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Thread: 2018 American Political Scene

  1. #1231
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    GVChamp,

    The US is not Europe, it's a collection of Europeans who left Europe because Europe sucked ass. It sucks ass much less now, but their entire politics are tilted because of centuries of shitty social relations and shitty management.
    well, rather more than a collection of Europeans now...:-)

    DOR,

    Both parties used to be big-tent centrist parties.
    The term no longer applies to the GOP.
    as of 2008-2016, this was completely correct. this was part of the reason why Obama beat the crap out of the GOP at the Presidential level.

    from 2016, not quite. Donald Trump's GOP -is- a big tent party, with the tent completely provided by Donald J. Trump. however, it is not what we'd call "centrist" by any means, because the tent he provides is rhetorical economic populism combined with not-so-subtle white nationalism.

    for that matter, the "big tent" idea has shifted quite a bit. the "big tent" aspect used to refer to a wide-ranging collection of ideas, but that's non-existent within the GOP now (with the -singular- exception of Trump) and increasingly endangered within the Dems. it's remarkable to see how in the last year, southern Dems are now espousing platforms not altogether different from California Dems.

    for the Dems, "big tent" now means more racial/cultural diversity to account for the growing power of minorities.
    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

  3. #1233
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    I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration

    The New York Times op-ed, Sept 5, 2018

    I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.

    The Times today is taking the rare step of publishing an anonymous Op-Ed essay. We have done so at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure. We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers. We invite you to submit a question about the essay or our vetting process here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/05/r...questions.html


    President Trump is facing a test to his presidency unlike any faced by a modern American leader.

    It’s not just that the special counsel looms large. Or that the country is bitterly divided over Mr. Trump’s leadership. Or even that his party might well lose the House to an opposition hellbent on his downfall.

    The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.

    I would know. I am one of them.

    To be clear, ours is not the popular “resistance” of the left. We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.

    But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.
    That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can [link to: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/04/u...?module=Uisil] to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.

    [as part of NYT's campaign against fake news, this is added:]
    Ask a Question
    Do you have a question about the essay or our vetting process? Please ask it here. *
    Continue
    The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.

    Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people. At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright.

    In addition to his mass-marketing of the notion that the press is the “enemy of the people,” President Trump’s impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic.

    Don’t get me wrong. There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.

    But these successes have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.

    From the White House to executive branch departments and agencies, senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander in chief’s comments and actions. Most are working to insulate their operations from his whims.

    Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back.

    “There is literally no telling whether he might change his mind from one minute to the next,” a top official complained to me recently, exasperated by an Oval Office meeting at which the president flip-flopped on a major policy decision he’d made only a week earlier.

    The erratic behavior would be more concerning if it weren’t for unsung heroes in and around the White House. Some of his aides have been cast as villains by the media. But in private, they have gone to great lengths to keep bad decisions contained to the West Wing, though they are clearly not always successful.

    It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room. We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.

    The result is a two-track presidency.

    Take foreign policy: In public and in private, President Trump shows a preference for autocrats and dictators, such as President Vladimir Putin of Russia and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and displays little genuine appreciation for the ties that bind us to allied, like-minded nations.

    Astute observers have noted, though, that the rest of the administration is operating on another track, one where countries like Russia are called out for meddling and punished accordingly, and where allies around the world are engaged as peers rather than ridiculed as rivals.

    On Russia, for instance, the president was reluctant to expel [link to: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/26/w...xpulsion.html] so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But his national security team knew better — such actions had to be taken, to hold Moscow accountable.

    This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state. It’s the work of the steady state.

    Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.

    The bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility.

    Senator John McCain put it best in his farewell letter [link to: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/27/u...tatement.html]. All Americans should heed his words and break free of the tribalism trap, with the high aim of uniting through our shared values and love of this great nation.

    We may no longer have Senator McCain. But we will always have his example — a lodestar for restoring honor to public life and our national dialogue. Mr. Trump may fear such honorable men, but we should revere them.

    There is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first. But the real difference will be made by everyday citizens rising above politics, reaching across the aisle and resolving to shed the labels in favor of a single one: Americans.

    The writer is a senior official in the Trump administration.
    Trust me?
    I'm an economist!

  4. #1234
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    bah, for once i agree with the administration. gutless is the term.

    if he wants to ameliorate the worst impulses of the administration, let him do so quietly and not spawn further paranoia-- or better yet, resign and publicly state the reason.

    this type of anonymous article seems to be fodder for when the administration goes down in flames and the guy can spring out and say he was the conservative bucking Trump before it was cool.
    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

  5. #1235
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    bah, for once i agree with the administration. gutless is the term.

    if he wants to ameliorate the worst impulses of the administration, let him do so quietly and not spawn further paranoia-- or better yet, resign and publicly state the reason.

    this type of anonymous article seems to be fodder for when the administration goes down in flames and the guy can spring out and say he was the conservative bucking Trump before it was cool.
    Agreed

    Unelected officials have no authority for this.

    Resign and go to the Hill & testify
    “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
    Mark Twain

  6. #1236
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    I presume the source was checked so this a real account given to the NYT but barring that (slight) doubt I must disagree with astralis and AR above. It is not the part of a Civil Servant to resign because they disagree with some Government policy; all Ministers and obviously Trumpkin more than most have crazy ideas at times - want to "change things" and "leave their mark" but the job is primarily to ameliorate their worst impulses and promote their best. The duty is not to the Minister or President whether you may like them or dislike them/agree or disagree with their policies but to the country and it's people. If you are best able to serve by ameliorating an elected officials worst instincts you are doing your job right.

  7. #1237
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    Quote Originally Posted by snapper View Post
    It is not the part of a Civil Servant to resign because they disagree with some Government policy;
    The author of the NYT article isn't a civil servant, he's a political appointee.
    "Every man has his weakness. Mine was always just cigarettes."

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    snapper,

    I presume the source was checked so this a real account given to the NYT but barring that (slight) doubt I must disagree with astralis and AR above. It is not the part of a Civil Servant to resign because they disagree with some Government policy; all Ministers and obviously Trumpkin more than most have crazy ideas at times - want to "change things" and "leave their mark" but the job is primarily to ameliorate their worst impulses and promote their best. The duty is not to the Minister or President whether you may like them or dislike them/agree or disagree with their policies but to the country and it's people. If you are best able to serve by ameliorating an elected officials worst instincts you are doing your job right.
    well, no. if you as a civil servant disagree with a government policy, you have several choices:

    - advocate for a change within, through the chain of command;
    - salute and execute;
    - resign and testify, if need be

    amelioration is not in the cards in theory because taken to its logical conclusion, it would mean an unelected bureaucracy essentially abrogating the prerogatives of elected officials. aka the deep state.

    now in practice, there is slight leeway for amelioration, particularly among the highest levels of government-- but that comes from the trust of the President giving his senior lieutenants flexibility to execute his vision.

    this is something else altogether. David Frum writes as much:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/ar...crisis/569443/
    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

  9. #1239
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    snapper,



    well, no. if you as a civil servant disagree with a government policy, you have several choices:

    - advocate for a change within, through the chain of command;
    - salute and execute;
    - resign and testify, if need be

    amelioration is not in the cards in theory because taken to its logical conclusion, it would mean an unelected bureaucracy essentially abrogating the prerogatives of elected officials. aka the deep state.

    now in practice, there is slight leeway for amelioration, particularly among the highest levels of government-- but that comes from the trust of the President giving his senior lieutenants flexibility to execute his vision.

    this is something else altogether. David Frum writes as much:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/ar...crisis/569443/
    As a Federal Employee I couldn't agree with this characterization more.

    Astralis nailed it.

    Also, going as you wish as a Fed based on you beliefs could also be a violation of the Hatch Act if it was taken from political motivation.
    “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
    Mark Twain

  10. #1240
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    The author of the NYT article isn't a civil servant, he's a political appointee.
    If that is true then resignation would be the only honourable option. But do we have proof that he/she is a political appointee?

    astralis,

    I take the first of your 'choices'. That is the duty; to point out mistakes and explore other options. I have never seen or worked for a Government (or even voted for) with which I have 100% agreed all the time policy wise - or with people within it that I did not like like or trust. That is not the point though. You swear to the Queen/Constitution or Nation - not the political party or particular Minister, policy or half brained idea someone elected official may have. You do your best and stick to it. You do your job. Particularly in times which you might consider a danger to the nation; the "steady state" must continue. The writer of this NYT piece is doing his/her job despite their misgivings over the elected officials mental health and compromised position. That is the job and more needed now in the US than ever.

  11. #1241
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    Quote Originally Posted by snapper View Post
    If that is true then resignation would be the only honourable option. But do we have proof that he/she is a political appointee?
    From the op-ed:

    That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.
    "Every man has his weakness. Mine was always just cigarettes."

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    snapper,

    I take the first of your 'choices'. That is the duty; to point out mistakes and explore other options. I have never seen or worked for a Government (or even voted for) with which I have 100% agreed all the time policy wise - or with people within it that I did not like like or trust. That is not the point though. You swear to the Queen/Constitution or Nation - not the political party or particular Minister, policy or half brained idea someone elected official may have. You do your best and stick to it. You do your job. Particularly in times which you might consider a danger to the nation; the "steady state" must continue. The writer of this NYT piece is doing his/her job despite their misgivings over the elected officials mental health and compromised position. That is the job and more needed now in the US than ever.
    "do your best and stick to it" is the mantra for normal times and a normal Presidency.

    if the author truly considers Trump to be a danger to the nation, then the author should instead resign and do his best to remove Trump from power legally, which would be a far more effective way of resolving the issue.

    that he isn't, indicates that 1.) he considers the dangers posed by Trump to be "manageable" or not worth the political costs of action, and/or 2.) he thinks the gains of "policies have already made America safer and more prosperous" outweighs the costs of removing Trump from power.

    either way, it shows that his professed desire of "rising above tribalism" is absolutely meaningless.
    Last edited by astralis; 06 Sep 18, at 22:47.
    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

  13. #1243
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    Now who does the BBC think wrote the op-ed? Through their linguistic analysis they did come up with someone who fits.

    Reminds me of my hacked credit card that was cloned for use in NYC while I was at work in my office on the West Coast. Kept going back and forth since it was so damn obvious till I said show me the signature. The clarity and large flowing curves in my cursive signature is impossible to duplicate and the one they had looked like it was a monkey who signed. My cursive is an absolute dead give away to me thanks to that Nun.

    NYT Trump column: Linguistic clues to White House insider?
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45435813

    We all have our own distinctive style of writing and speaking. Trying to hide those quirks is like trying to repress a part of our character.

    This style is what can help you identify an author from reading only one paragraph of their work. But what happens if the author doesn't want to be identified?

    It is fair to say that the author of an opinion column published in the New York Times on Wednesday would rather people not know who they are.

    The anonymous column, headlined I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration, said people working for the president were working to frustrate parts of his agenda to protect the country from his "worst inclinations".

    All sorts of speculation is now swirling as to who could be behind the article.

    Might it be possible to pick up clues to the writer's identity by analysing their style?

    Maybe. And there are some very intriguing clues around.

    But also, maybe not. We decided to give it a go anyway.
    Stage one: Our methodology

    We ran the text of the New York Times column through some writing enhancement software to identify the author's stylistic traits (more on those later).

    The New York Times said the column was written by someone "in the Trump administration" - this could mean the White House, the Pentagon, the state department or any number of departments.

    Anonymous Trump op-ed passes key tests

    So we ran a few weeks of statements issued by certain departments through the same software, to see which of those best matched the NYT column.

    We assessed only speeches or official statements attributed to a person that were pre-prepared and not off-the-cuff (this ruled out a lot of President Trump's speeches).
    Stage two: The caveats

    And there are many, many caveats:

    The NYT said the author was "a senior official" in the administration. Not all senior officials issue statements - many work behind the scenes, as this author may well do

    And yes, not all official statements are written by the officials themselves - this is why they have staff

    The column will have gone through the hands of New York Times editors, so we don't know how closely the published column resembled what was submitted

    Having said that, opinion editor James Dao has said the submitted piece was well-written, telling the newspaper's The Daily podcast: "I was really quite impressed by the clarity of the writing and by the emotional impact of the writing"

    It may even be possible that the newspaper chose to remove stylistic clues to the writer's identity - they haven't yet said if they did this or not

    We don't know if the writer is male or female: in a tweet, the NYT referred to the author as "he"; it then put out a statement saying the tweet "was drafted by someone who is not aware of the author's identity"

    Our sample size is small and this is not a scientific method, so make of our conclusions what you will...

    Stage three: The conclusions

    The software we used hones in on certain characteristics of writing style, including how often the writer repeats words, when they use rare words, how often and where they use punctuation, how many characters they use in each word, and how long their sentences are.

    Compared with most of the official statements and speeches we analysed, the New York Times column had a distinctive style (again, some of this could be down to the editing process).

    For a start, the average length of the sentences in the column is very low compared with government statements: only 19.3 words per sentence.

    Compare this with statements by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on Syria on 4 September (31 average words a sentence) and Mr Trump in a letter to the Senate on 28 August (30 words a sentence).

    There is one Trump administration official whose statements and speeches are always shorter than the others - sometimes significantly.

    His name is Michael Richard Pence, the vice-president of the United States of America, and on Thursday, he denied he was the author of the column. Some had suggested he was responsible because the column used one unusual word - "lodestar" - he's been known to use.

    Does 'lodestar' guide us to Trump author?

    Let's look at the evidence from Mr Pence's statements:

    on 31 August before the lying in state of late Senator John McCain: 17.4 words per sentence
    at the American Legion's 100th national convention on 30 August: 17.6 words per sentence
    in Houston on 23 August on the administration plan for space: 19.7 words per sentence

    Well, you might say, surely Mr Pence's speeches are written by someone else?

    This is true - although it is not clear how much input the vice-president has in writing his speeches.

    However, we were also able to analyse old columns written by Mr Pence when he was a radio broadcaster in the 1990s. These too show a consistent style: short, easily digestible sentences - much shorter than most government statements.

    Pence's speeches and columns also show he favours shorter words than those we see in other government statements.

    There is another piece of evidence pointing in the vice-president's direction.

    Government statements very rarely use the passive voice, and tend to prefer using the active voice instead - there are only a handful examples of the former being used over the past few weeks.

    However, the author of the column does use the passive voice, a few times:

    "Although he was elected as a Republican" instead of "Although the American people elected him as a Republican"
    "We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility"
    "occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back"

    Its use in comparison with the White House statements is striking. Except for all of Mr Pence's.

    He used the construction seven times in his Houston speech, three times in his American Legion speech and, in one old column on why President Bill Clinton should be impeached, he uses it six times in only 916 words.

    We'll carry on running more tests on more statements released over a longer period of time, by the end of which - who knows - maybe the author will have been outed.

    In the meantime, Mr Pence - or at least someone writing on behalf of Mr Pence - has continued to deny he was the author.

    "The vice president puts his name on his op-eds," tweeted Jarron Agen, Mr Pence's communications director and deputy chief of staff.

    "The @nytimes should be ashamed and so should the person who wrote the false, illogical, and gutless op-ed. Our office is above such amateur acts."

  14. #1244
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post

    if the author truly considers Trump to be a danger to the nation, then the author should instead resign and do his best to remove Trump from power legally, which would be a far more effective way of resolving the issue.

    that he isn't, indicates that 1.) he considers the dangers posed by Trump to be "manageable" or not worth the political costs of action, and/or 2.) he thinks the gains of "policies have already made America safer and more prosperous" outweighs the costs of removing Trump from power.
    Astralis,
    Appearing before Congress, trying to remove Trump from power legally? At the moment that's a complete fantasy.

    You're missing 3.)The author sees Trump's immediate future (i.e. his remaining term) in the Oval Office as virtually unassailable, thanks to the gutlessness of the Republican Congress and the (real or imagined) possibility of the predicted Blue Wave failing to appear in November. So appearing before Congress is both a waste of time/effort and removes this person from his sure and certain position of ameliorating Trump's actions from within the Fortress of Insanity.

    This op-ed was a signal flare sent up from behind enemy lines to that part of the country that hasn't drank the Trump Kool-Aid: "We know he's batshit insane, we're doing our best, hold out as long as you can"

    tl;dr It would be squandering an invaluable asset best left in place.
    Last edited by TopHatter; 07 Sep 18, at 04:42.
    “You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if the Senate determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role… because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”
    ~ Lindsey Graham

    "The notion that you can withhold information and documents from Congress no matter whether you are the party in power or not in power is wrong. Respect for the rule of law must mean something, irrespective of the vicissitudes of political cycles."
    ~ Trey Gowdy

  15. #1245
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    If you believe an elected official or political appointee is prone to take rash decisions and in this case prone to almost infantile behaviour and have the opportunity to act as an "adult in the room" it is in the interests of your country - and therefore your duty - to fulfill that role.

    No Government is about the whims of one person - even the President or Prime Minister; it is a collective decision making system. Sometimes a decision or a policy may be contrary to what you believe is the best path; other times 'your side' of the argument will win out. Sometimes it seems that for every step forward a Government takes it slips back half a step (particularly in Ukraine) but your duty is to 'keep buggering on' with hope and faith in the future. The only time you have a duty to quit and speak out is when an official is clearly acting illegally or instituting a criminal policy.

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