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Thread: 2017 American Political Scene

  1. #1351
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    citanon,

    This may be an unusual person in the NSC, but there are unusual politically connected people across the executive branch in any administration.
    usually they're slotted as Ambassadors to places like Montenegro, and not senior intelligence director of the NSC.

    note too how the WH has TWICE declined to support SECDEF Mattis' selection of Undersecretary of Policy, which is one of the most important positions within the DoD. there's not been a -single- nomination of high officials under Cabinet rank. how are you going to reorganize departments when you have none of your own people evaluating, planning, and executing such a reorganization?

    from a partisan viewpoint that is fine by me, because that hamstrings the current administration's ability to institute lasting bureaucratic change.

    so what is more likely to you, that the WH is trying to centralize power with Trump and his direct cronies, or that this is all part of a grand master plan to reorganize government?

    you tell me, especially after we see Trump now undercutting all the apologizing his staff-- including McMaster-- just did for him in regards to the conspiracy theory that Obama made the Brits spy on Trump Tower, lol.

    Trump Stands Firm on Claim That British Agency Helped Obama Spy on Him
    By PETER BAKER and STEVEN ERLANGER
    MARCH 17, 2017

    WASHINGTON — President Trump refused to back down on Friday after his White House aired an unverified claim that Britain’s spy agency secretly monitored him during last year’s campaign at the behest of President Barack Obama, fueling a rare rupture between the United States and its most important international partner.

    Although his aides in private conversations since Thursday night had tried to calm British officials livid over the allegation, Mr. Trump made clear that he felt the White House had nothing to retract or apologize for, explaining that his spokesman was simply repeating an assertion made by a Fox News commentator.

    “We said nothing,” Mr. Trump told a German reporter who asked about the matter at a joint White House news conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel. “All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn’t make an opinion on it. You shouldn’t be talking to me about it. You should be talking to Fox.”

    Mr. Trump, who has stuck by his unsubstantiated assertion that Mr. Obama ordered his telephone tapped last year despite across-the-board denials, wryly used Ms. Merkel’s visit to repeat his contention. Ms. Merkel was angry during Mr. Obama’s administration at reports that the United States tapped her telephone and those of other foreign leaders. Turning to her, Mr. Trump said, “At least we have something in common, perhaps.”

    A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said on Friday that the White House had backed off the allegation. “We’ve made clear to the administration that these claims are ridiculous and should be ignored,” the spokesman said on condition of anonymity in keeping with British protocol. “We’ve received assurances these allegations won’t be repeated.”

    Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to Washington, spoke with Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, at a St. Patrick’s Day reception in Washington on Thursday night just hours after Mr. Spicer aired the assertion at his daily briefing. Mark Lyall Grant, the prime minister’s national security adviser, spoke separately with his American counterpart, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster.

    “Ambassador Kim Darroch and Sir Mark Lyall expressed their concerns to Sean Spicer and General McMaster,” a White House official said on condition of anonymity to confirm private conversations. “Mr. Spicer and General McMaster explained that Mr. Spicer was simply pointing to public reports, not endorsing any specific story.”

    Other White House officials, who also would not be named, said Mr. Spicer offered no regret to the ambassador. “He didn’t apologize, no way, no how,” said a senior West Wing official. The officials said they did not know whether General McMaster had apologized.

    The controversy over Mr. Trump’s two-week-old unsubstantiated accusation that Mr. Obama had wiretapped his telephones last year continued to unnerve even Mr. Trump’s fellow Republicans. Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma, said Friday that Mr. Trump had not proven his case and should tell Mr. Obama he was sorry.

    Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, on Thursday quoted Fox News coverage implicating Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters in a wiretapping of Trump Tower. President Trump “stands by” his original accusations of surveillance, Mr. Spicer said.

    “Frankly, unless you can produce some pretty compelling truth, I think President Obama is owed an apology,” Mr. Cole told reporters. “If he didn’t do it, we shouldn’t be reckless in accusations that he did.”

    The flap with Britain started when Mr. Spicer, in the course of defending Mr. Trump’s original accusation against Mr. Obama, on Thursday read from the White House lectern comments by a Fox News commentator asserting that the British spy agency was involved. Andrew Napolitano, the commentator, said on air that Mr. Obama had used Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, the signals agency known as the GCHQ, to spy on Mr. Trump.

    The GCHQ quickly and vehemently denied the contention on Thursday in a rare statement issued by the spy agency, calling the assertions “nonsense” and “utterly ridiculous.” By Friday morning, Mr. Spicer’s briefing had turned into a full-blown international incident. British politicians expressed outrage and demanded apologies and retractions from the American government.

    Mr. Trump’s critics assailed the White House for alienating America’s friend. “The cost of falsely blaming our closest ally for something this consequential cannot be overstated,” Susan E. Rice, who was Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, wrote on Twitter. “And from the PODIUM.”

    Mr. Trump has continued to stick by his claim about Mr. Obama even after it has been refuted by a host of current and former officials, including leaders of his own party. Mr. Obama denied it, as did the former director of national intelligence. The F.B.I. director has privately told other officials that it is false. After being briefed by intelligence officials, the Republican chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees have in the last few days said they have seen no indication that Mr. Trump’s claim is true.

    Mr. Spicer tried to turn the tables on those statements during his briefing on Thursday by reading from a sheaf of news accounts that he suggested backed up the president. Most of the news accounts, however, did not verify the president’s assertion, while several have been refuted by intelligence officials.

    For instance, Mr. Spicer read several stories from The New York Times, which has written extensively on an investigation into contacts between associates of Mr. Trump and Russian officials. The Times has reported that intelligence agencies have access to intercepted conversations as part of that investigation. But it has never reported that Mr. Obama authorized the surveillance, nor that Mr. Trump himself was monitored.

    Representative Devin Nunes of California, a Republican and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said this week that “it’s possible” Mr. Trump or others were swept up in the course of other surveillance, but when it came to the president’s assertion that Mr. Obama authorized tapping of Trump Tower, “clearly the president was wrong.”

    His Senate counterpart, Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, issued a joint statement on Thursday with Senator Mark R. Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the intelligence committee, saying they saw “no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016.”

    In pointing the finger at Britain on Thursday, Mr. Spicer read from comments made by Mr. Napolitano on Fox this week. “Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command,” Mr. Spicer read. “He didn’t use the N.S.A., he didn’t use the C.I.A., he didn’t use the F.B.I., and he didn’t use the Department of Justice. He used GCHQ.”

    “What is that?” Mr. Spicer continued. “It’s the initials for the British intelligence spying agency. So simply, by having two people saying to them, ‘the president needs transcripts of conversations involved in candidate Trump’s conversations involving President-elect Trump,’ he was able to get it and there’s no American fingerprints on this.”

    In London, outrage quickly followed. “It’s complete garbage. It’s rubbish,” Malcolm Rifkind, a former chairman of Parliament’s intelligence committee, told BBC News.

    GCHQ was the first agency to warn the American government, including the National Security Agency, that Russia was hacking Democratic Party emails during the presidential campaign. That warning stemmed from internet traffic out of Russia containing malware, British officials said.

    British officials and analysts were surprised at the tough and vehement language in the GCHQ response, especially from an agency that traditionally refuses to comment on any intelligence matter.

    There was some annoyance and eye-rolling as well. Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, the junior partner in the last British coalition government, described Mr. Spicer’s repetition of the claims as “shameful” and said Mr. Trump was “compromising the vital U.K.-U.S. security relationship to try to cover his own embarrassment.”

    Dominic Grieve, the current intelligence committee chairman in Parliament, noted that no president can task the GCHQ and pointed to elaborate safeguards that prevent spying on the United States and require “a valid national security purpose” for any monitoring. “It is inconceivable that those legal requirements could be met in the circumstances described,” he said in a statement.

    But Downing Street clearly wanted to avoid adding to any embarrassment in Washington while making it clear that Britain had no part in any such wiretapping, and that Britain would not be a party to circumventing the laws of another closely allied country. “We have a close relationship which allows us to raise concerns when they arise, as was true in this case,” the prime minister’s spokesman said. “This shows the administration doesn’t give the allegations any credence.”

    British officials said that Britain initiated calls of complaint and denial to the White House after Mr. Spicer’s briefing. They also said that British officials had discussed responding earlier, after Mr. Napolitano’s comments were made on air, but acted quickly after those remarks were repeated by the president’s official spokesman.

    “I doubt if there will be any long-term damage — the intelligence links between the U.S. and the U.K. are just too strong,” said Peter Westmacott, a former British ambassador to the United States. “It was unfortunate that the White House spokesman repeated what he’s heard on Fox News without checking the facts. But once he’d done so, GCHQ had no choice but to set the record straight.”
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

  2. #1352
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wooglin View Post
    It's called reading comprehension. Behold!


    Made up shit is unsupported numbers like 100% and 20% that people throw around when trying to spin some feeble response because they're more concerned with saving face than just conceding they were wrong.

    Don't worry. I'm sure nobody noticed.
    L

    LOL, I'll give you an "A" grade for fantasy writing. As for reading comprehension I wouldn't flatter yourself. Yet in miscomprehension (to get a wrong idea about) you excel.

  3. #1353
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    citanon,



    so McMaster not being able to remove a 30 year old Flynn acolyte from a senior position within the NSC is...not unusual?
    I am nowhere near McMaster's level but get to keep my people mostly.

  4. #1354
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    citanon,



    so McMaster not being able to remove a 30 year old Flynn acolyte from a senior position within the NSC is...not unusual?

    for the most part, cabinet Secretaries traditionally have had significant freedom in choosing their own staff. this IS pretty unusual, and coupled with Trump not bothering to fill many open positions within the government, speak to Trump's desire to centralize power within the immediate WH staff instead of across the Executive Branch.
    I share many of your same reservation about Trump. How is this different from say Obama's choosing Chuck Hagel over Ash Carter for Sec o' Def?
    Last edited by Dazed; 18 Mar 17, at 19:54.

  5. #1355
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    Dazed,

    I share many of your same reservation about Trump. How is this different from say Obama's choosing Chuck Hagel over Ash Carter for Sec o' Def?
    i don't get this...
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

  6. #1356
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    Dazed,



    i don't get this...
    I wouldn't vote for Trump. You are complaining about Trump appointing people less qualified for the job against recommendations of department head. Ash Carter was recommended by two former Sec of Def. before Obama chose Chuck Hagel. Chuck Hagel did say, "decline of American military power a "good thing", because it forced American allies to share responsibilities" Maybe he a little like Trump. nah

  7. #1357
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    dazed,

    You are complaining about Trump appointing people less qualified for the job against recommendations of department head.
    uh...trying to equivocate McMaster trying to get rid of a 30 year old Flynn guy on his own staff, and failing, vs the President picking his own Defense Secretary from a shortlist of three qualified individuals (Flournoy, Hagel, Carter)...OK.

    and Carter got the job the second go-around.

    the point here is that once you pick your people, they should be empowered to make THEIR staffing decisions themselves. doing otherwise demonstrates a lack of trust by the overall leader. this is what delegation means.

    so McMaster being overruled on even this internal matter demonstrates 1.) he doesn't really have the ear of the WH, and 2.) the WH doesn't particularly trust him.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

  8. #1358
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    Good commentary on the current budget plan:

    http://www.realcleardefense.com/arti...et_110998.html

    My comments: the trump budget as it stands is full of misplaced priorities and less than courageous preconditions that make it DOA politically and damaging for the country. The Trump administration need remove the precondition on deficit balancing and take the politically courageous step of cutting entitlement spending in order to carry out policies that benefit our long term national interests.

    It's also clear from the contents of this budget that Mick Mulvany is not the rIght person to head OMB. If budgetary impasse continues Republican leadership need to press for his replacement.

  9. #1359
    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by citanon View Post
    Good commentary on the current budget plan:

    http://www.realcleardefense.com/arti...et_110998.html

    My comments: the trump budget as it stands is full of misplaced priorities and less than courageous preconditions that make it DOA politically and damaging for the country. The Trump administration need remove the precondition on deficit balancing and take the politically courageous step of cutting entitlement spending in order to carry out policies that benefit our long term national interests.

    It's also clear from the contents of this budget that Mick Mulvany is not the rIght person to head OMB. If budgetary impasse continues Republican leadership need to press for his replacement.
    What part of entitlement spending isn't in support of our long-term national interests? Healthcare? Social security? After that, the cuts just don't add up to a hill of beans vis-a-vis defense.

    Mandatory outlays rose $400 billion over the last five years, all of which was accounted for by Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid... mandatory spending. The other categories all netted out.

    Another interesting observation: half of the $820 billion increase in federal revenues over the past five years came from individual income taxes, 1/3rd from payroll taxes and a whopping 7% from corporate income taxes.

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    Listening to Schiffs opening 'statement' and very reassuring to see that there will be nothing that could even be confused with a fair and partial investigation on behalf of dems.

    Hell, I'm ready to lock Trump, Sessions and the entire administration up after that.

    I hope the rest of this isn't as partisan as this dink is.

  11. #1361
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    come now, did you expect anything different?

    i'd say if anything what Schiff said was rather less partisan than what Republicans were screeching about re: Benghazi.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    come now, did you expect anything different?

    i'd say if anything what Schiff said was rather less partisan than what Republicans were screeching about re: Benghazi.
    I didn't expct this much crap (from both).

  13. #1363
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    i'd like to live where you do!

    seriously, though: imagine if this was happening to the Obama Administration. yeah, somehow I don't think it would have been a non-partisan just-the-facts investigation....
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

  14. #1364
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    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    What part of entitlement spending isn't in support of our long-term national interests? Healthcare? Social security? After that, the cuts just don't add up to a hill of beans vis-a-vis defense.

    Mandatory outlays rose $400 billion over the last five years, all of which was accounted for by Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid... mandatory spending. The other categories all netted out.
    We need to cut either or both to achieve a reasonable balance between fiscal responsibility, growth, and social safety net. Primary target would be Medicare and Medicaid because of the continuing rise in coats. Right now we are on track to spending ourselves into the ground and creating an unsustainable burden for future generations. I would call that a dire threat to our national interests.
    Last edited by citanon; 20 Mar 17, at 21:14.

  15. #1365
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    i'd like to live where you do!

    seriously, though: imagine if this was happening to the Obama Administration. yeah, somehow I don't think it would have been a non-partisan just-the-facts investigation....
    I'd like to not live were I live at times...

    This is the second time you've gone back to Hillary /obama.

    What's the point?

    We can go back and forth for ever with the past on both sides.

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