Beauty & Misogyny

I've been thinking about this ever since I read Cassandra's post on the topic. I had decided not to say anything, on the grounds that it violates my general rule relating to relations between the sexes. That rule is this: "Women should teach girls to be women, and men should teach boys to be men." I don't try to tell anybody what a woman's place is, or what a woman should or shouldn't be like. In return, I'll thank you to let me raise up the boys I encounter (and especially any I father) to be fighting men of the old model.

Seems like a reasonable compromise to me. We grant the founding principle of feminism -- women should be free to make their own decisions about what they want from life. You grant the opposite: so should men. We shake hands, and get on with being friends. It's like keeping separate bank accounts after a marriage: it just makes everything easier.

All that said, it's becoming obvious that somebody has to draw a line here.

Consider this article:

"Shoes," Sheila Jeffreys says, "are almost becoming torture instruments. During a woman's daily make-up ritual, on average she will expose herself to more than 200 synthetic chemicals before she has morning coffee. Regular lipstick wearers will ingest up to four and a half kilos during their lifetime." We are talking about Jeffreys' latest book, Beauty And Misogyny: Harmful Cultural Practices In The West, and she is in full flow about the horrors of what she calls "the brutality of beauty".
Nasty stuff, that, which leads to this conclusion:
Jeffreys, a revolutionary lesbian feminist, is pursuing her 30-odd-year mission to shift women out of their collective complacency. Beauty And Misogyny is her sixth book. Like the others, its central theme is an exploration of the use of sexuality by men to dominate women. Much of it is spent arguing that beauty practices - from make-up to breast implants - should be redefined as harmful cultural practices, rather than being seen as a liberating choice.
This is not a position restricted to revolutionary lesbian feminists, as Cassandra's post makes clear:
[A] woman ought to be doing [a particularly invasive sort of body modification] for her own satisfaction/convenience and not so she'll be 'good enough' to appear in your mental burlesque show after taking your kids to soccer, bringing home a paycheck and cooking your supper. When was the last time the man of the house checked in for a little intimate depilitation? Eyebrow tweezing? Surgery? Bikini wax? Maybe a Wonder Jock?
I think we need to get one thing clear. "Men" are not asking you to do any of this stuff.

When was the last time a man said, "And be sure to spend twenty minutes preparing yourself before we go out to the grocery store"?

I don't like lipstick. I've been trying to talk my wife out of it for years. She insists. "Hey, how about running out and grabbing a box of baking soda at the gas station?" Not until she's had a chance to shower, put on fresh clothes, and a little makeup...

Both of these authors identify genuinely awful trends, to which I'll gladly add a few more: body piercing, tattoos, hair-dying with harsh chemicals, wearing high heels even of the less-punishing variety. The problem is that everybody wants to lay this right down at the feet of men.

What's the evidence that men are driving this trend? Cassandra cites a Cosmo study on "what men want." Any of you guys out there ever been interviewed for one of these things?

Me either.

Cosmo is a fashion magazine published by women, for women. The only men they know are men who work in the fashion industry, i.e., not regular men. Men who are, as the article puts it, "accustomed" to certain standards of feminine appearance... because they're used to seeing it that way in porno movies.

I'm just going to go ahead and draw that line in the sand. Here it is:

Ladies, none of this is our fault. You're doing this to yourselves.

I love a beautiful woman first thing out of the bed in the morning, or with her hair slicked wet from a shower, in her work clothes, or just when she smiles for a moment and I can see that she's really happy. That's all I've ever asked from any of you. If I ever said, "Hey, why not wear a skirt today so I can see your pretty legs," I never stopped liking you (or your legs) when you decided to wear pants instead.

It's no fair blaming the fashion industry on us, like this:
Some designers are using 12-year-old girls in shows because their bodies are perfect to show off the type of clothing being peddled at the moment. Many men are sexually excited by this look, and the industry exploits this...
Nonsense. If it depended on us, the fashion industry would not exist. Period. It simply would wither away and die.

Now, I'm on your side as far as agreeing that this kind of thing is hideous, and ought to be stopped. I agree that women are beautiful, even (especially!) the ones who don't work at it too hard. Nobody loves strong-minded, independent women more than I do -- they're the only kind I like, in fact.

But let's not be throwing around words like "misogyny" here. This isn't our doing. No man anywhere is thinking in terms of using the fashion industry to keep women in line. Damn few of us remember, from day to day, that there is such a thing as a "fashion industry" at all.

You want this problem fixed? Stop listening to "the fashion industry" about what men want. Start listening to men. The ones who say, "Don't bother with curling your hair -- we're just going to pick up some nails at the hardware store," or "Who cares if you can't find your lipstick? Can we just go?"

And the next time the man in your life comes around and grabs you about the waist, some time when you're feeling tired and fuzzy and unattractive -- take an object lesson. We love you just the way you are.

Preferably, right now.

Paul Hackett

Paul Hackett for Congress:

I don't know if I have a single reader in Ohio, let alone in this district, but for what it's worth Grim's Hall endorses Reserve Major of Marines Paul Hackett for Congress. I do so with one reservation, and it's an important one: I don't like his position on gun rights, as I'll explain below. In the event that you should elect him, I think he's going to prove weak on this point and will need holding to the fire, more perhaps than his opponent would.

You all know what that issue means to me, so you'll understand that it's not lightly I'll endorse a fellow who strikes me as wobbly on the point. I think I'm right to say he's wobbly, though he is himself both a Marine and a gun owner. His statement is this:

I grew up with guns. I’ve been a hunter since I was kid.

I understand that guns in the wrong hands are deadly. They must be kept out of the hands of criminals. And we must demand that law-abiding citizens who do own guns, like me, use them safely, responsibly and in compliance with the law.

I have safety locks on my firearms. At home, they’re locked in a safe. When I go hunting outside of Ohio, I make sure I comply with the local gun laws.

All my friends who share my interest in hunting share my sense of responsibility toward the safe use and storage of their firearms.
As it happens, I also agree that guns should be used and kept safely. I'm no fan of "safety locks," but I agree that you should have a safe and you should keep your firearms locked up unloaded, except for the one or two you designate as for immediate defense. Even those should be kept in the safe or on your person, not in circumstances where kids can get at them or where they might get stolen.

Still, although I essentially agree with everything he said, it bothers me when a candidate (1) speaks to guns mostly in terms of hunting, which has nothing to do with the purpose and function of the 2nd Amendment, and (2) then speaks of them in terms of the need for "safety," which is a genuinely important issue that is nevertheless often misused by gun control advocates. Saftey, yes; but rights first. The proper statement isn't, "I've always had guns for hunting," but "I recognize the right of the individual to keep and bear arms in defense of the common peace."

His opponent doesn't mention her position on guns at all, but she does have the endorsement of the National Rifle Association, which points to a solid record of voting to defend gun rights. So, my reservation stands: I gather that his opponent is solid on the issue, while Major Hackett doesn't appear to understand the principles at work. He'll need a lot closer tending from his constitutents for that reason; but his constitutents are so devoted to the correct principles, to judge by how they have voted in the past, that I am sure they are up to the task -- or, at least, will replace him if he fails to uphold their interests.

My endorsement in spite of this large reservation comes because I think Congress could use a Marine and a veteran of Iraq, and because I respect his views on other issues. His position on the Iraq war is not my own, but he has earned the right to it, and I have no fear that he would fail to see the job through.

That is the main reason, but he does have some interesting things to say on other issues. His position on Social Security is interesting because I think he has the correct model in mind, although I'm not sure if he's thought through the consequences of that model based on what he says:
The administration has manufactured a crisis because it doesn’t believe the government should offer citizens this kind of insurance policy. The administration would prefer we treat social security as a money making investment account with all the risks that go along with such investments as opposed to what it is; an insurance policy. Just like car insurance when you pay the premiums you know and expect it will be there when you need it. We don't treat our car insurance like an opportunity to make money we shouldn't treat social security insurance that way either.
I think the insurance model is right. However, I think that advocates of the insurance model need to recall that retirement was, when SS was designed, a somewhat unlikely occurance; now, it is a virtual certainty. This means that the correct model is not automobile insurance, but life insurance.

What we need to do with Social Security is move the program from a thing like Term Life Insurance to a thing like Whole Life Insurance. Essentially, TLI is like renting a house -- you make payments that are relatively low, in return for which you have insurance only while you're making the payments. When you stop, the insurance stops. WLI is like buying a house: the payments are larger, but you build equity in the program, and can later "cash it out."

The reason TLI payments are lower is that it is really a proposition bet: the insurance company is betting that you won't die during the term. If you don't, they walk away winners -- they keep your money at no cost to themselves. WLI costs more because the insurance company knows it has to pay out sooner or later. While it's not likely that you'll die between 30 and 50, say, it's absolutely certain that you will die eventually. So, a program that offers payments whenever your death comes has to charge more and be structured differently than a program that is simply gambling on actuarial tables.

Social Security is in the trouble that it is because it is funded like a TLI, but now has payouts almost as certain as a WLI. It needs to be restructured to take account for that. This is not to say that I oppose personal accounts on principle -- after all, a WLI program is in fact an investment, with a cash value that is yours. I see no reason Social Security couldn't be funded in a similar fashion.

Still, it's not a money making scheme. It's an insurance program, and that's a good starting point for thinking about the issue.

I don't care for Hackett's position on health care; but I think he's right on the economy. We should be formulating our policies based on encouraging and developing small businesses. The small business is the modern equivalent of the yeoman farm: the man who owns one is free in a way that a man who works for a corporation never can be. That's nothing against corporations; it's just that owning your own business makes you freer to pursue your own vision of happiness, and that's what the American dream is all about.

While I find myself with strong disagreements and concerns about the gentleman on a few issues, and one of particular importance to me, my respect for his service -- and his good thinking on the issues in which I do agree with him -- overcomes most of my concerns. I am also convinced that the strongly Red nature of his district will motivate him to adopt a correct line of thinking if he wishes to enjoy the continued trust and support of his constituents. I think we do need a veteran of the Iraq war, and of Fallujah in particular, in office.

I have decided to endorse Major Hackett, and I would like to take the opportunity to thank him for his service. Semper Fi, sir, and good luck.
Let’s fisk this thing properly ok?

THE United States now has a mercenary army. To be sure, our soldiers are hired from within the citizenry, unlike the hated Hessians whom George III recruited to fight against the American Revolutionaries. But like those Hessians, today's volunteers sign up for some mighty dangerous work largely for wages and benefits - a compensation package that may not always be commensurate with the dangers in store, as current recruiting problems testify.

I would like to see the professor point to a time in this nation’s history when it had an army that didn’t serve for pay and benefits. The Continental Army mutinied in 1780 because it wasn’t being paid, and George Washington had the ringleaders shot. That’s right, shot.

Neither the idealism nor the patriotism of those who serve is in question here. The profession of arms is a noble calling, and there is no shame in wage labor. But the fact remains that the United States today has a military force that is extraordinarily lean and lethal, even while it is increasingly separated from the civil society on whose behalf it fights. This is worrisome - for reasons that go well beyond unmet recruiting targets.

If it’s a noble calling, why isn’t the professor wearing (or ever worn) a uniform? NOTE: I actually don’t know that the professor didn’t serve. However, its not mentioned at all on his bio at Stanford, and frankly, I’d expect that if he did serve, it would have been pointed out. Pointedly.

And that’s a nice little slap at the ‘working’ class there. Especially since everybody with a job toils for a wage. Salaried or hourly, it’s a wage. Maybe the professor thinks that soldiers are paid by the hour?

And were the professor to look around his institution of higher learning, the other professors he sees around him are likely a very large part of the reason that the professor feels so disconnected from the military. Of course he (and they) could have volunteered.

One troubling aspect is obvious. By some reckonings, the Pentagon's budget is greater than the military expenditures of all other nations combined.

And this is a bad thing because…?

It buys an arsenal of precision weapons for highly trained troops who can lay down a coercive footprint in the world larger and more intimidating than anything history has known. Our leaders tell us that our armed forces seek only just goals, and at the end of the day will be understood as exerting a benign influence. Yet that perspective may not come so easily to those on the receiving end of that supposedly beneficent violence.

I suppose the same could be said of the Redcoats at Saratoga and Yorktown, the Redcoats (again) at New Orleans, the Mexicans at Chapaltepec,( I won’t even bring up the unpleasantness of 1861-65) The Spanish at San Juan Hill, the Germans at Belleau Wood, the Germans (again) at Normandy, the Japanese at Guadacanal or Okinawa or Hiroshima, the Chinese at Chipyon-yi,or the Vietnamese at Hamburger Hill, just to name a few. What’s the point here? People on the receiving end of organized violence don’t like it.

But the modern military's disjunction from American society is even more disturbing. Since the time of the ancient Greeks through the American Revolutionary War and well into the 20th century, the obligation to bear arms and the privileges of citizenship have been intimately linked.

That is a gross misreading of 2500 years of Western history. While citizenship has in some places at some times, been linked to military service to the state, the norm through history has been either professional soldiers who do nothing else, or a ‘warrior’ class within a society that furnishes military service.

It was for the sake of that link between service and a full place in society that the founders were so invested in militias and so worried about standing armies, which Samuel Adams warned were "always dangerous to the liberties of the people."

Another gross misreading of American history now. The twaddle about the militia lasted all of about ten minutes once that said militia had to fight real soldiers. As Grim pointed out, Washington himself noted the difference, and spent most of his time putting a real standing army together. And ultimately, the idea of an armed citizenry was to simply guard against its own government.

Many African-Americans understood that link in the Civil War, and again in World Wars I and II, when they clamored for combat roles, which they saw as stepping stones to equal rights. From Aristotle's Athens to Machiavelli's Florence to Thomas Jefferson's Virginia and Robert Gould Shaw's Boston and beyond, the tradition of the citizen-soldier has served the indispensable purposes of sustaining civic engagement, protecting individual liberty - and guaranteeing political accountability.

Or leading to demagogic disasters, such as Alcibiadies expedition to Sicily, or, wait for it, VIETNAM.

Oh, and Maciavelli’s attempts to actually drill Florentine Militia, who pretty much laughed at him, failed spectacularly.

That tradition has now been all but abandoned.

And who’s idea was that?

A comparison with a prior generation's war illuminates the point. In World War II, the United States put some 16 million men and women into uniform. What's more, it mobilized the economic, social and psychological resources of the society down to the last factory, rail car, classroom and victory garden. World War II was a "total war." Waging it compelled the participation of all citizens and an enormous commitment of society's energies.

While there are those who will argue that the Administration is not doing enough, this “War on Terror” Cannot be measured against the scale of World War II. The professor is comparing apples and oranges. The comparison fails.

But thanks to something that policymakers and academic experts grandly call the "revolution in military affairs," which has wedded the newest electronic and information technologies to the destructive purposes of the second-oldest profession, we now have an active-duty military establishment that is, proportionate to population, about 4 percent of the size of the force that won World War II. And today's military budget is about 4 percent of gross domestic product, as opposed to nearly 40 percent during World War II.

The implications are deeply unsettling: history's most potent military force can now be put into the field by a society that scarcely breaks a sweat when it does so. We can now wage war while putting at risk very few of our sons and daughters, none of whom is obliged to serve. Modern warfare lays no significant burdens on the larger body of citizens in whose name war is being waged.

And this is a bad thing? Being able to project power when necessary without inflicting significant burden on the country?

This is not a healthy situation. It is, among other things, a standing invitation to the kind of military adventurism that the founders correctly feared was the greatest danger of standing armies - a danger made manifest in their day by the career of Napoleon Bonaparte, whom Jefferson described as having "transferred the destinies of the republic from the civil to the military arm."

Well, that’s another wonderful misreading of the history of the Napoleonic Wars. Not only was the French Army an Army of Conscripts, Napoleon had no brake on his ambitions other than failure. Its wasn’t like Napoleon was going to stand for being elected Emperor more than once, was it? And Jefferson’s comment about France is, well, just wrong. It was wrong then, and is still wrong 200 years later. The French Republic (before it was an Empire) had no compunction about invading its neighbors, no compunction about slaughtering those who didn’t want to be conscripted, and no compunction about using its citizens any way it saw fit.

Some will find it offensive to call today's armed forces a "mercenary army," but our troops are emphatically not the kind of citizen-soldiers that we fielded two generations ago –

Its not that it is offensive, really, its that the professor is demonstrating that he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about, which is sad, given the fact he seems to have spent his life as a historian. And No, today’s Military is not he military of WWII. I’ll assert that they are actually better troops. Better paid, better trained, better motivated, self selected—in short, the best that one could ask of a Citizen soldier.

drawn from all ranks of society without respect to background or privilege or education, and mobilized on such a scale that civilian society's deep and durable consent to the resort to arms was absolutely necessary.

The professor knows that consent wasn’t absolutely necessary. Anyone who has studied the mobilization of American society in both WWI and WWII, should understand the coercive nature of that mobilization. How exactly did dissent get dealt with during WWI and WWII?

Leaving questions of equity aside, it cannot be wise for a democracy to let such an important function grow so far removed from popular participation and accountability. It makes some supremely important things too easy - like dealing out death and destruction to others, and seeking military solutions on the assumption they will be swifter and more cheaply bought than what could be accomplished by the more vexatious business of diplomacy.

This is argument fails and fails miserably. Like having a conscript Army in anyway affected the decisions to get involved in Korea or, wait for it, VIETNAM. I repeat, VIETNAM.

The life of a robust democratic society should be strenuous; it should make demands on its citizens when they are asked to engage with issues of life and death.

Why? Whatever for?

The "revolution in military affairs" has made obsolete the kind of huge army that fought World War II, but a universal duty to service - perhaps in the form of a lottery, or of compulsory national service with military duty as one option among several - would at least ensure that the civilian and military sectors do not become dangerously separate spheres.

The argument is false. The USA had a conscript Army, with fully accountable elected officials, in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and that did not prevent military intervention in either Korea or, wait for it, VIETNAM.

A universal duty to service is already there. It exists whether or not there is a draft law. To fufill that duty, all it takes is to walk into a recruiting station and say, “I wish to join.” The professor could have done that at anytime in his life. He appears to have chosen not to. In short, the professor himself is at the heart of the professor’s argument that there is a disconnect between the citizenry and the military. Enough of the professor’s generation decided that a draft was unnecessary and made its feelings known quite loudly that the draft was abolished. And now the professors is complaining because there isn’t a draft?

I’d really like to know what the professor’s opinion on the draft was when he was a peace fellow at the Hoover Institute. Or when he was getting his B.A., M.A. and P.H.D. It appears that managed to have avoid service in the 1960’s, even with a draft. Why was that?

War is too important to be left either to the generals or the politicians. It must be the people's business.

I’m beginning to think that history is too important a subject to be left up to the historians.

But still the professor has also not made the case for a draft, given the manpower requirements of the military. Or really the Army, since its only the Army that isn’t meeting its recruiting goals, and if the Pentagon wasn’t trying to expand the size of the Army, (like the way the Navy, Marines and Air Force are not expanding), then there wouldn’t be any recruiting shortfall to talk about.


Mr. Karrde:

I should like to draw your attention to a couple of posts at Mr. Karrde's blog, especially this one on introducing a new shooter to firearms. But there is also this one, on the ancient gathering known as the Council Fire.

At the beginning of May, I found myself camping with my family in the backwoods of Western New York. One of my younger siblings was receiving a college degree. All of the immediate family came to celebrate. So did all of the living grand-parents.

Every night, the men of the family had discussions around the campfire. Three generations were present at the campfire, and the subjects we talked about ranged from trivial to serious. We discussed the future of the new graduate; we discussed good and bad decisions from the past; we mentioned pro and con points about each of our futures. We also discussed the fine art of living with other family members; we talked about personal boundaries, personal space, and the tensions in personal freedom, love, social duty and moral duty. We roasted marshmallows and talked about great marhmallow-roasts from the past; we enjoyed reminiscences of other camping trips; we talked about car-repair projects and house-repair projects. We talked about books read and events we'd seen. We talked about history, war, peace, depressions, and economic booms.
In the Gaelic, this is called a ceilidh, or "gathering." Today a ceilidh is usually a party of one sort or another, but of old it was a gathering of the clan to discuss matters of import, and to celebrate the joy of being together as a family. An old Scottish Clan, after all, was a family: not always of blood relations, but also including accepted friends and 'part takers in the clan's adventures.'

Nothing quite like one, is there?


"Mercenaries," Again:

Bill Roggio asked me to reply to "The Best Army We Can Buy" by Dr. David M. Kennedy. I have done so at length, at The Fourth Rail.


SB 397:

The Senate Bill entitled Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms is up for a vote this week. Opponents, unable to beat it on the merits, wish to enact this or that poison pill amendment, the most worrisome of which to me are bans on semiautomatic weapons. In any event, this would be a good time to contact your congressmen and tell them not to support such amendments, but please to support the bill.

Follow the link for easy ways to do that.

The Good Frenchman

"World's Top Terrorist Hunter"

Did you know there was a "World's Top Terrorist Hunter"?

Did you know he was French?

The world's leading terrorist hunter is on a secret mission in Sydney to investigate Australian links to global terrorism[.]
A secret mission, you see.
Judge Bruguiere, 60, has been at the forefront of the war on terror for 20 years.... Dubbed by the French as Le Cowboy, Judge Bruguiere is best known for tracking down international terrorist Carlos the Jackal in 1994 and foiling an attack during the 1998 soccer World Cup in France. He is keen for other countries to adopt a French-style system, enabling authorities to hold a suspect for up to two years without charge.
The judicial system for restraining terrorists failed utterly to prevent the development of massive networks across Europe and Asia, but it isn't the fault of men like Le Cowboy. It's interesting that the French themselves characterize their best terror-hunter in those terms, is it not?

These French magistrates did the best they could do, under the constraints of the legalistic system. Zacarais Moussaoui, for example, was being hunted by one of them in England, long years before 9/11. The British, however, refused to allow for his extradition -- or even for him to be questioned by the French judges.

It was an honest try, by dedicated men who wanted to keep this a law-and-order matter, who wanted to prevent it from becoming a war. They failed, but we ought to think of them kindly. They did what they could, when the world still believed that terrorists could be restrained by courts and laws, prisons and judges and extradition. It is to no one's benefit that their system failed; the world would have been a better place if they could have made it work.


Texas Rangers:

This month's "Special edition" of Arabian Horse World contains an article on a movement that I think is wholly exemplary of where we ought to be going with Homeland Security.

The group is called the Pegasus Airport Rangers, and is composed of civilian volunteers. They used to use the land recently occupied by the airport for endurance race training. When the airport chose to annex it, they volunteered to undergo security training and serve as a volunteer organization, providing security for the airport in return for having a place to go on trail rides.

I can say no more about it than that I approve entirely. This is what Homeland Security should look like: upstanding citizens taking the initiative to protect the common peace. That it involves Texans performing their old volunteer "ranging service" is only icing on the cake.



Fire & Iron:

Summer is upon us, with all her unmercies. The heat today was nearly a hundred degrees. The heat index, which factors the humidity, was one hundred ten.

The heat in the summer's one hundred and ten
Too hot for the devil, too hot for men.
A man does what he can. Last week I cleared out a patch of pokeweed that was flowering, because the boy might have decided that its poison berries were edible like the blackberries and raspberries he already knows. I took a pair of machetes, one in each hand, and went to work until the whole field was laid down. This is a good exercise for those of you interested in bladework, who might wish to learn to fight with two hands. The exercise of cutting needs that your limbs be hard, and your grip both strong and wise enough to keep the blade aligned with the work. This is a four-stroke exercise: Two right (to your inside, and then to your outside), two left (in-out). Cutting out last keeps your off-arm out of the way of the incoming cut.

The next day I mowed over the field, to make sure it was unable to regrow; and then, with some old concrete blocks I found in the clearing, I built a fire lay. I have a cast iron five-quart dutch oven, as well as a few iron skillets that I inherited from my grandmother. These allow me to cook outside in the summer. The heat of supper-making is thereby kept outside of the house, and the food you eat has the flavor of hardwood smoke. Tonight we are having pork chops and beans.

If you didn't happen to inherit such things, they can still be bought from the Lodge Manufacturing Company, in business since 1896. Having a cast iron oven is as good as having a stove outside, which is just the thing for the burning of summer. With a bit of care you can make the whole meal inside or atop one: turn the self-basting lid over, and you can roast biscuits atop it while your meal bakes inside. If you have two, mix that biscuit dough with a can of pie apples, and roast that on the lid or inside. Fry bacon while you roast steaks. Add some onions and jalepenos. I saw a recipie recently for pork or cheap beef cooked in a jar of grape jelly, mixed with chile sauce. Sounds good to me, though I haven't tried it.

Cooking over fire is trickier than using an electric range, but you'll get the hang of it quickly enough. It's a tie to your ancestors, as it is to mine. And it will keep your house cooler to boot.


The Liberal Conspiracy:

Our old friend Sovay has returned to blogging after several months' absence. Her first post in a long time deals with an interview with Atta's father. Her sarcasm toward Juan Cole (whom she calls "highly esteemed") is a welcome and noteworthy departure. I assume, at least, that it is sarcasm. Surely there is no one left, following Juan Cole's call for "oppo research" on bloggers who disagree with him, who actually holds the fellow in any esteem. I find it hard to say so, given my respect for scholars; but there we are.

Nevertheless, she does a good service by pointing us to the interview. Her own interpretation is far wiser than Cole's, recognizing as it does the tectonic power of a father's love. Welcome back, girl.

Moving Violations

Moving Violations:

You will notice that I rarely post about 'outrages of the day,' although such things make up a lot of the traffic that drives both the Left and Right blogospheres. Still, my attitude about them has always been similar to that of a Zen practitioner to the chime of a bell: I stop for a moment, take notice of it, and then pass on.

The bell rings, and fades at once. The chime is gone forever, drifting away on the waves of time. Once you are past the moment in which it happened, it is of no matter. It is gone. You and it have moved apart. There are new things to notice, and there are ongoing threads that deserve your continued attention. For the Zen practitioner, the main thread is breath: in, out. There are others for me: war, virtue, mercy, a child, a wife, a friend. There is so little time to spend on these 'scandals' that arise, and perish. I have so little energy for them, with these other things to see and think about.

That said, I have to take a moment to notice this story, courtesy of Cassandra, BlackFive, Mudville and others. I quote from Cassandra's version

The family of a Marine who was killed in Iraq is furious with Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll for showing up uninvited at his funeral this week, handing out her business card and then saying "our government" is against the war.
The Lieutenant Governor found the celebration of Holy Eucharist a good time to hand out her business card and score political points on the Bush administration. Staff Sgt. Joseph Goodrich was in no position to rebut any of her talking points, being unfortunately incapable of dialogue at the time.
Having noticed it, I find I cannot think of a single thing to say. Honestly, words fail me.