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Thread: How smart is Trump really?

  1. #46
    Senior Contributor Triple C's Avatar
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    "I would not go that far but, from an outside perspective, he is far from being the worst President in US history. Jimmy Carter comes to mind." -OoE

    I don't think Trump or Carter are in my shortlist for worst US presidents ... so far. They have the likes of Harding and Fillmore for that dubious honor.
    All those who are merciful with the cruel will come to be cruel to the merciful.
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  2. #47
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WABs_OOE View Post
    I would not go that far but, from an outside perspective, he is far from being the worst President in US history. Jimmy Carter comes to mind.

    Presently, he has forced Canada and Mexico to renegotiate NAFTA to the benefit of the US. He has movement in North Korea. And he woken up Asian complacency by refusing to put them on the pedestal. The shift to the Pacific is dead in the water. It's by no coincidence that Trump's threats of war pushed action on the Chinese on North Korea and for the first time, serious talk about avoiding a trade war.
    Can you explain what you mean by the bolded bit ?

  3. #48
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    I think he's referring to Obama's "pivot" to Asia.

    There's basically been a clean break/no continuity between Obama and Trump's East Asia foreign policy.
    What I don't want to see is the Bills winning a Super Bowl. As long as I'm alive that doesn't happen.

  4. #49
    Defense ProfessionalSenior Contributor tbm3fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    Can you explain what you mean by the bolded bit ?
    I was wondering that too since just very recently the Chinese installed new "defensive" missiles on three "reefs" in the South China Sea while all were focused on Korea.

  5. #50
    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Triple C View Post
    "I would not go that far but, from an outside perspective, he is far from being the worst President in US history. Jimmy Carter comes to mind." -OoE

    I don't think Trump or Carter are in my shortlist for worst US presidents ... so far. They have the likes of Harding and Fillmore for that dubious honor.
    I get so tired of people bad-mouthing the Carter Administration. It’s like SALT II, the Camp David Accords and full diplomatic relations with China never happened. The Shah of Iran would have stayed in power, if not for Jimmy? Give me a break. No second oil shock and consequent inflation, if not for Jimmy? Read some history.

    On purely economic grounds, three big measures:

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Real GDP _ Budget/GDP _ Unemployment _
    Previous 30 yrs _ _3.8% _ _ _ _ _-1.2% _ _ _ _ _ _ 5.1%
    Carter Adm _ _ _ _2.8% _ _ _ _ _ -2.2% _ _ _ _ _ _ 6.7%
    Next 30 yrs _ _ _ 2.8% _ _ _ _ _ -3.8% _ _ _ _ _ _ 6.3%

    Not the greatest record, but certainly better than many.
    Trust me?
    I'm an economist!

  6. #51
    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    I think he's referring to Obama's "pivot" to Asia.

    There's basically been a clean break/no continuity between Obama and Trump's East Asia foreign policy.
    I've not sensed any break in that pivot have you ?

    In fact he wants to build more ships where Obama cut down on defense spending

    Quote Originally Posted by tbm3fan View Post
    I was wondering that too since just very recently the Chinese installed new "defensive" missiles on three "reefs" in the South China Sea while all were focused on Korea.
    Posted about that here

    No good sources

  7. #52
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    There's basically been a clean break/no continuity between Obama and Trump's East Asia foreign policy.
    actually, from the military side of the house, the biggest surprise is its continuity.

    the biggest difference is the fall of the TPP, which was an American-driven attempt to ensure against Chinese regional economic hegemony.
    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. #53
    Senior Contributor GVChamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigfella View Post
    A few weeks back Australia celebrated the 100th anniversary of some key WW1 battles where General John Monash commanded a combined corps including US troops to victory. We have been a battlefield ally for 100 years & a formal one for almost 70 and we still don't know when (or if) we will get an Ambassador.

    One was ready to start work, but he got shifted to the Sth Korean job. The reason that was vacant is because the Korea expert set to fill it got pushed out by Trump because he was in favor of talks with the North & opposed to military action. Seems like precisely the guy you might want right now.

    So, we get humiliated because the guy in charge lacks basic competence. I would describe Trump's appointment process as chaotic, but that suggests more structure than actually exists. We aren't the worst example of his incompetent handling of allies, but a good example of something that should be easy to fix but apparently doesn't matter.

    Anyone remember when it was the end of the world because Obama allegedly moved a bust of Winston Churchill or gave the British PM a DVD box set as a gift? Funny how all those people seem to have fallen silent while the Manbaby in Chief is doing real damage to important long term relationships.
    Most of us who didn't like Obama found reasons to dislike Obama besides the Churchill thing or the tan suit fiasco. I don't remember the DVD box thing.

    There's no Soviet Union anymore, so I'm not immediately concerned compared to some of our....domestic concerns. Though Trump's been a crap choice on the FP front, our biggest policy headache is North Korea, which is the fault of the prior 3 administrations, not Trump.


    Also, yeah, shittiest US Presidents are definitely Harding, Fillmore, Johnson, Buchanan, in that order (IMO). Rankings of Presidents still in current history are pretty piss-poor, IMO. Reagan and JFK are both treated like freakin Ascended Gods, and rankings on Clinton, Bush, Obama are clearly partisan.

    Almost all of our Presidents between Van Buren and Harrison were shitty except for Lincoln. Somehow we survived, and we even had a civil war in there, too.
    Last edited by GVChamp; 14 May 18, at 16:14.
    "The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood"-Otto Von Bismarck

  9. #54
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    by the way, as a demonstration of the utter chaos and pig-ignorance that is Trump foreign policy.

    Trump is now openly talking about relaxing sanctions against Chinese company ZTE, sanctions that were put into place as ZTE has itself violated sanctions against Iran multiple times.

    this, at the same time when administration officials are talking about sanctioning European companies doing business with Iran as a result of the unilateral American withdrawal of the JPCOA.
    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

  10. #55
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    hough Trump's been a crap choice on the FP front, our biggest policy headache is North Korea, which is the fault of the prior 3 administrations, not Trump.
    NK is inherently an unsolvable problem without buy-in from all the regional actors. can't really pin blame on any administration.
    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

  11. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    I get so tired of people bad-mouthing the Carter Administration. It’s like SALT II, the Camp David Accords and full diplomatic relations with China never happened. The Shah of Iran would have stayed in power, if not for Jimmy? Give me a break. No second oil shock and consequent inflation, if not for Jimmy? Read some history.
    Yes, let's read some history. Iran-Hostage Crisis. Hostage Rescue Fiasco. Got played by Deng into support for the 1979 Sino-Vietnam War. Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. B1-Cruise Missile fiasco. SALT-II was an open arms race. US Generals openly question their abilities to defend NATO. Carter was both unwilling and unable to check Soviet expansion. As for the allies, they have decided that they don't need a US under Jimmy Carter with France leading the Anybody But Carter campaign.

    Yes, let's read some history.
    Last edited by WABs_OOE; 14 May 18, at 20:26.

  12. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Double Edge View Post
    Can you explain what you mean by the bolded bit ?
    USN's resurrection of 2nd Fleet means the threat perception has now been shifted back to Russia. FONA is just flag waving. A single destroyer can do that, daring the Chinese to act with consequences. ASW screens requires far more assets and by default, gets far less attention.

  13. #58
    Senior Contributor GVChamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    NK is inherently an unsolvable problem without buy-in from all the regional actors. can't really pin blame on any administration.
    Right, FP isn't high-variance, it's low-variance with a fat risk end. I know the obvious counter-example is the Iraq War, but Iraq isn't going to be a fulcrum of history anymore than the 1920s British intervention in Iraq was. The US response in the South China Sea is going to be a bigger deal, but even there we can only do so much, and the US would have to do something extreme to really make that earth-shattering (in either direction). I think TPP is going to be a bigger factor in the long-run, but it's not like we're just punting on Asian economic relations forever.
    "The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood"-Otto Von Bismarck

  14. #59
    Senior Contributor Bigfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TopHatter View Post
    That's one of the two things that absolutely baffles me about Trump supporters:

    Some extremely smart people that I know...consider him to be a successful business man, and therefore well-equipped to be President of the United States.
    I'm simply aghast at this conclusion when it, by any measure, Trump is exactly as you described: An extremely wealthy child of mediocre capability that has failed his way upwards.

    If they were talking about Warren Buffet, I would agree wholeheartedly with the first part, but still question the validity of the assumption posed by the second part.
    I'll preface these remarks with the observation that Trump is successful in the sense that he has managed to turn himself into a huge celebrity & a brand. He has leveraged that to make money & obtain status. That doesn't make him a business genius, but it is a talent and he has monetized it.

    I'm betting that your friends have fallen prey to a couple of very American ideas.

    One is an obsession with celebrity. America pretty much invented mass celebrity culture. Other nations have run with that ball, but it seeps deep into US consciousness. The tendency to conflate fame with general worth or ability and the tendency to assign unearned importance to celebrities has been around in the US since before any of us were born. Trump is a logical outcome of that phenomenon & the assumption that he is more capable than he is goes along with that.

    The other is an almost pathological belief in an incredibly shallow concept of 'meritocracy'. Old World societies have an understanding that many people with money & social position have done nothing to earn it (even if they don't always act like they understand that). Despite the fact that America now has less social mobility than many of those societies, there remains an implicit assumption in America that 'class' doesn't exist and money or position (or lack thereof) is somehow based on merit.

    marry those two trends and you have people who are predisposed to believe that a rich guy like Trump with a flair for self promotion must be a great businessman. Talking about his inherited advantage is 'class warfare', 'politics of envy' and an attack on achievement.

    The other thing is a wholesale unblinking acceptance of Trump's moral cesspool of a past history and personality (something they would've taken to streets with torches over, in the case of a Democrat, and especially Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton) but something they are more than willing to smilingly overlook because of his "policies", brushing his deep and obvious reprehensible character flaws (which is far too mild of a way of putting it) as mere "buffoonery" or "rough around the edges".

    Truly remarkable. And truly sad.
    This comes down to out & out tribalism. That isn't an issue limited to the GOP, but it seems to be worse there. There are just too many people who drown themselves in voices telling them what they want to hear. They indulge their most base emotions & turn off their critical capacities. Often this is a cynical exercise, though sadly not often enough. Thus you have the frankly unhinged idea that Trump is some sort of genius 'family man', in spite of a mountain of uncontested evidence to the contrary.

    It also leads to the bizarre spectacle of self proclaimed patriots cheering for Russians accused of trying to manipulate a US election while denouncing a decorated military veteran & lifelong servant of the American people as some sort of enemy of the nation. This comes pretty close to mass mental illness - the sort that in a nation with fewer constitutional safeguards could lead to some very dark places. The wholesale bulldozing of anything resembling acceptable standards in the name of partisanship is scary to watch even at this distance.

    As an op-ed said almost exactly one year ago:

    Donald Trump is not fit to be president of the United States. He does not possess the requisite intellect and does not understand the significance of the office he holds nor the tasks associated with it. He doesn't read. He doesn't bother to peruse important files and intelligence reports and knows little about the issues that he has identified as his priorities. His decisions are capricious and they are delivered in the form of tyrannical decrees. He is a man free of morals. As has been demonstrated hundreds of times, he is a liar, a racist and a cheat.

    And in the 12 months, I've seen nothing to demonstrate any growth or change on Trump's part. But then, sociopaths in his position aren't really capable of change.
    When this is all over those words will be just as true. I'm sure there have been one or two people less suited to being POTUS, but not many more than that.


    Win nervously lose tragically - Reds C C

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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    by the way, as a demonstration of the utter chaos and pig-ignorance that is Trump foreign policy.

    Trump is now openly talking about relaxing sanctions against Chinese company ZTE, sanctions that were put into place as ZTE has itself violated sanctions against Iran multiple times.

    this, at the same time when administration officials are talking about sanctioning European companies doing business with Iran as a result of the unilateral American withdrawal of the JPCOA.
    My understanding is that it is part of ongoing trade talks and is predicated on China dropping its agriculture tariffs along with buying more American agricultural goods on top of that? Presumably this does not include the concession of
    the steel tariffs. That would be the bargaining i've heard about, end deal of course could be different, but its basically a bargaining chip and hasn't been made as a concession (yet?).

    Not the best message to send on sanctions compliance, and I do think the national security implications need to be addressed at the very least. but there is some reasoning behind putting it out there that I find compelling.

    It won't change things RE Europe and Iran though, but I don't think Trump has a chance of convincing the EU anyways. I'd say the image it presents to the EU on Iran sanctions shouldn't be taken into consideration, well unless the EU is willing to bargain trade concessions should Trump be stupid enough to start signing sanctions for EU companies? He'd have better luck forcing/ tricking Iran into openly stop complying with the deal.
    Last edited by LongLurker; 16 May 18, at 12:49.

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