Monday, 17 April 17
Dear Mr President,
Your remarks Thursday about the dropping of the MOAB bomb seem to be your first public statement about your relationship to the military, and one short paragraph tells me that you need some help. As a former army officer, I thought I might give you a few tips.
"What I do is I authorize(1) my military(2). We have the greatest military in the world(3) and they've done their job as usual. So, we(4) have given them total authorization(5).
1. “I do . . . I authorize”: These present-tense verbs are appropriate for routine, standard acts that you are used to performing – not here, for acts you have just performed for the first time.” They are appropriate for an expert in some field dispensing wisdom to a novice. For example, you might say, “When I go into the girls’ dressing room, I look around and . . .” or “When I want to stiff a contractor who has worked on one of my buildings, I get the lawyers to . . .”
2. “my military”: It’s not yours. It belongs to the country.
3. “greatest military in the world”: The generals who lead this greatest military haven’t forgotten your remarks in the campaign about the generals not knowing what they’re doing. And they aren’t fooled by this nonsense. You need their support. Start treating them with respect.
4. “We”: This is called the “Royal We”. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, it has been considered increasingly pompous for the presidents of democracies. It’s still OK, as Twain said, for kings and people with tapeworms.
Your claim that the generals have “total authorization”, along with your contradictory refusal to acknowledge to the press that you had ordered the mission, are obvious attempts to avoid responsibility for failure
5. “given them total authorization”: The noun you want is “authority”, and the verb is “delegated”. You can delegate operational control and of course grant discretion to the generals about how and precisely when an operations is performed. But the ultimate responsibility remains with you. Your claim that the generals have “total authorization”, along with your contradictory refusal to acknowledge to the press that you had ordered the mission, are obvious attempts to avoid responsibility for failure, as when after that planned-over-dinner-with-Jared raid in Yemen, you said, “They lost Ryan.” But ultimately and legally, you cannot duck a responsibility that has been conferred upon you by the Constitution. Every West Point cadet is made to memorize this principle: “A commander is responsible for everything his unit does or fails to do.” You’re the commander-in-chief, so suck it up and take the responsibility that comes with the power.
Sunday, 16 April 2017
Dear Mr President,
Following the various bombing campaigns you’ve ordered, I’ve been hearing that “There’s a new sheriff in town.” And that reminds me of one of my favorite movies, Blazing Saddles. The new sheriff, Bart, in this case is a black cowboy. When a lynch mob comes after Bart, he pulls out his pistol and points it at his own head, “Next man makes a move, the ni---r gets it!.” The trick works. The mob is horrified at the thought that the man they were going to lynch might be shot, and they back off.
Bart (the black sheriff): [high-pitched voice] “Oooh! He'p me, he'p me! Somebody he'p me! He'p me! He'p me! He'p me!”
Bart: [low voice] “Shut up!”
[Bart places his hand over his own mouth, then drags himself through the door into his office].
The sheriff’s trick of pretending to simultaneously threaten the town with violence and save them from it works because, the people of the town are, as Bart’s friend Jim explains:
Jim: “. . . just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know . . . morons.”
I was reminded of that scene by your threat to blow up Obamacare – which a majority of the country is in favor of – in order to force congressional Democrats to come to you begging to negotiate. If the Democrats are the party that wants to fix Obamacare, and the country as a whole agrees, then where is your pistol aimed?
In other words, the trick may not work for you because the Democrats in Congress – well, most of them, like most of the people in the country – are not morons. They say they are ready to work with you to solve the problems of Obamacare, but if your only alternative to their capitulation is suicide, they may just let you have your way.
There’s another scene you may remember. I’ll paraphrase it here. The governor, intending to whisper to his attorney general, whispers to the sheriff instead until he suddenly realizes whom he's talking to: “Can’t you see he’s a mor - -?”
Saturday, 15 April 17
Dear Mr President,
Out here in Gatos Gordos County, New Mexico, we Republicans are still solidly behind you and all your programs – the Wall, the Elimination of Medicaid, the Tax Relief for the Rich, the Bombing of Wherever, the Obama and Susan Rice Spy scandals – but I just wanted to give you a heads-up that there are subversive elements determined to see things differently. Some strangers with foreign-sounding names (Gomez and Flores and like that) were in the Retrofit the other day, drinking Mexican beer and spinning conspiracy theories. We suspect them of being Democrats from over in Corazones Sangrantes, so what can you expect?
One crazy theory is that your 180 degree turn this week to harsh words for Putin (repeated simultaneously by Rex in Moscow and by Eric in Ayrshire) does not rebut the Collusion-with-the-Russians theory, but actually confirms it
One crazy theory is that your 180 degree turn this week to harsh words for Putin (repeated simultaneously by Rex in Moscow and by Eric in Ayrshire) does not rebut the Collusion-with-the-Russians theory, but actually confirms it, since it will throw everybody off the scent and they’ll say, “Hey, look, he’s criticizing the Russians, so that proves there’s no collusion, so call off the investigation!” When what’s really happening is that you and Putin have just agreed to pretend to have a falling out, but you’re really like, “Hey, let’s put off sanctions relief for a couple of months and say unkind stuff about one another, and that will throw the FBI off the scent. What a bunch of chuckleheads!”
The other fake-news fantasy they were tossing about is that it can’t be just a coincidence that three shadowy figures – Flynn, Manafort, and Page, all with big-money Russian connections dating from way before your campaign even started– ended up on the campaign staff – like, “Yo! There had to be some bad dudes in Russia pushing them onto Trump or some bad dudes in Trumpland recruiting them from Putin.”
We sent Big Lester over to lean on their table. Then they went away.
I think this problem might be getting beyond Sean (duh?) and even Kellyanne – is she even still around? You might want to get Jared on it when he finishes up that other stuff.
Friday, 14 April 17
Dear Mr President,
I read in the Daily Telegraph this week that your son Eric took a break from the stresses of running (with brother Donald Jr) the Trump Conglomerocracy to reflect with hereditary Trumpian wisdom on war and peace from the perspective of the 9th green of the Trumpist Turnbury resort in Scotland. Though his experience, like your own, is mostly on the peace side, not having found military life suitable (one suspects the hereditary Trumpistian bone spur), he clearly had imbibed your long thoughts about the importance of other people’s service.
He noted that you were “deeply committed” to a strong military manned by other fathers’ sons, and “a big believer in Reagan’s philosophy of achieving peace through strength.” (Citing Reagan on such matters is always a nice touch, not only because of the Gipper’s famed service during WW II making training films in Hollywood, but because he was the first great leader in history to grasp the principle of achieving peace by beating the bejeezus out of anybody, say, Grenada,who has contradictory ideas.)
“He’s a great thinker, not impulsive,” Eric said, adding that Ivanka had pushed you to reverse, in three days, your long-standing Stay-the Hell-Out-of-Syria policy in favor of . . . we’re not sure yet. Eric, who was on the links when this discussion took place (also absent was Viceroy Jared, who was cleaning up the mess in Iraq), nevertheless could imagine it because of his experience of the philosophical discussions that are regular features of the Trumplucratic breakfast table. “I’m sure she said, ‘Listen, this is horrible stuff.’” And then the missiles were launched.
“He was anti doing anything with Syria two years ago,” Eric said.“Then a leader gasses their own people, women and children, at some point America is the global leader and the world’s superpower has to come forward and act and they did with a lot of support of our allies and I think that’s a great thing.” (According to the Telegraph, he paused to gaze thoughtfully into the distance, as if contemplating great things his father would do. But it turned out he was calculating the distance to the sandtrap.)
Eloquent. Except for the antecedents of the pronouns, eloquent. And, well, the part about America being the global leader “at some point” is a little fuzzy. And which allies were those? But still, I’m sure that the Telegraph’s readers were enlightened and agree that Eric sounded a lot like you. You must be very proud.