« TTG and Pat Lang | Main | Bloody Brown Tracks to deir al zor - part two »

04 July 2017


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


This was always my dad's favorite celebration. He missed a few, putting in 16 hour days welding on a submarine that needed to get out on patrol. When we could, we would gather as an extended family. Happy children, surrounded by men and women that got us through depressions, wars and into prosperity.

A safe and satisfying holiday to all of us who are cebrating.


as I enjoy a locally brewed beer & watch striking imported fireworks this eve, I'll reflect a moment on founders, forefathers (& moms) who got my family & self to where we are in this imperfect, intense ever-new Experiment.


"The Founders' key insight was not the Bill of Rights — though those protections are crucial — but rather the constitutional structure. As they recognized, individual rights are meaningless if they may be ignored by a centralized government without checks and balances."

The quote is from Erin Hawley's July 4 op-ed for The Hill, "Gorsuch can help us declare independence from the administrative state," which succinctly lays out what is arguably the greatest challenge Americans face at this time to their freedom. Here is the entire editorial:


BEGIN QUOTES (see the website for links in the text)
The Fourth of July is a celebration of America’s Declaration of Independence from the tyranny of the British crown. Today, Americans face a different, less-obvious threat to their independence: the administrative state, a vast network of powerful government regulatory offices and agencies.

The Supreme Court, and in particular its newest member, Justice Neil Gorsuch, can help America secure its hard won freedom and restore our government to its rightful, liberty-enhancing design of enumerated and separated powers.

Our high school civics teachers taught us that Congress writes the law, the Executive enforces the law, and the Judiciary interprets the law, but the reality is that the vast majority of enforceable legal rules are written, not by Congress, but by administrative agencies. Those same agencies then enforce the rules they have written against individuals and businesses. And if and when a federal court reviews an agency rulemaking or enforcement action, it does so with one hand tied behind its back. Since the 1984 decision in Chevron USA vs. Natural Resources Defense Council, the so-called Chevron doctrine requires courts to defer to an agency’s interpretation of a statute or regulation.

Our Founders would be rolling over in their graves. In Federalist 47, James Madison famously argues that “[n]o political truth is certainly of greater intrinsic value,” than the separation of powers. He was particularly worried about the accretion of government power: the “accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands . . . may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

Thus the Framers separated the powers of our government: first, vertically between the federal government and the states. And second, horizontally between three coequal branches of government — each with the power to act as check and balance against the abuse of power.

By combining all three government powers, the administrative state puts serious pressure on the separation of powers, but there is reason to hope: With the confirmation of Justice Gorsuch, those who are wary of the growing powers of the administrative state have a new ally on the Supreme Court.

The newest justice is on record as a skeptic of the administrative state’s broad powers. In an August 2016 case from the Tenth Circuit, Guiterrez-Brizuela v. Lynch, Justice Gorsuch took the unusual step of concurring in his own majority opinion to explain why the administrative state is in serious tension with separation of powers principles. In his view, deference doctrines like Chevron are particularly suspect because they “permit executive bureaucracies to swallow huge amounts of core judicial and legislative power and concentrate federal power … seems more than a little difficult to square with the constitution of the framers’ design.”

Justice Gorsuch argued that federal courts must “interpret” statutory provisions under the Administrative Procedure Act, not defer to agency interpretations. He also suggested that Chevron requires federal courts to abdicate their constitutional duty to interpret the law. The Constitution, in his view, does not allow federal courts to give away their authority “to say what the law is.”

The Founders' key insight was not the Bill of Rights — though those protections are crucial — but rather the constitutional structure. As they recognized, individual rights are meaningless if they may be ignored by a centralized government without checks and balances.

As the Supreme Court has acknowledged, we might have a hard time functioning without the administrative state. But acknowledging that administrative agencies are a large part of the government today does not freeze in place administrative law doctrines that are in tension with other statutes or the Constitution. Maybe, just maybe, as Justice Gorsuch wrote of the administrative state in Gutierrez, “the time has come to face the behemoth.” If we can defeat the British, we can surely face this.

Erin Morrow Hawley is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Missouri. Professor Hawley teaches constitutional litigation, federal income tax, tax policy, and agricultural law. She has practiced appellate law at King & Spalding and Kirkland & Ellis LLP. She also worked at the Department of Justice as counsel to Attorney General Michael Mukasey and was a former clerk to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. of the Supreme Court.

I hope Erin Hawley is right about the promise of Justice Gorsuch's ability on the Supreme Court bench.

Happy Independence Day.


241st! I celebrated on the 2nd with a glass of homemade cherry brandy. Will march today in a small town parade with an '03 Springfield as Color Guard.

robt willmann

The Declaration of Independence on 4 July 1776 was the real thing. There was a real country, England, with a real army with real guns that was going to tell the signers of the Declaration, "No". However, a small group of men publicly wrote that "we mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour". And they signed their names to it--


After all their risk, effort, and sacrifice, they would look with disbelief on what has become of it today--



Nevertheless, since the desire for freedom and liberty is built into every person (even though some want to take it away from others), what created the Declaration of Independence has not gone away, and is not going away.


50 years ago at Con Thien. I went to LA for my brother-in-laws funeral and spent a good bi of time with his business partner and USMC vet of this action.


“Con Thien showed American Marines at their best and American political and military leaders at their worst. As the Marine historian Eric Hammel concluded, “Americans were bound by the moral poverty of their political leaders, and the North Vietnamese were bound by the intellectual inflexibility of their Communist doctrines. The soldiers of each side suffered mightily in the stalemate that ensued.” Anyone seeking glory in battle did not find it in the mud and heat of Con Thien, but those who seek tales of extraordinary valor need look no further.”



Nah, it was the fault of the hippies and the press.


Homage to the dead on both sides in either battle at Hue is appropriate. people ask me how I can feel no animosity toward that enemy. They do not understand that we were colleagues. Hue was not unusual. It was like that all over the country in 1968-69. We fought them. They fought us. Just after the war my wife yiekded to the plea of a relative that i should give a slide driven talk on my war in VN (both tours). I reluctantly did so. One slide showed a group of Americans, Filipinos and Vietnamese at a 4th of July BBQ in Song Be, Phuoc Long Province, RVN in 1968. With the image on the screen I realized that half the people in the picture were dead or wounded out six months later. I have never done anything like that again. I have quit drinking Bourbon and I regret that today. pl



You are tolerated, no, welcomed, here because of your service. pl

Norbert M Salamon

Thank you Colonel for the years of intellectually pleasing blog of great educational content.
I looked and never found any songs reflecting with respect to American patronism as in
Farewell of Slavianka original text

another version with English sub:
I wonder if you be so kind to cite me some,
thank you


Happy 4th to USA, and all Americans and SSTers.



My uncle was the battalion commander of the 3/9 at Con Thien in 1967 (Operation Buffalo). That article that you posted a link to makes it sound like he and his men did graves registration work. That's not how he told it, or other accounts of it I've read. He got a silver star and purple heart for that action.

"The commanders loyalty should have been to their Marines facing the North Vietnamese Army as much as to their superiors in Washington"

That's just plain insulting.



I arrived in RVN the first time during the second phase of the 1068 Tet offensive. There was a lot of fighting to include attacks on US military installations but I don't remember people being panicked by that. The hysteria seemed to be manly in the US media and its effect on the US population at home. it is true that the MACV intelligence establishment had wall to wall indicators of a coming major enemy effort bur Westmoreland just ignored it. He was fixated on the hope that he had won the war and would not listen. pl

Bill Herschel

It's wars in the future that will count for our children. And in that spirit the following quote basically sums up the central conflict in the United States today:

"The biggest concern, people who have spoken recently with members of his team said, is that Mr. Trump, in trying to forge a rapport, appears to be unwittingly siding with Mr. Putin. Like Mr. Trump, Mr. Putin has expressed disdain for the news media, and he asserted in a recent interview that secretive elements within the United States government were working against the president’s agenda. Two people close to Mr. Trump said they expected the men to bond over their disdain for “fake news.”

“You don’t want to come out of there saying, ‘We’re friends, and the enemy is the deep state and the media,’” said Michael A. McFaul, a former ambassador to Russia. “If it were somebody else other than Trump, you could imagine a tough conversation about Ukraine and election meddling, but that’s probably too optimistic. Politics does constrain, I think, the parameters of the possible for any kind of major breakthrough.”

May McFaul burn in Hell. Any rapprochement between the U.S. and Russia will immediately solve the problem of North Korea. Russia and China have already proposed a solution, but I daresay that the McFaul's of the world will not accept it.

I hope that addled country club opinionator and Tweeter in Chief will do the right thing. He might.



I'm sorry to hear that but I don't think they article was talking about the field commanders do you?


There is some error by the author of that article. He cites 135mm artillery used by the NVA against Con Thien. But in fact they were bombarded by 130mm and 152mm artillery and 82mm mortar, and NOT 135. No such gun tubes existed in the NVA inventory that I am aware of.

He also states the NVA batteries were north of the demilitarized zone. Perhaps some were, but many of those batteries were dug in well inside the DMZ.

As far as his comment about "commanders loyalty", my assumption is he was speaking of Westmoreland and Cushman or Walt and not the local commanders at the scene. Although I personally hold General Walt in high regard.

Much better and detailed account of Con Thien are by James Coan and Colonel Joseph Long instead of this article by North who was only on the hill for a short time. Drive-by journalism at its worst. His group 'Vietnam Old Hacks' is aptly named, they were hack journalists of the lowest form.




My friend was with 1/4 and my cousin was 1/26 at that same time. It looks like 1/4 and 3/9 operated in close proximity at Con Thein.


Colonel Lang, although a lowly NCO, I was part of the "MACV intelligence establishment" and analyzed a fair amount of the indicators leading up to the TET offensive. By the time it got up the chain of command with its multilayered CYA brass, General Westmoreland received a water downed analysis of the capabilities of the "enemy's" ability to cross what we though were very secure lines.....


I have no doubt that the troops on the ground (enlisted and junior officers) understood what was happening. The hysteria after the tet offensive on the US public was very understandable. I remember that well as a student at Berkeley at that time. The public had been fed some serious misinformation concerning that war -- I was very skeptical about much of those reports but had no idea how false the reports turned out to be.


I agree with your comment.



It is true that Westmoreland was deluded as to the amount of progress he had made using his attritional warfare methods. Westmoreland was a highly skilled military politician who was not very bright. He never really understood that VN was not Europe in WW2. He was very keen in assuring LBJ that the war would be won because in that scenario he would prosper. Georgeg wrote here that he saw as an enlisted intelligence analyst if MACV headquarters that the manifest indications of a coming enemy large scale offensive were "watered down" on their way to Westmoreland. I am sure he is correct. Westmoreland was not a man to tolerate opinions that were counter to his own. I see that you are just as smug and insistent that you understood what was going on in VN as you and your fellow Berkeley children were at the time. How did you avoid the draft? pl


Actually I thought the US was in the process of defeating the North before tet. I happened to oppose the war from its inception and had no interest in going there. In my family including my father and seven uncles seven of them served during WWII, three of them in some intense combat roles in Europe and the South Pacific (my father and mother's brother spent two years in the front lines). Not one of them opposed my efforts to avoid the draft and three actively supported my decision. I was called up and went through the pre-induction process but gained my deferment by being accepted to graduate school.


Toivo S

Ah, you got a graduate school deferment like Cheney. What were you studying? I knew a lot of men who could not afford graduate school and who served in your stead. I do not think that the USA was "winning the war" before Tet 1968 There had been various COIN projects attempted but all had more or less failed because of the massive intervention of the Army of North Vietnam with half a dozen divisions (those are big units 10,000 men each, perhaps equipped with 130 mm or greater artillery and even a few tanks) These forces had made COIN efforts impossible by simply overrunning towns and villages in which they were attempted. As a result the field forces of the US had been engaged in bloody battles in the jungles and mountains for the purpose of gaining enough "traction" to start serious COIN operations. At the time of Tet 1968 the issue hung in the balance as to whether or not serious COIN operations would ever begin. As a leftist you wish to think that the attacks by the communists all over the country at Tet 1968 reversed a winning hand held by the US. They did not but your side was showing its strength and that made you feel good. pl



Surely there is better journalism out there to support you opinion.


The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad