Milley must go, and that shouldn't be a partisan issue. Plus, NewsHour discussion. And RIP Norm.
By Gary Abernathy
Pressure to fire General Milley must continue until he goes
According to excerpts from a new book by the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the following to his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Li Zuocheng, during the waning days of Donald Trump’s presidency early this year:
“General Li, you and I have known each other for now five years. If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”
Read those words again from our chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to China’s top general: “If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”
Again: “If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”
Now, read what President Joe Biden had to say about Milley this week after being asked about Milley’s assurances to the Chinese, which Milley has not denied.
“I have great confidence in General Milley.”
Again, the United States chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to China’s top general: “If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”
President Biden: “I have great confidence in General Milley.”
I noticed that several media outlets are ignoring the above comments from Milley, which are the most damning, and focusing on other quotes attributed to him, as well as his orders to consult with him before carrying out any orders from Trump on nuclear strikes. It’s all very concerning, to be sure. But the comments above are the ones that make demanding his resignation, or just firing him outright, imperative.
No matter where you are on the political spectrum, no matter how you feel about Donald Trump, it should be outrageous to you that the chairman of our Joint Chiefs of Staff would assure his Chinese counterpart that he would warn him if the U.S. was going to attack. What would China do with such a heads up? They would strike first, of course. Thank you, General Milley.
First, there’s no evidence that Trump was considering an attack on China. Second, even if he was, that would be Trump’s call. What Milley — and, apparently, Biden, as well as many media pundits and commentators — have forgotten is that the U.S. has — constitutionally — civilian authority over the armed forces and over military decisions. When we start to defend and justify the military usurping civilian authority, we’re going down a very dangerous road.
Remember Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified against Trump during Trump's first impeachment trial? Even he said in a tweet, “If this is true GEN Milley must resign. He usurped civilian authority, broke Chain of Command, and violated the sacrosanct principle of civilian control over the military. It’s an extremely dangerous precedent. You can’t simply walk away from that.”
I wasn’t on the anti-Milley bandwagon before this came to light. I thought a lot of the GOP handwringing about Milley was petty. But this steps far over the line. This may well be treasonous behavior, and a trial should be conducted to determine that question.
So far, mainly Republicans and conservative pundits are pushing this point. Most Democrats and members of the Biden administration are defending Milley. That’s too bad. But if they’re going to be the only ones doing it, I hope Republicans keep pounding away at this until more and more people begin to open their eyes, do what’s right and join the calls for Biden to fire Milley.
Biden shouldn’t need that kind of pressure to act under these circumstances, but apparently he does. Biden may think what Milley did was fine, since it was done under Trump. Will Biden wait until Milley does it to him?
Discussing the recall election on PBS NewsHour
I enjoyed being a guest on the PBS NewsHour Wednesday evening to discuss the ramifacations of California’s gubernatorial election. I was paired with Perry Bacon Jr., who also writes for the Washington Post and who lives just down the road in Louisville, Ky. Host Judy Woodruff asked good questions, as always. You can watch by clicking above.
Still in disbelief over the death of Norm Macdonald
Finally, I’m still in disbelief over the news of Norm Macdonald’s passing. Norm was my favorite all-time comedian. Lora and I literally spent hours on YouTube watching his standup routines and talk show appearances during evenings where we had time to watch TV and there wasn’t anything new we were interested in.
According to reports, Norm, who was just 61, had been battling cancer for most of the last decade, but he was determined not to let word get out. Along those lines, I came across a pertinent interview he did, apparently not too long ago, where he discussed people who disclose a cancer diagnosis and those who don’t. He clearly favored the idea of keeping it private. Here’s that interview (it’s audio only). Listen to the end, when he says that if he had a serious medical issue, he wouldn’t discuss it.
Lora and I had just visited my youngest son, David, who’s 27, a few weeks ago in North Carolina and in the evening we sat around the TV showing him Norm Macdonald clips on YouTube. He laughed hard and said, “Why haven’t I heard of this guy before?”
Norm has so many hilarious bits that it’s hard to choose my favorite. From his famous moth story to his scrabble game with “old Harold Delaney” to his reaction to people who say that the worst thing about Bill Cosby was his hypocrisy, he was laugh-out-loud hysterical. You can easily search out all this on YouTube. As they say about funny people, he could read the phone book and make me laugh. I think my favorite is his bit on why, of all countries, Germany scared him the most. It’s posted above.
Rest In Peace, Norm. And thanks for the laughs, which will continue for years to come thanks to the magic of streaming video.
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