Category Archives: Military

General Kelly’s Willful Ignorance is a Product of Military Culture

By Michael Bryan

People are shocked that Gen. Kelly demonstrably knew that the President’s Staff Secretary, Rob Porter, could not obtain a permanent clearance due to domestic abuse allegations, and yet kept him in a position which required him to handle Top Secret and above materials.

I am not.

As a former prosecutor who has handled hundreds of domestic violence allegations, I handled several dozens of charges against male members of the armed forces. Invariably, if the accused was an officer, the member’s commander reached out to me to inform me of what a fine officer and national security asset the accused was. Rarely did they ask me directly to drop the charges, but they almost always served as character witnesses for the accused. Invariably, I would be informed of the damage that would be done to national security, and the waste of the expensive specialized training the taxpayers had invested in the officer, should he be convicted and be unable to continue his military career. The formal zero-tolerance of domestic violence had led to an informal culture of always believing the best of the man.

I’m sure there exists no formal policy of disbelieving domestic abuse charges against members, but what I observed was a definite culture of men covering for men in the military. Perhaps it was all rationalized as force protection: keeping vital national security assets at the work on behalf of the nation. But the result was a steady pressure to exempt military officers from the consequences of their crimes against women.

Having seen, first-hand, how the military’s culture handles allegations of domestic violence against those whom they consider mission-critical personnel, I am not at all surprised that General Kelly gave Rob Porter the benefit of every possible doubt to keep him at his post.

I have little doubt that the military culture General Kelly marinated in his whole career influence his thinking in his new role. The key difference in his new context is that General Kelly was now confronted with an FBI background report refusing to grant Porter clearance due to credible allegations of abuse. Allegations of domestic abuse arising in such an inquiry are made under the threat of federal felony criminal charges if the women are lying to FBI investigators. That is not “he said, she said”: that is “she said in peril of felony charges, he said without consequences.”

The question in my mind is not “did General Kelly protect Rob Porter from the consequences of his crimes against women,” but “how often has he done so in the past?” To the investigative reporters of the nation I say, look into General Kelly’s command history: I guarantee you this is not the first time he has willfully disbelieved women about the violence of men in his command.

Update: I was just proven correct about this prediction.

Donald Trump wants to throw himself a military parade in honor of ‘Dear Leader’

You may recall that the Washington Post in an interview with Donald Trump reported on January 18, 2017, How Donald Trump came up with ‘Make America Great Again’:

All of which raises the questions: How can greatness be measured and sensed? What does it even mean?

“Being a great president has to do with a lot of things, but one of them is being a great cheerleader for the country,” Trump said. “And we’re going to show the people as we build up our military, we’re going to display our military.

“That military may come marching down Pennsylvania Avenue. That military may be flying over New York City and Washington, D.C., for parades. I mean, we’re going to be showing our military,” he added.

The same day, the Huffington Post reported, Trump Sought Military Equipment For Inauguration, Granted 20-Plane Flyover:

During the preparation for Friday’s transfer-of-power, a member of Trump’s transition team floated the idea of including tanks and missile launchers in the inaugural parade, a source involved in inaugural planning told The Huffington Post. “They were legit thinking Red Square/North Korea-style parade,” the source said, referring to massive military parades in Moscow and Pyongyang, typically seen as an aggressive display of muscle-flexing.

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Russian military parade before the Tomb of Lenin in Moscow

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North Korean military parade in Pyongyang

The military, which traditionally works closely with the presidential inaugural committee, shot down the request, the source said. Their reason was twofold. Some were concerned about the optics of having tanks and missile launchers rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue. But they also worried that the tanks, which often weigh over 100,000 pounds, would destroy the roads.

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(Update) A budget deal, but can it pass? Demand a DACA vote in the House

In an eleventh hour deal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced a deal with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to fund the government and set spending levels for defense and nondefense programs over the next two years. Senate leaders agree to two-year budget deal:

The legislation would avert a government shutdown on Friday, when federal funding is due to expire, and boost defense and nondefense programs.

It also lifts the debt ceiling to March 2019 [which was to have been the next manufactured crisis for GOP hostage taking in a few weeks.]

The deal is backed by McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and will almost certainly be cleared as part of a stopgap funding measure by the Senate before a Feb. 8 deadline to prevent a shutdown.

It is not entirely sure the package will win enough support to pass the House, however.

As anticipated, GOP fiscal hawks revolt against Senate budget deal:

House conservatives on Wednesday revolted against a massive bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling and bust spending caps, complaining that the GOP could no longer lay claim to being the party of fiscal responsibility.

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The swift backlash from fiscal hawks means that Ryan and his leadership team will need dozens of Democratic votes to help get the caps-and-funding deal through the lower chamber to avert a government shutdown set for midnight Friday.

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Brinksmanship in Congress with only one day to a government shutdown

So the GOP’s alleged boy genius and Ayn Rand fanboy, Paul Ryan, “the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin,” went ahead with his kabuki theater plan to pass his fifth temporary spending bill (CR) that everyone knows was DOA in the Senate. He no doubt wants credit for his farce. House passes stopgap spending measure with defense money:

House Republicans passed a spending package on Tuesday night that pairs a full year of defense funding with a temporary patch for the rest of the government, even as Senate leaders pursue a different plan to avoid a shutdown when funding runs dry on Thursday.

The continuing resolution (CR), which passed the House 245-182, would fund the Defense Department for the rest of fiscal 2018 and keep the rest of the government’s lights on until March 23. It also includes two years of funding for community health centers and extends several expiring health care programs.

But the defense-CR package is unlikely to fly in the Senate, meaning senators will need to rewrite the stopgap measure and “ping-pong” it back to the House.

Spending bills are supposed to originate in the House, but since that clown show is held hostage by the House GOP Freedom Caucus who are not serious about governing responsibly, the serious work of keeping the government functioning is being done in the Senate. Senate leaders see two-year budget deal within their grasp:

Top Senate leaders were working Tuesday to finalize a sweeping long-term budget deal that would include a defense spending boost President Trump has long demanded alongside an increase in domestic programs championed by Democrats.

As negotiations for the long-term deal continued, the House passed a short-term measure that would fund the government past a midnight Thursday deadline and avert a second partial shutdown in less than a month.

The House bill, which passed 245 to 182, would fund most agencies through March 23 but is a nonstarter in the Senate because of Democratic opposition.

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(Update) More government shutdown theatrics this week?

These people are just not serious about governing responsibly. For them, everything is about producing propaganda grist for the mighty Wurlitzer of the right-wing noise machine.

Back in 2011 when the Tea-Publicans were holding the government hostage over a manufactured federal debt ceiling “fiscal cliff crisis” — something the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution requires Congress to increase to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its debts — the sequestration spending caps idea was born to resolve this manufactured “crisis.”

Spending cuts would apply to mandatory and discretionary spending in the years 2013 to 2021 and be in an amount equal to the difference between $1.2 trillion and the amount of deficit reduction enacted from the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. These spending caps would equally affect security and non-security programs. The automatic sequester provisions would go into effect in 2013 if Congress failed to produce a deficit reduction bill with at least $1.2 trillion in cuts.

At the time, everyone said Congress would never agree to the automatic sequestration caps, and yet, it became law, the Budget Control Act of 2011. Congress, of course, failed to do its job and we have been living under the automatic sequestration spending caps since 2013.

There have been repeated attempts to remove the sequestration spending caps on defense spending (while leaving the sequestration spending caps in place on domestic spending). Congress has agreed to several waivers of the spending caps over the years.

This long-running Kabuki theater is now central to the budget dispute in Congress to avoid a government shutdown at midnight on February 8.

The GOP’s alleged boy genius and Ayn Rand fanboy, Paul Ryan, the “zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin,” is siding with defense hawks and the radicals of the House GOP Freedom Caucus to bust the sequestration spending caps on defense spending while leaving the sequestration spending caps in place on domestic spending — a move Democrats oppose.

The point of this evil GOP bastard plan is to either roll weak-kneed Senate Democrats or to force them to vote against the House GOP spending plan and to shut down the government, so Tea-Publicans can beat their breasts and claim Democrats do not support our military and national defense. Or as President Trump trotted out yesterday, to assert they are “un-American” and to accuse them of “treason.”
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The threat of nuclear war should not rest in the hands of Donald Trump

Our always insecure man-child Twitter-troll-in-chief really outdid himself over the New Year’s weekend, but he saved his most insane tweets for Tuesday when he was supposedly back at work (he was actually watching Fox & Friends). Fact-checking President Trump’s post-New Year’s tweets.

This is why for foreign leaders and diplomats around the world taking the measure of our man-child Twitter-troll-in-chief, “The word they all used was: ‘This guy is insane.’” Donald Trump’s Year of Living Dangerously.

The tweet that put the world on edge on Tuesday was President Trump’s threat of nuclear war with North Korea using the taunt of a man insecure in his own manhood. Trump Says His ‘Nuclear Button’ Is ‘Much Bigger’ Than North Korea’s:

President Trump again raised the prospect of nuclear war with North Korea, boasting in strikingly playground terms on Tuesday night that he commands a “much bigger” and “more powerful” arsenal of devastating weapons than the outlier government in Asia.

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Yeah, For Starters, There’s No Button. More importantly, a nuclear war may hinge on our always insecure man-child Twitter-troll-in-chief’s freudian insistence that “my missile is bigger than yours.”

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Mr. Trump’s combative response to a statement made the day before by Mr. Kim raised the temperature in the brewing confrontation between the United States and North Korea even as American allies in South Korea were moving to open talks with Pyongyang. The contrast between Mr. Trump’s language and the peace overture by South Korea highlighted the growing rift between two longtime allies.

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