Monday, October 23, 2017

From the Archives, 1967: Who dares criticize a 4-star general?

Editors' Note: The recent effort by White House Press Secretary and Girl Who Blackballed You from Her Sorority Because Your Name Ended With a Vowel Sarah Huckabee to elevate a retired general to the level of infallibility enjoyed by the Pope reminded us that there were other times when those who dared question the wisdom of four-star Generals paid a rich price for their effrontery, as this dispatch from 1967 shows.


By Douglas MacArthur
War Correspondent
with material from The New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 – General William Westmoreland, Commander of US Forces in Vietnam, today told Congress and the Administration that the United States was gaining the upper hand in Vietnam and at the current rate of victory more troops would be needed for another two years at most.

Westmoreland said he had “never been more encouraged in my four years in Vietnam,” as he stepped off his military jet in Hawaii on his way back to brief President Johnson and other Administration officials.

The New York Times reported that Administration officials had been hoping that Gen. Westmoreland's claims of steady progress would offset reports from fake-news media on the scene in Vietnam that the war was stalemated and victory was nowhere in sight.

At present there are 467,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam, with another 45,000 on the way.

Some are questioning Gen. Westmoreland's claims
of a great victory at Dak To
The optimistic assessments from Gen. Westmoreland come as news of the bloody, inconclusive battles in Dak To and the surrounding Central Highlands reached the U.S., with some questioning the value of sending U.S. forces into the back country as ambush bait and then withdrawing them from the militarily-useless hills and bases they had bought dear with their blood.

Appearing on Meet the Press, the highly-decorated four-star General told NBC News that U.S. and South Vietnamese forces were “winning the war of attrition” and said it was “conceivable” that troops could start to withdraw if the war continued at the same tempo for another two years.

His views were echoed by U.S. Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker, who also appeared on the venerable Sunday morning softball tournament.  Ambassador Bunker took the opportunity once again to bash the media for creating the “erroneous impression” that the U.S. was not winning the war.

The veteran U.S. envoy cautioned the media and anti-war protesters from second-guessing the statements or methods of General Westmoreland, saying that questioning a four-star general was disruptive, disrespectful, and arguably unpatriotic.  He praised the willingness of Gen. Westmoreland to take questions from reporters who were not themselves related to troops who had given their lives in Vietnam or elsewhere.

President Lyndon B. Johnson, in a testy news conference yesterday, relied heavily on Gen. Westmoreland's upbeat assessment in rallying support for the war, which has touched a new low of 23% in the Harris Poll.  The President responded to critics by citing the General, warning so-called “Nervous Nellies” not to question the judgment or integrity of a four-star general.

“There is nothing more dangerous in time of war than doubting the veracity of the generals who are fighting it, ” the President said.

Vietnam War boosters say that Gen.
Westmoreland wears his credibility
on his shoulders
But critics within the Pentagon point out that the North Vietnamese have committed only one-fifth of its 250,000-strong Army and think that up to 1,000,000 American troops may need to fight for five years to attain victory.

President Johnson told the nation that Gen. Westmoreland had personally assured him that such gloomy predictions were “about as stupid as thinking your landlord should run for President because you like the marble in the lobby.”

The public remains unconvinced that the Johnson Administration is on the right track, despite the optimism expressed by Gen. Westmoreland.  In fact, many appear to be largely oblivious to the war.  On Park Avenue, a young playboy of military age emerged from a limo, his arms under the minidresses of two young blonde women he introduced as as Svetlana and Tatiana, and said he wasn't worried about the war.

“I wish I could be in Vietnam fighting alongside all those schmucks who didn't have a rich father, but I got a deferment due to my sore bone.  Don't worry, it'll get better soon, believe me” said Donald Drump, 19, of Queens, N.Y.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

All Hollywood wants to know: who will win the Harveys?

By Roscoe Arbuckle
Entertainment Editor

It's the most glamorous night of the year of the week tonight in Hollywood.  It's the Harvey Awards, and all Hollywood is preparing to party like it's 1925.  The show airs tonight on Fox News at 9 ET (6 PT, and 2 a.m. in Switzerland, where the eponymous Harvey Weinstein will be watching on the DL at the home of his best friend and legal adviser, Roman Polanski).  The show features an all-star line-up of hosts and presenters, including Mel Gibson, O.J. Simpson, Bill O'Reilly, and former President Bill Clinton.

To help you prepare for this glittering night of must-spew [Surely, see? –Ed.] TV, The Spy has provided this handy cheat sheet handicapping the nominees.

The Chaplin Silence is Golden Award.  This Award, celebrating those who enabled a toxic culture of sexual abuse by keeping silent, will be handed out by legendary director and worst prom-date ever, Woody AllenBen Affleck was considered an early favorite for this award, but some think his lame Twitter apology to one of the women he groped was too loud.  This may allow Weinstein creation Matt Damon to snatch the coveted “Golden Shush.”

The Harveys are named after the famous movie mogul,
fresser, and plant benefactor Harvey Weinstein, shown
here in a private meeting with an aspiring actress
Best Performance by a Mouthpiece.  There were many outstanding nominees for this award, given to the lawyer or PR flack who most shamelessly tries to bury the news about his or her loathsome clients, but there are two clear favorites.  First is the glamorous Lisa Bloom, whose ridiculous claim that “many” of the claims against Harvey Weinstein were “patently false”  was utterly unrelated to Weinstein's picking up her script, but her chances were hindered by her last-minute withdrawal from defending the indefensible Weinstein.

This leaves Weinstein mouthpiece not named after an 80's porn star Charles Harder as the front-runner, for his thunderous performance as a shyster threatening to file a defamation suit against the Times for what appears to be a completely accurate and well-substantiated story, which has later been buttressed by reporting from numerous other outlets.

Sadly, Susan Estrich's smearing of the reporter who broke the Roger Ailes sexual abuse story occurred before the deadline for this year's Harveys, but fortunately she'll be presenting the award to this year's winner.

Best Hypocritical Performance.  One of the most hotly contested categories this year, the nominees for this award include Kellyanne Conway, for her feigned outrage over Hillary Clinton's supposedly lukewarm condemnation of Weinstein even as Kellyanne lies shamelessly for an admitted serial sex offender.  Many feel the brazen gusto with which she peddles this blatant hypocrisy makes her a shoo-in for this coveted award, although similar nonsense being peddled by any number of Fox News talking heads may split the vote, thus allowing the another Murdoch propaganda organ, the New York Post, to win for condemning Clinton while helping Weinstein smear actresses he had raped.

Although a late entrant, there's a lot of buzz around write-in Maureen Dowd, for her withering condemnation of Hollywood's mistreatment of women, while ignoring the sexual depredations of the Groper--in-Chief, whom she sat down with for jolly softball interviews throughout 2016.

Best Performance by a Female Enabler.  This award is given to the woman who does the most to betray the interests of women everywhere by blaming the victims for the crimes visited upon them by the Harvey Weinsteins of the worlds.   Kellyanne Conway and Katrina Pierson are nominated in this category, but the two favorites have nothing to do with politics.  Insiders expect this award may go to Donna Karan, who designs sexually provocative fashions for women and then says women are “asking for it” by choosing fashions that cause Weinstein's loins to boil over into the nearest potted plant.

As expected, Kellyanne Conway has
been nominated in multiple categories
But others think that adorable Hollywood veteran Mayim Bialik may take the award for her preposterous op-ed in the New York Times promoting her strategy of dressing like a frummie as the best way women can protect themselves against sexual predators.  This strategy is of course why sexual abuse is unheard of among Orthodox Jews.

Captain Renault Golden Whistle for Best Humbug.  This award, the highlight of the Harveys, features a number of Hollywood heavyweights, beginning with the ultra-prestigious studio pawn Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, which expelled Weinstein last week when news of his crimes became public and undeniable, and only 25 years after everyone knew about them but did nothing.

But many feel the leading contender has to be Bob Weinstein, who has rigorously insisted he had no idea that his brother and co-conspirator Harvey was regularly abusing women over more than two decades, but who now declares himself shocked, shocked over his brother's “sick and depraved” conduct.

Darryl F. Zanuck Lack of Humanity Award.  This award, given every year to the entertainer who has done the least to promote healthy respectful relationships between men and women, goes this year to Donald Trump.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Coming like never to The Spy

Exclusive to the Spy: an excerpt from the forthcoming best-seller Championship Baseball by Dave Dombrowski

Thursday, October 5, 2017

You read it first in The Spy, Foggy Bottom edition

A former chief executive of Exxon Mobil, Mr. Tillerson has never found his place as a subordinate to the hard-charging, unpredictable president. He has bristled at being undercut, as he was over the weekend when Mr. Trump publicly said Mr. Tillerson was “wasting his time” by trying to open talks with North Korea. At the same time, Mr. Tillerson has alienated lawmakers, foreign policy veterans and the news media while demoralizing the State Department, and critics inside and outside the White House consider his troubles self-inflicted.

The president initially viewed Mr. Tillerson as a granite-jawed cabinet secretary who fit Mr. Trump’s requirement that top advisers look as if they came out of “central casting,” as he has put it. Mr. Trump regularly boasted about hiring the head of the world’s largest corporation — and in the presence of a profoundly uncomfortable Mr. Tillerson, whom the president for months referred to as “Mr. Exxon.”

But the deliberate, slow-talking oil executive has little personal chemistry with the quick-talking, impulsive Mr. Trump. Mr. Tillerson has avoided expressing his pique to the president. But aides and Trump associates who have been in the room with them said Mr. Tillerson’s body language, eye rolling and terse expressions left little doubt that he disapproves of Mr. Trump’s approach.

Mr. Trump, they said, has noticed how Mr. Tillerson slouches in his presence, particularly when he disagrees with a decision. When overruled, Mr. Tillerson often says, “It’s your deal,” to the president’s irritation, according to two former administration officials. . . .

“Rex Tillerson has been dealt a bad hand by the Potus & has played it badly,” Richard N. Haass, a State Department official for Republican presidents and now the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote on Twitter, using the initials for president of the United States. “For both reasons he cannot be effective SecState & should resign.”

Mr. Tillerson has been frustrated for months, not just by Mr. Trump’s unpredictable policy positions but by his provocative leadership style. He publicly distanced himself when Mr. Trump blamed “both sides” for violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., and bristled when the president gave a political speech to the Boy Scouts of America, an organization Mr. Tillerson once headed. NBC reported that he was so offended by the Boy Scouts speech that he threatened not to return to Washington from a visit to Texas.

The New York Times, Oct. 5, 2017

The sentient among us are supposed to buy Assistant Principal Mike Pence's line that [Rex Tillerson]'s qualified to serve as Secretary of State . .  . , because he ran a big oil company that did a lot of deals abroad, like with his BFF Vladimir Putin.

Now we've known a few CEO's in our day.  They shared a number of qualities:

  1. An insane oversupply of unearned self-regard
  2. A laser-like focus on next year's bonus
  3. A proven record of relentless kissing up that brought them to their current pinnacle of success
  4. A childlike love of barking orders and insults to subordinates
  5. A paranoid belief that everyone is out to get them

Of those qualities, the only one that might be helpful to a Secretary of State is the last: a Secretary of State, especially in an Administration as dysfunctional and directionless as that presided over by the Grifter-Elect, needs to keep in mind what his enemies are doing to f**k him and how he can f**k them first.  And not just enemies: it's good practice for dealing with foreign states, whether they are our allies, like Russia, or our enemies, like France.

The other attributes, not so much.  Tillerson will trouser $200 million even if he sits on the Seventh Floor and plays pinochle.  The kissing ass will of course be required, but he'll have to take a ticket just to get anywhere near that sagging bronze butt. Of course, Tillerson will shit all over anyone and everyone in his Department, but that will only ensure that he is not informed about things he'd be better off knowing, like who else in the U.S. Government is trying to do him dirty.

The bigger problem is that the skill set so helpful to climbing the oily pole doesn't do you much good in Foggy Bottom.  You can throw your briefing book at foreign service officers or even foreign ambassadors, but that won't help you decipher the ever-more ominous pronouncements from China before the guns go off across the Straits of Taiwan, much less the Delphic emanations from the Pentagon that they will favor you with while muscling poor bespectacled State out of the way.  See Iraq, Victory in.

And if you're thinking that the former CEO of Exxon-Mobil doesn't have to take a call from, and do the bidding of, Santino, Fredo, or Michaela Trump, well, brother, you're going to be shot out of the saddle, because you're about as indispensable to the Grifter-in-Chief as Rudy Giuliani.

Beloved theatergoer and baseball fan Mike Pence says that Tillerson is qualified because he's a great negotiator.  Whether all those oil deals prove to be good, bad, or indifferent remains largely unknown.  The answer depends on a combination of luck, hunches, and the future prices of various types of energy.  In any case, those deals all came down to dough.  Guess what: that's not how it works when the sign in front of you reads UNITED STATES and not EXXON-MOBIL.

How on earth is Tillerson supposed to balance support for Taiwan against enlisting Chinese help to stop North Korea?  Dumping the Iran nuclear deal versus protecting tens of thousands of Boeing jobs?  Balancing concerns about energy supply and human rights in places like Angola?  Actually, we're just pumping your derrick: you know where Tex-Rex is going to come out with that one. . . .

The next-to-most-recent time the Presidency was entrusted to a Republican manifestly not up the job, the State Department was torn to shreds between the devious, paranoid Al Haig and the reactionary boob sent to babysit him, a former state judge from Reagan's California kakistocracy.  We remember how Judge Clark and his fellow red-hots thought that they could stop a Russian oil pipeline by yelling, screaming, and threatening European allies as if they were subordinates who could be booted out at whim.  It didn't go so well.  It took George Schultz years to clean up the mess, by which time St. Ronald Reagan and his BFF Mikhael Gorbachev had agreed to destroy their nuclear arsenals.

If our Senate had regard for anything except passing tax cuts for the rich and destroying health care for the poor (hi, Ambridge!), it would send this toxic nomination up the pipe and flare it off.  Instead, we suspect that Tillerson will be narrowly confirmed to take his place as another piece of unqualified and crazy that will make the next four years a burning clown car if we are lucky.  And if we are not, no one will be left to tell the tale.

 – The Massachusetts Spy, Dec. 13, 2016