Quote of the Week

“If you want to know who actually has the power in our society and who is actually marginalized, ask which ideas get you sponsorships from Google and Pepsi and which get you fired.”

Kevin D. Williamson

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Anderson Cooper says Infidelity is not the Point

CNN’s Anderson Cooper says the fallout around allegations leveled against President Donald Trump by porn actress Stormy Daniels is not about the infidelity, but paying to hush it up just before the 2016 US election.

Source: Anderson Cooper: It’s not about the infidelity

Anderson Cooper is not entirely correct. The issue of whether Mr. Trump committed adultery – and did so for the worst of reasons – may be irrelevant to Mr. Cooper under his code of values and beliefs. This does not mean that the issue is irrelevant to all Americans, for at least two important reasons.

First, many voters care whether or not the President of the United States has sufficient personal integrity to adhere to his wedding vows. To some of us, a man who would casually flaunt a vow he took before G-d and the law cannot be trusted with the future of the nation.

Second, and more important, Mr. Trump has been elected into office by a party and by voters who espouse socially conservative values. As the nominal head of that party – a party which took Bill Clinton to task for his infidelity two decades ago – it should not be unreasonable to expect himself to behave in accordance with those beliefs in his personal life. If he cannot, he can hardly call himself a social conservative.

A genuine conservative should be troubled by the President’s behavior.

The National Story

To overcome populism, the U.S. needs to recover its national story, providing a compelling counter to the zero-sum narrative of tribal conflict put forward by the populist right.

Source: Bruce Springsteen Is Antidote to Populist Tribalism – Bloomberg

Agreed. Traditionalism FTW.

To be an anti-populist does not mean to be dedicated to the disenfranchisement of the politically neglected. On the contrary: populist politicians, demagogues that they tend to be, tend to mistreat their own constituencies, using the downtrodden as political ladders only to pursue their own ambitions, discarding the populace later like so much used Kleenex, or using them as cannon fodder in their political battles and military engagements.

A genuine anti-populist movement would pursue policies designed to eliminate the American political underclass, not by rallying them against everyone else, but by tweaking the system so that they can return to the fold.

The way we do that is to remember those things that made us a nation in the first place, articulate them, and then make them relevant and tangible. It is time to give Americans a stake in America again, and that process starts with a rededication in both word and deed to our national narrative, not by a headfirst plunge into the cesspool of national chauvinism.

The Bull Moose Doctrine: A Plague on Interventionists and Isolationists Alike

The Republican Party and its leaders have all but forgotten the Weinberger Doctrine, its derived Powell Doctrine and the effort that took place under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush to impose discipline on the American crusading instinct. The precepts of these doctrines were imperfect and in no way a substitute for the grand strategy the nation has lacked since the end of Cold War I. But they were a step in the right direction, a step informed by a desire to forge a principled tactical middle path between the isolationism that set the stage for World War II and the sort of GloboCop interventionism that has sucked us into our current state of imperial overreach.

The Weinberger-Powell Doctrine was already suffering from a decade of neglect when Colin Powell took office, and his decision to place his loyalty to George W. Bush over his loyalty to his principles vis-a-vis Iraq ultimately buried those principles and put the US into full-bore interventionalist mode.

The nation has never looked back.

Most Americans are uncomfortable isolationists. To have in our hands the means to ease human suffering and to willfully withhold it for material reasons strikes us as moral weakness.

Yet most Americans are similarly uncomfortable with writing endless checks for blood and treasure to impose our political and economic will on foreign peoples and to give succor to those who will only resent us for our often ham-handed efforts.

We can no longer afford to allow ourselves to be alternately driven by one or another of these emotions. It is past time for The Blob or whatever passes for its alternative to forge a non-partisan template that can guide a President – regardless of strategy or ideology – in the proper employment of the means of national power.

The creation of such a template is properly beyond the means of Congress and must predate the inauguration of a president. As such, the effort must begin now.

So let us begin.

Using the Weinberger-Powell Doctrine as a starting point, I have drafted the following set of rules that combine to form the nucleus of what I call the Bull Moose Doctrine. This needs polish, and some of the concepts herein require further definition (“constabulary power,” for example.) It is a start, however, and I welcome your input.

  1. The United States has the ability to exercise national power upon state and non-state actors by a range of means. These means include, but are not limited to, diplomatic, cultural, politico-ideological, economic, commercial, technological, legal, constabulary, cyber, kinetic, and nuclear.
  2. These means are substantial but they are also limited in both measure and capability, and therefore must at all times be employed with a view to economy.
  3. The proper exercise of that power is dependent upon the clear articulation by the Commander-in-Chief of what constitutes the national interests of the United States, one that reflects the perceptions of that interest of at least a majority if not a consensus of Congress and the American people.
  4. The means of national power should only be exercised in the defense of national interests, and the employment of those means should be proportional to the importance of the national interests threatened.
  5. At any rate, military power, whether constabulary, cyber, or kinetic, should only be employed when a vital national security interest is threatened.
  6. Military power should only be employed when there is a clear, definable, attainable, and finite objective.
  7. Military power should only be employed when the risks and costs of the exercise of that power have been fully and frankly analyzed, and the potential unintended consequences in the short-, medium- and long-term given full consideration.
  8. Military power should only be exercised when other non-violent means have been fully exhausted.
  9. Military power should only be exercised when there are plausible exit strategies following either mission completion or mission failure.
  10. Military power should only be exercised with the support of the American people.
  11. Military power should only be exercised with genuine and broad international support, in particular from our allies.
  12. When national power by any means is exercised, every resource and tool within those means should be used to achieve decisive results so as to avoid unnecessary escalation.
  13. When military power is exercised, every resource and tool should be used to assemble decisive force against the enemy, minimizing casualties and ending the conflict quickly by forcing the capitulation of the enemy.
  14. Following the exercise of military power, every resource and tool should be used to enable the rapid recovery of the American and foreign communities and individuals affected by the conflict.

Thoughts?

 

The Comey Dilemma 

The discussions about the Steele dossier — which Comey recounts for the first time in his book — are among a number of explosive revelations in “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” a 304-page tell-all in which the former FBI director details his private interactions with Trump as well as his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Source: James Comey’s memoir: Trump fixates on proving lewd dossier allegations false – The Washington Post

I am conflicted about Comey and his memoir. On the one hand, Comey may have information and insights that could help us better understand the character and motives of the current Oval Office occupant.

On the other, I am uncertain of Comey’s own character and motives surrounding his actions around both the Clinton e-mail debacle and the Russia investigation. To what degree is Comey serving the Law, the Constitution, and the Republic? To what degree was he driven by the unseen hand of personal ambition or political design?

We simply do not know.

Fortunately, the issues upon which Comey expounds need not be adjudicated in his memoir. We have Robert Mueller, his team, an as-yet-neutral Justice Department, and a small but elite corps of independent journalists on the case.

But we need to know about James Comey. We need to know how much he can be trusted. And, ideally, we need to know before the wheels of history have made the question and Comey aught more than a footnote in the drama of the Siberian Candidate.

The Koch Machine Readies its Lifeboats

Whatever the reason, for many Americans, the choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton has turned out to be no choice at all. A few of us harbored hopes that he at least might confront the Blob and begin to reorient U.S. foreign policy. But that was not to be.

Source: Trump Surrenders to the Foreign Policy Blob | The American Conservative by Doug Bandow

The schadenfreude I feel when watching Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute lose his lunch over Trump’s apparent leap into the neoconservative foreign policy pool is tempered by sympathy to his point, a matter I will turn to Tuesday.

For now, it is worth noting that the Koch machine and the libertarian right has lost what it thought would be a champion of a new foreign policy. I can only assume that these forces have begun to search for a replacement candidate and that we will not have to wait long into 2019 to hear from him (or her.)