The Belmont Club

People You Can Meet in Warrenton, VA:

I met a gentleman today of many years and poor hearing. After a while, I discovered -- not that he told me, but another man did while he was out of range -- that the old gent was a former B-17 pilot with the 8th Army Air Force during World War II. He had five thousand hours in a B-17.

The Eighth Army Air Force -- the Air Force, not the Eighth Army as a whole -- had higher combat losses in WWII than the United States Marine Corps.

Think about Iwo Jima, and then think about that.

But it's true: 19,733 Marines were killed in World War II. The Mighty Eighth lost 26,000.

I understand he still gets up and flies now and then, with a local Flying Circus, age, sight and hearing notwithstanding. Good for him.

I also learned that the guy who developed the M1A SOCOM II rifle is a resident of the town. He's a former Marine, and would prefer not to have his name associated with the business for political reasons: apparently the development of the rifle occasioned some jealousy between SOCOM and the Department of Justice, which had originally asked for the weapon as a platform for helicopter-based snipers in drug interdiction raids.

But come down to Warrenton some time. Have an afternoon drink at Molly's pub, on main street. You may learn you are sitting beside one of these gents, if only you have ears to hear.

As for me, at the end of the month I move on. But it's been a nice town, and one I shall visit regularly.

Winds of Change.NET: David's (Nuclear) Sling: The EMP Threat


Winds of Change today has a report, drawing from Congressional and other sources, which suggests that the United States could be wiped out by a single nuclear weapon. The population would survive the initial blast, because it would be detonated so high -- but the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) would wipe out most of the circuitry and electronics in the nation. The US, as a first world, 21st-century country, would cease to exist.

The aftermath of that is almost impossible to imagine, but it would certainly include: mass starvation, as the networks of food provision fall apart in the absence of most of the aircraft / trains / etc, which now all work on electronics; disease; the collapse, not only of the American economy, but of the world economy, which is largely driven by American consumption; and worldwide chaos, as the nation that guarantees the world's overall security vanished from the scene.

The report suggests immediate moves to contain the threat, mostly pre-emptive:

We must make it difficult and dangerous to acquire the materials to make a nuclear weapon and the means to deliver them. We must hold at risk of capture or destruction anyone who has such weaponry, wherever they are in the world. Those who engage in or support these activities must be made to understand that they do so at the risk of everything they value. Those who harbor or help those who conspire to create these weapons must suffer serious consequences as well.

To be effective, these measures will require vastly improved intelligence, the capacity to perform clandestine operations the world over, and the assured means of retaliating with devastating effect.

That is to say, these measures cannot be effective. If "vastly improved intelligence" could be bought or easily made, we would have done so. There is very little that can be done, for example, to "vastly improve" our intelligence capability where a North Korea is concerned.

The recommendation for a ballistic missile shield is more reasonable. A ballistic missile is the only effective way for a potential enemy to boost a nuke to the required altitude. The ability to shoot down such a thing -- already a serious concern of the US military -- would largely mitigate the threat.

Another suggestion was to improve our civilian capability to recover from such an attack. This is trickier than the report suggests, though, as it requires a redundancy of manufacture that is ongoing. It's not enough to stockpile some extra generators and the like in a shielded location; we have to continue to stockpile new material for the entire nationwide grid (and, where our overseas forces are concerned, the global grid) as technology improves. This raises the cost of such increases, and would tend to brake economic and technical growth.

Of the panel's suggestions, the ballistic missile shield is the best option. It's worth recognizing that there is a serious threat, but one that requires the enemy to hit a narrow window. We should devote whatever resources are needed to close that window. It will be cheaper, not only than the results of a successful attack, but even than the other methods of attempting to avert one.


The Major's Lady:

I had meant to post a link to Lornkanaga's site some time ago; I was only waiting confirmation from her that she'd want a link from me. However, since she's still hanging around, I assume she doesn't mind the association. She is linked by her chosen title, "The Major's Lady," in the "Gunfighting" section of links.

Spanking on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Financial Planning for Women:

The Chinese viewpoint has something to be said for it, surely.

The South China Morning Post is a perfectly respectable publication out of Hong Kong, for the record. Having lived in China myself, I have a couple of friends in country, one Australian in particular who occasionally brings items of this sort to my attention. The article is from 22 May; it took a little while to find a place that had the graphic posted online.

Naturally, it turns out that there is a blog that keeps track of such things. Adult content warning(!), which is highly unusual for Grim's Hall, but it's only fair to cite the source that located the picture.

Guardian Unlimited | World Latest | Colombia Paper Offers to Host Vote Blogs

Colombian Presidential Bloggers:

According to this AP report, the largest newspaper in the nation of Colombia is offering to host blogs for the candidates for President.

I think this is exciting news, not only because it shows the increasing power of bloggers -- so much power, that even wannabe Presidents want to be us! -- but also because it shows something of maturity in Colombia's political system. Colombia looked a lot worse and more dangerous a few years back. Now, it has a hotly contested Presidential race, and enough freedom of speech and the press to have blogs for all the candidates.


Thomas Jefferson's Reaction, Marbury v. Madison, Landmark Supreme Court Cases

Judges: What is at Stake

Since Noel has me thinking about this, I would like to express an opinion on what this debate is really about. The rhetoric surrounding this debate has long ago spun off into personal attacks on the Left, whereas the Right debates about how democratic principles are expressed through the peculiar mechanics of the Senate. Neither issue has anything to do with what is really being decided here, although -- perversely, for a lover of logic -- the ad hominem attacks of the Left come closer to the substance. Though they are each an expression of an informal fallacy, they do at least grace the surface of the matters at issue. The parliamentary arguments avoid those issues entirely.

There are two issues for which our side is really fighting:

1) The Bill of Rights, where we are either asking for the government to stop ignoring parts they find troublesome -- the Second, Ninth and Tenth Amendments, for example -- or, for the government to reinterpret existing understandings in a way we find more amenable to individual liberty (e.g., the Establishment Clause, to allow for a more open expression of religious principle by individuals, even though they be judges or military officers, and groups, even though they be Boy Scouts).

2) A great rebalancing of the power of the Judicial branch with the other two branches of the Federal government, which is the third such effort in the history of our Republic.

The two previous large-scale attempts to rebalance judicial power were the early struggle between Jefferson and Madison, and the famous "Supreme Court Packing" attempt by FDR. Both of these are usually portrayed as failures by the Executive and victories by the Judiciary. I think that this is an incomplete understanding.

It is easy to see why people have that understanding, however. Consider Thomas Jefferson's reaction to Marbury, and you will see that the Supreme Court carried the day. Judicial review by the USSC has prevailed entirely over Jefferson's suggested alternatives, a Constitutional convention or the regular use of the amendment process.

Nevertheless, Jefferson was nearly right that Marbury made the Constitution "a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please." The judiciary of the day was rather restrained in comparison with our own, which invents new rights out of "penumbras," and denies plainly expressed rights either by refusing to apply them, or by pretending to find them too difficult to understand.

If the conflict had ended with Marbury, the Court would have had a complete victory. It did not, however. The Jefferson Administration joined with Congress in further attempts to restrain judicial authority. These met with only mixed success, on their face: some of the particular acts succeeded, and others failed.

Here is the thing that is usually missed, and the great success of the movement: the USSC did not overturn another law on constitutional grounds for half a century. While it retained the power to do so, in practice it stopped thwarting legislative intent and executive power.

This seems to me something to feel good about. It does not really serve any citizen's interests to see the judiciary subordinated to the other branches. On the other hand, it must not be allowed to be the final authority, or it becomes superior rather than co-equal. This was a success for the Republic. The Court retained the power to rule on constitutionality of laws, but it recognized that it did so at peril of drawing the fire of the people and the other branches. As such, it acted with great circumspection in applying this power.

Contrast with today. Now, any law in any state that is in any way controversial is instantly slapped with a lawsuit and taken into court as unconstitutional. Federal courts today rule laws unconstitutional as a regular affair, and often on purely procedural grounds. Consider this First Amendment case:

A federal judge ended the ban on Confederate flags in Hurricane High School, in part because the overwhelmingly white school does not have a history of racial tension or violence... Copenhaver wrote that he lifted the school’s ban on Confederate flags because the school has not had “flag-based physical violence between students, a pervasive background of demonstrated racial hostility or the involvement of any hate groups aligned on either side of a serious racial divide.”

Without that racial turmoil, the school does not have the right to trample on Bragg’s First Amendment right to express himself freely, Copenhaver ruled.

“That was the key, that the flag didn’t cause any problems there,” said Bragg’s American Civil Liberties Union lawyer, Roger Forman of Charleston. “You know, as long as the flag is properly used it is not a symbol of hate, and I think it’s fair to say that’s what [Copenhaver] found.”
Leave aside the question of whether the Confederate flag is appropriate. There are two other matters more important. The first point here is that it either is a form of political speech, or it is not; and if it is, the First Amendment's language is plain: "Congress shall make no law... abridging the Freedom of Speech[.]" Not, "unless it would cause tension." There is a principle here, not a procedure.

The second is that the Courts feel so free to exercise the power to rule on constitutionality that they do it even in matters relating not even to laws of overwhelming importance, but to the internal disciplinary rules of a single High School -- this particular one, which has no tension, as opposed to any other one, which might. It is bad enough that every sphere of human organization is brought under the rule of the Federal Courts. It is worse that they feel no restraint whatsoever in exercising that power. It is worst of all that they feel so expansive as to freely state that the First Amendment means one thing at your school, and another at a school across the way.

The First Amendment is a ball of wax. This power of the courts strips it of the ability to serve as a guiding principle. The Constitution is harmed by this.

FDR's court-packing "scheme," as it is usually called, was the second great movement to rebalance the relationship with the judiciary. What is important here is that it had broadly the same results as the first: the attempt as such failed. However, the court -- which had until that point been ruling New Deal programs unconstitutional both left and right -- ceased to ban FDR's reforms. The government as we know it today, the one that all good Liberals admire, is the result of that rebalancing. Faced with the combined ire of the Executive and Legislature, the court stayed on the field only long enough to win the discrete battle. It then left democracy alone for a great while, using its tremendous power only when absolutely necessary.

The third such rebalancing is upon us. Once again, it isn't particularly important if this or that battle is won. What is important is that the courts be reminded of who the real arbiters of Constitutionality are.

And who are they? The very ones Jefferson identified:
But the Chief Justice says, 'There must be an ultimate arbiter somewhere.' True, there must; but does that prove it is either [the judiciary or the executive]? The ultimate arbiter is the people of the Union, assembled by their deputies in convention, at the call of Congress or of two-thirds of the States.
The true arbiter of the Constitution, of what it means and how it ought to apply, is the people.

The Court has, despite Jefferson, been allowed to serve as a proxy for that. It has not captured the authority from the people, however; it has only been lent it. Twice before the people have, through their representatives, reminded the court that the power must be used responsibly, or it will be removed entirely. It is time to do so again. The judiciary likely will retain the power, as they have in the past; but they also will be more circumspect, as they were in the past.

I think that Pat Buchanan, with whom I broadly disagree on most points, was right about what the results of this revolution will be. It will be a greater degree of rule by the people:
If Americans were a self-governing people, ours would be a different country. There would be voluntary prayer in the schools and term limits on members of Congress. Pornography would be restricted. There would be legislated limits on "abortion rights." The Citadel and VMI would still have their all-male cadet corps. America's cities would never have been torn apart by the lunacy of forced busing for racial balance. And, at Christmas, we could drive through town and see a beautiful display of the Nativity scene, with carolers singing "Silent Night."
I dissent from the rest of Buchanan's piece, but I think this is where we are heading. I shall be glad to get there. What he is describing is nothing other than the America in which I grew up: it is home.

It is in this sense that the Left's ad hominems are closer to the truth than the tactical maneuvers of the Right, which talk about "up and down votes" and fairness and filibusters. There is a real revolution intended.

Where the Left may be wrong is in asserting that its practitioners are "out of the mainsteam." My expectation is that it is just the other way around. These tactical maneuvers of the Right are a serious mistake because they expend resources on what can only be a tactical victory.

We stand on the ground for winning a strategic victory, and we ought to press for it. Buchanan really is an extremist, but let as much of his vision stand as was quoted here. Who wants to go before the American people and oppose it?

Nor needs the Left to fear the decision, when it comes, for it will not sweep anything away from their redoubts. The restraint of the federal judiciary can only protect their interests, as it is the federal judiciary which often requires national solutions to divisive questions. Its restraint is a victory for federalism, which means for example that the "legislated restraints" on abortion may be as light as the bluest blue state chooses to enact. That leaves the Left in a stronger position than if the federal judiciary is unrestrained and -- as seems inevitable, given the composition of the Senate -- eventually swings further and further right.

This is what is really at stake. It is come time, as such times come now and again, to fight another skirmish to reassert a border. The border establishes the proper place for judicial authority. We 'who wi' Jefferson bled,' and ye who did with FDR, ought to unite on the question. It is in our interest, as it was in theirs: we for the yeoman farmer, and you for a local law that protects the programs and legal understandings you prefer.

In this, as in so much, we are brothers and sisters.

Sharp Knife

Founders Talk:

Sharp Knife has one of Noel's always-thoughtful, always-informative comparisons of founding documents with modern, ah, thinking. In this case, he is looking at how Alexander Hamilton would have spoken to the recent acts of Mr. McCain.

Noel does these things regularly, they are always worth reading. This is a rare occasion for me, in that I think I disagree with the results he draws from the comparison.

I find the concept of a deal of this sort less bothersome than Noel does. It has the advantage of being open and transparent. It certainly is antidemocratic, in the sense of being anti-majority.

On the other hand, the entire purpose of the Senate was to provide a brake on majority rule, much as the House of Lords used to do. Hamilton himself would probably not have been seriously bothered by the idea of fourteen or so Senators standing half the nation at bay. If anything, I think this sort of thing is what the Senate was designed to do.

It happens that I disagree with the principles the fourteen are seeking to impose, and would probably prefer that the majority rule in this case. In that sense, Noel and I are surely in agreement.

I don't, however, follow him in asserting that it is improper to do what has here been done. My sense is that our Constitution (and the British one also) was in better shape when the Upper House was more strongly active in this fashion. It does slow what we are pleased to think of as progress; but we of all people should be most suspicious of the concept of "progress" in legal and social matters. In science, yes: progress always. But not so in the law, and not in society.

If it is really a good thing -- if it is really "progress" -- it will come in time. There are benefits to waiting. For one thing, human wisdom is uncertain, and what seems right now may seem wrong with a few years' more learning behind us. We may thus be saved from a mistake, however hard it may be to conceive of it as a mistake at this point in time.

For another, if it proves that we are right, we shall only grow stronger by waiting. The Senate, as the House of Lords, is not impervious to democracy -- it is only somewhat more resistant to democracy. If these principles prove out in time, as I expect them to do, they will be strong enough to remake the Senate in future elections. For the price of waiting, we shall find ourselves in a far stronger position in the future. We shall find ourselves there, that is, if we are right: but I believe that we are, and therefore am pleased to play out the game and collect what I expect to be real rewards.

McCain may be detestable as a Senator -- surely is detestable, if only for McCain-Feingold, which remains a great abomination of the law. On that too, however, we shall prevail in time. When we do, it will not be in a narrow partisan fashion. Because we were patient and let the Republic work according to its intended fashion, our eventual victory will be one to shake the stars.

Oliver North: The courage to make history

Colonel North:

Old Ollie gives Congress both barrels today. They've got it coming, on several more counts than he had room for in his column.

I'd love to write more about that today, but last night was one of those nights. Every family has them sometimes -- a child gets sick, and you find yourself awake at three or four in the morning tending to them, and then try to get back to sleep for what remains of the night with the little monster tucked into the big bed between you, punching you in the head every little while.

For that reason, I think I'll leave off here. Gonna hit the rack early tonight.

Musings of The GeekWithA.45

America, the Beautiful:

Though I think the last post points to a real concern, it should be noted that free speech is still very strong in America. The GeekWithA.45 found a good example, which I just love:

Rather than simply welcoming drivers to the Garden State, a new billboard greeting people entering New Jersey over the Delaware Memorial Bridge slams the state's business climate.

"Welcome to New Jersey. A horrible place to do business," reads the billboard message.

The glaring, red capital letters represent the revenge - misguided, according to officials - of a developer upset with the state's environmental regulators.
You can disagree with the message, but I love that we live in a country where a citizen can rent a billboard to carry a message like that, and there's nothing the government can do but grit its teeth. That's freedom.

New Media:

InstaPundit cites a report that bloggers may have been strongly influential in the "no" votes in Europe this week:

"Proponents of 'No' have said the mainstream media have been shamelessly in favour of the 'Yes'. They said the internet was the main area where the democratic debate can take place," he added.
Compare and contrast with this report from Malaysia:
Steven Gan, editor-in-chief of newspaper of Malaysia, recalled a government raid on his Internet newspaper. "The police raided our office and 'arrested' 19 computers from the office. We held demonstrations against government repression of freedom and the police eventually returned all the computers except two." is the only democratic space left in Malaysia, he said, as the government censors all newspapers except for the Internet, which remains a free space because the government needs to promote its Multimedia Super Corridor, a Silicon Valley-type project.
There's a difference between censorship and self-censorship: in Malaysia, the government is using intimidation whereas in Europe, the media is simply in cahoots with the governing class. In both cases, however, the internet is providing the only real place for a democratic movement to find news and to organize.

That is, of course, why this report is so alarming. A major priority for all bloggers, regardless of politics, should be overturning McCain-Feingold and preventing any similar abuses in the future.

RAND | News Release | Americans Will Back Military Action Overseas If They Believe The United States Has "Important Stakes" in a Battle

The Good Sense of the American People:

Via the Dawn Patrol, a survey from the RAND Corporation on civilian support for the war. If the survey is accurate, American civilian thought about warfighting is generally on a higher level than I had realized.

Americans support the global war on terror because they believe the United States has “important stakes” in the conflict, and will support other military actions overseas as well if they believe important stakes are involved[.]

“The main implication for the Army,” concludes the report, “is that Americans have proved themselves far more willing to use ground troops — to put boots on the ground — and to accept casualties in operations conducted under the global war on terror than in any of the military operations” during the 1990s.

Americans' opinions went on a war footing following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States, often matching levels of support for military action seen during World War II, according to the study that synthesizes findings from about 100 public opinion surveys.

“The perceived importance of the stakes was the key belief predicting support for the operation,” said RAND analyst Eric Larson, the report's lead author.
If true, that undermines an argument that we've begun to hear from many places: that the US is tapped out by Iraq.

There are two parts to this argument: that the US has no more physical resources on which to draw, and that American public support is drained. Apparently, the latter is not true. As to the former, it is only partly true. An additional conflict of the type in Iraq and Afghanistan could only be pursued if it were contiguous with current operations and could draw on existing logistics -- if we decided to expand our nation building to include Syria, say. But I don't think we could even consider a third nation building exercise, such as in North Korea.

On the other hand, a more traditional military approach does not require occupation and rebuilding. A conflict with North Korea, for example, could be limited to destroying their military and infrastructure, leaving occupation to the Chinese or South Koreans, depending on who had the will to do it. One or both would have to find the will, since they couldn't afford to have a vortex on their northern border. For a conflict of this type, American public support and American military might are sufficient.

This is important even if -- especially if -- our goal is to avoid a military conflict. So long as potential enemies understand that we have both the power and the will to smite them, they will be less likely to insist on a conflict. Enemies push for wars they think they can win.

But there is more in the study to cite. Again, if it is true it reflects not a passing moment of sentiment, but a deeply-rooted good sense about military adventures:
The RAND analysis also shows that Americans weren't big fans of the peace missions conducted during the 1990s, and they wanted these missions completed with as little cost as possible.

“None of the peace operations of the 1990s (Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo) were judged particularly important by most members of the public, and avoidance of casualties turned out to be a more important consideration than avoidance of defeat…,” according to the RAND study.

Only three or four of 10 Americans thought the stakes for the United States were important in Kosovo, Bosnia and Haiti, the RAND report says.
This reflects something important about the American people. This demonstrates that we are not engaged in "imperialist" ventures: Americans don't support military action regardless of context. Americans don't want to be drawn into anyone else's fights.

Again, this seems to me to be a measure of good sense. It counters an insight that has been picked up by the Marines who operate the Small Wars Center for Excellence, and incorporated into the draft of the new Small Wars Manual [UPDATE: the site for the draft seems to be down; see below]:
The greatest and most significant danger we have in entering a small war is the potential for an asymmetry of wills. We must decide before embarking upon any small war whether we can withstand the pressures of our own impatience.
This suggests that it is not "American impatience" that is the danger, but a reasoned consideration by the public of the stakes. Maintaining the support for the Iraqi rebuilding requires making sure that the American public continues to view the stakes for America as high.

This would seem to be a natural break on adventurism. If the political class can learn the lesson here, it will not be so ready to embark upon deployments without first testing whether the American public considers them to be worthwhile. Curiously, this is what the Marines are advocating -- the "we" in "we must decide before embarking" is not the military, but the political class. The military does not decide what wars to fight. The Marines are requesting of the politicians that they not send Marines to fight on missions the public will not support. The Marines merely misunderstood why the public might not support a mission.

This is not to say that there were not good things to be accomplished in Mogadishu, say; it is only to say that the harm caused by an early retreat was greater than the good we hoped to accomplish. We have often heard how much al Qaeda, and others, were influenced by the quick American retreat from Somalia. We must avoid such things in the future.

It seems to me that the best way to test this proposition up front would be for a return to the Congressional duty of declaring war. Interestingly, in the case of Iraq we almost had one -- the Congressional resolution approving the use of force, which drew support in Congress that was commensurate with its support among the populace. Even some Senators with strong anti-war views voted in favor, because of the demands of their constituents.

One lesson that will have to be learned, and has not yet been learned, is whether or not support for the Iraqi rebuilding can be maintained over time. The resolution of this question should have strong implications for American warfighting.

Interestingly, those implications play out according to the policy preferences suggested by the last election. As will be recalled, Kerry's chief military advisor, "Tony" McPeak, advocated what is called a "network centric" war: bombing Iraq, destroying its infrastructure and its military, reducing it to rubble, and then departing. The Bush administration proposed, and continues to propose, what is called a "fourth generation" model. The engagement with the Iraqis, the attempt to engage in counterinsurgency fighting and to change the society through development is characteristic of this model.

Both models have the potential for long term success in the GWOT. Contrary to a frequently stated line of thought, it is not the presence of unstable regions that breeds terrorists of the sort who are dangerous to Western society. It is the possession of material prosperity, in particular education, that allows groups like al Qaeda to have assets who can move freely in Western society. They must be able to speak English, understand the customs, hold passports, and travel freely. What turns these men into terrorists is the possession of material prosperity, combined with a lack of opportunity to influence the politics of their homes through nonviolent means.

The fourth generation model attempts to raise their societies the rest of the way, to democracy as well as relative prosperity. The network centric model attempts to return them to pure poverty, so that they are too poor to produce educated and mobile men capable of being a real threat to the internal structure of the West. From a purely utilitarian perspective, either method has the potential to be successful; and the second is a great deal easier and cheaper than the first.

The preference for the first method, then, must come from something other than utilitarian thinking. It must come, I think, from a moral preference. Moral preferences are very expensive in war. In a sustained conflict, they are normally abandoned: war has a way of reducing everything to utilitarian calculations.

Anti-war forces in America should be advised of this fact. Most of them are decent people, who simply detest violence, and who -- like the Quakers -- would rather suffer than strike.

They need to understand the sense of the American people, which is otherwise. If the antiwar movement succeeds in convincing Americans that Iraq's rebuilding is too expensive, it is not the case that Americans will not support future wars. They will support any future war in which they feel the stakes are high. Nor will the presence of an antiwar president in office, should one be elected, stop war: just as the Senate was forced to approve the resolution at a far higher rate than Senators' personal sentiments would allow, so the President too must be driven by the will of the people when it is expressed with clarity and unity.

What the people will not support, should Iraq's rebuilding fail, is future rebuilding efforts. The violence that the antiwar movement so detests can only become more naked and unmitigated as a result of their efforts. I do not think many of them truly supported, or understood, what McPeak was advocating. I suspect, if they understood, many would choose Bush's model as the lesser evil.

Lesser evils are usually the best you can manage in war. We are fortunate beyond words to be able to attempt to use ours to achieve some positive good. We can, for now, afford to act according to moral principles. Those who would wish us to do so would be well-advised not to undermine the public support that allows it. Indeed, a wise antiwar movement would focus its full attention on supporting those "good news" efforts, so that Americans would come to view them as an important and necessary part of the wars that they will, occasionally, support.

UPDATE: The Small Wars Center website appears to be down. Until the link to the draft copy is working again, here and here are two earlier Grim's Hall posts about it. It's not quite as good as having the whole source, but it's the best I can do while the main site is down. Heritage & Culture - Great Scots - Women and children first

An Old Soldier:

Ever wonder where the phrase "Women and Children first!" came from? The story is a remarkable one, recounted in today's Scotsman:

THE AGE of chivalry is often defined by the quintessentially English Sir Walter Raleigh laying his cape before his Queen lest she should tread in a puddle. But Raleigh's actions pale into insignificance beside those of Lt-Col Alexander Seton, an imposing Scottish army officer who, in 20 terrifying minutes, demonstrated a level of selflessness, bravery, leadership and chivalry rarely witnessed before or since.
Thus begins the story of "The Birkenhead Drill," which "sheds more glory upon [the 74th Highlanders] than a hundred well-fought battles." | Face value

Saving the Rainforest:

Is it worth doing, if you have to give credit to a Texan?

Mr Carter is an unlikely bridge builder. As a child in San Antonio he trapped mink and raccoon, selling their pelts for pocket money. In the army he dropped behind enemy lines in the first Gulf war. He views himself as a 'pioneer' on a frontier with 'so many parallels with the old West.' Cattle losses to jaguars and rustlers, in this case Xavante Indians, are line items in the budget of his ranch. He indulges in a bit of Texas swagger, as if George Bush had not made it the world's least fashionable sub-culture.
He's come up with an incentive-based plan to protect Amazon rainforest which, being market-based, might actually work. He's certainly devoted. But can they stand him long enough to work with him?

Well, fashion is fickle. It's only been two years ago that cowboy hats were on the Milan runway.