Friday, January 17, 2020

One constant in the Trump Administration

They lie about everything.

That said, I'm glad that Trump backed down from cycle of military strikes with Iran last week. That was clearly the right decision to prevent the conflict from spiraling into a something even worse. It's just that Trump was too much of a coward to be honest about the injuries caused by the Iranian attack while still deciding on restraint.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

If Biden wins the primary he wins by default

I don't understand why we keep having debates with all these candidates who refuse to engage the front-runner. Especially when the front runner is Biden, who performs terribly whenever he is challenged in person and thus would be an easy target.

Maybe they are worried that it will look unseemly to attack a widely respected former vice president and to make him look incoherently indignant like he always does when he is seriously questioned. But avoiding those attacks means that the public is not seeing how badly Biden performs in a critical skill he will need in the general election and presidency. The primary is supposed to be a kind of vetting. Why are Biden's challengers avoiding that role?

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The wall's silver lining

Since the cold war, it has been almost impossible to cut the military's bloated budget in the U.S. The constituency to cut the pentagon's budget is politically weak and anyone in Congress who advocates bringing defense spending under control can be accused of being weak on defense or hating the troops.

I'll give Trump his due, he has found a way to effectively cut military spending without the expected political blowback.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Current primary thoughts

Hey remember when I used to periodically post my order of preference for candidates in the Democratic primary? I haven't done that for a while! I just looked back and found the three times I did it, which brings me to these ten (!) thoughts:

First, Jesus fucking Christ, this primary has gone on for a long time! I mean, I knew that. It certainly feels endless. But my first post with a ranking was on November 13, 2018 (14 months ago). At that point most, if not all, had not officially declared their candidacies yet so some of the people on my list never actually ran.

Second, I can't believe some of my rankings. I mean, I have no real beef against Amy Klobuchar. I would be happy to have her as the nominee (certainly happier than if certain other candidates got the nod), but I had no memory of her ever being my #1 as she apparently was in my first list on 11/13/18. Admittedly I noted when I wrote that list that the top 5 were pretty interchangeable. But even my top tier surprises me. Deval Patrick? Really? I mean, I was not happy when he recently jumped into the race and never thought of myself as his supporter. did I know less about him back in 2018 than I do now? How has my opinion of him changed so dramatically when he has been mostly absent from the news in the past 14 months?

Third, of the five people I put on the bottom of my original 11/13/18 list, noting I hoped they would not run, three of those five did run and two of the five (Biden and Sanders) are top-tier candidates. In fact, at this point, I think there is a greater than 50% chance that either Biden or Sanders is the nominee. WHY DOES NO ONE LISTEN TO ME?!?!?!

Fourth, at least I was right about Avenetti. As bad as I think the Biden nomination would be, that would have been a whole lot worse. That dude's fifteen minutes already seems like ancient history.

Fifth, my second list on 2/19/19 included only the candidates who had declared as of that time, which did not include Biden yet. If I cross of all the ones who have dropped out as of today (specifically Harris, Gillibrand, Booker, Castro, and Williamson), the remaining list would be:
1. Warren
2. Buttegieg
3. Klobuchar
4. Delaney
5. Yang
6. Sanders
7. Gabbard
Which is not far off from my current thinking (see below), which means that the last year or so of campaigning has had very little impact on me.

Sixth,the last time I did this (4/20/19) oddly omits Tulsi Gabbard. I'm not sure why.

Seventh, the depressing thing about all of this is how many candidates there have been that I would have been excited to support and who have dropped out or decided not to run.

Eighth, in the past 14 months I went from feeling like there were a bunch of candidates I could get excited about to only one that I really enthusiastically like even though there are still a a fair number of candidates.

Ninth, if I had to rank the candidates now (using this list of the candidates who are currently running), it would be:
1. Warren
2. Klobuchar
3. Bennett/Delaney
4. Buttegieg
5. Yang
6. Patrick
7. Sanders
8. Steyer
9. Bloomberg
10. Biden
11. Gabbard
Bennett and Delaney are sharing a ranking because I honestly could not pick those two out of a line up and have very little sense of what they would bring other than a bland generic democratic candidacy. The sad thing is a bland generic democrat is preferable to a lot of other candidates at this point. (On the other hand, if I knew more about Bennett or Delany, they could very well drop below Buttegieg, or further) For everyone starting with Buttegieg and moving down, I have some serious issues with, and the only one that I am enthusiastic about getting the nomination is Warren, whose chances have faded recently (although she is hardly out yet). Again, I am kind of surprised by how highly Klobuchar ends up in the current rankings, but that is more about the negatives with the people below her than anything else.

Tenth and finally, it is worth noting that I would vote for all of the Democratic candidates over Trump (although a Gabbard-Trump general election would be a pretty terrible choice. Luckily, I think there is almost no chance of that ever happening).

Friday, January 10, 2020

Muslim countries that will not be part of the travel ban, no matter how many ties they have to terrorism

Apparently there is a secret list of additional countries to be added to the Muslim Ban. I don't know what countries are this secret to-add list, but I know a few that are not:
  • Saudi Arabia
  • UAE
  • Turkey
In other words, it won't include any countries whose leaders are buddies with the Trumps. The travel ban country list isn't about safety, it is a presidential shit-list that (thanks to a 5-4 majority in the Supreme Court) now has the force of law.

The U.S. is in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government

I realize no one remembers this, but the current U.S. deployment in Iraq is at the invitation of the Iraqi government. It is not a continuation of the occupying force from the 2003 Iraq War (which is what most people seem to think).

President Obama was elected on a platform of fully withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq. He also came in to office after the Bush Administration agreed to a withdrawal timetable with the Iraqi government. Although the Bush withdrawal timetable was a bit slower than what Obama had promised on the campaign trail, Obama ultimately adopted the Bush timetable and the last U.S. forces left Iraq on December 18, 2011.

So why are U.S. troops still in Iraq? 30 months after the U.S. withdrew, the Iraqi government asked for help fighting the Islamic State and invited U.S. intervention. In June 2014, U.S. forces returned to assist Iraqi forces in their fight against ISIS. That is the current mission.

Because the U.S. is currently in Iraq by invitation of the Iraqi government, I don't see how they can stay if that government asks them to leave. Well, except for the fact that the Trump Administration are a bunch of total dicks who don't give a shit about the Iraqi Constitution that the U.S. drafted.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Someone should step up to the suck up

I kinda want to see what would happen if a country, ideally for my thought experiment a country that has been really demonized in the U.S. for years like Iran, just went into full suck-up mode towards Trump. I mean, what if the Iranian leadership sent Trump an extremely complementary letter, invited him to visit, rolled out the red carpet, announced financing for a Trump Tower Tehran, announced an investigation into Hunter Biden, gave Ivanka a bunch of patents on her shitty product line, gave a speech about what a strong leader Trump has been, gave Don Jr. an all-expense paid trip to Iran to hunt his favorite endangered species, agree to slap their own tariffs to mirror the tariffs that Trump has imposed on China and other countries, etc.

If Iran did all of that, what would Trump give them in return? Would sanctions get lifted? Would Iran become Trump's newest BFF just as Kim Jong-Un's shine seems to be fading?

Of course, I don't think Iran would ever do it. They are run by a bunch of religious fanatics, and they need to worry about the widespread discontent among their population and the periodic anti-government protests it produces, which would only get worse if their leadership suddenly became Trump's #1 toadies. But surely some other country out there could pull it off. what about an absolute dictatorship like Equatorial Guinea or Turkmenistan? The President of the most powerful nation on earth is an easily manipulated narcissist. Someone needs to step up to the plate! Why is everyone leaving such a golden opportunity on the table?

This is an off ramp

By saying "we did this and that is all we intend to do because of what happened so far" Iran is giving the Trump Administration an opportunity to stop the march to war. All they have to do is not retaliate. The fact that Iran's attack apparently caused no casualties (which was just lucky) makes this possible. The fact that our President is a spiteful demented ignoramus surrounded by advisers obsessed with a war with Iran makes me wonder if Trump will take the opportunity that Iran is offering him.

The underlying bigotry of the Soleimani assassination

If you believe that the assassination of Soleimani was justified because he planned attacks against American forces, then logically Iran would be justified to kill Mark Esper (as well as several other people around him in the explosion). As Secretary of Defense Esper holds the equivalent position in the U.S. government that Soleimani held in the Iranian government, and there is no question that Esper and his department are currently planning attacks against Iranians.

The only reason 99% of the people who think Soleimani's murder was okay do not accept that train of logic is because deep down they think it is more acceptable to murder Iranians than it is to murder Americans for the exact same conduct. This double-standard runs throughout the foreign policy establishment. If a country intentionally killed the British, French, Japanese, or Israeli official in charge of their military, it would be called terrorism and deemed illegitimate, no matter what military adventures the people under the official's command had done. But killing an Iranian official... well, that guy had it coming.