Buttigieg and the Military Service Check Box

by baldilocks

From last month at the Wall Street Journal (subscription required):

When Mayor Pete Buttigieg talks about his military service, his opponents fall silent, the media fall in love, and his political prospects soar. Veterans roll their eyes.

CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Mr. Buttigieg Sunday if President Trump “deserves some credit” for the strike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani. “No,” the candidate replied, “not until we know whether this was a good decision and how this decision was made.” He questioned whether “it was the right strategic move” and said his own judgment “is informed by the experience of having been on one of those planes headed into a war zone.”

But Mr. Buttigieg’s stint in the Navy isn’t as impressive as he makes it out to be. His 2019 memoir is called “Shortest Way Home,” an apt description of his military service. He entered the military through a little-used shortcut: direct commission in the reserves. The usual route to an officer’s commission includes four years at Annapolis or another military academy or months of intense training at Officer Candidate School. ROTC programs send prospective officers to far-flung summer training programs and require military drills during the academic year. Mr. Buttigieg skipped all that—no obstacle courses, no weapons training, no evaluation of his ability or willingness to lead. Paperwork, a health exam and a background check were all it took to make him a naval officer.

Wow.

Combat veterans have grumbled for decades about the direct-commission route. The politically connected and other luminaries who receive immediate commissions are disparaged as “pomeranian princes.” Former Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus became a Naval Reserve officer in 2018 at age 46. Hunter Biden, son of the former vice president, accepted a direct commission but was discharged after one month of service for failing a drug test.

I’ve never understood the need to overestimate the importance of one’s military service or to pretend to understand aspects of it outside of one’s field and be accepted as an expert simply for having served. However, I guess that’s due to the fact that I’m not a politician. (And even though I had four AFSCs during my career, I can’t even tell you that much anymore for two reasons: a great deal of it is classified and I have brain-dumped a lot of information. My hard-drive has its limitations.)

But this guy didn’t even have to go to Officer Training School! Now, I’m told that the military will occasionally use this form of commissioning to fill essential billets which are difficult; physicians and lawyers, for example. But why would the Navy need a paper-pusher wearing O-3 bars?

Answer: to credential this particular person for his planned future as a politician. No need for any real hardship — like being awakened at Oh-Dark-Thirty for exercise. He’s in; he spends some time in Afghanistan behind the wire; and then he’s back to the states with a check mark inside of the military service box.

I don’t see the point in bothering with this sort of thing anymore especially since our last two presidents have had no military service. But, if they must, I’m sure that there are thousands of worthy Democrats who at least have Basic Training/OTS under their belts. Why this one?

I’d give Buttigieg this: at least he didn’t get booted for being a crackhead.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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Oscars, Medals, Carville whining, Biden Flailing & Back to Work Under the Fedora

I think this image (via Ace of Spades’ Morning Rant) sums up the Oscars in a nutshell.

If these people really cared about climate change, veganism & saving the planet they’d ditch the broadcast and private planes and just have some guy read a list of who won.


Nancy Pelosi is still angry about Rush at the STOU getting the medal of freedom.

Pelosi saw the medal moment as overstepping the boundaries of the White House and Congress.

“Do it in your own office,” she told reporters at a press conference. “We don’t come into your office and do congressional business. Why are you doing that here?”

Admit it, your favorite part of Rush Limbaugh getting the medal of freedom is making sure that the majority of the Democrats in Congress had to be there to watch it.

It was mine.


James Carville remains worried:

“If we lose that, we’re going to be the British labor party and be out some theoretical left-wing la la land,” Carville said. “I’m afraid that Donald Trump is going to get re-elected and I have to do this four more years and I don’t think we can make it. I really don’t…The country can’t continue like this.”

The conversation continued with Carville outlining his view that politics should be about “coalitions” and tackling issues, not being an “ideologue” or talking about “reparations or any kind of goofy left-wing thing out there.”

“There’s a certain part of the Democratic Party that wants us to be a cult,” Carville said, ostensibly referencing Sanders’ impassioned base of support.

“I’m not interested in being in a cult…I’m not a very culty person.”

The Democrats have been a cult for a long time, Carville wouldn’t care if it remained so as long as they won and he could keep his snout in the pie


By the time you read this Joe Biden will be on his way to finishing 4th or maybe 5th in NH.

If he can hang on to South Carolina I still think he has a chance as the Black Democrat vote in the south will not go for the Socialist, the Gay Mayor or the (formally) law and order Mayor.

Biden was always a candidate surrounded by a media bodyguard (remember the no dissing Joe zone on Morning Joe) but he’s looked terrible on the campaign trail and impeachment has simply unhinged him.

Must admit I didn’t see this coming.


Finally I went back to work yesterday after busting my shoulder at work on the 24th of Nov.

I’m still healing and have a bunch of exercises I have to do to rebuild the strength in my shoulder but be aware that I might be posting a tad less (and tweeting a LOT less) now that I’m working full time again.

Thanks for all the good wishes during my injury with luck and work my recovery will continue on schedule.

Wuhan: The city has plagued China’s leaders for a century

By Christopher Harper

For those who have studied the history of China, it is rather ironic to us that Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus, should once again stand at center stage.

Before the virus outbreak, Wuhan, a place unknown to most Westerners, has played a significant role in the demise of the Chinese monarchy in 1911 and later as a symbol of the flawed vision of Mao Zedong.

Often called the Chicago of China, Wuhan is the leading city of the central part of the country because of its railroads and riverway near the Yangtze River.

But Wuhan’s place in history began in 1911 when revolutionaries launched the opening of the attack against the Qing Dynasty, which had ruled China for 400 years.

Back then, many Western powers saw railway investments as part of the consolidation in their spheres of influence over China. Provincial governments, with permission from the Qing court, began to construct their own railways, obtaining huge loans from foreign countries that maintained financial control of the routes. This policy was met with stiff resistance, including massive strikes and protests. At one point, the military opened fire on protesters, leading to widespread dissatisfaction among the population.

On October 10, 1911, revolutionary forces within the military staged a mutiny in the Wuhan area and forced the Qing leaders out of government buildings and residences. Within two months, the country elected Sun Yat-sen as its leader and forced the young Qing emperor to abdicate the throne.

Fast forward to Mao and his dream for a huge hydroelectric dam. Wuhan, which sits near a critical part of the Yangtze River, became the site of the dam near an area known as the Three Gorges.

Mao started to promote the dam’s construction almost immediately after taking power in 1949. Although his ill-conceived economic plans stalled the building, the project was finally finished in 2008.

Although the dam provides 2 percent of China’s electricity, the project devastated the local economy, displaced 1.3 million people, and created numerous ecological problems from fish migration to landslides. Corrupt politicians lined their pockets with money intended to build the dam and help the local population.

During a trip along the Yangtze two years ago, I got to see the engineering feat and the consequences to the local population. The local economy is dependent on tourists—most of them Chinese–who travel along the river to see the dam and ignore its impact.

The coronavirus has put Wuhan on the international stage yet again. Not surprisingly, the government failed the recognize the impact of the disease on the population and limited public knowledge to help prevent the spread of the illness.

Although the ineptitude of President Xi is unlikely to result in the fall of the country’s current emperor, the coronavirus underlines the government’s failure to recognize the implications of its wrongheaded policies—much like the long-term impact of the Three Gorges Dam.

The Octave of Romano’s Market: Tuesday Orders

Tuesday at Romano’s was always the day you came in to buy the fresh stuff you couldn’t get the day before or two days before if you couldn’t make it in before noon on Sunday.

It was also the day they started making their prepared foods.

When you walked in you could smell the meatballs cooking or the Roast for the Roast beef (unlike all the other cold cuts Roast Beef at Romano was a freshly seasoned Roast just out of the oven.) or the stuffing of the peppers.

The onions and peppers that had not managed to sell would be diced and sliced into all the various prepared foods and all the various salads that were ready to eat would be ready to go. Meanwhile the various suppliers would come in and Mike would make his order.

It was a very labor intensive day and today will be no different, because customers have been informed that if they want meat bundles they can order them for the last time this week so as much as previous Tuesdays have been busy, this Tuesday will likely put most others to shame.