Military Issues

Breaking: Shots Fired At Yountvile (Napa Valley, California) Veterans’ Home; Hostages Taken

Here we go again:

The time of those tweets (2:18 pm, 2:16 pm, and 2:04 pm) are EST (my time), but it is 3 hours earlier in California where this is taking place.

Here are the early details:

YOUNTVILLE (KRON) – The Veterans Home of California Yountville is on lock down Friday morning after reports of an active shooter who is holding 3 hostages.

The Veterans Home tells KRON4 around 10:45 a.m. the entire facility, located at  260 California Dr., was ordered to shelter in place.

This is the largest veterans home in the United States, housing about 1,100 men and women.

There are preliminary reports of 30 shots fired outside the main dining area.

It is unclear if the shots were live rounds, according to an official from the Veteran’s Home.

California Highway Patrol is on scene.

Many reports the man is acting alone and had body armor.

Other reports are saying 3 hostages.

Reported gunman at Veterans Home reportedly is 36-year-old man discharged from on-campus Pathway Home two weeks ago.

UPDATE: After hours of trying to communicate with the gunman, police sent a robot in. The gunman was dead from a self-inflicted wound, as were the three hostages — all employees of the Pathway Home.


The man who killed three hostages at a Northern California veterans’ home suffered from bipolar disorder, various physical ailments and anger issues, sources said.

Authorities said that Albert Wong, a 36-year-old Army veteran, used to be a resident of the Pathway Home, the Yountville facility where he engaged police in a standoff Friday. The Pathway Home, which operates out of the Veterans Home of California, is a nonprofit that helps post-9/11 military veterans reintegrate into civilian life, including by counseling clients with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The ordeal ended when police stormed the building and found Wong and three of the facility’s employees — Jennifer Golick, 42, Christine Loeber, 48, and Jennifer Gonzales, 32 — dead.

Wong had been kicked out of the program after he threatened one of the women, a law enforcement source told CNN.

“Whatever happened out there, he didn’t say he was going to shoot anybody,” Wong’s brother, Tyrone Lampkin, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. “He said he wanted to get back at them, talk to them, yell at them, not to kill them. He didn’t mention that.”

Lampkin, who told CNN Wong was his adoptive brother, said they hadn’t seen each other since 2010 but communicated via text.

Records show Wong was in the Army reserves from October 1998 until December 2002 and served in active duty from May 2010 to August 2013. He was deployed to Afghanistan from April 2011 to March 2012, the records show.

Lampkin told CNN Wong seemed OK after his stint in the military.

“He talked to us about it, showed us pictures on Facebook, seemed happy, like nothing was wrong,” said Lampkin, who lives in Minneapolis.

But Wong was dogged by leg and back injuries and struggled with bipolar disorder, Lampkin said. He needed medication for his condition, Lampkin said, but complained that it was ineffective and would go off the drugs because he didn’t think they were helping.

Trump’s Toy Soldiers

The order from Trump was “I want a military parade”

The parade would be modeled after the Bastille Day parade that Trump spectated last year during a visit to France. “The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France,” one military official told The Washington Post, which broke the story.

Trump was openly admiring of the Bastille Day celebration, calling it “one of the greatest parades” he had ever witnessed. (How many parades has he witnessed?)

The White House quickly sought to paint the idea as a natural outgrowth of the President’s love of and appreciation for the military.

“President Trump is incredibly supportive of America’s great service members who risk their lives every day to keep our country safe,” said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.”He has asked the Department of Defense to explore a celebration at which all Americans can show their appreciation.”

The last time there was a military parade in Washington was following the Gulf War in 1991.  It was to celebrate the end of a conflict.

When you think of tanks and/or missiles rolling through the streets, it’s North Korea or Russia that you think of, not the United States or France. (North Korea is set to hold a military parade in just days, in fact.) You think of shows of force, public measuring sessions to show the world that [fill in the blank country] is not to be trifled with. Very rarely do you think of the world’s leading superpower needing to send that message.

This is Trump though. But I don’t think he is sending a message. Nor is it really honoring the military. This is so the military can honor HIM.

Here’s a snag: Shipping tanks and military hardware into Washington could cost millions of dollars, and that military officials said they were unsure how to pay for it.

Also, we can’t afford to save Puerto Rico, but we can have a military parade? In the age of government austerity — tax cuts and talks of entitlement cuts — the president is proposing that taxpayers fit the bill so that he can create a monument to himself. VoteVets, a group devoted to veterans needs, called the protest request “not normal.”

VoteVets thinks this is not normal.  They’re right.

Kelly Enters GrievingWidowGate And Reveals Himself To Be Trumpist

Well, I have, in the past, given General John Kelly, Trump’s Chief of Staff, too much credit. I thought he was the grown-up in the room.

But yesterday, he gave a press conference – an admittedly moving one – talking about what it is like to have a son killed in combat. He knows. And then he laid into the Congresswoman Wilson who criticized Trump for saying to the grieving Gold Star family that “this is what he [their dead son] signed up for”.

Interestingly, he did not deny that Trump said that. In fact, he had used those words TO TRUMP when Trump asked him what he should say.

But Kelly got so much wrong, according to Wilson’s (and the family’s) hometown paper, the Miami Herald“In attack on Frederica Wilson over Trump’s call to widow, John Kelly gets facts wrong”:

… Kelly criticized Democratic U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson for claiming “she got the money” for the new building during the 2015 ceremony while he and others in the audience were focused on the heroism of agents Benjamin Grogan and Jerry Dove, killed during a 1986 shootout with bank robbers south of Miami…

In 2015, Wilson won praise from Miami Republicans for sponsoring the bill to name the long anticipated federal building after two agents who became legends in local law enforcement.

At the dedication ceremony, James Comey, then director of the FBI, lauded Wilson’s legislation, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama three days before the April 2015 ceremony…

Johnson was a constituent of Wilson’s who participated in a program founded by the longtime legislator called the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, which mentors African-American boys and young men.

“Sgt. Johnson was a member of my community and of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project that I founded to help boys of color build successful futures,” Wilson said in a statement. “He was killed while on a mission to provide training and security assistance to West African armed forces battling vicious insurgents like Boko Haram, the group whose defeat I’ve been fighting for since it abducted nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls more than three years ago.”

Kelly said he was “shocked” that the Congresswoman “listened in” to the call, when in fact, she was in the car when the call came in and it was put on speakerphone.  Now TRUMP is running with that false story.

Look, Kelly is a bonafide general officer and combat veteran. When he speaks about military sacrifice we listen. We should. He speaks with some authority, from experience, unlike the President. But the rhetorical spine of Kelly’s remarks was unmistakable: Attacks on President Trump are attacks on the sanctity of heroism and patriotic sacrifice itself. Again, attacking President Trump is attacking the troops. It’s the same maneuver driving Trump’s war on the NFL. Kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and police misconduct really isn’t about police brutality or racism it all. It’s spitting on the sacrifice of American soldiers.

Kelly has swallowed some KoolAid, and bowed to the altar of Trumpism.

What is it about the President that makes everything turn to shit?

Trump’s New Target: Family Of A Fallen Soldier


The mother of a soldier killed in an ambush in Africa said Wednesday that President Trump “did disrespect my son” with remarks in a condolence telephone call.

Sgt. La David T. Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, told The Washington Post that she was present during the call from the White House on Tuesday to Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson. Johnson’s mother also stood by an account of the call from Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.) that Trump told Johnson’s widow that her husband “must have known what he signed up for.”

“President Trump did disrespect my son and my daughter and also me and my husband,” Jones-Johnson said.

Trump lashed back. He denied Wilson’s account in a Twitter message Wednesday. He said he had “proof” that the exchange did not go as Wilson had described. Trump did not elaborate, but the claim again raised questions about whether the president tapes calls and conversations.

Wilson had said that the Johnson family was “astonished” by Trump’s remarks during the phone call, which Wilson said she heard via a speaker phone while riding in a car with the Johnson family.

Wilson told MSNBC on Wednesday that Johnson’s widow was shaken by the exchange.

“She was crying the whole time, and when she hung up the phone, she looked at me and said, ‘He didn’t even remember his name.’ That’s the hurting part.”

On Tuesday, Wilson told The Washington Post that Trump had told Johnson’s widow, “He knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway.”

Wilson said she was riding in a limousine with Johnson when the president called, and said she heard the conversation on speakerphone.

“He made her cry,” Wilson said.

It’s hard to know how to weigh in on this. But it is not altogether surprising that the fallen soldier, his mother and family, are all black. It’s just plain ODD how Trump seems to have a problem with fallen soldiers OF COLOR.

It’s deeply sad a grieving family is about to be dragged through a national debate in which their claims are a partisan loyalty test, but the mother has weighed in now

So now we have it from the family as well.  Confirmation.

Trump continued to deny on camera.

When asked for his “proof” — Trump would not say what it was:

… because like the Comey tape, there is not proof.  Trump the bluffer, caught again.

This is coming right on the heels of football players kneeling at the National Anthem, which Trump and his minions say shows disrespect to our soldiers.  And also on the heels of Trump saying he calls the spouses of fallen soldiers and maligning past presidents, particularly Barack Obama, for not calling during their tenure (a veritably false claim that Trump had to back off from when pressed). He backed THAT up by invoking the death of the son of his Chief of Staff John Kelly even though Kelly doesn’t like his son’s death being used for political purposes:

No matter. We see now that soldiers are mere props to Trump — people who signed up for whatever happens to them (so don’t blame Trump, you widows and orphans!)

Marshall is right:

President Trump is poison. Everything around him gets damaged and degraded. It’s not any one thing. It’s everything. It’s hard to evaluate the dynamics of this call out of the context of waiting ten days, lying about his predecessors, creating this hideous spectacle with John Kelly’s son. Was the family prepped for something off because of the preceding three days? Probably. Was Trump angry about all the criticism? Probably so. It’s a perfect storm. And it all builds out of one man, Donald Trump.

There’s a big debate about Trump and clinical diagnoses. Malignant narcissism is the one most clinicians refer to. But that’s a distraction. You’re talking about someone with a profound selfishness, a jarring inability to experience empathy and a kind of ravenous emotional predation. Someone who is a profound narcissist is inherently erratic and destructive to those around him since he is acting according to his own impulses, angers and appetites with a relative indifference or even a sort of blindness to those around him. They don’t exist. Lots of wreckage is inevitable. That’s what it’s like living, trapped, in a house with an abuser. This is what it’s like living in a country with a President who’s a predator.

He poisons everything. No one gets out undamaged. Some are damaged profoundly.

An inability to experience empathy.

UPDATE — Aaaaand he’s back to the NFL again

Also…. from today’s press conference:

UPDATE: As I write this, Whitney Hunter, another Gold Star widow, on CNN says she was told to wait by her phone because Trump would call her “in a few days” to offer condolences on her loss and he never did. Says she wasn’t so much upset if he hadn’t called at all, but rather about the fact that she was told he would call and he didn’t follow through.

In fact, Trump lied:

Like presidents before him, Trump has made personal contact with some families of the fallen but not all. What’s different is that Trump, alone among them, has picked a political fight over who’s done better to honor the war dead and their families.

He placed himself at the top of the list, saying on Tuesday, “I think I’ve called every family of someone who’s died” while past presidents didn’t place such calls.

But AP found relatives of four soldiers who died overseas during Trump’s presidency who said they never received calls from him. Relatives of two also confirmed they did not get letters. And proof is plentiful that Barack Obama and George W. Bush — saddled with far more combat casualties than the roughly two dozen so far under Trump — took painstaking steps to write, call or meet bereaved military families.

And now the floodgates are opening:

President Trump, in a personal phone call to a grieving military father, offered him $25,000 and said he would direct his staff to establish an online fundraiser for the family, but neither happened, the father said.

Chris Baldridge, the father of Army Cpl. Dillon Baldridge, told The Washington Post that Trump called him at his home in Zebulon, N.C., a few weeks after his 22-year-old son and two fellow soldiers were gunned down by an Afghan police officer in a suspected insider attack June 10. Their phone conversation lasted about 15 minutes, Baldridge said, and centered for a time on the father’s struggle with the manner in which his son was killed.

“I said, ‘Me and my wife would rather our son died in trench warfare,’ “ Baldridge said. “I feel like he got murdered over there.”

Trump’s offer of $25,000 adds another dimension to the president’s relations with Gold Star families, an honorific given to those whose loved ones die while serving in support of the nation’s wars. The disclosure follows questions about how often the president has called or written to grieving military families.