Today's look at war from the cheap seats

Going through my usual growing pains in trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, and had a moment yesterday where I figured I’d only want to do this like 1-2 times/week.

Fuck it.

Having more fun writing this than I have in a while.

So let’s keep this thing rolling.

Oh. Name change. Because “5 NatSec Things” was starting to feel limiting, and I’d like to do some other things besides just a weekly newsletter so…name change.


Because that seemed hipper.

I am not a marketing guy.

Probably a little shorter today than usual, because remaking decisions takes up a lot of time.

Apropos of nothing, this damn song’s been in my head for days.

Time is money and money's time
We wasted every second dime
On diets, lawyers, shrinks and apps and flags and plastic surgery
Now Willy Wonka, Major Tom, Ali, and Leia have moved on
Signal the final curtain call in all its atomic pageantry

Probably because I read about war and shit, and mid-life is kicking my ass of late.

RIP Mr. Adams.

And because it’s in my head, now it has to be in yours, this is the man that people worry about pissing off so much they’ll ask the Navy to hide a boat.

Because nothing says “respectful president” like golf shoes and pants in badly need of being taken up. Did we tariff the shit out of tailors, too?

Remember that boat bit? Here’s a reminder:

Turns out that was true, but it’s not because no one tried.

"A request was made to the U.S. Navy to minimize the visibility of USS John S. McCain, however, all ships remained in their normal configuration during the President's visit," Rear Admiral Charlie Brown, chief of information, said in a statement to NBC News.

And no, this isn’t going to be terribly tidy, because I’m caffeinated and worried that the world will end before we figure out what’s in the bag here.

Yes, Charlie Brown’s his real name, yes that tweet was the first one from that account in five years, and was a pretty obvious attempt to stave off a shitstorm that the Toddler-in-Chief was being catered to by some well-meaning staffer who was worried everyone’s favorite three year old president might pitch a fit.

Hope they’ve kept their resume updated, because Mulvaney’s coming for them.

Also today in “people who don’t know what year it is,” meet Michael.

Let’s be clear on a couple of things:

  1. Fuck yes Pride Month is a national security issue because so long as the Pentagon continues to dictate who can serve in uniform, discounting the actions of those who already took the oath because they’re not terribly binary, that’s a problem with national security.

  2. While this is alarming, dude’s wearing what can best be describe as an incel mascot t-shirt, standing in a janitor’s closet. So not much by way of a platform. I’m just worried there’s a head in there.

Speaking of people who have a platform and probably shouldn’t, let’s get into Rep. Duncan Hunter’s latest interview with the folks over at Zero Blog Thirty where he defends the actions of Navy SEAL Chief Edward "Eddie" Gallagher by pointing out that he probably killed a lot more civilians himself, so, that’s cool, yeah?

"So how do you judge me?" He responded. "I was an artillery officer and we fired hundreds of rounds into Fallujah, killed probably hundreds of civilians, if not scores, if not hundreds of civilians. Probably killed women and children if there were any left in the city when we invaded. So do I get judged too?"

Cute Stalinist paraphrasing and the problematic parent company for that podcast aside, if your best defense of someone’s war crime is basically “hold my beer,” you’re fucking doing it wrong.

In another hold my beer moment, Detroit is finally going to honor one Pvt. James Robinson, who played a pivotal role in the last battle of the Revolutionary War. But because he was black, that wasn’t good enough.

Robinson had been promised freedom in exchange for fighting. Instead, he remained a slave and was sold in Louisiana. He went on to fight in the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812.

What’d we learn today, kids, besides that ‘murca has a pretty shitty record on race relations?


You know who else will lie?

Chad. He’s on Tinder. That sweet apartment he’s got? Is his mom’s finished basement. You know who wants to be just like Chad? The Taliban. Who really want everyone to believe they’re super interested in peace. But not if that means a ceasefire during Eid.

Last year, the Taliban observed a three-day ceasefire over Eid and many Afghans -- exhausted by decades of war and violence -- had pinned their hopes on another truce this year.

But Akhundzada said: "No one should expect us to pour cold water on the heated battlefronts of jihad or forget our 40-year sacrifices before reaching our objectives."

So maybe they’re not quite Chad. But they’re sure as fuck going to try and convince everyone that they’re ready to come to the table and let women sit there, too. Which is the kind of bullshit they’re going to use to try and get into America’s pants/a piece of the power in Kabul.

Hard to believe they’re still fighting a holy war when they won’t take a break for Eid, though. You know else I have a hard time believing?

Acting Secretary of Defense and journeyman Bond villian Pat Shanahan, who seems to be out of step with his boss on the North Korea thing.

“We acknowledge that North Korea has neared a point where it could credibly strike regional allies, U.S. territory, and our forward-deployed forces," Shanahan said. “North Korea remains an extraordinary threat and requires continued vigilance.”


So either Trump’s letting Shanahan float some talking points to see how the base likes it, or the president’s about to find himself a full-time SecDef, and it’s not Shanahan. Damn shame, ‘cuz this guy’s cosplay game is on point.

Oh, hey, in villains we’ve almost all forgotten about, Chelsea Manning’s trying to get out of jail again. No, not for turning over classified information to Wikileaks, endangering the lives of who knows how many because she got all high and mighty.

No, for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating Wikileaks.

Manning’s lawyers argue now that there’s a separate indictment of founder Julian Assange, that Manning’s testimony in the other case is irrelevant. Plus, she’s not going to change her mind, which is what jailing people for contempt is supposed to accomplish.

Under federal law, a recalcitrant witness can only be jailed for civil contempt if there is a reasonable belief that incarceration will coerce the witness into testifying. If the jail time has no coercive effect and is purely punitive, the recalcitrant witness is supposed to be released.

The kinds of things Manning liked to share with the world? Stuff like airstrike figures against the Islamic State. That’s cool, though, because the coalition’s releasing its own super transparent numbers.

"The coalition conducted 34,502 strikes between August 2014 and the end of April 2019," it said in a statement.

During this period, it "assesses at least 1,302 civilians have been unintentionally killed by coalition strikes".

Bullshit, says Amnesty International.

"The coalition remains deeply in denial about the devastating scale of the civilian casualties caused by their operations in both Iraq and Syria," said Donatella Rovera from the London-based group.

There’s some other stuff still left in the bag, but think some of that can wait until tomorrow. See you then!

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