By JOHN KANELIS / firstname.lastname@example.org
I will get to the point immediately. Lloyd Austin is an outstanding selection to become our nation’s next secretary of defense and the U.S. Senate should confirm him.
Indeed, Austin’s nomination from President-elect Biden comes with a caveat: He needs a congressional waiver to serve as the leading defense official in the government. Austin retired four years ago from the U.S. Army; federal law requires that defense secretaries need to have been out of the military at least seven years.
Austin served with honor and distinction. He was a four-star general. He led the Central Command before retiring from the Army. He has led men and women in combat. Austin would become the nation’s first African-American defense secretary.
I get the need to ensure civilian control of the military. Thus, Austin is now “Mr. Austin,” not “Gen. Austin.” He is a civilian.
Congress granted a waiver for Donald Trump’s first defense secretary, James Mattis, who needed the exemption because his service in the Marine Corps fell within the seven-year window. Mattis served well as defense secretary until he resigned in a major snit with the commander in chief.
I should note that my hope would be that future defense secretaries shouldn’t require the waiver that Austin will need. Future presidents, or even the president who’s about the take office, should be able to find competent, capable patriots to lead our military services who do not have the conflict that confronts Lloyd Austin.
Lloyd Austin, though, is highly regarded by the individuals who served under his command. The waiver should be granted. President-elect Biden needs a defense secretary he can trust. He found one in Lloyd Austin.
Let this patriot serve the nation.
By JOHN KANELIS / email@example.com
Retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin is President-elect Biden’s choice to become the next secretary of defense.
I applaud the choice. Gen. Austin would be the first African-American to lead the Pentagon. He is a former Central Command leader and a warrior with a distinguished and heroic military career.
But oh yes. There’s an issue with Austin. The law requires that a former military man or woman must be out of the service a minimum of seven years before assuming a top-level Cabinet post. Austin’s been out of the Army for only four years.
What does the Senate do? Simple! It does what it did for retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis when Donald Trump nominated him to be defense secretary. Mattis received a waiver from the Senate because he, too, hadn’t been a civilian for the requisite length of time.
The Senate can — and should — do the same for Lloyd Austin. Sen. Jack Reed, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the Senate shouldn’t grant another waiver so soon after it did so for James Mattis. “Waiving the law should happen no more than once in a generation,” Reed said in 2017. “Therefore, I will not support a waiver for future nominees. Nor will I support any effort to water down or repeal the statute in the future.”
Hooey! Lloyd Austin is an outstanding choice who deserves a Senate waiver to enable him to take command of the Pentagon.
“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us.”
—U.S. Marine Corps Gen. (Retired) James Mattis
Back when James Mattis served our nation a defense secretary, I along with many other observers, noted that he emerged immediately as the rare grownup serving in the Cabinet in the Donald Trump administration.
Then he got fired. Why? Because he differed with Trump on a whole array of defense and foreign policy decisions.
His highly critical assessment of Trump, delivered in this widely circulated quote, speaks volumes about what Gen. Mattis saw up close during his time as defense secretary.
Tragically, Trump is campaigning for re-election as president by continuing to divide the nation. He is campaigning exclusively to the base of voters who propelled him to the White House by virtue of the Electoral College majority he eked out over Hillary Rodham Clinton.
For the ever-lovin’ life of me I don’t understand how this process is supposed to work as he fights for re-election in a campaign against Joseph R. Biden Jr. Trump’s approval rating stands in the low 40 percent range. The average of public opinion polling puts Biden up by about 8 to 9 percent. The former vice president figures to get a big bump from the virtual Democratic National Convention that convenes Monday.
Trump is going to campaign for re-election by telling us about all the ills that continue to plague the nation. But … wait a minute! Didn’t he declare that “I, alone” can solve those woes? Hasn’t he served as our chief executive for nearly four years? Didn’t he pledge to “drain the swamp” and “make America great again”?
Instead, Trump is going to proceed according to the Mattis Mantra that the retired Marine Corps general identified earlier this year. He will try to divide the nation he pledged to unite.
James Mattis pounded Donald Trump, saying he is intentionally seeking to divide the nation.
John Kelly said the nation needs to do a better job of assessing the character and competence of those who seek elective public office.
John Bolton says Donald Trump is unfit for public office and says he endangers our national security by looking first at his re-election chances and how any decision affects them.
Mattis and Kelly are former Marine Corps generals; Mattis served as defense secretary and Kelly served as homeland security secretary and then White House chief of staff. Bolton is a former U.N. ambassador and a longstanding conservative foreign policy hawk.
These are just the latest in a long line of national security officials who once worked for Trump. What do they have in common? They are trashing a sitting U.S. president. They are telling us that Donald Trump is dangerous, uninformed, unwilling to become informed.
Let’s not forget, too, that Rex Tillerson, the former secretary of state, once called Trump a “fu**ing moron.”
As I look at a reasonably big picture, I see an executive government branch in a state of absolute chaos and pandemonium. This is all a function of a president who now wants to win a second term. My goodness! There can be no way in the world we should allow this to continue.
And I can say that even while setting aside that the Nitwit in Chief has committed at least two impeachable offenses and should have been convicted in that Senate trial that acquitted him.
God help us if this clown wins the upcoming election!
Donald J. “Divider in Chief” Trump is going to make a splash — bigly! — when he resumes active campaigning for re-election.
He’s going to show up in Tulsa, Okla., on Juneteenth of all days. That’s June 19, the day African-Americans received word in 1865 that they had been freed from enslavement.
But … here’s the kick in the gut. Tulsa is the place where in May 1921 white supremacists massacred African-Americans in what became known as the nation’s most hideous racial confrontation.
It was far more than a riot. It was a full-scale assault on the black community in that city. It killed 36 people, 26 of whom were black.
And this is the place where Donald Trump wants to re-start his re-election campaign, which has been all but suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. Astonishing, man! And reprehensible. Also despicable. I’ll throw in repulsive to boot!
I don’t buy the notion that Trump is totally ignorant of U.S. history or what Juneteenth means to African-Americans or what Tulsa means to those who abhor racial violence. Instead, I am going to endorse the notion put forth by former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who said recently that Trump is the first president in Mattis’s memory who doesn’t seek to unify the nation, that he works deliberately to divide it.
As I watch Trump re-start his campaign, I will do so with utter disgust that he would deliberately inflame tensions that already are smoldering from the anger created by the death of George Floyd, who was suffocated while in police custody in Minneapolis.
Gen. Mattis appears to be so correct, that this president has no interest in unifying the country.
What do you suppose will be Donald John “Stable Genius” Trump’s response to criticism leveled at him by a man generally viewed as one of the few bright lights of the president’s administration?
This comes from former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who said in a statement to reporters: “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.”
Is this the ranting of a “loser”? Of a “low-IQ” rat? Or of someone who is disloyal to the president and the country he served with honor and distinction while wearing a Marine uniform?
Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general who is revered by the men and women who served under his command, has spoken out eloquently and forcefully at what he has witnessed — along with the rest of us — in the conduct of the commander in chief.
Mattis has said that Trump is violating Americans’ constitutional rights by using military troops to curtail peaceful protests in the wake of the George Floyd killing by four cops in Minneapolis. The nation has erupted in indignation over the perception of widespread police brutality. Trump’s emphasis has been on ending the protests, which have become violent in many cities.
Mattis is concerned that Trump is trampling over citizens’ civil liberties.
Trump’s ham-handed response to the protests drew Mattis’s specific condemnation. As Politico reported: Mattis called the decision to clear protesters in Lafayette Square an “abuse of executive authority” and said that Americans should “reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.”
Donald Trump’s response to this criticism no doubt is going to reveal the shallowness and emptiness of the president. I’ll stand with Gen. Mattis, who I consider to be a patriot and a statesman.
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.
James Mattis is showing his class, his devotion to country and his dedication to public service. How? By revealing that Donald Trump’s shamble-driven management style forced him to resign as secretary of defense.
He quit because of policy differences with the commander in chief. Trump, quite unsurprisingly, dismissed the differences he had with Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general, a combat veteran and — to my way of thinking — one of the few actual grownups who has served in the Trump administration.
Mattis became frustrated with Trump’s policy pronouncements by Twitter. He couldn’t function while there was no clear line of communication between his staff and the White House.
So, he quit.
I, along with other Americans, was struck by tone of Mattis’s statement announcing his resignation. He took great pains to salute the men and women who served under his command; he paid tribute to his Pentagon staff and to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He didn’t say a word of praise for the president of the United States.
Gosh! Can you imagine that?
Atlantic magazine has published a story telling how Mattis told those close to him about his decision to leave the administration. See the story here.
The bottom line for James Mattis is that he just “couldn’t take it any more.” Who knew?
Imagine my (non)surprise to hear that Dan Coats is “stepping down” from his job as director of national intelligence in the Donald J. Trump administration.
The president has made damn few appointments that I could endorse. Coats was one of them. Coats, a former Indiana U.S. senator House member, is an establishment Republican with valuable political contacts/friendships/alliances in Washington, D.C. He served as a key bridge between the renegade president and the political pros who run things on Capitol Hill.
He also is a serious policy hound who knows how to walk through the maze of government mumbo-jumbo.
Coats also had some run-ins with the president, who you’ll remember challenged the intelligence community’s assertion that Russia hacked into our electoral system in 2016. They performed with evil intent to help Trump get elected. Trump, of course, sided with Russian strongman Vlad Putin and denigrated the intelligence network’s diligence on the matter.
Coats was at the center of that dispute.
I hate that the administration is losing a seasoned pro like DNI Dan Coats. Trump says he’ll nominate U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas — a staunch Trump supporter on Capitol Hill — to succeed Coats.
Trump called Ratcliffe a “highly respected” member of Congress, a former U.S. attorney. The president also reportedly was impressed by the way Ratcliffe grilled former special counsel Robert Mueller III during Mueller’s marathon testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees — of which Ratcliffe is a member … of both panels.
Coats, to my way of thinking, ranks alongside former Defense Secretary James Mattis as among the more stellar Trump appointments. Mattis bolted after quarreling with the president. Now it’s Coats who is leaving, reportedly for the same reasons.
Hmm. What’s the common denominator? Oh, gosh! It must be the president of the United States.
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?
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?