England Expects …

It was two hundred and fifteen years ago today that  Admiral Lord Nelson defeated the combined French and Spanish fleets off Trafalgar. This is one of those victories that in the modern age we seem to think was pre-ordained. It wasn’t. I’m told that it is barely celebrated in England, that’s very silly. This is a victory that did as much to make the world we live in as Salamis, Lepanto, or the Armada.  That’s sad. I can only attribute that to too many of our people coming to believe that our influence on the world has been an evil one. That is not only wrong, and perhaps evil in itself, but diametrically opposed to the truth.

Sir Walter Raleigh, in A Discourse of the Invention of Ships, Anchors, Compass, &c., said this:

For whosoever commands the sea commands the trade; whosoever commands the trade of the world commands the riches of the world, and consequently the world itself.

This was also quoted by Fleet Admiral Nimitz, on his retirement. It was true for the Elizabethans, it was true in Nelson’s time, it is true now, it will always be true. But the Anglo-Saxon powers have always been more interested in trade than pure control of the world and its people. Alfred Thayer McMahon, in The Influence of Sea Power upon History, says this with regard to the British fleet:  “Those distant, storm-tossed ships, never seen by the Grande Armee, were all that stood between it and world domination.” And that is so. Our francophile president, Thomas Jefferson wrote that if Napoleon took possession of Louisiana and attempted to move an army there, “on that day we shall have to marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation”. Nor was he kidding, control of New Orleans would have (and had under the Spanish) stifled the growth of not only the Old Southwest, but also the Old Northwest, it was simply something that America could not allow, and survive.

Nor did it end there. We haven’t forgotten that during our Civil War, the French attempted to impose a Hapsburg emperor on Mexico, or that it was only thwarted in 1865, when fifty thousand battle-hardened Union troops assembled in Texas, leading to the French Foreign Legion’s most famous defeat. But we also recognize that one of the reasons that we developed as we did is that the Royal Navy was the guarantor of the Monroe Doctrine. That allowed the new world to develop at its own speed and in its own way.

We should also mention that the end of chattel slavery in the west was primarily done by the Royal Navy, which encouraged industriousness amongst its people by paying prize money for captured slavers, and the return of their cargos. Slavery ended with the deaths of a half-million white Americans, but they and the Royal Navy were both following the precepts first proposed around the time of the Revolution–in East Anglia.

Nor do I think there is any question that India, is far better off today than it was in the days before the Raj. Gandhi himself once said that his nonviolent tactics would not have worked against a less moral people than the British, and in fact, Dr. Martin Luther King said the same thing about the civil rights struggle here.

And so we come to the twentieth century, to 1941 specifically. Off Newfoundland, two convoys of warships met. One carried the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill on HMS Prince of Wales. the other carried the President of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt, on the USS Augusta. This is the time when the guard of the English speaking peoples changed from England to America. Fittingly it happened during Church Parade on the Prince of Wales. Churchill said this about it:

The prime minister reported that no one who attended would forget “that sunlit morning on the crowded quarterdeck—the symbol of the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes draped side by side on the pulpit,” and “the close-packed ranks of British and American sailors, completely intermingled, sharing the same books and joining fervently in the prayers and hymns familiar to both.” Churchill had chosen the hymns—“For Those In Peril On the Sea;” “Onward, Christian Soldiers,” and “O God, Our Help in Ages Past.” He said later, “Every word seemed to stir the heart. It was a great hour to live. Nearly half of those who sang were soon to die.” HMSPrince of Wales was sunk by Japanese aircraft off Malaya on December 10, 1941.

Here was mapped the grand strategy that would allow the cousins, for that, is what we were, and are, to free the world from the menace of Nazi Germany, and Imperial Japan. But here’s the point: On that day in 1941, only seventy-nine years ago, if you were free to speak your mind, you spoke English as your native language. All the rest of the world owes their very freedom to those distant storm-tossed ships, that won one of the world’s greatest victories, for England, and for the world.

And so, for two hundred and fourteen years now, the Royal Navy has drunk one toast in silence, and all free peoples should join them.

I give you, Gentlemen (and Ladies):

“The immortal memory,

of Nelson and those who fell with him”

 

It’s true now, as it has always been, We sleep safe in our beds because of rough men (and now women) who are prepared to do violence on our behalf.

In 1492, Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue

Arms of the Portuguese Prince Henry, the Navig...

Image via Wikipedia

Another Columbus Day has come. And again we celebrate the (re)discovery of the New World. And look what has been erected on that discovery! If you didn’t know; Columbus was a student of Prince Henry the Navigator’s school.

Those students made almost all of the voyages of discovery from the Iberian Peninsula. By the way, Prince Henry of  Portugal was the Grandson of John of Gaunt, time-honored Lancaster. The English always make it into these stories of the sea, don’t they?

So we know that Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. But why? His crews were afraid of starving or falling off the edge of the world. His ships were ridiculously small. What exactly was the point? Nobody in Portugal had even heard of Brazil, nor were they all that enthused about an overseas empire. So, why?

Trade, that’s why. Everybody knew where India and China were (at least all the cool cats that knew the world was round). They had since Marco Polo made that remarkable trip, if not before. They liked the silk and other good things that came from China. But there was a problem.

You see there were pirates in the Mediterranean, then one had to get through the totalitarian Ottoman Empire, the Safavid Persians, and various and sundry other Islamic States. If you remember Spain had just managed to reconquer Spain from the Moslems and just plain didn’t want anything to do with them. So they decided to take a shortcut and sail west to go east. Yeah, their calculations were off a bit about the size of the world, but that’s why.

Now let’s think about this a little, Spain went way out of its way to avoid the clowns and founded both the New World and New Spain in the process: and got themselves into a shooting war with England that would eventually cost them their world power status. See A Cloud Smaller Than a Fist.

A few hundred years later, the United States won its Independence from Great Britain. The United States’ very first war was a regime change in Tripoli. There are still Islamic pirates, they still hold slaves and all in all they are still living in the 7th Century. And still today, Iran threatens war on Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. Some things never change.

Only now with their oil wealth, instead of modernizing and improving their people’s lives and such, they seem intent on conquering the world and seem to believe the world will use its modernity to help

They have found some fellow travelers, who had best hope they lose because they aren’t going to enjoy winning for long. Ask the survivors of the Kingdom of the Visigoths in about 1000 AD.

So there you have it. The cause of Columbus sailing the Ocean Blue.

In Other News:

  • General Robert Edward Lee, the commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, dies peacefully at his home in Lexington, Virginia. He was 63 years old.

Lee was born to Henry Lee (Light Horse Harry) and Ann Carter Lee at Stratford Hall, Virginia, in 1807. His father served in the American Revolution under George Washington and was later a governor of Virginia. Robert Lee attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and graduated second in his class in 1829. He did not earn a single demerit during his four years at the academy. Afterward, Lee embarked on a military career, eventually fighting in the Mexican War (1846-48) and later serving as the superintendent of West Point.

  • On the morning of October 12, 1915, the 49-year-old British nurse Edith Cavell was executed by a German firing squad in Brussels, Belgium.

Before World War I began in 1914, Cavell served for a number of years as the matron of a nurse’s training school in Brussels. After the city was captured and occupied by the Germans in the first month of the war, Cavell chose to remain at her post, tending to German soldiers and Belgians alike. In August 1915, German authorities arrested her and accused her of helping British and French prisoners-of-war, as well as Belgians hoping to serve with the Allied armies, to escape Belgium for neutral Holland. As I wrote on the centenary of her execution, here, there was no doubt at all of her guilt. And you can watch (no sound BTW) the procession for her state funeral at Norwich Cathedral in 1919 here.

  • On this day in 1776, British Generals Henry Clinton and William Howe lead a force of 4,000 troops aboard some 90 flat-boats up New York’s East River toward Throg’s Neck, a peninsula in Westchester County, in an effort to encircle General George Washington and the Patriot force stationed at Harlem Heights.

This was the largest British amphibious attack before Normandy.

After hearing of the British landing at Throg’s Neck, Washington ordered a contingent of troops from the Pennsylvania regiment to destroy the bridge leading from the peninsula to the Westchester mainland. The destruction of the bridge stranded Clinton and his men at Throg’s Neck for six days before they were loaded back onto their vessels and continued up the East River toward Pell Point.

  • On this day in 1946, Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell, the man who commanded the U.S. and Chinese Nationalist resistance to Japanese incursions into China and Burma, dies today at age 63.

All courtesy of This Day In History.

25 or 6 to 4

Usually, I let Audre handle our nostalgia for our America posts but I’m going to put my size eleven Hiliners in here. Back in 2013, I talked about the music growing up around Chicago in the ’60s. The relevance will become clear later. But as Audre said, “We had the best music”. She’s right and it came from Chicago. I said this then.

And after those games there was often a sock hop, and while sometimes there was a DJ, there was always a live band, and some of those DJ’s you’re going to meet here today. Why? Because Chicago was a huge music center in the 60s. You see in those day we all listened to AM radio, FM barely existed, and even 8 tracks were uncommon (and expensive). By the way did you know that for a few years you could buy a record player that mounted under your car dash-they actually worked pretty well, too.

But those AM radio stations, in Chicago there were two who did what we would call top 40 now, although then it was more just plain current rock, both 50,000 clear channel stations. Anybody that was around can tell you about WLS and WCFL even all these years later. They were part of our life, back and forth we went, second button on the car radio was usually LS and third CFL. Like all the early American call letters, they meant something, WLS stood (originally) for the World’s Largest Store (Sears Roebuck and Co.) and WCFL for the Chicago Federation of Labor.

The clear channel thing meant that in North America there was no other station on that frequency, 890 and 1000 Kilocycle/second (hertz) respectively. Especially at night, you could hear them from Pittsburgh to Denver, and down to the Gulf of Mexico, depending on some variables. And those bands I mentioned, I’ll be you’ve heard of some of them, here, let’s let them talk for themselves

It was glorious, about the only outsider that penetrated for me was Petula Clark, well what can I say a cute redhead. But the only one who survived was the revolution that Sgt Pepper inaugurated was Chicago, and they had to move to California to do so. One of their big hits was this.

It’s still great, isn’t it? This is the sound that came from a Chicago garage band, albeit one at DePaul University. But you know, it’s still current. Watch this.

How about that 50 years later and still relevant to our young people. Chicago always rocked, and they still do.

And just because I can, my other favorite from the period, which is also applicable to much. Crank it, the louder the better it is.

See you at Bifrost

Hat tp to RS McCain.

 

Love the Soldier, Distrust the General

Almost everyone who reads here knows that no one had more admiration for the prowess of American warriors than I do.  I always will. What I have no admiration for, in fact, no tolerance for is insubordination from those chosen to lead those forces, and that is exactly what I’m hearing now from far too many members of the former and present leadership.

Almost 50 years ago, our President and one of our greatest generals, who was most unlikely to disrespect our military, said his farewell to us. President Trump’s words, I think, make President Eisenhower’s words look prescient. Here is what he told us, the emphasis is mine.

My fellow Americans:

Three days from now, after half a century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor.

This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.

Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.

Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the Nation.

My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and, finally, to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years.

In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the national good rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the Nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling, on my part, of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.

We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts America is today the strongest, the most influential and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America’s leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.

III

Throughout America’s adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.

Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology-global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle-with liberty at stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small,there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research-these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we which to travel.

But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs-balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage-balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between action of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.

The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of stress and threat. But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. I mention two only.

A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.

Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peace time, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United State corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence-economic, political, even spiritual-is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been over shadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system-ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.

Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society’s future, we-you and I, and our government-must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.

Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.

Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose difference, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war-as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years-I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.

Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.

VII

So-in this my last good night to you as your President-I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and peace. I trust that in that service you find somethings worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future.

You and I-my fellow citizens-need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nation’s great goals.

To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America’s prayerful and continuing inspiration:

We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.

Transcription courtesy of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum.

You will, I am sure, note, as I have, that there is absolutely nothing here but respect and admiration for the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines of the republic. Such a view would be inconceivable from Eisenhower who had led us through some of our darkest hours. Neither has President Trump ever said anything that even a semi-reasonable person could take to be disrespect for our service people.

His warning, like Trump’s, is about generals who owe (in their minds) more to the defense contractors than they do to their subordinates, in short, a politicized military high command, and now we are definitely seeing signs of that, as we see general after admiral, after intelligence officer publicly make statements that are not in keeping with the constitutional subordination of the military to the civilian president.

It needs to end abruptly and very soon.

Jesus wept.

I saw a version of what you will see in the link on Facebook this morning. Crying and outrage don’t make good mornings. But that’s ok because people seem to have fifteen-minute memories and this is vitally important.

Our resident historians will have much to add, I suspect, and I look forward to their reactions to the article and pictures in the link. I watched the FB version four times. The first reaction was shock and horror. The second reaction was crying. The third reaction was outrage. The fourth reaction is this article I’m writing.

[There’s quite a bit more of this anti-Semitic death porn at the link above and below. Neo]

I tried really hard to keep an open mind about the tourist pictures, tried to find excuses – they’re young; they’re on vacation; this is the selfie generation to which I have no connection and no understanding; young people are thoughtless at this age. None of it worked. I can find no excuse that makes their selfies youthful exuberance or plain thoughtlessness. There is a distinct and pointed deliberateness about them that is unforgivable.

Again I have to refer to the documentary by Ken Burns, The War. The staff interviews with some of the men who were actually there, who actually helped to liberate the death camps, are indelibly printed on my brain and my heart. The documentary was filmed in 2006 if I remember correctly, and the men well deep in age, and even then, all those years after, their eyes and their faces register the horror of what they saw – the inconceivable brutality of true evil.

I am so grateful to the young Israeli, Shahak Shapira, (who lives in Germany) for creating the translation of what those ‘tourists’ were actually doing. If a picture speaks a thousand words, imagine what his images speak. Ignorance, disrespect, callousness, self before anything or anyone. I think he did a brilliant piece of work and should be commended.

Indeed. Jesus wept.

[Audre saw the TV series (as did I) but I also knew men who liberated Ohrdruf Concentration Camp. The first camp liberated by the US Army. They were armored infantrymen in the 4th Armored Division who came into France at Utah Beach on 11 July 1944 and became the spearhead of Patton’s 3d US Army. Amongst other things, they were the men who relieved Bastogne. They ended the war at Strakonice,  Czechoslovakia. They saw all the horror that the European Theater had to offer. When I knew them twenty years later, they tried to explain KZ Ordruf to me, knowing my interest in the military. All three of them failed, just sitting there at lunch with tears streaming down their faces, and the most haunted look I have ever seen. That’s what the very foolish kids are making light of here. I can think of nothing more despicable. Jesus indeed wept, and I thank God my friends and co-workers died without seeing this new horror. Neo]

Hyper Puissance, The American Way, and Donald Trump

United (States) Parcel Service.

United (States) Parcel Service. (Photo credit: matt.hintsa)

A quick change of plans here, I’ve an article cooking but didn’t start soon enough to get it sorted. Maybe tomorrow. This whose main theme goes back to 2011, explains a good bit about why Trump, as an entrepreneurial businessman, makes such an exceptional president. So enjoy, take the lesson, and vote for America, Vote Trump.


If you’ve been following along here, a few days ago, I posted on how Donald Trump was forcing American government (constitutionally, no less) to run at something like the speed of American business. That post is here.

But something was missing from that post, and it’s been bugging me, so I did a bit of digging in the archives the last few nights, and I found the article that spoke of it. It is one from the first month of NEO, and it was one that when Jess and I became friends she really liked, and asked me to rerun, and I think it deserves to run another time. Here it is.


Something I’ve been meaning to post about, given my interest in the military, freedom, and capitalism, is how they worked together to make the United States not only the most powerful nation in the history of the world but able to defeat the entire world, if necessary.

Pretty bold statement, isn’t it? Well, this isn’t going to be ironclad proof, but I think it is a given if America decided to.

Let’s start with a quote from Courtney Messerschmidt, Great Satan’s Girlfriend, herself:

Which may funnily enough hinge on a factor that is flat out tough to factor in:

Unbridled free inquiry.

“Courtney, free societies have, in general, a decided advantage when it comes to creativity and innovation, including in the military realm. However, it’s a bit more complicated than that”

All the cool kids know how Great Satan’s indispensable ally just to the east of Durand line sold access to that ditched sexed up chopper of Abottabad/Abottagood infamy. Theft of high tech and reverse engineering are the fortunes of unfree regimes and will directly impact the Diffusion of Military of Power.

Stuff that makes the West the BestWonderbra, BvB, individualism, scientific inquiry, rational critical thinking, democracy with it’s inherent capitalism, political freedom, dissidence and open free wheeling debate functions as kryptonite in Smallville in regards to autocrazies, despotries — and by extension — to their acquisition, development and deployment of military power.

Appears to be a dead link, Great Satan’s Girfriend is comatose but maybe you can find the article.

What she is saying here is that free inquiry and looking for the best solution (and being able to afford it) is what makes free armies so formidable.

The other thing is when fielded these same armies can react so fast that they may have 2 or three or even more decision cycles inside their opponents one.

Most of us, in business, don’t have a lot of use for an aircraft carrier, let alone a carrier battle group, that is why they are so expensive. There are less than 2 dozen in the world, ten of them American.

Each of the American ones is equal in power to most of the world’s air forces. They (some of them) are out there, all the time, 5-acre patches (plus their consorts) of the USA, representing all that we are. Freedom, Teamwork, Rock music, Movies, and all.

When the big steel battleships were coming into their own, it was a little different, the new developments were: Iron Ships, Steam Power, Radio Communications, Screw Propellers, and such. This was also the time when America was industrializing. An example of these early dreadnaughts is the USS Texas. These developments had very obvious commercial uses and therefore were much less expensive for navies to deploy.

So let’s go back to the infantry for a bit, it’s not nearly as sexy, even being the Queen of Battle, you tend to get all muddy. But what does the American military do so well? React. Small unit leadership is what we are all about. Spring and ambush on American forces and what do you get. If they are still doing it like they said they did when I was in college, this is what you get: Apaches and Warthogs, and Abrams and p****d off grunts (Oh, my) coming your way at a dead run all spitting fire, and if you are really unlucky even Spectre may show up to complete the ruin of your whole day. And that’s the first 30 seconds of your ambush, your day will probably still get worse. Try it at night and it will be worse.

OK, back to us civilians for a while, we compete, like our infantry, right down to the stubbornness to hold our positions. The other thing is, did you ever wonder why it is always the big companies running to Washington for help, while those of us in small business don’t? It really not the money, we could combine and find enough to at least rent some Congress-critters. It’s because, on anything remotely resembling a level playing field, we will outmaneuver the big companies so bad that we’ll run them all the way back home to mommy.

Why? Let’s think about it.

If I’m a supervisor at XYZ, Inc.that employs say 15,000 people (that would be a middle-sized company). I have probably something like 10 layers of management between me and the CEO, all of which have their bureaucracies to sustain, they aren’t all that interested in the company as a whole, they are interested in their little piece of it. So if I (a supervisor, remember) come up with a way to produce widgets at half the cost, how long is it going to take it to get out of the suggestion box and to a level where somebody says what a great idea. If XYZ is unionized, it’s going to be at least twice as bad. I don’t know either, but it will be a while, probably measured in years.

OK, now let’s say I’m a supervisor at Joe’s Widgets, LLC. where there are, say, 20 of us working. When Joe started the company he just copied what XYZ was doing and because his overhead was lower he made pretty good money. But now, I come up with the same idea and as before I sketch out how the process will work. I think I’ve got a pretty good idea, now what do I do? If Joe’s is like most companies this size when Joe comes to work, I ask him if he’s got a minute and he says yes. In some companies, this would be an after-work beer with the boss, but no matter. So, I go to Joe’s office and lay it out and he likes it, so later that day I’m talking to his support people and within a month it’s implemented. It will probably take a bit of tweaking, say another month and Joe’s cost has been cut in half. THAT is how small and/or informal businesses always win. That is also how Lockheed’s famed Skunk Works worked.

The other thing you notice is that its more fun to work in a small company where your effort is appreciated, as it usually is.

The real point here is whether we are talking about war or business, free inquiry, and minds that do not have to worry about being shot (or fired) for dissent are always able to run at high speed and outside the box. We’ve been doing this since at least when we decided the Redcoats needed to go home and it is what has fueled us all the way to where we are now.

The other thing that top-down management stifles is quality. If we remember the Soviet union designed really sexy widgets, their problem was that an 8th-grade shop class in America had better quality control. Courtney, again:

 

Cold War history continues the action for autocratic Commonwealth Russia. Long lol’d as more ‘evolutionary than revolutionary,” her defense industry is plagued with the horrible situation of being unable to redeem warranty claims by Pakistan, India, Iran and Algeria AND crank out new stuff at the same incredible instant. Since 1992, not a single state defense order has been fulfilled completely and on time.

If we allow ourselves to go over to the European model, we will need to set our sights to European levels in all areas including the lower productivity, higher unemployment, and the lack of what Courtney calls Hyper Puissance in both the military and commercial/cultural fields.

It amounts to a path to mediocrity, and I will never be ready for that.

Will you?


In talking with Jess after I reran this for her, I mentioned the aphorism that ended that other post, although in its more civilized form: “Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way”. She commented that she had never heard it, and was stealing it. That night she went to a social function with another friend of mine and used it when they were dithering over the choice of the wine. 🙂 She said it raised some eyebrows, and that our friend (who is quite senior) commented that she was keeping company with Americans, which raised them even further. Well, Britain is perhaps the next best at this, but it is basically an American trait. That pandering to Europeans is another reason the ‘elites’ got Trump (Brexit too, I think).

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