The December 12, 2016 Thread

Filed in National by on December 12, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump indicated “that as president, he would not take daily intelligence briefing that President Obama and his predecessors have received,” the New York Times reports. He said that it was often repetitive and that he would take it “when I need it” while noting his vice president, Mike Pence, would receive the daily briefing.

Said Trump: “You know, I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years.”

It won’t be eight, Donald. Might not even be four.

President-elect Donald Trump is expected to name former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton as deputy secretary of state under Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, “with Bolton handling day-to-day management of the department,” NBC News reports.

Huffington Post: “His time at the U.N. was marked by a rapid uptick in anti-American sentiment among the global diplomatic community. Bolton remains one of the most disliked foreign policy operators on the world stage… Even as the second in command at State, Bolton is an aggressive selection from Trump, shattering the president-elect’s pledge to work peacefully with other countries.”

And what is Bolton’s first thing to do as a nominee?

Ambassador John Bolton claimed that hacks during the election season could have been “a false flag” operation — possibly committed by the Obama administration itself, Politico reports.

Said Bolton: “It is not at all clear to me just viewing this from the outside, that this hacking into the DNC and the RNC computers was not a false flag. So the question has to be asked, why did the Russians run their smart intelligence service against Hillary’s server, but their dumb intelligence service against the election?”

Former Russia Today anchor Liz Wahl told CNN that the goal of the Russian media is to create disinformation to undermine democracy and faith in institutions. Said Wahl: “I mean, that is the main goal of Russian disinformation, whether it be through their television channels, whether it be through other measures like hacking, like their legions of paid trolls. That is the ultimate goal is to undermine democracy, to undermine faith in our institutions, like the media.”

She added: “And I think that’s the point of Russian media, Russian disinformation has been happening for years now. But people didn’t really take it seriously.”

The Economist: “These latest revelations have probably not changed any minds at all. Republicans [and certain leftists] who hate Mrs Clinton are still delighted that she was defeated. Democrats who loathe and fear Mr Trump have one more reason to dislike him. Outside Washington, red-blooded Americans who mostly rather dislike President Vladimir Putin, according to polls, seem to be shrugging off the latest allegations: President-elect Trump was loudly cheered by spectators when he turned up in Baltimore on December 10th to watch the Army-Navy football game, an annual pageant of patriotism.”

“And that is what is, or should be, so unsettling. Russian interference in elections across the Western world is like a nasty virus, attacking the body politic. Normally, America is protected by powerful, bipartisan immune responses against such a menace. It also boasts some of the world’s most sophisticated intelligence and cyber-defenses, and when spooks tell the Republicans and Democrats who lead Congress and sit on the House and Senate intelligence committees of hostile acts by a foreign power, love of country generates a unified response. That immune response is not kicking in this time.”

“This squabble does matter. When the next president of America takes his oath of office in January, officers of Russian intelligence can savour a historic win. And that astonishing, appalling fact has divided, not united, the two parties that run the world’s great democracy. That should be enough to unsettle anyone.”

“Trump lives and thrives in a fact-free environment. No president, including Richard Nixon, has been so ignorant of fact and disdains fact in the way this president-elect does. Richard Nixon was nothing, in terms of lying, compared to what we have seen from Donald Trump.” — Carl Bernstein, in an interview on CNN.

Steve Coll: “The news that President-elect Donald Trump is expected to nominate Rex Tillerson, the chairman and chief executive of ExxonMobil, as his Secretary of State is astonishing on many levels. As an exercise of public diplomacy, it will certainly confirm the assumption of many people around the world that American power is best understood as a raw, neocolonial exercise in securing resources.”

“The goal of ExxonMobil’s independent foreign policy has been to promote a world that is good for oil and gas production. Because oil projects require huge amounts of capital and only pay off fully over decades, Tillerson has favored doing business in countries that offer political stability, even if this stability was achieved through authoritarian rule.”

“There is not just smoke here. There is a blazing 10-alarm fire, the sirens are wailing, the Russians provided the lighter fluid, and Trump is standing half-burnt and holding a match.” — Ex-CIA officer Glenn Carle, quoted by The Guardian, on Russian attempts to influence the U.S. presidential election.

President-elect Donald Trump “is about to inherit a newly empowered Voice of America that some officials fear could serve as an unfettered propaganda arm for the former reality TV star who has flirted for years with launching his own network,” Politico reports.

“Buried on page 1,404 of the National Defense Authorization Act that passed last week is a provision that would disband the bipartisan board of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the independent U.S. agency that includes Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcast Networks.”

“The move – pushed by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce as a way to streamline the agency – concentrates control into a powerful CEO that is appointed by the president.”

Maggie Orth and the dangers of the Trump age.

This month in the District, a gunman shot up Comet Ping Pong pizzeria, threatening customers and workers and terrorizing an entire neighborhood. …

This attack on liberal politics and an opposition party was not organized by some authoritarian state, the Republican Party  or President-elect Donald Trump. No action was taken by any Orwellian Big Brother. Nor did a government generate the doublespeak that created the Comet Ping Pong lies. Instead, this political violence emerged from a self-organized pack of irate, fear-mongering, right-wing conspiracy theorists reacting to whispers about Clinton in fake news and on social media and the Web.

This is Little Brother — millions of irrational people spreading lies, sowing doubt and fomenting violence. Little Brother screams so loud, no one can think. When human beings experience anger and fear — the dominant emotions of Little Brother and his Internet clickbait — their IQs drop. People cannot use their rational minds when thousands of angry children are shouting at them online. That’s Little Brother.

Josh Marshall: “Incoming presidents usually have outsized approval ratings due to some softening of partisan division and some hope for a successful presidency. Pew just published approval ratings for the last five presidents during their transition periods, with approval a) for explaining their policies and plans and b) for their cabinet choices. They are Bush 65/59, Clinton 62/64, Bush 50/58, Obama 72/71. For Trump they are 41/40.”

This tweetstrom from Eric Garland is a long, brutal, but must read.

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  1. Jason330 says:

    With Bolton as a part of this administration, the silver lining is that the global community may finally get off its ass and isolate the United States in a fashion befitting a pariah nation.

  2. Disappointed says:

    Remarkable that war with China is now being discussed as a serious possibility.

    But nothing we can do!

  3. Steve Newton says:

    It is not so much that we are living in a Post-Truth world, but that we have been living in a world of weaponized (mis)information for several decades–even predating the internet.

    Russia became aware of this trend only about a decade ago, and is thus in one sense a rather late arrival to the party, but is really one of the first nation-states to get it.

    To the George Monbiot article linked below, I’ve only got to add one thing: a phenomenon I have noticed over the past two decades is the steadily deteriorating information filters in college students. They are so focused on figuring out what is being said (“close reading”) that there is very little headspace available for assessing credibility. When they are given multiple sources, they are tasked to take these sources into account, not to question the authority or credibility of same. They are, increasingly, becoming completely disinterested in testing the credibility of anything presented to them that is consistent with their existing world view, which used to be one of the hallmarks of a liberal education.

    Ironically, the weapons being used are not very sophisticated, and rely more on billions of dollars of placement cash and paid trolls. But you don’t need more than flintlocks if you are fighting people who are still using spears.

    Again channeling older jason: Trump’s opponents have been bringing knives to a gunfight for several years.

  4. Steve Newton says:

    @Disappointed–But nothing we can do!

    One wonders where your voice was when President Obama was extending the authority of his office to conduct drone strikes and special ops in contravention of international law. Don’t recall hearing from you then.

    As for what we can do–the first thing is not waste time on pipe dreams of reversing this election, and begin the process of (a) building a viable opposition; (b) getting into the game of weaponized information; and (c) learn to re-conceptualize our world view now that the American Century is finally over, and we are truly only one large power in a multi-polar world.

    Of those responses, (b) is particularly critical–Trump opponents need to quit whining about what was done to them and launch Generation 2.0 to fight the war of the next four years, not the war of the past two decades, which (guess what?) the alt-reich pseudo-conservatives actually won.

  5. Disappointed says:

    Steve – I actually wrote quite a bit about that, and I was banned from this website for criticizing Obama (I spelled his name differently) over his abysmal civil liberties record, domestic spying, lying about supporting the public option, and his use of drones, among other things.

    I am no fan of Obama. I hope that this slow but catastrophic crash-and-burn of the Democratic party over the last 8 years leads to a real progressive movement.

    But I am afraid that we have run out of time for this generation, and maybe for generations to come or forever. Global warming may be replaced by a nuclear winter.