Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Friday, January 13, 2012

Drum Them Out of the Corps

Drum Them Out of the Corps

“The first to fight in battle and to keep our honor clean
We are proud to claim the title of United States Marine!”

Since Capt. Samuel Nicholas formed two battalions of Continental Marines on Nov. 10, 1775, the mission of the Marine Corps has evolved with changing military doctrine and American foreign policy. The Marine Corps has served in every American armed conflict and attained prominence in the 20th century when its theories and practices of amphibious warfare proved prescient and ultimately formed the cornerstone of World War II, particularly in the Pacific campaign. By the mid-20th century, the Marine Corps had become the dominant theorist and practitioner of amphibious warfare.  Its ability to rapidly respond on short notice to expeditionary crises gives it a strong role in the implementation and execution of American foreign policy.

Nicholas was born in Philadelphia in 1744 to Andrew and Mary Schute Nicholas. His father was a blacksmith and his uncle was Attwood Schute, the  mayor of Philadelphia.  After graduating of the University of Pennsylvania.

On Nov. 5, 1775, Nicholas was commissioned a "Captain of Marines" by the Second Continental Congress, which was the first commission issued in the Continental Naval Service. His commission was confirmed in writing on Nov. 28, 18 days after the Continental Congress resolved on Nov. 10, 1775, “That two battalions of Marines be raised…to serve by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present war with Great Britain and the Colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress; that they be distinguished by the names of the First and Second Battalion of Marines.”

Captain Nicholas no sooner received official confirmation of his appointment to office than he established recruiting headquarters at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia. By January 1776, having recruited a sufficient number of Marines to man the vessels that comprised the Continental Navy in the waters of Philadelphia, Capt. Nicholas assumed command of the Marine Detachment on board the Alfred. With Commodore Esek Hopkins in command, the Alfred set sail from Philadelphia on the morning of Jan. 4, 1776. The following month witnessed the baptismal fire of the Marines.

Lord Dunmore, with the British force under his command, had collected a store of arms and provisions at New Providence in the Bahamas, and  had done a great deal of damage along the Colonial coast, particularly along the shore of Virginia.  The Alfred was ordered to proceed to Abaco in the Bahamas, and from there to operate against the force of Lord Dunmore. Here the Commodore decided to make an attack on New Providence, capture the enemy's stores and cripple his supplies. Capt. Nicholas was placed in command of the landing party, which consisted of about 250 Marines and sailors.  This, the first successful landing engaged in by Continental Marines, led to the capture of Nassau on March 3, 1776, uncontested.

In April 6, 1776, the Marines participated in the first naval battle between an American squadron and the British, when the HMS Glasgow came across the path of the squadron.   Congress placed Nicholas at the head of the Marines with the rank of Major. Accordingly, Commodore Hopkins was advised to send Major Nicholas to Philadelphia, with dispatches for the Continental Congress.  With notification of his promotion, he was ordered to report to the Marine Committee. The Committee detached him from the Alfred and ordered him to remain in the city, “to discipline four companies of Marines and prepare them for service as Marine guards for the frigates on the stocks.”  Having recruited and thoroughly organized four companies, he requested arms and equipment for them.

In December 1776, Nicholas wrote Congress, “The enemy having overrun the Jerseys, and our army being greatly reduced, I was ordered to march with three of the companies to be under the command of His Excellency, the Commander-in-Chief [George Washington].” This was the first example of a battalion of Marines about to serve as an actual fighting unit under the direct command of Army authority. The Marines did not, however, engage in the attack on Trenton on Dec. 26, 1776 which followed Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River. They were attached to Gen. John Cadwalader’s division, which was ordered to cross the Delaware to Burlington, N.J., south of Trenton, in concert with Washington's crossing to the north on the night of Dec. 25, 1776, but was turned back due to ice floes on the river.

After the first Battle of Trenton, the battalion of Marines under the command of Maj. Nicholas participated in battle with a detachment of Cornwallis’ 's main army at Princeton. During the ensuing months Nicholas's battalion served both as infantry and artillery, participating in several skirmishes.

Following the British evacuation of Philadelphia in June 1778, Marine barracks were reestablished and recruiting resumed. From then until the close of the war, Nicholas's duties at Philadelphia were somewhat similar to those of later Commandants.  Moreover, he was actively in charge of recruiting, and at times acted as Muster Master of the Navy.

On Nov. 20, 1779, he wrote Congress requesting that he be put in charge of the Marine detachment aboard the America, then in process of construction, but Congress was firm in its intention that Nicholas remain in Philadelphia.  After the disbandment of the Continental Marines and Navy following the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783, Nicholas returned to civilian life.  He died in 1790, in Philadelphia during an epidemic of yellow fever and is buried in the Friends Graveyard at Arch Street Friends Meeting House.

The U.S. Marine Corps’ official history is filled with honor from the shores of Libya, protecting U.S. merchant ships to the battle of Iwo Jima, and through the Korean and Vietnam wars and the War on Terror.  Until the other day, when a small cadre of Marines stationed in Afghanistan unzipped 236 years of honor and pride, defiling the corpses of the dead enemy.  Now our government must go through the humiliating process of smoothing over ruffled diplomatic feathers.

No matter how righteous our hatred may be of Islamic terrorists, no matter how atrocious their behavior, nothing could excuse the disgraceful conduct of this small group of adolescent Marines.  This is not the American way, and certainly not the way of the U.S. Marine Corps.  Not the Marine Corps I’ve heard of and read about.  When we think of the Marines, we should be thinking of the Marines in the Battle of Tripoli, the Marines who stormed the beaches of Normandy, who gave their lives in Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and Iwo Jima.  We should be thinking of Capt. Nicholas, eager to go back into battle aboard the America, but no matter how frustrated, doing his duty, charged with recruiting and training future generates of Marines.  What would he think of this group of Marines?  Would he wonder how they ever got past basic training?  Don’t they teach the Marine Corps song anymore?

It takes more than strong muscles and a fundamental courage to make it as a Marine; it takes strong intelligence, a strong heart, and a strong sense of honor, duty, and pride to earn the privilege of wearing the uniform of a U.S. Marine.  Once the Marines learn the identifies of these misfits, they should be court-martialed, stripped of their uniforms (which they were so eager to undo), and drummed out of the Marine Corps.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Evils of Anti-Capitalism

In the 1964 movie Mary Poppins, starring Julie Andrews, the super nanny enveigles the children to seek out The Bird Woman of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

Michael has a tupence which is father, a banker wants him to put in a savings account.  After hearing Nanny Poppins’ song, “Feed the Bird,” the boy insists that he wants to use the money buy a small bag of crumbs for the birds from The Bird Woman.

Mr. Banks and the other bankers try to explain to the boy that if he invests the money in the bank, it will eventually help finance “ocean-going greyhounds” and so forth, and that in the end, he’ll receive more than the tupence back (that wouldn’t work today).  But Michael is stubborn, causes a scene, which causes a run on the bank.”

I was about the same age, or just slightly younger than Michael in 1964.  My mother explained the same thing to me when she opened a bank account in my own name, with Mom as the trustee.  I wanted to buy candy with my allowance.  She said I could buy the candy now, but later on, I wouldn’t have a car to drive.

“Which thing do you think is more important?” she asked.  I handed over the allowance.

“Mary Poppins” offered an opportunity for Mom to enforce the lesson of economics and thrift.  While she was sympathetic to the birds, she said Michael’s first duty was to take care of himself so no one else would have to.  She said God would take care of the birds.

Big Brother, who’d come along to see the movie, noted, “If he’d saved his money, in time he could have bought a truckload of bird feed.  Besides, all you get when you feed the birds is fat birds who can’t fly and get eaten by fat cats.”

What’s more while “feeding the birds” at Saint Paul's Cathedral might have been seen as a an act of charity in 1910 (the setting of the film) and 1965 (the year of the film), feeding the birds has become forbidden by law in the 21st century, having resulted in excessive defecation from the expanding avian population.

That was my first lesson in the importance and practicality of capitalism and economics.  I saved my money which I used for every one of my new cars and my home.  Some things, like books and music, I splurged on, but learned to balance the spending with savings in other areas.

We had some very wealthy relatives on my mother’s side.  We were the poor relations.  One of my mother’s cousins lived in “The Castle” in Bronxville.  Cousin Cynthia had an enviable collection of dolls and a horse.  I had one outfit for my poor Barbie doll.  Yet my mother said it was not polite to be envious.  There was no shame in being poor, only in wasting money.

Mom said that we should follow the example of Jesus in the Bible.  He had nothing, she said, and didn’t want anything.  Everything he needed, God (and some wealthy friends) would provide.  She said we had to play the cards dealt to us.
We’re all envious of some ability someone else has that we don’t.  We’re covetous of the belongings of those who are more successful.  Their acquisitions don’t make them evil, but our envy makes us wicked to an alarming degree.

My IQ was higher than Big Brother’s, initially, but for a host of reasons, some unfortunate, others which I can only lay the blame at my own feet, he was more successful in school.  I prided myself on my superior vocabulary, but there were still students with even greater word power.  I had the poor grace to feel resentful when I’d lose a spelling bee.  My father said the remedy was to memorize the dictionary.  I still have Dad’s 1934 Webster’s Second International Unabridged Dictionary; it’s one of my prized treasures.

Instead of nursing a spite against the rich, the Occupy Wailers might consider improving their own lots in life.  They can begin by improving their minds, starting with an economics book.  The wealthy do have an educational advantage in that they can provide their young with a classical education.  However, books on Latin and Greek, ancient history and modern, advanced mathematics and astronomy are available in the libraries.  You can also pick up books at garage sales.  Education is where it all begins.

They also might try humility.  No matter how hard some people try, they’ll never master the Greek language.  The wealthy are not to blame if someone is better suited to working in a factory than running an international corporation.  It’s not their fault if someone is more skilled as a secretary than a fashion designer.

Give the rich a break.  Sure, there are rich crooks.  But the jails are also filled with plenty of poor, petty thieves.  The wealthy, on the whole, tend to be extremely generous towards charities.  Being charitable is fine, up to a point, but at some point, we have to remember the lesson Jesus taught:  give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, and you feed him for life.

Like the birds of St. Paul’s cathedral, where all that do-gooding created an explosion of fat, messy birds, our bloated government entitlements will create an explosion of fat, lazy, unproductive people, who don’t reproduce enough of their own population to support them.  No flock of pigeons ever made a greater mess than the Occupy Wall Street rioters made of Zoocotti Park in New York.

Writ large, Zoocotti Park is America’s future.  Bilious, lazy pigeons looking for a hand-out, sneering at the people working for a living in the skyscrapers around them, even when they come down during break to sympathetically sing “Feed the Birds” to them.  As they gorge themselves on Media attention, the more attention they get, the worse the infestation becomes.

The problem isn’t wealthy, fat-cat capitalists; it’s lazy, Occupy Wall Street pigeons.  Thanks to our government feeding the birds, captains of industry are taking their ships of state to other shores and our jobs with them.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mitt Romney: A Chip Off the Ol' Blockhead

The National Review’s Mona Charen, in yesterday’s column, noted how the apple sometimes tries too hard to fall farther from the tree; that Mitt Romney was playing it too safe so he wouldn’t make the mistake of his father, Michigan Gov. George Romney, who was running for the GOP nomination in 1968.  Apparently, Mitt didn’t fall far enough.

His Dad made a comment to a radio host about how his visit to Vietnam made him realize how “brainwashed” he’d been.  Conservative voters didn’t appreciate his view that communism was not the threat they believed it to be and nominated moderate Richard Nixon (who opened the doors to trade with China and took us off the gold standard).

“I like to fire people.”  The Media isn’t making much of that line – yet.  They’re waiting for the primary dust to settle.  They don’t want people to realize just what a mistake that line was.  That line will make him eminently beatable in the general election.  You won’t hear it for awhile.  But just imagine how that line is going to sound in a bad economy with the real unemployment rate at somewhere around 15 percent?

No doubt, what Romney meant was that sometimes it’s necessary to lay off people, for economic reasons, and even fire poor producers.  That’s what my company said, only more tactfully.  But to say you enjoy it puts you in the “Bah Humbug!” Ebenezeer Scrooge category.

Brother B. is a supervisor.  Years ago, before he became a supervisor, we were discussing management position.  I said I never wanted to be put in the position of firing people.  Big Brother (being a Big Brother) took this opportunity to tease.  “Not me!” he cried.  “I love firing people!”

Then, one day, he was promoted to a supervisory position.  His company had to lay off workers and it was his duty to “fire” some of his employees, one who’d been a long-time employee.  The employee hadn’t taken advantage of “The Package” and so lost out on income.  She didn’t believe the Company would fire her.  But they did.  She collapsed and Big Brother, sobbing himself, had to carry out to her car.

Business has to do what it has to do.  You survive it by being prepared.  Romney was perfectly correct in what he meant.  What he actually said, though, is going to be played and replayed by The Media ad nauseam.  The GOP may not realize, but Romney’s electability just plunged.  The next choices – Ron Paul, an isolationist who is supported by pot-smoking college students, and Obama clone John Huntsman aren’t much better.

Already, there’s talk of Conservative Republicans staying home – again – because the choices are so weak.  The GOP should have gotten behind Rick Santorum (who can be straightened out about union support more easily than an addle-brained yet shrewd old man who endears himself to addle-brained college students).

In addition to a history test, candidates should be genetically tested for foot-in-mouth disease.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The 2012 GOP Debates

During the 1960 presidential campaign debate between Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard M. Nixon, voters had the opportunity to either view the debate on television or listen to it on radio.  In a survey, those who watched the debate said that Kennedy won.  Those who listened to it gave the debate to Nixon.

Watching early versions of these kinds of debates are such a waste of time.  The candidates bumble, fumble and stumble all over the place.  Then they survey audiences to find what went over well and what didn’t.  Apparently, today's voters are every bit as shallow as those in 1960, taken in by a well-groomed smile here or taken aback by an awkward moment there.

Since the early debates, Romney has defended his record on combating illegal immigration, Santorum has foundered on the union question.  If the unions are for unions, then he is.  Huntsman is still the loyal Obama appointee, and Ron Paul is…Ron Paul.

In the last two debates, Paul, to his credit, came off sounding not like an Area 51 devotee but a learned Constitutional scholar.  Both he and Huntsman attacked the Department of Defense budget; Paul, for its overextension overseas, Huntsman for its waste.  In decrying the 900 overseas bases, Paul sounded just like my mother.  His isolationist tendencies are worrisome, not just from a national security standpoint, but from a free trade standpoint.

Isolationism didn’t work so well for America in the 1920s.  It’s not going to work now.  We must rein in the taxes on corporations, capital gains, and property taxes.  The unions must be made to heel, so to speak, particularly the public sector unions.  The public employee unions are the direct result of a bloated government.  Yes, we must reduce waste and inefficiencies, and we must scale down the actual size of the government.

Romney took a lot of heat for his investment firm’s role in putting failing businesses out of business, or forcing them to lay off workers.  The snarky ABC hosts tried to put Gingrich on the spot.  Defend Romney, and Gingrich would be helping an adversary.  Attack him, and you attack the essential nature of the business world.  Business, particularly Capitalism, is not a static model.  Like a high bridge, it cannot afford to be rigid, to do things only one way.  The economy must be flexible.  Companies must be flexible to weather economic storms and crises.  The more regulations placed upon businesses, the more inflexible they become, and so the less able they are to endure the uncertain, but ultimately practical, nature of the markets.

That exchange is what happens when Liberals moderate a debate.  It’s all about them and their issues, and whatever weaknesses they can exploit in the opposition’s candidates.  There’s no cheerleading, no softball questions in a GOP debate run by Liberal journalists.

In the subsequent Facebook debate, Gingrich came across like a grumpy old man, carrying on about Romney’s negative ads and the ads he plans to put out.  Was this the commercial break?  Gingrich didn’t do himself any favors getting off track.  He sounded like he was out of the running – the moderators treated him as if he was – and he knew.

Romney improved his standing by stating his opposition to illegal immigration and insistence on cultural immersion.  Santorum came down a notch from the Conservative heights upon which he’d been standing and, ala Sarah Palin, made appeasing noises about unions.

If Paul’s campaigners would present themselves more as serious, respectful advocates instead of proselytes trying to “convert” voters to Paulism and if Paul himself had less of a gadfly attitude towards national defense, he’d be more plausible as a candidate.  He seems to have no notion of the dangers of economic isolationism and protectionism.

If there are any issues that concern Conservative Tea Partiers more, it’s the size and waste of government, entitlements, and union encroachment.  All will lead us down the path to socialism.  Romney, Santorum and Perry were on the mark in regard to the dangers Iran poses.  Perry drops off the radar, not because he shot himself in the foot verbally (although that didn’t help), but because he’s in favor of illegal immigration.  Santorum was our guy, until he stumbled over the unions.

Romney has acquitted himself (let’s hope he’s as good as his words, that he’s listening) on the union problem.  But he’s still strong on environmentalism and supports Big Government agencies like the Department of Education and the EPA.  He implemented Cap and Trade in Massachusetts and supported TARP and the Stiumulus.

Will it be more likely that Santorum will change his stance on unions?  He’s falling behind in the race and must depend on those Pennsylvania miners to put him back into the Senate, where we do need him.  Will Romney alter his stance on his TARP and Stimulus record?  On Big Government agencies that are bloating our government?  Perhaps.  He won’t change his stance on environmentalism.  Those lamebrain independent voters drank the greenhouse kool-aid.  Nothing short of an intervention is going to alter their brains back to normal.  The GOP fears them.

The primary races are pretty much settled.  The GOP, with all its funding, backed Romney early on, which explains the multi-color extravaganzas he’s been able to put on.  It’s not that the Conservative voters want things settled early; the late-state voters (New Jersey used to be one of them) have always been frustrated that their votes are essentially neutered; that they basically have no say over something that was decided back in the winter.  It’s the GOP machine that doesn’t like being balked.  They don’t like the Tea Party because they want their voters to settle down and be good little sheep and push the button for the candidate the GOP puts forward (at great expense).  Settling the primary early saves money for the later battle with the Democrat candidate.

Sensible.  And insensitive to the many Conservative voters who find themselves cheated into voting for a candidate who doesn’t represent their values but instead for a minority candidate who whistles the tune of a small number of independent voters of dubious convictions.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Tony Blankley, Conservative Columnist, RIP

Conservatives lost an important voice late Saturday when former Washington Times Editorial Page Editor and columnist Tony Blankley passed away at the age of 63 from stomach cancer.  His loss couldn’t have come at a worse time.

As The Washington Times (a must-read and antidote to the Washington Post – why doesn’t someone compose a Washington Times march?) observes, Blankley was  “a noted conservative commentator, Ronald Reagan speechwriter and former editorial page editor of, leaving a legacy of significant analysis that bridged politics and culture with finesse, optimism and a sense of history.

“At the time of his death, Mr. Blankley was an executive vice president of the Edelman public relations firm in Washington, a visiting senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation think tank, a syndicated newspaper columnist and an on-air political commentator for CNN, NBC and NPR.  He was also a regular weekly guest on ‘The McLaughlin Group.’

“From 1990 to 1997, he served as press secretary and general adviser to House Speaker Newt Gingrich, ultimately earning a reputation among political friends and foes as one of Washington’s most genial, quick-witted and effective operatives.

Mr. Gingrich, campaigning in New Hampshire on Sunday for the Republican presidential nomination, called his former press secretary a “very dear friend” and a key part of the team behind the 1994 Contract With America.

“’His father had been the accountant for Winston Churchill. Tony grew up with this deep passionate commitment, that I think he got from his dad, for freedom,” Mr. Gingrich said. “Tony was a very special person. He was more than a great professional. He was a great human being. He was a caring and loving person. He was a tremendous amount of fun, remarkably erudite and educated.’”

“Born in London, Mr. Blankley became a naturalized American citizen after his parents moved to California after World War II.  As a child, he acted in such television shows as “Lassie,”“Highway Patrol” and “Make Room for Daddy,” and appeared in movies with such stars as Humphrey Bogart and Rod Steiger.

“He met Ronald Reagan at a 1950s-era USO performance and later volunteered to work on all of Reagan’s campaigns for governor and president.

“A Loyola Marymount University law school graduate, Mr. Blankley later served six years in the Reagan administration in a variety of positions, including speechwriter and senior policy analyst. He also spent 10 years as a prosecutor with the California attorney general’s office.

Mr. Blankley joined the staff of John F. Kennedy Jr.’s George magazine as a contributing editor before taking over The Times‘ editorial section in 2002.  Douglas D.M. Joo, chairman of The Washington Times, cited the conservative icon’s contributions to the newspaper:
“’Tony Blankley was an important voice in America’s conservative landscape. He understood deeply conservative values and their importance to America. His insight on the global geopolitical environment was balanced and principled.  We will miss the benefit of his clarity. I worked closely with him. … He was a true gentleman, and a family man.  I deeply appreciated his respect for our founder’s vision and his support for the editorial mission of this newspaper.”

“Wesley Pruden, editor-in-chief of The Washington Times until he retired three years ago, said his former colleague was an ‘editor’s dream.

“’He had an instinctive understanding of politics and the experience, from the Reagan White House and as press secretary and senior adviser to Newt Gingrich as speaker of the House, to prove it,’ Mr. Pruden said. ‘Tony was an immigrant — he arrived as a child from England just after World War II — and he understood America with a deep and abiding love and gratitude for its history, its culture and its exceptional and unique place in the world. His stewardship of the editorial page, his column and his books testified eloquently to that.

“‘His editorial pages cast light on the issues of the day with warmth, wit and humor as well as insight and intuition, and were, above all else, relevant and influential to the continuing national debate. He continued to write a column, perceptive and knowledgeable as ever, all through his long struggle with stomach cancer, and his readers never knew he was struggling with a killer within. He lived ‘family values’ as a kind and loving husband and devoted father of three.  He was a good and decent man. His friends will miss him, a lot.”

“As word spread Sunday of Mr. Blankley’s death, conservative and liberal voices alike noted his passing with regret.  On Twitter, Faith and Freedom Coalition founder Ralph Reed called him ‘a good man, a dear friend, and patriot.’”

“Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan told The Washington Times, ‘Tony was … a friend to conservatism with the heart of a patriot and a sense of history and culture, a man who deeply loved this country and his British roots. He always did his best to defend America from strategic threats, whether in the battle against communism or the perceived threats from radical Islam.

“’We always traded stories that were clever and humorous. Tony was such a fine, fine writer, and a man who truly appreciated Ronald Reagan,’ Mr. Buchanan said. ‘He was unique because of his roots, and a life story that found him acting in Hollywood, and ultimately, getting caught up in conservative politics to great effect.’”

“Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas called his longtime friend, ‘the consummate English man, a gentleman from the old school — a sharp dresser, a man of great deportment, kind manner, culture, knowledge and orating skill. He was the kind of writer who made me want to read what he said because I was always interested in what he said.  There are not too many writers who compel a reader to respond to their work like I did with Tony.  Journalism will miss him.  And I will miss him.’”

“American Values President Gary Bauer remembered working with Mr. Blankley as a policy adviser in the Reagan administration: ‘I was proud to be on the same team with him at the Department of Education during the Reagan years. He was a fearless conservative intellectual who loved America, and he devoted his life to defending family, faith and freedom. He will be missed.’”

“Thomas P. McDevitt, president of The Times, said the newspaper’s readers will miss Mr. Blankley.

“’His columns were the first-read and always insightful. Tony’s love for America was amplified by his profound understanding of America’s founding principles, history and his rare ability to communicate with courage, wit and wisdom. His love for America was only surpassed by his exemplary commitment as a husband and father.’”

We American Conservatives will miss Mr. Blankley as well.  Seeing his byline was enough to know that what followed would be thoughtful, insightful, well-measured, and reasonable.  Seeing his name in the obituary section is an immeasurable sorrow and loss to those of us who depended on his sound warnings against Islamism and the socialist coup that is taking place.  We Conservative writers and bloggers looked up to Mr. Blankley from afar with relief that there was still a semblance of sense and spirit in the world.

We can only hope to carry on the fight and uphold the standard of Conservatism as he did.