Thursday, April 6, 2017

Too Much News, Too Many Hottakes

So much going on, so many opinions.  What to say about all of this?  Just a few quick hits (and probable misses):
  • I remain ambivalent about the use of force in Syria. Bombing Assad would make us feel good.  What would it do?  Well, it could kill some Russians, and that would be a problem.  Could it weaken Assad enough that he tips over?  Probably not.  Would it deny him the ability to kill yet more kids?  Probably not.  
  • What about the sudden twists by Tillerson and Trump who are hinting at regime change today after pretty much endorsing the regime before that?  I say: wait another hour or two.  No idea if this will last.  
  • At least Trump's consulting Mattis about the use of force, so phew, right?  Well, since Mattis pretty much played Trump into the awful Yemen raid, count me among the Mattis skeptics.  I know Mattis is smart and well-read, but I still don't know if he is wise.  The Yemen raid raises big flags.
  • Speaking of Trump advisers, what about the Kushner vs. Bannon war?  Oh, on TeamIncompetent vs TeamEvil, I prefer the former.  Sure, both sides are incompetent and evil, but Bannon has been the worst influence on Trump, seeking to burn down everything and hoping for a war with China.  That Bannon is no longer a perm member of the NSC does not mean much since he can get invited, and, whether he attends meetings or not, he still has Trump's ear. Kushner?  I have no idea what he stands for, except he has no experience and now has a massive portfolio.  
  • Which reminds me of the average authoritarian regime, where the leader depends only on the family, including sons-in-law.  Not a good look.
  • But, hey, Trump's popularity is at its lowest ever! Woot?  Somewhat, but then I worry (and I am not alone) that Trump will think that a foreign war will be a good thing to lift his spirits and his popularity.  Maybe he saw Wag the Dog, maybe not. Diversionary wars are an old idea and much studied, and I would never doubt that Trump would do something stupid to distract the media and the public. Squirrel!
  • What will happen at the China summit?  Well, if the talking points are decent, then we might have an indicator that McMaster's maneuvers are not just impacting process but maybe even policy.  Of course, expect Trump to go off script, but still, we might detect some glimmers of better stances.  Of course, if so, the Chinese will have whiplash since Tillerson pretty much okayed their entire strategy last week by using their language.  Tillerson is a freaking amateur who is way out of his depth and rarely has the self-awareness to lean on the experts.  I am not a fan.
 So, lots going on, some silver linings and hopeful trends.  But keep in mind, we have nearly four years of Trump left whether he is being advised by Bannon or not down the road.  And more Trump is more bad.

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