Gen. Mark Milley: Villain or Hero?
Top photo is a YouTube screenshot: https://youtu.be/8OrXVFG1L7I
I was feeling a bit of whimsy this morning, nostalgia really, for the halcyon days past when we had a president we loved to see on TV, loved to hear speak and we were proud and happy he was making those heavy decisions the gridlocked Congress refused to touch.
“Yes,” I say in my deepest and most drawn out Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus voice, as we begin to tumble down the rabbit hole. Those days when Chicago’s own Barack Obama was president. Well, maybe he is Hawaii’s own. Whatever. I was locked on to the YouTube machine watching these videos of old Barack walking around Washington, D.C. and other areas, surprising the shit out of people. One woman asking, “Are you for real?”
Let me just say as a politician Obama was not my cup of tea. He was far too centrist for my taste when it came to policy, plus his reliance on the drone assassination program — especially when he killed a U.S. citizen and his son — was abhorrent and quite possibly criminal.
But at least Barack Obama knows global warming is real and the truth is becoming far worse than inconvenient. Hell, 18 years ago when former V.P Al Gore first introduced the film version of his lecture series about global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, it was still in the annoying and possibly disturbing stage, although we were warned it would quickly move well past that stage into the catastrophic.
Here we are in 2021, watching wild fire after wild fire, horrific hurricane after horrific hurricane, frightening and deadly tornado cluster after frightening and deadly tornado cluster. And those are just the horrors we see from the climate crisis.
This isn’t about the climate crisis, although maybe it should be, considering the heating of our planet is occurring at a faster pace than was predicted in 2004 when Al Gore was getting ridiculed by the right. And we’ve just been told that the hole in the ozone that forms over the south pole every year IS NOW BIGGER THAN ANARCTICA. Sorry for the drama of using all caps, but that bit of news is TERRIFYING!
No, this is about something else. In 2020 Famed Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward had a book published by Simon and Schuster entitled Rage. It was about the final months of the Trump presidency, especially as it related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Woodward did 17 one-on-one interviews with Trump and made some of those recordings public, including some that had Trump admitting he lied about the pandemic in public pronouncements.
After reading that book it became clear Donald J. Trump, former president, was — and is — insane and mentally incapacitated to the point of being unqualified for any public office, most especially the presidency.
Well now, as if Rage, and before that Fear weren’t enough to scare the bejesus out of us, Woodward has a new book, co-authored by Robert Costa, called Peril. I will order and read it, but from what has already been reported, the nation — and the world — is a much safer place, now that Trump is out of office. That seems like a no-brainer, but jeez, what we didn’t know …
According to the book, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley, “… was certain that Trump had gone into a serious mental decline in the aftermath of the election, with Trump now all but manic, screaming at officials and constructing his own alternate reality about endless election conspiracies.”
So Milley told senior members of the Department of Defense, people in the military chains of command, not to act on any orders from then president Donald J. Trump without first discussing it with him, Milley. It was the type of precautions aids took in the waning days of the Richard M. Nixon presidency, when everything was collapsing in on Nixon after the Watergate debacle brought him to the brink of impeachment.
That’s probably not even the most troubling news about what General Milley was doing — and with whom — in the waning days of the Trump Administration. Milley also spoke with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on January 8, 2021 — two days after the failed insurrection — who, according to the book, said former President Donald J. Trump was “crazy” and Milley responded, “Madam Speaker, I agree with you on everything.”
And that “everything” included her wanting to know, “… what precautions are available to prevent an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or from accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike.”
We may recall it was reported Pelosi sent a letter to her Democratic colleagues to let them know she had spoken to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. The letter said, “This morning, I spoke to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley to discuss available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike. The situation of this unhinged President could not be more dangerous, and we must do everything that we can to protect the American people from his unbalanced assault on our country and our democracy.”
Pelosi also told Milley, “But it is a sad state of affairs for our country that we’ve been taken over by a dictator who used force against another branch of government. And he’s still sitting there. He should have been arrested. He should have been arrested on the spot.” Milley agreed.
According to the book the Chairman believed the January 6 attack on the capitol was a planned, coordinated assault designed to overthrow the government.
It’s been eight months since the attack on our democracy and we’ve got the select committee investigating it, only we don’t hear anything about the investigation. Reporters, like Bob Woodward, Robert Costa, Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, to name just four, have published some very detailed books, with quotes on the record and anonymous, from inside the Trump White House and Congress — and we hear next to nothing about this select committee in the House of Representatives.
Remember in the run up to the 2016 election we heard about the useless and wasteful Benghazi investigation nearly every day? The Republicans made sure the public heard about it all the time so that when it came time to consider Hillary Clinton for president, just enough voters took a pass that Donald J. fucking Trump won the Electoral College. That’s old news, but the point is the GOP knows how to gin up emotions with useless, mindless drivel, day after day. If the Democrats want to retain control of the two houses of Congress they need to do the same: stick the Republican Party — i.e. the Trump Cult — with the January 6 insurrection and make use of the information that members of Congress might have, could have, aided and abetted the insurrectionists.
Hell, they don’t even have to prove anything. The GOP proved nothing against Hillary Clinton with all their Benghazi hearings, but, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy got to crow about Clinton’s poll numbers dropping.
With books like Rage and I Alone Can Fix It (by Leonnig and Rucker) and now Peril revealing information about the final days the Trump Administration it looks like the House Select Committee on the January 6 insurrection has some extra road maps on where to go inside the Trump White House for vital information on who could have been involved. Starting with that orange fat man that occupied the Oval Office.
What has really got the right wing echo chamber in a tizzy is the revelations that General Milley contacted his Chinese counterpart (among others) saying he would give them a heads up if Trump tried to start a nuclear war in an effort to save his presidency. He did so twice because he was convinced Trump was insane enough to do it and that there were a number of enablers around Trump that would let him act out on his worst impulses.
Early in his presidency (May 10, 2017) Trump had invited the top two Russian spies (foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak) into the Oval Office and he gave them top secret Israeli intelligence — so Milley and others knew Donald Trump was capable of any act of insanity and desperation.
So the right wing echo chamber is apoplectic about General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He called various counterparts around the world — including China’s General Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army. In the first call, which occurred October 30, 2020, Milley told Li, “General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay. We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.” And just to be more reassuring, Milley said, “If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”
Well where’s the fun in that, General Milley?
On January 8, two days after the insurrectionists attacked the capitol Milley told Li, ““We are 100 percent steady. Everything’s fine. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes.”
What Milley didn’t tell Li was that he, General Milley was worried about the unhinged Trump, and working behind the scenes to protect the country and world from the crazy orange man in the Oval Office. The insurrection that Trump and a few of his lackeys fomented on January 6 came very near to stopping the certification of the Electoral College totals. The leaders in both houses of Congress had the presence of mind to reconvene and finish the job and former Vice President Mike Pence — who everyone previously thought was a constitutional hero — Did his ceremonial duty in that certification process … after several consultations with another former V.P., Dan Quayle, who has been quietly enjoying his retirement from politics by playing golf in Arizona. First off: Nobody expected Dan Quayle, one-time goofball gaffe machine to save the U.S. from insurrectionists. As Andrea Mitchell said on MSNBC, “Wow! Dan Quayle comes to the rescue of the republic!”
What Quayle told Pence on one of those calls was, “Mike, you have no flexibility on this. None. Zero. Forget it. Put it away.”
What Pence wanted to convey to Quayle was the tight situation he was in. According to the Woodward-Acosta book, Trump told Pence, “I don’t want to be your friend anymore if you don’t do this.”
So, Mr. Pence ended up being a good guy (for once) on January 6 and a bad guy in the eyes of Trump and his cult. The saddest part for Pence: Donny doesn’t want to be his friend anymore.
So every right wing nut job, who is in the bag for the Trump Cult, is demanding Milley resign, or be fired, or held on charges. In a statement Trump said, “If the story of “Dumbass” General Mark Milley, the same failed leader who engineered the worst withdrawal from a country, Afghanistan, in U.S. history, leaving behind many dead and wounded soldiers, many American citizens, and $85 Billion worth of the newest and most sophisticated Military equipment in the world, and our Country’s reputation, is true, then I assume he would be tried for TREASON in that he would have been dealing with his Chinese counterpart behind the President’s back and telling China that he would be giving them notification ‘of an attack.’ Can’t do that!
“The good news is that the story is Fake News concocted by a weak and ineffective General together with two authors who I refused to give an interview to because they write fiction, not fact. Actions should be taken immediately against Milley, and better generals in our Military, of which we have many, should get involved so that another Afghanistan disaster never happens again. Remember, I was the one who took out 100% of the ISIS Caliphate. Milley said it couldn’t be done!”
So the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs should be tried for treason, based on “fake news” that isn’t true … Like so much that comes out of Trump’s pie hole it doesn’t make a lick of sense. And it isn’t just the leader of the cult, it’s his followers.
On Saturday, September 18, they showed up, not quite in force, to show some solidarity for the 600-plus insurrectionists who are being held and charged with a variety of charges related to the January 6 attack on the capitol. There were guys there wearing T-shirts that said, “If you don’t like Trump then you probably don’t like me and I’m OK with that.” Great, then we’re both fine. There were signs that said the insurrectionists were “guilty of loving America.” Aw man! Doesn’t that just tug at your heart strings?
Apparently law enforcement and the media outnumbered the protestors Saturday. Only about 200 pro-insurrectionist supporters showed up. Many stayed home because they thought it was a trap to catch “ ‘Merica-loving Freedom fighters!” The few that did show up made sure the police and media knew which side they were on — the Trump side!
Is the Trump Cult losing steam? Not really. Republican-controlled states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are following Arizona’s crazy lead and starting up their own so-called “forensic audits.” Because it worked so comedically not well the first time. It was supposed to be over in three weeks when it started last March and the Arizona audit is still … doing something. Meanwhile all the voting machines in Maricopa County have been compromised so the people of Arizona will have to foot the bill to replace them.
Hold them accountable, my friends in the Dairy State. Don’t let those Republicans fully upend Wisconsin.
I saw on Bill Maher the other night Bill and his guests suggesting we are too polarized and all of — the left included — should turn it down a notch or two. No, I don’t think so Bill. But maybe, just maybe, if the Trump Cult denounces the Big Lie, denounces all the lies Trump told while in office, then maybe, just maybe, I will try to be a bit more tolerant. But don’t count on it. It’s time for the left to get mean and fight back. Hang that Trump-led insurrection around every Republican that refused and continues to refuse to denounce Trump and the big Lie, for the next election cycles. Do it until the Republican Party is no more, or at least the Trump Cult has been driven back under their rocks.
The political right brought on this polarization. Now let’s bury them with it.
Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the elected government officials and business were so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that.