Back again, Mike?

Back Again, Mike?

Looks like old-time Milblogger Mike the Marine is back out Anbar way. He and I appear to have almost overlapped in Iraq, briefly: they probably got the better of the trade.

"That flag means a Marine Corps for another 500 years."
- Navy Secretary James Forrestal

Which means we'll outlast the Church of Global Warming. By a lot.
Screw you, Time.
- Mike the Marine
Good luck, lad.


Greyhawk at Home:

Hawk is home again, from recent wanderings. He has some thoughts, in his usual form. I've met a few milbloggers, but I suspect that he and I have one thing in common: we are, in person, the least like you'd suspect us to be. We're both country boys, the kind of folks Barack Obama would have you believe 'cling' to guns and religion because we can't understand our real frustrations; and he isn't joking to say that we spent a part of our time together in Baghdad talking horses. Another thing we talked about was this piece, the day he wrote it:

I'm walking to the gym. Under my feet: four inches of gravel pave the way. Concrete t-wall sections form unbroken fortress walls on either side of my path. It's early in the morning, so the shadow of the wall on my left is shading that half of the road. A breeze is blowing, and in the shade in the moments just after dawn that breeze hits me in my shorts and t-shirt and chills me just enough that I take a few steps sideways and into the sun.

And then it hit me - I'd been walking in the shade because that's what I - and everyone else here - had done throughut the 120 degree summer and on into the merely 90 degree days of early fall. And while the change has been gradual, it was only today that I noticed it, as I broke a time-worn habit and passed from the too-cool shadows into the glowing warmth of the morning desert sun.
"I didn't intend anything symbolic in that," he said. Yet it was a perfect symbol for the time, the moment we were in there in Iraq: where enemies had broken and fled before us, and no soldier of our Division had fired his rifle in anger in some time.

What is coming in Iraq is going to be a tense period of negotiation -- and "negotiation" in Iraq can mean some serious violence. Yet this moment couldn't have come without that one: and better moments to come need that we pass through this. The people of Iraq are worth it. I don't know quite how to say that except to say it: at least the ones I met, who were self-selecting in that they they were engaged vigorously in trying to make Iraq a better place. One of them, a kind hearted, round-faced man, took a bullet to the head trying to win a new life for his country. He survived the ambush -- his bodyguard, an American, did not -- and was back to work as soon as he could move from his bed.

Whatever we've "sacrificed" or "spent" or "lost" in Iraq, they have done that, and more. If we are men, we ought to support them.

Hawk is, anyhow. I feel about him like Alfred felt about Mark, the man of Rome, when he sought his aid against the invader:
Long looked the Roman on the land;
The trees as golden crowns
Blazed, drenched with dawn and dew-empearled
While faintlier coloured, freshlier curled,
The clouds from underneath the world
Stood up over the downs.

"These vines be ropes that drag me hard,"
He said. "I go not far;
Where would you meet? For you must hold
Half Wiltshire and the White Horse wold,
And the Thames bank to Owsenfold,
If Wessex goes to war.

"Guthrum sits strong on either bank
And you must press his lines
Inwards, and eastward drive him down;
I doubt if you shall take the crown
Till you have taken London town.
For me, I have the vines."

"If each man on the Judgment Day
Meet God on a plain alone,"
Said Alfred, "I will speak for you
As for myself, and call it true
That you brought all fighting folk you knew
Lined under Egbert's Stone.

"Though I be in the dust ere then,
I know where you will be."
And shouldering suddenly his spear
He faded like some elfin fear,
Where the tall pines ran up, tier on tier
Tree overtoppling tree.
But, as I've warned you before, I'm no Alfred. Chesterton would have made me Colan of Caerleon: "His harp was carved and cunning, his sword prompt and sharp, and he was gay when he held the sword, sad when he held the harp."

But when is a man ever happier, than when in song and ale and love and wrath the tears run down his cheeks? If there is a fitter tribute for a world such as this, for friends made and friends lost, I have not met it.

The Pope 2

Touching Lives:

The Pope's speech to Americans, which talked about the other day, had the power to move hearts. Even hearts that began in a very different place.

I wasn’t quite prepared for the opening salvo of our Holy Spirit, coming in the Pope’s words at the White House:
“Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal responsibility. Americans know this from experience — almost every town in this country has its monuments honoring those who sacrificed their lives in defense of freedom, both at home and abroad.”
These words crushed me.

How could the Pope repeat United States propaganda, and express admiration for US bloodshed? I racked my mind for ways to interpret his words in another way, but I couldn’t. Not in that context. Not at the White House with the President standing next to him. Not as the Iraq war rages on. The Pope meant what he said, but not as propaganda. He spoke sincerely. He marvels at American monuments and sees those who “sacrificed their lives defense of freedom”. Pope Benedict looks at our country and sees . . . goodness. When I look at our country, I see . . . evil.
And then:
After a great deal of reflection and prayer, my heart has moved, my neck has bent. I have seen something startling: we live in a society where “defense of life” and “nonviolence” are mostly mutually exclusive, and because the defense of life must take priority over a commitment to nonviolence, most Christians are duty-bound to defend life with the least amount of violence possible....

I am not suggesting that violence is good, or even Christian. I am suggesting, however, that the circumstances of our society require us to choose defense of life over nonviolence. In other words - if the only way I can defend life is to use a gun, then I must use a gun....

Boycotts will not save us from a bullet to the head. Strikes will not stop robbers from breaking into our homes. Nonviolent communication will not stop those who do not wish to communicate. We have no nonviolent alternatives to police forces or militaries. We have no nonviolent alternatives to courts and prisons. Nonviolent means of defending life are mostly confined to idealistic exhortations to “love your enemy and trust in God’s grace to work miracles.”

Nonviolent means of defending life must be reasonable, passing the common sense rule, being as readily available as the gun in Target, or a call to 911. To criticize those who use violence to defend life when there are no other ways to defend life is . . . well . . . possibly scandalous.
You may wish to read the rest.

Tax Week

Tax Week

So I've seen a lot of people angry about their taxes this week. I'm not very happy about mine, either. I haven't done the math, but I'll bet it's not that different from this:

The Geek with a .45 is in a foul mood about the whole thing (his response to Michelle Obama is too rude to reprint). He's sharing Rachel Lucas' pain about it (actually, since she paid eleven grand and he paid almost FIFTY GRAND, she and I really have little to complain about by comparison).

I also pay what Lucas calls "the Extra Special Just For Those Who Don’t Work For Someone Else Tax." The fully-15%-of-everything-you-brought-in "self-employment" tax really is painful, because you pay it on income before you get to take your deductions, exemptions, credits, etc. And then, the government charges you income taxes on half of it again, as if you'd ever seen it instead of just sending it straight to them.

So, in other words, the government takes 15% of your income off the top as a "special tax"; and then it charges you income tax NOT on the 85% that is left, but on 92.5% of that original sum. That 7.5% you never had, because you sent it straight to Uncle Sam, you pay income taxes on that too.

That's the sort of thing that will make a man, oh, what's the word? "Bitter."

There are three kinds of Americans: those who are paying the freight, those who are not paying the freight, and those who are so rich that they can't tell the difference. Michelle Obama appears to belong to the last category.



Yesterday, Cassandra posted a short photo essay called How We Have Changed, relevant to Joel's post, below. As we also mentioned Sir Baden Powell yesterday, perhaps you'd like to see a couple of other things I ran across while looking for that piece on canoeing.

"These Boy Scouts Like Knights of Old," The New York Times, December 17, 1910.

"Sees in Boy Scouts an Asset to Nation," The New York Times, December 13, 1910.

This last features a man identified as "Colonel Theodore Roosevelt," a year after he was President Theodore Roosevelt. That it was deemed proper to refer to him by his rank rather than as "former President Roosevelt" is another departure; or, perhaps, part of the same one.

"I know it when I see it".

American Digest takes a look at...well...something I am finding hard to describe. I'm no stranger to "unconventional" (a neutral enough a word) notions of conceptual art--I am mostly amused by it and typically mock it unmercifully (you probably don't want to be around me in an art museum, and I and some like minded friends nearly got tossed out of the National Gallery once) mostly because its all been done already and more competently, by people who had much better reasons to be unsatisfied at conventional society than anybody does nowadays.

I can't really add anything to the commentary over at American Digest, other than to concur that yes, there is no bottom, and the abyss is real, and be careful how close you get to the edge.

American Digest has noted that Yale is announcing the whole thing was a hoax. "Performance Art" if you prefer. Well, for my part, I think that there are easier ways of announcing to the world what a miserable wretch one is, than the method employed by Ms. Shvart.



I am about thirty pages from finishing Jonah Goldberg’s fascinating book Liberal Fascism and I have to say that this book is one of the most important books I have read in probably the last 10 to 15 years. If you have not read this book you should put down whatever book you are currently reading and run, not walk, to your local book store and buy this book.

In Liberal Fascism Mr. Goldberg points out that one of the traits both the jackbooted fascists of yesterday share with their kinder gentler cousins among today’s liberals is the regular use of so called “crises” to mobilize the masses and centralize power. Furthermore, the responses to these crises are often described in martial terms, such as a war on poverty.

A perfect example of Mr. Goldberg’s point was on display this morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe with Joe Scarborough. Today Mr. Scarborough interviewed Rick Stengel, Managing Editor of Time Magazine. Mr. Stengel unveiled the cover for Time’s forthcoming environmental issue which will feature the historic Iwo Jima flag raising photo with the American flag replaced with a tree. The cover story will be “Winning the War on Global Warming.” Mr. Stengel explained how Time magazine in this issue would eschew a merely descriptive approach towards reporting on global warming in favor of a prescriptive approach. In short, the issue will be one big editorial promoting various environmental schemes.

I have a problem with all of this. Aside from the poor taste in doctoring an iconic Marine Corps image of heroism I am troubled by the description of the theory of global warming as not only an irrefutable fact but as a crisis of the same magnitude as war. First of all, there is no consensus in the scientific community as to the existence of global warming or, assuming it exists, what causes it. Furthermore, there is a wide divergence of opinion as to what, if any, long term impact global warming might have on the planet. Consequently, what is needed is more research in this area, not fear mongering.

However, a prudent and measured approach to the issue of global warming is the last thing the environmental activists of the left want. They want government action, lots of it, right now. That is why they want to describe the issue as a war that must be won. I have no doubt that framing the issue in this way is intended to frighten/motivate the citizenry to acquiesce to a whole host of new regulations and laws that will erode our freedoms and diminish the sphere of individual choice.

UPDATE: Here is the cover of the Article and a link to an atricle covering the reaction from Iwo Jima veterans. Needless to say they are not happy. Semper Fi

Chivalry and Women

Two citations today, to inform our recent discussion. The first one is from the invaluable book The Archaelogy of Weapons: Arms and Armor from Prehistory to the Age of Chivalry by Ewart Oakeshott. The quote is from pp 186-7.
The inevitable development of what we might call the official knightly attitude towards women began to take hold in the middle of the twelfth century. It was given impetus by the poets of southern France, particularly after Eleanor of Aquitaine (one of the most glamorous women of the Middle Ages, who later married Henry II of England and became the mother of Richard Lion-Heart and John) came from Provence to Paris to become for a while the Queen of Louis VII of France. The mingling of the tongues of "oc" and "oui" in overseas expeditions strengthened it.

["Oc" and "oui" here refers to two major dialects of Middle French, in which the word for "yes" was pronounced one of two different ways. This was not the only difference, of course, just the one chosen as an easy symbol. In Ivanhoe, Richard the Lionheart offers to sing "a 'sirvente' in the language of 'oc,' or a 'lai' in the language of 'oui,'" but ends up singing a ballad in the English at the request of the Holy Clerk of Copmanhurst, that is, Friar Tuck. -Grim]

Henceforth the influence of women dominates chivalry, and religion and feudal loyalty take second place. Only war, a glorious and exciting pastime and a stimulating way of winning wealth, kept its high place as a gentleman's most cherished occupation; but the influence of love as the mainspring of warlike aspiration gave a much lighter rhythm to it, and to literature and life itself. Poets sing now only of their ladies' perfections, crave their pity and strive to merit their grace. The knight fights as hard as he ever did (he was not to be deprived of his business or his fun) but it is to win his lady's favors, and the word amoureux comes to mean more than it does today, for it covers the entire range of knightly virtue. The idea has prevailed that:
Hee never were a good werryoure
That cowde not love aryghte
"He who loves not is but half a man" and "pour l'amour des dames devient li vilains courtois."
The "influence of women" which "dominates" chivalry is not an oppressive influence. It liberated women and gave them a powerful voice in society, without either demeaning men or making them resentful of feminine power. Just the opposite: It is one embraced cheerfully by men of the sort who can tame horses and ride them to war.

Unlike the culture war of today, the situation provoked by Eleanor's court was a genuine improvement of the relationship between men and women -- one that, from the distance of the twelfth century, still inspires us, and seems almost to glow across the ages. It may mark the high point of the relations between the sexes in all human history.

That said, Eric is not wrong to say that the 19th century made a great deal out of this period, and a lot of our understanding has to do with what we inherited from them. Here is something you probably have not seen before: Sir Baden Powell's likening of life to the task, familiar to Scouts, of paddling a canoe in rough waters. Women represent a rock in the river: not a bad thing, as it adds to the beauty of the river and the glory of navigating it, but a hazard that has to be considered with a clear mind:
You will, I hope, have gathered from what I have said about this Rock "Women," that it has dangers for the woman as well as for the man. But it has also its very bright side if you only manoeuvre your canoe aright.

The paddle to use for this job is CHIVALRY.

Most of the points which I have suggested as being part of the right path are comprised under chivalry.

The knights of old were bound by their oath to be chivalrous, that is to be protective and helpful to women and children.

This means on the part of the man a deep respect and tender sympathy for them, coupled with a manly strength of mind and strength of body with which to stand up for them against scandal, cruelty or ridicule, and even, on occasion, to help them against their own failings.

A man without chivalry is no man.
I would strongly suggest that "sexism" is a false star. Navigating by it leads us into errors and anger with one another that are needless and pointless. What is wanted is not that men and women should be treated as if they were exactly the same: no one wants that, not the most sincere feminist, who at least believes that women have something special to offer. As indeed they have!

Women should always be treated with chivalry, with "deep respect and tender sympathy." Equality of opportunity aside, women and men are not the same -- it is good that a man should understand how they are different, and take pains to make women feel welcome and valued. He should showcase his valor in the way of the knights and poets of old: so that, in him, the entire range of knightly virtue is expressed through love.

Ave, Pope


Let us hail the Pope on his visit to America. This particular pope is a serious and careful thinker, and agree with him or disagree, you have to be impressed with the quality and clarity of his thought.

Although not a Catholic myself, having spent a fair amount of time studying Medieval history I've learned a great deal about the history and teachings of the Church. It is at its best a highly admirable institution that purifies what was already good.

At its worst, it is a human institution, which no worse than other things of Men -- yet, as Chesterton said, the more blameworthy for that, for its business is to be better. So too we might say of our nation, which hosts him today.

"God bless America," said Benedict robustly, to cheers from the excited throng.

UPDATE: Here is video of his remarks.
A Small Admission:

I am really enjoying this moment where Senator Clinton tries to win on the votes of Southern white men. I'm neither shocked nor especially upset by Obama's "bitter" comments -- as has been noted elsewhere and often, it is really the standard Marxist reading of economic determinism. Given his education and associations, it's what I'd expect him to believe; no doubt he does believe it.

For that reason he shouldn't be President; but I won't chide a man for saying what he really thinks is true. However much I disagree with his analysis, his methodology, and his worldview, I do appreciate his honesty. I just wish the pair of them would be as straightforward all the time.

For more on the South and the Democratic Party, newer readers might enjoy this post from 2004. For some more current advice from Tennessee, try this.

More sexism

More Sexism:

At the Corner, where they note:

Tag is a game "of intense aggression," according to one McLean, Va., school.

(This, Senator Obama, is how you create bitter people.)
And Cassandra finds another example.
Wunderbar. When the possession and use of Eyeballs (or more specifically, Evil Men's Eyeballs) near children has been made a felony offense, only The Bad People will have them and violent crime will magically vanish from the face of the earth.
Of course, this sort of "sexism" is anti-male sexism. So what?

I think it would be wise to simply accept that what we call "sexism" is a permanent feature of human society: men and women instinctively treat each other differently, and furthermore, want to be treated differently. There are benefits and hazards for both sides: Hillary can cry on stage and see her poll numbers shoot through the roof with women without hurting her numbers with men, for example. A man who cried on stage, unless it was for his dog, would see his poll numbers crash with both sexes.

On the other hand, a man's laugh is unlikely to drive voters away from him as a candidate: though, in the case of Hillary's laugh, what's so awful about it isn't so much the sound of it as the way she uses it. 'Conflict of interest? HAHAHAH! How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?' (Apparently at least eight hundred thousand dollars' worth.)

If the laugh was merry, rather than a bald and scornful way of suggesting that these issues can't apply to her, it probably wouldn't be bothersome.



We've heard that older feminists were angry about Senator Obama's pushing aside of Senator Clinton as presumptive favorite. Now, Slate says that younger feminists are feeling the same way.

And yet, as Lossia wrote in a recent e-mail, "I've been really bothered by what I perceive as sexism [among some male Obama supporters] and have spent hours defending [Clinton] ... A lot of guys just can't stand Hillary, and it's the intensity of their irritation with her that disturbs me more than their devotion to Obama."
I only mention the issue at all because I had a sergeant in Iraq say exactly this to me. I asked him what he was planning to do come election day, and he said, "I could vote for Obama or McCain [which is to say, given the distance between the men's positions, that the sergeant's decision is not at all based on policy or politics. -Grim]. But the thought of having to listen to that woman's voice for the next four years..."

Now, he's a good lad, and doesn't seem to have any problem with women in general -- neither does he treat them disrespectfully, nor show difficulty working with them, nor taking orders from them (his unit commander, in fact, is a female major). So I'm not sure sexism is really the issue here.

It may just really be her. And, er, that voice. And laugh. And the fact that she will look you in the eye and tell you she landed under fire in Bosnia without shame or apology.

Now, what is plainly sexism in the sergeant's comments was that he didn't say -- as did the "young progressive man" cited by the article -- that her voice made him want to punch her in the face. I suppose he might have said it about a man: like with most sergeants, I didn't get the sense that he was opposed to punching people under the right circumstances.

That sort of "sexism" is something I'd like to see more of in our society. Any young man who gloats about wanting to punch a lady in my company, whether Senator Clinton or any other, will not leave off thinking he was speaking well and cleverly.

I certainly believe that the sex of a person is a relevant factor in how you should treat them, or act around them, and that certain protections and courtesies should apply to women especially. I prefer the old fashioned term, chivalry, but if you insist on calling that sexism, so be it. I still believe it.

words to live by

More Words to Live By:

"Close Air Support covers a multitude of sins."

To whit.

Beer song

Hark, the Bold Milboggers Sing:

"Beer is the cure for everything."