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April 06, 2020

Comments

Two quick reads from the Navy Times opinions pages:

https://www.navytimes.com/opinion/2020/04/06/in-speaking-truth-to-power-captain-crozier-made-us-proud/

...and an especially interesting bit of historicizing:

https://www.navytimes.com/news/your-navy/2020/04/04/theodore-roosevelt-captain-followed-in-footsteps-of-ships-namesake-by-writing-bombshell-letter/

My thought is that the Navy has been suffering a bit of a crisis for a while, at least from what I have seen back channel from vets. No one is happy with the way that the SEALs have gone Hollywood to the detriment of discipline or with the careerism at the top.

Granted, I am not a vet, so I'm just getting what filters through my particular set of acquaintances, and they lean towards the iconoclastic and critical. Make of that what you will.

There's an old argument about torture, that it should remain illegal even if there are a few cases where it's justified. Only those willing to risk imprisonment will do it, throwing themselves on the mercy of prosecutors and judges and juries.

I see this a bit the same way. Crozier *did* violate rules about chain of command and (more important IMO) operational security. Those rules *are* important. What he did was also laudable, perhaps even heroic. He knew he would have to face the music, and he did what he thought was right anyway. AFAICT the uniformed officers in his chain of command appreciated this, and were willing to make an allowance for it. He might not have gotten promoted for a while, but he wouldn't have been relieved of command either.

Unfortunately, apparatchik Modly overruled the people who actually understand military leadership and discipline. On top of that decided to emulate his boss and be a total *dick* about it in his speech on board the ship. He's the one who should be cashiered, because what he did will have a far worse effect on morale and discipline and general combat readiness than anything Crozier did.

It is highly unusual for a secretary of the Navy to personally order the commanding officer of a deployed warship fired — normally this action, if required, would be taken by uniformed leaders in the chain of command. It is even more unusual for him to hold a press conference about it. And it is unprecedented for the reasons for a firing to be so thin.

Even more unusual than a press conference is for the Secretary of the Navy (actually, anybody on the chain of command, but especially SecNav) to give a speech (over the shipwide PA system) in which the outgoing CO is slandered to the troops. If anything, the military goes out of its way to avoid negative comments about a CO who has been relieved of command. (The obvious exception being one who got Court Marshalled, or resigned from the service to avoid that.)

I could maybe see it, if the goal was to convince the troops that their problems had been recognized and their terrible commander was being replaced by someone who they could respect. But from the sendoff that Captain Corzier got when he left, this was quite the opposite of that situation. Indeed, the Secretary of the Navy seemed particularly upset that the troops had made it so obvious that they thougjt he had been a good commander.

Trump's pardoning and praising individuals guilty of war crimes had already done damage to the military. This has made it worse. Soldiers and sailors routinely gripe about their civilian superiors being unclear (at best) about the military and how it functions. Not that they object to the principle of civilian control of the military. Just wish it was more intelligently exercised sometimes.

But this has gotten to a whole new level of ignorance and misuse. Perhaps not surprising, considering Trump and his boys' track record across the government. But terrible nonetheless.

I have never served in the military, and have at best tangential exposure to military ethics and values via professional assignments I've had over the years.

So, I speak as a civilian. Apply grains of salt as required.

What I think is that a fish rots from the head down.

What I think is that a fish rots from the head down.

And the cogent question (for the military, but not just for the military) is: How far will the rot get before we can lop the head off? In other words, just how big a clean-up are we facing? Other than "Huge!", which we know without digging.

Also hiding in the covid-19 noise: Trump has fired the intelligence IG. For having the bad judgement to do his job precisely as required by law. He wasn't trying to serve two masters, but the one he chose didn't happen to be Trump.

The ultimate master politicians and bureaucrats try to ignore is the Constitution.

One thing I think we all lack here is the relevant level of command experience. A naval captain is an immensely high military position: as a commanding officer of a carrier, he has some 5,000 subordinates. I have some military experience as an officer, but I, honestly, don't really have any insight in how a carrier captain should work informally with his commanding officers. That kind of thing is cultural: you learn those things by attending the necessary schools, and serving on staffs. I would say that to understand how things work on captain level, you need to be at least a lieutenant commander with relevant experience. Even then, you have not really seen the most intimate parts of the interaction.

So, we cannot really judge Crozier or his actions because we don't know the relevant cultural norms. How many of us know even the names and official and inofficial uses of different message systems that are available for a commanding officer of a carrier?

That's a good point, but it sounds like you want to throw up your hands, whereas I think it is important to learn about it, but if I'm misreading you, my apologies.

Here is his bio
https://www.public.navy.mil/surfor/lcc19/Pages/Bio1-9June2017-16June2018.aspx

It doesn't say when he started as captain, though this article
https://www.chicagotribune.com/coronavirus/ct-nw-nyt-captain-crozier-coronavirus-20200405-6txtfzpcarcsnfk575ye7xu4wi-story.html

says it was in November.

As I said, I'm getting my information and I'm sure there is a skew to it. But I would like to see why there was no investigation, a timeline and some transparency. But in these times, transparency is like PPE, something that is in short supply.

I was a bit surprised that Modly was also an Annapolis graduate. But Pompeo was a West Point grad, (though one thing I saw that I cannot locate is that he fits a profile of people who go to a military academy, do the minimum required service and then tout their military experience in the corporate world, a type that had a name, but I can't remember it) Anyway, what this suggests, if this was simply revenge for relating bad news, is that we need to stop thinking that the military man is not going to save the day.

Independent of the merits of the case, Modly seems to be working on the principle of 'dem Führer entgegenarbeiten'*, i.e. not to wait for orders from the boss but to anticipate him and to do what you expect him to expect from you because the boss is reluctant to give direct orders (and maybe even leave a paper trail).
The hearsay evidence seems to imply exactly that.

*the main reason given by reputable historians for why there were so few explicit orders for atrocities from the Nazi leadership (but enough at the lower levels). Disreputable historians like David Irving used it as 'proof' that e.g. Hitler was completely out of the loop concerning the holocaust (before he began to deny that there was a holocaust to start with).

Lurker:

If we can't judge because we don't know the context ourselves, we should look to those who do. AFAICT Crozier's uniformed superiors, all the way up to the chief of naval operations, have expressed dismay at Modly's intrusion on what has traditionally been an internal matter. The speech in particular has drawn the ire of several veterans, admirals and such who surely know what the norms are. Literally all of the people who would know what you want them to know seem to be defending Crozier and condemning Modly. What does that tell you?

It is not at all surprising that he was replaced. It was what he knew would happen. That's what makes it a selfless act.

The idea that there is a lack of transparency anywhere in the administration, or government in general at this point is ludicrous.

I cant imagine any President surviving the publishing of every conversation he has, including those in the Situation Room. Presidents have to be able to have frank discussions with advisors in confidence, just like every other leader in the world. Government, business whatever.

Trump is by himself his worst enemy in that regard, his administration doesnt even u understand confidentiality and anytime they do try to keep something confidential its immediately leaked.

Aside from his shortcomings, this is what a transparent Presidency looks like, a shitshow.

Aside from his shortcomings, this is what a transparent Presidency looks like, a shitshow.

Aside from his shortcomings? I get that there's going to be controversy or infighting no matter who's president, but "aside from his shortcomings" is like describing a snowstorm while putting aside the snow.

Well hsh, I disagree. There are tons of things he has done that we spend hours discussing what he wanted to do, but didnt.if those conversations were treated like prior Presidencies it wouldnt look like nearly as bad as it does. People sometimes talk like, as you've noted, no one ever aggressively disagreed in the privacy of the Oval or the Situation Room before.

So it makes him look worse, him being bad enough in the first place. At some level it also negatively impacts the quality of advice he gets.

"So it makes him look worse, him being bad enough in the first place. At some level it also negatively impacts the quality of advice he gets."

Somehow I doubt that WH "transparency" is the main negative impact on "the quality of advice [Trump] gets."

Most transparent administration, huh?

How come it's only coming out now that Peter Navarro's memo warning that the US's unpreparedness for the likely pandemic could imperil millions of American lives was circulating in the West Wing in late January, at the same time Trump was downplaying the virus?

It does rather remind me of Condoleeza Rice's testimony when she had to admit that in the first few days of the Dubya presidency a memo was circulated headlined something like Bin Laden's Plan to Mount a Major Terrorist Attack in the US. So yes, not unprecedented levels of concealment.

In the meantime, I am trying to track down the article I read this morning about Trump's financial interest in the company that makes Hydroxychloroqine....

I didn't say anything about Orange boy and while I think this flows from the kind of environment he has created, I'm more interested in knowing what happened in regard to Captain Crozier. As the article points out

"Regarding the competence of the Navy’s response, Modly stated that nearly 3000 appropriate off-ship accommodations had been made available for crewmembers and that sailors were being tested for COVID-19, the ship was being cleaned, and a skeleton crew was remaining aboard to safeguard the ship — essentially the plan recommended by Crozier in his letter. When asked if these actions would have been taken without Crozier’s letter, the acting secretary mentioned that many of the actions required lead-times longer than would have been possible if they had begun only with receipt of the letter.

While plausible, this raises a question: Why would Crozier have sent the letter if he had known that these actions were underway and that he was receiving the support he needed? After all, he had little to gain if he knew the actions were already underway, and much to lose. At best, this suggests that senior Navy leaders hadn’t communicated effectively to Crozier the full scope of response measures underway. But, given the lack of candor and transparency in Modly’s other responses, this also raises questions as to whether the letter may indeed have been the impetus for the Navy’s actions. And the delayed pace of the Navy’s response since Crozier’s relief suggests that Modly may have exaggerated the resources available to care for the crew."

Just to say this directly, I'm not making this about he who I won't name, you are. So if you want to argue that he's being held to a standard that no other president has been, that's your privilege, but realize that when I read this statement
"There are tons of things he has done that we spend hours discussing what he wanted to do, but didnt." I have to ask 'who's this we, kemosabe?'

See lj, it's an irrelevant question He publicly went around the chain of command. As aofficer there is no room for that in the military.

We, is everyone on this blog and every commenter and every news person in the country. It's a pretty broad we.

Well hsh, I disagree.

I think it's pretty much impossible to separate the incompetence of the Trump administration from the general incompetence of Trump himself.

It's a much leakier organization then, for example, Obama's was. That's mostly because Obama was a very effective executive and had good organizational discipline. I'm leaving aside the issue of whether the relative transparency of Obama's administration was a good or bad thing.

Trump's a bad president because Trump doesn't have the chops - the temperament, skill set, or even the inclination - to be a good president. Further explanation isn't really required.

this flows from the kind of environment he has created

My understanding, based on not very much information, is that Modly took the actions he did to more or less pre-empt what he assumed Trump's actions would be.

"relative lack of transparency of Obama's administration"

My Dad was career Navy, Annapolis Class of '44, who entered the fleet in '43, for obvious reasons. He retired in 1970. The chain of command IS a big deal in the military but it is a big deal in pretty much any hierarchical organization. You don't go around your boss, you go through your boss.

Based on the limited information we have, my money is on Capt. Crozier doing what he did because he'd exhausted his other, traditional and legal, lines of relief to no good end and like a good officer, when it comes down to it, does what's best for his subordinates regardless of the personal price the officer pays.

As Lurker correctly states, you don't get to be captain of an aircraft carrier without being a capital "O" Outstanding Officer. To get to that level, you've shown not only tremendous military savvy but also the ability to navigate (intentional pun) the vagaries of military and civilian politics.

IOW, someone who meets these criteria to qualify as an aircraft carrier captain is the polar opposite of someone who pops off in public without running all the traps and thoroughly exploring all other options first.

And, it's not clear to me that Capt. Crozier actually went outside the chain of command. Does anyone have evidence that he put his letter in the public domain?

To think that the on-board admiral didn't know that CV was on the ship is just stupid. The captain and the admiral talk every day, many times a day. The admiral had the opportunity to do the right thing. Indulging in the presumption of innocence, let's assume that the admiral was also outspoken up the chain about the threat his ship's crew was facing. Evidence that he did so will come when, after exhausting his internal lines of communication, he resigns in protest due to the treatment accorded Capt. Crozier.

The admiral or someone above the admiral, chickened out for fear of taking a career hit. Capt. Crozier stepped up to the plate.

This is the direct and proximate result of having a full blown, clinical narcissist in office who confuses the military with his own Praetorian Guard. You don't make the man look bad without paying a price. The alumni of former Trump administration personnel fired for not kissing the ring is a large and growing group.

However, despising Trump, his cult and the corruption and sycophancy that now defines our executive branch does not make socialism or progressivism the obvious default position. We do not live in a binary world.

Excellent comment, McKinney, despite that bit of straw at the end. ;^)

See lj, it's an irrelevant question He publicly went around the chain of command. As aofficer there is no room for that in the military.

Feel free to set out your qualifications as an observer of the military.

We, is everyone on this blog and every commenter and every news person in the country. It's a pretty broad we.

You are the one who brought it up. I believe that the elementary school couplet was he who smelt it, dealt it.

What McKinney said.

despite that bit of straw at the end. ;^)

Yeah, I debated including that point, but it seems like when I slam DT, unless I pre-empt, I get a bit of the "then why aren't you a Democrat?".

You are the one who brought it up.

To be fair to Marty, I may have kicked it off with "fish rots from the head down".

Also, thanks McK. Can't even argue with the last bit, whether straw man or no.

I like 'competence' as the obvious default position. Issues and policies can be discussed and debated. Other stuff, less so.

"Both the New York Times and Ian Sams use vague language and omit specifics, making the matter sound potentially nefarious. It turns out that one of the many mutual funds that the president's family trusts invest in holds significant stock from Sanofi.
...
Mutual funds consist of diverse securities packaged together and managed by a fund adviser; it's not as if Trump owns stock in Sanofi directly. What's more, Sanofi makes a lot of different drugs, and its patent on Plaquenil has run out. That means hydroxychloroquine is hardly a big money-maker for the company, and there are abundant other sources where one can get versions of the same drug."

Trump Was Warned in January and February That COVID-19 Could Kill Millions, Cost Trillions: Plus: Trump's rumored stake in hydroxychloroquine, Supreme Court "destroys Fourth Amendment jurisprudence," the 21st century crisis case for libertarianism, and more...

Raising the conversation above 5th grade, good summary mckT.

He did send the letter to a variety of people that were not in his direct chain of command, it did get to the media.

In a couple of years working at headquarters at the company and battalion level as an aide to Master Sergeants, it was always clear what the cost of going outside the chain of command was from a career standpoint. Just one of the practically immutable ways the military maintains discipline. So I have an opinion based on that experience that the Captain would have expected the result because, as you pointed out, he didnt get where he was without understanding those expectations.

It is clear he did not believe that preparations were underway to deal with the issue, or he felt that the solution would not be adequate, or he would not have felt compelled to step outside protocol.

If he did not understand the consequences he should not have been where he was. If he did it was a selfless act of conscience that deserves our highest respect. I tend to lean toward the latter.

"To be fair to Marty, I may have kicked it off with "fish rots from the head down"."

But you weren't complaining about what 'we' were writing. If he doesn't like what 'we' are writing, he can stop tricking out his opinion as some reaction to the oh so terrible state of discouse and take responsiblity for what he writes. 'I disagree and I think X' It isn't really so hard...

Sorry, one more thing. Mostly should have announced he was leaving, thanked him for his service and left it at that.

In the military, of all places, trying to justify the outcome weakens discipline and demeaned the captains choice.

I disagree with the state of discourse is an equally valid opinion.

Obdurodon,

I am not making a point about Crozier's removal. It is quite clear it was a political act by Trump or by his henchman. (I think the "best case" scenario would be SECNAV removing Crozier from command to pre-empt Trump from dismissing the man, which would probably lead to a very public court martial that Trump would lose. That would demonstrate he is half-competent, if amoral.)

I tried to make a point that probably none of us actually knows the culture in which high naval officers work well enough to actually make guesses at what would be organisationally the most respectable way to navigate a situation like this. As McKinney said, Crozier probably did not have any other avenue than this.

However, I really wonder at a culture which makes things like this public. There is something rotten in the US Navy. This debacle is only one in a long series of mistakes that reek of deep organizational problems. If you read the reports on the case of the riverine boat ending on Iranese waters and on well-published collisions, you see that the US Navy is pretty clearly suffers of deep-seated problems.

To say
I disagree with the state of the discourse

when you are trying to make things run off the rails suggests a lack of self-awareness.

I generally let people comment about whatever they want, and I also try to leave posts that are more open to let people put whatever they want to. But I would really appreciate it if you stopped shitting in my posts.

lj, I have no idea why you consider it shitting in your posts. You said:

"As I said, I'm getting my information and I'm sure there is a skew to it. But I would like to see why there was no investigation, a timeline and some transparency. But in these times, transparency is like PPE, something that is in short supply."

I responded that there is no lack of transparency.

Raising the conversation above 5th grade, good summary mckT.

I have no idea why you consider it shitting in your posts.

The lack of self-awareness is stunning.

The Navy has had severe institutional problems at the top for a while now, and the most public face of that has been the SEALs.

Just a sampling, chosen for representative breadth:

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/problem-navy-seal-commander-calls-return-order-discipline/story?id=64731772

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/selling-the-trident-navy-seals-describe-a-culture-in-crisis-in-their-own-words/

https://taskandpurpose.com/analysis/navy-seals-discipline-problem

https://www.defensenews.com/naval/the-drift/2019/07/28/big-navy-must-fix-the-seals-the-drift-vol-xlii/

And I'll add this piece from The Intercept in as well, but I wanted to separate it out because while it doesn't differ much in content from the rest above, its tone and slant are most likely to attract fire for bias:

https://theintercept.com/2019/12/05/donald-trump-eddie-gallagher-navy-seals/

If you want an unfiltered opinion of the SEAL problem, ask a marine scout. I've been hearing shit about this discipline problem since the Obama tenure, shortly after the Bin Laden raid.

Gosh JanieM, did you miss the line I was responding to from lj:

"You are the one who brought it up. I believe that the elementary school couplet was he who smelt it, dealt it."


Look,I apologize for using the term ludicrous, which seems to be the crux of the reaction. I strongly disagree there is a lack of reasonable transparency, even in this case.

It's not just the SEALs. Here in Japan, the USS Fitzgerald incident
https://www.navytimes.com/news/your-navy/2019/01/14/worse-than-you-thought-inside-the-secret-fitzgerald-probe-the-navy-doesnt-want-you-to-read/

occurred, which, when almost immediately followed by the USS John McCain incident,
https://features.propublica.org/navy-accidents/us-navy-crashes-japan-cause-mccain/

Led to the Pacific fleet being stood down.
https://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/cno-orders-navy-wide-pause-broad-review-after-2nd-pacific-collision-in-2-months-1.483806

Ah, I see the problem. I say transparency and you think Trump. They both start with T, so why not

If you read what you quoted, I didn't say ANYTHING about Trump. I don't believe there is any transparency in the discussion of THIS INCIDENT, as was laid out in the article I LINKED TO IN THE GOD DAMNED POST. If you can't bother to read what I post, don't comment. I don't have time to teach you how to understand plain English.

I don't care if you want to defend Trump. It just makes you look like an idiot. I do, however, get fed up when you use misreadings of what I write to go off on your tangents.

I understand lj. Rather than go back and forth I will point you to the comments I made specific to the post.

I am not conceding I unilaterally took this off track, but i did move it further off.

The Trump Administration isn't very 'transparent' (cf., responses to requests for information), but I suspect that Marty is mostly referring Trump himself.

And 'transparent' is not really the correct term. Unfiltered is (IMO) more accurate.

Not sure how many of you saw signs in things like high-school shop classes:

"Make sure BRAIN is operating at full speed before engaging MOUTH"

Trump failed shop class, it's clear.

what are the chances Trump has ever touched a power tool in his life?

"What are the chances Trump has ever touched a power tool in his life?"

Just yesterday during his "I Can't Feel Your Disease" White House campaign whistle stop.

How could ya miss it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxi2dwXHJZY

Transparency:

https://finance.yahoo.com/video/president-donald-trump-removes-independent-174529818.html

I'm in the sixth grade, and I know who the fifth grader is around here. That he was allowed to move on from the 4th grade must be some of that non-judgmental liberal feel-good all children are important nonsense the progressive educational elites have been foisting on us lo these many decades since at least John Dewey:

https://condenaststore.com/featured/im-not-a-metaphor-emily-flake.html

That's some figurative literalness, right c'here.

I'll be back later or maybe tomorrow in case cooler heads start to prevail.

That's what makes it a selfless act.

And, it's not clear to me that Capt. Crozier actually went outside the chain of command. Does anyone have evidence that he put his letter in the public domain?

First, we don't have anywhere near full facts. And I have no military experience but I've read Tom Clancy. So there. But with available info, I don't know that this was a selfless act.

The state of our readiness is critical information. It is also extremely confidential. With China doing what China does in the South China Sea and apparently ramping things up with the opportunity COVID-19 presents, it was all the more important that the letter not get into the public domain.

What I understand is that by disseminating the letter outside of his direct line of command, he increased the risk that it would become public domain. Or actually intended that it would.

He obviously felt very strongly about this, and I would tend to give deference to an officer of his caliber. At the same time, members of the military sign up to put themselves in greater danger so that the rest of us can be safe. This is a nuclear aircraft carrier on deployment. It needs to appear ready to fight even when it is not. The "not a single sailor" line, although true, doesn't work for me in a message that you expect will obtain a broader audience (i.e. one outside his chain of command).

The tone of the letter is didactic and some of the information unnecessary for its purpose. Do you really need to tell your superiors that an aircraft carrier is not the ideal environment to fight COVID-19? It seems it was in fact aimed at a wider audience.

In short, it may have been more selfless to simply tell his superiors the current status of COVID-19, candidly state the operational readiness of the carrier, restate in strong terms his request for assistance, but keep it in house.

the lives of thousands vs the precious system ?

fuck the system.

So the Navy Secretary thought it a good use of his time to fly out to the carrier... to swear at the crew.
And might now resign.
https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/07/thomas-modly-coronavirus-speech-resign-navy-172625

I fully admit that perhaps I don’t understand this whole chain of command thing.

Do you really need to tell your superiors that an aircraft carrier is not the ideal environment to fight COVID-19?

I don't know about the rest of you. But if I've tried getting something done thru channels, and gotten nowhere. Then I decide to lay out the case more broadly. At that point, I lay out all the details of my case -- even those which "everybody knows", because I want the whole thing to cover every piece.

Note also the Mar 30 all hands message from the CNO. He said, in part:

our top three priorities: taking care of you and your families, being mission ready, and supporting the whole-of-government effort
Note that the first priority listed is "taking care of you". And when doing that will improve mission readiness (by getting a healthy crew back in place sooner), there's no real doubt it's what he should have done.

bc - check that second link in the first comment to the thread above. Lots of parallels between Crozier and T.R.

I don't think anyone is surprised that Crozier has been disciplined. I think people, especially military people, are shocked at the way in which this administration has inserted itself into matters of internal discipline and used them for political gain.

Hard to have any discipline when the people at the top have none and are the worst sorts of popinjays.

Preparedness is crucial info, but the response has given away a lot more than readiness. Our military rivals can see the chaos at the top and are sure to continue putting on the pressure to widen the cracks.

No idol with feet of clay here. The administration is entirely made of clay with a thin veneer of gold leaf for promo shots.

BC, after reading your comment, I read Capt. Crozier's letter, which I probably should have done before my original comment.

Fortunately, nothing about his letter suggests--at least to me--that he is addressing a "wider audience"; rather, my take is that he's already given this speech a half dozen times and has either gotten no answer or no useful answer, and since we are not at war, he feels like taking care of his people is a higher priority than staging in the South China Sea.

It is unlikely to the point of fantasy that the PRC is going to make a major move at sea if it thinks the Roosevelt is going to be in dock. Quite frankly, the more likely concern the PRC has right now is the who-knows-how-many sick people it has and what to do going forward.

One can, pretty easily, find out just how close quarters navy life is at sea. Any ship is like the world's largest elevator, and everyone is riding on it. That's why these cruise ships are having such a nightmare, and at least they have separate cabins. Sailors sleep in bunk rooms, eat and work communally. I thought Capt. Crozier's letter did nothing but make eminently reasonable points.

Nigel, good link. Modly is a douche. Capt. Crozier steps up, civilian leadership abandon's ship. Up to 5000 sailors living in a huge petri dish, that is a given. Capt. Crozier offers a solution to an obvious problem--where is the alternative solution?

I'm more convinced than ever that this is a failure of leadership at the top, again, as a result of our president.

I fully admit that perhaps I don’t understand this whole chain of command thing.

I understand it. And have had to go outside it to get crucial information out to people further up the chain of command, who needed to know what was being done in their name, and the name of their government.

Preparedness is crucial info, but the response has given away a lot more than readiness. Our military rivals can see the chaos at the top and are sure to continue putting on the pressure to widen the cracks.

No idol with feet of clay here. The administration is entirely made of clay with a thin veneer of gold leaf for promo shots.

This, this, a thousand times this. And the second para cements nous's current rep for being seriously on fire WRT coining images which are the last word. I'm losing count: "not just an axe to grind but owns the whole foundry", "Schrodinger's scapegoat" and I know damn well I've left at least one or two out. I hope someone else is keeping count.

I'm more convinced than ever that this is a failure of leadership at the top, again, as a result of our president.

Rather hard to work out why anybody would think anything different.

In short, it may have been more selfless to simply tell his superiors the current status of COVID-19, candidly state the operational readiness of the carrier, restate in strong terms his request for assistance, but keep it in house.

BC, apologies for having commented before reading this. I'm of the view that the letter is the result of Capt Crozier having done exactly as you think he should have and gotten nothing in return.

Now, I could be wrong. This could have been the first shot fired. That, of course, would make him a hot-head and a pop-off and incompetent to be commanding a fleet carrier. I don't think he's any of those things.

Regardless, here's my question: if Capt Crozier did exactly as you say he should have and if he got radio silence as a response, what is his next step? Soldier on? Because, what I don't hear coming out of DC, but I could have missed it, is "Hey, this is the first we've heard of you guys having CV on your ship. That's awful.
Why didn't you tell us sooner? Of course, bring your ship in and let's find a place to put your crew!".

I'm in a business where chickenshit is considered just good, clean fun by a certain slice of my colleagues. Slamming someone for the first time with previously undisclosed "facts" when there is limited-to-no time to respond is the way 10-15% of trial lawyers roll. There is almost always a larger, external pattern and context that outs the assholes.

No one is saying, that I can see, that Capt. Crozier blind-sided the Navy with news they'd never before been given. I'm not seeing that larger, external context.

That tells me a lot, and the reason why this pisses me off so much is that, like you, I favor a strong national defense, particularly a cutting edge and larger than necessary navy and air force. When I see this kind of asshattery at the highest levels, I see red.

I understand it.

Not in the military, I should have said, but in a situation with somewhat parallel rules.

What GftNC said about nous being on fire. Wow!

bc - check that second link in the first comment to the thread above. Lots of parallels between Crozier and T.R.

nous: Many parallels in terms of publication, but it doesn't sound like the crew were anywhere near the condition of the troops in Roosevelt's case. I don't know that conflict enough to gauge the need to keep those troops there at that time from a strategic perspective.

And it appears that there were other options available to Crozier and email was not the way to do it if you wanted your superiors to act quickly (e.g. "Naval Message.").

It is unlikely to the point of fantasy that the PRC is going to make a major move at sea if it thinks the Roosevelt is going to be in dock.

This misses the point: (1) Carrier operational status is classified secret, I believe. It's not the CO's call; (2) And it's secret for a reason. Part of the reason the PRC would never think about making a major move is the USN and its presumed operational status.

Carrier operational status is classified secret, I believe. It's not the CO's cal

But if everybody he copied on the email has Secret clearance (as seems likely), then he hasn't violated that.

The person who leaked the email may have. But so far, nobody seems to be putting any effort into even finding out who it was. Beyond determining, as we already have, that Crozier wasn't the one who leaked it to the media.

When I see this kind of asshattery at the highest levels, I see red.

McKinney: I'm assuming, like you, that it was not the first communication. I am assuming, but do not know, that there is a more effective way. William Toti, (retired captain of an attack sub) wrote an op-ed in the WSJ (behind the paywall). I've read other comments by him and he maintains there is a much better way to persist in getting attention (Naval Message) than what he did and feels like Crozier's actions were unacceptable. He also didn't like the congregated crew giving him a sendoff.

So, to answer your question: With the usual "don't know all the facts" disclaimer, he should have persisted in the chain of command until he was removed privately if he felt that strongly about it, not done it in a way that led to the letter going public.

I agree with your "asshattery" statement, if that is in fact what was happening re the response to Crozier's requests before the letter. But even more so is the way they removed him. It should have been done, IMHO, quietly and privately. Modly's comments to the crew simply made the situation worse.

But if everybody he copied on the email has Secret clearance (as seems likely), . .

I don't necessarily disagree if that is the case. But Toti says Crozier attached the letter to an "unclassified email." So . . .

The USS Theodore Roosevelt incident is looking a bit like the top-down authority, bottom-up responsibility that I've accused the CCP of. The port call in Da Nang, Vietnam is looking like a political stunt to annoy the Chinese. Now, Crozier is being blamed for making a port call he was ordered to make. And for the COVID-19 infection, the crew may have picked up there.

"The Navy was well aware it was putting carrier personnel at extreme risk and made faulty preparations in case of infection. A close reading of Captain Crozier’s March 30 letter makes it clear that the Navy did not equip the carrier with either proper testing capabilities or instructions on what to do if anyone got sick. The actual number of infected personnel on the Theodore Roosevelt is not known, but it is thought to be more than 100.

According to a March 12 press release from the US Indo-Pacific Command, “sailors from both ships participated in cultural exchanges and community service projects, including making crafts, playing sports, a language exchange, gardening, and painting” at a variety of locations."
US aircraft carrier should never have been sent to Vietnam: US Navy knew of the risk posed by Covid-19 on board ships but still sent the Theodore Roosevelt to Da Nang


"President Donald Trump criticized the ousted commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt at a press conference on Saturday, calling it "inappropriate" that Capt. Brett Crozier wrote a letter pleading with senior leaders to evacuate COVID-19-infected sailors from his ship while blaming him for making a port call in Vietnam despite the visit being approved at the highest levels of the Navy.

"Now I guess the captain stopped in Vietnam and people got off in Vietnam," Trump said when asked to comment on the Navy's decision to fire Crozier, despite intense admiration among the ship's crew of roughly 4,000 sailors.

"Perhaps you don't do that in the middle of a pandemic or something that looked like it was going to be. History says you don't necessarily stop and let your sailors get off, number one," Trump added, criticizing Crozier for conducting a port call he was ordered to make by Adm. Phil Davidson, the commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command."
Trump blames Capt. Crozier for stopping in Vietnam and calls letter to Navy leadership 'inappropriate'

I am assuming, but do not know, that there is a more effective way.

Why would you make that assumption, given the current administration and the apparent and reasonably inferable fact that what Capt. Crozier said was apparently "not news" to anyone upstairs? Do you think there was another way, but that Capt. Crozier, for reasons not yet evident, decided to publicly fall on his sword, and if so, to what end? If there was a better way, it would be irrational not to take it.

William Toti, (retired captain of an attack sub) wrote an op-ed in the WSJ (behind the paywall). I've read other comments by him and he maintains there is a much better way to persist in getting attention (Naval Message) than what he did and feels like Crozier's actions were unacceptable. He also didn't like the congregated crew giving him a sendoff.

I suspect Capt. Toti retired before having the privilege of serving under our current C-in-C. If nothing else isn't crystal clear, it is that no one subject to DT's reach is permitted to question him much less embarrass him. I suspect Capt. Toti has not walked in the shoes of Capt. Crozier, i.e. in the Time of Trump, and I do not think his valid, but historical, defense of Capt. McVay is equivalent.

I quit watching TV years ago. Now that we along with most of the country are self-quarantining, I was induced to watch TV by my beloved spouse. It was a C-Span live DT and Co dog and pony show about CV. Not only is DT patently, clinically narcissistic, he's pretty stupid--almost clown-like in his lack of situational awareness--and, outside his limited world, has a vocabulary that lines up well with Molly, my chocolate lab. But the worse was the way everyone was required to fawn over DT, to thank him for his leadership, to go on and on about his contribution to the fight against CV. It was an embarrassment.

I cannot help but believe that DT's style has permeated the senior military leadership. Those with the real backbone have stepped down. The compromises others have to be making make me nauseous to think about.

Again, referring to my own career, narcissists are not unheard of in the legal community. Since most of my clients are corporations, I deal with in-house legal, of whom 99% are competent and professional. But, from time to time, I get a mini-Trump, or someone not too far off. Life is to short. I fire those clients. They aren't worth it.

he maintains there is a much better way to persist in getting attention (Naval Message) than what he did and feels like Crozier's actions were unacceptable. He also didn't like the congregated crew giving him a sendoff.

That latter seems to have particularly outraged the civilians. It's unheard of for that to happen spontaneously, as it apparently did in this case. And shows up the SecNav (and the rest of the civilians leaders) for exactly the kind of clueless assh*les that they are.

Modly resigned!

Modly resigned!

Next up: Acting Navy Secretary Jared Kushner.

He also didn't like the congregated crew giving him a sendoff.

This alone renders his judgement not worth the paper it was printed on. Quite apart from McKinney's (absolutely correct) 05.31, this was the only way the crew could show their gratitude to someone who (quite properly) had prioritised their welfare to his own detriment. In exceptional circumstances (i.e. the service being headed by an incompetent, stupid, narcissist or his appeasers), the men were right to express themselves and indicate to the world what they thought of their captain, since that was the only (comparatively benign and symbolic) avenue open to them. I have no doubt it meant a lot to Crozier, and that alone made it worthwhile.

And what wj said.

Next up: Acting Navy Secretary Jared Kushner.

Literally made me laugh out loud.

And McKinney: the world has been watching those DJT performances. Quite apart from what all this does to America's standing internationally, can you imagine what the rest of the world makes of his climbing domestic approval ratings? It is, and I use this word advisedly, incomprehensible.

Quite apart from what all this does to America's standing internationally, can you imagine what the rest of the world makes of his climbing domestic approval ratings? It is, and I use this word advisedly, incomprehensible.

American standing internationally has been done for long since. However, I don't think the approval ratings will hold.

Morning all. Just to clarify, two masters was precisely the situation that Crozier was in. Given what we know about the virus. on a ship where it is impossible to maintain social distance, he can either do what he did or keep trying to get his higher ups to change their mind. It is the basic conflict that the Iliad is based around. Agamemnon and Achilles are both correct, Agamemnon for saying that he is due the deference of Achilles as ἄναξ, which implies his connection to the gods, and Achilles, because he is the first among equals.

As I said, I haven't any lived experience in the military, but I do know that the hierarchy is what it is about. Perhaps it might have been clearer if I could have quoted the twitter thread that observed that both sides are right. Viewed from the level of Crozier's decision and his firing, I think that is true. Viewed from the larger context, I think you all know what I think, so I don't need to belabor it.

So whether this was some top down nonsense or not is not really my concern (though I point out that true to form, following CharlesWT's links, Trump is a total coward who is trying to have it both ways and if you can't see that, you are an idiot), but I understand if some may want to hash that out. Whatevs.

At any rate, Modly has resigned.
https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/07/thomas-modly-coronavirus-speech-resign-navy-172625

which is probably related to the speech he gave
https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/491510-navy-secretary-modlys-aircraft-carrier-speech-misfires-badly

A lot of the speech reporting drops out a lot of context that I think is important, in that Modly flew 8000 miles to the carrier, came on board and addressed the crew using the ship's intercom. I also got a laugh out of Esper's send off of Modly from the first link, which was
"He resigned on his own accord, putting the Navy and Sailors above self so that the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and the Navy as an institution, can move forward," Esper said in a statement.

That's got to be hard to dictate that when your tongue is poking out of your cheek...

The content of Modly's speech is also interesting rhetorically, with a number of tropes that are interesting, including the invocation of China (seeming to imply that this virus is part of a war by making an equivalence between being afraid under fire and being afraid of this virus) and the “You are under no obligation to love your leadership, only to respect it". So too was the accusation of Crozier 'did this on purpose' which suggests that Modly thinks that Crozier is viewing all this thru the lens that either you are for us or against us.

Almost every modern movie related to war has a scene where a character talks about how combat provides clarity: It turns the world into an us vs. them and makes decisions that one has to pause over in other times assume a black and white clarity. Oftentimes the character(s) end up longing for that clarity, and finding themselves adrift when it isn't there. Trying to get that clarity is why philosophers post trolley track problems and strip out context in order to arrive at a clearly defined choice. But to get that clarity in the real world, you generally have to create an us vs them situation. The fact that it happened in this situation and not in some sort of combat tells us a lot about where we are.

Oh, and I just saw wj's comment about the civilians getting angry about the send off Crozier got. I find it astonishing that Modly isn't really a civilian, he was Annapolis class of 83. And it's not like he was sent out there to tell of the crew, if he really didn't like it, would he have flown 8000 miles to deliver a rant?

https://www.navy.mil/navydata/bios/bio.asp?bioID=1031

I haven't any lived experience in the military, but I do know that the hierarchy is what it is about.

What sometimes confuses outsiders is that the military is formally and officially very hierarchical. But with a variety of informal and unofficial caveats, exceptions, and ways of doing business which ignore that hierarchy when necessary. It works -- and working is really what it's all about. But when the nonheirarchical bits come to light, it can be a bit of a shock.

..., can you imagine what the rest of the world makes of his climbing domestic approval ratings?

Leaders in most countries have climbing domestic approval ratings at the moment, deserved or not.

if he really didn't like it, would he have flown 8000 miles to deliver a rant?

Perhaps he thought just getting on the ship's PA would be less public outside the ship than addressing the crew remotely. And he may have felt that, given Trump's likely reaction to the crew's sendoff of their captain, he may have felt a rant was necessary. A 8,000 mile trip isn't the greatest exertion his toadies have made, trying to keep Trump calmed down.

Leaders in most countries have climbing domestic approval ratings at the moment, deserved or not.

And Trump's have risen far less than most. Actually less than any I have seen reports of.

Perhaps he thought just getting on the ship's PA would be less public outside the ship than addressing the crew remotely.

Operational circumstances may have required it. But it seems to me that using the PA, instead of addressing an on deck formation, would be piling insult on insult.

Working in Japan, I understand that there is hierarchy and there is hierarchy. And figuring out those side doors, booby traps etc etc is survival 101. But when these things burst out in the open, they are really revealing.

Not wanting to get in the weeds, Hartmut's point about the furoregegettingbangbang (just kidding, it was dem Führer entgegenarbeiten, but I can't resist making a joke about German morphology) is what I think we are seeing.

But the worse was the way everyone was required to fawn over DT, to thank him for his leadership, to go on and on about his contribution to the fight against CV. It was an embarrassment.

I cannot help but believe that DT's style has permeated the senior military leadership. Those with the real backbone have stepped down.

That is, and has been for a while now, the entire administration.

And increasingly the judiciary.

And it's not like he was sent out there to tell of[f?] the crew, if he really didn't like it, would he have flown 8000 miles to deliver a rant?

I don't understand this point, lj. Do you think he didn't really mind Crozier's sendoff?

And Trump's have risen far less than most. Actually less than any I have seen reports of.

Ah, I didn't know this, wj. But the fact remains, that almost 50% of the American public approve of his performance, even after they've seen its inadequacy play out in a national crisis. After all, you've got to figure quite a lot of them must be familiar with "kid who hasn't done his assignment and is just bullshitting" syndrome (snark/shade), and since his "ratings" are so good, they're actually watching it, and still approving (whereas one could always rationalise that his previous approval ratings were just MAGA people approving on principle). As I said, incomprehensible.

Nigel: And increasingly the judiciary.

Brett Kavanaugh comes readily to mind. I kept harping on the fact that his public licking of He, Trump's pasty ass the night of his nomination should have been disqualifying from the get-go, but the McConnell GOP decided that "not a rapist" was qualification enough.

I have been referring to "He, Trump" for so long that I almost forgot why. It's a sort of reverse homage to "I, Claudius". Claudius became emperor after the assassination of Caligula, who bears a closer resemblance to He, Trump than Claudius ever did. And what was the proximate motivation for Caligula's murder? According to the Robert Graves novel, if not actual history, it was this: Caligula took to humiliating his generals by making them use embarrassing "watchwords" every day. Apparently 1st-century Roman generals had more self respect than the McConnell GOP does.

--TP

And here I thought you were using the symbol for helium, TP, to represent the inflationary aspects of Trump's ego (and it's YUGE!). But then I guess I didn't reflect upon the fact that helium is non-toxic, inert and a noble gas. Yet it is very simple as elements go and it does make one sound funny if you inhale and talk, so there is that.

OT, but a topic of recent conversation nonetheless. Apparently John Prine has passed away.

Hope he's drinking that cocktail and smoking that cigarette nine miles long.

Thank you for the music, John.

I'm growing to hate this nasty SOB virus.

I don't understand this point, lj. Do you think he didn't really mind Crozier's sendoff?

I guess my point is that this is not a case of Modly thinking this is something he was forced to do. Maybe he thought that if he jumped on a military plane and did an intercom address, he felt it would solve problem X? But I cannot see what the problem could be that he would have thought that this was a good idea.

I'm growing to hate this nasty SOB virus

But I cannot see what the problem could be that he would have thought that this was a good idea.

I suspect Modly's "thought" process went something like this:

  • Captain Crozier wouldn't just cover up his covid-19 problem. When normal channels wouldn't get action, he wrote an email.
  • He didn't send it to the media, but it got leaked. And it made the Trump administration look like it was refusing to take the problem seriously. And was not supporting the military.
  • Of course, that got Trump upset, to the Captain had to go. Obvious.
  • BUT, then the crew had to go and give him that send off like a ticker tape parade. Naturally, that was going to make Trump go ballistic. Not only was it (subtly) thumbing their noses at the SecNav, especially his supposed reason for relieving their captain. But worse, it was someone not-Trump, and not a Trump toady, getting cheered.
  • Only chance to keep Trump of Modly's back -- go out and read the crew the riot act before Trump lands on him.
The problem being solved being the reaction of the toddler-in-chief. So Modly went. And gave the kind of crude rant Trump would imagine doing. (Too gutless to do in person, of course. But he likes imagining he would.)

Maybe not what Modly was thinking. But it fits the facts and the personalities involved.

In case you missed today's White House pep talk from Trump and his phalanx of fully absorbed soul-killed zombie experts, you can spot Kudlow, Navarro, that's probably Kelly Anne shitmouthing, and damned iffn I can't hear Marty practicing his next comment at OBWI out loud somewheres in the choir of dissonant howling Evil in there, calling for the defunding of WHO:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ita4YBhxXEY

Preview of tomorrow's calming uplifting briefing from Trump. I believe he will speak redneck eloquently regarding the need to look in the mirror and continue the cessation of all national food and meat inspection, now retired, per the long-term goals of the subhuman conservative for the country these many decades, after COVID-19 kills as many niggers, and chinks and liberals as possible in MAGA-Land.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wO21q7DWgSE

..., calling for the defunding of WHO

Well, when you pay an organization half a billion dollars per year and they front for China...

https://www.facebook.com/Yourdailysmiles/videos/quarantine-day-12-hiding-in-the-closet-/502069987363855/?__so__=permalink&__rv__=related_videos

You'll want to turn up the sound on this; it wins the internet for the entire plague of 2020-21.

They didn't have this during the Black Death.

Who you fronting for, Charles?

You really don't like China, do you Charles? Did you get yelled at Chinese waitstaff when you asked for ketchup?

I'm just fine with China. It's the CCP I don't care for.

But if you say "Well, when you pay an organization half a billion dollars per year and they front for the CCP", it's a bit different, don't you think?

A White House shitmouthman this morning, when asked to comment on the tragic death of John Prine from Covid-19, grotesquely contorted her Estee Lauder layered face mask attempting to barely stifle a visible smirk and a snort from the nose and said, alas, we are saddened by the loss of Prine to the music world, in fact we'll miss his concerts where some of Donald Trump's base so enjoy spreading fatal contagion, but we also view his passing as one less vote for Joe Biden.

..., calling for the defunding of WHO

Well, when you pay an organization half a billion dollars per year and they front for China...

Of course, at the time Trump himself was being pretty damn laudatory about China's efforts on covid-19. Doesn't really leave him room to talk. Or wouldn't if his memory of what he said (about anything) stretched back more that 15 minutes or so.

and... Bernie's out.

we have our ham sandwich. citizens, do your duty.

Until I hear it from McKinney that we haven't elected a Socialist as the Democratic Presidential candidate AND that he will follow through on his thoroughly provisional, head-fakey claim a while ago here that he "could" for Biden, like I'm going to, despite voting for Warren in the primary, because I'm a little angry that I didn't become a dreaded "Socialist", whatever that is, before losing $100,000 grand in the stock market over a six-week period, and then making back maybe 40% of it once "Socialism", whatever that is, was declared the de facto trump conservative republican approach to pestilence and penury a few weeks ago .... take a breath .. I'm not believing anything about the existence of ham sandwiches as the centerpiece of the catastrophic picnic America is headed for.

The WHO and China. Politics seems to be involved. Who coulda' known?

because I'm a little angry that I didn't become a dreaded "Socialist", whatever that is,

Socialists: the PRC, Vietnam, the USSR, the Warsaw Pact, N Korea, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and other peace-loving gardens spots that don't come to mind right now. I hope this helps.

Will I vote for Biden? Maybe.

Any distinction between socialists and communists? Serious question. I've read what I would characterize as the theoretical differences, but I'm still kind of fuzzy on where the fuzzy line is in practice. (Yes, both I and the line are fuzzy.) I don't see communism having any real meaning if you only get there by no longer needing the state because everything's worked out so well among the people.

No private property, maybe? No private industry or enterprise whatsoever?

(Apologies if this belongs elsewhere.)

I very highly recommend the wonderfully written book I'm reading at the moment by Sinclair McKay "The Fire and The Darkness --The Bombing of Dresden 1945" a irreplaceable addition to the corpus of World War II histories.

Its depictions of the on the ground events and the in the air events are perhaps the finest I've encountered.

A very, very young Freeman Dyson, fresh from a brief interlude at Cambridge before joining the war effort, and a dedicated pacifist, joined Britain's Bomber Command's Operational Research Section to look at their new god-awful, but perhaps necessary approach to fire storming German cities, with civilians now on the list of targets for total destruction.

He was presented with moral difficulties, to say the least, and this passage tracks the evolution of his thinking during his duty, and I'm quoting it to compare it word for word with the decades-long evolution of this once registered republican's (me) moral thinking about what to do with the malignant trump republican conservative movement and its ruination of my country. Every day that passes, every press conference, every well laid plan to steal the election in November, see Wisconsin, during a fucking goddamned pandemic, reinforces my certainty:

"Since the beginning of the war I had been retreating step by step from one moral position to another, until at the end I had no moral position at all. At the beginning of the war I .... was morally opposed to all violence. After a year of war I retreated and said, 'Unfortunately, nonviolent resistance against Hitler is impracticable, but I am still opposed to bombing.' A few years later I said, 'Unfortunately, it seems that bombing is necessary in order to win the war, and so I am will to go to work for Bomber Command, but I am still morally opposed to bombing cities indiscriminately.' After I arrived at Bomber Command I said, "Unfortunately, it turns out that we are after all bombing cities indiscriminately, but this is morally justified as it helping to win the war." A year later I said, "Unfortunately it seems that our bombing is not really helping to win the war, but at least I am morally justified in working to save the lives of the bomber crews."

He concluded: "in the last spring of the war I could no longer find any excuses."

Socialists: also Sweden, Denmark, etc.

"Socialism" -- IMMV

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