Thursday, January 3, 2019

Your Daily Crazy, Middle East Edition

This is a portion of the transcript of a press conference given by President Trump on January 2, 2019.

I want you to keep this in mind as you read this; keep in mind who this is who is speaking.

This is not your drunken FOX-addled uncle spewing off after too much turkey and football at Thanksgiving dinner. This is not some random park ranter in the piss-smelling pants. This is the man who is legally in sole charge of the armed forces of the United States as well as the executive capacities of the largest economic and military power on the planet.

We begin with a reporter asking a question about the recent announcement of U.S. ground forces being pulled out of Syria and Afghanistan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I appreciate it, Mr. President. Maybe the military has an angle here or a possible --
TRUMP: They have no angle. I know every angle. No, they have no angle.

We don’t have to wait long for the cray-cray, do we? “I know every angle” – and keep in mind this question was specifically about military affairs. The guy whose closest encounter with any military activity was terror-driven flight from potential Vietnam service “knows every angle”? Really?
The military under past leadership, including for many years was taken advantage of by other countries. Allies and not allies, they were taken advantage of. Our country has to be respected. We're not respected when we do that.
While this may not be overtly nuts – I mean, it IS nuts - the U.S. has undertaken military actions “for many years” but not because it was taken advantage of but primarily to pursue its own interests. This whole “taken advantage of” thing is one of Trump’s more consistent bizarre mental kinks, a seemingly overriding need to be seen as the grifter rather than the chump. It also dovetails with his obsession with alliances and pacts as a sort of protection racket where if the U.S. isn’t making bank it’s being chumped.

But the main point here is to recognize this as a signifier of Trump’s way of thinking, which is virtually indistinguishable from the gutter punks and gangster wannabes I went to high school with. “Respect” was their Holy Thing. The one sure driver of violence for these goombas was the perception that they weren’t being “respected”. It made them dangerously unstable to be around, because you never knew what they’d interpret as “disrespect”. That is this guy’s mindset. Think about that for a moment, and let’s move on.
When horrible things are happening on trade where we have barriers put up, where we have tariffs put on and we open our country up, we just open it up, where cars are sent into our country with virtually no tax, no nothing and yet they won't accept our cars, when cars are sent in and they pay no tax but we're expected to pay 25, 40, 50 percent and we pay nothing, I'll be honest with you, it's just not in my DNA.
This is economic gibberish, but it’s at least consistent with Trump’s obsession with “respect” and the idea that everyone else in cheating “us”.
I don't know how people allowed that in my position, allowed these things to happen. And we're not allowing it to happen anymore. I could be the most popular person in Europe. I could run for any office if I wanted to but I don't want to.
Here’s the first real “WTF” moment. Popular? Run for office? Of…what, “imperial poo-bah”? You’re an object of derision and contempt all over the non-fascist parts of Europe. You don’t know that? Obviously not, and yes, this is just Trump giving himself his usual tongue-bath. But it's the utterly random way this pops in here that is such fine flavor of pure whackadoodle senile-Grampy crazy.
I want people to treat us fairly and they're not. And it's not -- there's no angles. There's no angles.
Back to the “angles” again as senile Grampy suddenly remembers the original point (such as it was…) he was trying to make.
There's nothing -- you know, when a country sends us 200 soldiers to Iraq or sends us a hundred soldiers from a big country to Syria or to Afghanistan and then they tell me a hundred times, oh, we sent you soldiers, we sent you soldiers. And that's 1/100th of the money they take advantage of, they're just doing it to make me happy. I've heard past Presidents say they've involved in the Afghanistan war because they sent us a hundred soldiers.
Presumably this is about the other NATO nations. It’s nonsense. A bunch of other NATO countries pushed upwards of five figures of bodies into Afghanistan; the British, certainly, as well as France and Germany. Almost all the NATO members sent some contingent, the size of which was determined by the capacities of the contributor and the needs of the multinational force commanders.

Yes, some of them were company-sized or smaller. But that was because the force was set up by the needs of the theater commander and the capabilities of the units sent, not as a grifting scheme.

And, yes; if Andorra sends a quartermaster company they ARE “involved in the Afghanistan war”. Those people are. This points out the fundamentally unserious nature of Trump’s understanding of war; he sees it like a game, a con game, and the less money you make (or lose) the smaller and less important the con.

The MOST bizarre part here, though is that “they’re doing it to make me happy” thing. Why the hell would “they” do that? “You” aren’t that important in the Afghan picture; you’ve been the U.S. CINC for only 2/17ths of the entire Umpteenth Afghan War. "They" have no real reason to make you happy.
Yet it's costing us billions of billions of dollars. I get along with India and the prime minister and he's constantly telling me he built a library in Afghanistan. You know what that is? That's like five hours of what we spend. And he tells it is and he's very smart and we're supposed to say oh, thank you for the library.
Okay. Remember this whole India thing. The little library story is freakishly weird, but it’s not the stupidest part of Trump’s notions about India and Afghanistan.

Wait for it; we’ll get to la-la land in a bit.
I don't know who's using it in Afghanistan but one of those things. Well, I don't like --It's the end of the world and we're subsidizing their military by billions and billions and billions of dollars many, many, many times what those soldiers cost their country.
Here’s one bit of this whackaloonity that I actually have to sorta give him. Yes, “we” have been sinking a crap-ton of blood and treasure into this bottomless pit. Mind you, it has largely been for our own, admittedly by my reckoning strategically clueless, reasons. But, yes. “Billions and billions” (here’s where I hear Carl Sagan rather than Trump’s reedy whine, but, whatever…) have gone down the Afghan rathole.

I’m all in for Trump taking U.S. GIs out of this mess. But the glimpse this presser gives of what goes on – or doesn’t – inside the gomer’s head doesn’t make me feel confident that he won’t just get them stuck into something even MORE fucked up.

TRUMP: Go ahead, Afghanistan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Afghanistan, you have (one?) ISIS and the (Taliban?) is gaining ground. And India…

TRUMP: I think India should be involved in Afghanistan.




Okay, let’s just sit here a moment and ponder the epically, monumentally, heroically, pure-D, stomp-down, clueless boneheaded geopolitical stupidity of that single offhand sentence.

“I think India should be involved in Afghanistan.”

I have no idea what the fuck his military handlers have tried to tell this gomer. I know he’s functionally illiterate. I know he’s a bumptious rube, a walking Dunning-Kruger who thinks he’s the smartest guy in the room on whatever subject comes us.

But…”I think India should be involved in Afghanistan.”

I’m not saying that the Chief Executive needs to be a foreign policy wonk. I don’t expect him to know about the political situation in the subcontinent and the history of the region that still echoes decisions and actions taken as far back as the Mughals. Or that the entire focus of Pakistani Afghan policy is to ensure that the Afghan state provides strategic depth for Pakistan in the event of war with India. Or that the main driver of friction between the current Kabul government and Karachi has been the warming of relations between Afghanistan and India since the U.S. invasion and the fall of the Taliban.

But I’d expect at the bare minimum that their foreign policy advisors would have briefed him – and that he would have understood – on the tense relationship of Pakistan and India.

That they would have hammered at least a working understanding of why the triangle India-Pakistan-Afghanistan is as potentially explosive as nitroglycerine into this dumb fucker’s head. The fact that this moron could just toss this off is possibly as monstrously stupid as getting involved in a land war in Asia, except we’re talking about our involvement in a land war in Asia, so I’ll just say that this is monstrously stupid, even for Trump, and let’s move on.
I gave our generals all the money they wanted. They didn't do such a great job in Afghanistan. They've been fighting in Afghanistan for 19 years. General Mattis thanked me profusely for getting him several hundred billion and thanked me more the following year when I got him $716 billion. He couldn't believe it because our military was depleted. Now we're rebuilding our military. Pat was very responsible for a lot of the orders for the new F-35 fighter jets and F-18s including ships and missiles and everything. But General Mattis was so thrilled.
As always with Trump, it’s all about the money. Keep that in mind. He has no concept that there’s such a thing as geopolitics and grand strategy. If you throw money at something, you win. (Which might explain a lot of the whole “going bankrupt repeatedly”, when you think about it…)

Trump doesn’t get the difference between the problems caused by endless imperial wars run on a credit card have on O&M, and procurement. Why should he? It’s all just the money and all about the money, amiright?
But what's he done for me? How has he done in Afghanistan? Not too good. Not too good. I'm not happy with what he's done in Afghanistan and I shouldn't be happy. But he was very thankful when I got him $700 billion and the following year $716 billion. So, I wish him well. I hope he does well. But as you know, President Obama fired him and essentially so did I. I want results.
This, in terms of Afghanistan, is more than bizarre; it’s outright nuts. This would be like FDR going on the radio and ranting about how because of the debacle at Kasserine Pass he was relieving GEN Marshall. As SECDEF Jim Mattis didn’t micromanage in-theatre efforts in Afghanistan and he shouldn’t have been doing so. That Trump seems to think that is…well, it’s either stupid or nutty, but I’m actually going for the Daily Double of both.
We're going to do something that's right. We are talking to the Taliban, we're talking to a lot of different people but here's the thing because you mentioned India. India is there. Russia is there. Russia used to be the Soviet Union.
No shit, Sherlock.
Afghanistan made it Russia because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan. Russia.
This is an almost-fifth-grade-level understanding of the breakup of the Soviet Union, except I’ll bet that the smarter fifth graders actually have a more sophisticated understanding of the actual factors involved.
So, you take a look at other countries. Pakistan is there. They should be fighting. But Russia should be fighting. The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there. The problem is it was a tough fight. And literally they went bankrupt. They went into being called Russia again as opposed to the Soviet Union. A lot of these places you're reading about now are no longer a part of Russia because of Afghanistan. But why isn't Russia there?
Russia? Fighting in Afghanistan? You WANT that? Because you want to re-create “Charlie Wilson’s War” only you want to be allies with the baddies?

Seriously? WTF? This may be on the whackadoodle-level as the India comment, only with even less political sense because dopey here clearly remembers that the Soviets were fighting in Afghanistan and it didn’t go well for them.
Why isn't India there in we there and we're 6,000 miles away? But I don't mind. We want to help our people, help other nations. You do have terrorists, mostly Taliban but is. I'll give you an example. So tall ISIS is an enemy. We have an area where Taliban is here, ISIS is here and they're fighting each other. I said why don't you let them fight? Why are we getting in the middle of it? I said let them fight. They're both our enemies, let them fight.
Another hugely stupid idea, as we’ll discuss below.
Sir, we want to do it.
I think this is Trump pretending to be one or more of his military advisors (or the commanders on the ground in Afghanistan)
They go in and end up fighting both of them. It the craziest thing I've ever seen. I think I would have been a good general but who knows.
Fucking hell. Just…fucking hell.
These are two enemies fighting again but what are we doing?
We’re backing the government we installed in Kabul because the winner of the IS-Taliban fight will then go on to bitchslap our Afghan buddies, dummy.

Somehow, fucking Tallyrand here hasn’t managed to absorb that while there are two sets of “enemies” here there’s also an “ally”, the Kabul government, and that the whole idea isn’t to sit back and let the enemies fight each other but enable the third, “allied” party to win legitimate governance so the enemies don’t take the place back when they’re done (or find time to attack the ANA while they’re brawling).
He's done a fantastic job. He's brought the country together.
I have no idea what this refers to. I think there’s something missing from the transcript here, like Trump calling out the current Afghan head of state.
India, Russia, you look at some of the satellite countries that are extremely wealthy with oil, surrounding. I spoke to some of them. They -- I said to a certain country, very rich country, what would you do if the United States pulled out? Oh, we'd be taken over by the Taliban and terrorists.
I can’t figure out if this is just nonsense or an extremely ugly and bizarre congeries of lies.
The implication of his first sentence “satellite countries…wealthy with oil, surrounding” is that he’s talking about 1) a petrostate that is 2) adjacent to or within close proximity to Afghanistan, that 3) is highly vulnerable to takeover by a takifiri guerrilla movement.

But there is literally no such place that satisfies all three of his criteria.

The countries that border Afghanistan are Iran, – which is a petrostate but far too large and too Shiite to be endangered by a bunch of Sunni religious nuts – Pakistan – which might be vulnerable to unrest but isn’t a significant petroleum producer, and three former Soviet states; Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, which have neither a significant petroleum industry, nor, being closely linked to the "Northern Alliance" enemies of the Talib Pashtun, are likely to be at risk of a Pashtun invasion.

The closest polity that even comes close to meeting all the conditions in this gobbledegook is Kazakhstan, which has its own takifiri issues but 1) not with either the Taliban or an Islamic State franchise and 2) is geographically pretty far from the Pashtun regions.

Whatever the reason for this odd anecdote it’s worth reminding us that Trump does this, though. A lot; just pulls stuff out of his ass that is utter nonsense, or so twisted from whatever its genesis was as to be nonsensical.
And to remind us that he’s usually not called on it, which is why he continues to do it, and I think this is what this is. This supposed conversation never happened, or it happened with some representative of Pakistan and Trump just has this vague memory that he bitched out some wog or other (I mean, they’re all just “shithole” countries anyway, amirite?) for…
I said, ah. They b…then why are you charging us when we have to use your country to send product through? Why are you charging us when we send airplanes over your country? We're doing the job for you, why are you charging us? He said to me, very great gentleman, smart. He said to me, well, nobody ever asked me not to. I said I'm asking you not to. He said we will not charge you. And I'm talking about millions and millions of dollars. Flights over his country. But I say to him, what would happen if we weren't here? And he looks at me and he goes we would be overrun. We could not defend ourselves. And yet he charges us. But he doesn't charge us anymore.
…”charging us” – Trump again with the money, and (of course) his self-styled “dealmaking”.
The getting-hit-up-for-supply-and-overflight thing suggests he’s thinking of Pakistan.
But I honestly have no idea what to make of this whole farrago. I think it’s just all lies and make-believe, simply because I can’t see who this “very great gentleman, smart” and his country could be.
OK. Jeff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You use the word slowly when you're describing the withdrawal --

TRUMP: I didn't say --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your timetable?

TRUMP: Somebody said four months. Obama gave up Syria when he didn't violate the red line. I did when I shot 59 missiles in but that was a long time later. And when President Obama decided not to violate his statement that never cross the red line and then they did and he didn't do anything about it, you know, make a threat is OK but you always have to follow through with the threat. You can't make a threat and then do nothing.

Another of Trump’s over-riding foreign policy principles to the degree he has any is his obsession with Obama, in this case contrasting Trump’s Wag The Dog missile barrage back in April of 2017 with Obama’s backing off Assad after the barrel bomb/gas attacks in 2012.
So, Syria was lost long ago. It was lost long ago.
Wait? Whaaaaat? We’re pulling out of Syria because we WON, right? Because the Islamic State was beaten and “we’re not doing nation-building” (as he told the GIs in Iraq just last week). So…instead, now Syria “was lost long ago”?
Then what the fuck were all those GIs doing there for the past two years?
And besides that, I don't want -- we're talking about sand and death.

OMFG I love this SO much. “We’re talking about sand and death.” That’s your poet-president, that's fucking poetry right there.

“Sand and death.” I saw that movie, too. Tyrone Power played the matador. Linda Darnell was his wife.

What a great flick.

Sand and death.

That's what we're talking about. We're not talking about vast wealth. We're talking about sand and death.
Again with the wealth, but, hey, it’s Trump – you want to know what’s going on under that combover? Follow the money.
Now, the Kurds, it's very interesting, Turkey doesn't like them, other people do.
Some people like anchovies on their pizza. Some don’t. Some people want to butcher Kurds. Some like them. "I don’t really care, do U?"
I didn't like the fact that there selling the small oil they have to Iran.
The fuck..?

This is an outright lie, or some sort of Trumpy-brain nonsense intended to let him off the hook for screwing the Kurds.

The Syrian Kurds have no active oilfields and the Iraqi Kurds sell their Kirkuk oilfield products in Iraq.

Where the hell he gets this I have no idea; maybe Fox and Friends? Anyone heard this nonsense on wingnut websites? It’s not bizarre because it’s wrong – this is Trump – but because it’s so obviously, easily disproveably wrong.
But Kurds are selling oil to Iran. I'm not happy about it at all. At the same time, they fight better when we fight with them. When we send 30 f-18s in front of them, they fight much better than they do when we don't.
Close air support! Wow! Whoodathunkit? Would he have made a Great Captain? Would he? I'm tellin' ya, Napoleon has nothing on this joker.
And you've we want to protect the Kurds. But I don't want to be in serious forever.
So we’ve got your back, Kurds. Except…only until we get bored. Or it costs too much. Or we just stop giving a shit.
Sadly, this IS what you get when you trust Uncle Sammy. I suspect there’s a Vietnamese Montaignard word for it.
It’s sad and the death.
I remember saying stuff like this when I was 19 and stoned out of my gourd.
If we fight ISIS-- you know where else they're going? To Iran, who hates ISIS more than we do. They're going to Russia, who hates ISIS more than we do. Then I read when we pull out, Russia is thrilled. You know why they're not happy? Because this be and we're killing ISIS also for Iran.
I have no idea what the hell this means, and I don’t think he does, either. The Islamic State was born in the wreckage of the Sunni parts of western Iraq and eastern Syria, neither of which have the slightest similarity to any parts of Iran or Russia.

He’s just pulling this stuff…well, you know.

I sort of understand why none of the journos push him on this nonsense; he doesn’t know anything, and if you push it all you get is more gibberish. But, seriously…how can you respect this? How can you treat this like someone who should be doing anything other than tending the fry pit at some Mickey D’s somewhere instead of making geopolitical decisions for the globe’s biggest superpower?
And just while we're on Iran because people don't like to write the facts. Iran is a much different country than it was when I became President. Iran when I became President, I had a meeting at the Pentagon with lots of generals, they were like for a pry, better looking than Tom Cruz and stronger. I've had more I said this is the greatest room I've ever seen. I saw more computer boards than I think that they make today.
WTF? I got nothin’ here. Wow. Even when I was stoned out of my gourd I made more sense than this.
And every part of the Middle East and other places that was under attack was under attack because of Iran. And I said to myself, wow, I mean, you look at Yemen, you look at Syria, you look at every place, Saudi Arabia was under siege, they were all -- I mean, they wanted Yemen because of a long border with Saudi Arabia. That's why they're there, frankly. But every place was under siege.
I realize that this is a critical piece of GOP foreign policy, so it would be unrealistic to expect Trump’s toddler-level comprehension of geopolitics to question the “Iran is the Great Satan” trope. But, as usual, he takes the basic GOP talking point and goes utterly fruit-bat with it. “every part of the Middle East”? Like your pals in Baghdad, who are Iran’s de facto allies?
I actually asked a question. They had plenty of money. President Obama had just given them $150 billion. He gave them $1.8 billion in cash. I'm still trying to figure that one out, plane loads of cash, from many different countries.
This is easily understood if you recognize Trump as FOX-news-uncle. The “Obama gave Iran cash” thing is a wingnut trope that turns the Obama release of the impounded Iranian assets (which had to be delivered in banknotes because the banking embargos were still in place) into some sort of giveaway/bribe/corruption thing.
You know why from five different countries, Jeff? Because we didn't have enough cash in, they had to use the current at this with all of that being said, I did something called terminate the horrible Iran nuclear deal, which by the way, in eight years gives Iran the legal right to have nuclear weapons. I did it. Iran is no longer the same country. Iran is pulling people out of Syria.
I have no idea where he gets this, either. The IRGC is a Syrian partner and will continue to be so long as the Syrian Arab Army is fighting the civil war. If Trump really believes this – and, again, this is entirely likely to be pure Trumpian nonsense – he is either being really poorly advised or has a criminally low level of understanding of what his own intelligence people are telling him. Either way it argues a dangerously huge lack of geopolitical savvy.
They can do what they want there, frankly, but they're pulling people out, they're pulling people out of Yemen. Iran wants to survive now. Iran was they were going to take they can do what they want there, frankly, but they're pulling people out, they're pulling people out of Yemen. Iran wants to survive now.
To the best of my knowledge there are no significant Iranian assets in Yemen, which makes logistical and geographic sense if you think about it for two seconds; there is no direct land route from Iran to Yemen, and there’s no way for an Iranian freighter to put into a South Yemeni port.

Again, this is a dangerously idiotic way to think of the situation in the south Arabian peninsula if you are the U.S. head of state and charged with directing U.S. foreign policy.
Iran was…they were going to take over everything and destroy Israel while they're at it. Iran is a much different country right now. They're having riots every week in every country, bigger than they've had when we do all of the things that we gone pan (done?). Iran is in trouble. I'd love to negotiate with Iran. There but Iran is a much different country right now, Jeff, than it was when I took office. What I took over two years ago, Iran was going to take over the most and they were going to have all the weapons they wanted in a short period of time because of that stupid deal. When I terminated that deal and then did what I had to do, Iran is a much different country today than it was 19 months ago, that I can tell you.
There’s a lot of nonsense to unpack in this one paragraph.

The 2019 situation in Iran is little different than it was in 2016, largely because of the relatively consistent rumble of the low-grade Shia-Sunni Wars of Religion kicked off by Dubya and Dick’s Excellent Middle Eastern Adventure.

The one major difference is that the Trump Administration has made what I consider the major geopolitical mistake of taking sides in this religious war, and even moreso (in my opinion) by siding with the Wahhabi Sunni of Saudi Arabia, a metastable autocracy founded on the idea that petroleum wealth will both last forever and make the rule of a gang of inbreds from the Hause of Saud tolerable to the bulk of ordinary Saudis. I consider both these propositions to be sketchy in the medium term and unsustainable in the long term.

If Trump would “love to negotiate with Iran” there’s nothing stopping him. The probability is high that his idea of ”negotiation” is no different than his other diplomatic encounters with places like North Korea or the EU, which consists of 1) him throwing down his objective and folding his arms – which hasn’t worked with the EU, or 2) giving his counterpart what they want and then claiming it as a win for Trump, as he did with the NORKs. The Iranians, who have no real reason to take whatever one-sided “deal” he’d be offering, have no real reason to negotiate or, given his renege on the original "stupid deal" he and the GOP congresscritters welched on, any reason to trust him to hold with another deal, no matter how favorable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the timetable for withdrawing troops --

TRUMP: It just over a period of time. Oh, we're withdrawing. We're hitting them very hard.

Are you withdrawing, or hitting “them” very hard? Seems impossible to do both at the same time anywhere but inside of Trump’s head.
When I met with the generals in Iraq, I said to a couple of the generals, why didn't you do this before? He said, sir, our commanders were telling us what to do. I said don't you tell them? No, sir, we take orders. And they're great soldiers. They listen. I do it differently. I sat around and after a few minutes they listened up and said this is what we should do.
This little anecdote is baffling not so much because of the point of it – which is the point of almost all Trump anecdotes, highlighting the very stable genius of Trump (who in “a few minutes” grasps the elusively obvious solution that has eluded all these so-called “generals” and “commanders”) compared to the dullards around him – but the actual circumstances.

Who are these “great soldiers” (apparently “generals” but not generals who are “commanders”, since that get told what to do by the latter)? When and how did this meeting occur? Why?

And why, if “they listened up” when Trump told them “what we should do”, hasn’t the geostrategic situation in southwest Asia suddenly improved dramatically? It’s almost as if this was an utter fiction. But, frankly, even a fiction this little story seems ludicrous.

The scene as painted here by Trump is some anonymous GSA-issue conference room somewhere in Iraq, where a group of “generals” sits down with their commander-in-chief. There is some sort of discussion in which 1) the POTUS asks pointedly why these GOs haven’t figured out how to hit “them” hard by withdrawing, 2) the GOs explain that it wasn’t their fault, they were chust vollowink orders, and 3) after a mere “few minutes” suddenly the POTUS expounds, like Christ preaching in the temple as a youth, to the astounded senior officers who, we’re left to suppose are dumbfounded and enlightened by His wisdom.

If it was comedy it’d be fairly brilliant. But it isn’t supposed to be comedy, and as such it’s just ridiculous.

I cannot imagine how the people listening to this stuff don’t start giggling at Trump. It must take a lot of practice.
But we were supposed to be out and that was five years ago and we never left. I see soldiers that are so badly injured and hurt, I don't want that. Why want it. And our military is getting really strong.
Okay, brace yourself, because we get into some deep inside-of-Trump's-brain stuff here.
I can tell you story when I got here about our military that I don't even want to talk about. I don't even want to talk about. One of the NGS, we do these reports on our military. Some I.G. goes over there, and he goes over there and they do a report on every single thing we're fighting wars and they're doing a report and releasing it to the public. The public means the enemy. Those reports should be private reports. Let them do a report but they should be private reports and be locked up and but for these reports, criticizing referring for these reports -- essentially given out to the enemy is insane. And I don't want it to happen anymore, Mr. Secretary. You understand that. Look at the reports. Nobody more critical of, hey, it's not my fault, we're getting out smart.
This is…this is just tinfoil hat looney.


This is completely off-the-trolley gibbering nonsense. I’m not even sure what the hell he’s talking about here, other than it combines all Trump’s usual paranoia and his belief that there is some sort of critical OPSEC problem that he wants to solve by taking information that – at least in theory – the American public needs to know to make informed decisions about aspects of the military operations ostensibly conducted in their name are performed and closing it off to the public.

And the thing to remember is that IG investigations are NOT typically conducted for tactical events. Those are performed either by the local commander or someone above him in the chain of command. I've undergone IG inspections as well as been in units that underwent IG investigations. They were nothing like this lunatic espionage picture that Trump paints here.

The IG looks into things like GI-quality-of-life, maintenance, training, and personnel issues. The IG’s brief is not ”every single thing we’re fighting wars”, and the tactical or strategic value to even the most alert enemy of a typical IG investigation is likely to be extremely low.

But beyond the misinformed notion of who and what the IGs this is a reminder that, aside from all the looney stuff above, Trump has the “gut” – and remember how much he relies on that capacious organ – of a dictator.

He genuinely believes that 1) the Inspector General is giving away vital military secrets, and 2) that the only way to prevent that is for the IG’s reports to be “locked up” and the American public be kept safely away from even that level of knowledge of what is being done in their names. Think about the implications of that for a bit
But we're getting out very carefully. Yes, ma'am.
Well. THAT’s good to know.

I know that it’s difficult for the press people to do anything about these bizarre streams of verbal diarrhea. But it’s import for We the People not to begin to just overlook them or, worse, begin to accept them as ”just what he does”.

If your grandfather began to talk like this you’d, at the very least, consider taking his car keys away lest he end up in a ditch somewhere in the Poconos. This is not the behavior of someone who still has all his tacos on the combination platter. And yet this is what has the final say over much of our military and foreign policy.

Andy points out in the comments that all this is "shooting fish in a barrel" and, yes, there's certainly nothing newsworthy that a retired artillery sergeant with a geopolitics hobby can pick the nutty out of a Trump interview as easily as you could pick the cashews out of a bowl of mixed nuts.

But...that's kind of the point, isn't it?

The fact that the Chief Executive of the world's hyperpower is goofier than a wilderness of monkeys...shouldn't that be appalling? Shouldn't the people recording this nonsense be sounding the panic alarm? Should we, reading it, be horrified, angry, and - at the very least - committed to both acknowledging that nobody this unhinged, ignorant, and proud of both should be in charge of our lives and be clamoring that our Congresscritters be impeaching and convicting the rascal? Hell, the Emoluments Clause alone is enough to fry the dude.

That's my point here.

Not pointing out the crazy. Pointing out 1) how obvious the crazy IS, and 2) how it's not even being presented as "crazy" but as business as usual.

I don’t know about you.

But the fact that reading stuff like this isn't scaring the hell out of 99.9 percent of John Q. Public scares the living hell out of me.


  1. This is an important moment, FDC. We now have recorded proof that Trump has completely lost touch with reality. I'm waiting for Pence to gently take control and send Trump to the Loony Bin. 2020 will be a complete disaster for the Republicans if this is allowed to continue.

    1. The frustrating thing is that this isn't anything new or out-of-character. Like I keep repeating in the annotations; this is bog-standard Trump. He does this ALL. The. Time. Some stuff is more loopy than others, but this is totally a piece of his "understanding" of...well, pretty much everything.

      Look at this idiotic federal shutdown.

      Pretty much any previous Chief Executive would figure out some sort of boilerplate workaround to make it look like he's got "a deal" with the House. Shit, he GOT a billion and change for "border security" to fight his Don Quixote fight against the windmills, sorry, immigrant rapists. Any sane politician would have spun that as a win and moved on.

      But the DOPUS is wrapped to hard around his gang-boss need for "respect" and is too worthless to standup to Rushbo and Ann Coulter calling him mean names if he doesn't get his "Wall" exactly as he demands it.

      Mind you...this ISN'T "Trump"; this is Republicans. Look at all the other ridiculous shutdowns going all the way back to Newtie Gingrich. The GOP "negotiating position" is "My way or the highway". They expect capitulation from the Democrats because they know the latter actually believe in the idea of governance and want to keep things going. The GOP could give a shit; they want guns and God and plutocracy and no taxes and wll gleefully burn down the country to get them.

      But I disagree on your last point. About two-thirds of the American public agrees with this self-destructive nonsense. So 2020 will be another nailbiter, and it's entirely likely, given the way the federal election institutions favor rural over urban, that Trump will win re-election.

      After six more years of these jokers climate change will doom us all anyway so they'll die along with us, but that's sort of cold comfort at this point.

    2. For all read, "two-thirds" is incorrect. It's more like one third.

  2. I can't stand the lying moron's blathering for more than about four seconds, but I skipped through this blog post and my eye catched this:

    "But what's he done for me?"

    Confirmation that trump thinks the U.S. government works for him, not the people. A wannabe Louis XIV.

    1. We've known that since the Comey interview. His sole reason for firing the dude was because Comey saw federal law enforcement as enforcing the law, not acting as muscle for Trump.

  3. I can't stand the lying moron either. Lots of Trump baloney to plow through there. I do not have FDC's patience so I won't try to pick apart the whole bag of manure. But there are several outright lies that need to be exposed in the mainstream press:

    "But he was very thankful when I got him $700 billion and the following year $716 billion."

    And he has often bragged about his (Trump's) defense budgets. #1 Obama signed bigger ones, $710B and $726B. #2 Junior Bush signed many that were larger in inflation-adjusted dollars. #3 Neither Bush nor Obama bragged about it. I don't mind a bit of bragging. "If you've got it, flaunt it" was my motto as a young man. But the key words there were "If you've got it", which the Cockalorum-in-Chief does not have and never had. All his bragging is untrue. Does Faux News and the other bullshit media treat his lies as gospel truth?

    1. As hard as it is for you to listen to Trump I have the same problem with FAUX. I can't listen to the relentless lying for more than a handful of minutes before igniting with fury. I avoid the fever-swamps of Wingnuttia for my health.

      But...from what little I have seen? Yes. It's GOP Pravda; every Republican talking point is objective fact.

      And if you simply ignore the cray-cray stuff, the rest of what Trump is spewing here is straight out of Rushbo and Breitbart and Gorka and Miller. That in itself makes it looney compared to actual reality...but your serious FOX "News" grampy has no exposure to reality; forty years of relentless GOP propaganda has made dismissal of anything that doesn't conform to the wingnut paradigm automatic.

      So of COURSE Trump is "rebuilding" the U.S. armed forces...because Obama, being a Dhimmicrat, wanted to weaken our White Christian heroes in the military to hasten the browning of America and Kenyan sharia law!

      Is it looney? Sure. Does a third or so Americans firmly believe it, evidence be damned


    2. Go easy on us 'grampys'. Myself and most that I know have never subscribed to that wingnut paradigm. Even on the right there are never-trumper republican 70+ year olds. And the few remaining WW2 generation that I am acquainted with know that Trump is a bozo and speak openly of it.

    3. Okay. That said, his "base" is overwhelmingly old.

      And white.

      But old.

      "Not all grampys" mayhap. But taken as a group us old white guys have a lot to answer for.

  4. This was shooting fish in a barrel Chief.

    NPR yesterday had a segment from some Afghanistan expert (forget his name) on how wrong Trump was about the fall of the USSR and a few other items on your list. I agreed with most of it, but I have a hard time caring. Maybe I'm numb to yet more "reporting" about how dumb Trump is, but what here really matters much?

    Like so many Trump "statements" it sounded completely unscripted. I'd bet (like countless times already) he either wasn't briefed on it, intentionally ignored the talking points or just engaged in yet another typical Trump brain fart - in other words, the same outline we've seen at least weekly for the past two years.

    1. And yet...

      Here we are. The crazy is brutally obvious (which was the genesis of this post; I read the transcript thinking "c'mon...this The Onion...NObody is this goofy!") and yet, the narrative is still "opunions differ on the shape of the Earth".

      What horrified me wasn't the insanity as much as the shrug; this was reported without so much as a whisper of "my God, what have we here?"

      And the chance that we have six more years of this? Dear God, we should ALL be panicking.

      But we aren't. And the narrative is being crafted to ensure we won't. Surely that is not ideal for what is supposedly a self-governing populace.

  5. Another baldfaced lie:

    Speaking of General Mattis he said "President Obama fired him and essentially so did I."

    #1 The reality show president, famous for firing people on The Apprentice, wants us to believe that he fired Mattis? No way. Mattis clearly resigned on his own over differences with Trump that had been simmering for a long time. Not just pulling out of Syria and abandoning the Kurds; but also Trump's constant putdowns of NATO, Trump's attempt to order him to assassinate Assad, Trump's sucking up to or praising of Putin/Erdogan/Bolsonaro/Duterte/el-Sisi/Gaddafi/Hussein/Mussolini and others.
    #2 Mattis had intended to retire in 2010 when he turned 60, but stayed on when Obama asked him to stay on as CINCCENT.
    #3 It is true that Panetta had a lack of faith in Mattis at CENTCOM beacause he thought him too aggressive and too eager for a confrontation with Iran. But Mattis retired in 2013 after three years commanding CENTCOM. Three years is typical for that job.

  6. Libary???

    The Indian Congress seems a tad upset about that comment. India has built roads, dams, schools, and power lines in Afghanistan. There are a thousand Afghani college students in India on scholarships paid for by New Delhi. Perhaps the library story came from when India built an elite high school in Kabul. India committed $3-billion in aid to Afghanistan. India is financing a rail line from central Afghanistan to the Port of Chabahar in Iran, which finally gives Afghan products access to world sea lanes. They helped build the Afghan National Assembly:

    They have not provided troops, and they are well aware that if they did it could start a war that might turn into a nuclear armageddon.

  7. And,'s the main point of this whole exercise.

    I'm not on the National Security Council. I'm not on the Joint Staff. I'm not a fellow at the War College. I'm not on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. I'm not a senior editor at the NYT, or the WaPo, or CNN, or NBC. I'm an aging former cannon-cocker who works for a soils firm and is interested in politics and military affairs as a hobby.

    If I can pick out the nutzo here, as quickly and easily as I have, AND recognize not just that this stuff is whackadoodle but that it's a melange of 1) lies, 2) damn lies, and 3) dangerously, stupidly, crazily-nutty-stuff like "I think India should send troops to Afghanistan" it means that this isn't 12th dimension chess. The whacko is right up in my and everyone else's face.

    Like I said; if your dad started talking like this you'd be thinking of ways to get his car keys and hide the checkbooks. But this isn't a question of Pops driving off and ending up in Pottstown; it's the guy who can, as mike points out, start a damn nuclear war. It's the guy who seems to be trying to gin up a war on the southern border. It's the guy who's keeping the federal doors shut because Congress won't give him a big wet sloppy Wall kiss.

    We SHOULD be flipping out about this; the POTUS is a WHACKOS.

    But here we - and everyone else is - just acting like this is "oh, well, another day, another utterly looney Trump mouth noise..."

    1. I think many are flipping out, including some of his allies in Congress. The only way to get rid of Trump is: #1 convince 20 Republican Senators to help throw him out of the people's house, or #2 get Pence and the majority of the Trumpian cabinet to invoke the whackadoodle clause of the 25th amendment, or #3 wait two years.

      Guess what? Options one and two turn us into a theocracy.

      Any other legal options? I don't know, but I reject illegal ones.

    2. "But here we - and everyone else is - just acting like this is "oh, well, another day, another utterly looney Trump mouth noise...""

      Cause that's exactly what this is. No one will be talking about this in a week and it won't amount to anything - just like all the other times Trump has said some crazy shit.

      I don't see this as materially different than countless other examples over the last three years. The howls of "traitor" after Helsinki earlier this year are already forgotten in the churn of the news cycle, and his comments there were much more significant than these. These will be forgotten too and more quickly.

      And, just to be clear, that doesn't mean Trump's comments should be ignored. They should always be examined and analyzed but here I don't see much of significance or importance. That's why I think they'll be forgotten very soon and will have no identifiable effect on the US, much less precipitate a war in south Asia.

    3. And just to add, this constant cycle of spin and outrage is what feeds Trump. It's how he maintains initiative. It makes his actual outrageous actions disappear in the noise. It's playing his game.

      And consider the ironies with the policies of our foreign policy establishment. If you say the US needs to defend Ukraine from Russia, or the US needs to overthrow Assad, or the US needs to stop Iran's nuclear by whatever means necessary, then you're in the FP mainstream. If you have these ideas and are among the elite, chances are you'll get space in the important papers and on the TV to explain and advocate for these goals. And you'll get treated respectfully and seriously even though every one of those three goals is more batshit crazy than any of the stupid stuff Trump said the other day.

      The minute Trumps words are more than rhetorical vomit AND translate into a body count or something of actual strategic importance - that's when I'll begin to care.

    4. The minute that happens, Andy, will be a minute too late. We've had a crap-ton of warning that this joker is an authoritarian loon. If you're gonna wait until the reoccupation of the Rhineland, was a nice little Republic. Too bad something happened to it.

  8. FDC -

    I can't believe you let his comment go by on his generals that were better looking than Tom Cruz.

    Seems to me that puts a whole new light on the pee tape. And I have to wonder if his bullying and hazing antics as a teenager at military academy had any hint of a sexual nature.

  9. And shitting your pants each time Trump farts out of his mouth accomplishes what, exactly?

    If our Republic depends on electing philosopher kings to the Presidency, then it’s already dead.

    Trump’s time will pass, hopefully we will learn from the experience.

    1. Andy -

      I pledge not to soil my diapers.

      As far as philosophers go, the last one we had in the White House was Madison. That despite all the hype by some intellectuals about Obamosophy. But I would like to see someone as CINC that is a bit more thoughtful, more self confident, and with more inner calm than Mister Bone-Spurs.

    2. Mike,

      Couldn't agree more. BTW, my comment was intended as a reply to Chief further up, but I screwed up the reply somehow.

      I guess I just get frustrated with the attempts to paint everything that Trump says as a crisis that must be acted on to stave some inevitable Nazi-esque future. To me, the record clearly shows that most of what he says is either bullshit or subject to immediate revision.

      It seems to me we can figure out pretty easily what's important and what isn't.

      Here's one other example:

      Not sure what in there I'm supposed to take seriously. Trump and his administration are all over the map. I can't think of a Presidency that has flip-flopped more than this one, which is another reason I tend to take a "wait and see" approach.

    3. The old First Sergeant is not going to shit his drawers either. He knows, as you do that Trump is full of BS, and a flip-flopper.

  10. Note that Pentagon Chief of Staff, retired Admiral Kevin Sweeney, has become another hi-profile defector from the Toddler-in-Chief regime.

    Did you ever serve with him Andy, when you were Navy? He looks to be an SWO, but did several tours with Carrier Strike Groups.

    1. No, I never knew him. Looks like his carrier duty came after I left the Navy for big blue.

  11. One thing to keep in mind re: Andy's bodies-piling-up thing.

    Remember Dubya? The dim-bulb frat-boy cowhand-wannabe we all assumed would just bumblefuck his way through a term or two while Dick Cheney ran the country?

    Then 9/11 happened.

    And for about a year and a half we had the storm warnings. Smoking guns and mushroom clouds. Dougie Feith setting up the "Office of Special Plans". Yellowcake and betraying a CIA asset. Curveball. Jim Fallows warning us about making Iraq the "Fifty-First State" (

    Given the panic of the time it's excusable that nobody could stop Dick & Dubya's Excellent Middle Eastern Adventure. But we should have known that it would be fucked up like a football bat before it even got started. We'd had a ton of red flags.

    Well, the hurricane warning should be flying for this joker now. The problem with narcissistic looneys is that they will do almost any looney thing to feed their ego. With Iraq there was at least a method to the madness. Here? There's simply no way to tell which way this cat is gonna jump until he does.

    And then it may well be too late.

    1. I'd say there are a couple of important differences:

      1. Bush's staff was widely seen as competent - he didn't have a staff of cronies or inexperienced outsiders. It was only later when most everyone (including me) realized just how dorked-up they were.

      2. The hurricane warning IS flying and has been flying. The media breathlessly reports and worst-cases his every tweet.

      Wasn't it just a couple of months ago the media was convinced that US soldiers would be mowing down migrant children at border checkpoints?

      Again, it's perfectly possible to look at what he says and determine if it is horseshit or not or if it's even remotely important. The press is not doing that. Although I agree in large measure with your criticisms of Trump's idiocy in your responses to his comments, I disagree that his comments are important.

      In other words, I think we're perfectly able to predict which way the cat will jump - or at least we can determine whether the cat jumping is important or not. What we don't need to do is hover over the cat's every move and treat every twitch and stretch as if it were about to pounce on the pet bird.

      The "sky in falling" and the "boy who cried wolf" are the two relevant parables here. If we treat everything he says as a potential crisis then no one will listen when the real crisis comes.

  12. I'll feature this in my first february blog post:

    "Regardless of political affiliation, over-65s are most likely to share "fake news" (and there's not much fake news, and it's largely right-wing)"

    The old geezers are at fault!
    Caveat; it's but one study, so this study means little so far. Scientific findings become quite reliable only a while after they were published. Peer review only weeds out the obvious crap. Scientific discussion usually takes time to weed out (often by failure to reproduce experimental results) errors.

  13. Here's another goodie from the wonderfully weird BoingBoing website: