The Hale-Bopp Comet Democrats

Heaven’s Gate logo courtesy of Wikipedia

By John Ruberry

The one great comet of my lifetime was the Hale-Bopp Comet of 1997. But its spectacular night time display was overshadowed by the mass suicide of the 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult. Because they believed that here was a spaceship traveling behind the comet they took some barbiturates, drank some vodka, and put hoods over their heads so they could reunite with one of the founders of the cult, who they believed was a passenger on that craft.

They had faith, or something akin to it, in their beliefs. 

On a lesser and of course non-deadly scale is the cult-like beliefs Democrats, and their media allies, have in themselves and their policies. 

There are exceptions here and there, James Carville being a notable Dem who has decried the liberals’ wokeness, but after the victory of Republican Glenn Youngkin over Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia gubernatorial race and the GOP near-miss in New Jersey, leftists are doubling down on failure, despite clear evidence that their policies are unpopular. 

Just like cult members. 

Let’s start with Critical Race Theory. I was one of many conservatives who switched the channel over to MSNBC to see how the left was responding to last week’s election coverage. Commentator after commentator said, like the sheep in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, that CRT was not being taught in Virginia schools or anywhere else for that matter. I laughed particularly hard when former Obama HUD secretary Julian Castro said so on a program that Brian Williams, no stranger to fiction, hosted. Castro is a lawyer and while probably in a lie-but-avoid-perjury mode he fixed his mind on a mental crumb–that no one anywhere in pre-college classrooms is teaching the arcane original Critical Race Theory texts from the 1970s–the Dead Sea Scrolls of leftist bigotry. What is being taught in some schools is that American society is inherently white, meaning racist, and that white people, even children, are oppressors. 

For instance, shortly before Election Day a mother said she was told by her six-year-old daughter in a Loudon County, Virginia classroom that she was “born evil” because she is white. Not surprisingly CRT is hated by most parents–and not just white parents.

I don’t want to dig too far into semantics but the meanings of words and phrases evolve. Critical Race Theory now means dividing people into those oppressor and oppressed camps and that our society is rigged and incurably racist. Well there is one antidote–leftist indoctrination in schools, or so liberals believe.

Yes there are white supremacists. There are far fewer of them than when I was a child and those remaining should be shunned.

Oh, MSNBC talking heads I have a message for you: CRT is not a “racist dog whistle.”

Now let’s move on to infrastructure. Many left-wing experts, that is, people who know a lot of things about stuff that isn’t true, made the ludicrous claim that if Joe Biden’s Build Back Better infrastructure bill had been signed into law before Election Day McAuliffe would have won. I’ll try to be brief on this whopper of a fallacy but for starters, infrastructure was not a major issue in the Virginia governor’s race. Also, as Barack Obama learned, enacting infrastructure legislation doesn’t make thousands of building projects “shovel ready.” Part of Build Back Better was signed into law on Saturday–I’m not breathing the smell of hot asphalt today. But it will be many months before BBB construction projects commence and even longer before they are completed. Okay, the food and beverage improvements on Amtrak, part of the infrastructure bill, could be available soon. 

Do you remember Obama’s not-so-shovel-ready stimulus bill from 2009? Only about $100 billion of the $800 billion bill actually was spent on infrastructure.

On the other hand, inflation is a problem in America for the first time in decades. There is a growing belief among voters that government is getting too big too fast. And the Democrats have been the party of Big Government since the presidency of Joe Biden’s idol, Franklin D. Roosevelt. As for the current president, he was elected because he passed himself off as a moderate, or perhaps as an old school liberal–but certainly not as Bernie Sanders.

There is a deeper problem for Democrats, particularly among hard-left members such as the members of The Squad. As I mentioned earlier Dems have a cultist faith in their policies. I encounter left-wingers regularly here in the inner-suburbs of Chicago. On those rare instances I engage in a political conversation with them, I am usually told, “Well, you just aren’t properly educated on the issues. You listen to too much talk radio and watch too much Fox News–you are indoctrinated.” But unlike them, I am regularly confronted by the other side. For instance, I sat for hours in a hospital waiting room last month. First I endured former Bill Clinton staffer George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America and then the leftists on The View, although I was in for a minor treat as Joyce Behar was not on the couch that day. And overall mainstream entertainment media is drenched with covert and overt liberal bias. Take a look at late night comedy shows, excluding of course Fox News’ Gutfeld! And as I mentioned earlier, I dabble with watching MSNBC–and CNN.

So yes, I am educated and I am exposed to multiple political views.

In the post-mortems among Democrats, again with a few exceptions, there was no call from them to moderate their policies and to address what went wrong on Election Day last week. It’s still full steam ahead.

I’ve mentioned this quote many times before but too many people still haven’t seen it “The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant,” Ronald Reagan said, “but that they know so much that isn’t so.”

You can’t reason with most leftists. 

And there was no spaceship hiding behind the Hale-Bopp Comet. 

Oh, no one is always right. Yep, not even conservatives.

The last words I’ll leave to Dr. Martin Luther King.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

No room for warriors

Viscount Slim, from Wikipedia

When Viscount Slim was placed in charge of British forces in Burma, he inherited a mess, and his Army was forced to retreat from the onslaught of Japanese forces. While mobilizing his forces in the city of Sagaing, a small entourage of Burmese civil servants drove up to his tent, unrolled a neatly typed document, and demanded that Viscount Slim remove all forces from one of the nearby hills. The typed document was a decree from the Burmese governor, who had been assured that there would be no fighting near his capital city. When Slim replied that he indeed did not want any fighting near the capital, but that he doubted the approaching Japanese commander would see things his way, the small throng of civil servants simply stared at him in disbelief. The only question that came up was “Will we receive 6 months of advanced pay then?”

As humorous as this story is (recounted in the book Defeat into Victory), the U.S. military is rapidly approaching this same level of absurdity. The shift in priorities from fighting and winning our nations wars to completing mandatory training on domestic terrorism and transgender policy is pretty much complete. Nowhere is this more apparent than the Navy. It’s incredible, and frightening, to watch the military spend millions of dollars seemingly overnight to roll out domestic terrorism training while our ships rust at the pier without proper maintenance. Even in the bloated 3.5 trillion infrastructure proposal, there was no money allocated for increasing our ship building or repair facilities, which would have been an easy, bi-partisan allocation to make.

This insidious march has resulted in the advent of the administrative commander. We now have a host of officers in leadership positions that are simply unable to make hard decisions. They will toe the line on the increasing demands made by Secretary of the Navy instructions. Even the mundane instructions related to equal opportunity, sexual harrassment and whistleblower policy have become so strict that it becomes impossible to balance these requirements with operations. Commanders are expected to drop everything, including their primary military mission, in response to any complaint from any Sailor. If a Sailor complains about a supervisor, that supervisor must be instantly isolated, even if the ship is in the middle of an operation. We’ll fly out lawyer after lawyer to make sure everything is done correctly, because we can’t trust a commander’s intuition.

Worse still, if a commander tries to make a decision, he or she will get second guessed by an Admiral sailing a desk with a yellow flag thousands of miles away. That’s a guaranteed way to take a trip to Admiral’s Mast, where the rules of evidence don’t apply, and a punitive letter can quickly derail a career. Did you make waves trying to fix endemic issues and upset someone’s rice bowl? Be prepared for a number of equal opportunity and Inspector General complaints. Don’t worry, there will be enough so that SOMETHING sticks, because the yellow flag officer can’t not find someone guilty of something.

These yellow flags will drive out the warriors. There isn’t room for people trying to balance operations with personnel. Yellow flags don’t want independent thought. They don’t want warriors in the ranks that might take actions against the enemy, push the envelope and actually fix problems. Those people are dangerous, because they might violate section 4 of paragraph A of chapter 3 in SECNAVINST 6969.120E. Or is it 120F? Better make sure we get the up to date rules onboard our rusting ship!

There is no room for warriors, and once the warriors have been driven off, our administrative commanders will look just like the Burmese civil servants, wanting their advanced pay from their cushy post-military jobs in the military industrial complex while a resurgent China pushes America from its ivory tower.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency. I mean, duh, that should have been obvious from the material. If you want to support this author, try purchasing his book for yourself or a friend, since Christmas is coming soon!

Pennsylvania: The worst of the worst

By Christopher Harper

Next Tuesday, I have the honor of voting for a representative on arguably the most corrupt and incompetent political institution in the country: the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Pennsylvania is one of the few states where judges run on a political ticket for 10-year terms. Over time, this formula has created one of the worst assemblies of jurists both Democrat and Republican.

Here is just the top of the pops:

Cynthia Baldwin served on the high court in 2006 and 2007 as an appointee of then-Gov. Ed Rendell. She later became chief counsel for Penn State. Baldwin received a reprimand in February by the high court over a complaint that she violated professional rules for lawyers by testifying about university officials accused in the Sandusky scandal when before that she represented them.

In 2010, two sisters of Justice Orie Melvin, Pennsylvania state senator Jane Orie and Janine Orie, were arrested and charged with theft of services and criminal conspiracy after a Pittsburgh grand jury investigation. They were accused of using Jane Orie’s Senate staff and office resources to help run their sister’s 2009 campaign for the State Supreme Court. Three years later, the justice also was charged and convicted on similar charges. Nevertheless, she didn’t spend a single day in prison.

Seamus McCaffery, another Supreme Court judge, sent e-mails with sexually, racially, and ethnically objectionable images and language. He apologized for sending the e-mails and confessed that it was “coarse language.” He was suspended from the bench for the e-mails and investigated for referral fees directed to his wife from personal injury law firms. He retired in 2014 with a full pension of $134,000 a year.

Michael Eakin resigned in 2016 from the bench after being suspended for sending e-mails containing pornographic material to his colleagues on the court, attorneys, and lower court judges. According to news accounts, the e-mails also featured sexual, racial, and ethnic humor that many found objectionable.

Eakin insisted that his “humor” and “sexual preferences” did not interfere with his ability to decide cases before the court fairly. By resigning, Eakin was able to escape a hearing before the ethics board and any punishment. He retired with a full pension.

Kevin Dougherty, the brother of union boss John Dougherty, reportedly got his snow shoveled and house repaired from an illegal union slush fund, according to federal prosecutors trying John for corruption charges. Justice Dougherty has not been charged.

When Kevin was elected to the court in 2015, it raised more than a few eyebrows because his brother was arguably the most powerful man in Philadelphia politics before his indictment for corruption.

But the court isn’t just about unethical and illegal acts; it also makes bad law. 

As you may recall, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court delivered a neck-snapping decision to allow ballots to be submitted three days AFTER the presidential election in 2020.

The law unambiguously stated that voters must “fill out, date and sign,” yet the state Supreme Court said the ballots should be counted, in a one-time exception for 2020. Earlier in the case, Judge Kevin Brobson had ruled the opposite. “To remove the date requirement,” he wrote, “would constitute a judicial rewrite of the statute.”

It will take a long time to get rid of these meatheads, but at least I can vote for Judge Brobson, a Republican whose website says he’ll defend “the law as it is written.”

Voices of Life Rebekah Hagan of the Abortion Pill Reversal Network

I spoke to Rebeeka Hagan at the annual Real Options dinner where she was the keynote speaker on Friday Oct 22nd

You can find the abortion pill reversal network here You can find real options here

FYI: You’ll note that I start the interview in this post at the 1:00 mark because my son started the camera while we were still chatting before the interview. I didn’t cut it from the uploaded video so if you want to see how I talk about interviews before I do them feel free to go to the 1 min mark and check it out.

Well, I was wrong on Scheller

I won’t say catastrophically wrong, but wrong nonetheless. In case you forgot, I predicted Scheller’s court martial would get drawn into obscurity by his defense counsel, who would want some time to pass before anyone passed judgement on Scheller. Any good defense lawyer is going to want distance between alleged crimes and judgement so that emotions can die down and, hopefully, cooler heads prevail. I also figured after getting a light sentence of some kind, which would not include jail time, Scheller would be allowed to retire.

Besides the light sentence part, I was wrong. Lt. Col. Scheller plead guilty to all six charges against him. The judge punished him with a sentence of one month forfeiture of $5,000 and a reprimand. His next stop is a Board of Inquiry, which will likely recommend dismissal from service.

Now, this doesn’t mean he loses all benefits. The Veteran’s Affairs will still assess if he can get disability pay, which could be in the thousands per month depending on his level of disability. Given that he fought in Afghanistan, and the Marine Corps has pounded his body over the past 17 years, he’s almost assured to get some disability pay.

At first I was in disbelief that things went completely different from my prediction. I took some time to read his court martial statement, which made things much more clear. Lt. Col. Scheller couldn’t NOT plead guilty. If he had fought the charges, it would have made him look like a crazy person who suddenly realizes he made a mistake and is trying to quickly sweep it under the rug. Scheller isn’t crazy. He might be depressed, but its understandable, given that both his wife and the Marine Corps are abandoning him. But he’s not crazy. It becomes very apparent near the end of his statement:

…Going forward, I am still demanding accountability from my senior General officers.  Since this endeavor began, not a single General officer has accepted accountability.  Not a single General officer has contacted me directly in any forum to deescalate the situation.  Since this endeavor began, I have acknowledged that I should be held accountable for my actions.  I am standing here today pleading guilty.  This is me accepting accountability.  But it deeply pains me that my senior leaders are incapable of being as courageous.  

Without accountability from our senior leaders, the system cannot evolve, and the military will ultimately keep repeating the same mistakes in the future.  It doesn’t matter if a SSgt squad leader is highly efficient in distributed operations if the General officers have relegated themselves to ‘yes sir’ responses.  We need senior leaders who possess the morale courage to push back when something doesn’t make sense. 

– Lt. Col. Scheller

If Lt. Col. Scheller wanted to cast light on the problem, he certainly did so. But where does it go from here? Tackling the military industrial behemoth is a daunting task. Even Mad-dog Mattis, who finally won the war in Iraq, still struggled to make the Department of Defense refocus and change. The revolving door for senior officers still exists, not dissimilar from the revolving door for politicians and lobbyists. Also, given Lt. Col. Scheller’s negative response to help from Donald Trump, I’m not sure where he’s going to start to affect the change he wants to make.

I will say this: this episode is only going to make the 2024 personnel cliff even worse for the military. In less than a month the military threw everything at Scheller over social media posts. Every military member is taking notice. Any that agreed with him will be quietly quitting, and the slow drip of lost manpower is going to accumulate into a river.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency. If you liked what you read, why not buy my book on Amazon and help me out!

Help Wanted!

By Christopher Harper

As you drive throughout central Pennsylvania, it’s difficult not to notice something other than fall foliage: Help wanted signs abound throughout the region.

On Route 11, which snakes along the countryside near my home, more than 70 signs seeking employees dominate the highway. 

Fred Gaffney, executive director of Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce, told a local newspaper that he’s at a loss to say why. “This is a workforce crisis unlike anything I’ve seen in my years at the Chamber,” Gaffney said.

Recently, a local job fair featured more than 500 openings from 25 employers. But only 40 people attended, Gaffney said. Businesses in the area have raised their minimum wages to $15 an hour and higher. 

What’s happening near my home is occurring throughout the country. According to the National Federation of Independent Business, 67% of small businesses reported hiring or trying to hire in September, and 42% raised compensation. But a record 51% still have openings they couldn’t fill.

The Wall Street Journal postulated in a recent editorial: “So what’s causing the worker shortage? One possible culprit is government and employer vaccine mandates that set ultimatums for workers. President Biden’s vaccine order first applied to nursing homes, which lost jobs in the month. Many states and school districts have also imposed mandates, and state and local education employment fell 161,000. The White House claims its vaccine mandates will boost job growth, but not if unvaccinated workers quit.”

The lack of workers has clearly become a drag on the economy. Ships are backed up at ports partly because there aren’t workers to unload and transport goods to where they need to go. Labor and material shortages are delaying projects and increasing prices in the home-building sector.

Another factor is that it doesn’t pay to work in some cases when the government provides enough money to keep people off the job. 

For my wife and me, it’s meant postponing work on our new home because there aren’t enough painters and other tradespeople to perform needed maintenance. For example, we can’t get anyone to paint the exterior of our house until next spring.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration seemingly has no strategy to solve the problems.

In an interview with Business Insider, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh has a lame analysis:

–People are afraid to go back to work because of the Delta variant.

–People have moved out of areas where employers are hiring.

–People are rethinking their attitude toward work—what one psychologist has called the “the great resignation.”

“I think a lot of people are re-imagining or rethinking about what’s next for them,” Walsh said. The pandemic has changed people’s views about work, causing them to “ask existential questions about their purpose and happiness,” Business Insider noted. 

Whatever the case, it would appear that the labor conflagration won’t be solved anytime soon, particularly under this administration.

I guess I may have to get out the work clothes and ladder to ponder the existential question of whether to paint or not to paint.

Has the military become a cult?

Answering that question depends what you think a cult is.

The magazine Wired has produced a number of fascinatingly good articles and videos with interesting stories, and one of this weeks YouTube videos hit the mark yet again. Dr. Janja Lalich is a survivor of a political cult, the Democratic Workers Party, and she answers a number of cult-related questions in her video. Her responses are both focused and enlightening.

Dr. Lalich defines a cult as having 4 characteristics

  1. A charismatic leader that is typically a narcissist
  2. A transcendent belief system that has the answers to all questions
  3. A System of Control that controls behavior
  4. A System of Influence that plays on emotions to encourage conformity

Dr. Lalich also separates cults from religion in that religions encourage freedom and independent thought while having guidelines to live by, whereas cults enforce their guidelines.

Given her definition, let’s see how today’s military stacks up:

  • The charismatic leader part is a mixed bag. On one hand, the glitz and glamor that many of the flag and general officers decorate themselves in definitely contributes to a feeling of awe for these people. However, many of them aren’t very charismatic or engaging. The narcissist trait is definitely present in the military’s worst leaders.
  • The transcendent belief system is spot on. The military has a set of rules for everything. Haircuts? Check. Restrictions on your first amendment rights? Check. Poke-mon Go? Check.
  • Control is achieved through the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which can still punish offenses like adultery and conduct unbecoming of a gentlemen that aren’t considered offenses in most civilian systems.
  • Influence is achieved through awards, assignments, and promotions. If you conform with the rules and stay out of trouble, you tend to promote.

3.5 out of 4 is pretty close. The only questionable point is leadership, and that doesn’t surprise me. Every time I’ve had a bad military leader, military life felt oppressive. Dr. Lalich talks about how all people have doubts when they are in a cult, but they get put on a shelf. If too much builds on the shelf, it collapses.

I think shelves are now starting to collapse in bigger numbers than before. The military has the setup to become a cult, and it is only good leadership that prevents this from happening. But military leaders continue to get put in hard circumstances. How do you explain the Afghanistan withdrawal to your soldiers? Or the poor maintenance our ships receive at a shipyard to your Sailors? Or how almost nobody was fired for massive scandals like the mismanagement of Arlington National Cemetery? You simply can’t, and young people asking hard, pointed questions won’t be satisfied by the bland responses from a Pentagon press secretary.

At some point, the good people get tired and leave, making way for those all too happy to defend the status quo. We’re seeing that happening now. The vocal ones, like Lt. Col. Scheller, make the news, but quietly, we’re going to see more and more people simply walk. The military is designed to replace people. The Marines will find another person to fill Lt. Col. Scheller’s spot. The person will at least be adequate, but anyone taking that roll is going to think twice about speaking out or showing too much independence.

That lack of independent thought will make the military stick to what it knows. We shouldn’t be surprised that the military is slow to embrace ideas like autonomous vessels, AI and robotic fighters. When you’re the best, or at least you think you are, you keep doing what was done in the past. Thus, it shouldn’t surprise people that the Navy still uses an antiquated program designed in 1998 to administer personnel reports, instead of moving to a secure cloud based system, or at least something resembling Microsoft Word.

We will eventually pay dearly for these mistakes, even if it isn’t so obvious now.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency. If you want an epic story to read in the meantime, please check out my book on Amazon.

Caring about what you actually control

Apparently its a thing to not have kids due to climate change.

https://www.popsci.com/environment/having-children-climate-change/

‘It’s a human right to decide whether or not you want a child. It’s not a human right to drive an SUV or fly in planes.’

-Sara Watson

The article references a survey of 10,000 young people (16-25), with 59% “very or extremely” worried about climate change, and 45% “said their feelings negatively affect their daily life.”

After actually reading the survey, my biggest critique is that there is no control group. The survey asked questions like “Do you think the previous generations did not take care of the planet?” Are you surprised that 81% said yes? I would take it more seriously if we had a control group to measure how much young people at that age normally hate authority figures because, fun fact, that’s typical for that age group. I thought my parents were morons when I was 18, and it wasn’t until my late 20s that I realized “Gee, maybe Mom and Dad were pretty smart about the choices they made.” That age group is also naturally anxious about…well, everything, yet we don’t have a control to compare the normal anxiety to climate anxiety.

Control groups are really important in studies. We’ve seen this in COVID-19 vaccine discussions. I’ll see a headline “Woman dies of (insert crazy condition here) a day after receiving the (insert vaccine here)!” OK, that’s sad, but that’s all we know. Did this woman have underlying health conditions? What else was going on at the time? And what’s the normal rate of dying from these conditions? It’s similar to the “bacon causes colon cancer” discussion. Once you realize that it takes eating a pound of bacon a day to raise the less than 1% chance of colon cancer to…less than one percent, you quickly realize the study is nonsense.

Actual solutions to problems aren’t typically sexy. There’s an apocryphal story about an elevator mechanic called in to to fix elevator timing in a large skyscraper. He tested all elevators and spent a day investigating where things could be wrong. Finding nothing wrong with the elevators, but still being told that people are “waiting too long,” he installed mirrors near all the elevator doors. Soon people were fixing their hair and adjusting suit coats, and the complaints disappeared.

In terms of climate change, there are a lot of things we can change now, on our own, without government telling us to. Driving and flying less is inside our control. Composting and having a small garden are inside our control (at one time, Victory Gardens accounted for over half of US agricultural output). Better insulating homes to reduce electricity costs is inside our control. Spending less time on social media, which relies on big server farms consuming fossil-fueled electricity, is inside our control.

Will not having kids help? Is that something inside our control? Would that actually help climate change?

Doubtful. Even Vox (Vox!) has doubts. And from looking at the sort of people running movements like BirthStrike, I have to wonder if its simply a continuation of how they were already inclined to think vs. a movement inspired by climate change. Wouldn’t a control group be nice to compare this to?

Which makes me ask, is the movement to not have kids really just an extension of pre-existing beliefs? If so, do you subscribe to those beliefs? I find the belief that humans are bad for the planet and need to be eradicated (the only logical end of not having kids) pretty sickening. I’ll place my faith in us getting smart about the planet and cleaning it up. I’ll happily do my small part, knowing that long term, its only through thousands of small actions that we’ll actually help the planet in any long term scenario. And I don’t need the government to do anything to get started.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency. If you want to support me, please purchase my book, To Build A House, on Amazon.

Liberals vs. the left

By Christopher Harper

Even classic liberals are starting to understand just how dangerous the left has become.

In a recent cover story, the classic liberal magazine, The Economist, raised comfortable questions about the “illiberal left.”

For more, see https://www.economist.com/leaders/2021/09/04/the-threat-from-the-illiberal-left

The analysis takes a few jabs at Trump and the right, but the central thesis focuses on how liberals and leftists have less and less in common.

“As young graduates have taken jobs in the upmarket media and in politics, business, and education, they have brought with them a horror of feeling ‘unsafe’ and an agenda obsessed with a narrow vision of obtaining justice for oppressed identity groups. They have also brought along tactics to enforce ideological purity, by no-platforming their enemies and canceling allies,” the magazine notes.

“Superficially, the illiberal left and classical liberals like The Economist want many of the same things. Both believe that people should be able to flourish, whatever their sexuality or race. They share a suspicion of authority and entrenched interests. They believe in the desirability of change.

“However, classical liberals and illiberal progressives could hardly disagree more over how to bring these things about. For classical liberals, the precise direction of progress is unknowable. It must be spontaneous and from the bottom up—and it depends on the separation of powers so that nobody nor any group is able to exert lasting control. By contrast, the illiberal left put their own power at the center of things because they are sure real progress is possible only after they have first seen to it that racial, sexual, and other hierarchies are dismantled.”

The magazine chooses Ibram X. Kendi, a self-proclaimed “anti-racist,” as the poster child of what’s wrong with the left. Kendi, a National Book Award winner, is the director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University.

“[H]is blunderbuss approach risks denying some disadvantaged children the help they need and others the chance to realize their talents,” the magazine argues. “[I]lliberal progressives think that equity requires the field to be tilted against those who are privileged and reactionary. That means restricting their freedom of speech, using a caste system of victimhood in which those on top must defer to those with a greater claim to restorative justice.”

The Economist makes no bones about its call for liberals to battle leftists. 

“The ultimate complacency would be for classical liberals to underestimate the threat. Too many right-leaning liberals are inclined to choose a shameless marriage of convenience with populists. Too many left-leaning liberals focus on how they, too, want social justice. They comfort themselves with the thought that the most intolerant illiberalism belongs to a fringe. Don’t worry, they say, intolerance is part of the mechanism of change: by focusing on injustice, they shift the center ground.”

It’s noteworthy that these classic liberals see the problem. Is Joe Biden beholden to the center or the left? As he gets shouted down from the left, it seems he shifts more that way than to the center.

I hope the liberals ignore the entreaty to push back the leftists. To me, liberal or leftist has become a distinction without much of a difference. Both philosophies are bankrupt.

The Navy is trending towards Battleship

…and not in a good way

We’re seeing more news on people leaving the military, even when within one or two years of retirement. First it was Marine Corps Lt Col Stuart Scheller. Next it was Army Lt Col Paul Hague. I’m sure over the next two months we’ll get about one of these every two weeks before it dies down. They’ll make the news, people will comment needlessly on Twitter, and then life will go on.

That’s not the real story. The real story is that for every one of these very public resignations, there are thousands that are quietly leaving. These people aren’t willing to throw away a pension if they are close to it. For the ones that are ending their first five year commitment, they are simply preparing now to walk away. They won’t make a big stink about it. They won’t leave five page resignation letters talking about Marxism, transgender policy and imbedded racism. Nope. These people will simply leave. They won’t make a ruckus or create waves, they’ll simply vote with their feet.

The military will cover this up. Not like X-Files “I want to believe” sort of cover up. It’ll just not make headlines. You’ll hear things like “We’re short on fighter pilots” now and again, but nothing earth shattering will make the news. The media that cover military stories focus almost exclusively on operations, because operations is sexy. It’s sexy and cool to interview the Blue Angels and look at drones landing on an aircraft carrier. It’s boring to look at numbers. That stuff is for nerds.

But nerds rule, and the numbers already look bad on the Navy side. The best indicator of what is called “community health” is how well you’re filling control grade officers, specifically the O-4 (LCDR), O-5 (CDR) and O-6 (CAPT) ranks. These are important for a few reasons.

  • Almost all of your commanding officers and executive officers come from these ranks. These officers control the day-to-day operations and they have by far the biggest impact on Sailor morale. If morale is suffering and things are getting done, this is the first place to check.
  • These people are lifers. They’ve stayed past 10 years, so they are “in it” for the long haul. They either love what they do, or at least don’t hate it enough to quit.
  • These ranks have the not-fun jobs. These ranks run the show from the background. The sexy jobs flying fast planes, driving boats and shooting at bad people are now past. That makes these jobs harder to fill.

So how is the Navy doing in this area? Easiest way to check is selection rates. The Navy’s officer manning is a pyramid. There are lots of O-1, O-2 and O-3 young officers at the bottom. The ideal selection rate to O-4 is 70%, meaning that 30% of otherwise qualified people are not selected. That seems brutal, but it allows you to pick the best. It also takes into account people that leave anyway, since O-3s that are eligible for promotion would also be finishing their first 5-year committment.

As we go up the pyramid, it gets harder. Ideal selection to O-5 is only 60% of eligible people, and selection to O-6 is about 50%. You only want the best people in positions of command and responsibility, and there aren’t as many jobs that high up, so you’re naturally going to shed more people. Also, these ranks allow people to stay until retirement, so you’ll have more non-selected officers that fill slots until they retire.

So how are selection rates now? LCDR selection rate is roughly 90%, CDR is 80% and CAPT is around 65%. This varies a lot by community, with some communities significantly higher.

That’s bad. High selection rates mean not enough people are staying in until they are eligible for promotion. In a business environment, you can simply hire people from outside or promote younger people, but the military is only allowed to pick 10% from what they call “below zone” officers, who are typically 1-2 years younger than officers that are “in zone” for selection. Now, you can pick officers that were previously passed over for promotion, and in many cases, these officers are otherwise great selections. But officers that are passed over once are likely planning their exit already. Once they see opportunity elsewhere, many are going to walk away.

Worse still, look at the communities with the highest selection rates. For CAPT, these are Cryptologic Warfare (85%) and Information Professional (70%). For CDR, these are…the same group, and the same for LCDR. Cryptologic Warfare officers make and break codes, specializing in cyber warfare, signals intelligence and electronic warfare. Information Professionals connect and maintain Navy communications. Both groups require significant engineering backgrounds, and yet both groups are leaving in droves. If the people that conduct the most advanced warfare areas are leaving, it means we aren’t providing enough incentives for them to stay around compared to what they can achieve in industry.

This is the canary in the coal mine. The numbers are trending worse, not better. This has been happening for the past three fiscal years. Now, combine this with a job market that is begging people to work, and one that is rapidly adopting the use of advanced technology to replace low-skilled jobs. The first people to leave the Navy, much like the first people to leave the fictional company in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, are the engineers and people with technical skills. Others in the chain will take notice, and short of significant business setbacks, people with good skills will bail. Once they have “Gone Galt,” the Navy is going to struggle to find competent leaders.

I used to laugh at movies like “Battleship,” where the only tactics the military seems to use are bum-rush the bad guy with big guns, resembling the often suicidal battle charges from the Civil War. Sadly, that’s what we’re going to get when its not worth it for smart people to stay around.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency. All data was publicly available at https://www.mynavyhr.navy.mil/Career-Management/Boards/Active-Duty-Officer/.

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