Giving Thanks, National Review Style

Reuters photo: Carlos Barria

Interesting article the other day from the ‘Never Trumpers’ at National Review. Apparently, they managed a dose of reality! Enjoy!

This Thanksgiving, Americans in general — and free-market conservatives in particular — have plenty for which to be grateful. And much of it would be absent had the White House’s current occupant not become president on November 8, 2016.

The day after Donald J. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, Princeton University economist Paul Krugman called Trump’s victory “the mother of all adverse effects.” He predicted “very probably . . . a global recession, with no end in sight.”

• The Dow Jones Industrial Average, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 all hit record highs on Tuesday. The Wilshire 5000 Index calculates that some $3.4 trillion in new wealth has been created since President Trump’s inauguration and $5.4 trillion since his election. Fueled by the reality of deregulation, expectations of lower taxes, and a new tone in Washington that applauds free enterprise rather than excoriate it, the economy is on fire.

• Atop the second quarter’s 3.1 percent increase in real GDP, and 3.0 in 3Q, the New York Federal Reserve Bank predicts that 4Q output will expand by 3.8 percent. This far outpaces the feeble average-annual GDP growth rate of 1.5 percent on President Obama’s watch. Meanwhile, the IMF expects global GDP to rise by 3.5 percent this year. So much for a Trump-inspired “global recession.”

• Unemployment is at 4.1 percent, a 17-year low. New unemployment claims in September were at their most modest since 1974. Goldman Sachs on November 20 “lowered our unemployment rate forecast to 3.7 percent by end-2018 and 3.5 percent by end-2019.” According to the Wall Street powerhouse’s chief economist Jan Hatzius, “Such a scenario would take the U.S. labor market into territory almost never seen outside of a major wartime mobilization.”

• American companies have been expanding operations here rather than shipping jobs overseas. Corning, for instance, announced a $500 million investment in new U.S. production, launching 1,000 positions.

• Foreign firms have been unveiling facilities and creating jobs in America. Insourcing is now a thing. Taiwan’s Foxconn will spend $10 billion on a new Wisconsin electronics plant with 3,000 new employees. During Trump’s recent visit to China, Beijing agreed to invest $84 billionin new energy projects in West Virginia.

• If the Senate cooperates, Santa Claus will deliver $1.5 trillion in tax cuts, including a dream-come-true 43 percent reduction in corporate taxes, from a 35 percent rate to 20 percent, well below the global average of 22.5 percent. This major blow for international competitiveness should turbocharge the economy even further.

• Obamacare remains alive, alas, largely due to the flaccid leadership of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R., Ky.) and his inability to control a handful of Republican prima donnas. (As of November 2, the House had passed 394 bills; 308 of them — 78 percent — are moldering in McConnell’s inbox.) However, the GOP may make Obamacare voluntary. Junking the individual mandate will emancipate Americans from this unprecedented attack on our freedom and, as an added bonus, make $318 billion available for deeper tax cuts.

• U.S. energy production is on the upswing. After languishing under Obama, the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines are under construction. Jobs to be created: 42,000.

• Obama’s War on Coal is gone with the wind.

• Trump wisely extricated America from the bogus Paris “global-warming” deal.

• Obama’s “Clean Power Plan,” a $993 billion act of economic self-sabotage, now rots — with Communism — atop the ash heap of history.

• For every new regulation that Trump has imposed, 16 have been erased.

• The FCC has begun to dismantle Obama’s “Net Neutrality” takeover of the Internet, which functioned marvelously, thank you, before his needless e-power-grab.

• Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is on the bench, along with 13 constitutionalist lower-court judges. At this stage in Obama’s presidency, the Senate had confirmed just seven of his district- and circuit-court nominees.

And more, much more. Nice to see it put together, and even nicer to see it in NR, which has spent most of the last year denying reality. There are going to be problems, but these kinds of problems, well, I’d always preferred dealing with problems caused by success rather than those that one gets when one shoots himself in the foot.

Have a Good Sunday!

Advertisements

Trumping Europe.

HSBC building in Hong Kong after the Sutherland Springs church shooting. From Ace

Have you been paying attention as the President toured Asia? Quite a lot to think about, none of which have you seen on the news. Don Sarber blogging at The Spectator covers it well.

First, Kim Jong Un did not do squat. He cannot. His nuke program just collapsed — mysteriously — on October 10, likely killing all his scientists and technicians working on the project.

Second, Prime Minister Abe and the Trumps had a good old time. Played golf. Fed fish. Popped in on the emperor — unbowed. And oh, yeah, there was this:

Japan will impose additional sanctions on North Korea in response to the continuing threat posed by the reclusive nation’s missile and nuclear programmes, Japan’s top government spokesman said on Tuesday.

The sanctions, mentioned by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a joint news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday, will freeze the assets of nine organizations and 26 individuals, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

“The North Korean missile and nuclear issue is a pressing threat unseen before. Its provocative actions, in which it has ignored the severe warnings of international society, are totally unacceptable,” he said.

Then he went to Seoul to talk to the General Assembly:

President Trump told North Korea to “not underestimate us,” in a speech before the South Korea’s National Assembly Wednesday morning local time.

“Do not underestimate us. Do not try us. We will defend our common security, our shared prosperity, and our sacred liberty,” Mr. Trump said.

The president, who has softened his rhetoric on North Korea in recent days, urged other nations including Russia and China to sever economic ties with the rogue state. Mr. Trump, in the middle of his nearly two-week Asia trip, heads to Beijing next.

“The time for excuses is over,” Mr. Trump said. “Now is the time for strength.”

The president spent much of his speech contrasting the success of South Korea with its neighbor to the north, saying South Korea’s success threatens North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s “dark fantasy.” Mr. Trump said North Korea looks to cause trouble abroad to avoid the reality of failure at home.

Then he went to China.

Chairman Xi gave Trump the honor of being the first foreign dignitary to dine in the Forbidden City.

Ever.

The Chinese then signed memorandums of understanding to invest $250 billion (a quarter trillion) in U.S. projects over the next two decades. That includes $83.7 billion in West Virginia.

Guys, West Virginia’s annual GDP is $74.9 billion.

And then in Danang (yeah if you’re my age, no map required, right?)

The current trade imbalance is not acceptable. I do not blame China or any other country, of which there are many, for taking advantage of the United States on trade. If their representatives are able to get away with it, they are just doing their jobs. I wish previous administrations in my country saw what was happening and did something about it. They did not, but I will.

From this day forward, we will compete on a fair and equal basis. We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore. I am always going to put America first the same way that I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first.

(Applause.)

They applauded because Trump treated them with respect, and he praised them for besting the Americans. Asians don’t often get that from Westerners. Certainly, it is a first for an American president.

You won that round, he told them. We’ll work harder on the next one.

My understanding is Asians want to save face. He gave them that. They can now lose the next round without humiliation because, hey, they won the first round. Fair and square. Without Russian meddling.

Today Trump is in the Philippines — which banned Obama last year.

Meantime, halfway around the world, in Central Europe, there is this, from Warsclerotic

Pictured: The Prime Ministers of the Visegrad Group countries meet in Prague on December 3, 2015. From left to right: Slovakia’s Robert Fico, Poland’s Beata Szydło, Czech Republic’s Bohuslav Sobotka and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán. (Image source: Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland)

The US president may be an arch-villain in Western Europe, but in Central Europe, he is a superhero. For years, Central European countries have respectfully disagreed with the Green millenarianism of the EU. Still catching up after 50 years of communism, they do not have the financial means for the “energy transition”. They see no rational reason to exchange their cheap electricity for the most expensive electricity on Earth, with no measurable impact whatsoever on “climate”. Before Trump, they felt alone, and weak in front of the economic (and moral) supremacy of Germany. Now, they know they are not alone.

************************************

Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel recognized that multiculturalism has failed. All scientific studies show that a significant number of Muslims in Europe are fundamentalist; and that thousands of young European Muslims went to Syria to join ISIS. And yet, it is insufferable to Brussels and Berlin, to hear that the people of Central Europe have no intention of following the same path.

The European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the EU have made sure, through ruling after ruling, that it is virtually impossible to expel a “refugee” after his asylum request has been rejected.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines itself as a scientific body, although in reality, unsurprisingly, it is a purely political body. In composition, competence or functioning, there is not a shred of science in the IPCC. Yet, in the name of this “science”, European politicians are extracting from their people trillions in additional taxes, building pyramids of new regulations and inflicting prohibitions in every sphere of human activity.

On immigration, on sustainable development and on many other subjects, the convergence between the United States and Central Europe is now as evident as the new divide between Western Europe and Central Europe.

The European mindset is shifting. Twenty-three of the 28 governments of the European Union now have parliamentarian majorities on the center-right of the political spectrum. Everywhere in Europe, the “left” is on the run.

This is particularly true in Central Europe. The soon-to-be Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz won the election on an anti-immigration platform and is on the verge of forming a government with the right-wing Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) which owes its own success to the same topic.

In the Czech Republic, political parties on the right now hold 157 of the 200 seats in the Parliament and tycoon Andrej Babis­ ­— “the Czech Trump” — is set to be the next prime minister.

All in all, the “Visegrad Group” peoples — Czechs, Hungarians, Poles and Slovaks — plus the Austrians, have voted in the most conservative governments we have seen in Europe for almost 30 years, since the fall of Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom.

You know, sometimes I have the feeling that we Americans have the ability to reinvent ourselves in each generation or so – to present the things that the world need leading in. Maybe that is our definition of leadership. It may well be a figment of an old man’s mind, but to me, the old, drunken men leading Europe, are looking almost as relevant as Nikita Kruschev in 1963.

 

 

Red October

So a hundred years ago, today, the Bolsheviks occupied the government buildings in Petrograd. It was the highlight and climax of the October Revolution, which toppled Kerensky’s government and set the regime of V.I. Lenin on its horrifically bloody course. According to calculations by Professor R.J. Rummel, in the last 100 years totalitarian regimes, pretty much all of which derive from the Bolsheviks have murdered at least 169 million people, that’s more than four times the 38 million (including civilians) killed in all the wars of the Twentieth century. Quite the legacy.

I note with great pleasure that a motion was introduced in the House of Commons this morning. It reads:

“That this House notes, with great regret, that 7 November 2017 marks 100 years since Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution which subsequently demonstrated, time and again, that Communism is a murderous political ideology, incompatible with liberty, self-government and the dignity of human beings, and injurious to the national, ethnic and religious traditions of the world’s peoples; further notes that Communism subjected millions to theft, surveillance, terror and ultimate destruction; acknowledges that the cultural, political and economic legacy of Soviet Communism still negatively affects vast numbers of people today; and accordingly believes that the crimes of Communism, together with those of its mirror image, National Socialism, must forever serve as a warning to humanity of the terrible consequences of totalitarianism in all its forms.”

I also note with great sadness that it is doubtful, that the Labour Party or its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, will support said resolution. Which tells you all you need to know.

Still they try, again, and again, and again. Stella Morabito started a series yesterday at The Federalist about the six phases from freedom to communism. It’s quite interesting, so we’ll excerpt a bit from her introduction.

In a nutshell, communism enforces a privileged elite’s centralization of power. This means it always puts too much power into the hands of too few people. They tend to weasel their way into power as their ventriloquized agitators use talking points like “justice” and “equality” while promoting a false illusion of public support.

So, how would it ever be possible for a free society like America to succumb to such tyrannical forces? I think we’ve spent precious little time trying to dissect and understand this process. So, in this three-part series, I hope to map out six stages that lead us into this dangerous direction. Within each phase, several trends take hold. […]

As Rummel states: “Power kills. Absolute power kills absolutely.” The common thread that runs through communist and fascist ideologies is their totalitarian nature, which means they control people by breeding scarcity, ignorance, human misery, social distrust, the constant threat of social isolation, and death to dissenters. All in the name of justice and equality.

They cannot abide any checks or balances, particularly checks on government power as reflected in the U.S. Bill of Rights. They fight de-centralization of power, which allows localities and states true self-governance. Such restraints on the centralized power of the state stand in the way of achieving the goal of communism: absolute state power over every single human being. […]

To achieve absolute power, Lenin focused on fomenting a class war, while Hitler set his sights on a race war. Either way, the divide-and-conquer modus operandi of fascist and communist demagogues is pretty much the same, no matter what each side might claim about the other. Their propaganda content may differ, but not so much their divide-and-conquer methods. Attitudes of supremacy come in a virtual rainbow of flavors and colors.

As Saul Alinsky taught and the agitprop of groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center illustrates so perfectly, the goal of all such radicals is to seize power by fueling resentment and hatred among people through various forms of “consciousness”—particularly class and race consciousness. That’s what identity politics is all about. That division is a key tool for totalitarians in their conquest of the people. Once their organizations breed enough ill will, the “masses”—made up of mostly alienated individuals—can be baited and mobilized to do the bidding of power elites, with a rhetorical veneer claiming justice and equality.

Most of today’s enlisted rioters—groups that call themselves things like “Indivisible,” “Anti-Fascist,” “Stop Patriarchy,” “Black Lives Matter,” “Refuse Fascism,” or moveon.org—are pretty much unabashedly communist (or just plain fascist) in their goals and aims and tactics. The chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party of the USA, for example, founded Refuse Fascism. It’s a pro-violence group that planned street theater on November 4, with the stated goal of overturning the 2016 election and taking out the Trump administration.

She goes on to give a quick overview of the phases. And as she rightly notes, America is still a free nation, not least because of the exemplary work of our founders, who bequeathed us a system flexible enough to adjust to most any conditions, but still strong enough to allow is to resist such ideologies. It’s an advantage America has over every single country in the world, and it is why we are closer to our founding than anyone else. That does not mean it is guaranteed. As Ronald Reagan reminded us, Freedom is always only a generation from being lost.

That should scare the crap out of you these days. We are doing reasonably well, but we are watching as the rights that we and the British had restored are being stripped once again from the people of Europe, and in some cases, even in Britain, where these rights were first recognized.

A lot of the difference is perception. We (and the Brits, including the Commonwealth) are aware that these rights are given by our Creator (or are Natural Rights) and that we instituted government amongst ourselves to safeguard them. Most of the rest believe they come from the government. Well, we all know what the government give, the government can take away.

Stella reminds us of Kathryn Lee Bates wonderful hymn to America, America, the Beautiful, specifically this line, “America, America, God mend thine every flaw. Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law.”

She’s right, one of the keys to the success of America has always been our stability, our ability to control ourselves, and to keep the fads of history in check, and combining that with respect for law, especially objective black letter law, has quite simply changed the world, and given an alternative to the dark age that the revolution we note today has attempted to fasten onto the world.

God Bless America!

Donald Trump: An American Patriot of the Same Stripe as Ronald Reagan

From my friend, Danmillerinpanama whom many of you will know, but if you happened to miss the post, you’re missing a good one. A bit…

 

To my mind, that unholy dialectic between political power and an agenda of enforced dependency is one of the most despicable and destructive coefficients of the administrative state. It is despicable because it deploys power for personal aggrandizement under the camouflage of helping (i.e., pretending to help) others (the “Great Society,” etc.). It is destructive because its end is the eclipse of liberty for the sake of expanding and institutionalizing the apparatus of bureaucracy (and the perquisites of the bureaucrats running it).

So I applaud the president’s plan to cut taxes and allow Americans to keep a bit more of what after all is their own money. (We tend to forget this.)

But although taxes formed the official centerpiece of the president’s speech last night, and though I liked what he said about taxes, I thought the most impressive part of the speech was its rhetorical setting.  The occasion was a meeting of Heritage Foundation supporters. Accordingly, President Trump began by talking about the importance of embracing our history, our heritage. “For America to have CONFIDENCE in our future, we must have PRIDE in our HISTORY.”

I think that is right, and I think it is worth pondering each of the three stressed words.

One of the great liabilities of so-called identity politics is that, ironically, it acts as a solvent on shared cultural confidence. The irony flows from the fact that identity politics is supposed to leave its partisans with an enhanced sense of self-worth and solidarity but in fact it tends to isolate them in rancid grievance ghettos.

Along the way last night, the president spoke up for preserving our heritage, our history, an enterprise that encompasses not just the preservation of monuments and other historical markers that commemorate our past, but also extends to the spiritual decorum of civic respect: standing for the national anthem, for example, or (since this multiethnic country was and is, as Samuel Huntington observed, a country of “Anglo-Protestant” values) wishing people “Merry Christmas” in due season.<

It is worth noting, by the way, that saying one should have  pride in our history and confidence in our culture is not thereby to issue a plenary indulgence for past wrongdoing.  The fact that people erect a statue commemorating Gen. Robert E. Lee does not in any way imply that they are racist advocates of chattel slavery, any more than erecting a statue of JFK implies that one is an advocate of satyriasis.

Do read it all at Donald Trump: An American Patriot of the Same Stripe as Ronald Reagan. Because what Dan sees is what I also see, an American patriot, who will do his best (and his best is proving pretty damned good) for America. Perfect? No, he’s a man, and an imperfect one, as we all are. And that post from Theodore Roosevelt in my sidebar is my measure of a president.

“Every man, who parrots the cry of ‘stand by the President’ without adding the proviso ‘so far as he serves the Republic’ takes an attitude as essentially unmanly as that of any Stuart royalist who championed the doctrine that the King could do no wrong. No self-respecting and intelligent free man could take such an attitude.”

And the inverse is just as true, any man who parrots the cry of stand against the president, so far as he misserves the Republic, is as unmanly as TR said. And yes, I’m looking at you, Bill Kristol, who was one of the people in the conservative movement I admired most, until last year.

And Dan’s ending for his post will do admirably for this one as well.

That is no surprise. The history of the world is full of redemption and conversion stories, from Saul of Tarsus to Henry V and beyond. Quoth the King at the end of Henry IV Part 2:

Presume not that I am the thing I was;
For God doth know, so shall the world perceive,
That I have turn’d away my former self.

The proof of the pudding, they say, is in the eating.  It seems to me that in just nine months Donald Trump has given us a lot of savory tidbits to chew on.  Some people might object to the style.  But how about the substance?  In any event, it seems ungracious, not to say short-sighted, to withhold any possibility of reformation from a man just because he had the temerity to win an election without the permission of the would-be governing class.

Dereliction of Duty, Dishonor, Hatred of Country

And so, we’ve all heard of LT Spenser Ramone, he of the Che T-shirt under his academy uniform. How did he get through the Academy and back into the forces? Here’s how. This is a signed letter from one of his instructors at the Point. Lieutenant Colonel Robert M. Heffington, USA, Retired. Which of course is why he can write the letter without consequence. From American Military News. I’ve taken the liberty of reposting the whole letter. It’s long, but it is very important.

Dear Sir/Ma’am,

Before you read any further, please understand that the following paragraphs come from a place of intense devotion and loyalty to West Point. My experience as a cadet had a profound impact upon who I am and upon the course of my life, and I remain forever grateful that I have the opportunity to be a part of the Long Gray Line. I firmly believe West Point is a national treasure and that it can and should remain a vitally important source of well trained, disciplined, highly educated Army officers and civilian leaders. However, during my time on the West Point faculty (2006-2009 and again from 2013-2017), I personally witnessed a series of fundamental changes at West Point that have eroded it to the point where I question whether the institution should even remain open. The recent coverage of 2LT Spenser Rapone – an avowed Communist and sworn enemy of the United States – dramatically highlighted this disturbing trend. Given my recent tenure on the West Point faculty and my direct interactions with Rapone, his “mentors,” and with the Academy’s leadership, I believe I can shed light on how someone like Rapone could possibly graduate.

First and foremost, standards at West Point are nonexistent. They exist on paper, but nowhere else. The senior administration at West Point inexplicably refuses to enforce West Point’s publicly touted high standards on cadets, and, having picked up on this, cadets refuse to enforce standards on each other. The Superintendent refuses to enforce admissions standards or the cadet Honor Code, the Dean refuses to enforce academic standards, and the Commandant refuses to enforce standards of conduct and discipline. The end result is a sort of malaise that pervades the entire institution. Nothing matters anymore. Cadets know this, and it has given rise to a level of cadet arrogance and entitlement the likes of which West Point has never seen in its history.

Every fall, the Superintendent addresses the staff and faculty and lies. He repeatedly states that “We are going to have winning sports teams without compromising our standards,” and everyone in Robinson Auditorium knows he is lying because we routinely admit athletes with ACT scores in the mid-teens across the board. I have personally taught cadets who are borderline illiterate and cannot read simple passages from the assigned textbooks. It is disheartening when the institution’s most senior leader openly lies to his own faculty-and they all know it.

The cadet honor code has become a laughingstock. Cadets know they will not be separated for violating it, and thus they do so on a daily basis. Moreover, since they refuse to enforce standards on each other and police their own ranks, cadets will rarely find a cadet at an honor hearing despite overwhelming evidence that a violation has occurred. This in tum has caused the staff and faculty to give up even reporting honor incidents. Why would a staff or faculty member expend the massive amount of time and energy it takes to report an honor violation-including writing multiple sworn statements, giving interviews, and testifying at the honor hearing-when they know without a doubt the cadet will not be found (or, if found, the Superintendent will not separate the cadet)? To make matters worse, the senior leadership at West Point actively discourages staff and faculty from reporting honor violations. l was unfortunate enough to experience this first hand during my first tour on the faculty, when the Commandant of Cadets called my office phone and proceeded to berate me in the most vulgar and obscene language for over ten minutes because I had reported a cadet who lied to me and then asked if “we could just drop it.” Of course, I was duty bound to report the cadet’s violation, and I did. During the course of the berating I received from the Commandant, I never actually found out why he was so angry. It seemed that he was simply irritated that the institution was having to deal with the case, and that it was my fault it even existed. At the honor hearing the next day, I ended up being the one on trial as my character and reputation were dragged through the mud by the cadet and her civilian attorney while I sat on the witness stand without any assistance. In the end, of course, the cadet was not found (despite having at first admitted that she lied), and she eventually graduated. Just recently a cadet openly and obviously plagiarized his History research paper, and his civilian professor reported it. The evidence was overwhelming-there was not the slightest question of his guilt, yet the cadet was not found. The professor, and indeed all the faculty who knew of the case, were completely demoralized. This is the new norm for the cadet honor system. In fact, there is now an addition to the honor system (the Willful Admission Process) which essentially guarantees that if a cadet admits a violation, then separation is not even a possibility. In reality, separation is not a possibility anyway because the Superintendent refuses to impose that sanction.

Academic standards are also nonexistent. I believe this trend started approximately ten years ago, and it has continued to get worse. West Point has stated standards for academic expectations and performance, but they are ignored. Cadets routinely fail multiple classes and they are not separated at the end-of-semester Academic Boards. Their professors recommend “Definitely Separate,” but those recommendations are totally disregarded. I recently taught a cadet who failed four classes in one semester (including mine), in addition to several she had failed in previous semesters, and she was retained at the Academy. As a result, professors have lost hope and faith in the entire Academic Board process. It has been made clear that cadets can fail a multitude of classes and they will not be separated. Instead, when they fail (and they do to a staggering extent), the Dean simply throws them back into the mix and expects the faculty to somehow drag them through the academic program until they manage to earn a passing grade. What a betrayal this is to the faculty! Also, since they get full grade replacement if they must re­take a course, cadets are actually incentivized to fail. They know they can re-take the course over the summer when they have no other competing requirements, and their new grade completely replaces the failing one. ST AP (Summer Term Academic Program) is also now an accepted summer detail assignment, so retaking a course during the summer translates into even more summer leave for the deficient cadet.

Even the curriculum itself has suffered. The plebe American History course has been revamped to focus completely on race and on the narrative that America is founded solely on a history of racial oppression. Cadets derisively call it the “I Hate America Course.” Simultaneously, the plebe International History course now focuses on gender to the exclusion of many other important themes. On the other hand, an entire semester of military history was recently deleted from the curriculum (at West Point!). In all courses, the bar has been lowered to the point where it is irrelevant. If a cadet fails a course, the instructor is blamed, so instructors are incentivized to pass everyone. Additionally, instead of responding to cadet failure with an insistence that cadets rise to the challenge and meet the standard, the bar for passing the course itself is simply lowered. This pattern is widespread and pervades every academic department.

Conduct and disciplinary standards are in perhaps the worst shape of all. Cadets are jaded, cynical, arrogant, and entitled. They routinely talk back to and snap at their instructors (military and civilian alike), challenge authority, and openly refuse to follow regulations. They are allowed to wear civilian clothes in almost any arena outside the classroom, and they flaunt that privilege. Some arrive to class unshaven, in need of haircuts, and with uniforms that look so ridiculously bad that, at times, I could not believe I was even looking at a West Point cadet. However, if a staff or faculty member attempts to correct the cadet in question, that staff/faculty member is sure to be reprimanded for “harassing cadets.” For example, as I made my rounds through the barracks inspecting study conditions one evening as the Academic Officer in Charge, I encountered a cadet in a company study room. He was wearing a pair of blue jeans and nothing else, and was covered in tattoos. He had long hair, was unshaven, and I was honestly unsure ifhe was even a cadet. He looked more like a prison convict to me. When I questioned what he was doing there, he remained seated in his chair and sneered at me that he “was authorized” because he was a First Class cadet. I proceeded to correct him and then reported him to the chain of command the next morning. Later that day I received an email from the Brigade Tactical Officer telling me to “stay in my lane.” I know many other officers receive the same treatment when attempting to make corrections. It is extremely discouraging when the response is invariably one that comes to the defense of the cadet.

That brings me to another point: cadets’ versions of stories are always valued more highly by senior leaders than those of commissioned officers on the staff and faculty. It is as if West Point’s senior leaders believe their job is to “protect” cadets from the staff and faculty at all costs. This might explain why the faculty’s recommendations are ignored at the Academic Boards, why honor violations are ignored (and commissioned officers are verbally abused for bringing them to light), and why cadets always “win” when it comes to conduct and disciplinary issues.

It seems that the Academy’s senior leaders are intimidated by cadets. During my first tour on the faculty (I was a CPT at the time), I noticed that 4th class cadets were going on leave in civilian clothes when the regulation clearly stated they were supposed to be wearing a uniform. During a discussion about cadet standards between the BTO and the Dept. of History faculty, I asked why plebes were going on leave in civilian clothes. His answer astonished me: “That rule is too hard to enforce.” Yet West Point had no problem enforcing that rule on me in the mid-1990s. I found it impossible to believe that the several hundred field grade officers stationed at West Point could not make teenagers wear the uniform. This anecdote highlights the fact that West Point’s senior leaders lack not the ability but the motivation to enforce their will upon the Corps of Cadets.

This brings me to the case of now-2LT Spenser Rapone. It is not at all surprising that the Academy turned a blind eye to his behavior and to his very public hatred of West Point, the Army, and this nation. I knew at the time I wrote that sworn statement in 2015 that he would go on to graduate. It is not so much that West Point’s leadership defends his views (Prof. Hosein did, however); it is that West Point’s senior leaders are infected with apathy: they simply do not want to deal with any problem, regardless of how grievous a violation of standards and/or discipline it may be. They are so reticent to separate problematic cadets (undoubtedly due to the “developmental model” that now exists at USMA) that someone like Rapone can easily slip through the cracks. In other words, West Point’s leaders choose the easier wrong over the harder right.

I could go on, but I fear that this letter would simply devolve into a screed, which is not my intention. I will sum up by saying this: a culture of extreme permissiveness has invaded the Military Academy, and there seems to be no end to it. Moreover, this is not unintentional; it is a deliberate action that is being taken by the Academy’s senior leadership, though they refuse to acknowledge or explain it. Conduct and behavior that would never be tolerated at a civilian university is common among cadets, and it is supported and defended by the Academy’s senior leaders in an apparent and misguided effort to attract more applicants and cater to what they see as the unique needs of this generation of cadets.

Our beloved Military Academy has lost its way. It is a shadow of what it once was. It used to be a place where standards and discipline mattered, and where concepts like duty, honor, and country were real and they meant something. Those ideas have been replaced by extreme permissiveness, rampant dishonesty, and an inexplicable pursuit of mediocrity. Instead of scrambling to restore West Point to what it once was, the Academy’s senior leaders give cadets more and more privileges in a seeming effort to tum the institution into a third-rate civilian liberal arts college. Unfortunately, they have largely succeeded. The few remaining members of the staff and faculty who are still trying to hold the line are routinely berated, ignored, and ultimately silenced for their unwillingness to “go along with the program.” The Academy’s senior leaders simply do not want to hear their voices or their concerns. Dissent is crushed-I was repeatedly told to keep quiet at faculty meetings, even as a LTC, because my dissent was neither needed nor appreciated.

It breaks my heart to write this. It breaks my heart to know first-hand what West Point was versus what it has become. This is not a “Corps has” story; it is meant to highlight a deliberate and radical series of changes being undertaken at the highest levels of USMA’ s leadership that are detrimental to the institution. Criticizing these changes is not popular. I have already been labeled a “traitor” by some at the Academy due to my sworn statement’s appearance in the media circus surrounding Spenser Rapone. However, whenever I hear this, I am reminded of the Cadet Prayer:

” … suffer not our hatred of hypocrisy and pretense ever to diminish. Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won. …that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice, and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy.”

West Point was once special, and it can be again. Spenser Rapone never should have been admitted, much less graduate, but he was-and that mistake is directly attributable to the culture of permissiveness and apathy that now exists there.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Robert M. Heffington

LTC, U.S. Army (Retired), West Point Class of 1997

Pretty disgusting to one who, like me, was raised to honor above most men, those who went to the point, and led our armed forces. Sure we always kidded about Hudson High and elitism, and such but it was because we knew beyond the shadow of a doubt, that they were amongst the best of us, always had been always would be. I’m pretty old to be losing my heroes, but I am.
And then this, from a tenured professor at the Naval Academy, via The Federalist. Not the whole thing, do read the links today.

The military world and military academies—I’m a tenured civilian professor of English at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis—were rocked by an October 11 “open letter” exposing the rotten underbelly of our sister academy at West Point, the U.S. Military Academy.

The letter was penned by Robert Heffington, an Army officer and West Point graduate who taught there for several years before retiring. Only his retirement made it possible for him to publish the letter, since officers in uniform cannot publicly disagree with superiors. Within 24 hours, West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslan Jr., head of the administration Heffington holds responsible for its deficiencies, respondedby evoking the “thousands of graduates who sacrifice and serve honorably every day.”

Heffington’s letter is a scorcher. It pulls no punches and concludes it’s questionable whether West Point, founded in 1802, “should ever remain open.” Heffington’s “BLUF,” Bottom Line Up Front: “First and foremost, standards at West Point are nonexistent. They exist on paper, but nowhere else. The senior administration at West Point inexplicably refuses to enforce West Point’s publicly touted high standards on cadets, and, having picked up on this, cadets refuse to enforce standards on each other.” He goes on: “The Superintendent refuses to enforce admissions standards or the cadet Honor Code, the Dean refuses to enforce academic standards, and the Commandant refuses to enforce standards of conduct and discipline.”

Heffington notes that students are admitted to play Division I football, which degrades academics: “we routinely admit athletes with ACT scores in the mid-teens across the board. I have personally taught cadets who are borderline illiterate and cannot read simple passages from the assigned textbooks.” Faculty members who object are silenced, he says.

To this, I say “Amen, brother.” Heffington’s letter caused me personal joy and professional agony. I’ve been making a number of the same points about Annapolis, an essentially identical taxpayer-funded institution, for the last several decades, earning repeated salvos of our administration’s ire and attempts to silence me. (West Point has few civilian professors, and no tenured ones.) So it was gratifying to hear someone else say the same things about our sister institution, with more vitriol than I usually employ.

So much needs to change with our institutions, yet there no signs of any changes even being contemplated. This is bad news for the taxpayers who are footing the bill and depend on them for one-fifth of the new officer pool. It’s also bad news for the disaffected, cynical students who have lost faith in the system. I think Heffington saw the cynicism without understanding its source. I think I do.

There’s lots more at the links, but this post is already far too long. In sum, what I’m seeing here is a somnambulant, bureaucratic administration who has sold its (and perhaps the academies’ souls for a quiet life without the discord of the modern world. It’s a Faustian bargain, when the Academies were the model for all of us in ROTC and OCS, it didn’t really matter if they were much better than us, they were at all time and in all places, something to live up to, if they are just lousy not quite Ivy League schools wasting our tax money, that is quite a different proposition. I fear the latter is true, and thus the title of this article.

242 Years in Pictures; Happy Birthday Navy

The United States Navy was originally established as the Continental navy on 13 October 1775, when the Continental Congress authorized the procurement, fitting out, manning, and dispatch of two armed vessels to cruise in search of munitions ships supplying the British Army in America. The legislation also established a Naval Committee to supervise the work. All together, the Continental Navy numbered some fifty ships over the course of the war, with approximately twenty warships active at its maximum strength.


At St Eustatius, in the Dutch West Indies, the brig Andrea Doria took the first salute offered by a foreign power to the US Flag. Later the man that Catherine the Great called “the greatest sailor who ever served Russia” would fight a single ship action, off Flamborough head, on the east coast of England. He won, although his ship, the Bonhomme Richard was sunk by HMS Serapis.

Her captain, John Paul Jones, when asked, after the flag was carried away if he had struck, replied, “I have not yet begun to fight”. He also passed along some wisdom which still guides the navy today,

I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm’s way.

In 1794, Congress authorized six frigates. Amongst a few other things, this convinced Paul Revere to start the Revere Copper Works, to make the copper sheets for their bottoms. You might have heard of that organization, they still make some of the best cookware in the country, copper-bottomed, of course.

Those ships, Chesapeake, Constitution, President, Congress, and Constellation, were so good, and well constructed that one of them, USS Constitution is still afloat and in commission, the oldest warship in the world to be so. HMS Victory is older but is in permanent drydock.

These were the ships that fought the quasi-war against France, The Barbary war against Tripoli, where Decatur burned the Philadelphia in Tripoli harbor, to keep the Barbary Pirates from using it. This accomplishment led Britain’s Lord Nelson to call it the most bold and daring act of the age.

In the War of 1812, credible and valorous service obtained from the fledgeling navy – until it was driven from the sea by the overwhelming force of the Royal Navy. But when the British attempted to counterinvade from Canada, the navy found a new hero in Oliver Hazzard Perry after his victory in the battle of Lake Erie ended the threat of invasion. He flew a flag with the last command of Captain Lawrence of USS Chesapeake, “Don’t give up the ship, fight her till she sinks”. His dispatch to General Harrison has become a classic.

Dear General:

We have met the enemy and they are ours. Two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop.

Yours with great respect and esteem,
O.H. Perry

 

At Vera Cruz, during the Mexican war in concert with General Scott, the navy conducted the largest amphibious assault seen until that time, one of the toughest battle problems even to this day.

Then came the Civil War and blockade duty, and what we today call riverine war. Occasionally exciting as when Admiral Farragut commanded, “Damn the Torpedoes, full speed ahead”, at Mobile Bay. And there was a precursor as off Hampton Roads two Ironclad vessels fought each other to a standstill. These were, of course, the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia (formerly the USS Merrimac).

Then in 1898 the US Navy finished what Drake had started with the Armada in 1588, the end of the Spanish Empire, off Cuba at the battle of Santiago e Cuba the Atlantic fleet destroyed the Spanish fleet, while in Manila Bay Commodore Dewey leading in his flagship USS Olympia destroyed the local fleet, and ended up with the Philippines.

And it is here that the United States became one of the Great Powers, primarily a maritime power, like Great Britain, and for the same reason, we have always been traders, all over the world, soon we would be involved in hunting U-boats and fighting at Jutland. But we really came of age in that wars second act. After the devastating loss at Pearl Harbor.

The next few years would see the building, training and employment of the greatest fleets in the history of the world, the liberation of not only Europe but Asia as well, as the power of the New World was transported around the world to fight and to win.

On the deck of one of the most powerful battleships to ever sail, in Tokyo Harbor.

But American have always known that freedom needs safeguarding and so, the sons and grandchildren of those warriors are still on guard around the world, not that many, but hopefully enough of them. Because we still have enemies, even if they are not so clear as they once were. But still, the fleets of freedom sail, to do good to friends, and to destroy enemies, for always there are rumors of war on the horizon, and no longer will we have time to build the fleet when we need it.

And so, yesterday, on Navy Day, the President issued a statement.

13 October 2017

As Commander in Chief of our Armed Forces, it is an honor to celebrate the 242nd birthday of the United States Navy.

Today, we recognize generations of brave men and women who have served in the United States Navy. Through their courage, selfless service, and unmatched professionalism, America’s sailors have projected American power on the seas, on land, and in the air. Today, the Navy continues to deter our enemies and confront the threats posed by terrorists and rogue nations around the world.

As we proudly celebrate the legacy of our Navy, we are all reminded of the duty we share to support our service members, military families, and veterans. Earlier this year, I commissioned the USS Gerald R. Ford into service—marking our Nation’s renewed commitment to providing our military with the tools and technology needed to preserve peace and win any war.

We are making progress on this commitment, but we remain forever indebted to all who serve and sacrifice, Non Sibi Sed Patriae—Not For Self, But For Country. I proudly salute these American heroes, especially those who gave their lives in defense of our Nation.

May God bless the men and women of our great Navy and all our Armed Forces. And may He continue to bless the United States of America.

Donald J. Trump

Happy Birthday, Navy

%d bloggers like this: