Americans' eroding trust in all forms of government has made it impossible to solve the most serious problems facing the United States today, former Defense Secretary James Mattis wrote in a recent article for The Atlantic.

The retired Marine Corps general laid out why the world's oldest democracy no longer seems to be able to reach a consensus on any issue, arguing that the underlying problem is politicians no longer debate: They just launch personal attacks against each other.

"We scorch our opponents with language that precludes compromise," Mattis wrote. "We brush aside the possibility that a person with whom we disagree might be right. We talk about what divides us and seldom acknowledge what unites us. Meanwhile, the docket of urgent national issues continues to grow—unaddressed and, under present circumstances, impossible to address."

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Your friend and humble narrator will never claim to be the smartest person in the room. Recently, for example, this reporter wrote that Conan – the heroic military working dog that was injured on the raid that killed ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi – appeared to be a female dog, based on a picture of the canine tweeted by President Donald Trump.

Days later, the head of U.S. Central Command revealed that Conan is actually a male. This reporter apologizes to Conan. My eyesight is not nearly as good as it used to be. (And I really looked.)

More importantly, some readers have voiced objections to last week's column about the erratic and chaotic movement of U.S. forces as part of Operation Turn The F**k Around and Go Back to Syria.

A few of you felt this reporter was being unfair to the president by arguing that Trump appears to be improvising his Syria strategy as events unfold. Others took issue with your normally friendly Pentagon correspondent for criticizing the U.S. military's lack of transparency over how many service members are deployed to Syria, Afghanistan, and elsewhere downrange.

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U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Jim Mattis once sat in the dirt with a man who'd attempted to kill him with a roadside bomb in Iraq.

"It had been a bad night for him," said Mattis to a crowd of roughly 1,100 people in downtown Spokane on Thursday night. "He was out there with his wheelbarrow. He had two artillery rounds, and he was out digging a hole, and next thing you know he looks up and there's five guys with automatic weapons standing around him, and they're not his."

"So he knew, at that point, his retirement plan was in jeopardy," Mattis said.

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U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse will introduce legislation Monday to award former Defense Secretary James Mattis the Congressional Gold Medal.

The award has previously been bestowed on George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, Douglas MacArthur and Harry S Truman.

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Former Defense Secretary James Mattis decided to take on President Donald Trump's reported assertion that he is "overrated" at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York City on Thursday.

"I'm not just an overrated general, I am the greatest — the world's most — overrated," Mattis said at the event, which raises money for charity.

"I'm honored to be considered that by Donald Trump because he also called Meryl Streep an overrated actress," Mattis said. "So I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals ... and frankly that sounds pretty good to me. And you do have to admit that between me and Meryl, at least we've had some victories."

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President Donald Trump just can't stop telling stories about former Defense Secretary James Mattis. This time, the president claims Mattis said U.S. troops were so perilously low on ammunition that it would be better to hold off launching a military operation.

"You know, when I came here, three years ago almost, Gen. Mattis told me, 'Sir, we're very low on ammunition,'" Trump recalled on Monday at the White House. "I said, 'That's a horrible thing to say.' I'm not blaming him. I'm not blaming anybody. But that's what he told me because we were in a position with a certain country, I won't say which one; we may have had conflict. And he said to me: 'Sir, if you could, delay it because we're very low on ammunition.'

"And I said: You know what, general, I never want to hear that again from another general," Trump continued. "No president should ever, ever hear that statement: 'We're low on ammunition.'"

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