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FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, DEC. 25, 2018
BY BOB FRANKEN
The exchange rate
The holiday week leading up to New
Year’s has special meaning. The day
after holy Christmas, we celebrate the
wholly mercenary observance of
It’s not an official holiday in the
United States, but it should be, like
Boxing Day is in British Commonwealth
countries and other outposts of
civilization. You remember the British
Commonwealth, don’t you? That was
the worldwide collection of countries
under the influence of England, before
the demise of the U.K. — a downward
slide that is nearly identical to what the
U.S. is undergoing now.
That was long before Brexit, where
the demagogues successfully played
on the latent hatreds of the Brits in
order to commit financial suicide by
trying to pull away from the rest of
Europe. Again, it’s uncannily similar to
Americexit, a term I just made up to
describe how our current leadership is
trying to lead us to oblivion by removing
us from the rest of the planet.
As usual, I’ve digressed. This is
about returning unwanted merchandise.
President Donald Trump is dumping
a whole year’s worth. Actually,
sometimes he’s the dumper, but often
he’s the dumpee. No matter that Trump
decided to terminate him early, Gen.
Jim Mattis — who had gone on to be
President Trump’s secretary of defense
and was considered by nearly everyone
to occupy the ever-shrinking corner of
reason in the Trump solar system —
got tired of his expert advice being
trashed, and either the sudden decision
to pull out of Syria or the pullout
planned for Afghanistan was enough to
push him over the edge. We know what
motivated him because he made it clear
in his resignation letter:
“Because you have the right to have
a Secretary of Defense whose views
are better aligned with yours on these
and other subjects, I believe it is right
for me to step down from my position.”
The only way he could have been
clearer is if he had told the president
what he could do with himself.
By the way, Mattis is not the only
one. Even many of Trump’s fellow
Republicans are in an uproar over
Trump’s impetuous moves. Still,
POTUS will take great comfort in
knowing that his autocrat role models
Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip
Erdogan wholeheartedly approve.
Mattis, however, is bailing. He’ll soon
be followed out the door by John
Kelly, another retired Marine four-star
whose brass was tarnished. Kelly has
reached his limits as White House
chief of staff, and while he didn’t enjoy
the universal adulation that Mattis
accumulated, the two of them will do
their Semper Fi bye-bye at the same
time, retreating from the battles they
They’re trailing a three-star out the
door. H.R. McMaster left in April
2018, after he ran afoul of the capricious
emperor Trump. Let us not forget
that he replaced another one, Michael
Flynn. Gen. Flynn was sooooo last
year, unless you count his indictment
by Bob Mueller, who’s investigating
alleged Trump campaign Russian collusion.
Flynn is currently singing like a
songbird to avoid prison time.
This has not been a good year for
generals, particularly if you include
attorneys general, like Jeff Sessions.
By the way, did you know that the
proper way to address an AG is “General”?
One can assume that he’ll retain
the title even though he’s now a former
one. Of course, he’s a former senator,
too. What does etiquette dictate is the
Speaking of damaged goods, they
have slimed his cabinet full of holes.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is the
latest to slither out of industry’s pockets.
But he allegedly got greedy, just
like Scott Pruitt at the Environmental
Right now we are in the throes of
still another partial government shutdown,
widely blamed on Donald
Trump’s rash untrustworthiness. This
doesn’t figure to improve until he’s the
one who’s being exchanged.