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29 January 2017


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Id say Bannon has American interests at heart more than some of the other members have recently.

Dr. Puck

How many of the executive's political appointees have been appointed?

If the President wants to operate with greatly reduced staff levels at the defense-related departments/bureaucracies, at the Pentagon, at the VA, does this make a big military build-up easier, or, more opaque?

Do the service secretaries tend to sweep house when they come in?

It seems to me Trump's rep for delegating may really be only the ability to delegate to his inner circle. I wonder if there is a boss behind the boss?


From "A. The Principals Committee":

"The PC shall have as its regular attendees the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff, the Assistant to the President and Chief Strategist, the National Security Advisor, and the Homeland Security Advisor. The Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff shall attend where issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed. The Counsel to the President, the Deputy Counsel to the President for National Security Affairs, and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget may attend all PC meetings."

(emphasis mine)

Historically, it seems like Clinton's NSC in 1997.


I remember the "kitchen cabinet" that influenced Reagan. That's worked out well, hasn't it? /sarc/
The basic question here is; "Can Trump learn from his mistakes?"
The Democrats need to do much better than opposition theatre. Some solid counter proposals are in order.


Col. Lang,

Agreed on all counts.

In addition to the above the inxperienced appointees around Trump want to approve anything put out by EPA and other agencies.


The PC language between NSPD1 of 2/13/2001 and NSPM2 of 1/28/2017 are similar in scope. They're both up at https://fas.org/irp/offdocs/direct.htm for comparison.

The "Chief Strategist" is added to the PC. The DNI and CJCS have the same status on the PC -- as required.

Obama's NSC directive is up there too, if one cares to look (PPD-1 2/2009). That one has the "Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations" shimmed into the PC.


This move is trouble and put us in real danger...period.

David Lentini

Can this really be worse than Condi Rice and the Cheney crew?


That's not very reassuring considering what a disaster those two were. We can't afford another catastrophe of that kind.


Is there a limit to the size of the Principals Committee?

Excluding the DNI & CJCS seems a bizarre thing to do.

White Barrel

Maybe its Mattis that doesn't want CJCS 'advisory' input. Rather, COC direct to combatant CinC's.


I am more concerned with T's son-in-law being in the NSC. He is after all the one with the connections to AIPAC and the Likudniks.

BTW, while the media was distracted with the protests, Saudi's king Salman and the Emiratis agree in call with Trump to support safe zones in both Syria and Yemen.

Saudi king agrees in call with Trump to support Syria, Yemen safe zones: White House


"... but this indicates a desire to govern by "kitchen cabinet."

Given the proclivities of McCain and Graham of SC he's likely to have, like Lincoln, a fight with a "Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War".


On ABC Sunday, Robert Gates said the following: Adding people to the National Security Council never really bothers me. My biggest concern is there are actually, under the law, only two statutory advisers to the National Security Council and that's the Director of Central Intelligence, or the DNI, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I think pushing them out of the National Security Council meetings, except when their specific issues are at stake, is a big mistake.

If he is correct, then I think that, once again, the Trump administration is showing its ignorance as well as its hubris.


I think what we have to focus on here is the governance side of things. That is primarily risk management in that the President needs to ensure that the principals have done their homework and that there is a plan B.

I share Col. Lang's concerns that worse may be to come. Groupthink is always a danger and I am concerned that President Trump may be a "messenger shooter" and unresponsive to unpopular conclusions because my own experience suggests to me that the. key to excellent performance is how an organisation responds to its inevitable mistakes.

To put it another way; "Your fired" is not a satisfactory response to a nuclear exchange.


pl -- The problem may be that voters thought they were electing a candidate rather than electing a President.


This longish essay makes sense of it all, I highly recommend it:



The seventh paragraph of the linked article by "b" on media hypocrisy perhaps covers some of your concerns, Colonel:


As an outsider I have no way of knowing whether reliance on an inner circle in face of orchestrated media hostility is prudent or evidence of character defect.


Appreciate your last sentence. Yes, Trump likely gets worse, but it is not as if our alternative was any good.




I pray not.

The Destructor’

And this is what – in broad outline – we already see. Trump’s tweets are “the destructor” element: Creating negotiating leverage through uncertainty. No one can be sure of Trump’s final aims, or his “bottom line.”


A lot of the establishment Republicans are not going to like this. Can any one see John McCain singing the praises of this move?

Sam Peralta

I'm not up to speed on the "principal's committee". What is the committee's role and function? Does the president choose what advise to consider and what to disregard?

Gordon Wilson

Well Colonel, I suppose I'll break with the current liberal orthodoxy by agreeing with you on the alternative order in the first week attributable to rookie mistakes. No telling what will become of assigning Bannon to the NSC duties, other than surmising what he has advocated previously. If destroying the establishment is going to become part and parcel of national policy, something I might point out is not too far removed from the hay day of the Weathmen Underground, then I may have to question the conservative orthodoxy as we have known and loved it all these years.

In any case we can expect some black swans over the next four years and the proof will be in the eating of that pudding, not in the fumble bumbling of the last week. Like Senator Durbin, I hope the office will make the man, for I find it better to be dubious, rather than skeptical, if only for my own peace of mind. For the moment we require more data.

As you may, or may not know, I have always encouraged my fellow liberals, many of them atheists, to read the Bible as a study in human nature instead of as a religious text because it does an extremely good job of that. For every Solomon there are a hundred Nabals. I have also encouraged them to read Will and Ariel Durant's, "Story of Civilization", which has been deprecated by many as being archaic history, which it probably is, especially if you skip the forward in the first book and expect it to be a history, which it is not. It contains history to be sure, but it endeavors to tell the story of how a people become a society and how societies become civilizations, so it naturally covers science, religion, political and artistic developments from the heavily philosophical view of Mr. Durant, who was a proto-libertarian as we understand that political philosophy today, and as such springs from the same roots of classical liberalism as modern liberalism.

If we understand what mush conservatism and liberalism are today, then Mr. Bannons desire to destroy the establishment is more understandable, though to call it conservatism is an oxymoron. Whether it is beneficial to mankind in general and Americans in particular is also open to debate. It is one thing to walk out of Plato's cave and quite another to drag the world entire along with you, especially in a volatile one such as we find ourselves living in.

As I have stated previously, the information bubbles our people inhabit have made it all the more easy and common to use the logical fallacy of appealing to our own collective higher authorities, which lazy minds prefer to actually having to think things through on their own. If we are aware of the disabilities of our own information bubbles, then we should shudder at the one that inevitably forms around a President, for the President's bubble has power along with an agenda. It is one thing to be the editor of a web site and quite another to in charge of world stability because of that accrued power.

I have to admit to being less than enamored with the public platitudes emanating form various spokes people in the new administration. I can only hope they are fooling themselves at least, if only for their own peace of mind as they get their feet on the ground. We should expect improved platitudes at least.

It should not be overlooked, in my opinion, that the decline of American stoicism has lead many of our people to seek beauty and perfection outside of themselves, instead of within, which is quite similar to the teachings of the Christ, and left our people bereft of any grounding in anything other than materialism, or the love of money is the root of all evil, if you prefer. We are no longer a nation of principles, but of preferences. As the boatman in Jose Wales said, we can sing Dixie and the Battle Hymn of the Republic with equal fervor, as suits our needs.

If we all were to hold to the admonition of; if you have nothing nice to say then don't say anything at all, I am quite sure our tongues and fingers would atrophy. It ain't Caesar Augustus, but it's as close as I'm going to get. I hope to at least equal my batting average when I played ball.

Best regards,



As I've already pointed out, this is how Trump ran his own businesses. He is a very poor manager who feels most comfortable with a kitchen cabinet. We are headed for chaos.


What's wrong with this man Trump? My understanding of the PC of the NSC is that it is the last place anyone can say STOP before an action is put into motion.

With Mattis gone there is no one left to nay-say. If I were T I would want the strongest possible voices around me to tell me where faults might be. As the Principals Committee is right now it'll be Bannon's ideas that'll be enacted.

Yesterday T was proposing safe zones in Syria and Yemen to the King of SA. I seriously doubt T has a solid idea of what's entailed in establishing these - probably he hasn't much of any idea. But Mattis could've told him.

I don't think this is going to end well.

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