Tag Archives: Pentagon

Wanting next POTUS to rescind transgender ban

Donald Trump took office as president and began issuing a flurry of executive orders, even though he criticized Barack Obama for his use of executive authority when he was president of the United States.

One of the orders he issued revoked an Obama order that allowed transgender Americans to serve openly in the U.S. military. Trump listened to his base of supporters and rescinded the previous order.

He is now getting his re-election campaign ramped up. Many of the Democrats seeking to succeed him want to yank the transgender ban off the books and allow those patriotic Americans to don the uniform of their country while serving in the military.

I fully support lifting the ban. Even the Washington Examiner, a newspaper friendly to the Trump agenda, has urged the president to take a second look at the transgender ban.

Trump offered a number of dubious assertions seeking to justify his decision to rescind the previous executive order. The worst of those reasons had something to do with the money that the Defense Department would be spending on personnel who would be in various stages of what is called “gender reassignment.” The counter argument to that notion, of course, came from those who noted the enormous amount of money the Pentagon spends on medication to correct maladies such as, oh, “erectile dysfunction.”

Without doubt, though, the most ironic aspect of Trump’s decision dealt with his denying Americans’ desire to serve their country when, back in the day, Trump avoided/evaded such service during the Vietnam War. He secured the now widely derided medical exemption relating to alleged “bone spurs” that Trump said he suffered on his feet.

For this president to deny Americans the opportunity to serve, which they seek to do voluntarily, is ridiculous on its face.

Furthermore, I equate the military transgender ban with the idiotic Bathroom Bill that the 2017 Texas Legislature considered enacting. You’ll recall that one, yes? The Senate approved a bill that required people to use public restrooms in accordance with their gender at birth; it was meant clearly to discriminate against transgendered individuals. The Texas House, led by then-Republican House Speaker Joe Straus, killed the idea in a special session.

Whoever succeeds Trump — whether it’s after this upcoming election or the next one — has vowed to restore some justice to our military ranks. My fervent hope is that the opportunity comes sooner rather than later.

Liar in chief likely at it once again in describing terrorist’s death

Donald Trump went on that ridiculous riff Sunday in which he said the Islamic State’s founder/mastermind/terrorist in chief was crying and screaming like a little boy when he met his death over the weekend.

Now we hear from the Pentagon that the brass cannot confirm what the president described.

Hmm. Who’d have thought such a thing? Do you think Donald Trump was, um, making it up? Was he lying yet again? Was he seeking to glorify himself about Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death as the U.S. Army Delta Force soldiers were closing in on him?

Well, I have adopted the view that Trump cannot be trusted to tell the truth about anything, under any circumstance. He is unable to speak with any semblance of truthfulness.

Yet the president thought it was fair comment to go into detail about what happened to al-Baghdadi’s body when he detonated the “suicide vest” he had strapped to his torso. I heard him say it in the moment and thought, “Well, duh … ? That’s what happens when you blow yourself to pieces!” 

Yep, as the president’s allies keep telling us: That’s just Trump being Trump.

Good grief.

These officers need to be heard

It’s not every day that a general-grade officer takes the commander in chief to task for decisions he makes that put the nation’s security in peril.

Yet, that is what has happened with two superb military officers. They both have combat experience. They both have commanded many thousands of men and women. They both are true-blue American heroes.

Retired Admiral William McRaven, the former special operations commanding officer, has penned a New York Times essay in which he declares that Donald Trump is putting our democracy “in jeopardy.” He cannot fathom that the president sidles up to dictators and trashes our allies and our alliances that have been vital to keeping the world safe from tyrants. McRaven, under whose command our military was able to kill Osama bin Laden, has laid it on the line with regard to Donald Trump.

Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, who served as defense secretary in the Trump administration, resigned because the president doesn’t know what he is doing with regard to the military and his handling of foreign policy. Trump selected Mattis to lead the Pentagon, calling him at the time of his hiring a first-rate commanding officer; now he refers to Mattis as an “overrated general.”

They aren’t alone in expressing their dismay and disgust at the way the president conducts foreign and military policy. Retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the former head of Central Command who led troops during the Persian Gulf War — and served with valor and heroism during the Vietnam War — has been a fervent critic of the president.

These are serious men with serious views about the commander in chief. They are patriots. They served heroically. They faced our enemies on the battlefield. These men deserve to be heard. 

9/11 still seared into our memory

Many millions of Americans are recalling a terrible day that dawned 18 years ago today. It didn’t start out that way, but it got dark in a major hurry.

They’re remembering where they were when they heard the news. Me? I was at work at the Amarillo Globe-News.

My colleague walked into the office and stuck his head in the door: “Did you hear the news. Someone flew an airplane into the World Trade Center.”

I asked two questions: How big was the airplane? How was the weather? I don’t recall my colleague knowing it was a jetliner. He did say the weather in New York City was beautiful.

“What kind of moron would fly into a building?” I asked with all the appropriate derision.

I turned on a small TV I had in my office. I watched one of the towers burning. Then — in real and horrifying time — the world watched the second jet liner crash into the other tower.

In that moment, we knew what we had: an act of war!

The Pentagon was hit by a third jetliner. Then we heard about the Shanksville, Pa., crash involving a fourth hijacked airplane.

We would go to war in Afghanistan. We would toss the Taliban out of power in that remote land and then launch the hunt for al-Qaida terrorist leaders who masterminded the hideous attack.

I will admit to being frightened in the moment. Anger? Absolutely!

I wanted the nation to fill with resolve to defeat the bastards who committed this horrific deed. Sadly, I fear our nation has lost some of its collective resolve. We’ve been torn asunder by a war that President Bush launched against Iraq, telling us that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had “something” to do with the terrorist attack … when he didn’t.

To be honest, I remain puzzled on how we “declare victory” in this war. Or if we can ever actually make that victory declaration.

However, the fight goes on. It must go on.

Trump robs Pentagon trough to pay for The Wall

If there was a signature promise that Donald Trump made in 2016 while campaigning for president of the United States, it was this:

I am going to build a beautiful wall and Mexico is going to pay for it.

He made the promise countless times while campaigning for the office. Has he delivered on that one? Hah! Nope.

Mexico has said “no way” will that country pay for it.

Instead, he has just ordered the diversion of $3.6 billion of money already appropriated for the Pentagon to, that’s right, help fund construction of The Wall along our southern border.

Let me see if I have this right: The president is so intent on building The Wall that he is willing to sacrifice funds targeted for actual military construction projects. Is that a form of weakening our national defense network?

More critically, is that even legal, given that Congress has the authority to appropriate money for executive branch functions?

Trump is playing with our money. He is seeking to build that “beautiful” wall with funds set aside for national defense. Yes, the president considers illegal immigration to be a national security concern.

However, what in the name of campaign rhetoric has become of that signature promise he made, that Mexico is going to pay for The Wall?

Shut up, Lou Dobbs!

Lou Dobbs doesn’t know what he’s talking about when he calls American general-grade officers “snowflakes.”

The Fox News business correspondent/talking head stepped in it with a comment about the generals’ opposition to the militarization of the Fourth of July celebration set for tonight in the nation’s capital.

“No wonder” they haven’t won a war since 1991, Dobbs wrote on Twitter, which lit up in return over Dobbs’ ridiculous bloviation.

Dobbs takes heat

Just for giggles, I sought to look up Dobbs’ background and came up empty in the hunt for any military experience. I am not suggesting that military critics who didn’t serve are not qualified to offer criticism of the brass. I am suggesting, though, that service in the military might have tempered Dobbs’ statements about the brass’ opposition to what Donald Trump is seeking to do with the nation’s tradition of honoring its independence.

And what, therefore, does the commander in chief think of the criticism from the ranks?

For his part, the president has been tweeting all day, apparently, about the thrill of seeing the finest military hardware on Earth while the nation commemorates its independence from colonial rule in the late 18th century.

What I should tell readers here, given Dobbs’ apparent lack of understanding of these matters, is that the military high command dislikes being used for political purposes. The men and women who serve do so to protect the nation, not to be used as props.

The generals’ opposition is not a matter of “snowflake” sensibilities. It’s a matter of understanding the mission of the world’s mightiest military establishment.

Get a grip, Lou Dobbs. Stick to business reporting and steer far away from — dare I say it? — “fake news.”

Here come the questions about the canceled strike

The questions have started coming forth about Donald Trump’s statement that he called off a planned strike against Iran after hearing about the potential for civilian casualties.

Hmm. Let me see how this played out.

The president assigned the Pentagon to draft a strike plan against the Iranians after the Iranians shot down an unarmed drone over international waters.

The brass followed the orders and then got the planes, ships and personnel ready to launch the strike.

Then the president decided to inquire about potential loss of life just as the planes were about to take flight? Is that right?

What kind of military planning didn’t divulge that information from the very beginning? Thus, we now have suspicion over what the president told NBC News’s Chuck Todd, that he was “cocked and loaded” to deliver punishment to Iran, but only found out at the last minute to cancel the strike because it would have been a “disproportionate” response?

This is the kind of suspicion that haunts Donald Trump. He seems unable or unwilling to execute a plan the way it should be done. He wants us to believe that the Pentagon’s military planners didn’t tell him from the outset about the casualties that would be inflicted by such a strike?

Please.

Where is the vetting, Mr. President?

Patrick Shanahan’s withdrawal from consideration to be defense secretary brings to the fore the issue of whether he was vetted properly before Donald Trump appointed him to be acting secretary of defense.

The president had said he wanted Shanahan to be confirmed for the permanent job … except that he had some serious, egregious baggage.

It turns out Shanahan was accused of beating the daylights out of his then-wife in 2010.

The media have reported in just recent hours about Shanahan’s history. It makes a lot of us wonder: Is there any vetting going on in the West Wing of the White House?

I have to wonder how in the world the president puts forth an individual who has something so grievous in his background. Does anyone within the White House personnel operation understand that these kinds of things cannot be kept secret? Not ever?

This isn’t the first incidence of senior officials being “outed” over instances of domestic abuse.

Another ‘acting defense secretary’ set to take over

How is this going to work?

The United States well might go to war with Iran. We’re still fighting terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and who knows where else. The Pentagon has just ordered another 1,000 American troops into the Persian Gulf region.

Against that backdrop, the acting secretary of defense, Patrick Shanahan, today has pulled out of the nomination to become the permanent defense boss.

Is this another example of Donald Trump’s “fine-tuned machine” in action? Is this how we’re supposed to believe that our national security network is in steady hands?

Trump has named Army Secretary Mark Esper to be the latest acting defense secretary. For how long will Esper be the “acting” Pentagon boss?

Oh, my.

I’m still trying to get over the resignation of former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who quit because of serious policy disagreements with the president, who then lied about Mattis being “fired.”

Shanahan said something today about wanting to spend more time with his children. Trump said Shanahan had done a great job as the acting defense secretary. There were reports of a domestic disturbance in 2010 with his now former wife, which might have played a part in his decision to pull out of the effort to be confirmed as permanent defense secretary.

The revolving door keeps on turning at the Pentagon. It is happening at a time of tremendous national peril.

What in the world can possibly go wrong without a strong hand at the Pentagon helm?

Frightening.

Jon Stewart stands up for our heroes

Forgive me for using a word that I have contended over the years has been misused, but I’m going to use it anyway.

Jon Stewart is my newest hero. He stood up today for the first responders, the men and women who rushed into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon on 9/11. He sat before a House Judiciary subcommittee and excoriated the House members for failing to act to protect those heroic first responders.

He spoke for millions of Americans who want the government to deliver on the promise it made 18 years ago, that it would ensure that the first responders — the firefighters, police officers, medical personnel, military members — would always have the medical protection they would require if the needs arose.

The comedian, producer and writer spoke of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund that has yet to be extended. Why? Because the Senate cannot muster up the guts to do what it should do, which is provide the money set aside for the fund; the House has approved this legislation, but it goes to the Senate essentially to die.

Steward acknowledged that he sounded “angry and undiplomatic” but still spoke forcefully to House members. Were they moved in any form by what Stewart said? I have no clue. They should have been moved.

He berated House members for their “callous indifference” and their “rank hypocrisy” as it relates to the 9/11 victims fund. He noted that first responders have died from illnesses related directly to their exposure during those first horrific hours after the terrorist attacks.

Jon Stewart put on a rare display of visceral anger coming from a celebrity who happens also to be a taxpayer, a citizen and a man whose voice needs to be heard.

Will those who serve in our federal government answer the call to stand behind those who risked their lives on their behalf?

Yes, those responders are the real heroes in this discussion. I want to salute Jon Stewart, too, for the courage he exhibited in giving Congress the a**-chewing it deserves.