All posts by Jim

Seventeen Inches

First of all, I apologize to my followers for being UA for the past few weeks. My Young Marines Unit (Fox Valley) is working this old man over time. It’s amazing how busy and involved twenty-four kids ages 8 to HS graduation can keep you. We have had some problems in the unit, no not with the kids but with some mean-spirited parents who have done a horrible job at raising their own children and expected me to apply some of their rules to the unit. Well, guess where they are now? GONE! Anyway, I feel assured many of you have seen what I am here to post before. But if you have, read it again, and again, and again. Then send it anonymously to those parents you know who keep widening the plate. There are lots of them out there, just open your eyes and look around, you’ll find them everywhere, even entrenched in our governments (local, state, and federal especially is packed with them. I’m certain they have machines whose sole job is plate widening). Anyway, enjoy it again!

Seventeen Inches

 

 

 

 

 

In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention. Nineteen times since, many of the same professional, college, high school, youth, and a slew of international coaches from passionate and developing baseball nations have gathered at various convention hotels across the country for two-and-half days of clinic presentations and industry exhibits. Sure, many members of the American Baseball Coaches Association have come and gone in those years; the leadership has been passed, nepotistically, from Dave Keilitz to his son, Craig; and the association — and baseball, in general — has lost some of its greatest coaches, including Rod Dedeaux, Gordie Gillespie, and Chuck “Bobo” Brayton.

I have attended all but three conventions in those nineteen years, and I have enjoyed and benefited from each of them. But ’96 was special — not just because it was held in the home of country music, a town I’d always wanted to visit. And not because I was attending my very first convention. Nashville in ’96 was special because it was there and then that I learned that baseball — the thing that had brought 4,000 of us together — was merely a metaphor for my own life and those of the players I hoped to impact.

While I waited in line to register with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

Who the hell is John Scolinos?  No matter, I was just happy to be there.

Having sensed the size of the group during check-in, I woke early the next morning in order to ensure myself a good seat near the stage — first chair on the right side of the center isle, third row back — where I sat, alone, for an hour until the audio-visual techs arrived to fine-tune their equipment. The proverbial bee bee in a boxcar, I was surrounded by empty chairs in a room as large as a football field. Eventually, I was joined by other, slightly less eager, coaches until the room was filled to capacity. By the time Augie Garrido was introduced to deliver the traditional first presentation from the previous season’s College World Series winner, there wasn’t an empty chair in the room.

ABCA conventions have a certain party-like quality to them. They provide a wonderful opportunity to re-connect with old friends from a fraternal game that often spreads its coaches all over the country. As such, it is common for coaches to bail out of afternoon clinic sessions in favor of old friends and the bar. As a result, I discovered, the crowd is comparatively sparse after lunch, and I had no trouble getting my seat back, even after grabbing a plastic-wrapped sandwich off the shelf at the Opryland gift shop.

I woke early the next morning and once again found myself alone in the massive convention hall, reviewing my notes from the day before: pitching mechanics, hitting philosophy, team practice drills. All technical and typical — important stuff for a young coach, and I was in Heaven. At the end of the morning session, certain that I had accurately scouted the group dynamic and that my seat would again be waiting for me after lunch, I allowed myself a few extra minutes to sit down and enjoy an overpriced sandwich in one of the hotel restaurants. But when I returned to the convention hall thirty minutes before the lunch break ended, not only was my seat not available, barely any seats were available! I managed to find one between two high school coaches, both proudly adorned in their respective team caps and jackets. Disappointed in myself for losing my seat up front, I wondered what had pried all these coaches from their barstools. I found the clinic schedule in my bag: “1 PM John Scolinos, Cal Poly Pomona.” It was the man whose name I had heard buzzing around the lobby two days earlier. Could he be the reason that all 4,000 coaches had returned, early, to the convention hall? Wow, I thought, this guy must really be good.

I had no idea.

In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate.

Seriously, I wondered, who in the hell is this guy?

After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.

Then, finally …

“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. “No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?” After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches,” more question than answer.

“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”

Another long pause.

“Seventeen inches?”came a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.

“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”

Pause.

“Coaches …”

Pause.

” … what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? When our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him, do we widen home plate?

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!

Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.

“This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

Silence. He replaced the flag with a Cross.

“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate!”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curve balls and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside.

“… dark days ahead.”

Coach Scolinos died in 2009 at the age of 91, but not before touching the lives of hundreds of players and coaches, including mine. Meeting him at my first ABCA convention kept me returning year after year, looking for similar wisdom and inspiration from other coaches. He is the best clinic speaker the ABCA has ever known because he was so much more than a baseball coach.

His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players — no matter how good they are — your own children, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.”

He was, indeed, worth the airfare.

Written by Chris Sperry

Chris Sperry is a baseball consultant who develops players and amateur coaches, assists professional scouts, and counsels families of prospective college-bound student-athletes. He holds a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from the University of Portland, the same institution at which he served as head baseball coach for 18 years. His key interests are in player and personal development as they pertain to a life in and beyond sports.

Shoot?

I had some very limited training in my Marine career in what we called Close Quarter Battle (CQB), I think they still call it by that name. I am by no means an expert in this field, but that training certainly opened my eyes to the split second decision process. These naysayers who make comments like some  in this article about “why didn’t he shoot the gun out of his hand,” need to go to the pistol range just once. They haven’t a clue, they are fools who know not what they are saying. And the problem is some are from the MSM and lots of Americans follow like sheep.

The woman with the advanced Harvard degree says, “Why did the cops shoot him so many times? Why not just wound him?”

The sophisticated lawyer, describing a mentally ill man charging the police with a knife asks, “Why didn’t they just shoot the knife out of his hand like they used to?” The guy at the gym says, “But he had his hands up!” The “expert” tells an audience of police officers, “It was just a small screwdriver.”

Unfortunately for officers on the line, thousands of comments like these are made by untrained civilians who are educated by what they see in the news, movies, TV and social media. Too often, reporters, politicians, community leaders and activists who assume they know what happened leap to judgment, immediately proclaiming officers as trigger-happy, racist or failing to resolve the situation

Too often overlooked in all the furor and outrage are the facts of the incident, the reality of human dynamics and how police are trained. Ninety-five percent of officers go through their entire careers without discharging their weapons. Contrary to public image, officers do not wish to be in a deadly-force incident and do everything in their power to avoid it at all costs, often times to their own peril. There are about 34,000 arrests each day in this country and well over 10 million a year, and in many of those arrests suspects are taken into custody safely even when many are extremely violent. Only a very small number result in shots fired.

Is it possible for us to pause and consider the realities for our police officers when they are involved in a shooting incident? Our book “Shots Fired: The Misunderstandings, Misconceptions, and Myths about Police Shootings” was written to provide citizens with a glimpse into the police world and the experience of officers in deadly force encounters.

Among those myths:

Hands up, don’t shoot? Police officers are trained — training that is quickly reinforced by the realities of the job — to be cautious of the subject with hands in the air. What may look like surrender to an untrained observer is frequently a ploy to lure the officer close enough for an attack. Or, when gunshots are exchanged, what looks like surrender may be the involuntary response of a subject who has been shot.

Why not just wound? In the world of policing, officers shoot not to kill and not to wound but to stop the threat. That threat is rarely stopped by a single bullet. Rarely, except in the world of fiction, does a single bullet knock someone down. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers, had been shot nine times, several of those wounds fatal, and he continued to toss bombs and shoot at the Watertown police. A person who has been knocked down remains a threat. Those who would have the officer “just shoot him in the knee” miss an important fact. Even assuming the officer can successfully hit that small, moving target, the subject still has both hands free to continue shooting.

As for shooting that weapon out of a subject’s hands? Many shooting events are sudden, surprising and evolve in seconds. In those seconds, while the subject has a weapon out and is shooting, the responding officer has to form the intention to respond, draw the weapon, ascertain that there are no innocents in the line of fire and then return fire — often while being fired upon. Those subjects are often fueled by drugs, rage, adrenaline and mental illness. Individuals do not stand there and present themselves like a silhouette. A twisting, turning, violent human being makes it impossible to just shoot someone in the leg or arm.

As for the assertion that an unarmed person isn’t dangerous? ‘Unarmed’ doesn’t have the same meaning to a police officer. Nearly 40,000 police officers were assaulted in 2015 with hands, fists or feet. More than 3,000 people are killed every year by unarmed assailants. Eleven percent of all officers murdered in the line of duty from 2013 to 2015 were killed by unarmed persons. And far too often overlooked? In every encounter with a police officer, unarmed simply doesn’t apply — the officer’s gun is always available.

Let’s bring the facts into clear focus to create better understandings nationwide about the police and the realities they face, often in impossible situations. Before jumping to conclusions about a deadly force incident, consider the police officers’ reality and their perspective.

Joseph K. Loughlin is a former assistant chief of police in Portland, Maine. Kate Clark Flora writes true crime and police procedurals. Their book “Shots Fired: The Misunderstandings, Misconceptions, and Myths about Police Shootings” (Skyhorse Publishing) is out Tuesday.

What’s Happened at the USMA?

This is not being posted to offend any of my Army buddies, yes I do have Army buddies. For those of you that have not read my book (shame on you), I spent two wonderful years at the JFK Center for Special Warfare at Ft. Bragg, and it was a tour that changed my life for the better in more ways than one. This letter, written by a  retired US Army LtCol professor who resigned from the USMA gives a scathing review of what is going on at one of the country’s proudest institutions. SAD!

What Is Happening at West Point?

A recent West Point instructor charges that standards at the institution have been degraded to the point he questions ‘whether the institution should even remain open.’

12:59 PM, OCT 11, 2017 | By MARK HEMINGWAY

 

 

 

 

Cadets nap before the start of the U.S. Military Academy Class of 2017 graduation ceremony at Michie Stadium on May 27, 2017 in West Point, New York. Photo credit: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images.

Retired Lt. Col. Robert M. Heffington, who recently quit teaching at West Point, has penned an open letter about a series of disturbing developments that have taken place at the U.S. Military Academy, starting with the revelation that West Point graduate Spenser Rapone is an avowed Communist who has insulted Defense secretary James Mattis and Vice President Mike Pence on social media:

Dear Sir/Ma’am,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Robert M. Heffington

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

Vietnam War – Unbiased

As I watched this power point presentation it conjured up all sorts of memories, none were good memories, but memories I am proud of. I’ve not finished watching Burns and Novick’s biased series, which I sure many Americans now firmly believe was an honest depiction of that war. Meanwhile those who had boots on the ground have a  completely different view. I probably won’t finish watching the series now that I have read so many reviews by people I trust because their boots were alongside mine – on the ground. But as I clicked on each slide, I was vividly reminded how we lived, how we fought, and how we bled. The I think of  the current state of affairs that Obama and his cronies like Mabus and “Ash and Trash” Carter have left our military. As you watch this, think about women in the infantry, transgenders serving in these hell holes, think diversity supposedly making our military more efficient.  And tell me, show me, introduce me to an 18-year-old woman who could live through that and if she did would not be scarred for life. What fools we are!

Vietnam_War SLIDE SHOW

Church, State, and Hatred

What’s always good for the goose is not always good for the gander. What a shame. I feel for this man. He goes to hear the word of God every Sunday and instead hear’s his preacher spew hated for our country and President.  Generation after generation; it will never end, at least not in mine, my children’s, or grandchildren’s lifetime.

Jerry said his pastor gave him the same blank stare he always receives from fellow blacks when he states commonsense views that are contrary to Democrat lies believed by that most blacks. Condescendingly, Jerry’s pastor said he understood his concerns. Meanwhile, his attacks on Trump from the pulpit continue. Jerry said every guest speaker at his church includes trashing Trump in their sermon.

Jerry’s church realizes there is a war on Christianity. Jerry said it is mind-boggling that his church has hired attorneys to defend itself from relentless infringements on its religious liberty. And yet, his entire church is loyal Democrat voters, the party leading the charge against Christianity. Jerry said it is as insane as giving your enemy a hammer to hit you in the head and then buying a helmet for protection.

Jerry challenged his fellow black church members to tell him what Trump has done to prove he is a racist. Remarkably, they believe Trump saying he wants to make America great again is proof of his racism. It is truly unfortunate that Leftists/fake news media have deceived many blacks into believing that a desire to make our homeland great again is code for white supremacy.

Jerry’s church members also thought it was racist for Trump to say he wanted to address the high murder rate in black neighborhoods. They argued that whites murder whites, Mexicans murder Mexicans and so on. Jerry and I discussed how blacks are undeniably murdering each other in record numbers in cities controlled by Democrats. Jerry thought blacks should be excited about Trump wanting to stop the violence, starting in black neighborhoods. Jerry said, “I tell you, Peanut (my childhood nickname), sometimes I feel like I am living in the Twilight Zone.”

Jerry ran into a black guy from the black community we grew up in. The guy went on and on praising our dad, Dr. Rev. Lloyd E. Marcus for being a powerful influence in his life. When their conversation went to politics, the pleasant mood dramatically changed. The guy stared Jerry in the eyes, “I bet you are a Republican and voted for Trump. My blood is boiling just looking at you!” Jerry said the guy was so enraged, he braced himself preparing for the guy to try to hit him.

Jerry said he feels all alone in his Baltimore urban environment. He called me in West Virginia for encouragement to stand strong in his political beliefs. I praised my younger brother for his courage. Jerry has always been an independent person and thinker. When we were in our twenties, I remember Jerry saying, “The only thing I want from the government is for it to get out of my way.”

Our black family is a tale of two mindsets. One side of our family is ripe with Christian preachers, doctors, lawyers and teachers. The other side of our family consisted of generational welfare recipients; out-of-wedlock births, drug and alcohol abuse. One cousin spawned 23 kids and grandkids all repeating their cycle of generational government dependency. Sadly, the majority of my relatives who spent their lives on welfare are dead. Ponder that, folks. Both sides of my family grew up in the same America. Their lives followed their mindsets.

My brother said his pastor relentlessly attacking Trump and church member’s irrational brain-dead loyalty to the Democrat party is becoming intolerable. Jerry laughed quoting Popeye, “That’s all I can stands and I can’t stands no more.” Still, he does not feel led to end his long-time membership at his church. I told Jerry God will tell him when it is time to leave.

St. Augustine said a minority of truth will prevail as long as it is heard. In other words, God only requires Jerry and me to continue faithfully spreading the truth. While most of our seeds of truth falls on stony hearts and minds, some will land on fertile soil in the minds of a remnant of black youths; take root, grow, and bear good fruit.

Lloyd Marcus, The Unhyphenated American

Author: Confessions of a Black Conservative: How the Left has shattered the dreams of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Black America.

Singer/Songwriter and Conservative Activist

http://LloydMarcus.com