Dear General Kelly – Immigration Is Another Thing You Know Nothing About

You know, sir, if you “get up off your ass” and return my calls I could spare all my friends these missives.

Just a thought.

I recognize that you are an expert in your field – combined arms combat in four dimensions (outstanding, in fact, like a farmer in a field*). But, respectfully, what you know about immigration policy can be summarized in one word. In the vernacular it’s a nickname for a man named Richard … as well as other, ruder things. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

So, in order to help guide you away from sounding like a man named Richard, as you did today, let me provide a hip-pocket brief on some basics. Whip out your candidate camp stool – you still have yours, right? – your grease pencil and your laminated notebook: this will save your life one day.

1) Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival – aka “DACA” – was an administrative policy enacted by the Department of Homeland security (your last gig, you should be familiar with it) in 2012 that prioritized immigration enforcement against “bad hombres” (like the MS-13 with which your boss is currently obsessed) instead of people who were being productive members of society.

2) DACA has never been ruled “unconstitutional”. The one challenge brought before your boss took power was tossed by a Federal court for “lack of standing”. After that everything ground to a halt while we all waited for a new Administration to weigh in. Which you have, so there’s that.

3) Fun fact: Fox and Friends, Maria Bartilomo, Sean Hannity – none of those people are actually qualified to declare anything “unconstitutional”. I’m sure you have on you that pocket copy of the Constitution the NRA sends out with every pledge drive – should be in your left breast pocket, by regs. Refer to that if you require a refresher on the three branches of government.

You’ll note neither “lickspittle TV network” nor “talk radio” is mentioned in there. (Not in mine, anyway, but mine’s the 2000 edition).

I’ll wait while you confirm that.

Who knew, right? It’s OK – they don’t teach that sh*t in General school.

4) I can think of at least two valid reasons why people eligible for DACA would not “get up off their asses” and apply. (Hint: not laziness, as you seem to suspect). First, the application fee is $500. Crazy as it sounds, even some white, male, native-born veterans have trouble coming up with that kind of cash on the fly.

Second, and more to the point, signing up for DACA means depending on the faith of the government while voluntarily wearing a big, fat target. Ya know, like the chemistry professor in Larryville, KS your boys handcuffed in front of his kids when he was taking them to school this week. (…/ct-chemistry-professor-ice-…)

“Tell us where you live and we won’t deport you” may have worked in the previous Administration (except it didn’t – you *do* know the Obama Administration deported people at historic levels, right? If not …. TURN OFF THE F*KING AM RADIO.)


There’s no one alive – besides those who watch Fox and Friends for “fair and balanced” news – who thinks that will work now.

(As an aside, the NRA is wrong about who the “jackbooted thugs from the government” are – but you can take that up with me when you finally do call).

As my instructors (and yours, I’m sure – hell, I’m sure you said it yourself during your time at TBS): “Good advice, Marine. Laminate it, take it to the field – it’ll save your life one day.”



* Heh. OCS humor. Guess you had to be there …

Dear General Kelly – Loyalty

(First posted 31 January 2018)


You probably don’t know this, but we checked in to The Basic School in Quantico about the same time in 1987 – I was a newly minted 2nd Lieutenant, you were taking over the Tactics shop. You may well have been the Major I failed to salute that day; I couldn’t find my glasses and thought I could do without. (Turns out, not so much – and not all that’s gold around that place is 2ndLt bars. Who knew?)(Besides everybody, I mean). We almost certainly crossed paths again at some point at 29 Palms after the war, when you took over 1st LAR Battalion and I was with TEECG. Small world, huh?

I bring that up because we both served at a time, and in an organization, where loyalty was highly prized. Loyalty to our people; loyalty to our country; most of all, loyalty to the ideal on which our system of representative self-government was founded. We were loyal to the Constitution – not to princes, not to men, certainly not to political parties – but to the living document on which our Founders set out the principles by which we as citizens would run our country.

You and I both swore to “uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America from all enemies, foreign and domestic” when we were commissioned. We swore it again every time we were promoted. You swore it again every time you took command. We both administered that oath to the Marines we promoted. Those were not mere words – they were the affirmation of our warrior priesthood.

After all that’s gone down this year …. I’m wondering if those may now be just words to you. Just something you say without thinking, by rote.

Our oath was to the Constitution; we never once swore to “uphold and defend the President of the United States from all enemies real and imagined”. It’s very clear to me, from the outside, that this President demands utter, unconditional loyalty to _himself_ and himself alone. He can’t even conceive of it working any other way – loyalty to a piece of paper? What the hell is that about? (never mind he has never shown any loyalty to his wives or his employees, let alone you – while we were both taught that loyalty works in both directions). This whole mess with the FBI? It’s because that organization is (nominally, at least) loyal to the rule of law. For all their flaws, Comey, McCabe, Rosenstein, et al feel the need to be loyal to their oaths, not the latest political overlord – and that’s why your boss wants them to be purged.

Leave aside the question of whether “cleansing” the FBI of people who are not 100% politically loyal to the current President is a good idea or a bad one. (We can get to that later). How can your repeated oaths to “support and defend the Constitution” possibly square with Caesar’s cult of personality? How can you, a man who repeatedly swore his life, his fortune and his sacred honor to “support and defend the Constitution”, so help you God, put up with this? Let alone support it with your daily thoughts, words and actions?

Is the Oath of Office just words to you now? Is this a manifestation of Stockholm syndrome? Was the opportunity to deport millions of brown people just to sweet to ignore? Is your contempt of silly-vilians so ingrained that you can justify this to yourself without discomfort? Throw me a bone here – I’m trying to understand.

You know these words as I do – they’re engraved on our hearts:

“First to fight for right and freedom – And to keep our honor clean;”

Are those just words for you now as well? Because every presser, every time you get up in front of a camera, every word you are recorded saying indicates that you’re neither fighting for “right” nor “freedom”, and (frankly) your honor looks like you polished it with a Hershey bar.

I have Brasso, Kiwi, some clean cotton T-shirts and everything else necessary to polish that stain out – you have but to ask.

Dear General Kelly – Condolence Calls

(First posted 19 October 2017)

General Kelley, sir, with respect – maybe you are not the best person to be advising the president* on how to handle a condolence call.

The way Marines speak with Marines, the language and the shared background – it does not translate outside. “He knew what he signed up for” – I know, and appreciate, what that means. It’s our way of acknowledging that the Marine knew the risks and gladly, bravely faced them – stood up, faced the battle in a way that honors our shared heritage… and on 10 November every year, for as long as we live, we’ll remember our fallen brothers and sisters in the same way they would remember us, were our fates reversed.

99.999% of people who learn their Marine has fallen will not learn it, as you did, from a brother officer (let alone the Commandant). They’ll learn it – officially – from some guy like me, uncomfortable in my Alfas and with chaplain in tow, both of us dreading the doorbell.

The man you work for …… there is nothing in his background that could prepare him for those calls. (That’s not an indictment – just a simple statement of fact). He appears to have all the empathy of a tick (that is my opinion – you work more closely with him so YMMV) – so these calls have to be an order of magnitude more difficult for him.

Please, General – don’t provide any more advice on how to handle sensitive issues like this. Neither one of you know how to talk with the 99.94% of people who are not Marines. Your boss generates enough self-inflicted wounds on purpose – he should not have to account for what I firmly believe was a well-intentioned mistake.