Archive for Friday, December 29, 2017

Opinion: Trump is putting America at risk

December 29, 2017

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Washington — Looking for perspective on this past year and the one ahead, I turned to several of the nation’s most experienced former military commanders. One of them put it bluntly: America is so divided politically at home that we are becoming vulnerable to our adversaries abroad.

America, these retired military leaders fear, is so divided right now that it might be difficult to mobilize the country for war, if that were necessary. The nation survives amid division and dysfunction now, when we’re at peace, more or less. But if America faced a serious threat abroad, say from a nuclear-armed North Korea, these domestic fissures could be paralyzing.

The shrinking space for governance worries me at year-end. The problem begins at the top: President Trump is the most unpopular president in modern times. He’s less admired than his predecessor, Barack Obama. He misreads the nation: The more divisive Trump has become — the more he picks at the nation’s scabs — the less the public likes him, according to polls. Yet Trump persists, playing to his base, with harmful consequences for the country.

Trump brags about how well the stock market is doing. Meanwhile, he attacks the FBI, the NFL and other groups he thinks it will be advantageous to impugn. The nation’s wounds get redder and rawer. But the polls suggest that the public overall isn’t buying it. Trump’s numbers remain low, and Republicans keep losing key races, as in Virginia and Alabama.

Trump took office with a narrow margin of public approval, but it’s been going the other way since February, when disapproval of his performance rose above 50 percent. It has stayed there, hovering at roughly the current 56 percent disapproval rate since the summer, according to a composite of polls gathered by the website FiveThirtyEight. Just under 38 percent of the country approves of the president.

An ominous set of snapshots of America came in a study released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center. Pew found that partisan divisions are now much more important than religious or educational ones in driving political views. The gap between Republicans and Democrats on key issues has increased from 15 percentage points in 1994 to 36 points now.

Sharp partisan divisions extend even to issues where factual evidence should be crucial. Pew found that only 27 percent of Republicans who said they had “high” scientific knowledge believed that climate change was causing either rising sea levels or harm to wildlife, compared with 75 percent and 73 percent of high-knowledge Democrats.

What worries me most is that, in Trump’s America, people seem increasingly doubtful that these divisions can be healed. A CBS News poll taken in June found that 55 percent of the country thought “people of different political views can come together.” By October, only 47 percent were optimistic, and 51 percent doubted that reconciliation was possible.

How does Trump’s divided America look to foreign eyes? A Pew study last spring found that global confidence in the U.S. president had fallen from 64 percent at the end of Obama’s tenure to 22 percent at the start of Trump’s. Those expressing “no confidence” surged from 23 percent to 74 percent.

Foreign nations have bet on America’s internal divisions before, but they’ve mostly been wrong. Abraham Lincoln’s persistence preserved the Union, even as some European nations thought America would splinter. Franklin Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chats” helped keep America together during the 1930s when some left-wing and right-wing agitators were urging violence, and fascism and communism abroad seemed the wave of the future.

America’s vulnerability to manipulation was vividly described in a 1945 report by Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, which reviewed that nation’s covert-action campaign starting in 1940 to push America into war. I reported on this history of “British Security Coordination,” or BSC, as it was known, nearly 30 years ago. The spymasters’ cynical assessment has haunted me ever since:

“In planning its campaign, it was necessary for BSC to remember ... the simple truth that the United States, a sovereign entity of comparatively recent birth, is inhabited by people of many conflicting races, interests and creeds. These people, though fully conscious of their wealth and power in the aggregate, are still unsure of themselves individually, still basically on the defense and still striving, as yet unavailingly but very defiantly, after national unity.”

Trump is a defiant nationalist, and perhaps he hopes to be a unifier. But as this year ends, the numbers tell us that he has brought a level of division and disarray that should worry even his most passionate supporters.

— David Ignatius is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.

Comments

Bob Summers 5 months, 3 weeks ago

The division is a result of the emotionally hypersensitive congenital Liberal.

Riots are their premier venting method.

Where was Dave's concern when Obama shrank the military putting the country at risk?

https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-obama-shrank-the-military-1438551147

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/obama-budgets-military-cuts-could-be-rude-awakening-for-veterans/

Dennis Domer 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Bob, Your attitude is one of our most significant problems in this division. Name calling is the worst thing we can do if we have any interest in closing the divisions in our country. Respect for differences of opinion is fundamental to a democracy. Would you prefer a dictatorship? After all, not even you are right all of time. Would you concede that? There is a big difference between riots and demonstrations but you seem to take the most poisonous positions possible on this and just about every other issue. Why? Perhaps you hate America? You certainly hate millions of your fellow citizens. Yes, Obama did shrink the military (there was no rude awakening among veterans during the Obama administration as purported by the way). We still spend more on the military than all of the rest of the countries in the world put together. I do know from experience in the military that we waste a lot of money in the DOD, which I observed daily in the Southeast Asia during the Viet Nam period. Have you served our country in the military? Have your served our country in any way? Service is really important. In any case, if Ignatius and his generals have any inkling of our problems, they are saying that the country is now militarily weakened perhaps even further during this current presidency because of the divisiveness of this president. Ignatius has lots of facts to back this up. If you are going to refute this, you cannot do it by bringing up Obama. You have to look at the issue squarely in the face. We Americans are either going to learn how to live together, respect each other, listen to each other, or we are going to go down together. How about helping out the situation instead of making it even worse? Do you think that you could personally improve your attitude?

Bob Summers 5 months, 3 weeks ago

25th infantry. Electric strawberry. 91Bravo.

Spare me your military heroics.

As for the rest of your enlightened retort, you congenital Liberals are all alike. You create fantasies to supplement your ideology.

Take it easy

Ken Lassman 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Mr. Ignatius has done a good job looking at the big picture here. The GOP has encouraged an exclusionary strategy to pass special interest legislation and policies in order to keep the campaign funds coming in and keep their legislators in line under the threat of funding primary candidates to oust them if they don't toe the party line and actually represent their constituents or reach across the aisle.

At the state level, like nationally, they use gerrymandering software to reconfigure state and national districts to exclude any possibility of a representative executive and legislative branch. They held a moratorium on judicial appointments by the Obama Administration, followed by a hog-wild flood of yes-men candidates with little-to-no background to fill important positions in the courts -- a bald power grab designed to remove any vestige of checks and balances.

Alas, the Democrats, having been down a lighter version of the same thing in order to pass the ACA and other legislative initiatives, have not come out clearly in favor of dialogue in their campaign to take over the majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Factional infighting has prevailed so far, with no real consensus emerging as to whether it would be better to fight for the middle being abandoned by the GOP, or turn to to the left to sharpen the contrast with the tea party leaders who have taken over the GOP.

Seems to me that the Dems ought to see an opportunity to stand for the middle, to wrap themselves in a bipartisan flag, with the election of Jones in Alabama. Sure, he beat a highly unstable and flawed Republican candidate that even state leaders advised against voting for, but long time Republicans held their nose and voted for Jones partly because he did not insult them and talked long and hard about his life of public service and his philosophy of bipartisanship. If the Dems were to make this the foundation for their 2018 campaigns, I think they would be embraced by a large sector of the electorate who have grown weary of the hyperbole and exclusionary nature of today's politics.

Similarly, if the GOP has become sufficiently wary of the Faustian bargain they've made by attaching themselves to the Trump hell-in-a-handbasket wagon, their leadership ought to get out there and show that they can be as bipartisan as Dole and Baker were during their leadership days, and extoll the independence of McCain when he felt strongly about an issue that is different from the party line. They have consolidated their power up and down the line; it is time to show that they are capable of benevolence by not dictating every policy to the exclusion of the Democrats or even moderate Republicans. They need to reach out to those who have been so excluded by their power grabs not by giving them lip service, but actually giving back some of that power.

The future of our Republic depends on it, and the electorate need to demand it.

Bob Summers 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Tell me about the last "Tea Party" riot you Liberals covered.

Thanks.

Ken Lassman 5 months, 3 weeks ago

"You Liberals covered?" Are you hearing voices again, Bob?

Bob Smith 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Comrade Ignatius surely must know that it takes two to tango.

Daniel Kennamore 5 months, 3 weeks ago

"Sharp partisan divisions extend even to issues where factual evidence should be crucial."

Spot on, and that section of your piece really is the crux of the problem.

We have large numbers of people in this country that refuse to accept facts they don't like. Instead they just believe whatever Fox News or other alt-right media tells them to believe.

You can't fix a divide when one side is completely divorced from reality.

Bob Summers 5 months, 3 weeks ago

How's that Trump dossier "reality" coming? You know the one where he had women voiding on Putin's bed.

Gary Stussie 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Daniel, I know FOX news attack is one of the standard liberal talking points ...and while Hannity is far-right, the news does seem "fair and balanced" as they advertise. Take the time to scan ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX for just a couple of days (don't waste your time with CNN) and, if you have an objective bone in your body, you will see an amazing degree of bias ... not only on how they cover the President but on what they do not cover!

BTW ... The LJW is a prime example. It has gone beyond left leaning ... almost leftist propaganda now.

Ignatius suggests President Trump is divisive and that the majority disapprove of his actions ... before appealing to Obama. What he does not point out is that for 8 years the majority of Americans had to sit quietly by because any condemnation of Obama policy (or Michelle's shoes) was logged off to racism.

Finally, this article's appeal to bi-partisanship is so phony! The democrats took unilateralism to an art form during the Obama administration. Now they whine and obstruct.

Daniel Kennamore 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Gary,

There is a difference between bias and flat out lies. I have no problem with (especially in the opinion shows on those networks) things are reported through a certain lens.

The problem with Fox News is they literally lie and distort on a constant basis. If you can't see the difference you are (much like the 35% that would still support Trump if he ate a baby on live TV) beyond help.

Gary Stussie 5 months, 3 weeks ago

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/12/29/morning-joe-guest-worried-trump-might-invalidate-2018-midterm-elections-even-though-couldnt.html

"A guest on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” oddly declared Friday that she is worried President Trump may try to invalidate the 2018 midterm elections to avoid a Democratic Congress" --- something the President can’t actually do.

Gary Stussie 5 months, 3 weeks ago

CBS lead headline - "Trump: I can do whatever I want with the Justice Department"

ABC 1st Headline - "Trump tweets in favor of global warming"

NBC 1st headline - " Today marks President Trumps 88th Visit to his golf properties." and "Disruptor in Chief Trump leaves U.S. standing alone"

Nothing divisive here!

Daniel Kennamore 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Yes, I see how pointing out things Trump has actually done and said would be upsetting to you.

Ken Lassman 5 months, 3 weeks ago

That's the problem covering a president who lies on a regular basis. If you are supportive of the president, you have to distort and lie to cover up the lies. If you are neutral, you come across as being divisive (all of Gary's quotes are "exhibit A" of a very much longer list). If you are openly dismissive of Trump's lies, you probably have a very popular night show comedy program with writers who are well paid to try to only use the most egregious nuggets that are thrown their way every day.

Even organizations designed to check factual information behind political statements have had to come up with whole new ways of sorting out the profusion of distortions and outright lies coming from Trump and his minions. Here's an example from Factcheck.org for the "Whoppers of 2017," dominated, of course, by The Donald: https://www.factcheck.org/2017/12/video-whoppers-2017/

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Well then, the fact that Donald Trump refuses to accept that he lost the popular vote, in the 2016 election, by close to 3 million votes means he is a threat to Democracy. Hillary conceded the Electoral win. How does that make her a threat to Democracy? David Ignatius is spot on in his summation.

Bob Smith 5 months, 3 weeks ago

The result of the election that counts is that Trump is in the White House and Hillary is somewhere hitting the booze.

Ken Lassman 5 months, 2 weeks ago

So the fact that Trump is so irritated by losing the popular vote and denies its reality is a sign of his immaturity, his huge ego and his insecurities.

Gary Stussie 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Pew Research Center study, found that the media's coverage of the Trump administration's first two months was 62 percent negative, more than three times higher than in 2009 when Barack Obama took office.

"About six-in-ten stories on Trump’s early days in office had a negative assessment, about three times more than in early coverage for Obama and roughly twice that of Bush and Clinton. Coverage of Trump’s early time in office moved further away from a focus on the policy agenda and more toward character and leadership," the report from Pew stated.

Former Democrat pollster Pat Caddell said no one needs studies to realize the change in posture by mainstream newspapers and TV networks. He agreed that the media is not adversarial, but actually "oppositional" and "running its own narratives" against the president.

Liberal media has shot itself in the foot! Americans now "trust their instinct" more and look for multiple sources of news coverage.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Please read this article. It might explain why so much negative reporting has gone on since Trump took office compared to Obama, These are all cross checked and verified. 103 lies in Trumps first year compared to 18 in 8 years of Obama. they did not count lies that were repeated. Pretty obvious to everyone but Conservatives. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/12/14/opinion/sunday/trump-lies-obama-who-is-worse.html With a 35% approval rating of the POTUS, two thirds of America disagrees with you.

Daniel Kennamore 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Considering how much he lies, I'm surprised it wasn't even more than that.

In his interview this week with the NYTs he averaged just shy of a lie a minute:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/12/29/in-a-30-minute-interview-president-trump-made-24-false-or-misleading-claims/?__twitter_impression=true

This is the thing that's so hard for you Trump supporters got understand...his coverage isn't negative because people are out to get him. His coverage is negative because he's a buffoon who when he doesn't fully understand what he's talking about (which is most of the time) flat out lies.

Gary Stussie 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Buffoon Billionaire President of the United States ... and you?

Daniel Kennamore 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm not even sure he is a billionaire if you factor his debt into his net worth...at least before he starting spending a third of his time in office at his own resorts and properties.

Greg Cooper 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Gary, the status of Daniel has nothing to do with Chump's proclivity for lying, lies that are fact checked and verified. Your continual playground chant, "They did it so I can. too", is childish and immature. And now, "I know I am but what are you?" Really grown up.

Hey, I've got a question for you: can you pick out any statement that Chump has made that IS a lie, in your opinion? This is a test, Gary. Be careful.

Steve Hicks 5 months, 3 weeks ago

America's greatest example of presidential leadership amidst divisiveness would have to be Abraham Lincoln. The example of his leadership that particularly comes to mind is his appeal to Americans' "better angels of our nature."

Does the current president perceive any "better angels" in Americans' nature ? Does he appeal to our "better angels" ? That's the honorable and proven way to show leadership in divisive times.

(I won't ask if he himself has any "better angels:" despite all that manipulators have done to make us think politics is all about being "for" or "against" one transient individual politician or another, it's not.)

Mr. Ignatius is right. America is leaderless. Being leaderless puts a nation in very great danger.

Gary Stussie 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I disagree. America does not have a politician at the helm, but President Trump may be the strongest leader in our lifetime. You are not accepting of our President because he is not Clinton, pure and simple!

Ken Lassman 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Um, Steve was using Lincoln as an example of what you call "strength," not Clinton. Nixon's overture to China showed strong leadership from a very flawed man; Trump is just flawed. Any leadership that comes out of this Administration is in spite of Trump, not because of him.

Steve Hicks 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Gee, that's kinda the ideologue's mindset there, isn't it, Gary ? Tell people what they think; and tell them what they mean ?

Actually, Gary, I said what I meant, and I meant what I said...as much as you hate that people do that.

We both know your ideology doesn't have room for things like straightforwardness, reality, honesty, thought...so it's wasted effort to try to make them fit into your shriveled worldview. No point in trying, Gary.

Bob Summers 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Fact:

Obama creates a path for Iran to nuke up.

He's good.

Fantasy:

Trump, in fanciful dossier, paid girls to void on Putin's bed.

Trump is a "risk" to America.

Where do congenital Liberals come up with this stuff?

Is it any wonder these types of humans own Hollywood?

Michael Joseph Walsh 5 months, 3 weeks ago

The only people still talking about the dossier are Republicans and conspiracy theorists as a way to complicate and discredit Mueller's investigation. I stop reading a post when it devolves into immature name calling and taunts which helps me get through the comments more quickly.

Bob Smith 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Why wouldn't we still be talking about an attempt to overturn the results of a national election? It won't be over until the miscreants go to prison.

Ken Lassman 5 months, 2 weeks ago

You must be talking about Moore's attempt to snatch the Senate seat away from Jones in Alabama? Nah, he doesn't have to go to prison for that; just let him go back to where he came from.

Bob Smith 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Once again, you fail to understand what any reasonable person would see. Your bubble is getting farther and farther off plumb.

Bob Smith 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Everything you post is a joke. It was as if you were channeling Dorothy.

Michael Joseph Walsh 5 months, 3 weeks ago

By the way, does Fox News still run disclaimer “for entertainment purposes only" before much of their programming? Or did that die with Ailes?

Richard Heckler 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Trump Outside Advisors:

This consulting firm handpicks local, state, and federal candidates who share the Kochs' free-market, limited-government agenda, and groom them to win elections. "We seek out electable advocates of the freedom and opportunity agenda who will be forceful at both the policy and political levels," the company notes on its website.

Aegis says it can manage every aspect of a campaign, including advertising, direct mail, social media, and fundraising.

Aegis' president is Jeff Crank, a two-time failed Republican congressional candidate who ran the Colorado chapter of Americans for Prosperity and served as the chief operating officer of the national organization. The firm's six-person staff boasts two others with connections to the Kochs.

The group's lead strategist is Karl Crow, a former project coordinator for the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, where he focused "on how political advocates for economic freedom are identified, trained, and promoted," according to his bio on Aegis' website.

Crow, who was scheduled to speak at an invite-only Koch donor summit in 2010 on the subject of voter mobilization, subsequently worked for Themis, the Koch brothers' voter microtargeting operation.

Brad Stevens, the former state director for Americans for Prosperity-Nebraska, is Aegis' director of candidate identification.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/01/koch-brothers-candidate-training-recruiting-aegis-strategic

ALEC Exposed ALEC/American Legislative Exchange Council http://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed

ALEC = the largest most intrusive government model in American history.

Bob Smith 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Doing some recycling this morning, Richard?

Gary Stussie 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Richard this is pretty descriptive of the websites you constantly cite...

“Outrage porn": rather than report on real stories and real issues, the media find it much easier (and more profitable) to find something mildly offensive, broadcast it to a wide audience, generate outrage, and then broadcast that outrage back across the population in a way that outrages yet another part of the population. This triggers a kind of echo of bulls**t pinging back and forth between two imaginary sides, meanwhile distracting everyone from real societal problems. It's no wonder we're more politically polarized than ever before.” ― Mark Manson,

Gary Stussie 5 months, 2 weeks ago

CNN Breaking News … Donald Trump removed his mattress tag!

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 months, 2 weeks ago

You continue to trivialize what Donald Trump is doing and you still support him despite all of the facts that have been cross checked and verified by multiple outlets. The headline should read "Trump and his supporters are putting America at risk". Trump couldn't do all of this without people like you.

Steve Hicks 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Gary, you always seem to be wrong-footed when a discussion is about what's good and what's bad: in this case, what's good and what's bad for America.

We realize from your comments you've reduced all that in your own thinking to "Trump GOOD...Hilary (Obama, Democrats, "liberals," etc.) BAD." We're glad your moral thinking has risen to attack-dog levels. But you realize you can do better than that, if you choose to...?

I'm pulling for you, Gary.

Gary Stussie 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Appreciate your concern Steve but feel that over 50 years of working for and with the federal government has put me in a pretty good place to recognize genuine threats to our democracy and to recognize corruption.

While we may not agree on various social issues and some policies, I point out that the "attack dog" in me only comes out when I recognize corruption and un-healthy bias in the media and, more importantly, our government.

For the record it is Hillary VERY BAD ... Obama ineffective and divisive ego-maniac... Democrats generally misguided but lovable fellow Americans ... liberals naive Snowflakes.

Happy New Year!

Steve Hicks 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Yeah, keep working on that "(this person)" and "(that goup) BAD" thinking, Gary. It's false, and it's how manipulators control your mind and actions.

Happy New Year.

Joshua Cain 5 months, 2 weeks ago

"America, these retired military leaders fear, is so divided right now that it might be difficult to mobilize the country for war, if that were necessary. " - DI

Maybe that's a good thing?

"If that were necessary" I'm not seeing many necessary wars in the past 241 years.

Dennis Domer 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Hi Bob,

Just got back from a trip and haven't been able to respond to your surley note until now. I'm glad you did some service and i'd like to know more about it. Where you were stationed. What rank did you hold? Did you see any combat? You probably even have some medals, too! Which ones and why? Two years, four years, longer? I didn't notice any military heroics in my comments (just my perspective on what I saw in the 13th Air Force which you did not cannot refute by name calling). Why don't you send along your CV so that I can get to know you better? I bet you have given a lot to our community and our society that we should know about. You might even be an Eagle Scout. In any case, I hope that you will accept a challenge to a public debate next summer. We could agree on a number of questions for the debate so that we can get well prepared. By the way, I have no interest in debating last year's election since we know who won already. Usually debates have two people on each side. Who would you pick to debate with you? We would have to pick a partner. We would have to agree on some judges who would determine a winner. Afterwards, perhaps we can arm wrestle just for the fun of it and then have a beer. You might be a big guy which I am not. But I work out a lot and work hard on my farm. Maybe I could hold you off for a while. Do you think we could set something like that up? Maybe in South Park on the bandstand on a summer evening in June? I think it would be quite an experience for us both. Happy New Year to you, Bob. I hope to meet you soon in 2018.

Bob Summers 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Salutations Denny

I like "Surely"

So cool!

People born with the condition ARE SO COOL!!!

Chris Golledge 5 months, 2 weeks ago

There are more Facebook and Twitter accounts in Russia than there are Russian citizens, and they tend to play one side of U.S. politics against the other in a coordinated fashion. The algorithms used by these companies show us more of what is popular, and the fake accounts are artificially inflating what is popular to both extremes. To be sure, Trump is a symptom more than a cause, but our own weaknesses are being used against us by outsiders.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/14/russia-us-politics-social-media-facebook

Dennis Domer 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Ok, Bobby,

So let's do July 14 at South Park for the great debate. It will historic. Like Lincoln and Douglas. We can split the cost of the bunting.

Ken Lassman 5 months, 2 weeks ago

The Bastille Day Debate! Storm the walls!

Dennis Domer 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Yes, Ken, but Bobby and I will probably have to wear protective vests! The red-white-and-blue bunting will not protect us in our own country. At least we're both Vets! We may have to head to Topeka to the VA hospital after the debate is over. Bobby and I are not violent at all but we worry about the lonely crowd. I'm sure that we'll have to notify the police department about our intentions before hand. I recommend that they don't bring the dogs, though. There will be way too many yahoos out there smoking and drinking and dancing in the streets on Bastille Day. May the best debater win and then we all go drink beer at Harbour Lites.

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