The Daily(ish) Review

The Daily(ish) Review: USMC ethics probe, Italy turns right

Well, this brought back memories.

Marine Corps general treated aide like a 'servant,' IG report found (By Zachary Cohen and Barbara Starr, CNN)

I was a temporary aide-de-camp to a general once. My memory is getting bad; I think he was a major general at the time. I'm not going to name him, but it was not a very pleasant experience. Let's see what this article says.

"The former top US Marine Corps general in Iraq treated his female aide-de-camp like a "servant," according to one witness cited in an Inspector General's investigation that concluded the commander violated ethics regulations by routinely asking the officer to pick up his laundry, deliver meals, reserve gym equipment and carry personal items."

- I don't think the Marine Corps messes around when it comes to ethics and ethics investigations, so I suspect the general stepped out of line. That doesn't come across all that well in the article, though. I think almost everyone who has ever served as an aide-de-camp has performed the actions listed. I know I did.

"In a report released on Thursday, the IG said it substantiated allegations that Brig. Gen. Rick Uribe allowed his aide "to perform activities other than those required in the performance of official duties and that he solicited and accepted gifts from employees who received less pay than himself," between May 2016 and June 2017."

"The IG found that Brig. Gen. Uribe violated the Joint Ethics Regulation when he requested or permitted his aide to use official time to: 

  • Pick up his laundry 
  • Remove and turn in his bedsheets for cleaning
  • Obtain his meals 
  • Provide him with personal items such as snacks 
  • Draft his unofficial correspondence 
  • Reserve gym equipment for his use 
  • Arrange delivery of his prescription toothpaste to Iraq 
  • Collect financial and personal information to complete required military paperwork."

"The report also detailed instances in which Brig. Gen. Uribe failed to reimburse a subordinate for personal WiFi access, failed to reimburse an employee for a farewell gift and received chocolates from an employee -- substantiating allegations that he accepted or solicited gifts from those who received less pay."

- Okay.

Verdict: Something's off here. There's more to this story. I was only an aide for a short time, but in that time I met a lot of other aides. From O-3 to O-5, the aides I spoke to mentioned across the board that your life stops, it's all about the boss. The offenses listed in the article seem bland. My guess is that the IG report is watered down and not showing explicitly or in great detail what the offenses were that took him down. Also, maybe the Army aide system is very different than the Marince Corps system.

How a Place That Welcomed Migrants Turned Against Them (Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times)

"At the height of the migrant crisis, Italy had been a progressive bastion and a staunch supporter of European unity. But now, the national mood had hardened. Mr. Traini’s rage crystallized, in grotesque form, the growing backlash against migrants and the rise of right-wing politics."

Verdict: Long article, worth a read. Anyone else feel like the whole world is turning right, embracing tribalism, and stoking the flames of fear and divisiveness?

Strange times. I think we'd be better off if we stopped obsessing about Russia. It's a regional power that does not have a winning message. While I think Trump and the GOP envy Russia very much, I suspect it's because to them Russia looks strong, powerful, and white. They probably also envy the government's cozy relationship with the press. Don't believe me? Go to RT and tell me it's not a voice of the state. To be fair, I don't know much about Russia's actual immigration policies. I'm just talking about how I suspect Trump views the place.

So why suggest obsessing less over Russia? Because Trump and the GOP would be pursuing the same objectives and policies with or without Russia. The GOP has an odd reverence for Putin's Russia, but the policies it's embracing are not new, they've creeped up in American politics since its birth. It's disconcerting that Trump and the GOP view Russia's model of authoritarian government so favorably, but for the most part, it's their decision to flirt with that model.

I'm not saying stop the Mueller investigation. We need to see that to the end. We also need to make sure that our voting systems are secure. But bigger picture, we need to get away from the idea that Russia has brainwashed half the country. The GOP's policies reflect the priorities of its members. To counter that, Democrats need to win elections, change minds, and hope that political trends shift sooner rather than later.