CSotD: Herman Wouk holds Modly’s beer

The enduring quote from “The Caine Mutiny” is one character’s observation that “The Navy is a master plan designed by geniuses for execution by idiots.”

But there’s another saying, this one of uncertain origin, that goes “Every time you think you’ve made something foolproof, they invent a better fool.”

Hence Nick Anderson‘s cartoon, comparing policies in one of the world’s most repressive regimes with … well, you finish the joke.

The Navy has established practices so well-crafted that, as Wouk’s character goes on to explain,

If you are not an idiot, but find yourself in the Navy, you can only operate well by pretending to be one. All the shortcuts and economies and common-sense changes that your native intelligence suggests to you are mistakes.

However, there is a work-around that will get you past all this careful planning, and that is to simply defy the rules and regulations.

Ordinarily, defying the rules and regulations would get you in trouble, but not if you are the Acting Secretary of the Navy, performing in accordance with the wishes of someone who admires repressive dictators and runs circles around the US Constitution by similarly ignoring it.

Cases in point:

June 17, 2017 — The USS Fitzgerald collided with a civilian container ship, resulting in seven deaths and three injuries. There was an immediate investigation which, 24 days later, resulted in the commander losing his command.

August 20, 2017 — The USS McCain collided with a civilian oil tanker, resulting in 10 deaths. Its commander was relieved of his command, as were several higher-ups within the fleet, following an investigation that took 41 days.

Now we have Captain Brett Crozier, whose intent was to prevent deaths among his crew, stripped of his command with no investigation whatsoever.

First the verdict, then (perhaps) the trial!

After his crew sent him off with cheers and applause, the Acting Secretary visited them and launched an attack on both Capt. Crozier and, of course, China, whose fault everything is.

The problem being that, while the Navy may be designed for execution by idiots, that doesn’t mean it is crewed by idiots, and the Acting Secretary has since been inspired to issue this statement:

And if it were only this incident, if Modly were the only “acting” bureaucrat running around without even the fig leaf of approval by Trump’s bootlicking Congress, it might not be so bad.

And it’s not irrelevant that Modly was appointed after the confirmed Secretary was fired for objecting to Dear Leader’s overturning of the conviction — after both an investigation and a trial — of a war criminal.

Still, it’s the most visible example.

And we know contagion can spread even without visible symptoms.


As Matt Davies points out, we’ve also got an acting epidemiologist overriding policy, experience, science and common sense in dealing with the coronavirus.

And dispensing snake oil based on the arguments of unqualified advisers rather than medical experts whose opinions of the stuff are far less enthusiastic.


As Pat Bagley suggests, he is, if not certified, at least certifiable.

Like the Navy, the Constitution was designed by geniuses, but its chief flaw was that they assumed it would also be executed by geniuses, or, at worst, by intelligent people selected by an intelligent electorate.

We can debate another time what happened, over the years, to that master plan, but the bottom line is that we’re now being run by hunches, gut feelings and narcissism.

And unconfirmed “acting” toadlickers.


Which doesn’t work, or, at least, it doesn’t work as the founders intended. It works quite well the way most of Dear Leader’s international besties — Xi, Kim, Duterte, Putin — do things.

Which, as Tom Toles suggests, we are on the brink of proving.

The only encouraging thing being that Modly’s address to the crew of the Roosevelt was interrupted by shouts of dissent, and trust me when I say that the majority of enlisted men are not “libtards.”

But neither are they idiots. Or cowards. Or kissers-of-ass.

Which gives me hope that, if we end this thing with the White House surrounded by tanks, perhaps the turrets will be pointed in, not out.


Meanwhile, amongst the commoners

We could do an entire day of cartoons about Britons arguing over people being out in parks, and perhaps you caught an element of that in Morten Morland’s animation yesterday.

Here’s Patrick Blower‘s take, and, like Morland, he suggests that people with plenty are being hard on those with less.

My apartment has only a small yard, and walking the dog around the block brings us into close contact with more people than we meet if I load him into the car and drive to the park.


Which is not nearly as crowded as the park in Paul Thomas‘s cartoon, and I don’t know his work well enough to guess about the groups of people he’s got hanging about in the background, but I note that, while I may be making racist and anti-bigotry assumptions, it seems unlikely that they all live together.

The dog people are the only groups in our park, and we’re staying well away from each other, by which I mean certainly six feet and more like 10 or so.

Though it’s still pretty brisk here, and I suppose when things warm up, we’ll test whether people come out in safe family groups or ill-advised gatherings of friends from separate housing.

Which reminds me that Census Day has passed and apparently they don’t want to send people door-to-door, so I guess we’ll get some kind of preliminary indication of how it went, but, meanwhile, here’s a bit of classic poetry by Charles Osgood, commemorating the decade the Census acknowledged cohabitation (Persons of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters):

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will some new pleasures prove
Of golden sands and crystal brooks
With silken lines, and silver hooks.
There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do
If you would be my POSSLQ.

You live with me, and I with you,
And you will be my POSSLQ.
I’ll be your friend and so much more;
That’s what a POSSLQ is for.

And everything we will confess;
Yes, even to the IRS.
Some day on what we both may earn,
Perhaps we’ll file a joint return.
You’ll share my pad, my taxes, joint;
You’ll share my life – up to a point!
And that you’ll be so glad to do,
Because you’ll be my POSSLQ.


One thought on “CSotD: Herman Wouk holds Modly’s beer

  1. Dear Mike, as I’ve said before thanks for the humor – it’s the only UPSIDE to this quarantine for me since I’m in a solo quarantine. But you wrote it’s “brisk” where you are (right now Maine is too) – you do now The Donald has said that the weather is now warm? Apparently no one has explained that besides various time zones, that America has multiple weather zones! While The Donald may be virus free, has Dr. Fauci checked him for Hoof and Mouth Disease?

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