Its Funny Because it Could Actually Be True

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!



Open Thread: Bad Review, Great Response

Of course, there’s a backstory: Graydon Carter, then at Spy, was responsible for labelling Trump as a “short-fingered vulgarian. From the review:

The allure of Trump’s restaurant, like the candidate, is that it seems like a cheap version of rich. The inconsistent menus—literally, my menu was missing dishes that I found on my dining partners’—were chock-full of steakhouse classics doused with unnecessarily high-end ingredients. The dumplings, for instance, come with soy sauce topped with truffle oil, and the crostini is served with both hummus and ricotta, two exotic ingredients that should still never be combined. The menu itself would like to impress diners with how important it is, randomly capitalizing fancy words like “Prosciutto” and “Julienned” (and, strangely, ”House Salad”).

Our waiter, coiffed and charming, was determined to gaslight us into thinking we were having a good time. “Trump gets the taco bowl and the lasagna and baked ziti,” he said, before subsequently informing the table that we could not order the lasagna or baked ziti. I asked the waiter what Trump’s children eat. He didn’t seem to understand the question, or, like Marco Rubio, appeared unable to depart from his prescribed talking points.“Oh, I’ve shaken hands with him before, and they’re pretty normal-sized hands,” he responded.

Our table nevertheless ordered the Ivanka’s Salad, a chopped approximation of a Greek salad, smothered in melting goat cheese and dressing and missing the promised olives, that seemed unlikely to appetize a SoulCycle-obsessed, smoothie-guzzling heiress. (Instead, it looked like a salad made by someone who believes that rich women only eat vegetables.) But the cuboid plant matter ended up being the perfect place to hide several uneaten Szechuan dumplings.

Our waiter eventually noted that Don Jr. gets the filet mignon cooked medium-rare, with garlic mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. The steak came out overcooked and mealy, with an ugly strain of pure fat running through it, crying out for A.1. sauce (it was missing the promised demi-glace, too). The plate must have tilted during its journey from the kitchen to the table, as the steak slumped to the side over the potatoes like a dead body inside a T-boned minivan. Don Jr. probably does not eat the filet mignon here regularly, either. Come to think of it, judging by its non-cylindrical shape, it might not have even been a filet at all…

Perhaps Trump’s veneer of a steakhouse is too obviously a veneer, meant for the hoodied masses to visit once and never return. (There are already an infinite number of articles about how Trump’s mass-produced products are meant to impress a hollow sense of wealth.) And prior to his victory, it seemed as if the world of Fifth Avenue power brokers agreed: the lobby was perpetually empty, the Grill(e) mostly frequented with Trump Tower residents and locals looking for a convenient power lunch, if any of the bigger, better power-lunch spots nearby were full. But later, when I read previous reviews of the Trump Grill before he became a presidential front-runner, I was shocked to discover that the food back then was bland, mediocre, and as Eater’s Robert Sietsema once wrote, “for timid people with digestive problems.” In other words, it was a culinary marvel lightyears beyond the rich-man slop we ate at the Trump Grill weeks after the election. (And indeed, it was slop: as soon as I got home, I brushed my teeth twice and curled up in bed until the nausea passed.)…

YES TRUMPLODYTES THOSE ARE OBVIOUS CHEAP SHOTS WITH AN AGENDA!!! Much like your Asterisk-Elect. And I may have to buy a subscription to Vanity Fair now…



The News Media is Good for What Exactly?

Apparently some knucklehead at The LA Times thinks Japanese internment during WW II was just something for Japanese Americans and Japanese nationals in the US to do – like a job (h/t: Joy Ann Reid – a journalist who is very good at what she does).

This is the Manzanar interment camp:

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I think the guard tower is a nice touch for people just doing their job by staying out of the way…

And this was just one of eight camps. I realize that these are letters to the editor, but the LA Times‘ editors did not have to publish them. They chose to do so. Why? Magic balance fairy? Being edgy and provocative? Who knows. Since the LA Times has the time to waste on absolutely inaccurate, reader supplied, historical revisionism, perhaps they should find something useful to do with all that time.



Do Not Be Distracted By What The Shitgibbon Says. Pay Attention To What His People Do

One of the signal failures of the media throughout the Trump dumpster fire of a campaign was to focus on his words — parsing, shifts in terminology, trying to distinguish between lies and hyperbole, or simply providing theater criticism on his performances, connections to audience and so on.  All the while, the critical information: what the combination of his ample history, the (few) clear positions he staked, and the people he hired revealed about what Trump would actually do as President.

That basic error is still with us, nicely diagnosed in this post by Robinson Meyer over at The Atlantic:

It works like this: Donald Trump, the president-elect himself, says something that sounds like he might be moderating on the issue. Then, his staff takes a radical action in the other direction.

Last week, Trump told the staff of The New York Times that he was keeping an open mind about the existence of climate change.

This was, as Meyer notes, treated as a major shift, given Trump’s earlier claim that global warming was a Chinese hoax.  As a result, many slow learners touted this story (Meyer self-indicts here.) But, of course, Trump’s almost certainly intentionally vague statement —

“I think there is some connectivity” between human activity and the warming climate, Trump said. “There is some, something. It depends on how much.”…

both grants him almost unlimited freedom of maneuver and was almost immediately belied by what his transition team is actually doing:

A day after Trump talked to the Times, The Guardian reported that the Trump administration plans could cut all of NASA’s Earth science research….

…which, as many have already noted, is vital for ongoing climate monitoring and ongoing attempts to study the implications of human – driven global warming with the resolution needed to inform action.

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Then there’s this:

Politico reports that the Heritage Foundation senior research fellow, Steven Groves, has been added to Trump’s State Department transition team. Just last week, Groves called for the United States to leave the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the overarching treaty that governs how the world organizes itself to address global warming. Groves also said the U.S. should move to “dismantle” domestic climate regulations.

Thus, a picture of a Trump administration policy on climate change: destroy the research infrastructure needed to study climate, and wreck both national and international prospects for action to address what a true existential crisis.

The moral, to use Meyer’s phrase, is that Trump is a master of the two-step, baffling the unwary (aka, seemingly, the entire New York Times staff) while proceeding behind that verbal smokescreen towards the worst possible choices.  We need a much more vigilant press, and a brave one.

Image: Hieronymous Bosch, The Temptation of Saint Anthony (left panel detail), 1495-1515.  Not an exact match to the post, but I’m kinda just looking for apocalyptic images these days, and this certainly works for that.



Ya Think?!?!?!?!

Geniuses!



Monday Evening Open Thread: Media (Fizzle) Notes

My interpretation: If Jared Kushner can’t be the Nancy Reagan of a new generation — the ‘kitchen cabinet’ director running the Oval Office behind a photogenic, semi-demented figurehead — he figures he can at least dream of being the next Roger Ailes.

The Financial Times story is behind a paywall, but HuffPo says:

… [T]he Financial Times reported that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner spoke with a boutique media deal-making firm about the prospect of launching a television network. Kushner, who owns the New York Observer, contacted LionTree founder and chief executive Aryeh Bourkoff within the past couple months, according to the paper…

Vanity Fair reported in June on Trump’s media plans and noted that Kushner said at a dinner party how “the people here don’t understand what I’m seeing” and that “you go to these arenas and people go crazy for him.” The New York Times added in August that Trump and Kushner had “quietly explored becoming involved with a media holding, either by investing in one or by taking one over.”

But even if Kushner contacted Bourkoff, Politico’s Mike Allen reported Monday that the LionTree executive has no interest in working with Trump…

Kushner, the scion of a New Jersey real estate family who married Trump’s daughter Ivanka in 2009, has been one of Trump’s closest advisers. One Trump source recently told The New Yorker that Kushner ― who keeps a low profile and rarely gives interviews ― has been Trump’s “real campaign manager.”…

Apart from the NOBODY IS THE BOSS BUT MEEEEE tantrum such reporting is liable to spark from Lord Smallgloves (rumors of civil war within Trump Tower?), there’s the problem of finding enough content to ensure a paying audience…


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Trump is a Goddamned moron, and has no honor.

But you already knew that.
Here’s where it matters.

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