Headlines that make me want to gouge out my eyes with a melon baller

What do you get when you cross an inanity with a pathetic attempt to paper over gaping ineptitude and a statement of the blindingly fucking obvious? This headline from your paper of record:

I realize “Hella dangerous clown baffles allies and adversaries, squanders U.S. prestige, endangers planet” might sound a tad partisan or even alarmist, but goddamn it, sometimes it’s more important to tell the truth than maintain your ironic distance.

Open thread!

Annals of Strategic Communication: The Carl Vinson Task Force Miscommunication

Joint Publication 5-0/Joint Operation Planning defines strategic communication as:

Focused United States Government efforts to understand and engage key audiences to create, strengthen, or preserve conditions favorable for the advancement of United States Government interests, policies, and objectives through the use of coordinated programs, plans, themes, messages, and products synchronized with the actions of all instruments of national power.

The misstatements and miscommunications regarding where the USS Carl Vinson Task Force is and what it is doing have made US strategic communication, both in general and in regard to the DPRK, much, much harder and much more problematic.

I think, however, that the Occam’s Razor explanation for what happened is the most likely one. Here’s what I think happened:

  1. Admiral Harris, Commander US Pacific Command (USPACOM), informed Secretary of Defense Mattis that he had issued a Fragmentary Order cancelling the Carl Vinson Task Force’s port call in Australia and redirecting the strike group to the Sea of Japan to show the colors.
  2. The DOD notified the White House – most likely either through the Liaison Officer or through the National Security Staff.
  3. A copy of the Fragmentary Order was filed.
  4. Secretary Mattis misspoke on 11 April, because he hadn’t actually seen the FRAGORD, that the Carl Vinson Task Force was headed immediately to the Sea of Japan.
  5. The President was briefed, without any specific details, because no one on the National Security Staff had them, that the Carl Vinson Task Force was headed to the Sea of Japan.
  6. The President stated the Carl Vinson Task Force was headed to the Sea of Japan in his Fox Business News interview.
  7. The Carl Vinson Task Force steamed south from Singapore, as ordered, to take part in a scheduled exercise with the Australian Navy.
  8. As is often the case, the US Navy, through the Public Affairs Office, released pictures of the Carl Vinson Task Force passing through the Sunda Strait – 3,500 miles from the Sea of Japan off of the Korean peninsula.

Talking Points Memo has a full timeline at this link.

How did all this miscommunication happen? Simply put – there are almost no political appointees at the Pentagon (or anywhere else in the US government) right now. Secretary of Defense is, essentially, working without a team. He has no deputy, under, assistant deputy, and deputy assistant secretaries, nor does he have any directors, deputy directors, and/or special assistants at the Department of Defense – though several designees have been named for some of these positions. He also does not have any Service Secretaries in place  – though we have have three designated nominees. And none of the deputy, under, assistant deputy, and deputy assistant secretaries, nor does he have any directors, deputy directors, and/or special assistants at each of the Services. All the Secretary of Defense has is whichever Trump campaign and transition personnel are on the DOD and Service Beachhead Teams – none of whom have been chosen by Secretary Mattis. Right now you have a DOD Secretary, the DOD and Service Beachhead Teams from the transition, and then the career civil servants (both Senior Executives and General Schedule) and uniformed military personnel. Basically the entire layer of politically appointed managers, senior to junior, are completely missing. As a result, things are going to fall between the cracks, such as the exact nature of Admiral Harris’s FRAGORD to reposition the Carl Vinson Task Force.

Aside from the bog standard embarrassment of having the President, the Secretary of Defense (a retired USMC 4 Star), and the White House Press Secretary (a US Navy Reserve Commander) not knowing where a carrier strike group is, this is also a significant strategic communication problem. This morning the Associated Press reported (h/t and via: Talking Points Memo) that both our Asian-Pacific partners and competitors are disconcerted and wary given the President and the Administration’s seeming inability to communicate accurate information.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Unpredictable. Unhinged. Dangerous.

Many South Koreans are using those words to describe the president of their most important ally, rather than the leader of their archrival to the North. They worry that President Donald Trump’s tough, unorthodox talk about North Korea’s nuclear program is boosting already-high animosity between the rival Koreas.

The Kyunghyang Shinmun newspaper said recently that Trump is playing a “dangerous card” with his verbal threats, risking a miscalculation by Pyongyang and a war on the peninsula.

What the US is currently strategically communicating in regard to the ongoing DPRK nuclear weapon and missile development programs is not exactly inspiring confidence on the Korean Peninsula.

Read more

Shows for Bros

You know who I wouldn’t want to trade jobs with right now? DNC chair Tom Perez. The first big test of his leadership is apparently gonna be how successfully he channels the Bern. Will he succeed? Does it make sense to pursue this strategy out of the gate? Fuckifino.

Perez and Sanders are doing a roadshow in red and purple states to gin up enthusiasm for rebuilding the party and taking on Trump. It’s officially called the “Come Together and Fight Back” tour. There’s an account of the first rally in Maine in the Portland Herald Press. A couple of quotes:

Perez: “The mission of the new DNC is not simply to elect the president of the United States. It is to elect Democrats from the school board to the Senate.”

Sanders: “Our job is to radically transform the Democratic Party . . . into a 50-state party and a party that does not continue to ignore half of the states in our country. Our job is to create a democratic party, a grassroots party where decisions are made up from the bottom on up, not from the top on down.”

As a neoliberal shill in the pocket of Big Democrat, I am immune to Sanders’ appeal. But I’m not the roadshow’s intended audience. The Democrats don’t have to coddle me to ensure I turn up to vote, but the Sandersites are more loosely affiliated. I’m trying to temper my reaction to the aspects of the roadshow I find irritating accordingly.

In that spirit, I will note that we’ve complained for years about the party’s too-narrow focus on federal offices (though we’ve quibbled over what the DNC’s proper role is in state party affairs). I agree with what Perez says above, and Sanders’ statement basically amounts to the same thing, with extra finger-wagging and pointing.

I’m going to trust that Perez knows what he’s doing and have faith that this roadshow is just the opening salvo, with different forms of outreach targeting women, minorities, etc., and robust voter suppression countermeasures to follow. Because dog knows, we can’t afford to fuck this up by fighting the last war.

Chaffetz Is Done

Well, this is an interesting development! Via WaPo:

House Oversight chairman Jason Chaffetz says he will not seek reelection in 2018

The Republican congressman from Utah, who became chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in 2015, has been criticized for a lack of action in investigating the Trump administration and President Trump’s potential conflicts of interest. He reversed his position on Trump’s candidacy several times in 2016, and recently faced an angry crowd at a town-hall meeting that criticized his tenure as Oversight chairman.

“For those that would speculate otherwise, let me be clear that I have no ulterior motives. I am healthy. I am confident I would continue to be re-elected by large margins. I have the full support of Speaker Ryan to continue as Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. That said, I have made a personal decision to return to the private sector,” Chaffetz said in a statement on Facebook.

During the Obama administration, Chaffetz undertook probes of the 2012 Benghazi attack and Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

I don’t believe for a second there are no ulterior motives. So let’s indulge in rampant speculation about why the pig-faced prick is declining to stand for reelection, shall we?

Did Chaffetz get wind of a looming Trump bombshell? Has he seen poll numbers that foretell electoral doom? Is a 19-year-old Piggly-Wiggly cashier about to hire Gloria Allred and announce that Chaffetz fathered her pig-faced baby?

As the saying goes, it would be irresponsible NOT to speculate!

Past Tense Pence

Here’s beady-eyed Christo-fascist fraud Mike Pence playing dress-up at the DMZ in Korea and pretending that he and the incurious dipshit president he serves have a bold new strategy to address the conundrum that has vexed the world for decades:

Here are some of the words that came out of the squinty fraud’s cake hole when he interrupted his cosplay fun briefly for an “exclusive” CNN interview:

“We’re going to abandon the failed policy of strategic patience. But we’re going to redouble our efforts to bring diplomatic and economic pressure to bear on North Korea. Our hope is that we can resolve this issue peaceably…

I know the President was heartened by his discussions with President Xi (Jinping). We’ve seen China begin to take some actions to bring pressure on North Korea but there needs to be more…

Look, we want to be clear: our hope and frankly our prayer is that by marshaling the resources of nations across the Asian Pacific — not just South Korea, Japan, other allies — and China bringing renewed pressure to bear…

Where have we heard that before? Oh yeah, from pretty much every U.S. president or veep who has spoken about the North Korea problem since the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration.

Honestly, it’s a relief to hear Pence regurgitate the familiar bromides since we wouldn’t want his boss — who happens to be the world’s other nuclear-armed narcissistic madman with awful hair — acting out his corresponding set of daddy issues on a world-historical scale. But spare us the bullshit on stilts about a “abandoning the failed policy of strategic patience,” when all that means is that we’ll continue to do the same exact shit, only supplemented with meaner tweets from the marmalade hairball in the Oval Office.

For all that the Fox News-addled shitbirds in my Facebook feed love to talk about participation trophies and kids today and the extra-dainty, precious sensitivities of liberal snowflakes, it really is all about feelings with that crowd. Trump and Pence snarl and cavort around in flight jackets and do nothing substantive whatsoever, and oh happy day, finally that awful black feller has stopped apologizing for ‘Merica and we’re number one again.

The same spite animates these jackholes on virtually any issue you can name: Roll back Dodd-Frank because liberals! Repeal Obamacare because “Obama”care! Authorize pollution on a grander scale because liberals oppose it! Ignore climate change until the water rises over our nostrils! The Trump-Pence administration is truly Cleek’s Law made flesh.

And yet, Trump himself gets all disgruntled when confronted with irrefutable evidence that millions of Americans hate his fucking guts (“paid protesters!”) and whines about his glorious Electoral College victory while his lying flack Kellyanne Conway simultaneously admonishes us to get over the election. You first, you fucking assholes.

What we need, fellow citizens, is a new Age of Reason — a civic reattachment to facts and substance over lies and feelings. I don’t know how we get there from here. But I don’t even want to think about what happens if we don’t start moving in that direction, and fast.

Today’s Berkeley Beat Down: Planned Action by the Alt-Right

Earlier today in Berkeley things got violent. A dedicated group of folks on social media, with a significant amount being done by Caroline O.,  have been doing yeoman’s and yeowoman’s work to pull all the social media evidence together indicating who was really responsible: the alt-right. The violence was planned, orchestrated, and telegraphed on social media by a dedicated group of alt-righters. And it was done in such as way as to make it look like black bloc or antifa demonstrators, who are often associated with the extreme left even if they have nothing to really do with left of center politics in reality, were responsible. This allows the alt-right to have its cake (beat the daylights out of people it disagrees with) and eat it too (have it blamed on these same people).

Here’s some video of what went down:

Here’s just a smattering of the evidence that has been accumulated to demonstrate that the folks dressed all in black were alt-righters and were looking to instigate violence:

Based Stickman, real name Kyle Chapman, is this lovely fellow:

Historian Rick Perlstein wrote a bit about Chapman yesterday:

Behold Stick Man

I’ve seen the Berkeley footage Morgoth is referring to. That’s how I made the acquaintance of Stick Man.

Berkeley’s March 4 Trump was organized by a man named Richard Black, who announced that members of the alt-right, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists were banned. Among those who did not get the memo were Moshe Daniel, who goes by the nickname “Kilt Man.” Daniel depicts himself on Facebook with a giant serrated knife and a T-shirt featuring the face of the late Chilean fascist dictator Augusto Pinochet, the legend “PHYSICAL REMOVAL,” and another of those silhouettes of people being dropped from helicopters—a Pinochet-favored method for dealing with dissenters.

The march turned into a “small riot,” as gun-rights blogger Bob Owens, one of the most widely read on the web, and a cool and clear-thinking moderate, described it after reviewing the available documentation. “Both sides came to this incident prepared for a fight,” he wrote, concluding it was impossible to see “who threw the first punch.” In my mind, however, there were at least two moments where the person who threw the first punch was starkly evident. In both cases it was an individual who wore all black, from boots to baseball cap, and carried a distinctive black shield emblazoned with a “V” for victory, and an American flag. The man in black also wore a gas mask, surely in response to a widely disseminated urban legend that antifas are routinely attacking protesters with pepper spray. In one video he whacks a downed anti-Trump protester with the long wooden stick he carries (with two tiny American flags attached, thus he can call it a flagpole). In another, he can be seen smashing his stick down so hard on an unarmed protester’s head that the stick breaks in half.

He’s since become a right-wing folk hero, and, after Berkeley police arrested him on several felony charges, naturally, a right-wing martyr.

(much more at the link)

This is a serious problem. Dedicated, hard core alt-righters who push both Russian derived propaganda and are organizing themselves to conduct violence in a way as to lay the blame on left of center Americans who look to peacefully protest.


Kabunco (Updated)

Twitler a little while ago:

God, these people are so bad at their jobs, starting with the con man in chief. If Trump’s father hadn’t staked him, he’d have long ago washed out of the bottom-feeder time-share scam outfits for sheer incompetence.

ETA: To clarify, the tweet above is not only stupid on its face, it’s a ham-handed attempt to set up a scam that is visible from outer space. The chief aim of the Russian agents who ran the Trump campaign (and this can no longer be fucking denied) is to end the sanctions. Happily that coincides with the primary objective of Exxon, whose former chief is conveniently Trump’s secretary of state. And Trump wants to continue playing president on TV and make the Russia scandal go away.

What could achieve that win-win-win scenario? A “conflict” with Russia in which Trump gets to swing his dick around to impress Sean Hannity, followed by a “negotiation” that ends with Ukraine and Syria under the bus, the sanctions lifted and peace in our time. It’s playing out exactly as planned, though Putin probably gets an itchy polonium finger when he sees Twitler idiotically telegraphing their intentions.

Honest question: Am I deranged conspiracy theory girl now? This just seems so fucking obvious to me.