Tag Archives: West Point

Secretary of state: derelict in his duty

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo brought a lot of heft to his post as the nation’s top diplomat: top of his class at West Point; active-duty Army service; member of Congress; CIA director.

It’s the West Point chapter in his life that gives me concern, though, but not because I intend to disparage his academic record at the nation’s Military Academy.

Pompeo has violated a fundamental tenet of service in the military. One of the individuals under his command as secretary of state, former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, has seen her record smeared by the president of the United States.

Did the secretary of state stand up for her? Did he have her back? Has he vouched for her honor and affirmed that she isn’t “bad news,” as Trump has described her? Has he affirmed his support for her gallant service to the country over he past three decades? No. He has allowed the president to run roughshod over her.

Yovanovitch testified this past week before the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, which is overseeing the impeachment inquiry process launched against the president. While she was in the middle of her testimony, Trump decided to fire off a Twitter message that denigrated her service and — in the minds of many observers — contained a threat to her and others who might be so inclined to cooperate with House congressional questioners.

Why in the world has the nation’s top diplomat, the secretary of state, allowed this defamation to continue against one of the individuals under his command? Secretary of State Pompeo has been a profile in cowardice.

The president says he is entitled to express himself. Actually, what Donald Trump doesn’t grasp is the gravity of any statement he makes as the nation’s chief executive, as its head of state. Mike Pompeo surely should understand what has gone over the president’s head and he surely should have stood foursquare behind a highly honored and decorated diplomat, such as Marie Yovanovitch.

He didn’t. Pompeo choked. He disgraced himself as well as the long-standing tradition he brought to his high office.

How about those Pyramids?

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While the media and a number of political pundits obsess over whether Dr. Ben Carson really got a scholarship offer to West Point, I think it’s good to turn our attention to the here and now.

What was it he said the other day about the Great Pyramids? That they were built to, um, hold grain?

It’s not that the Pyramids’ reason for being there matters in the world of current geopolitical relationships. However, the remark seems to call into question the good doctor’s understanding of history.

Think of this for just a moment.

Carson is a leading contender for the Republican Party presidential nomination. Weren’t we all taught — Dr. Carson included — that the Great Pyramids were built as tombs for the pharaohs?

So, what’s he saying here? Does he know something that centuries of archaeologists have missed? Haven’t they uncovered the embalmed remains of Egyptian royalty from those structures?

You might not believe this, but I am pulling for Dr. Carson to get put this West Point story aside. I guess, though, it’s because I want the media to focus on the things he’s saying today.

 

One more point about Dr. Carson and West Point …

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The Internet didn’t exist in 1969 when Dr. Ben Carson reportedly had discussions with someone about whether he should get a “scholarship” to enroll at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

As I have always understood it, enrollment at any of the service academies requires a nomination from the applicant’s congressman or woman, or a senator from the individual’s home state.

The issue, then, has continued to swirl over whether Carson, a leading Republican presidential candidate, actually was offered a “scholarship” to West Point. He says a lot of things about it. Critics say he’s being — at minimum — disingenuous.

I found a website that lays out how one does it now.

Here is the link

It still involves submitting an application and a nomination from a member of the House of Representatives or a U.S. senator. The applicant also must score high enough on SAT and ACT tests to quality. Media outlets have reported that Carson never submitted an application to West Point.

Dr. Carson was living in Detroit at the time. He was active in the junior ROTC program at Southwestern High School, achieving the highest ROTC cadet ranking possible.

Did that get the attention of someone in Congress from the Detroit area, or from his home state of Michigan, to nominate young Ben for admission to West Point … and is there a record of it — anywhere?

Hey, I’m just trying to do my small part to help clean up this mess.

I’m out.

Can the Carson/West Point matter get muddier?

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My head is spinning over the past day or two regarding revelations about Dr. Ben Carson’s alleged, purported, supposed misstatements about whether he got a scholarship offer to West Point.

It’s turning into a game of semantics.

Moreover, the arguments have turned the discussion into a mud bath, meaning it’s becoming “clear as mud” about what Carson — a leading Republican presidential candidate — wrote about himself and whether it comports to the truth about what actually happened and when it supposedly occurred.

Steve Kornacki is a smart young political analyst who’s a regular on MSBNC’s talk-show circuit. He hosts a weekend talk show on MSNBC called “Up with Steve Kornacki.”

I’m beginning to believe that Kornacki might have the right take on how this Carson imbroglio is going end up. He said the other night on “Hardball,” another MSNBC show, that Carson and his allies have managed to turn the tables on the so-called “liberal mainstream media,” and have turned the argument into a game of “gotcha” in which the “liberal press” is “out to get” the good doctor.

Thus, if I read Kornacki’s analysis correctly, they’ve built enough reasonable doubt over the original story published by Politico that they’ve managed to deflect the argument back to the messenger … the aforementioned “liberal mainstream media.”

To be plainly honest, the story has taken so many turns I’m having trouble keeping up with it all. I need to stay focused entirely on the saga — chapter by chapter — to make sense of it all.

I guess I’ve boiled it down to simply this point: Dr. Carson could have written any reference to West Point with much more clarity than he apparently has done so far.

Or … he could have just not mentioned West Point at all.

I suppose another presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont — who’s seeking the Democratic nomination — had the best take on it all: Maybe we ought turn our focus more on Dr. Carson’s peculiar current public policy views and less on what he has said about his past.

 

‘Cadet Carson’ never suited up

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The vetting of the latest Republican presidential front runner has begun.

It’s gotten a bit bumpy for the noted neurosurgeon.

Politico reports that contrary to what he’s written about himself, Dr. Ben Carson never was offered a scholarship to the U.S. Military Academy. He didn’t even apply for admission, Politico reports.

Carson, though, says he was told when he was 17 years of age that if he applied, he’d be offered the full ride. Who told him? He said it was Army Gen. William Westmoreland, who had just finished commanding U.S. forces in Vietnam.

So … did the good doctor lie, fib, “misremember,” or what?

Carson’s record is under scrutiny more than ever now for a simple reason. He’s among the leaders of a still-packed GOP presidential field of candidates.

If he made it all up, then he’s likely guilty of something approaching stolen valor … you know, when folks make up war stories about themselves. It’s more or less what former NBC News anchor Brian Williams did when he claimed to have to been shot down by an Iraqi rocket-propelled grenade in 2003; oops, didn’t happen, we found out later.

Still, one shouldn’t be allowed to get away even with “misremembering” such details about one’s life when he seeks to become president of the United States of America.

It kind of reminds me of when Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton once said he didn’t remember getting a draft notice. Interesting. As one who did get such a notice from Uncle Sam, I can speak for others who did as well that you do not forget getting such a letter.

Dr. Carson has some serious explaining to do. His campaign now says he didn’t get the scholarship or the appointment to West Point.

Now, let’s hear from you, Dr. Carson. Did you make it up?

 

VA chief 'inaccurately' states military service

When will this all stop? The fibbing, the “incorrect” statements about one’s personal history, the embarrassments.

Welcome to the Pantheon of Prevaricators, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald.

The new VA boss — hired to fix the problems that have plagued the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health care network — has been caught saying he served in the U.S. Army Special Forces when, in fact, he didn’t.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/us-veterans-secretary-apologizes-for-misstating-military-service-abc-news/ar-BBhUHJ7

McDonald was caught on camera telling a homeless veteran that he served in the elite fighting force. The vet told the secretary he had served in Special Forces. “Me, too,” McDonald answered, telling the fellow he also was a Special Forces soldier.

To be fair, McDonald is a West Point graduate and did become an Army Ranger, which happens to be an elite fighting force as well. Why embellish those credentials?

NBC News anchor Brian Williams has recently admitted to “misremembering” an incident in which he said  a helicopter he was riding in was shot down by enemy fire in Iraq; it didn’t happen and he’s been suspended without pay for six months. Then came questions about Fox News talk show host Bill O’Reilly’s experience covering the Falklands War in 1982; he has said he came under fire covering that conflict but others have challenged his assertions, saying he didn’t set foot on the battlefield, as his reporting at the time and the years since have implied. O’Reilly and Fox are battling the accusations.

McDonald has apologized for the incident, which was recorded by a CBS News crew. “I asked the man where he had served in the military,” McDonald said, according to ABC News. “He responded that he had served in special forces. I incorrectly stated that I had been in special forces. That was inaccurate and I apologize to anyone that was offended by my misstatement.”

Inaccurate? Yeah, it was at least that. I’d call it a “lie,” which is the kind of thing that got the VA into trouble in the first place, with hospital staffers falsifying wait times that veterans were having to endure while seeking medical care.

Get back to work, Mr. Secretary — and limit your public remarks to the job you’ve been assigned to do.