiscal 2018 budget to Congress between January 2 and February 6, Trump could easily say that it was the responsibility of the outgoing Obama administration to comply with the law before the new president was sworn in on January 20.

But while the new president not sending a budget to Congress might not be illegal, it would clearly be unprecedented.

***

First, it would allow Trump to avoid the complaints that always come from those the budget proposals would harm by denying them a platform to criticize the White House. No proposals on paper would mean nothing to disparage.

Second, it would allow the White House to avoid having to say how much its taxing and spending proposals will increase the federal deficit and national debt.

Given that many estimates put the likely annual deficit from the Trump campaign plans at $1 trillion or more and that the total increase in the national debt before the 2020 election could easily equal the borrowing during the first 4 years of the Obama administration, the likelihood that this is a major consideration should not be downplayed. Just think of the value of not having to publish a table that for the first time shows those very high numbers, and not having to answer to the House Freedom Caucus.

Third, it would also eliminate the need for the administration to publish a table with the very optimistic GDP growth promised during the campaign, the high interest rates many economists think are coming and Trump’s unrealistic assumptions on jobs and unemployment.

Fourth, it would eliminate the need for the House and Senate to hold hearings on the Trump budget. That would expedite Congress’ consideration of its 2018 budget resolution and the reconciliation process that is widely expected to be used to accelerate the passage of many of Trump’s and the House and Senate GOP’s priorities.

Fifth, although there have been a few rumors about possible directors of the Office of Management and Budget, almost a month after Election Day no one has yet been named. That almost certainly will delay the development of the Trump 2018 budget until almost the summer and the GOP congressional leadership might not want to wait that long to begin its work on the all-important 2018 budget resolution and reconciliation.

Finally, because the White House and Congress will be preoccupied until around the end of March with a budget resolution, reconciliation bill and appropriations for 2017 and a new debt ceiling increase, Trump may not have time for the 2018 budget that would have to be developed at that same time. Given that schedule, plus the fact that it will take some time to get the Trump cabinet and subcabinet confirmed, the White House may think that not submitting a 2018 budget and just working with Congress will be its best chance to be successful.

Of course, the lack of transparency and accountability are very desirable and will facilitate the great looting that is about to take place, but I suspect there is another reason why they won’t submit a budget.

They don’t have anyone or any staff that know how to do it. They never thought they would win. They never thought about these things. And Trump Republicans aren’t numbers people. Their reactionary radicals who think a facebook meme is a thinkpiece. They don’t know how government works, they don’t understand budgets, budgeting, and the legislative process. They just want to destroy things they think liberals like, shit on Democrats and the “elites” and the people who don’t look like them, and generally blow shit up.

What we are going to see is an administration completely disengaged from actual governance, while within the Republican House and Senate individual fiefdoms will handle the money grab. In chaos, the criminals find opportunity (see Richard’s post below). In 20 years if we are still around, we may begin to get a full accounting of how Trump drove the country into financial ruin and how we ended up with the top 1% owning 99.99% of everything while we have two trillion annual deficits but are still all starving.

But that’s if the media hasn’t been banned by then.



The Tabloid Era

A lady wearing a hijab was in front of me in line at the grocery store yesterday, unloading her cart with the help of her two tween girls. While waiting my turn, I scanned the racks of magazines, puzzle books, comics and scandal sheets and saw this:

It occurred to me that we’re entering the Tabloid Era. Trump himself or one of his associates could very well be the source for that story. Some of Trump’s minions have advanced the theory that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the US government and that Huma Abedin was an agent of the Brotherhood somehow.

If I recall correctly, the shitgibbon cited the National Enquirer as a credible news source at some point during the campaign. The Enquirer’s publisher, the aptly named David Pecker, claims Trump as a friend and supposedly axed stories that might have reflected negatively on the shitgibbon, while publishing lurid tales claiming that Hillary Clinton was on death’s doorstep throughout the campaign.

Oh well, I was thinking, standing in that line. We’re a cheap, tacky joke of a country now, mirroring the character of our soon-to-be leader, so why not make the National Enquirer the “paper of record”? It’s not like The New York Times has been using that role to any good purpose anyway.

But my heart ached for the mother and two daughters who unloaded their cart while I waited in line behind them. I was hoping maybe they wouldn’t see the headline. But of course, they see it more clearly than I do. Every single day.



Repeal and Delay with the Norquist problem

Right now, the current Republican plan is Repeal and Delay as the NY Times reports:

Republicans in Congress plan to move almost immediately next month to repeal the Affordable Care Act, as President-elect Donald J. Trump promised. But they also are likely to delay the effective date so that they have several years to phase out President Obama’s signature achievement.

This emerging “repeal and delay” strategy, which Speaker Paul D. Ryan discussed this week with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, underscores a growing recognition that replacing the health care law will be technically complicated and could be politically explosive.

The mechanics of the repeal bill are fairly straightforward. A reconciliation bill would be written to sunset subsidies and Medicaid Expansion money after two (or three) years while a Replace bill is cobbled together. The individual mandate tax would be dropped to zero even if it was not technically repealed and all of the taxes that fund the ACA would be dropped immediately. This blows up the insurance market fast. There are discussions and rumblings that some Republican wonks are trying to make this point to Republican leaders. Someway of shoveling a massive amount of cash to insurers would be needed that would perform the same function as risk corridors and reinsurance but called something else is the most likely response.

And then there would be some type of Replace bill that would offer skimpier subsidies and much higher cost sharing than current law.

That Replace bill will cost money. It won’t cost as much money as the ACA but it will cost money.

That is a major problem as the major funding streams from the ACA (Cadillac Tax and high income tax surcharges) are gone. Nicholas Bagley at the Incidental Economist flagged this very early on:

You’ve got to bear in mind that passing the reconciliation bill would represent an immediate $346 billion tax cut over ten years to the wealthy—$123 billion from the Medicare tax surcharge and $223 billion from the tax on investment income. All of that money—every dime—will go to people making more than $200,000 a year.

The other major source of funding for the ACA is the Cadillac tax in the out years and Medicare Advantage payment equalization. The Cadillac tax is popular with health economists who, when they concentrate for an annual convention, might have sufficient political power to elect a county commissioner in an NFL market and no one else. The Republican Replace plans use modified Cadillac plans that usually apply regular income tax rates to health insurance benefits at far lower thresholds than the Cadillac tax. But I digress.

The Replace plan will cost money. And here is where we run into the Norquist problem. It is Republican orthodoxy that once a tax cut is passed it can never be re-enacted. The Replace Bill would not be signed for at least six months (absurdly optimistic case scenario) after the Repeal bill that wiped out the high income taxes that fund the ACA. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) would score Replace based on current law which means no high income surcharges as offsets. Republicans can’t vote for higher taxes per Norquist even if those are taxes that just got cut.

Assuming Norquist is still a major political enforcer of Republican orthodoxy, my best bet is that any Replace Bill will be like the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) in that it is almost completely deficit financed.



Sunday Morning Garden Chat: A Burst of ‘Wildflowers’ in December

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From gifted garden photographer and commentor Ozark Hillbilly:

Walked out of my house yestermorn and found myself standing in a field of flowers that had bloomed during the 24 degree night temps. They were soon gone with the touch of the suns first rays. For those who don’t know, these are called “frost flowers”. From Wikipedia:

“The formation of frost flowers is dependent on a freezing weather condition occurring when the ground is not already frozen. The sap in the stem of the plants will expand (water expands when frozen), causing long, thin cracks to form along the length of the stem. Water is then drawn through these cracks via capillary action and freezes upon contact with the air. As more water is drawn through the cracks it pushes the thin ice layers further from the stem, causing a thin “petal” to form.

“The petals of frost flowers are very delicate and will break when touched. They usually melt or sublimate when exposed to sunlight and are usually visible in the early morning or in shaded areas.”

This is a phenomenon that, as far as I know, occurs only once a year, if at all. The process that forms them seems to destroy the physical structures necessary. I could be wrong. I have seen much more extravagant frost flowers but these are what grew Friday morning.

Thanks, OH! Beauty, however evanescent, strengthens our souls.

What’s going on — if only planning for next spring — in your garden(s) this week?
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Late Night Nightmare Reads: The San Bernadino Shootings, A Year Later

The Washington Post, doing journalism:

… “The brutality of the attack’s perpetrators could not have been in starker contrast to the selflessness and generosity that characterized those taken from us,” the White House said in a statement marking the anniversary Friday and honoring the victims of the attack. Using another acronym for the Islamic State, the message continued: “In the year since this tragedy, we have mourned those we lost, just as we have continued to confront the violent ideology behind this attack as well as the terrorist groups, including ISIL, that propagate it.”

In a new interview broadcast this week, the police chief in San Bernardino said authorities believe that the specifics of the attack — targeting that particular gathering at that time — may have been motivated by the holiday party set to take place in the same room after the training ended. The chief, Jarrod Burguan, cited comments made by the female attacker before the shooting.

Malik had said online “that she didn’t think that a Muslim should have to participate in a non-Muslim holiday or event,” Burguan told ABC News.

The room where the training occurred — the same room where the health department had held active-shooter training earlier that year — was filled at the time with Christmas decorations, including a large Christmas tree, ornaments and items on the walls….

If it weren’t for all the dead people, jokes would be made about the virulence with which many of us regard enforced holiday ‘jollilities’ at our workspaces. Or discussing the weight of microagressions.

But this is the real heartbreaker — again, from the WaPo:

Maybe the child would be hers one day, so Saira Khan began preparing the house for her niece’s next visit. She sanitized the baby toys and double-checked the child safety locks. She cleaned the nursery where the girl had never been allowed to spend a night and tidied the crib that had been recovered and moved from a crime scene. It had belonged to the baby’s parents, and it was in the apartment where they had left her one morning last December before driving to an office party in San Bernardino, armed with pipe bombs, handguns and AR-15s.
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Overnight Open Thread: Shocking!

Here’s an actual Tesla coil rifle to shock you awake on this early Sunday morning/late Saturday evening. If you want to build your own, the details are here. I’m going to bed, amuse yourselves!



But What About the Children

This is disgusting, but par for the course with the Republican party:

More than a year after lawmakers originally ordered it, Texas announced Monday it will enact significant cuts to the money that it pays therapists who treat vulnerable children with disabilities in two weeks.

Medicaid reimbursement rates are used to pay for pediatric therapy services provided to disabled babies and toddlers. Carrie Williams, spokeswoman for the state’s Health and Human Services Commission, said that Texas will apply cuts on Medicaid rates on Dec. 15 in attempt to achieve savings directed by the Texas Legislature in 2015.

“The most important job we have is making sure kids have the services they need and that we are responsible with taxpayer dollars,” Williams said in an e-mail. “We will monitor the reduction of rates to ensure access to care is not impacted and that Texans around the state receive the much-needed therapies required to improve their lives.”

***

“This is terrible news for Texas kids with disabilities and developmental delays and their families,” Rubin said. “Kids with autism, speech delays, Down syndrome, and other disabilities and delays rely on these therapies to learn to walk, communicate with their families, get ready for school, and meet other goals.”

Sociopaths.








If You Don’t Know Who The Patsy At The Table Is, It’s You Part [n+1]

Just a quick update for the “who has Trump f**ked today” file.

AT&T is reportedly feeling confident about its ability to buy Time Warner after meeting with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team—even though Trump himself vowed to block the merger during his campaign.

“Donald Trump’s transition team has reassured AT&T that its $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner will be scrutinized without prejudice,” the Financial Timesreported yesterday. “After talking with the president-elect’s team, AT&T executives are confident that their deal has a good chance of passing regulatory scrutiny, people informed about the conversation said.” [Ars Technica]

This is a couple of days old, actually. It’s tough to keep up.

To be sure, relative to little things like blowing up the world’s system of states, agreements, and understandings…

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…letting a mega-corp misbehave exactly as any Republican president would (and some Democrats, alas) is hardly the top of either my terror or rage list.  But still, I do love seeing Trumpkins slowly wake up to the degree to which they’ve been conned/are complicit in the ongoing shit show.

Sorry, folks.  You really do need watering twice a day if you trusted the cheeto-faced, ferret-heedit shitgibbon.

That’s about the limit of the fun to be had these days — a respectful nod in the direction of the late, great Molly Ivins.  I wish I could enjoy the tears of betrayed Trumpkins a bit more, but there’s too much damage they’ve done to the rest of us to take much satisfaction.

Image: Hans Holbein the Younger, The Ambassadors1533.



College Football Open Thread

Gator

My plucky little Gators scored on the opening drive against the mighty Tide! I think we’re 24-point underdogs. Time to shock the world!

Later on, it’s Clemson vs. the Hokies and then Wisconsin vs PSU — both at 8 PM ET. Stupid schedulers! Anyhoo, open thread!