I just know Grim's going to like this:
"US presidential hopeful Barack Obama has announced his resignation from the controversial Chicago church he attended for 20 years"

It's getting crowded under that bus.


The 3/6ths Compromise:

Oh, my.

At the beginning of our great country’s history my ancestors were counted as only 2/3 of a person. Until passage of the 15th Amendment in 1870, they weren’t allowed to vote. During that same time and until 1920, women could not vote. White men who did not own property could not vote at one point in our history as well.

Now, on May 31, 2008, a group of elitist insiders of the DNC have effectively said that some of my ancestors’ progeny equal only 1/2 and that men and women in Florida who voted on January 29th are 1/2 also.
It was not 2/3rds, but 3/5ths, very close to the 3/6ths that Florida and Michigan voters are going to be allowed to be.

This is going to cause some problems.

Photo from RedState, reporting from the scene.


Followup on Masculinity:

Professor Althouse wrote about this:

That's the last sentence of his essay! Come on, Ezra! Real men don't use semicolons. And more than that: Say what you have to say. Don't pussyfoot around. I think you mean:

We are the Mommy Party. Let's own it. Let's do it! The home game is knitting and cooking and putting bandaids on booboos.
I was going to say that I thought she was being a little harsh, and reiterate that gentle natures could be valuable -- as the post below mentions, John Wayne portrayed how it could sometimes save a young and reckless man who would otherwise be destroyed. It is just that such classes have to be protected. You need the President to be a marshal, in part so that you can have the benefit of Quakers. They could not otherwise exist.

Then I read Mr. Klein's latest:
Earlier, I asked for a better term than "soft power".... Reading through all this, though, I'm not sure the term can be saved. The problem isn't just the "soft" part, it's the "power."
So, point to Professor Althouse. "The problem isn't just the 'soft'... it's the 'power.'"

I don't think we're going to do well against the evils of the world with that attitude. If this is emblematic of the "Obama best and brightest," is it too late to save the Clinton candidacy?

Against Masculinity

Masculinity and Martial Courage:

Ezra Klein is disturbed by talk that Jim Webb might serve as Obama's VP.

I've been sort of struggling with whether to write this post, but after Daniel Larison and Matt Stoller both toed around the point while offering their takes on Webb, I guess it's worth doing. Let me start by saying that this isn't really about James Webb. He is who he is, and this post has nothing to do with his positions on the issues. But then, nor does most of the excitement around his candidacy. Rather, Webb represents something of almost transcendent importance to some post-Bush liberals: The opportunity to out-tough the GOP. A candidate who's not only a liberal, but in no way a sissy. He is the daywalker, combining a progressive's positions with a southern militarist's affectations.
I had to look that one up. "Daywalker" is a comic book reference to a kind of vampire that isn't destroyed by sunlight.
But this is not a sustainable approach to politics. Democrats can't out-tough the GOP. It's possible that James Webb can do it. But he's sui generis; a Democrat who can win at politics when played under Republican rules.... But Democrats can't win at politics when played under Republican rules. Progressivism can't prosper when politics is played under Republican rules. It needs to make its own rules.

Barack Obama's effort to do exactly that has been, by far, the most exciting element of his campaign. His policies -- particularly his domestic policies -- have not been half as innovative as his politics. But his willingness to double down on opposition to the gas tax holiday, to battle back on negotiating with dictators, to respond to attacks by pressing the point, has been genuinely exciting. And though he has been confident and even aggressive in all of this, he has not been "tough."
Jim Webb is hardly the only Democrat who can 'win' an election on the grounds of having traditional masculine virtues. The problem is not that "Democrats" can't do this; it is that the progressive movement is opposed to traditional masculine virtue. They don't want warriors, even reluctant ones; they want people who will "negotiate with dictators," and are excited to see someone who will stand up for their right to do so. They want Obama, a man who has "not been 'tough.'." They don't want a character who is "a liberal, but in no way a sissy."

That is a supporter's words, notice. It is not the first time an Obama supporter has described his candidate in such terms, "...as a skinny, athletic, gentle-seeming, virtually metrosexual man, he nearly splits the difference on gender as well."

Daniel Larison, an isolationist conservative blogger, agrees:
[The perception that Democrats are weak on security and less patriotic] has put Democrats in the position of having to engage in a bidding war to demonstrate their patriotism in the most heavy-handed ways, which has usually mistakenly involved trumpeting their willingness to bomb one country or another or being unusually reckless in promoting democracy and human rights abroad. Obama’s supporters sometimes seem eager to remind the world that he would be willing to violate Pakistani sovereignty with impunity, unlike the wimp John McCain, and next they will probably laud his willingness to escalate the drug war as proof of his “toughness.”

The point is that Democrats cannot defeat today’s GOP in a bidding war over who is more militaristic and irresponsible in foreign policy, just as the GOP can never outbid the Democrats when it comes to making lavish, irresponsible promises about domestic spending. To fight the election on this ground is a losing proposition for Democrats, and this is why efforts to out-veteran the veteran opponent, which is part of the rationale for selecting Webb, will simply draw attention to the “weaknesses” that have been attributed to Obama. It is an attempt to beat the opposition at its own game with a candidate who is uniquely ill-suited to playing that kind of game. Hence he has tried to frame the election in entirely different terms, because once the election is defined along tradiitional lines he probably knows that he will lose.
Here's the problem: those "traditional lines" aren't there by accident. Regardless of a hundred years' argument to the contrary, the fact is that our conceptions of virtue aren't mere 'social constructs' that can be played with and reformed at will, or without consequence. The virtues arise from two things: what Aristotle called the 'first nature' of man, and the nature of the world. The first nature of men is everything that we don't really have the power to change, from hardcoded structures in the brain -- we perceive the world in three dimensions, not four, and so we assume there can only be three -- to basic instincts and reflexes trained by endless generations of survival. The world has so deeply informed the nature of man that it is hard to separate the nature of man from the nature of the world.

What you can play with is what Aristotle called your "second nature." The second nature is widely variable, because it is the socially-trained ideas about right, wrong, etc. All of this 'reframing the debate' to make Obama more acceptable is really about that: about changing the preferred second-nature of American men.

That second nature, however, is only an overlay on top of the first nature. As flexible as the second nature is, all it can do is train the first nature in certain directions. So, for example, it is the first nature of men that they have a quality that we call courage or cowardice, which pertains to their ability to face danger and overcome fear; or, their ability to recognize danger and use fear to avoid it. All men have this quality. What the second nature does is train it, either to what we call courage or what we call cowardice -- but those are our terms. A different second nature might call what we call courage, "rashness," and might call what we call cowardice, "prudence."

Of all the masculine virtues, martial courage is the least mutable. It is the virtue that men can identify most readily in any successful culture: ideas about charity, mercy, justice, generosity, any of the others may vary widely. Courage, tied to prowess in battle, does not. The reason it does not is that it cannot. A society that lacks it will not survive its encounters with the rest of humanity.

The only groups that have managed to succeed at serious departures from the traditional masculine virtue of courage are protected groups. I wrote about this when I wrote the review of Angel and the Badman.
The beauty of the Quaker faith, and its way, are the subject of the film. Yet the film is clear about the reality of evil, and more than that: it distinguishes between three different types of moral violence. There is the kind the Quaker model can and ought to help, the violence of Quirt Evans, which arises from recklessness and selfishness and an insensitivity to love. There is the kind that the Quakers cannot help, the violence of Laredo, which is in love with its own cruelty. And there is the violence on which the Quakers survive: the violence of the Marshal.

Unspoken but obvious is the fact that, except for the marshal on the hill, evil would have triumphed. Quirt can go and live his new life of peace, rejecting anger and violence, because the Marshal rides the territory to defend it from evil. It is not clear that the Quakers mind whether they live or die; expecting heaven, they may go to their grave as if to bed. Yet, insofar as they live to serve as an example to us in this world, they do so because of the marshal.
If you read the rest of the review of the movie, you will find it is an extended defense of pacifism's right to exist and be respected in spite of needing protection. I don't think it's a bad thing, and in fact I believe it must be a good thing. It is not, however, capable of standing on its own. It requires a marshal on the hill, with a rifle, to ensure that it survives.

The problem with this 'reframing' that is being suggested is that Obama is offering to assume the role of the Marshal. He is offering to fill the job of protector, for that is the President's chief role.

Second-nature ideas about courage and cowardice can exist in a protected class, whether Quakers or Senators, without causing harm -- they may even improve us as a society in some ways.

If they step outside of that class, however, they will quickly find that their ideas on second nature clash sharply with the first nature of man, and the nature of the world. If the Quaker becomes the Marshal, and sets aside the rifle in favor of a kind heart and a language of hope, he will be fine as long as he only meets with other Quakers; or with Quirt Evans, the young man ready for reform in the face of beauty.

But there are other kinds of men in the world, too. You cannot wish them away. Klein's preferred second nature may be fine for him, as his streets are guarded by United States Marines. It may be fine for a Senator. It may have things to offer the greater society that are of value. But it cannot defend society. Society cannot stand on it, nor survive protected by it.

A President must be of the Marshal class. That is not a preference that can be reframed; it is an absolute requirement arising from the nature of the world. It may be that a good politician can smooth voters' fears enough to cause them to set aside that requirement, and elect the Quaker to office. If they do, however, there will be evil consequences.

There is no changing that. You can talk all you want, but there are men who do not talk. It is the President's job, first among all his duties, to be the answer to them.

Against Obama, Again

On James Baker III:

Here we see that Kim du Toit has a minor rant (by his standards) on the subject.

Of course, the youthful pundit was born in 1990 or something, so he probably thought Abraham Lincoln won the Vietnam War. Needless to say, he spluttered and babbled, but essentially conceded the point to Colmes.

Which is where I wanted to shoot the TV with my 1911. (From the kids’ rooms: ”Mom! He’s yelling at the TV again!”)

The two simplest answers for Colmes’s question came immediately to my lips:

Baker III has never been a conservative. Like his erstwhile boss, Bush 41, Baker is a liberal Republican and internationalist, and he would almost always prefer negotiation to confrontation (Gulf War I excepted);

If Baker did spend all that time talking to Assad, it sure as hell didn’t achieve anything—Syria continued to threaten Israel, and continued to fund and support the thugs of Hezbollah and Hamas.

And then, the counter-question for Colmes: “If an experienced, wily diplomat like James Baker III was unable to achieve any palpable results by talking to a terrorist-supporting regime like Syria, what makes you think that the rookie Obama, with no foreign polcy experience, could achieve any better results?”
Views about Mr. Baker vary somewhat. I might have put it differently:

"When you have marched on a road of bones, then you can usefully barter with an enemy. Your foes will see you standing at the end of that road, and they will imagine where it might yet lead if an end to it isn't negotiated."

If our interlocutor fails to get the "road of bones" reference, I'd add, "Don't you write about American politics? If you aren't doing the required reading, there's nothing I can do for you."

This is the same reason that Israel can negotiate with Syria, now. They bombed Syria's nuclear reactor. If President Obama wants to blow up some Iranian reactors as a precondition, he can talk all he wants after that. That's the time to talk.
“There’s a lot of people with a lot of different perspectives,” Prosecutor David Gibbons said. “It’s difficult to say what caused it.”

I'm sure they'll get to the bottom of it soon.

Oh, No

No Way:

This must be stopped. The courts martial are one thing, but the MEJA is something else. It was passed in 2000, before the war began, by a Congress that had never had a war to consider. Their context was peacekeeping and garrison operations. This is one of those cases where "let the process work" is not a worthy answer: this process was never meant to apply to these questions.

I strongly suggest you write to your representative and Senators, and to the President, to urge them to put a stop to this business. Furthermore, in the case of the Congressmen, demand that they fix the law so that military members will not be prosecuted in civilian courts for "crimes" "committed" in combat.

New Search Function

New Search Function:

We've entered into a small partnership with a well-known search provider to maximize your ability to locate things in the archives.

Or anything else you might want.

Economics Ads

Economics: Presidential Campaign Ads

Each of the three candidates has put out an ad on the subject of economics. Let's look at them.

Sen. Obama:

Sen. Clinton:

Sen. McCain:

The Obama ad stands out for two reasons: first, it is the only one of the three in which the candidate uses a well-known speaker to carry his message for him. Clinton and McCain appear in their commercials on their own behalf; Obama is represented by Sen. Tom Daschle. This is a stylistic difference, but interesting.

Second, and more important, Obama's commercial offers neither a plan nor a hint of what a plan might entail. It identifies the problem as being 'the price of gas and groceries.' It says nothing about what a President might do about the price of gas and groceries; nor does it attempt to talk about solutions at all.

Rather, Daschle immediately changes course to, 'Obama understands the squeeze. He is rooted in the same values as you. He understands America, rural and urban alike. He will talk straight.'

Maybe he "will," but he sure isn't doing it here.

I come away impressed by one thing: Senator Obama fears he has a problem with people outside of his coalition believing that he doesn't share their values.

Sen. Clinton's ad is much better. She identifies specific underlying issues -- she points to the size of the national debt (one of her husband's genuine accomplishments was balancing the budget), and then explains that this issue is directly tied to the state of the economy. Unlike with Obama's ad, I come away knowing something specific she is proposing to do to fix the economy: reduce the national debt.

She also introduces Social Security, both to make clear that she doesn't mean to reduce the debt by cutting Social Security, and also as a pander to older voters. She is also pandering to suggest that 'we borrow money from the Chinese to buy oil from the Saudis,' which is a highly tendentious phrasing. Rather, America's economy (in spite of the concerns we have about it) remains the safest investment in the world; so many nations, including China, want to secure some of their funds by investing them here. Meanwhile, of course, Saudi Arabia is not among the top three providers of oil to the United States. If she said '...to buy oil from the Mexicans' it would be a truer statement, but would hurt her with a key constituency. It's safe to sneer at the Saudis, however.

She outlines three basic proposals: 'stop spending money America doesn't have,' and good luck to any President in convincing Congress on that point; 'end $55 billion in corporate giveaways'; and, oddly, 'reduce the deficit.'

In fact, if paying down the debt is what is wanted, she would need to do more than "reduce" the deficit. She would need to eliminate it, and establish a surplus. That is reverse-Keynesian economics: normally, since FDR, Democrats have advocated deficit spending to kickstart an economy. Hillary Clinton: Supply-sider!

The McCain ad starts with an overall goal: to get the economy going so that it will 'create opportunities' and 'jobs.' He has several specific proposals: Simplify taxes; make taxes 'fairer,' whatever that means; make energy cleaner and cheaper (the photo of a wind farm suggests investment in alternative energy); to reduce healthcare costs by making it portable and affordable -- odd that neither Clinton nor Obama mentioned healthcare costs -- to make "corporate CEOs" "accountable," and to restructure mortgage debt.

On balance, simplifying taxes is a very good idea that might -- insofar as they ease the process of starting a new business -- encourage an economy that creates jobs and opportunities. Making taxes "fairer" could go either way, depending on just what he means by that. He is probably using the word as a shading towards the Fair Tax system, without actually declaring for it; which means, he probably has no intention of doing anything quite like that.

I can't say that making energy "cleaner" will do anything for the economy, in the term of a single President at least, unless he means by nuclear power. Investing in alternative energy may be a good idea -- a lot of people seem to think so -- but it also appears to have very limited capacity for addressing the concerns of the current economy.

Health care costs are a real drain on the finances of American families. On the other hand, it's not a drain on the American economy as a whole: growth in the health care sector has been one of the things carrying the economy. It's true that older families in particular are paying a lot for new medications and for treatment, as the population ages and life spans increase. On the other hand, health care is one thing it's hard to outsource -- so a lot of Americans are employed as nurses, doctors, therapists, and so forth.

The demand for health care is not likely to fall, and in fact certain to increase. While McCain's proposal could be helpful to some families, there's no reason to believe it will have any effect on the economy as a whole.

The CEO thing is just a pander. CEOs, like Saudis, are a safe target.

Mortgage debt restructuring is an idea about which I'd need to hear more. It could just represent a government buyout, in which case it's deficit spending of the type Sen. Clinton was opposing -- a traditional, Keynesian way of trying to buy your way out of a bad cycle. Strange that Clinton is to the right of the Republican on this one.

Final verdict: McCain's commercial is the clearest about his intentions as President. Several of the things he proposes are good ideas whether or not they would have an effect on the economy. Of the things he proposes, the tax problem is the only "big factor," that is, a thing that has the capacity to create major changes in the economy as a whole. Energy is second, but any gains would be delayed.

Clinton's ad also points directly at a big factor and promises to address it. In her case, it's government spending and the debt. If she can achieve major cuts in our spending, it would have a salutary effect on the nation. It's easy to doubt that she would, but again, her husband actually did balance the budget.

Obama's ad is not really about the economy at all. Instead, it is about the fact that many voters don't trust him. The ad leaves us with no information at all about what his plans might be, should he be elected.

Unity Ticket

A "Unity Ticket"?

Jonah Goldberg at The National Review has proposed something that I've been wondering about myself -- and something that John Stewart suggested to McCain on his recent visit to the show. He suggests that John McCain pick a running mate who was not a Republican. Stewart had recommended he choose Sen. Clinton -- and speculated that it would guarantee his election.

To a warfighter, this makes tremendous sense. The Republican brand is damaged, as a lot of people have noted; Democratic party affiliation is way up over a few years ago. On the other hand, the Democratic party is seriously divided between its two candidates. Sen. Clinton has been growing stronger in every nonblack demographic since Super Tuesday, in the face of a powerful media campaign to derail her. Clinton leads McCain in a number of swing states that Obama would have to win to carry the Electoral College -- including both Ohio and Florida, where both lead Obama. A unity ticket with these two would probably decide the election.

From a military science perspective, it would be somewhat like an application of COIN theory to domestic elections: divide an enemy, convert part of it into an ally, and use that part to defeat the remnant and force it to seek terms from you.

Furthermore, even if McCain wins, he is going to be facing a Democratic Congress. That much is clear. A unity ticket would find such a Congress easier to deal with -- it would lessen the importance of party membership in Congressional debates, for one thing. For another, it might divide the opposition in Congress even as it divided the Democratic electorate.

Finally, speaking as a Southern Democrat who has wanted to move the party back to the right for some time, it would consolidate the lesson that "the left" is poison to the party. If you want to govern, you move to the center. Neither the antiwar nor post-sovereignity internationalists nor the surviving children of Marxism are going to carry America; but the Democratic party does have a lot to offer the country, if it can banish the members who distrust the military, do not favor a strong and robust defense, or the use of that defense to engage the world's problems.

Of course, Republicans hate Hillary. My own respect for her has been rising these last few months, as she proves what a determined fighter she is. Still, her policies and preferences are very far from my own; and McCain is weak on most of the issues I care about to start with, the clear exception (and most important issue) being victory in Iraq. Selecting Sen. Clinton would depress Republican turnout, though it would probably also create a wave of swing voters in the "swing states" where they count the most.

If Sen. Clinton were not an option for that reason, Joe Lieberman, Jim Webb, and retired Senator Sam Nunn would be good choices. I could support a mixed ticket with any of the three with a greater good will than a McCain/Clinton ticket; but such a ticket would not be quite as strong in the general election, though the McCain/Webb ticket would be close.

Fark in space

Checking the Box:

If we're doing "FARK in Space" stories today, I believe our mandate requires us to link this one.

"This is what humans do."

Yup. Time on target, at 280 million miles. If you don't look at this with wonder, you're basically dead.

(via FARK)
Memorial Day:

Our newest addition at BlackFive has a poem for you. He didn't mention where he came by it; maybe he wrote it himself. A few of us do that.

I watched a widow sit and weep,
But I came to kneel where warriors sleep.
I planted a flag beside the stone
And thought of glory far long gone.
I did not sit where she was weeping,
For we each have promises worth keeping.
Aye, that is so. Any man worth his breath has a promise worth keeping.

But if you haven't, or if you have room for one more, and you have an eye for the ancient, then here is a good one:

But the young earl said: “Ill the saints,
The saints of England, guard
The land wherein we pledge them gold;
The dykes decay, the King grows old,
And surely this is hard,

“That we be never quit of them;
That when his head is hoar
He cannot say to them he smote,
And spared with a hand hard at the throat,
‘Go, and return no more.’ ”

Then Alfred smiled. And the smile of him
Was like the sun for power.
But he only pointed: bade them heed
Those peasants of the Berkshire breed,
Who plucked the old Horse of the weed
As they pluck it to this hour.

“Will ye part with the weeds for ever?
Or show daisies to the door?
Or will you bid the bold grass
Go, and return no more?

“So ceaseless and so secret
Thrive terror and theft set free;
Treason and shame shall come to pass
While one weed flowers in a morass;
And like the stillness of stiff grass
The stillness of tyranny.

“Over our white souls also
Wild heresies and high
Wave prouder than the plumes of grass,
And sadder than their sigh.

“And I go riding against the raid,
And ye know not where I am;
But ye shall know in a day or year,
When one green star of grass grows here;
Chaos has charged you, charger and spear,
Battle-axe and battering-ram.

“And though skies alter and empires melt,
This word shall still be true:
If we would have the horse of old,
Scour ye the horse anew."
The old things must always be remade. They must be rewon, defended, made new in every generation. Scour ye the horse.

Scour it anew. Other men, better than us, have done so: today remember them, and rededicate yourself to the work.

Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, Ret., picked up this hat once and told me it had seen better days. It was in much better shape at the time.

My wife, early in our relationship -- indeed, before she was my wife -- told me that she defined "character" as "having enough flaws to be interesting." It's good for me that she feels that way.

I'm proud of my hat. It's been up the creek and over a mountain or two. Still a good hat, whatever it may look like to others.

Horses and Jackasses

Horses and Jackasses:

I fail to see what is wrong with this student's behavior:

Brad Walker saves $25 a week riding his horse Pumpkin to Rockwood High School in Roane, TN. It's a protest to high gas prices that has the support of Rockwood High's principal and has turned a lot of heads in the rural town.

It was a different story all together for a Dickson County High School student who was told this week he would not be able to participate in his graduation ceremony for riding his horse to school.

Caleb Anderson rode the horse to school on his last day of classes. The trip took him almost four hours, arriving at Dickson County High at 7:40am after leaving home at 4am. According to Caleb's grandmother Sandra Anderson, Caleb didn't think it would be as big of a problem as the principal made it out to be. Besides, he was doing his part as a new high school graduate to go green and save a little gas.

But once Caleb arrived at school, Dickson County High Principal Ed Littleton told Caleb to get the horse off the school property. Police arrived shortly after Caleb put the horse in a friend's pasture near the school. As punishment, Caleb was told he will not be allowed to participate in his graduation ceremony Friday.
"Police arrived"?

Is it illegal to ride a horse now? In Tennessee?

There was an update:
I have some very sad news to report. One of Caleb's uncles passed away today. The school still says they are not allowing Caleb to participate in his graduation tonight. Another one of Caleb's uncles, Danny Jackson, plans to ride a horse to the graduation ceremonies tonight in protest of the principal's decision.
Condolences to the family, which sounds like a fine one. I trust that the young man, now freed from the petty tyranny of the officious principal, will go far.

On his horse, and otherwise.