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Friday, December 30, 2016

The Big Bros

by digby

Trump pinned that quote as a tweet to the top of his twitterfeed and made the Instagram of it above.

This is odd. Generally, a president-elect doesn't praise a foreign leader who is in conflict with the current president. It's just kind of bad form. Not to mention confusing. He could wait until he's actually president before weighing in on this.

Then there was this.
Former New York Mayor and Donald Trump ally Rudy Giuliani slammed the sanctions President Barack Obama placed against Russia Thursday, calling them "petty little actions" and saying that they should have been put in place much earlier.

During an appearance on “Fox & Friends" Friday, Giuliani said that if hacking did take place by the Russians, that the response by the U.S. should have been earlier and stronger.

"I find it extraordinary in what President Obama is doing," he said. "I've never seen a President try to create more problems for a future president."

“There's a certain pettiness that I hadn't seen before. I mean, to do this after 18 months, when you could have prevented it 10 months ago,” Giuliani continued. “Petty little actions like this don't mean very much. It's almost a mockery to say this is too little too late. It should have been done 10 months ago, 11 months ago, 12 months ago. If it is really true the response should be much stronger.”

Giuliani also criticized the closing of two Russian compounds that the White House classified as being used for “intelligence-related purposes" in its statement, saying that “if you are going to solve a murder, you arrest the murderer. Not the candy store the murderer went to before he committed the murder.”

The former mayor, who apparently took himself out of the running to be Trump's Secretary of State, said that Trump should not immediately trust all intelligence that the Obama administration gives him because it is "incompetent."

“There's no question that the intelligence that President Obama has been getting has either been incompetent or politicized," he said.

"I would urge President Trump, when he becomes President Trump, to have his own intelligence people do their own report, let’s find out who did it, and let's bang them back really hard," he continued.

This is cute. Trump is very unlikely to "bang them back really hard." His behavior towards Vladimir Putin is unusual in that he's the only person on earth toward whom Trump behaves so obsequiously. We don't know exactly why and maybe it will actually lead to world peace. let's hope so anyway. The alternative is not good.

I will just re-post something I wrote recently about believing the intelligence community's analysis:

On Sunday NBC News reported that the intelligence community is very upset that Donald Trump has chosen to “impugn the integrity of U.S. intelligence officials,” saying that it’s “contrary to all that is sacred to national security professionals who work day and night to protect this country.” This was, of course, in response to Trump’s dismissive comments regarding the intelligence community’s apparent conviction that the Russian government had interfered in the election on Trump’s behalf, leading President Obama to order a full review of the matter before he leaves office.

On Fox News, Trump called the whole story “ridiculous,” saying, “It’s just another excuse. I don’t believe it. Every week it’s another excuse. We had a massive landslide victory, as you know, in the Electoral College.” (That is a lie, obviously.) These comments were in addition to the stunning statement released by the Trump transition team that said, “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.” The CIA understandably feels that’s a tad unfair, since it’s now known that Vice President Dick Cheney went out to Langley in order to personally twist arms and “stovepipe” the intelligence report on Iraq.

This is shaping up to be a very bad start to the relationship between the new administration and his intelligence community. But then, Republicans have been dissing CIA analyses for decades now so the agency should be used to it. From the 1950s-era Committee on the Present Danger to the 1970s Team B, national security hardliners often complained the CIA was underestimating military Soviet might. In the 1980s, when intelligence analysts insisted that the Soviets were in economic and military decline, and again in the 1990s and early 2000s, when they warned of the rise of Islamist terrorism, the hawks always rejected their analysis. This played out most recently during the run-up to the Iraq war.

That’s not to say that those on the far right are totally hostile to the CIA. They just don’t like the intelligence-gathering side of it. They absolutely love the covert-action side of it. Trump is a perfect example of that. Here he was tweeting about the CIA in response to the release of the Senate Torture Report back in 2014:

These Islamists chop Americans’ heads off and want to destroy us. We should be applauding the CIA, not persecuting them.

The left, it should be noted, has generally been more hostile to the assassinating, torturing, overthrowing covert side of the agency and at least neutral on the intelligence-gathering side. It’s one of the great divides in our post-World War II political history.

Today we have an incoming GOP president facing off with the CIA over an an intelligence assessment concerning Russia. This time it’s about possible interference in the election with intent to install this same president in office. which certainly puts a strange new twist on the old story. Still, the dynamics aren’t all that different.

It's important to keep all this in mind as we try to assess what happened here. Donald Trump is now the president and he is stupid and he's crazy. Even if you think that Putin is actually a very nice guy who just wants to make the world a better place, I still wouldn't trust Trump. And frankly, I don't know why anyone thinks Putin is ok either. They seem like two sides of the same macho authoritarian card to me. 

I guess it's possible that all the stuff about Putin carpet bombing his own countrymen in the Chechen province and his repression of dissent and kleptocracy on such a scale it's rumored he's the richest man in the world is just western propaganda. But we know for a fact that Donald Trump is a violent, simple-minded, corrupt con man so why would anyone put their faith in him as the instrument of world peace? 

Happy Hollandaise everyone.