This pretty much captures it, amirite?
Finding stuff like this is why having a 17 y.o. cynic for a son is so rewarding.
— Gen. Dave Goldfein (@GenDaveGoldfein) November 27, 2017
Yes, you read that right Gen David L. Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force and the most senior Jewish American officer in the US Military, is supervising this year’s tracking of Santa by NORAD.
This US Air Force tradition of tracking Santa began back in the 1950s when a typo in an advertisement led a call to Santa to go awry and wind up on the line of Col. Harry Shoup, of Continental Air Defense Command, now known as North American Aerospace Command (NORAD).
Shoup’s children, Terri Van Keuren, 65, Rick Shoup, 59, and Pam Farrell, 70, recently visited StoryCorps to talk about how the tradition began.
Terri remembers her dad had two phones on his desk, including a red one. “Only a four-star general at the Pentagon and my dad had the number,” she says.
“This was the ’50s, this was the Cold War, and he would have been the first one to know if there was an attack on the United States,” Rick says.
The red phone rang one day in December 1955, and Shoup answered it, Pam says. “And then there was a small voice that just asked, ‘Is this Santa Claus?’ ”
His children remember Shoup as straight-laced and disciplined, and he was annoyed and upset by the call and thought it was a joke — but then, Terri says, the little voice started crying.
“And Dad realized that it wasn’t a joke,” her sister says. “So he talked to him, ho-ho-ho’d and asked if he had been a good boy and, ‘May I talk to your mother?’ And the mother got on and said, ‘You haven’t seen the paper yet? There’s a phone number to call Santa. It’s in the Sears ad.’ Dad looked it up, and there it was, his red phone number. And they had children calling one after another, so he put a couple of airmen on the phones to act like Santa Claus.”
“It got to be a big joke at the command center. You know, ‘The old man’s really flipped his lid this time. We’re answering Santa calls,’ ” Terri says.
“The airmen had this big glass board with the United States on it and Canada, and when airplanes would come in they would track them,” Pam says.
“And Christmas Eve of 1955, when Dad walked in, there was a drawing of a sleigh with eight reindeer coming over the North Pole,” Rick says.
“Dad said, ‘What is that?’ They say, ‘Colonel, we’re sorry. We were just making a joke. Do you want us to take that down?’ Dad looked at it for a while, and next thing you know, Dad had called the radio station and had said, ‘This is the commander at the Combat Alert Center, and we have an unidentified flying object. Why, it looks like a sleigh.’ Well, the radio stations would call him like every hour and say, ‘Where’s Santa now?’ ” Terri says.
“And later in life he got letters from all over the world, people saying, ‘Thank you, Colonel,’ for having, you know, this sense of humor. And in his 90s, he would carry those letters around with him in a briefcase that had a lock on it like it was top-secret information,” she says. “You know, he was an important guy, but this is the thing he’s known for.”
“Yeah,” Rick says, “it’s probably the thing he was proudest of, too.”
It says something important that a whimsical tradition, born of a moment of empathy at the start of the Cold War, is now being overseen and promoted by the highest ranking Jewish American military official. That despite all the meanness and smallness and pettiness of the past year there is still resilience left in American civil society.
For those celebrating Christmas tonight: a very Merry Christmas to you. For those that aren’t:
Merry Christmas! And Happy Holidays! Drive safe, be safe, and enjoy!
Not quite sure where everyone’s gone (where have all the front pagers gone, long time passing…), but it is clearly time for a fresh, clean thread. So here’s a video of Mark Hamill in his voice actor job voicing himself and two of his better known cartoon characters: DC Comics Joker from Batman the Animated Series and the Trickster from the original Flash live action TV show, the animated Justice League Unlimited, and the new Flash live action TV show. But wait, there’s more… Hamill is also voicing Swamp Thing too! So that’s four Mark Hamill voice acting appearances all in one cartoon short! Hamill does Hamill doing Hamill while being Hamill!
NotMax has asked for an open thread while channeling Animal from the Muppet Show, so…
Like you all didn’t see this coming…
And since we are fast approaching the campaign season for the annual War on Christmas:
All Holidays Matter!!!!!
This is my favorite thing on the internet (and it’s not the same as the one Anne Laurie posted below):
Okay, this is like my favorite thread ever!!, so I wanted to see what it would look like merged with a Ken Burns-ish voice reading. pic.twitter.com/E2frNNahFH
— Reetae (@Reetae27) August 19, 2017
He’s trying to get Lily and Steve to be more brand-friendly dammit!!!…
Bianca Bosker, in the Atlantic, on “Instamom: The enviable, highly profitable life of Amber Fillerup Clark, perfect mother and social-media influencer”:
One morning in early November, Amber Fillerup Clark sat at her dining-room table, which serves as her desk most days, peering at her laptop. She had professional photo-editing software open, and was using it to tweak pictures that her husband, David Clark, had snapped of their toddlers dressed up as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The children had rotated through several costumes before Halloween—11-month-old Rosie wore a lamb outfit; 2-year-old Atticus dressed as a dragon; the whole family donned matching superhero getups—and Clark had photographed each one for Barefoot Blonde, Fillerup Clark’s blog about motherhood and fashion. As we talked, she adjusted the colors in the pictures, giving them the warm pastel hues characteristic of wedding portraits. She assured me that she stops short of Photoshopping appearances, then reconsidered: “Sometimes I’ll whiten teeth.”
Fillerup Clark has shared enough holidays and milestones that she and her husband can predict what types of images will charm her followers. “Before we post a picture, we can usually tell how good the engagement will be based off the content,” Clark said.
“If it has the whole family in a pretty place, traveling, that’s going to do the best,” Fillerup Clark said. On another occasion she’d told me, “We always have to think of our life as ‘Where can you take the prettiest pictures?’ ”
Not so long ago, Fillerup Clark was a broke student in Provo, Utah. Today, at age 26, she is the equivalent of internet royalty: a “relatable influencer,” someone whom hundreds of thousands of women trust as a friend and whom companies pay handsomely to name-drop their products. Stepping for the first time into her living room in Manhattan, I found it intimately familiar, thanks to the up-close-and-personal Instagram photos, YouTube vlogs, Snapchat videos, and blog posts Fillerup Clark shares with her 1.3 million Instagram followers, 227,000 YouTube fans, and 250,000 monthly blog readers. I knew from the redecoration “reveal” she’d posted a few months back that the velvet side chair had been provided by West Elm, and I recognized the tangle of curls on a shelf as clip-in hair extensions from Barefoot Blonde Hair, Fillerup Clark’s own line of products, which sold out within 72 hours of its debut in October. I could even name the stuffed dog on the couch: That was Chauncey, it belonged to Atticus, and it had been named after the family’s real golden retriever…
Fillerup Clark’s portrait of domestic bliss has earned her a top spot among the second generation of so-called mommy bloggers. She joins a clique of stylish women, among them Naomi Davis of Love Taza and Rachel Parcell of Pink Peonies, who have acquired loyal followings (and incomes rumored to be in the seven figures) by showing themselves excelling as ordinary wives and mothers. If the feats these blogs capture are familiar—dressing well, attending to children—this is a key part of the appeal; the women epitomize a new breed of celebrity, as public fascination expands beyond the rich and famous to the well-off and above-average. “We’re seeing people following almost idealized versions of themselves,” said Rob Fishman, a co-founder of Niche, an ad network for online influencers that is now owned by Twitter. “It’s this attainable perfection.”…
Fillerup Clark says she juggles about five photo shoots a week, not including impromptu picture-taking when the family happens to be doing something photogenic. It was the Clarks’ second visit to Central Park that day; the earlier trip, which they’d deemed a casual family outing, not an official shoot, had generated content for an Instagram photo, a Snapchat video, and a blog post…
Yeah, eminently mockable, but it is hard work, in its own way; there’s a feminist treatise to be written about the perennial niche in “conservative” media for women willing to work hard at being traditionalists. (For a far more toxic example, Phyllis Schafly made a rich career out of explaining for money that real women should stay home with their children, while leaving her own six kids in the care of housekeepers and her husband.)
Via Get Off My Internets, which has successfully monetized (although I’m sure not at the seven-digit-figure level) the second-level mocking of monetizing one’s private life online.
We can’t prove it’s Steve, but we also can’t prove it’s not Steve…
Have I got an international laughing stock for you:
There really is nothing funny about what’s happening now, though the shoots of resistance are encouraging as we look towards the hope of spring. But I give our Dutch friends credit. The above made me laugh out loud.
The Duffel Blog, a site the provides satirical takes on the US military, has posted a life could imitate satirical art post entitled: “Troops Sour on Mattis Nomination After He Releases 6,000-Book Reading List“.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A large number of active-duty troops once enthusiastic about the choice of James Mattis for Defense Secretary have since soured on the pick after the retired general released a 6000-book reading list he plans to implement for the entire DoD after he is confirmed, Duffel Blog has learned.
Referred to by some as the “Warrior Monk,” the 66-year-old sent his reading list to the military’s entire email distribution list over the weekend. Most service members who received the 200-page email reported they were still in the process of reading it well into Monday morning.
Almost every senior commander issues a reading list. Its sort of become the in thing to do and Foreign Policy writer Tom Ricks (full disclosure: I know Tom and have written guest posts for him) collects and publishes them or links to them at his Best Defense blog. Gen. Mattis’s preferred nickname, or, at least, the one he doesn’t seem to dislike – he does not like being referred to as Mad Dog – is The Warrior Monk. The sobriquet is derived from a couple of the realities of Gen. Mattis’s life and career. The first is he is considered by many to be an outstanding warfighter. The second, that like many military senior leaders, he aspired to become what the Army refers to as a Soldier-Scholar. This means that as a Soldier’s career progresses they try to move beyond just being warfighters, increase the breadth and scope of their understanding of operational and then strategic matters through both Professional Military Education and civilian higher education, and become thoughtful, reflective, and (hopefully) strategic thinkers. The third basis for the nickname is because Gen. Mattis, unlike most career US military personnel, is not married. As in never married, hence the other root cause for the Monk.
The Duffel Blog also did a good job accurately capturing just how a lot of personnel would respond to receiving such a reading list – long or short:
Marines, however, were only assigned four coloring books.
“Four? Good Lord, that’s unfair,” said Lance Cpl. Anderson Malcolm, a Marine infantryman who proudly displays his “good enough degree” on his barracks room wall.
A number of troops expressed reservations about the nomination of Mattis to the Pentagon’s highest post after they read the email. While some expected a reading list of some sort, most did not realize just how many books they would be required to get through.
“How are we going to go out and kill the enemy if we have to sit around reading all this shit?” asked Sgt. James Fritter, an Army squad leader.
Its funny, because it could be true!!!!
PS: Last week the Duffel Blog lampooned the US Army’s insistence on having personnel forward deployed on its bases wear reflective safety belts at night (so they don’t get run over when going for chow in the dark, no I am not making this part up, yes I did have to follow this as a member of my BCT’s special staff in Iraq in 2008, and yes, I still have the thing – mine’s the orange one). They did this by picking on a former student of mine, who is the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve Spokesman and colonel in the US Air Force. John was an excellent student, is a sharp strategic thinker, and an excellent public affairs officer. And the satire is funny, because it could be true!
The Reddit MeIRL crowd produces some of my son’s favorite internet snark — and provides a bridge between 16 y.o. consummate savvy and [mumble mumble mumble] technological cluelessness.
Here’s what he shared with me today:
May your day be one in which all your sneks are garters.
(And no, not that way. This is a family blog.)
Open. The Thread. It Is.
— Mark Murray (@mmurraypolitics) September 2, 2016
Cassidy: "It really seems to boil down to Mr. Trump’s personality being not what people like," not GOP policies https://t.co/vtzAg0Wg6C
— Alexandra Jaffe (@ajjaffe) September 2, 2016
You just keep telling yourself that, Sen. Cassidy — it’s not the message, it’s the messenger! If only Deadbeat Donald could be a little more… restrained about your party’s appeal to all the worst elements of racism, xenophobia, and misogyny in American politics…
But Cassidy’s from Louisiana, he needs emergency reconstruction funds for his state right now, not when Mitch McConnell gets tired of stonewalling in hopes that Hillary (or better yet, Donald) will be struck by lightning before November. “Principles” are all very well when your gang of Freedom Caucus Liberty Patriots are riding high, but when the guy at the top of the ticket looks to be bent on self-immolation…
For the special delectation of Balloon Juice readers: The NYTimes reports that “Tensions Deepen Between Donald Trump and R.N.C.”:
The Republican National Committee had high hopes that Donald J. Trump would deliver a compassionate and measured speech about immigration on Wednesday, and prepared to lavish praise on the candidate on the party’s Twitter account.
So when Mr. Trump instead offered a fiery denunciation of migrant criminals and suggested deporting Hillary Clinton, Reince Priebus, the party chairman, signaled that aides should scrap the plan, and the committee made no statement at all.
The evening tore a painful new wound in Mr. Trump’s relationship with the Republican National Committee, imperiling his most important remaining political alliance.
Mr. Priebus and his organization have been steadfastly supportive of Mr. Trump, defending him in public and spending millions of dollars to aid him. But the collaboration between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Mr. Priebus’s committee has grown strained over the last month, according to six senior Republicans with detailed knowledge of both groups, some of whom asked to speak anonymously for fear of exacerbating tensions….
Ya think? [surreptitious sounds of blame being shifted; reporters pretend not to recognize figures behind the curtain]
… There is no prospect of a full public breach between the Trump campaign and the R.N.C. because both sides rely on a joint fund-raising arrangement crucial to their election efforts.
But tensions have grown to such a point that they threaten to diminish the party’s ability to work smoothly with Mr. Trump during the most critical post-Labor Day phase of the race, when the committee traditionally helps supervise an extensive voter turnout effort.
Mr. Trump, who has struggled to raise money, is dependent on his party’s national committee to perform many of the basic functions of a presidential campaign. Should the partnership continue to deteriorate, it could hinder Mr. Trump’s bid for a late comeback in the race…
The RNC and Trump are joined at the hip, the knee, the waist, and the neck — and he’s determined to jump off the cliff, because he can, and nobody is the boss of him.
… Mr. Priebus said in a statement that there was no significant friction between his committee and the Trump campaign, describing theirs as a “fantastic working relationship.”…
But senior advisers to Mr. Priebus and Mr. Trump have collided over the turbulence in the campaign, the senior Republicans said. Mr. Trump’s top policy adviser questioned Mr. Priebus’s competence in a caustic email this week after the Phoenix speech. And Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Mr. Priebus’s chief of staff clashed in a tense meeting over the use of the committee’s war chest…
(Also, Mr. Priebus is no longer bothering with cereal — he just drinks the Bailey’s for breakfast.)
… Within Mr. Trump’s circle, there is impatience with what advisers view as a cautious and conventional party bureaucracy, ill-equipped to accommodate Mr. Trump’s improvisational style. At times, Trump aides have vented that frustration in language that was contemptuous of Mr. Priebus, a genial Wisconsin lawyer who has been chairman for five years.
When Mr. Trump’s immigration speech this week spurred resignations from the National Hispanic Advisory Council for Trump, a party-backed group, one of Mr. Trump’s top advisers lashed out at Mr. Priebus in an email to the campaign staff.
“The RNC needs to take control of this situation and quickly,” wrote Stephen Miller, Mr. Trump’s senior policy adviser, who often travels with the candidate.
Describing the Hispanic Republicans who resigned in dismay as “professional amnesty lobbyists,” Mr. Miller asked, “Can Reince do his job?”…
Jared Kushner is Trump’s mini-me son-in-law, and Stephen Miller is a nativist thug on loan from Senator Sessions’ neo-Confederate fever swamp. Neither of them give a well-fvcked rat’s arse about the RNC, or the GOP — Kushner just wants to look like a success at something his daddy didn’t buy for him, and Miller wants to be Roy Cohn (using Muslims/immigrants instead of Communists as targets). But it’s not as though their ideas weren’t firmly within the mainstream of current GOP legislators… and voters.
… Inside the committee, top officials have lost confidence in Mr. Trump’s ability to right his listing campaign, according to the senior Republicans. Complaints abound about the haphazard nature of Mr. Trump’s operation, in which power is so divided among strategists and members of the Trump family that the process of making even simple decisions is laborious and unpredictable. Mr. Trump is on his third campaign leadership team, having dismissed two previous chief advisers, and he has already fired two senior staff members, Rick Wiley and Ed Brookover, whose jobs included coordinating his strategy with the R.N.C.
Mr. Priebus, who has a warm relationship with Mr. Trump and speaks with him daily, has also confided to some Republicans that he has been disappointed by Mr. Trump’s failure to evolve as a candidate in the general election.
He denied in a statement that he had complained about Mr. Trump’s refusal to shift course. “I’ve said exactly the opposite,” Mr. Priebus said. “I think he’s had his best three weeks.”…
…At a meeting in New York late last month, Mr. Kushner, who is married to Ivanka Trump, pointedly challenged Katie Walsh, the committee’s chief of staff, over the party’s spending plans.
In a tone that several witnesses described as imperious and aggressive, Mr. Kushner suggested that the national committee might not be giving Mr. Trump all the support he was due.
Ms. Walsh pushed back strongly, telling Mr. Kushner, who has no background in politics, that the committee’s fund-raising and spending are disclosed in detail to the Federal Election Commission, according to the witnesses who were in the room and two people briefed by them afterward.
Ms. Walsh told Mr. Kushner that the committee had a responsibility to take a broad view of its finances, mapping out a budget for the entire party and ensuring it could remain operational for the rest of the year, and could not solely focus on Mr. Trump’s needs.
Mike DuHaime, a former political director for the committee, said tensions with the campaign could be harmful to both sides in the general election…
One can only hope, she said piously. But let’s not let the RNC escape the general devastation — the only difference between Trump and Jeb/Cruz/Rubio/Cotton/GenericGOP is that Trump says in public what they’ve tried to keep behind closed doors.
In response to Marco Gutierrez’s remarks expressing concerns about an invasion of Taco Trucks I decided to strike a blow for Salsa (Verde, also Roja and Crema and guacamole) Justice and went for Mexican food tonight. Never has standing in solidarity, by sitting and eating, tasted so good. Also, the corners of my neighborhood are still clear of taco trucks, so I’m going to keep Balloon Juice set at TacoCon 5 for the time being. So grab your forks my Salsa Justice Warriors and head for the comments – open thread!
(El Paso Burrito with Salsa Roja, Crema, and Verde)