Does Lt. Colonel Vindman’s uniform signal a slo-mo military coup and shouldn’t we be praising Trump for fighting corruption? (Plus a few more things.)
(For those of you keeping track, this is the companion post to my No. 32 Bookworm Podcast.)
On October 28 of this year, I wrote a long post entitled Under Obama, there came to be a cancer in the Pentagon. I was triggered, if you’ll pardon my using that now-noxious millennial word, by news stories about two Obama-era admirals and one Clinton-era general. I won’t re-hash the whole post here because you can read it at the link, but let me give you the high points:
Under Obama, the Pentagon purged high ranking officers at a rate unheard of in modern times. By the time he was through, he’d gotten rid of almost two hundred officers. Some, I’m sure, weren’t performing well, but an inordinate number were reluctant to get with the Obama program of turning the American military into a social justice experiment, complete with women in combat and openly transgender troops. I suggested in my post that those who survived the purge might be unlike America’s past military officers. Very unlike.
As my examples, I looked at three recent pronouncements from retired officers. The first was Admiral McRaven, who was in charge when special forces killed bin Laden. Although bin Laden masterminded the gruesome, terrifying mass murder of 2,996 people on American soil, McRaven made sure that bin Laden had a respectful Muslim funeral service at sea.
McRaven recently wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post, in which spent paragraphs boasting about the military and his military affiliations. He then claimed, in pretty stark terms, that Trump is vile. He ended by saying, again in stark terms, that it time for Trump to leave office ASAP. He didn’t say, “that’s why you should vote Trump out in November 2020.” No. He suggested an immediate exit:
And if this president doesn’t understand their importance, if this president doesn’t demonstrate the leadership that America needs, both domestically and abroad, then it is time for a new person in the Oval Office — Republican, Democrat or independent — the sooner, the better. The fate of our Republic depends upon it. (Emphasis mine.)
That crude suggestion, along with McRaven’s constant references to the military, can easily be read to mean that the post-Obama Pentagon will look favorably upon a military coup.
The next officer I called out was General Barry McCaffrey, who served under Bill Clinton. McCaffrey had a complete mental collapse when Trump said he didn’t want the government to subscribe anymore to the New York Times and Washington Post, two papers that are now open propaganda outlets for the Democrat party. McCaffrey’s response to an action that John F. Kennedy once did was to call Trump “Mussolini.” Mussolini, of course, didn’t cancel subscriptions. He canceled reporters.
The third embarrassing, and worrisome officer, was Admiral James Winnefeld who served as the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Obama from 2011 to 2014. When Trump described al-Baghdadi’s death by talking about Baghdadi’s miserable cowardice, an approach that is a wonderful psy-ops tactic against primitive, violent ISIS recruits, Winnefeld fell on his fainting couch. Trump, he said, was disrespectful to the man who presided over the murder of tens of thousands of civilians, the rape and sexual slavery of tens of thousands of women, and the routine torture of men, women, and children, including such charming things as crucifixion. A better model, said Winnefeld, was that under the Obama administration: “If you look back at the bin Laden raid, we treated his body with respect that is due under Islam.”
My point in highlighting these three officers was to say that, beginning with Clinton and accelerating under Obama, something went seriously wrong in the upper echelons of America’s military. In personality, they’ve become indistinguishable from millennial hysterics. And in politics, they are aligned so closely with the Left that they’ve abandoned reason and have chosen instead to ally themselves with those who openly and loudly advocate for America’s destruction.
With that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to sundance’s post at Conservative Treehouse: The “Coup” Against a Sitting U.S. President Became Official on October 29th, 2019…:
The word “coup” shifted to a new level of formalized meaning last week when members of the political resistance showed up to remove President Trump wearing military uniforms.
Not only did U.S. military leadership remain silent to the optics and purpose, but in the testimony of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman he admits to giving instructions to ignore the instructions from a sitting United States President.
In the absence of push-back from the Joint Chiefs, from this moment forth, the impression is tacit U.S. military support for the Vindman objective.
Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official, testified before congressional committees conducting an impeachment inquiry on October 29, wearing a full military uniform.
To date there has been no visible comment from U.S. military sanctioning Lt. Col. Vindman for his decision; or correcting the impression represented by Vindman’s military appearance. The willful blindness is concerning, but it gets much worse.
Beyond the debate about the optics of the “coup“, within the testimony of Lt. Col Vindman, the witness readily admits to understanding the officially established policy of the President of The United States (an agreement between President Trump and President Zelenskyy), and stunningly admits that two weeks later he was giving countermanding instructions to his Ukrainian counterpart to ignore President Trump’s policies.
The coup against President Donald Trump went from soft, to hard. Consider…
You can and should read the rest here.
After the material I quoted, sundance went on to highlight multiple pages from Vindman’s testimony in which Vindman says that, while Trump (all accusations to the contrary) never actually made any demands, the disparity in power between him and Zelenskkyy left Vindman thinking that maybe the latter was being bullied . . . which Vindman strongly felt just wasn’t right:
VINDMAN: The power disparity between the President of the United States and the President of Ukraine is vast, and, you know, in the President asking for something, it became – there was – in return for a White House meeting, because that’s what this was about. This was about getting a White House meeting. It was a demand for him to fulfill his – fulfill this particular prerequisite in order to get the meeting.
REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE: Okay. Well, and I understand that based on that answer that your opinion is that it was a demand. I’m looking for where in the transcript you think there are words used that justify the use of that term, “demand,” as opposed to what you just said, which was ask for.
VINDMAN: You know, I guess I didn’t – frankly, Congressman, I didn’t parse the words all that clearly. This is, you know – I’m not – I guess I – I’m not an attorney by training. This is – I just wrote it the way I kind of felt it. And that’s the way I described it. (Emphasis mine.)
Let me translate: As Vindman conceded at a different point during questioning, the transcript of the phone call between Trump and Zelenskyy was accurate. It was just that Vindman, like a 19-year-old girl at a Leftist college, had the feelz. He just “felt it” — with “it” being that Trump made some sort of unseemly and bullying demand on Zelenskyy.
In the many other pages of testimony at Conservative Treehouse, you’ll find Vindman endlessly talking about his feelings, about poor little Ukraine compared to the power of the United States and, ironically enough, about his military training to interpret requests, no matter how politely phrased, as commands. I say this is ironic because Vindman refused to obey his Commander-in-Chief’s order that he not show up for a faked hearing.
The thing about Vindman is that we need to remember that being in the American military is a starting point for assuming good things about someone. It’s not the ending point. We still must look at each individual in a “trust but verify” way. After all, Benedict Arnold was also an American military officer and a brilliant one at that.
Those of us paying attention remember from last week that one of Vindman’s former commanders wrote a series of tweets about Vindman’s slavish devotion to Obama and his deep disrespect for Americans. Of course, if you try to search for that information through the search engines, all you find is hundreds of articles saying that Trump insulted American troops when he suggested that Vindman was not on the up-and-up.
It was only because I remembered that my friend Debra Heine had written an American Greatness article about the tweets that I was able to make my way back to the Twitter thread from retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Jim Hickman. (And as an FYI, while the media was up in arms that anyone would dare disparage Vindman, it went haywire insulting Hickman for speaking up about Vindman’s service.)
You can see Lt. Colonel Hickman’s tweets here. I’ve reassembled them in ordinary paragraphs for ease of reading, but they are otherwise verbatim copies of Hickman’s own words:
a) I know LTC Alex Vindman from a Combined US-Russian exercise called Atlas Vision 12 in Grafenwoher, GE.
He worked w/the Russian Embassy & I was assigned to the JMTC (Joint Multinational Training Command), w/in USAREUR (US Army Europe). He worked coordination w/the Russian 15th Peacekeeping Brigade, & I was in charge of all Simulations planning, as well as assisting the USAREUR Lead Planner as the Senior Military Planner.
The following account of LTC Vindman’s words & actions are completely accurate to the best of my recollection & have been corroborated by others.
We interacted on several different occasions throughout the planning cycle, but it was during the actual execution of the exercise, that we had an issue relevant to his recent testimony.
As stated earlier, Atlas Vision 12 was conducted at JMTC in the VBS2 (Virtual Battle Simulations 2) Classrooms for Simulation. Vindman, who was a Major at the time, was sitting in one of the classrooms talking to the US & Russian Soldiers, as well as the young Officers & GS Employees about America, Russia, & Obama.
He was apologetic of American culture, laughed about Americans not being educated or worldly, & really talked up Obama & globalism to the point of uncomfortable.
He would speak w/the Russian Soldiers & laugh as if at the expense of the US personnel. It was so uncomfortable & unprofessional, one of the GS employees came & told me everything above. I walked over & sat w/in earshot of Vindman, & sure enough, all was confirmed.
One comment truly struck me as odd, & it was w/respect to American’s falsely thinking they’re exceptional, when he said, “He [Obama] is working on that now.” And he said it w/a snide ‘I know a secret’ look on his face. I honestly don’t know what it meant, it just sounded like an odd thing to say.
Regardless, after hearing him bash America a few times in front of subordinates, Russians, & GS Employees, as well as, hearing an earful about globalization, Obama’s plan, etc…I’d had enough. I tapped him on the shoulder & asked him to step outside.
At that point I verbally reprimanded him for his actions, & I’ll leave it at that, so as not to be unprofessional myself. The bottom-line is LTC Vindman was a partisan Democrat at least as far back as 2012. So much so, junior officers & soldiers felt uncomfortable around him.
This is not your professional, field-grade officer, who has the character & integrity to do the right thing. Do not let the uniform fool you…he is a political activist in uniform. I pray our nation will drop this hate, vitriol & division, & unite as our founding fathers intended!🇺🇸
I need to make a slight correction on my statement, it was actually Atlas Vision 13 when the incident occurred. I was thrown off, as the next year Russia invaded Crimea. Also, I was promoted to Chief, Regional, Joint & Combined Exercises Branch, USAREUR, over many exercises.
Okay, so Vindman bad mouths his country and worships a president whose politics were 180 degrees opposite from Trumps. (And by extension, Vindman would undoubtedly have worshiped Hillary’s politics except that *snap!* the American people wanted something 180 degrees different Obama’s politics.) That doesn’t mean anything. After all, he’s got that impressive salad bar on his left chest, which completely dazzled the media when Vindman showed up in his spiffy, unconstitutional uniform.
Streiff, at Red State, has something to say on the subject of ribbons:
The hero tag gets used rather indiscriminately and so it has been applied to Vindman. I don’t know the guy but I can tell you a lot about him by his ribbon bar.
This is what we have:
Defense Meritorious Service Medal w/1 Oak Leaf Cluster
Meritorious Service Medal
Army Commendation Medal w/3 Oak Leaf Clusters
Army Achievement Medal w/1 Oak Leaf Cluster
National Defense Service Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Korean Defense Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Army Overseas Service Ribbon w/numeral 2
There are no ribbons for combat heroism. The absence of a Bronze Star, with or without ‘V’ device, indicates he got an Army Commendation Medal during his combat tour. I won’t throw shade on the “wrong time, wrong place” medal (my ROTC detachment commander was an SF officer who had six Purple Hearts, that’s what he called them), the Purple Heart, but I will note that Dan Crenshaw got one and lost an eye. John Kerry got three and never went to a hospital. He’s served at least two tours as a field grade officer in a high-level Defense staff position. He’s only served overseas twice, once in Iraq and once in Korea. It is sort of a shock to me to see an infantry officer wear an Army Achievement Medal. I have three and never bothered putting them on my ribbon bar.
The primary reason I’m even mentioning this is because this bullsh** is circulating on Twitter. It is mostly false, starting with his bio. He was commissioned via Army ROTC in January 1999. He has never completed the Special Forces Officers Qualification Course. He has no prior enlisted service. He has very few of the ‘scare badges’ attributed to him in this tweet. This is not a ding on Vindman but it shows the lack of honesty and absence of integrity common to his loudest defenders.
Let me translate: Vindman is a desk jockey, not a warrior. Of course, a military needs good desk jockeys. It needs the best desk jockeys. Napoleon nailed it when he said “an army marches on its stomach.” However, let’s not pretend that Vindman has put his life on the line for America. He’s a weasel, regardless of his uniform.
So what was really going on here with both Vindman and with those Leftists Pentagon hacks, the ones who are willing to engage in a coup against their duly elected commanding officer? Brit Hume hints at what’s going on:
The Deep State in the Pentagon disapproves of Trump’s approach to Ukraine. The fact that the Pentagon is constitutionally subordinate to the elected civilian President of the United States of America has become irrelevant to the Obama-era Manchurian candidates staffing the upper echelons of our American military. For them, a coup, whether with arms or propaganda, is their tactic of choice.
So let me get to my second point in this post, which is that Trump isn’t evil; he’s a hero. I’ll explain.
Ultimately, once you toss all the schiffy fecal matter that Schiff is throwing in the air, what this whole thing boils down to is the fact that Trump stands accused of withholding money from Ukraine because he wanted assurance that the money would benefit the nation as a whole and not get sucked into the kleptocrats’ pockets. (And Ukraine is famous for its kleptocrats. Zelenskyy, if he can keep himself honest, represented the Ukrainian people’s rebellion against that corruption, just as the British voted for Brexit, and the Americans voted for Trump.)
In a sane world, Trump’s laudable goal to clean out corruption abroad even as he works to clean it out at home would be celebrated. However, Leftists have for decades been all-in when it comes to funding Third World corruption. Remember, please, that Yassir Arafat died a multi-billionaire, all the while blaming the Israelis for the fact that his people lived in abject squalor.
The Left’s affinity for funding overseas corruption reminds me of something Keith Richburg wrote in one of my favorite books, Out of America : A Black Man Confronts Africa. Richburg, a black man, was thrilled in the early 1990s when his employer, the Washington Post, assigned him to be the African bureau chief.
(As I’ve said repeatedly, I cannot recommend his book highly enough. The fact that it was first published in 1997 does not make it one whit less relevant to what’s going on in the world today and, indeed, given the iniquity of the 1619 Project, it makes the book more relevant than before. If you have $12 lying around for the Kindle edition, do yourself a favor — follow my link to the book and get yourself a copy.)
After seeing the daily horrors of African life, Richburg reached a rather stunning conclusion:
Maybe now you’re asking yourself: How does he deal with it? How does he cope with seeing those horrific images every day? Does he think about it? Does he have nightmares? What on earth must go through his mind?
I’ll tell you, if you’ll let me describe it. Revulsion. Sorrow. Pity at the monumental waste of human life. They all come close, but don’t quite capture what I really feel. It’s a sentiment that began nagging me soon after I first set foot in Africa in late 1991. And it’s a gnawing feeling that kept coming back to me as the bodies kept piling up, as the insanity of Africa deepened. It’s a feeling that I was really unable to express out loud until the end, as I was packing my bags to leave. It was a feeling that pained me to admit, a sentiment that, when uttered aloud, might come across as callous, self-obsessed, even racist.
And yet I know exactly this feeling that haunts me; I’ve just been too embarrassed to say it. So let me drop the charade and put it as simply as I know how: There but for the grace of God go I.
You see, I was seeing all of this horror a bit differently because of the color of my skin. I am an American, but a black man, a descendant of slaves brought from Africa. When I see these nameless, faceless, anonymous bodies washing over a waterfall or piled up on the back of trucks, what I see most is that they look like me.
Sometime, maybe four hundred or so years ago, one of my ancestors was taken from his village, probably by a local chieftain. He was shackled in leg irons, kept in a holding pen or a dark pit, possibly at Goree Island off the coast of Senegal. And then he was put in the crowded, filthy cargo hold of a ship for the long and treacherous voyage across the Atlantic to the New World.
Many of the slaves died on that voyage. But not my ancestor. Maybe it was because he was strong, maybe just stubborn, or maybe he had an irrepressible will to live. But he survived, and ended up in forced slavery working on plantations in the Caribbean. Generations on down the line, one of his descendants was taken to South Carolina. Finally, a more recent descendant, my father, moved to Detroit to find a job in an auto plant during the Second World War.
And so it was that I came to be born in Detroit and that thirty-five years later, a black man born in white America, I was in Africa, birthplace of my ancestors, standing at the edge of a river not as an African but as an American journalist—a mere spectator—watching the bloated bodies of black Africans cascading over a waterfall. And that’s when I thought about how, if things had been different, I might have been one of them—or might have met some similarly anonymous fate in one of the countless ongoing civil wars or tribal clashes on this brutal continent. And so I thank God my ancestor survived that voyage.
Does that sound shocking? Does it sound almost like a justification for the terrible crime of slavery? Does it sound like this black man has forgotten his African roots? Of course it does, all that and more. And that is precisely why I have tried to keep this emotion buried so deep for so long, and why it pains me so now to put these words in print, for all the world to see. But I’m writing this so you will understand better what I’m trying to say.
It might have been easier for me to just keep all of these emotions bottled up inside. Maybe I should have just written a standard book on Africa that would have talked broadly about the politics, the possibilities, the prospects for change.
But I’m tired of lying. And I’m tired of all the ignorance and hypocrisy and the double standards I hear and read about Africa, much of it from people who’ve never been there, let alone spent three years walking around amid the corpses. Talk to me about Africa and my black roots and my kinship with my African brothers and I’ll throw it back in your face, and then I’ll rub your nose in the images of the rotting flesh.
One of the things Richburg struggled with while in Africa was the fact that the various countries seemed inextricably mired in poverty and violence. Nor did he find the answer to this problem in the pat solutions offered him, both in Africa and America. To those who pointed to past colonialism, Richburg noted that myriad former European colonies were doing much better than Africa, places such as India, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, even war torn Vietnam. (p. 171.) I would add America to that list too.
He also rebutted the “you can’t fix it; it’s tribalism” argument for Africa’s problems. Indonesia, he noted, has more than 360 distinct tribes and has been suffering from chronic internecine warfare, including a bloody army-led massacre in 1965 that left more than a million dead. (p. 172.) Even now, more than 20 years after Richburg’s book came out, Indonesia, a Muslim country, still struggles with Islamic violence, yet it’s better off than Africa.
Richburg was also unimpressed by the claim that Africa’s problems were rooted in its lack of natural resources. As he said, Singapore has done fine without natural resources. (p. 172.) I would add Hong Kong to that list. I’ll also point out that, since the book was published, Zimbabwe, one of the lands richest in natural resources, quickly became a violent, impoverished hell on earth under a single corrupt ruler.
What was really going on, said Richburg, and what still goes on in Africa today, is endemic corruption. Indeed, I’ve often quoted at my blog Richburg’s anecdote from Africa about the way corruption works there. You can read the whole anecdote here. I’ll only say that in Africa there’s no “trickle-down corruption.” In other parts of the world, the corrupt bureaucrat pockets 10-90% of the money that passes through his hands, but always allows some to trickle down to the beleaguered people. In Africa, the bureaucrats take the full 100%.
Richburg’s riff on corruption in Africa is startling insofar as it also talks about some of the endemic problems in American black communities. I’m quoting it here, though, not to point at ongoing problems in America’s inner cities, but because of the point Richburg makes about the way in which entitled American politicians keep pouring American taxpayer money into African kleptocrats’ pockets:
World Bank economists like to point to Ghana as an example of an African country that is “recovering” under a strict fiscal discipline program; what they don’t tell you is that the economy today is propped up by foreign aid. (p. 171)
Most Africans were born in independent black countries, but their leaders still harp about colonialism they way black America’s self-described “leaders” like to talk about slavery and Jim Crow. There’s another similarity, too: Black African leaders talk about foreign aid as if they’re entitled to it—it’s something that is due to Africa, with no strings attached—the same way many American blacks see government assistance programs as a kind of entitlement of birth. In both cases, you’re left with black people wallowing in a safety net of dependency.
In that sense, I guess some of the old African tyrants are right—there really is a white conspiracy out there that keeps black people down. Only it’s not the conspiracy they’re probably thinking of, but it’s so broad and so insidious that it makes The Plan look like kid stuff. What I’m talking about is the grand conspiracy of silence, a collective willingness of white people in the West to bury their heads when the talk turns to Africa. It’s so pervasive that even the word “tribe” gives some white people the jitters because they think it’s racially laden, condescending. The more polite term now is “indigenous ethnic group.”
Of course blacks, too, are unindicted coconspirators in this grand silence. Here I’m talking about those self-anointed spokesmen who purport to represent all of black America, as if we were a unified group with a single worldview. They make their ritual demands for debt relief. They call for ever-increasing amounts of foreign aid to these corrupt little black potentates. They have even now begun trumpeting the call for the United States to pay “reparations” to African countries for the past crime of slavery—even though some of the traditional African rulers of the time were themselves guilty of complicity in the slave trade, rounding up slaves from the interior for the white traders who created a booming market for humans. All of this talk about Africa skirts the real issue—the need for a critical reexamination of independent Africa’s internal failings. (pp. 180-181)
Leftists need poverty and corruption. In some ways, the best explanation for that ugly side of Leftist human nature comes from another book, this time Jean Webster’s 1912 classic Daddy Long Legs. The narrator in this charming epistolary novel is a girl who grew up in an orphanage but who, thanks to a benefactor, ended up at a women’s college modeled on Webster’s own Vassar. Although Webster was a Fabian socialist, and had her heroine be one too, Webster was still enough of a creature of 19th century common sense to believe that the poor do not exist to make others feel good and powerful. So we get this little passage:
I forgot to post this yesterday, so I will add an indignant postscript. We had a bishop this morning, and WHAT DO YOU THINK HE SAID? ‘The most beneficent promise made us in the Bible is this, “The poor ye have always with you.” They were put here in order to keep us charitable.’
The poor, please observe, being a sort of useful domestic animal. If I hadn’t grown into such a perfect lady, I should have gone up after service and told him what I thought.
For the Left, the poor at home are a source of political power; the poor abroad, especially in Africa, are a way to show their woke beneficence and to justify taxing Americans more and more to maintain useful corruption in other countries. (And do keep in mind, for example, how Biden benefited from overseas corruption by channeling billions to his coke-snorting schlemiel of a son.)
Okay, those are my two long rants. Just a couple of other little points:
Eric Ciaramella. Eric Ciaramella. Eric Ciaramella. I’m not bad-mouthing him. I’m just saying his name. I’m writing it here because I’m making a point. Saying or writing his name on Facebook or YouTube (a wholly owned Google subsidiary) will get whatever you published or uploaded deleted. Indeed, Facebook deleted four posts in which I simply spelled out Eric Ciaramella’s name. So far, though, Facebook hasn’t caught on to this one:
Sometimes a little illiteracy can be a useful thing.
And lastly, I have my own commentary about Jeffrey Epstein. I’ve tried flooding Twitter with tweets along these lines. I think it’s a clever idea myself and one that actually has some profundity. You can see where I’m going so feel free to join in the fun on social media: