Monday's HOT MIC

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Stephen, Peggy Noonan wrote this about high-ranking generals (in general):

They are not, or not necessarily, economic conservatives. Top brass are men and women who were largely educated in, and came up in, a system that is wholly taxpayer-funded. Their primary focus is that the military have what it needs to do the job. Whatever tax rates do that, do that. They are not economists, they don’t focus on Keynesian theory and supply-side thought.

[...]

On social issues they generally tend to be moderate to liberal. I have never to my knowledge met a high officer who was pro-life. They largely thought Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell a reasonable policy, but they’re realists: Time moves on, salute and execute. They don’t want to damage or retard their careers being on the wrong side of issues whose outcomes seem culturally inevitable. You don’t die on a hill that is not central to the immediate mission.

They are as a rule not deeply partisan. Those who work in the Pentagon have to know how to work with both parties and negotiate their way around partisan differences. (Enlisted men in my experience are more instinctively conservative, though often in interesting ways.)

They say personnel is policy, and I've largely found that to be true. Based on Noonan's assessment, Kelly's agenda, to the extent he has one, could be largely focused basic competence, which wouldn't be a bad thing. She adds: "Beyond that, a good guess is that Mr. Kelly will not be especially interested in partisan differences; he will not be ideological. He will guide Trump in the direction of: Solve the problem." In other words, don't expect him to be the driver of the Trump train. More likely he'll be the one running ahead clearing debris and explosives from the tracks.

No. Next question?

Three-Hanky Warning on this one.

Probably not a good idea to travel to places prone to natural disasters:

To my mind, no remembrance of 9/11 can pass without referencing The Falling Man and those who also made their own choice how to die that horrible day.

Most of the images we remember from 9/11 are of buildings falling and planes crashing into buildings. But the images of people leaping or falling to their deaths humanize the tragedy like no other.

AP's Richard Drew took several photos of this nameless man who appears to have been an employee of the Top of the World restaurant.

A person falls headfirst from the north tower of New York's World Trade Center Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

There's an outstanding documentary on the search for the identity of The Falling Man. Wrenching as it is, the poignancy of the search is worth watching.

We all have our own feelings about the morality of choosing to jump to one's death. The sad truth is, many of those who fell probably simply lost their grip as they were overcome by the smoke and fire. And something I can't get out of my head -- how many chose the fire rather than suicide?

This small clip is definitely not for the squeamish. It is from the Naudet Brothers documentary on 9/11 and was shot inside the lobby of the North Tower as the bodies hit the ground.

There are those who think this an exercise in ghoulishness. Far from it. As the narrator of the search for The Falling Man documentary points out, there are few images that can bring to mind the raw emotions of that day many of us felt. If the purpose of all the ceremonies today is to remember, there is no better way than this to remind us what it was like to live through that horrible day.

About 200 people either fell or leaped to their deaths from the twin towers on September 11, 2001.

ICYMI, here's video of the future president at Ground Zero sixteen years ago:

Did Steve Bannon's coloring look a little off to you in that 60 Minutes interview?

They made the guy look absolutely sick and there is no doubt in my mind -- it was purposeful:

 

In case you needed a reminder that asset forfeiture is legalized theft.

Our Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, loves this kind of thing.

Change you can believe in?

Kelly Brings in New Deputy, Further Tightening Discipline on Trump White House.

There's a lot of inside baseball here, but it's worth your time.

Kirstjen Nielsen, a longtime aide to Kelly, now functions as his gatekeeper in what the New York Times described as a "little-noticed bureaucratic earthquake." Nielsen handles much of the daily operations within the White House, and some administration officials paint a picture of Kelly's enemies being furious about Nielsen helping him tighten his grip.

"Gatekeepers are generally not beloved," Jonathan Hoffman, who was hired by Nielsen at the Department of Homeland Security, told Politico. "But that's why it's an important job."

Those fighting for President Donald Trump's campaign agenda have reportedly opposed the ascent of Kelly and National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster, but some leaders of that wing have recently departed. Former White House advisers Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka vehemently defended Trump's campaign agenda, only to find themselves working for that agenda from outside the administration.

"The real believers, the real ‘MAGA' [Make America Great Again] fighters inside the building were being progressively boxed out, or fired from the [National Security Council]," Gorka told the Washington Free Beacon last month.

The Times described Kelly and Nielsen's style of leadership as the "old normal" for White House operations but said that it still qualifies as a revolution for an administration as unorthodox as Trump's. Nielsen enforces Kelly's standards for meetings, which often entail excluding some aides who had gotten used to wandering in and out of the Oval Office.

Big meetings are a big waste of time. Back when he was turning Apple into the success it is today, Steve Jobs was famous for being ruthless (among other things) for enforcing meeting discipline. If he saw a face he didn't recognize, and asked "Why are you doing here?*" and didn't like the answer -- the interloper was told to leave. Meetings should be as small and as short as possible, or else they spiral into existing for their own sake.

*Jobs might have phrased it a bit more indelicately, but this is a family blog.

That said, who is allowed into meetings is just as important as size. And on that issue, The Donald might have some 'splainin to do to the #MAGA folks.

Want to read something moving today? Of course you do.

A Century of Ghastly Communist Sadism.

A. Barton Hinkle has today's must-read piece:

"Let there be floods of blood," declared Krasnaia gazeta, the official newspaper of the Red Army in 1918. From the enemies of the revolution, there should be "more blood, as much as possible."

A few months before, the Bolsheviks had seized power from the provisional government that had been installed in the final days of Russia's Romanov dynasty. The revolution ushered in what would become a century of ghastly sadism.

The world will mark the 100th anniversary of that revolution this November 7. Yet while the Soviet Union is no more and communism has been discredited in most eyes for many years, it is hard even now to grasp the sheer scale of agony imposed by the brutal ideology of collectivism.

Few now dare question the degree of human misery that communism inflicted. Yet there were many, during its height, who fell victim to what Solzhenitsyn called "the desire not to know." They either refused to acknowledge the facts staring them in the face, or actively tried to cover them over with lies.

Nazism, the most virulent and murderous form of Fascism, lasted only a dozen years -- and Fascism is generally considered to be a fully discredited ideology. Communist governments have lasted for longer and have killed many more tens of millions -- and Communism is generally considered still to be an admirable goal by various political, educational, and entertainment leaders here and around the world.