Did Simple Nuclear-Triad Question Stump Trump?

The WORST Answer in Political Debate History? Luckily, Marco Rubio was there to teach Trump what a Nuclear Triad is…

(Source: The Young Turks / YouTube)


Washington (CNN) – Did a simple question about the nuclear triad stump aspiring commander-in-chief Donald Trump?

During Tuesday night’s CNN-hosted Republican debate, Trump gave a meandering response when conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt of Salem Radio Network asked about the U.S. nuclear capability.

“I think we need somebody, absolutely, that we can trust, who is totally responsible, who really knows what he or she is doing. That is so powerful and so important,” Trump said, before touting his opposition to the war in Iraq.

“But we have to be extremely vigilant and extremely careful when it comes to nuclear. Nuclear changes the whole ball game,” he added.

Hewitt followed up by asking which “of the three legs of the triad” was Trump’s priority.

“For me, nuclear, the power, the devastation, is very important to me,” Trump replied.

But “nuclear,” “the power” and “the devastation” aren’t the three legs of the U.S.’s nuclear triad.

So what are the components of the nuclear triad?

The nuclear triad refers to the three ways the U.S. is capable of firing nuclear weapons.

As Florida Sen. Marco Rubio explained during the debate following Trump’s mishmash of a response: “The triad is the ability of the United States to conduct nuclear attacks using airplanes, using missiles launched from silos from the ground and from our nuclear subs.”

To add a little more specificity, the planes are heavy bombers; the silos house intercontinental ballistic missiles and the submarines also use ballistic missiles to deliver a nuclear payload.

Rubio, who avoided attacking Trump on Tuesday, didn’t directly call out Trump for blanking on the national security question. Instead, he directed his explanation to the “people at home” who likely “have not heard that terminology before.”

The Trump campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.

So why does the U.S. need three ways of delivering nukes?

Rubio summed it up as: “All three of them are critical. It gives us the ability at deterrence.”

In more expansive terms, they’re all key components because they protect the U.S.’s ability to launch nuclear strikes should one or two of those capabilities be destroyed.

If the underground silos backfire and the planes capable of delivering nuclear weapons get destroyed, the U.S. would still have stealthy nuclear submarines to deliver crippling strike.

The U.S. and Russia are the only two nuclear powers in the world to have triad capabilities, and both countries are eager to maintain that edge going forward.

Makes sense. So what’s so pressing that this had to be included in the debate?

All three components of the nuclear triad are aging and the next president is going to have to address that issue.

America’s nuclear submarines are all more than 30 years old and its most dominant bomber jets remain the 60-year-old B-52s. The Pentagon has also called for upgrading the U.S. arsenal of ICBMs, or intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The Pentagon has estimated that it will need to spend as much as $18 billion per year over the next 15 years — for a grand total of $270 billion — to modernize the nuclear triad.

Amid budget cuts on Capitol Hill, it’s struggled to come up with the funding to get that job done.

Written by: By Jeremy Diamond via CNN

Donald Trump gets away with bullshit: The magical secrets that help him con the press

Trump simply isn’t concerned with the truth of anything he says. He’ll elude the media until they understand that

Donald Trump, Ted Cruz

Credit: AP/John Lochner

The reality of Donald Trump’s months-long dominance of the GOP primary race has suddenly started sinking in with political elites, as has a new willingness to openly talk about his pervasive lying.

After that, the willingness to start using the word “fascism” was not far behind. The phenomena are related, of course. GOP politics have been based on lies and authoritarianism since at least the time of Richard Nixon. But now it’s happening in a new key, in a higher register. The old system for managing the lies, manipulating their salience, directing and redirecting the anger and adoration they arose, that system has broken down badly in the last several years, and it now seems to have broken down irreparably.

Nate Silver makes a crucial point, however, tweeting, “One can coherently argue that Trump isn’t ‘lying’ so much as bullshitting, in the H.G. Frankfurt sense of the term.” Frankfurt’s book “On Bullshit” argues that bullshitting is a more radical attack on truth than lying is:

[B]ullshitters seek to convey a certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. They quietly change the rules governing their end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are irrelevant.

Bullshitting is anything but new to politics, of course. So the question really is: how is Trump’s bullshitting different? Although David Roberts doesn’t use the term “bullshit”, he does keenly see the problem in similar terms. The establishment media “don’t mind being properly lied to; it’s all part of the game,” Roberts writes. “What they cannot countenance is being rendered irrelevant. Trump is not kissing the ring.” Trump’s contempt for the media is all part of the proto-fascist package, of course, as well as being the natural outgrowth of decades of media-bashing.

More on Roberts in a moment, but first a nod to what the alternative might be. Jay Rosen has a sharp analysis of how this breakdown in gatekeeping function reflects institutional problems connected to a vapid notion of objectivity, which he’s elsewhere critiqued as “the view from nowhere,” a term he’s been using since 2003. If asked “What’s your agenda in covering the campaign?” they would all reply, “No agenda, just solid coverage.” But the one journalist who’s perhaps done the best job of accurately portraying Trump, Univision’s Jorge Ramos, clearly has an agenda — representing his audience’s intense concern for comprehensive immigration reform — and yet, Rosen notes, that doesn’t prevent him from accurate, incisive reporting; in fact, it helps guide him in that reporting, which has pressured politicians of both parties:

The example of Ramos shows that knowing what you’re for doesn’t have to mean joining the team or taking a party line. It’s possible to maintain your independence, win trust with your audience, and gain a clear sense of purpose when you’re out on the campaign trail. But you have to break with the pack.

Of course, every news organization can’t be Univision, but there other ways to find a different agenda, one that actually connects with what people care about. Rosen links back to 2010 proposal he made for a citizen’s agenda approach, one that would start by asking the public, “What do you want the candidates to be discussing as they compete for votes in this year’s election?” and use that as the foundation to build on. Another approach could be built based on public interest polling of the sort developed by Alan Kay in the 1980s, which I wrote about in October. Alternatives exist. And they provide ways to reconnect media with the broader public they’re supposed to serve. But it takes real courage to pursue them.

That said, let’s return to the question of how things suddenly got so much worse this cycle with Trump. As Roberts points out, GOP truthiness long predated Trump, but the media’s power to restrain it has eroded precipitously. He notes that the right has long been working hard to erode the media’s critical power, with constant accusations of bias to stifle critical media judgments on the one hand, while on the other hand developing “a network of partisan think tanks, advocacy organizations and media outlets that provide a kind of full-spectrum alternative to the mainstream.”

The result, Roberts says, “has been a kind of fragile detente. A certain style of lying has become more or less acceptable, as long as it follows unspoken rules,” rules which Donald Trump is now breaking. Or, to rephrase it in Frankfurt’s terms, one framework of bullshit is being challenged by another. Roberts identifies three rules of lying that Trump has broken:

“1.) Lies about policy are fine; lies about trivial, personal or easily verifiable claims are not.” Trump, however, tells both kinds of lies with impunity.

“2.) Lies are fine as long as an ‘other side’ is provided.” But Trump doesn’t bother with this at all. “He rarely mentions studies or experts, other than occasionally name-dropping Carl Icahn. He rarely mounts anything that could even be characterized as an argument. He simply asserts.” Which leaves journalists fresh out of fig leaves. “He calls their bluff, forcing them to be with him or against him,” which clearly they can’t do using what Rosen calls the “view from nowhere” model they’ve lived within for so long.

“3.) Nine lies are fine as long as the tenth is retracted.” Call it the face-saving rule. In contrast to the constant flood of lies, “when a politician goes overboard and makes an obviously, verifiably false claim about a matter of recorded fact, the media will browbeat him or her into retracting it and apologizing.” It lets the press feel relevant, even powerful. “But Trump does not back down, retract or apologize, ever, not even for the most trivial thing. He refuses to allow journalists and pundits to validate their watchdog role.”

Roberts goes on to make additional significant points — that Trump is basically an opportunist beneficiary, “taking advantage of a faction of the electorate that has been primed to respond to someone like him,” over a period of decades, and that “the social and demographic trends driving the Trump phenomenon are far deeper than Trump himself. They will outlast him.” All that is true, and more. Both Roberts and Rosen deserve to be read and re-read in full.

But I believe that this list of ways that Trump breaks the rules is only a first approximation, primarily because it presents an even-handedness that never actually existed. For example, most of Bill Clinton’s presidency was plagued by ongoing rightwing conspiracist obsessions which filtered into the mainstream media. Most of the really wacky stuff (like the “Clinton body count”) never got through to the likes of the New York Times and the Washington Post, but those two bastions of the “liberal media” did carry the torch for the Whitewater investigation, as Gene Lyons documented in Fools for Scandal: How The Media Invented Whitewater. They were instrumental in keeping the investigation alive, most notably by burying the results of the Pillsbury Report, commissioned by the Resolution Trust Corporation, which found the Clintons innocent of any wrongdoing in 1995.

So it’s not really true that the media polices “lies about trivial, personal or easily verifiable claims” whether on the left or the right. Indeed, the explosive growth of conspiracies in the 1990s helped to erode the distinction between such lies and lies about policy. Conspiracy narratives question, reinterpret or outright fabricate facts on the one hand and policies on the other. One hallmark of conspiracist thinking is its self-sealing nature: any evidence that appears to refute it is actually just evidence of an even-deeper conspiracy. The conservative embrace of global warming denialism is a major example of how such thinking has thrown the mainstream media into a semi-permanent state of disarray.

Still, the list Roberts offers is a decent first approximation. If not an iron law, it points to strengths and weaknesses of how the media has generally dealt with lies up till now. What’s more, it helps illuminate the way that Sarah Palin helped set the stage for Trump. In a broader sense, as David Neiwert touched on recently, Palin was a significant figure in the virulent growth of rightwing populism which Trump embodies today, and which is bringing dangerously close to outright fascism.

Perpetuating “lies about trivial, personal or easily verifiable claims” is hardly the worst or most central thing about a movement tending towards fascism, but it is an inescapable ingredient. The sense of grievance is a root sentiment such movements thrive on, and figures like Palin and Trump are master grievance collectors, who never let inconvenient facts stand in their ways: They simply invent new ones to serve their needs. Trump’s breaking of the second lie gets closer to the heart of the fascist direction he’s taking us in: the overthrow of all existing institutions, sweeping them aside as forms of weakness and disease.

With these thoughts in mind, we can look back at a scandal plaguing Sarah Palin as she stepped onto the national stage, and see it in a very different light — the Troopergate scandal. It concerned her abuse of office in pursing a vendetta against her former brother-in-law, Mike Wooten, attempting to get him fired as state trooper and letting her husband run wild in the process.

There were two more deeply troubling stories about Palin that the press overlooked at the time. The first concerned her long history of involvement with secessionists in the Alaska Indepenence Party, an excellent account of which appeared here in Salon, by David Neiwert and Max Blumenthal. It’s certainly hard to square Palin’s self-identification as a “real American” with years of palling around with folks who want nothing more than to leave America forever, but that’s exactly what Palin did. The second concerned her life-long association with an extremist religious cult movement, known as the Third Wave movement, or the New Apostolic Reformation. It’s part of a wider dominionist movement which seeks to take “dominion” over secular society and government in the U.S. and throughout the world. The mainstream media wouldn’t touch reporting on Palin’s NAR involvement; for that you had to rely on researchers like Bruce Wilson and Rachel Tabachnick at Talk2Action.org.


 

Written by  via SALON

Group Backing John Kasich Likens Donald Trump to Hippo in New Ad

HIPPO-CRIT

By NICK CORASANITI via NYTimes

New Day for America, a “super PAC” supporting Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio, is aggressively attacking Donald J. Trump, now with a mocking commercial titled “Hippo-Crit” that suggests Mr. Trump belongs in the White House about as much as he belongs in a zoo.

On Screen

Mr. Trump and a hippopotamus, their mouths agape, alternate or share the screen, as a visual device resembles the bars of a cage. Both are seemingly “voiced” by the snorts and grunts of an indeterminate off-screen mammal. Unflattering images of Mr. Trump flip or spin away before surveillance-style images show Trump-brand neckties made in China and his “palatial D.C. hotel” being built by “illegal immigrants.” Available to save the day in the end is Mr. Kasich, shown in a contemplative pose beside an American flag and a large, Oval Office-like window.

The Message

Other attacks on aspects of Mr. Trump’s background have whiffed. But this ad pungently goes after Mr. Trump on two of the red-meat issues that have made him so popular with rank-and-file Republicans: illegal immigration and the outsourcing of American jobs.

Fact Check

Mr. Trump’s name-brand ties are indeed made in China, a decision he defended on grounds that China “has manipulated their currency to such a point that it’s impossible for our companies to compete.” The Washington Post found several workers at Mr. Trump’s Washington hotel project who had entered the country illegally. His campaign says the project is following all applicable laws.

Where

On New Hampshire television stations as part of a $2.5 million ad campaign against Mr. Trump.

Takeaway

Attacking Mr. Trump on immigration and jobs — issues on which he has based much of his campaign — and with the sort of ridicule that Mr. Trump has used on others, could gain Mr. Kasich some much-needed attention.

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Chris Christie Reminds Voters, Again and Again, of His Prosecutor Days

christie

By ALAN RAPPEPORT via NYTimes

Most governors who seek the presidency promote executive experience as their chief credential, regaling voters with tales of big decisions they have made and budgets they have balanced.

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey also mentions those things, but lately he has been digging deeper into his résumé. With terrorism taking center stage in the 2016 race, Mr. Christie seems to take the most pride in his days as a federal prosecutor.

Five times during Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate, and often unprompted, Mr. Christie managed to work in the fact that he was once a United States attorney in New Jersey. The experience, he argues, makes him best suited to destroy the Islamic State.

“I will tell you this, I’m a former federal prosecutor, I’ve fought terrorists,” Mr. Christie said in opening remarks.

Moments later, when asked how he would alleviate the fear of terrorist attacks that has become pervasive in America, Mr. Christie said that because of his work as a prosecutor he knew that terrorists were planning attacks elsewhere. People have good reason to be worried, he suggested.

“I could tell you this, as a former federal prosecutor, if a center for the developmentally disabled in San Bernardino, Calif., is now a target for terrorists, that means everywhere in America is a target for these terrorists,” Mr. Christie said.

As rivals debated the details of immigration policy, Mr. Christie jumped in to make the case that Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Ted Cruz were just talkers who knew nothing about really fighting terror. As a prosecutor, he reminded viewers again, he has actually gone up against terrorists.

“This is the difference between having been a federal prosecutor instead of being one of 100 people debating it,” Mr. Christie said, explaining that he had used the Patriot Act to stymie attacks in New Jersey.

Mr. Christie was appointed as federal prosecutor in 2001 and served in that role until 2008, before becoming New Jersey’s governor. His popularity in the state has faded in recent years amid economic turmoil, the George Washington Bridge scandal and frequent travel around the country to raise money and campaign for higher office.

Looking to jump-start his flagging presidential campaign, Mr. Christie has latched onto his experience from the aftermath of attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to remake himself as a national security candidate.

As Tuesday’s debate was winding down, the conversation turned to taking in Syrian refugees. Mr. Christie has taken a hard line on the issue, saying that none should be accepted and pointing to concerns raised by James Comey, the F.B.I. director.

“Now, listen, I’m a former federal prosecutor, I know Jim Comey,” Mr. Christie said, mentioning that the two go way back and had even worked together in law enforcement. “He was the U.S. attorney in Manhattan when I was a U.S. attorney in New Jersey.

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Politics: Republicans Reveal Discord in Debate Over Dictators

A sharp move away from the adventurous foreign policy of George W. Bush

by Mark Thompson

Republican presidential candidates revealed just how far the Republican Party has moved in the decade since President George W. Bush called for spreading democratic principles through the Middle East, sometimes by force. Much of Tuesday’s debate focused on the role the U.S. has played in toppling them in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq and Libya—and trying to force out Bashar Assad in Syria—since the terror attacks of 9/11. The certainty that most dictators are bad, not just for their people but for American interests, was no longer a given for Republican candidates, as the U.S. struggles with militants exploiting the vacuums left behind by toppled authoritarian states.

“If you believe in regime change, you’re mistaken,” Kentucky Senator Rand Paul said during the Las Vegas debate.

“We keep hearing from President Obama and Hillary Clinton and Washington Republicans that they’re searching for these mythical moderate rebels,” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas complained. “It’s like a purple unicorn—they never exist. These moderate rebels end up being jihadists.”

Cruz said that the White House “and, unfortunately, more than a few Republicans” have made ridding the world of megalomaniacs like Muammar Gaddafi, who ruled Libya for 42 years until he was ousted and killed in 2011, more important than keeping Americans safe. “We were told then that there were these moderate rebels that would take over,” Cruz said. “Well, the result is, Libya is now a terrorist war zone run by jihadists.” Much the same thing happened in Egypt, he claimed, when “the Obama Administration, encouraged by Republicans,” ousted longtime U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak, and is happening again in Syria.

“We need to learn from history,” Cruz said. “Assad is a bad man. Gaddafi was a bad man. Mubarak had a terrible human rights record. But they were assisting us—at least Gadhafi and Mubarak—in fighting radical Islamic terrorists.” If Assad is removed, “the result will be ISIS will take over Syria, and it will worsen U.S. national security interests.”

Marco Rubio, the Florida senator who pushed for Gaddafi’s ouster, saidrealpolitik sometimes requires distasteful partners. “We will have to work around the world with less than ideal governments,” he said, citing Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which caused heartburn in Amman and Riyadh.

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson said “the Middle East has been in turmoil for thousands of years,” and the idea that U.S. military involvement will straighten things out is misguided: “No one is ever better off with dictators but…we need to start thinking about the needs of the American people before we go and solve everybody else’s problems.”

Jeb Bush said toppling Saddam Hussein—a 2003 war initiated by his brother, President George W. Bush—was a good thing. But he added that its key lesson is that the U.S. must have “a strategy to get out” and leave a “stable situation” behind. That has never been a U.S. strength. Invasions are quick, easy and relatively cheap compared to the decades-long push to try to rebuild a more moderate nation to replace a dictatorship. Americans may dislike war, but they dislike pumping billions to rebuild shattered counties even more.

Paul agreed that it’s the what-comes-next question that has dogged U.S. policy since 9/11. “Out of regime change you get chaos,” he said. “From the chaos you have seen repeatedly the rise of radical Islam.” The issue is one of “the fundamental questions of our time,” and not necessarily black and white. “I don’t think because I think the [Iraq] regime change was a bad idea,” Paul said, “it means that Hussein was necessarily a good idea.”

For generations, the U.S. fought left-wing dictators (Fidel Castro in Cuba, for example) while bolstering right-wing autocrats (Augusto Pinochet in Chile). This was largely because of the Cold War, where leftist regimes allied themselves with the Soviet Union, and rightist ones cozied up to the U.S. But it has been 25 years since the Soviet Union’s demise. That’s unleashed all sorts of local tensions, ranging from nationalist to religious, that the Cold War had kept largely tamped down.

Nowhere has that energy exploded as quickly and violently as in the so-called arc of crisis stretching from northern Africa, through the Middle East, and on to the Central Asian states. Fueled by the nearly 1,500-year split between the Shia and Sunni branches of Islam, the collapsing regimes have entangled the U.S. in civil and religious wars and triggered the rise of terror groups like al Qaeda and ISIS.

“We’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people,” Donald Trump said, referring to the eventual total price tag of the Afghan and Iraq wars. “It’s not like we had victory—it’s a mess.” While the debate over the pros and cons of backing—or, at least, not attacking—dictators will continue, no one on stage challenged Trump’s accounting.


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