March 5th, 2016

Another reversal from Trump, this time about giving illegal orders to the military

First Trump walked back his immigration reversal from the debate (I discussed the original positions and the reversal here), without explanation or apology.

Yesterday he did the same with his statements during the debate on ordering the military to follow his illegal orders and having them obey because he’s a true leader (for example, to target the families of terrorists). This is another complete reversal within less than 24 hours, virtually unexplained. This is his specialty.

To get the flavor of the sort of mild excuse that Trump is offering for an error that was profoundly serious and from his own mouth, see this:

But in a statement Friday, Trump said that he understands “that the United States is bound by laws and treaties” and that he would “not order our military or other officials to violate those laws and will seek their advice on such matters.”

He added, “I will not order a military officer to disobey the law. It is clear that as president I will be bound by laws just like all Americans and I will meet those responsibilities.”

…Katrina Pierson, a Trump spokeswoman, said the candidate had been misunderstood.

“He realized they took him literally, that’s why he put out the statement,” she told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room.” “What he’s saying is that he wants to go after them with the full force of everything we have.”

Neither the statement nor the campaign’s explanations were enough to quell the bipartisan uproar.

The lead Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, said that while Trump “has now said he would obey the law, he has yet to specifically disavow torture or killing the families of our enemies.”

“Let’s be clear,” Schiff said in a statement Friday, “these are war crimes, no matter who is ordering them or carrying them out.”

“Misunderstand” my arse. “They took him literally” is now another way to say, “They listened to what he said and believed he meant it.” It is clear what is happening here. Trump said what he meant, got more negative response than he expected, and walked it back in order to soothe and placate.

It is also clear that his pattern indicates that everything he says is up for grabs, everything will be shamelessly adjusted and lied about, and most of his supporters will bend to whatever he says and to the revisions, just like the good little camp followers that they are. Two plus two equals five? Sure thing; no problem. Is it four today? Got it; spread the word.

I spent an hour or so this morning—an hour I’ll never get back—reading around on a bunch of blogs that have been taken over by Trump activists. I’ll save the question of who they are for another post, but suffice to say that it is repetitive, pile-driver stuff. They swarm, insult, and lie to and about anyone who disagrees, and they probably now account for at least 90% of the commenters on many blogs that used to feature a nice give and take of substantive comments on substantive issues. No more. Now it’s all invective, all the time, interspersed with cheerleading, excuses, and lies about both Trump and the candidates (and commenters) who oppose him.

As for Trump’s walkbacks from what he said during the primaries, the activist commenters aren’t even dealing with it for the most part; they’re just taking it in stride and mounting their usual attacks. But on other blogs where there are fewer of these activist and more of the less-activist (but still fervent) Trump supporters, the latter group of people are pretty much following these playbooks: “that’s what Trump meant in the first place” or “Trump corrected it, move on” or “there’s nothing wrong with either position of Trump’s.” It’s all nothing to them, and that’s because for most of them this isn’t really about Trump. It’s about getting even with the GOP.

As for me, as I’ve written many times before, I think that although nothing Trump says and no positions he takes are rock-solid and all should be regarded as mere poses, nevertheless the ones that mean the most of the ones that come straight from the unscripted horse’s mouth. Those represent his truest heart’s desire and his most basic intent, and they are consistently on the order of disregarding the Rule of Law and substituting the Rule of Trump.

[NOTE: Here’s an interesting piece by someone who’s known and worked with Trump over the years. It’s not directly related to the body of this post, but it seemed like as good as any a place to put it.)

37 Responses to “Another reversal from Trump, this time about giving illegal orders to the military”

  1. Kae Arby Says:

    Remember, Oceana has always been at war with Eastasia.

    KRB

  2. parker Says:

    The trumpsters at other blogs tend to be a vicious rabble, long on venting their speen, short of memory, and mere parrots. Neoneocon attracts more thoughtful, polite trumpsters. But even the trumpsters who post here seem oblivious to all the inconsistencies of the past and present DJT.

    Nothing can be done.

  3. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Trump’s negatives have troubled me from the first. His forthright declarations on illegal immigration and Muslim migration, the MSM and a corrupt elite have cut him a lot of slack with me.

    His recent reversals are an indication of opinions, at best untethered from principle. His reversal on HB-1 visas is especially disturbing.

    Because Trump hasn’t thought long and deeply about these issues but instead relies upon gut instinct, he cannot articulate a coherent rationale in support of his opinions, which however does not make him in the wrong on the basics.

    I suspect Trump’s reversals are a combination of his inability to articulate a coherent rationale in support of his opinions AND political ‘advice’ he is receiving, that relies on polls rather than clear insights into the issues facing America. I suspect his advisers are telling Trump things like, “you can’t say that, people won’t understand” and “you have to slant your message to the whole electorate”.

    Clearly, in some ways, Trump is being unfairly characterized. I had missed Trump’s original comments on fighting ISIS and killing terrorist families and had to dig a bit to find them. Here is the interview.

    IMO, Trump said NOTHING wrong. His mistake was NOT in what he said but, in reaction to all the Democrat/RINO/media blowback, in walking it back.

    Trump should have doubled down and ridiculed those who purposely ‘misstate’ the context underlying what he said.

    ISIS hides behind innocents, frequently behind their families. A refusal to kill innocents used as protective barriers is a decision to directly risk American lives. ISIS is already here and they are going to kill Americans, the fewer we kill over there the more innocent Americans are going to die over here. That Trump understands this is obvious from his comments in the interview.

    Trump’s faults do not obviate his correct instincts. Which is a separate issue from whether he’s at all sincere.

    “Trump walked back his immigration reversal from the debate … without explanation or apology.”

    Explanations and apologies play entirely into the MSM/democrat/RINO’s hands.

    “Never explain, never complain”. Henry Ford 2d, who took over the ailing auto company founded by his grandfather and restored it as one of the world’s industrial giants.

    Trump’s correct response is to respond with, ‘collateral damage that kills innocents when fighting terrorist organizations that are NOT covered by the Geneva Conventions is NOT a ‘war crime’. Defining it in that way is implicitly favoring the risking of American lives. Those guilty of that might examine their motivations in caring more for Muslims that have aligned themselves with fanatical terrorists than with innocent Americans. I will go after ISIS with all the might at my command and if, in doing so, innocent Muslim lives are lost, that is the price their fanaticism has led to…’

  4. parker Says:

    GB,

    I enjoy your posts, agree with you on basics, respect your insightful knowledge; and I must tell you, the slack you give Trump is, well, unwarranted. Nothing DJT says is firm, its all negotiable (art of the deal), and the only constant is the YUGE! greatness of the donald. When it comes to narcissism, Trump is leagues ahead of bho. When it comes to ethics and morality, Trump makes bho look like Mother Teresa.

  5. boxty Says:

    What you are doing, Neo, is no different than what the MSN did with Romney’s statements about the “47% of America” being lost or his “binders full of women.”

    Please name the blogs being taken over by Trump activists. I bet many of the commenters, like me, are long-time readers who are finally pushing back against the TDS of the blog writers. And you keep stirring us up.

  6. Eric Says:

    parker:
    “Nothing can be done.”

    Excerpt from advice at Bryan McGrath’s blog:

    In other words, take control, and reframe the narrative.

    If you limit your commentary to the scope of Mr. Trump’s oscillating remarks, that’s not enough to make a difference. You’ll just be chasing his frame and adding noise to his noise. Limiting your reaction to his terms is a waste of the intellectual, knowledgeable firepower collected on your letter and adds to the Trump narrative of populist iconoclast versus discredited establishment elites.

    Trump the Trump narrative on foreign affairs, and the Democratic narrative for that matter, with a superior whole narrative that brings to bear the experience, knowledge, intelligence, and patriotic concern for the nation collected on your letter. That means coordinated communication efforts independent of the Republican candidates, though they should work off of your efforts. Non-subordination helps them because the GOP needs all the vigorous help it can get coming out of the woodwork for this stage and the next stage.

    Make your perspective the principal frame of reference. Make the Trump campaign chase your terms, instead.

    McGrath is the principal of the anti-Trump letter from Republican foreign-policy elites.

  7. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    parker,

    The respect is mutual, I assure you. The slack I have extended to Trump may well be unwarranted.

    Quite frankly, I just don’t have the (what to me appears as a) visceral dislike for Trump that you, neo and some others seem to have, yet I too find Trump’s personality very off putting.

    Despite what others may think, I detect no inner impulse to defend him and believe my evaluation of Trump to be fairly objective. Personally, I find him repulsive, I readily acknowledge his faults and am not blind to his history. I just find the case against him to, as of yet, still be a bit less than persuasive.

    It is similar I think to neo’s and my reaction to Marco Rubio. I detest the man, neo appears to acknowledge what I find so reprehensible about Rubio but is still, overall, comfortable with him as the nominee. Not that I’m comfortable with Trump, I’m just not convinced that he’s a democrat operative, a wanna be tyrant or is completely insincere in his current opinions.

    I would far, far prefer that Cruz be our nominee rather than Trump. Though I think it nearly certain that Cruz would be hamstrung by the forces that prefer the status quo and direction in which we are headed, I deeply fear that any other President will (though in different ways and degrees) only deepen the future catastrophe America faces.

  8. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    You are ignoring what Trump said during the debate and what it indicates. It wasn’t about his policy on terrorists’ families and whether it would be legal or not, although one could certainly discuss and argue about that. It was about his inconsistency on that, and on visas and on a HOST of other things. This is a pattern for him. But it was also, in the case of what he said during the debate about waterboarding and the terrorists’ families, about his attitude towards power. The conversation and remarks I’m talking about were already discussed in this post:

    BAIER: Mr. Trump, just yesterday, almost 100 foreign policy experts signed on to an open letter refusing to support you, saying your embracing expansive use of torture is inexcusable. General Michael Hayden, former CIA director, NSA director, and other experts have said that when you asked the U.S. military to carry out some of your campaign promises, specifically targeting terrorists’ families, and also the use of interrogation methods more extreme than waterboarding, the military will refuse because they’ve been trained to turn down and refuse illegal orders.

    So what would you do, as commander-in-chief, if the U.S. military refused to carry out those orders?

    TRUMP: They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. Believe me.

    BAIER: But they’re illegal.

    TRUMP: Let me just tell you, you look at the Middle East. They’re chopping off heads. They’re chopping off the heads of Christians and anybody else that happens to be in the way. They’re drowning people in steel cages. And he — now we’re talking about waterboarding.

    …Can you imagine — can you imagine these people, these animals over in the Middle East, that chop off heads, sitting around talking and seeing that we’re having a hard problem with waterboarding? We should go for waterboarding and we should go tougher than waterboarding. That’s my opinion.

    BAIER: But targeting terrorists’ families?

    TRUMP: And — and — and — I’m a leader. I’m a leader. I’ve always been a leader. I’ve never had any problem leading people. If I say do it, they’re going to do it. That’s what leadership is all about.

    He was asked specifically about illegal orders. If Trump had wanted to say “Hey, but those orders wouldn’t be illegal!” he certainly could have. He didn’t. Instead, he just insisted that They Would Obey.

    Very problematic. Very. At the very least, he seems to have a disorganized mind in terms of these topics. I have little doubt that he knows a lot about real estate development, getting loans for real estate development, getting a lot of publicity for himself, saying outrageous things, reality TV, getting ghostwriters to write his books, and playing golf, as well as perhaps a few others I’ve left out. But he’s in way over his head here, and it is reflected in murky thinking, which seems to be getting murkier rather than clearer as time goes on.

    Not good. And his instincts and impulses are those of a tyrant.

  9. neo-neocon Says:

    boxty:

    We’re stirring you up?? As in, disagreeing with you?

    To answer your question: Breitbart in particular. There have been many commenters here who have noticed it, and I noticed it quite some time ago myself. See this comment about it, and see also this. I’ve also noticed some of it—although not to nearly the same extent—at Legal Insurrection. Some of the commenters are (as happened here) commenters who were already established at a blog. That’s not what I’m talking about, though. I’m talking about some newer commenters.

    One of the ones I happened to be looking at today was Powerline, on a thread about Trump. I’ve also noticed it at Pajamas Media and several more. In addition, it was also starting to happen here a little bit, but I have my methods and tried (and so far have succeeded) to nip it in the bud.

  10. M J R Says:

    parker, 5:56 pm — “Neoneocon attracts more thoughtful, polite trumpsters. But even the trumpsters who post here seem oblivious to all the inconsistencies of the past and present DJT.”

    I don’t see that it’s an issue of obliviousness *or* (say) of mindfulness of Trump’s inconsistencies. I see it as being perpendicular to that.

    What I do see is that lots of people are yearning for a street fighter, someone who’ll bring a bazooka to a gun fight and be done with it. It’s a mere hint of a measure of how utterly fed up people are with the GOPe, *so* fed up that (yes) they’ve totally lost their capacity to care about Trump’s inconsistencies (and ignorance and boorishness, while we’re at it). It’s beyond logic. They’re mad as hell and not going to take it any more, a nihilism borne of frustration-bordering-on-despair so YUUUUUUGE that this is what they’re now reduced to. I wish it were not so.

    My buddy of many decades’ standing is a Trump fan(atic) who is completely beyond listening to anyone pussy-wussy-ing around about anything so pussy-wussy as logical consistency. [NOTE — I regard myself as being very big on logical consistency, so what I just wrote is thoroughly tongue-in-cheek, and certainly not aimed at anyone here.]

    He is an accomplished I.T. person, a self-starting independent contractor; I knew him best when he was navigating a double major in mathematics and electrical engineering — both of which he completed handsomely — and to say the very least, he is no one’s dummy. What he *is*, is mad as hell and not going to take it any more. But I already wrote that . . .

    Let me add my two cents’ worth to both parker and G.B. *Both* of you gents, “I enjoy your posts, agree with you on basics, respect your insightful knowledge.” I welcome the exchanges here, exchanges between you two and between/among quite a few others, certainly including our esteemed landlord neo. I learn and grow here. Thanks, all.

  11. parker Says:

    MJR,

    First, I understand the anger and utter frustration of the real trumpsters (not the open primary progressive stealth voters). I am also p*ssed off with the status quo. In fact I have been p*ssed off for decades, going back to LBJ-RMN. The only respite was 8 years od RR. But I am not so p*ssed off to swoon over the donald. It is all the more irritating when Cruz is the obvious (to me) actual outsider and honest champion of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    And thank you, I accept your complement, however undeserved it may be. I am just an Iowa farm boy grown old. I reflect my roots, nothing more. They are deep, sound roots, but not on caliber with GB, neo, and many others who post at this wonderful blog.

  12. M J R Says:

    parker, 9:55 pm — “I am also p*ssed off with the status quo. In fact I have been p*ssed off for decades, . . . But I am not so p*ssed off to swoon over the donald.”

    I get it, but people like my I.T. buddy are. I wish he had not gone over to despair, which is what I diagnose the situation to be. I am glad you’ve still got your wits about you, because too many good people are forfeiting theirs.

    “It is all the more irritating when Cruz is the obvious (to me) actual outsider and honest champion of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

    No kiddin’ [smile].

    “And thank you, I accept your complement, however undeserved it may be.”

    It is deserved, brother parker.

    “I am just an Iowa farm boy grown old. I reflect my roots, nothing more. They are deep, sound roots, . . . .”

    You’ve been very ably schooled in the university of experience and common sense. That’s worth an awful lot more than a pile of Ph.D.s (Piled Higher and Deeper).

    ” . . . but not on caliber with GB, neo, and many others who post at this wonderful blog.”

    I know I’ve written this before, but I am very impressed with the overall caliber of thought expressed in the comments on this blog. You’re right in there them. Okay, maybe without the Ph.D.-caliber erudition, but plain-spoken simplicity is *very* erudite in its unique way, and we need more of it. See ya . . .

  13. M J R Says:

    “You’re right in there them.”

    You’re right in there WITH them.

  14. Alec Rawls Says:

    Many people, in their hatred of Trump, are completely failing to appreciate that the president can indeed order soldiers to break laws and treaties and that these orders are, except in very rare cases, fully lawful. In the matter of how to fight a war the president’s power is independent of and superior to Congress. They can declare war. They cannot tell the president how to fight it.

    It is Trump’s NEW statement that errs on constitutional law: “I will not order a military officer to disobey the law. It is clear that as president I will be bound by laws just like all Americans and I will meet those responsibilities.”

    But this is not Trump’s mistake alone. It is a whole lot of other ignorant people, motivated by wanting a grounds to attack Trump, that propelled him to this mistake.

    Only two things limit the president’s war-fighting decision-making: the Constitution itself, and the clearest substance of natural law (which is the source of individual rights).

    On this point, sorry folks, but neither the Constitution nor natural law says that killing the families of terrorists cannot be justifiable. Is there anyone out there who thinks that nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a war crime? If so, you are certainly not going to be able to ground that in natural law.

    It ended the war with Japan, proving that attacking an enemy’s civilian population can be a very effective war-fighting weapon. From there you have to balance the innocent life lost against the lives that would have been lost if this method had not been used: both the innocent lives of our soldiers that would have been lost (innocent of any wrongdoing), and the less innocent lives of the Japanese civilians who would have been killed in the otherwise inevitable invasion (less innocent because they supported the slaving, mass-murdering, aggressor-state of Imperial Japan).

    By any reasonable calculation use of the atom bomb saved several million mostly Japanese lives, so there is no way that this must be classed as a war crime.

    Similarly, it is obviously POSSIBLE that we could find ourselves in a situation where killing the families of terrorists would save a much larger number of more innocent lives, and natural law (which just refers to the clearest implications of moral reason) obviously cannot say that this must be a crime.

    It might violate the Constitution, if one thinks that the prohibition on bills of attainder applies to the enemy in times of war (I doubt it). But it certainly it cannot be said to in all circumstances violate natural law.

    Frankly, it is quite alarming how many people, in their hatred of Trump, are capable of forgetting that the president has independent war powers and that no, he is not required to obey Congress on how to fight a war, and treaty falls even further down the ladder of legal priority.

    Our Constitution is so much more important than the partisan interests that are making people stupid about such fundamental matters. Please, get your heads out of Trump’s a$$.

  15. boxty Says:

    Neo: When you describe Trump supporters with such hostility and contempt, even if you insist you are only talking about other blogs, you definitely are stirring it up.

    I’m glad Cruz had a good night in Saturday since I’m for anyone but Rubio. I just don’t see why you think Cruz can win a general election. I believe you wrote a post a few weeks ago linking to polls showing that “true conservatives” like Cruz are a minority of the GOP. If he can’t formulate an argument that can convince his own party or fellow Congress members, then what hopes does he have in the general election? It will be another Romney/Obama match up all over again.

  16. Tom Says:

    I suggest we stop calling them Trumpsters but instead Trumpeteers. And, here’s a theme song we can sing….to the tune of the Mickey Mouse club:

    Who’s the leader of the club who huffs and puffs and blows?

    D-O-N A-L-D T-R-U-M-P

    Donald Trump…Donald Trump…the boisterous bully who always shows his rump.

    Who’s the leader of the club that you should never see?

    D-O-N A-L-D T-R-U-M-P

  17. Eric Says:

    Neo:
    “It was about his inconsistency on that, and on visas and on a HOST of other things. This is a pattern for him.”

    In that respect, Trump is like a caricature of ‘flip-flopping’ Kerry and other Democrats, including Hillary Clinton, who’ve been compelled to scramble their ‘evolving’ policy views to keep up with the lurching shifts of the Left.

  18. geokstr Says:

    “…plain-spoken simplicity is *very* erudite…

    It’s one of the hallmarks of Thomas Sowell, who, despite his lofty academic credentials, gets right to the heart of complex issues using simple words and short sentences.

    Milton Friedman could do it too, when he chose to.

  19. Mike Giles Says:

    A Trump supporter, on another site, complained that the media was asking Trump the same questions over and over again. I replied that of course they ask him the same question, since they can never be sure if what he said the last time, is still his current position.

  20. Eric Says:

    M J R:

    parker, 9:55 pm — “I am also p*ssed off with the status quo. In fact I have been p*ssed off for decades, . . . But I am not so p*ssed off to swoon over the donald.”

    I get it, but people like my I.T. buddy are. I wish he had not gone over to despair, which is what I diagnose the situation to be. I am glad you’ve still got your wits about you, because too many good people are forfeiting theirs.

    The Trump phenomenon has been an exploitation of a market inefficiency.

    You described your friend’s perspective with typical themes of a Marxist-style movement., ressentiment, alienation, anomie. Those sentiments are justified and, as such, have been encouraged by conservative commentators like Neo. However, the market inefficiency has been the Right’s lack of activist method to effectively harvest those elemental sentiments for a competitive social movement.

    The Trump campaign astutely marshaled, or at least invited, enough activist machinery from the alt-Right (and possibly the Left and possibly foreign operations) to swoop in like pirates or poachers to exploit the market inefficiency on the Right by harvesting the elemental sentiments that have overtaken your friend and others like him.

    The only effective solution for drawing your friend and others like him – who “are yearning for a street fighter, someone who’ll bring a bazooka to a gun fight [due to] … frustration-bordering-on-despair” – back from the Trump alternative orbit is to evince credibly competitive Right (counter-)activism that’s defined and controlled by conservatives.

    The problem is and has been, the GOP cannot by itself supply the necessary activism to compete in the activist game.

    The GOP needs conservatives to counter the activism that progressives and leftists supply the Democrats. Yet the Right has doggedly refused to supply the activism needed to compete against the Left and now the alt-Right.

    Again, the Trump campaign has exploited the market inefficiency represented by your friend with Left-mimicking alt-Right activists who attack the glaringly obvious activist gap on the Right.

    The social cultural/political competitive gap that has pushed your friend “gone over to despair” is the same competitive gap that has long been flagged and exploited by the Left for their largely uncontested Gramscian march through American and Western society.

    So you’ve diagnosed the problem. The next step is prescription. The solution for an obvious activist gap is obvious: the power of the people that’s just as available to conservatives as it is to anyone else.

    Conservatives must collectively and fully commit to (counter-)activism to prove to your friend and people like him with incontrovertible evidence that Republican-front Right activists are striding into the arena to compete head-on against all comers – Democrat-front Left activists and Left-mimicking Trump-front alt-Right activists alike – in the ways that are necessary to reify the Right’s vision of America versus the Left and alt-Right’s competing visions.

    Don’t forget, the Founding Fathers were Marxist-method activists before there was Marx. Their method inspired Marx. Marxist-method activism is really the American nation’s founders’ method.

    Left activism and now alt-Right activism draws from our nation’s founding RNA, if not DNA. It’s been conservatives’ eschewing of activism that’s un-American.

  21. Melampus the Seer Says:

    I see a flip-flop here, but in the wrong direction. The President is co-equal with Congress.

    A Oresudent can fight a war any way he wishes. Congress can declare or decline war as it wishes, and Congress can constrain war fighting by the power of the purse. Any means beyond those violates separation of powers, impinging on the expressed power of the President to command the armed forces.

  22. Melampus the Seer Says:

    Actually, what I previously wrote is wrong by Article 1, Section 8.

  23. Eric Says:

    Melampus the Seer,

    I suggest THE PRESIDENT’S CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY TO CONDUCT MILITARY OPERATIONS AGAINST TERRORISTS AND NATIONS SUPPORTING THEM by John Yoo (Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel), 25SEP01.

  24. Mike Mahoney Says:

    Why criticize a guy who can turn on a dime when he’s wrong? We’ve had enough of the Obama style of never being wrong, never changing course, wouldn’t you say?
    WWII, Korea, Vietnam; where the civilian population was fair game because smart men realized the food, buttons, shoes, money, bullets, moral support and on and on came from civilians aiding and abetting combat troops. What’s changed? Why are you going PC on this, now? Trump has history on his side.
    Saving the most important for last. Trump’s candidacy isn’t about policy. It’s about disemboweling the eGOP. Isn’t that what we want so that politics might be responsive, again? Why are you fighting your own objective? It seems possible that between Trump’s ego, sense of history, degree of patriotism and need to win that he might turn out better than it might seem. Guaranteed he will bring much entertainment.

  25. geokstr Says:

    boxty Says:
    “…you describe Trump supporters with such hostility and contempt…”

    That “hostility and contempt” is aimed not at the Tea Partiers who support Trump, but at Trump himself and the alt-right agitators and other assorted reprobates that make up his base. The TPers are mostly political neophytes who lack patience at the pace of change and are so focused on the GOP betrayal in Congress that they don’t see the transformation they already inspired since 2010 by taking 900 seats from the Marxists at the state and local levels, including a lot of conservatives. If they had only focused that anger this year on promoting the best up to the national level in primaries against the RINOs and supported an actual principled conservative…

    …but instead Trump has pandered to their frustration and impatience by using his celebrity, co-opting Cruz’ long-held immigration policies only LOUDER, a few un-PC sound bites and considerable self-promotional skills to hijack the Tea Party/conservative movement. He has them believing that only a big, strong billionaire like him can turn the country around on a dime by the force of his will, Constitution and truth be damned.

    The contempt we have is for the rest of his supporters, using Alinsky tactics to drown out his competitors and assassinate their characters. They are mostly decidedly not good people.

    I just don’t see why you think Cruz can win a general election. I believe you wrote a post a few weeks ago linking to polls showing that “true conservatives” like Cruz are a minority of the GOP. If he can’t formulate an argument that can convince his own party or fellow Congress members, then what hopes does he have in the general election?

    Substitute Reagan for Cruz and read it again. Since there was no alternate Internet news or talk radio back then, Reagan had the entire media and almost the entire GOP solidly against him, but he was able to articulate why conservative principles were important to all Americans. Cruz has that ability as well. However, most Americans never heard Cruz speak, they only know him by the negative picture of him drawn by the media…

    …and the despicable alt-activists Trump supporters which are the only ones we have “hostility and contempt” for.

    It will be another Romney/Obama match up all over again.

    The poor showing by Romney in the last two debates was a big contributor to his loss. Cruz won national debate championships, and would have turned Candy Crowley’s coordinated sneak attack against her and Obama in an instant.

    Hillary is no Obama, who at least can sound convincing while lying though his teeth. Cruz would crush her in a debate, leaving her with only her possession of a vagina as a reason to vote for her.

  26. dahui Says:

    I have yet to see anybody comment on the illegal orders statement who gets the real problem with this. Trump said “if” he were to give the order, which gives him an easy out, that he was only speaking theoretically.

    But as anybody who has served in the military can tell you, even the lowest basic training recruit is drilled in the basics of the Geneva Convention and the right to refuse illegal orders. In fact you are told within a month that you MUST disobey any order you consider illegal. In my case a JAG officer came to our company, gave an hour long presentation on the topic and we all had to sign some sort of form acknowledging our understanding. In later training officers and NCOs get additional education on the subject. The rules of engagement for combat operations are an extention of this and although they can be changed, it is not without great debate and difficulty and to violate the rules of engagement is the equivalent of a felony in the military. Oftentimes following those rules of engagement can be a huge emotional burden, especially when doing so can or does result in risk, injury of death for your fellow soldiers and when you know the enemy obeys no such rules. But our men and women do so, often to their own anguish. These rules are sacred in the military.

    It’s hard enought to ask young men and woment to kill other human beings. But the Geneva Convention rules and rules of engagement at least give them some psychological legitimacy. To even slyly suggest or leave the impression he might give an illegal order is all the proof you need that Trump is not a leader. Leaders, esp. the commander in chief should not ever hide behind equivocations like this. Leaders speak firmly and clearly. Politicians dissemble.

    The other element to this Trump fails to understand that a commander in chief who issues an significant illegal order is asking to be impeached perhaps even risking a military-congressional coup. Trump may have mastered the media circus. But that’s nothing compared to the 500 pound gorillas out there that when provoked would move quickly to destroy him as a president and seriously damage the integrity, even perhaps the security of the United States. And like all braggarts, he doesn’t see them.

  27. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    neo,

    “He was asked specifically about illegal orders. If Trump had wanted to say “Hey, but those orders wouldn’t be illegal!” he certainly could have. He didn’t. Instead, he just insisted that They Would Obey. Very problematic. Very. At the very least, he seems to have a disorganized mind in terms of these topics.”

    Playing the devil’s advocate; Directly and comprehensibly answering hostile, gotcha questions is playing into their narrative. Had Trump responded as you suggest with, “Hey, but those orders wouldn’t be illegal!” that would have deflected the debate into a side tangent as to what orders are illegal, to what degree, when they are illegal, etc. etc.

    When Trump says, “They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me.” he does not mean, “They Would Obey”.

    He does not mean, “if I order them to build ovens in which to burn living Muslim babies, they WILL Obey Me!”

    He means the orders he will order will be legal enough that the military will have no legal basis for refusal. Trump assumes that everyone gets that, when some people didn’t, he clarified his position.

    Acknowledging that some skilled foreign workers are needed is NOT tantamount to stating that there has NOT been a massive amount of abuse by companies.

    Yes, Trump could have answered more skillfully but carefully considered ‘nuance’ is not his style. That’s Cruz’s style.

    Trump is criticized for speaking broadly and unambiguously. When he then clarifies, he’s criticized as dishonestly walking back what he said.

    Sincere critics are engaging in, “Trump is tyrannical, Ted Cruz (or whomever they like) is decisive…”

    Trump’s mind is no more disorganized than the average person. Recall Obama trying to speak extemporaneously. Few people can speak coherently, while speaking extemporaneously. Speech writers wouldn’t exist if it was a common attribute.

    Ending my devil’s advocate role; I’m not saying that Trump is sincere or doesn’t have tyrannical impulses. I am saying the ‘evidence’ is inconclusive and that the explanation I offered above is possible.

  28. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    parker,

    “You’re right in there them. Okay, maybe without the Ph.D.-caliber erudition, but plain-spoken simplicity is *very* erudite in its unique way, and we need more of it.” M J R

    I fully concur. I grew up in a loving, highly educated family that talks a lot to each other. It wasn’t until I got to my late 40s (I’m 67) that I began to fully appreciate plain spoken simplicity. Which, when based in wisdom, is IMO of much greater value than ‘educated’ erudition. As many of us know, the world is filled with ‘smart’, ‘educated’ idiots. On the other hand today, common sense, much less wisdom… are far rarer commodities.

  29. geokstr Says:

    Eric:

    I’ve enjoyed your analyses of our activism deficit and mostly agree with your prescriptives, but the right is at a huge disadvantage because:

    1) Politics is the left’s religion and a huge swath of them went into professions and careers where political activism is not only encouraged but is part of their job description: so-called “journalism”, lawyering, teaching, bureaucratizing, unionizing, working for the tens of thousands of leftwing 501c advocacy organizations and on and on ad nauseum,

    2) which mostly pay them far more than their real market utility and provide lots of leisure time to continue their activist work,

    3) millions of them are basically like the SCOTUS, insofar as no matter how outrageous, incompetent or treasonous their behavior/work product, they have tenure for life

    4) I have no stats to prove it, but I intuit that they produce fewer than average children, thus freeing up even more time and energy to worship at the altar of Pope Karl of Marx and study the commandments of St Saul

    5) because of their unity of purpose, they are much easier to focus, almost self-directing as a single entity, like ants or bees – each individual works towards the same goals with whatever power they possess

    Whereas conservatives/Republicans have none of the advantages of the left, while shouldering most of the responsibilities for raising the next generation to be fodder for their re-education camps we used to call schools, and producing what people want and need like food, housing, clothing, 24K faucets, even all the rope the left buys to hang us with. Our taxes even pay them while they attempt to conquer us.

    We do this by working much longer hours on average than they do so have little time or energy to fight back.

    Besides concluding that we need to be more activist, do you have any solid tactics we can use to herd our cats?

    I started many months ago on Breitbart, and am gratified to see others joining in, but it’s far too little and way too late. On top of all that, I’m using all my efforts to fight attacks coming from what’s supposed to our side, while the Marxists ready their activist smear machine virtually unopposed.

  30. Tyrconnell Says:

    For all of you who are claiming, despite over two centuries of evidence otherwise, that the Congress can only declare war, I call your attention to the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 14:
    14: To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces; – See more at: http://www.constitutingamerica.org/blog/march-30-2011-%E2%80%93-article-1-section-8-clause-14-16-of-the-united-states-constitution-%E2%80%93-guest-essayist-george-schrader-student-of-political-science-at-hillsdale-college/#sthash.Ii0cPNsh.dpuf

    From the beginning, Congress has made laws that the military has fought under. strategy and tactics might be under the President and the generals, but the laws that they must fight under are set by the Congress.

    And for those of you who, to defend Trump, are now pissing on the graves of those men who fought in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, all I can say is, nice following of Soviet revisionism.

  31. blert Says:

    Geoffrey Britain Says:
    March 6th, 2016 at 10:22 am

    I concur all the way.

    Trump is sure to be a fine president — he’s not a bitter man.

    Hillary is a bitter woman … no doubt about it.

    Trump’s problem is that the Press can ‘play’ him and mock him.

    They’ll have him walking back and forth over his positions something silly.

    The GOP nominee needs to have the skills to survive the spin games that are sure to come.

    Ted Cruz has so much less baggage that the ONLY counter-TED strategy seen to date is to black him out.

    That’s the dead give-away that team Hillary has no arrows in their quiver.

    Neither does the Press.

    We’re not even past the convention, and the opposition is gasping for memes.

    Hillary’s fundamental campaign is that women are better than men.

    Merkel has shown that Thatcher was one-of-a-kind.

    Cuban-American Ted Cruz figures to neutralize // gain a fair amount of the Latino vote.

    I figure that he’ll take Florida in a walk this November.

    We hear plenty from Trump supporters.

    We hear nothing from those that Trump alienates — and they are MANY, … many in the GOP.

    Ted figures to get everything Romney won…

    Plus Florida, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

    ( Detroit is shrinking so fast that Michigan is returning to its rural roots — of 120 years ago.

    ( The only folks moving back into Detroit are Whites and Muslims. (Sunnis)

    ( California has America’s Shi’ites. Los Angeles’ weather is strikingly close to that of high altitude Tehran. Even the Santa Monica mountains visually replicate the lay of the land in Tehran.

  32. TBlakely Says:

    “I suspect Trump’s reversals are a combination of his inability to articulate a coherent rationale in support of his opinions AND political ‘advice’ he is receiving, that relies on polls rather than clear insights into the issues facing America.”

    Actually, I think Trump’s reversals are because he never bothered to establish a coherent position on many of the issues that a presidential candidate would have to address before entering the nomination race.

    Why you ask? Because Trump entered the presidential race just to troll everyone and get some jollies. Only after he realized that he was attracting a huge ‘fuck you’ vote from so many disaffected voters that he realized he had a chance to win.

    That’s why he’s been flip-flopping on so many issues, because he never gave them any serious thought before entering. He’s making it all up on the fly.

  33. MHJ Says:

    Trump operates within a different paradigm than “convetional” career pols. As he says, his main motivation is to negtiate advantageous deals.

    he like to throw maximal positions on the table, as a gambit to see what the other negotiators say or do–then adjust it in based on those reactions.

    It’s a different style, and one could certainly hold that what has worked for him in real estate development would be way dysfunctional in a President… but it isn’t crazy and it isn’t lying, it’s just different.

  34. neo-neocon Says:

    MHJ:

    I certainly don’t say he’s crazy, but relabeling it as a real estate deal type of situation does not make it the truth, and does not mean it’s not a lie.

    A political campaign to be president is not a real estate deal, where two (or more) parties are negotiating a contract and everyone is throwing possible terms at each other and understand the context.

    A political campaign involves a person saying “this is who I am and this is what I will do and not do.” People vote based on that promise. In fact, one of the reasons that those who are angry at the GOP are angry is that they feel promises were made by the GOP which were broken. Those supposedly broken promises of the GOP and the resultant feeling of betrayal on the part of the voters are actually the basis for Trump’s appeal to many voters—they are rejecting the politicians they feel broke their promises, and putting their trust in him instead.

    Trump says in a debate, where the voters are supposed to be evaluating what he stands for and why they should or should not vote for him, that he’s in favor of position A. Then the next day he says—with no explanation—oh no, I didn’t mean that, I’m really in favor of its opposite, position B. He is either (a) lying about position A or position B; or (b) completely incompetent to understand the different positions and what they mean; or (c) of such a mutable and changeable frame of mind that nothing he says can be relied upon.

    Whichever it is, all three disqualify him for public office.

    Those who make excuses for this are ignoring what he is displaying here and what it says about him.

  35. neo-neocon Says:

    Mike Mahoney:

    Why criticize a guy who can turn on a dime when he’s wrong?

    Let me count the ways.

    He’s wrong very often.

    He turns on a dime and then turns back again, on a lot of issues, and we have no idea what his true feelings are, or what positions he’ll end up with. This has been going on for decades with him.

    He gives no explanation for his turning; he seems completely driven by the thought of the moment, the polls, the weather, the advisers, what side of the bed he got up on, who knows? Without an explanation, there’s no sense of an inner political core.

    Why does he say so many things that need correcting in the first place? He seems to lack awareness of many issues, and lacks quite a bit of basic knowledge of relevant things. Has he not done his homework? Does he lack interest?

    I find it astounding that people continue to make excuses for behavior inexcusable in a prospective president. This is exactly what I saw with those who liked Obama in 2008 and 2012.

  36. Richard Saunders Says:

    GeoffreyB — why are you rewriting what Trump actually says to make it constitutionally and politically palatable? Let the man speak for himself!

  37. libertybelle Says:

    First, the US Armed Forces swears an oath to The Constitution, not to the President – we are bound to the rule of law, not to a man. The military is required to disobey unlawful orders and they drilled this into our heads from basic training onward.

    I’ve been discussing this at NRO under Andrew McCarthy’s piece since yesterday, using my Disqus name, susanholly.

    Trump’s announced plan is sheer idiocy. First, the stated intent of his words, whether he meant them literally or not, is it centers on the belief that either threatening or actually killing ISIS family members will “scare” ISIS and they’ll surrender or “something. He was vague on the end game. Trump is all about “words,” not results – he thinks his big, tough talk means something to ISIS terrorists. It doesn’t. ISIS terrorists already use their wives and children as human shields and sacrifice them without blinking an eye.

    They will not be intimidated by Trump’s words, either as literal policy or as just tough talk. The only ones to lose with his strategy, is the US Armed Forces, which is still burdened by the fall-out from Abu Gharib. We would lose our reputation by openly becoming terrorists, lose our honor, and discredit ourselves beyond redemption as a force for good. His “policy” would turn the US military into terrorists – to ostensibly “scare” ISIS terrorists.

    Real military strategy needs a big picture mission – like regional stability as the ends game, with rolling back ISIS as just a small part of that strategy. The more difficult struggle is to defeat the global Jihad, because as one group is rolled back, more keep forming – so regional stability would allow for stabilized political entities and hopefully provide a political and cultural climate where there’s some hope. Now, this is a tall order with Islamic civilization lurching towards collapse, but at least we have some bigger vision than scaring ISIS terrorists.

    Aside from nukes in the hands of nuts, I feel that power vacuums rank as a more serious threat to us and the region than ISIS.

    Trump’s tough talk plan was heard by every world leader and the terrorists, so while American politicians and pundits, locked in their insular domestic partisan bubble, believe, that walking a statement back, erases it from the game, well, in the real world beyond America, they’re not that politically attuned to this nuanced understanding. They took Trump at his word and he already besmirched the US military’s reputation and threw up more barriers to effectively operating in the region. He burned down Muslim bridges, which we need to achieve any of our objectives in the region, before he is even starts. That is not “strategy” or smart policy, it’s just fallout from a blowhard’s hollow bluster. Spin won’t change that.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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