In Solitaire Confinement With Donald Rumsfeld

Kevin Sullivan/The Orange County Register/ZUMA


At the ripe old age of 83, Donald Rumsfeld, former secretary of defense under Gerald Ford and George W. Bush, just announced he’s the architect of a whole new venture: a solitaire iOS game or, as he describes it in a fresh Medium post, an “incredibly devilish version” of the classic card game known as “Churchill Solitaire.” He writes:

One of the best ways to stay young is to keep learning.

That’s one of the reasons I’ve spent the better part of the past two years trying my hand at developing a mobile app. To be more precise, I’ve been working with a team of developers to bring into the digital age a card game that dates back to at least the Second World War, and perhaps earlier. Starting this week, I’m pleased that it is now going to have a new life thanks to modern technology.

According to Rumsfeld, the new game is a take on the version of solitaire Churchill taught his protégé André de Staercke during World War II.

Up until a few years ago, there were probably a dozen or so people in the entire world who knew how to play this game. These were mostly people I taught the game to?—?my wife, Joyce (the second best living Churchill Solitaire player I know), our children, and some assorted colleagues and friends. That was it. Winston Churchill was gone. André de Staercke, as well. And I knew I wouldn’t be around forever. There was every chance the game Churchill so enjoyed could be lost to the ages.

Then I was approached about turning this game into an “app.”

Rumsfeld himself did not contribute to any of the actual coding. Instead, he adopted his familiar role of mastermind, communicating his vision to a team of developers using “snowflake” memos—the infamous flurry of notes Rumsfeld was known for sending to his staff.  This was the same approach he employed when communicating with the Pentagon and the White House on such matters as the need to “keep elevating the threat” and “link Iraq to Iran.”

Intrigued? Watch the video explainer he just released below:

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.