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25 November 2016

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Cameron Kelley

Col. Lang, thank you so much for maintaining and energizing this site - it seems to be one of the only places I can go where commentary on foreign events isn't pulled out of magicians' hats (or other orifices). My only knowledge of ME is from growing up for few years in Iran and KSA, since my dad worked for Esso/Exxon/Aramco. I wish I could contribute, but am grateful for your insights.

korzec

and now Kathleen Troia "KT" McFarland as Deputy to Flynn. Someone who is a lightweight but has a reassuring resume?

kao_hsien_chih

A lot of uncertainties among the names floated: many warmongering hangers on or people with questionable judgments or political careerists in general. Draining the swamp, even if Trump actually means to do it and has the political skills, would not be easy--and his goodwill and intentions are not too obvious just yet. A lot of things remain to be seen next month or two.

ex-PFC Chuck

A week or two ago "Yves Smith" of Naked Capitalism observed, with regard to the personnel churning that was going on in the Trump transition team, that the president elect seemed to be following practice of "Fire, fire, fire" which is a common practice in the NYC real estate business. Continue trying people out until you find ones that do what you want and when. I expect him to continue the practice after his inauguration when someone wanders outside of his or her lane very often.

robt willmann

Trump has named Don McGhan as White House counsel; he was Trump's election law attorney from early on--

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-staff-idUSKBN13K241

And as mentioned above, Kathleen Troia "K.T." McFarland was appointed to be the deputy national security advisor; she ran but lost in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in New York state in 2006. She was said to be an advisor to Henry Kissinger from 1970 to 1976 (not good news).

Several days ago, Trump named Betsy DeVos to be the Secretary of Education. She is the sister of Erik Prince, founder of the Blackwater mercenary / security company--

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/trump-picks-billionaire-betsy-devos-school-voucher-advocate-as-education-secretary/2016/11/23/c3d66b94-af96-11e6-840f-e3ebab6bcdd3_story.html

If Donald Trump was serious about returning public education to the states, he would push to abolish the Department of Education. When I was in the eighth grade, we had to write a research paper. Today, a high school student has to pass a worthless standardized test in order to graduate and claim to have been "educated".

turcopolier

korzec

She is a fan of Petraeus? Now that would be worrisome. pl

Laura

Col., I understand your daily briefings posting and thank you for clarifying the process. But, wouldn't you feel more confident in Trump's judgment if he took the time to listen to the daily briefings more often so that he could then assess what Flynn was relating?

It seems that he is opting out way too soon from his own "gut" oversight and assessment of what he is being told 1) by the intelligence briefers and 2) by his own advisor.

What is the interplay on this in your experience?

turcopolier


Laura

I have no confidence in IC briefers. The elected president should make his own judgments. He was elected. They were not and are all to often agenda driven. pl

Luther Blissett

I second the commenter who said this was one of the few blogs worth reading during these strange days.

Pompeo and Halley are Koch/Adelson creatures and empty vessels to be filled as required. Pence is half Adelson/Koch but has his own evangelical certainty. Session is a Trump loyalist and the AG position where is where you stick your unsightly bible-thumpers these days. Flynn is also a loyalist but with a wild neo-con core.

Across the board they are all 'neo-cons' in terms of Israel and Iran, so watch out if they start doing the old routine about doing 'inspections' of Iran nuclear plants.

Arch-neocon Woolsey hasn't been so busy in the media since those heady days in the immediate wake of 9-11 when he worked day and night to convince 50% of Americans (and 90% of the Beltway) that Iraq was somehow responsible for 9-11. I sorry if this steps on any toes, but failure to hang Woolsey will come back to haunt us - and he made a mint off of Booz Allen, Paladin equity, Lux, ect....

Two places to watch:

*The Treasury is currently investigating Imperial Pacific's casino in Saipan, this is the new American casino that took over laundering billions in RMBs after Adelson's Sands Macau came under heavy Chinese intelligence scrutiny. It is run by Trump's protege, Mark Brown, and took Woolsey on its board just this May to “enhance its integrity". This might help explain Woolsey's strange "grand bargain" offer to China right after the election.

*That intelligence turf war: Rogers unifies operations with NSA21. Clapper and Carter demand the Rogers be fired in October. McCain threatens to veto any nominee who will split NSA and CYBERCOM. Clapper resigns last week for unclear reasons. The next day Flynn is appointed NSA director and Rogers pays a visit to Trump Towers "without notifying superiors." I have no idea what this all means but it may be more than just a poorly-timed bureaucratic reorganization.

Allen Thomson


Col., have you read Priess' "The President's Book of Secrets"?

It's a history of the PDB and how various presidents have interacted with it over the past fifty years. It doesn't drill down too deeply, perhaps because of having to get through security review, but I think it's worth a quick read.

Back in the day I wrote/coauthored a handful of PDB articles and had contact with the process, but didn't know anything about the overall context and history.

robt willmann

Publicizing names to try to influence the game of making new political appointees continues, as the BBC promotes David Petraeus--

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38074177

I do not think that Petraeus is going to get appointed, because in his plea bargain involving the disclosure of classified information, the Justice Department required that he admit in the "factual basis" for his plea that he had made false statements to the FBI. In the factual basis, on pages 12 and 13 (pdf pages 19-20), in paragraphs 31 and 32, this is laid out--

http://www.ncwd.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/general/Petraeus.pdf

He was not formally charged in court with making false statements under 18 U.S. Code, section 1001, which is a felony, because that would have interfered with the misdemeanor plea deal he was given. I think they made him admit to it in the factual basis to reduce his chances of being elected to public office or being appointed to another governmental position.

Here is more about Don McGahn, whom Trump just appointed to be White House counsel (I misspelled his name earlier)--

http://www.jonesday.com/dmcgahn/

Bill H

@PL, Re "the legally non-existent national popular vote." You have such an elegant way of putting things. Those who are honking about the majority of the popular vote forget that this nation is a federation of states when it comes to matters of federal governance. We do not merely elect our president in that manner, we also create laws by a consensus of states. In the Senate Each state carries equal weight, and in the House each state has the same order of magnitude in terms of weight as it does in the Electoral College.

The electoral College is not some "outmoded method," it's what this nation is. Changing it would not require an amendment to our constitution, it would require a whole new constitution, changing the nature of national governance altogether.

Pundita

Colonel, thank you very much for this. Happy surprise for me that Algeria has joined an anti-jihad coalition and that Sisi is continuing to bite the Saudi hand in spite of Egypt's severe economic troubles.

My sense about Trump leans me toward ex-PFC Chuck's observation. Trump's cabinet could look very different a year from now, by the time he's finished firing his way to one he thinks can chew and walk. The trouble is that the security bench is very thin, if he wants to go outside the defense industry picks it's been stuffed with for years.

The larger problem he'll face is that as millions of American jobs washed away, the U.S. defense sector as an employer became incredibly powerful in both Washington and U.S. states that greatly depend on defense jobs; far more, I venture, than when Eisenhower first pointed out the danger during the Cold War.

This sector won't take lying down Trump's "The business of America is business" approach to foreign relations. In their view the business of America is war.

But this sector and its European cousin are now caught in a pincer movement between American Deplorables and European ones -- the latter threatening to relegate the EU and NATO to the dustbin of history. Add to this, the defense sectors on both sides of the Atlantic are by now well aware that Trump plans to stuff Washington with businesspeople who favor negotiation over war.

The upshot, I fear, will be -- war. War, before Trump can carry out his nefarious plan to make America prosperous and Washington sane.

ISL

robt Willmann,

Probably more important is her husband Dick Devos of Amway and that the Devos family has donated over a billion dollars to charitable causes with most of the funds remaining in Michigan.

http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2015/10/13b_in_donations_puts_devos_fa.html

By contrast, many siblings are distant (personal experience) whereas spouses are under a different set of rules.

Tyler

Sir,

Foreign Policy - Trump seems well aware that NeoCon foreign policy got us into this mess (see his attacks against GWB). Furthermore, I'm sure he is pretty cognizant that for the most part, NeverTrump and the neocons were the same animals. So there is that personal dimension that is never good to have when dealing with Trump. I doubt he will elevate them and their policies, especially not with Bannon there to whisper "Memento Mori" into his ear.

Haley is one of those 3D chess moves only makes sense down the road. He gives a nothingburger position to a double box minority, elevates one of his earliest supporters to the governor's mansion, and brings her into his administration. This last is likely the biggest advantage, as she is going to have a hard time being the McCain with two X chromosomes that she was already shaping up to be. In other words: the media darling given fawning praise and used as a club so journalists can quote a "Republican" who would likely wave around her story as an "immigrant" to try and stymie Trump's mandate to deal with illegal immigration. I'm sure she is looking at Samantha Power and thinking she's going to get the same leeway with policy that Power did, and is going to be bitterly let down when Trump gives her word for word marching orders.

I think Romney as SoS is false flag and the media speculating. I think Trump does want him out of the country, and he'll likely get a position as Ambassador to France or some other European country. Romney will have to apologize first though.

Honestly, Mattis might be brought on...but as SoS is my thinking, with him following orders regarding relations with Russia and Syria contingent on whether or not he gets to be SoD. Undoing the SHARP/EO

Domestic:

I think it was no accident that AG Sessions was one of the first picks out of the administration. I'll talk about those ramifications last.

Betsy DeVos - Here's a pretty amazing exchange where facts are dismissed by the 'reporter' as "well that's like, your opinion man" so she can push a "the Evangelicals are coming!" narrative to scare goodwhites.

https://twitter.com/james_ka_smith/status/801636417306820608

DeVos' has been non-committal in the past to CC, seemingly going with the flow depending on the position she's in. Her reliability comes in school choice programs. She'll not rock the boat with Common Core and will undo the "Dear Colleague" letters that said you're going to let boys piss next to your daughters if they're having a "girl day" or we'll sue you into compliance.

Dr. Ben Carson - Carson is there to undo Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, which is less of a mouthful than "Shipping poor black Democrats to Republican suburbias in order to make them competitive to Democrats through Section 8". Something that has flown under the radar here but is more talked about in other places, and no less totally evil in that it crashes housing prices as feral ghetto dwellers hit these suburbias like locusts and white flight begins anew.

AG Jefferson Sessions - This is the big appointment you should have been paying attention to. If Trump doesn't get that he needs to begin going at the "long march through the institutions" that the progs have engaged in for the last fifty years, then Bannon, Sessions, and Miller all do. That's why Sessions is here. One of the only things I can thank Obama for is deciding that the Democrats were guranteed the Executive Branch for perpetuity because of the Electoral College, and therefore he had no worries about ruling like a king.

To quote one black Union soldier: "Bottom rail on top now, boss."

Trump, if anything, has proven adept at using a devil's own tools against him. Day One, you have the Law by Fiat rescinded. No more DACA, no more immigration law from wholecloth, and Sanctuary Cities are in the crosshairs. Immigration Judges and US Attorneys are going to be given marching orders. No more days of anything under 500lbs of marijuana smuggled being a "simple possession" charge. No more three pages of guidelines for "prosecutorial discretion'. Trump is going to hammer "Criminal Aliens" and make the Democrats look like the traitors they are as they choose to side with foreign criminals over US citizens.

Sessions, who has the chops to be a federal judge in the 80s (back when it was more about the Law and less about the Feelz), knows that he doesn't have to pass a whole bunch of laws to get the result he wants. He only needs to enforce the laws on the books.

TLDR: Flynn and Pompaio will play from the sheet music that Trump gives them, which is not going to be neoconnish, or out they go. Haley was given a nothing position to get her out of the way. Romney will make a fine ambassador to a NATO country, if he sees the light. My SWAG is that Mattis will be SoS to deal with the Syrian issue, and if he does well there Trump will give him a free hand to unf-ck the military after the Ash Carter years.

DeVos and Carson will enact Trump's respective agendas in their wheelhouses. Sessions is the biggest hint we've gotten to where Trump's Administration is going, and if you thought the temper tantrums after the election were amazing, wait until you see Sessions lay down some 8 USC 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv)(b)(iii)on a few sanctuary city mayors pour encourager les autres, especially in a Kate Steinle situation with that life imprisonment clause when the alien kills someone.

Fred

Robt,

I think the NEA is in terror that Trump will move to abolish or at least cut major funds from the Department of Education. He should direct an audit of all the grants made to universities from all the various federal programs. "Lock her up" will take on some additional meaning.

Tyler

As an aside, Romney as SoS isn't my first choice, but he has the potential to be another Pence in that the hard populists (Coulter, the AR) wig out and then something happens and everyone has an "Ahhhhh" moment and see what Trump did.

BraveNewWorld

Al Masdar is reporting that the report of Egyptian fighter jets in Homs is false. Shame. But the rest of your assessment as to the changing alliances lines up with every thing I am reading and at least to me feels like the first signs that things are going to get at least modestly better in the Mideast over the short term.

A mega rich business man like Romney is sniffing around for a government post after running for president twice for one reason and one reason only. "Romney 2020!!!!". I know I don't want to believe it either. Because of that there is little chance he is going to swallow Trumps policies, he is going to run his own play book if he gets the gig. Trump should call him a LOOOSER and then flush him as soon as possible.

The Twisted Genius

At this point, I can't get excited about the Trump transition. It's still two months before he's actually President and he can change things up many times between now and then. That's his proven nature. Nothing he's said in the past can be construed as a promise. I do think his most formidable opposition with be the entrenched Republicans. If he keeps them "handled," he can do what he sets out to do, whatever that is, for good or bad. A foreign policy concern I have is that Trump and many of those who might be in his cabinet, have a serious problem with Iran. Aggression against Iran is only a shade different from an "Assad must go" policy. Both could lead to a confrontation with Russia. We'll see how it all develops.

Macgupta123

Per Marc Thiessen, "“During his first 1,225 days in office, Obama attended his PDB just 536 times — or 43.8 percent of the time. During 2011 and the first half of 2012, his attendance became even less frequent — falling to just over 38 percent."

johnf

I would like to make an official complaint!

Today the valiant, ever-vigilant "Washington Post" has linked to a list of American websites which it claims are controlled by The Kremlin. These include The Drudge Report, The Ron Paul Institute, ZeroHedge, Naked Capitalism, consortiumnews, moon of alabama, and numerous others, all apparently stooges of Evil Vlad.

http://www.propornot.com/p/the-list.html?m=1

Where is SST? Here I have been reading SST all these years expecting to be getting the latest news hot from Moscow and it turns out to be some banal lackey of the MSM and Neo-Cons-R-Us. I demand an immediate refund of all the contributions I have not been paying.

Meanwhile, it seems Ivan's Insidious Tentacles have even reached CNN:

"CNN Accidentally Airs 30 Minutes Of Hard Core, Transsexual Porn."

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-11-25/cnn-accidentally-airs-30-minutes-hard-core-transsexual-porn

Living as I do in the remote depths of the countryside I have not yet worked out what exactly a transexual is. I presume the film consisted of a man who used to be a woman making love to a woman who used to be a man. A deep thank you to Putin for keeping us rustics up to date with this sort of thing.

turcopolier

johnf

I have a rubber stamp that marks documents for final disapproval in 90 days. Send me your list of requested refunds. pl

Fred

Tyler,

"Haley is one of those 3D chess moves only makes sense down the road...... I'm sure she is looking at Samantha Power and thinking she's going to get the same leeway ..."

You are incorrect my friend. The Democrats thought the game to play was 3 card Monty while the true American game is poker. Nikki Haley is looking at Hilary and thinking "If I play my cards right I could be the first female president of the USA".

Cold War Zoomie

"Rogers unifies operations with NSA21." From my viewpoint, NSA21 has been a big mess. One GS-15 with 27 years experience told me it's the worst re-organization he's ever seen. According to him, in the old days before CYBERCOM, the "three-star" was more a figurehead and the Deputy ran the show while the "three-stars" cycled in and out. Not any more.

LeaNder

robt,

Today, a high school student has to pass a worthless standardized test in order to graduate and claim to have been "educated".

I never completely understood what high school means in the States. In Florida it looked a lot closer to our European Baccalauréat or our Abitur, for that matter.

A friend once upon time told me, he was a student of medicine, that he hated the introduction of multiple choice into his field. On an university level, that is.

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