Terrifying government by cracked pot

cracked_pot

Paul Waldman of The Washington Post writes that the selection of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser is "Donald Trump’s most terrifying appointment." Flynn has a history of making incendiary and Islamophobic statements that have drawn much crtiticism.

"Donald Trump has gone about picking his Cabinet and senior advisers in much the way one might have predicted. Instead of looking for people with the highest levels of experience, expertise, and competence, he seems to be making his choices based on criteria like who he’s seen on Fox News, or who praised him effusively, or who has a cool nickname. There may be no more dangerous choice Trump has made so far than picking Michael Flynn to be his national security adviser. There are few more important positions in the White House, and few where the wrong choice could have consequences quite as catastrophic. If we contemplate how President Trump might handle an international crisis—which he will face, probably before long—we see just how troubling Flynn’s appointment is. … But to put it plainly, Michael Flynn is a crackpot."

Waldman goes on to give abundant evidence of this.

The national security adviser coordinates policy between the multiple US agencies whose work touches on national security, so that that the president has the best, clearest, and most accurate information with which to make decisions. "For a President Trump’s unique combination of ignorance, inexperience, and impulsiveness, it’s particularly vital to have a national security adviser who can encourage calm and thoughtfulness, and not be distracted by what’s irrelevant or downright false. … When it comes to matters of national security, Donald Trump will not be like other Republicans. He’s likely to be reckless and foolish in ways we can’t yet predict. And people like Mike Flynn reinforce his worst instincts, including his own propensity to believe ludicrous conspiracy theories. … The only way Flynn will be replaced by someone less likely to push us toward some kind of disaster is if Trump decides to push him aside. There’s no indication yet that Trump is inclined to do so. But we had better hope he changes his mind."

Lord have mercy.

Ill-informed and incoherent

The Editorial Board of the New York Times (1 Dec 2016) sums up the fears that many of have about the ill-informed and incoherent character of Mr Trump’s ideas on international affairs.

That Donald Trump is having trouble choosing a secretary of state underscores concerns about his ability to manage the international challenges he will face in office—from the aggression of leaders like Russia’s Vladimir Putin to the Islamic State to strains among NATO allies.

At times, Mr. Trump’s campaign talk suggested new approaches; at other times, he offered a jumble of contradictory ideas. His mantra of "America first" implies a reduced American role overseas, but he has also advocated a tough posture toward adversaries. All of this creates an unsettling unpredictability that has already affected how governments and companies think and act. There is still little sign that Mr. Trump, who has declined daily briefings by the intelligence agencies, understands these threats and how to deal with them.

[…]

Presidents have wide latitude to act unilaterally in foreign policy and command a powerful bully pulpit. Even so, Congress, career diplomats, interest groups, the media and foreign leaders can help shape, inform and stymie presidential intentions. The world has long relied on the United States to be the steady hand. The challenges will be more complex than Mr. Trump ever imagined. There is little reason to believe that he will provide strong leadership on these fronts, but every reason to hope that he does.

On not getting along with Donald

Some folks really, really, don’t like Mr Donald Trump; evidence this piece by Mr Charles M. Blow in New York Times of 23 November 2016.

………………………….

No, Trump, We Can’t Just Get Along

BlowDonald Trump schlepped across town on Tuesday to meet with the publisher of The New York Times and some editors, columnists and reporters at the paper.

As The Times reported Trump actually seemed to soften some of his positions.

He seemed to indicate that he wouldn’t seek to prosecute Hillary Clinton. But he should never have said that he was going to do that in the first place. He seemed to indicate that he wouldn’t encourage the military to use torture. But he should never have said that he would do that in the first place. He said that he would have an "open mind" on climate change. But that should always have been his position.

You don’t get a pat on the back for ratcheting down from rabid after exploiting that very radicalism to your advantage. Unrepentant opportunism belies a staggering lack of character and caring that can’t simply be vanquished from memory. You did real harm to this country and many of its citizens, and I will never — never — forget that.

As I read the transcript and then listened to the audio, the slime factor was overwhelming. After a campaign of bashing The Times relentlessly, in the face of the actual journalists, he tempered his whining with flattery. […]

I will say proudly and happily that I was not present at this meeting. The very idea of sitting across the table from a demagogue who preyed on racial, ethnic and religious hostilities and treating him with decorum and social grace fills me with disgust, to the point of overflowing. Let me tell you here where I stand on your "I hope we can all get along" plea: Never. You are an aberration and abomination who is willing to do and say anything — no matter whom it aligns you with and whom it hurts — to satisfy your ambitions.

I don’t believe you care much at all about this country or your party or the American people. I believe that the only thing you care about is self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment. Your strongest allegiance is to your own cupidity.
I also believe that much of your campaign was an act of psychological projection, as we are now learning that many of the things you slammed Clinton for are things of which you may actually be guilty. […]

You are a fraud and a charlatan. Yes, you will be president, but you will not get any breaks just because one branch of your forked tongue is silver.

I am not easily duped by dopes. I have not only an ethical and professional duty to call out how obscene your very existence is at the top of American government; I have a moral obligation to do so.

I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything, but rather to speak up for truth and honor and inclusion. This isn’t just about you, but also about the moral compass of those who see you for who and what you are, and know the darkness you herald is only held at bay by the lights of truth. It’s not that I don’t believe that people can change and grow. They can. But real growth comes from the accepting of responsibility and repenting of culpability. Expedient reversal isn’t growth; it’s gross.

So let me say this on Thanksgiving: I’m thankful to have this platform because as long as there are ink and pixels, you will be the focus of my withering gaze. I’m thankful that I have the endurance and can assume a posture that will never allow what you represent to ever be seen as everyday and ordinary.

No, Mr. Trump, we will not all just get along. For as long as a threat to the state is the head of state, all citizens of good faith and national fidelity — and certainly this columnist — have an absolute obligation to meet you and your agenda with resistance at every turn. I know this in my bones, and for that I am thankful.

Political learning that matters

Rowan Williams understands the election of Donald Trump to be a failure of mass democracy and his theatrical politics as a betrayal of the disenfranchised (New Statesman, 20 November 2016)

What this election has shown about politics in the US and Europe, he says, is that "it is to do with the discontent of the disenfranchised and insecure. … They have become detached from the work of politics by the erosion of liberties and economic opportunities. … The politics of mass democracy has failed. It has been narrowed down to a mechanism for managing large-scale interests in response to explicit and implicit lobbying by fabulously well-resourced commercial and financial concerns.

The political learning that matters, "is the experience of genuine political debate and decision-making at local levels, the experience of identifying challenges, negotiating sustainable solutions, and learning to manage conflict without violent rupture or the demonising of minorities. This is the work that goes on in co-operative practice at every level— in education and industry, and through citizens’ organisations (President Obama’s political nursery), food co-ops, microcredit institutions and voluntary street pastors … we need better analysis of and investment in local civic activism."

"What will it take," Williams asks, "to reacquaint people with control over their communities, shared and realistic values, patience with difference and confidence in their capacity for intelligent negotiation?"