Streetwise Professor

June 3, 2020

Yet Another Thing Consigned to the Flames of the Riots: The Reputation of James Mattis

Filed under: Military,Politics — cpirrong @ 6:47 pm

I used to be a great admirer of General James Mattis. I have written many glowing posts over the year. I thought he was the best choice in Trump’s original cabinet. I even said kind things about him upon his resignation as SecDef, even though I disagreed with the reason for his departure: a disagreement with Trump’s Syria policy.

That admiration and respect has now evaporated. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that they have gone up in flames, consumed in the infernos raging across US cities. Today Mattis released a tendentious and inflammatory letter bashing Trump. The gravamen of his criticism is that Trump is using the military to trample the rights of Americans. In particular, Mattis blasts Trump’s “bizarre photo op” at St. Paul’s church, which allegedly was possible only after tear gassing of peaceful protestors between the church and the White House. Mattis does not say that specifically, but it can be inferred as there is no other possible violations of civil rights involved in that episode.

That claim is based on a lie. It is now known there was no tear gas. There was no use of flash grenades. Those in the area were not uniformly peaceful: some were lobbing dangerous objects.

It is despicable that Mattis would base his allegation on a lie. Particularly given that the facts were known at the time he released the statement.

But then again, given that he was on the board of Theranos, perhaps the general can be a credulous fool who believes what he wants to believe. He is therefore responsible for the lie.

As for the photo op. A national treasure had been the target of arsonists. The White House had been besieged. Numerous building in the nation’s capital had been looted and burned. Great monuments–such as the Lincoln Memorial–had been defaced. American cities are in flames. Looters are rampaging from sea to shining sea.

Presidents always–always–make public appearances to such scenes: when they don’t, they are savaged in the press (e.g., Bush’s belated visit to New Orleans). In Trump’s case, it is important to demonstrate that the nation will not surrender to vandals and thugs, and that precious national symbols will be defended and preserved.

Mattis accuses Trump of overreacting to the situation. But Mattis’ words appear delusional to anyone who has been sentient over the past days. (Joe Biden is therefore excused):

We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.

A “small number of lawbreakers”? To speak in language that Mattis understands–and uses: are you fucking kidding me?

Boy, that “small number” is pretty efficient, given that they’ve wrecked not only swaths of DC, but Manhattan, Chicago, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and many other cities. This minimization of the scale of the destruction and lawlessness, and confabulation of peaceful protestors with a rampaging mob, is appalling.

Mattis says that keeping order is the job of governors and mayors. Agreed! But when governors and mayors utterly fail in that job–yeah, I’m looking at you Bill diBolshevik, but not just you–what is the president supposed to do? Say, “oh well, not my job!”?

Mattis’ lies and delusions don’t end there. He barfs up the standard Democratic/leftist propaganda:

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.

Yeah, I guess I missed the part where everyone in the US was holding hands and singing Kumbaya prior to 8 November, 2016. Maybe I’m Rumplestiltskin or something, and fell asleep prior to Hillary’s un-coronation.

And as for Trump being the “first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people.” Again: are you fucking kidding me, general? Obama was extraordinarily divisive–and deliberately so. Remember “bitter clingers”? His invocation of The Untouchables?: “If they bring knives, we will use guns.” It was in all the papers. The man was an Alinsky acolyte–and Bill Ayers acolyte–for crissakes. He was all about division. Indeed, his divisiveness made Trump possible.

So maybe it was Mattis who was Rumplestiltskin from 2009-2016. Even though he was serving in the military at that time–until defenestrated by Mr. Uniter.

I also note that Mattis was alive when LBJ and Nixon were president. Nah, they weren’t divisive at all.

As for our sacred Constitutional rights, perhaps General Mattis has not been paying attention to the cascade of revelations about Obama’s trampling of the rights of people like, oh, I don’t know, Mattis’ former confrere, General Michael Flynn.

Further, what is Mattis doing other than promoting division? He is feeding it. Throwing gasoline on an already raging fire.

All in all, an utterly despicable performance by a man whom I once considered honorable, and whom I honored. Today he made a tendentious political statement built on a foundation of lies. Not a single lie. Multiple lies.

As a substantive matter, if Mattis has reservations about invoking the Insurrection Act, I do as well. But conditions of insurrection indisputably exist around the country. If governors and mayors fail to deal with insurrection, what is to be done? Instead of saying what you won’t do, General, why don’t you tell us what you would do. Rather than engaging in throwing red meat to the Blue State mob, why don’t you make a principled case for alternative measures. And preferably do so in private.

Oh, but I guess that would require an honest acknowledgement of the reality of the situation, which we’ve already seen you are incapable or unwilling of doing.

Mattis’ letter is filled with mawkish language about his sacred duty as a soldier. Well, General, political backshooting is hardly the duty of any American service member, and especially not of a Marine.

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  1. There was a test of leadership here, and Mattis failed completely. That letter looks more like a plea to be invited to all the cool DC dinner parties than anything else.

    Comment by David Moore — June 3, 2020 @ 7:03 pm

  2. Mattis has certainly disappointed. Hard to fathom how he could misread the situation on the ground so completely. Hard to understand how such a leader has failed to grasp the inner dynamics of American politics.

    Comment by I.M. Pembroke — June 3, 2020 @ 9:31 pm

  3. Just to add to this, how did Mattis letter help? When he sent it, did he think to himself, this will improve the current situation in the US?

    What is his motivation in sending it?

    Comment by David Moore — June 3, 2020 @ 10:40 pm

  4. I find it bizarre that people will dump “failure of leadership” on private citizens speaking as private individuals, without critiquing the myriad failures of President “I don’t take responsibility at all”.

    To quote the commander-in-chief, “Leadership: Whatever happens, you’re responsible. If it doesn’t happen, you’re responsible.”

    Comment by Mjmd — June 4, 2020 @ 4:53 am

  5. It’s a common observation that people who rise to senior command of peacetime armies are often pretty useless when called upon to do something serious. It seems the same might be true of generals who command against no more challenging an enemy than goatherds.

    Comment by dearieme — June 4, 2020 @ 6:37 am

  6. As someone who has marched in NYC and watched as my Soho neighborhood was vandalized Sunday night, it is fair to say that the number of people doing the vandalizing are indeed small when compared to the number of people protesting peacefully. I don’t support it, it’s counterproductive, but it’s hardly an insurrection.

    Comment by Dan — June 4, 2020 @ 7:10 am

  7. …at least here in NYC

    Comment by Dan — June 4, 2020 @ 7:11 am

  8. Since you mentioned St. John’s, I could not resist.

    The good bishop woman is a raging leftie and makes no secret of her politics – it’s not a church, in other words, it’s a political rally, just like the church of the holy chickens come home to roost that Obama went to.

    The rector is also a leftie.

    The good bishop whined that there was no call from the White House 30 minutes beforehand, as is the “custom” – what was she going to do, sweep the place with a broom and duster in a hurry, and prepare tea and crumpets.

    And Trump holding a Bible in his had – egad, he did not ask for permission of the lefties to do this beforehand, and God should have struck him down with lightning!!!!!!

    Oops, I remember Slick Willie going into some church or other after his Monica episode was being focused on by the media – with Bible in hand.

    Here’s the delicious part – Trump was standing in front of the sign in front of the church that said – ALL ARE WELCOME!!

    Well, except for Trump, of course.

    Bite Me Biden also went to a church – but no one on the left howled about that.

    Notice the picture in the article – Bite Me is wearing a mask and he “takes a knee” – and a photo! A photo-op!


    Then, as he posed for a group photo with the activists, he took a knee. It was intended as a show of solidarity with the countless Americans who have filled the streets over the past week to protest the death of George Floyd.

    Comment by elmer — June 4, 2020 @ 1:38 pm

  9. Has St James said anything about the upper echelons of the intelligence services working with the upper echelons of the Democratic Party to implicate the President in a fabricated treasonous conspiracy theory?

    Can there possibly be anything more divisive than that?

    My guess is that Mattis is still butthurt over how Trump apparently asked difficult questions of him that, in the end, he couldn’t answer, requiring him to vacate his position. From memory, he was butthurt about Trump asking America’s NATO allies to move towards meeting their defence budget commitments.

    His getting it wrong about the ‘protests’ (read riots/insurrection), and his silence on the truly appalling attempted coup, indicate that this is more about him getting back at Trump for bruising his ego than anything else.

    And yes, as you say Prof, just when Trump is working to contain a difficult domestic situation, St James comes along and throws petrol on the fire.

    People really are despicable.

    Comment by Ex-Global Super-Regulator on Lunch Break — June 4, 2020 @ 3:51 pm

  10. OK – sorry, a little more on the cathedral.

    When Obummer, our first half-black Mooselim prez, mocked people for their “guns and Bible” – well, that was just okie-dokie and hunky-dory.

    After all, the most beautiful thing in the world for him was the morning call to prayer for Mooselims.

    But when Trump holds up a Bible – oh mee gosh, the Bible is sacred, how dare Trump hold up a Bible (which lefties have been trying to eliminate for ages)?

    Comment by elmer — June 4, 2020 @ 3:57 pm

  11. Ex-Global

    Right on target

    Apparently generals know better than anybody what’s best for everyone.

    Butthurt Mattis is geting his revenge on the prez. And facts and truth don’t matter to his hurt butt.

    The prez, not butthurt generals, is the Commander in Chief.

    Comment by elmer — June 4, 2020 @ 4:01 pm

  12. Mattis. Mattis? I can’t quite place the name. Mattis, you say?
    The Mattis who accessed the Administration thru an individual who was FIRED from the transition team? That Mattis? The reason for firing of that individual who brought in Mattis? He was meeting with Chinese & Vietnamese communists in Beijing.
    That individual, the one who brought that General Mattis in, worked natsec transition and was brought to Trump team by John McCain’s Senate staff, no less. John McCain! Huh! Fancy that.
    While in Beijing that same individual who brought in Mattis was accompanied by the leader of the International Union of Muslim Scholars….aka; Muslim brotherhood. How ’bout that?!”
    That same individual admitted under questioning to being “placed in transition to subvert the trump agenda.” Which means, he was a plant. Now, who would do such an underhanded thing?
    A plant, sort of like Manafort, and George Papadopolis, the other plants into the Trump campaign. You can read between the lines of the Mueller report and see that GPap was a plant. And Manfort is brought into the Trump campaign under a phony ‘delegate crisis’ before the convention. In both the cases of Manafort and GPap, the Trump campaign acts as if they _knew_ these two were plants. (But you don’t let the plotters know, so you hire the plants and give them no real role).
    THAT Mattis? Is that who you mean? The same Mattis guy who was buds with Jeff Bezos? Got Bezos/AWS a juicy no-bid DoD contract, then had court throw out the contract and Microsoft got it.
    You must mean that Mattis, right? Are we talking about the same Mattis?

    Comment by Richard Whitney — June 4, 2020 @ 4:11 pm

  13. They are throwing the kitchen sink at Trump, nothing is working and never will, whats next? cutting off the electricity?

    Comment by Joe Walker — June 5, 2020 @ 4:45 pm

  14. “whats next? cutting off the electricity?”

    Well, that’s the question. It’s not really about Trump. It’s about the people who voted for him. A segment of the population believes they have a right to all the power and they will do anything to get that power back, and stop the people who voted for Trump ever having a say again.

    Comment by David Moore — June 6, 2020 @ 2:29 am

  15. another take on Mush Dog Mattis

    In July 1967, the 82nd Airborne was sent into Detroit to put down the riot. In 1968, there were federal troops in D.C. to stop the rioting in the wake of Dr. King’s assassination. In the violent protests of the Nixon era, U.S. airborne troops were brought into the basement of the Executive Office Building.

    The general quotes James Madison: “America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign invaders than an America disunited.”

    And how, General, did that work out for Madison when the “foreign invaders” arrived in Maryland in August 1814, marched up Bladensburg Road, and burned the Capitol and White House and Alexandria, while “Little Jimmy” fled out the Brookville Road?

    If memory serves, it was Gen. Andrew Jackson and the troops he pulled together for the Battle of New Orleans who defeated the British and saved the Union.

    “Society cannot exist,” wrote Edmund Burke, “unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without.

    “It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

    If mob tactics are now how we change laws and alter public policy, the democratic republic is dead and we have gone full Third World.

    Some of us do not believe America is a racist society or that the nation’s police, numbering a million men and women, are shot through with anti-black racism.

    Some of us believe the police are the last line of defense we have against that “small number of lawbreakers” Mattis tells us are no problem.

    Did the general actually produce this pile of mush that reads like something out of Ramsey Clark in the 1960s?

    My guess: Mattis, an obedient servant of President Trump for two years, has been persuaded that the wind is blowing the other way and his “place in history” demands that he get himself on the correct side.

    The general has just defected to the resistance.

    Comment by elmer — June 6, 2020 @ 8:42 am

  16. ” it was Gen. Andrew Jackson and the troops he pulled together for the Battle of New Orleans who defeated the British and saved the Union”

    Come now, the peace treaty had been signed well before Jackson’s victory, so the Union was already secured. Pro tem, as it turned out.

    Comment by dearieme — June 6, 2020 @ 8:54 am

  17. I am sickened of all the public sanctimony, disgusting appeasement of criminal violent racist murderers, of intentional blindness to the fact that “revolution” – as in revolt and intimidation of law-abiding populace – has been organized from a central source and started simultaneously all over the country – and our elected Republican representative not only DOING NOTHING, they actively sabotage President Trump efforts. The romneys, the bushes, the rubios (read this: and mattises learned nothing of history. appease today – you’ll be killed tomorrow. next time the vandals will need a beating boy you’ll be it. no amount of virtue-signalling will protect you of that fate. today you’re an useful idiot, “taking the knee”, tomorrow – vultures’ dinner.

    By coincidence,I’m reading a book Caesar/ Masters of Rome series by C. McCullough. A quote strikes me of being rather apt:

    He understood most idiocies, but could not, even in his most pessimistic moods, believe that a small group of Roman senators would actually prefer to precipitate civil war rather than face the inevitable and permit Caesar what was, after all, no more than his due. Legally consul for the second time, free of prosecution, the First Man in Rome and the first name in history books. These things he owed to his family, to his dignitas, to posterity.

    Comment by Tatyana — June 6, 2020 @ 12:10 pm

  18. The US now has a want-to-be warlord in control of a section of Seattle. I’m quite curious to see how the old Mattis would have dealt with that challenge to the constitution, compared to the new Mattis.

    I wonder if he will write a letter to this guy and tell him off the way he did to Trump?

    Comment by David Moore — June 11, 2020 @ 12:33 am

  19. Your premise seems to rest on the idea that Mattia was distorting what happened at St Johns, specifically with the tear gas.

    But now that it’s come out that tear gas was in fact used, along with other chemical substances, should you not revisit this?

    Furthermore, it turns out that among the people forced off the church grounds was a minister of said church. How is that not a blatant violation of religious freedom?

    Comment by Jim — June 14, 2020 @ 8:26 am

  20. Here’s one good lead-from-the-front Marine who got thrown under the bus for endangering the good General’s cherished ‘Mad Dog’ media brand. Speak your mind just once out of turn and you’re done. Well sauce for the goose now, General.

    “Captain Royer said he had taken photographs of the Humvees in which his men had died to show to any official who asked about the condition of their armor, but that no one had ever inquired. Lieutenant Sean Schickel said he remembered Royer’s breaking the chain of command a meeting to ask a high-ranking Marine Corps visitor [Mattis] whether the company would be getting fully armored Humvees. He was told they had not been requested and that there were production constraints, Schickel said.

    Six days before Company E began leaving Iraq, Royer was relieved of command. General Mattis and Colonel Kennedy declined to discuss the matter. His first fitness report, issued on May 31, 2004, after the company’s deadliest firefights, concluded, “He has single-handedly reshaped a company in sore need of a leader; succeeded in forming a cohesive fighting force that is battle-tested and worthy.”

    The second, on Sept. 1, 2004, gave him opposite marks for leadership…. Royer’s defenders say he drove his troops as hard as he drove himself, but was wrongly blamed for problems like armor that he could not solve. “Captain Royer was a decent man that was used for a dirty job and thrown away by his chain of command,” Sheldon said.

    Today, Captain Royer is at Camp Pendleton contesting his fitness report, which could force him to retire.”

    Comment by TravellerPassingBy — June 15, 2020 @ 5:03 am

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