Left-leaning Marines are kind of an oddity in my experience, but--though the smallest of the services--the USMC is big enough for all kinds. Well, all kinds ready and able to take and keep their oath of enlistment or oath of office. Welcome to Deuddersun. Ooh-rah, Semper Fi.
I'm not usually one to post a lot of links without analysis, but this one (like the last one) is deserving. Ezra Klein at Pandagon has a really good piece. It all started when, in the course of writing an essay attacking Donald Rumsfeld's latest op-ed, he admitted that he kind of liked the SECDEF...
A gentleman, I recall the Oxford English Dictionary says, is distinguished by the right to bear arms. The kind of arms they mean are symbolic--that is, heraldic arms. That symbol arose from a genuine, historic right to bear real arms, however: a right, and in fact, a duty. Swords in particular were a symbol of free men in England, such that even the Normans did not disarm the free Saxon Yeomanry--and wisely not, as they later relied upon the Yeomanry heavily for their successes in war, such as at Crecy.
So it is with some real sadness that I note the new law in Australia to ban all swords, and confiscate them from existing owners. It happens to be a consequence of their tremendously successful gun-eradication program which has also led to spiraling crime rates, particularly against women, the elderly and the very young, as well as an increase in shootings. There must be some reduction in the availability of guns, though, as the ban has led to an explosion of swordfighting. Street gangs roving about with clattering steel--it is like Alexandre Dumas' Paris in The Three Musketeers.
New Zealand's police show better sense. Asked about a similar measure there--only to register, not to ban and confiscate all swords--they said this:
Police say they are not looking at seeking laws requiring owners of samurai swords and similar weapons to register them.Well, indeed, that was always the problem, wasn't it? The Normans couldn't make it work either. Instead, they turned the armed yeomanry into allies in the defense of the state and the common peace. That is still the function of the armed citizen today: to defend himself, his family, his community, and the common peace of the Republic. It is sad to see Victoria so intent on the degradation of her citizens.
Inspector Joe Green, of Wellington, said yesterday one problem was that people unlikely to pose a threat were likely to comply with such requirements, but people most likely to pose a threat were unlikely to fall into line.
Some are arguing with passion and eloquence that the Spanish elections represent a surrender to al Qaeda. One of my friends from Spain wrote the following article, which he has kindly permitted me to reprint below.
The Spanish elections, Al-Qaeda and the 3/11 Massacre
by Ricardo Carreras Lario
An easy interpretation about the surprising electoral victory of Spain's main opposition party, the Spanish Socialist Worker's Party or PSOE, at the recent polls in Spain is that voters have blamed the support given to the US-led coalition by the conservative People's Party for the terrible attacks of Madrid, probably undertaken by Al-Qaeda mass murderers.
Nevertheless, the party that most vehemently opposed the Iraq war and that could more clearly launch this accusation is the United Left (IU) coalition centered around the Communist Party. This IU Coalition obtained a worse result than in the 2000 general election with its representation in the Spanish House of Representatives falling from 8 to 5 deputies, out of 350.
How can we explain this? There are other factors we should consider.
For starters, Spanish electoral rules forbid the use of polls during the last seven days prior to an election. This always causes a "tunnel effect" and a considerable gap between the last polls a week before and the actual result. In this case, the dynamics of the race were favoring the PSOE, which had already cut in half the distance with the People's Party from 8 to 4% a week before the elections. And they were ascending. This means that even before the 3/11 tragedy, results would have been tighter than foreseen a week in advance.
On the other hand, we have the participation factor. In a country like Spain, ideologically center-left, a high turnout always helps the parties of that political tendency. Unlike what happened in 2000, when the apathy of many center-left voters gave the PP the absolute majority, it is clear this high turnout has favored PSOE. In that sense, the tragedy has had an indirect effect, increasing the feeling that voting was a moral, patriotic duty, as a civic reaction to the massacre.
Finally, another indirect effect has been the communication management of the crisis. Many voters have felt that the government was not accurately informing the public about the tragedy's investigations. The government insisted that the ETA terrorist band was behind the massacre and some interpreted this as evidence that the People's Party wanted to benefit from it politically. It also reinforced pre-existing perceptions about prior crisis, in which many believed the government was not being completely honest, such as the ecological disaster brought last year by the Sinking of the Prestige ship, or the crisis around an airplane accident that killed more than 60 military men coming back from Afghanistan -- and finally, criticism about the partiality of the public media.
Spanish public TV was condemned by the Supreme Court for not informing fairly about a general strike. The message "no more lies, no more manipulation" was part of the PSOE campaign before the tragedy.
All these effects combined and reinforced themselves mutually, and also caused an increase in a "useful vote" for the PSOE the Spanish electoral system favors big parties- and against the People's Party.
The conclusion is that this horrible massacre affected the result, but only indirectly, through the civic reaction to it and the poor management of the crisis by the government.
Bin Laden did not win the election. Democracy did -- in Cuba or North Korea there are no electoral surprises.
To suggest, simplistically, that Spaniards are cowards who give in to the desires of Al-Qaeda terrorists, is to deeply ignore both our history and the fact that our domestic ETA terrorism has caused more than 800 dead without achieving any of its objectives.
The quote of the month has generated some vigorous discussion, and so I figured I'd bring it back up to the top of the board. Grim's Hall, according to my sideboard, is meant to be about:
[P]olitics, ethics, mythology, history, and the heroic life.Today we get to talk about the last.
I don't know du Toit at all, so I can't say whether or not he has demonstrated a failing of character by having been twice divorced. I know other men, with a similar number of ex-wives, who are of the highest character themselves--they've just had poor taste in women. In fact, one of the oldest and best friends of our family is in just that position, and he is a king among men.
I'm no fan of no-fault divorce. I think it has done more to undermine marriage than anything, or everything, else. Still, it's the law, and if we're going to trust people to decide that question as a "personal matter," we ought to trust them in fact.
In any event, I disagree with Eric's reading, which is that
du Toit is preaching a sort of endless adolesence, and I have lately lost all patience with such nonsense. It is not an excellent argument if you think about it at all.Mr. du Toit isn't advocating that you should go out drinking and carousing all the time. He's only advising it for when 'life gets a little too much.' That happens to everyone, in any life, and you need one remedy or another for it.
The one he suggests is a good one: throw yourself back into life with vigor. Edward Abbey--about as different a character as possible--wrote that:
As a confirmed melancholic, I can testify that the best and maybe only antidote for melancholia is action. However, like most melancholics, I suffer also from sloth.What's being advised here is a way of dealing with the hard parts of life. In my experience, it's the best way. It's the only way that really works. You can substitute other things for drinking and shooting guns, which just happen to be du Toit's favorite things. Maybe you prefer judo to good-natured fistfights, or singing old country songs with your buddies to hitting the shooting range.
The thing to be avoided is the Prozac. The thing to be avoided is letting some so-called "scientist" from the so-called "helping professions" convince you that you need to be altered. They've got a lot of models of the mind, and a lot of drugs that change how your brain works. Their models, though, are untestable, and their drugs may be turning off the parts of you that make you worth having. It is astonishing how widely accepted these poisonous philosophies, psychology and counseling-by-medication, have become.
Life gets hard for everyone. There are times when it is too much for the best of us. There are two cures on offer, one healthful, and one poison. The one option is to poison yourself, so that your body loses the capacity to feel the things that bother you. You are therefore left with no better way to address whatever problems life has thrown you than cold reason. I have known people on Prozac, and other things, and this is what I have seen: that instead of laughter, they have only irony; that instead of joy, they have an absence of pain; that instead of pain, which at least unites all humanity and leads to true sympathy and understanding, they have a gulf of emptiness between them and all mankind. Standing off alone, watching and thinking without really or fully feeling, they are poorer than when the pain had them by the throat.
There is another way. Throw yourself into life. Cure too much, as it were, with even more. Take on new challenges that remind you of what is best in life: to be brave, to be strong, to be of mighty spirit. Address the weight of sadness with an equal weight of joy, and thereby find your balance: or better, unbalance with joy, and crash into mirth. When you rise again from that fall, you rise with new strength and a fellow-feeling for all sufferers. That sympathy ennobles anyone, and it brings charity and mercy into the heart.
Charity, mercy, strength and courage. If you know a better vision of a heroic life than that, I'll be glad to hear it.