You have to watch the whole thing.

(via American Thinker Blog)



This is one of those outstanding moments in life:

This morning, Republicans tell me that a worker at Invesco Field in Denver saved thousands of unused flags from the Democratic National Convention that were headed for the garbage. Guerrilla campaigning. They will use these flags at their own event today in Colorado Springs with John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Before McCain speaks today, veterans will haul these garbage bags filled with flags out onto the stage — with dramatic effect, no doubt — and tell the story.

I suppose I should be embarrassed to admit that I have a few of those little, tiny flags that they distribute at the 4th of July around here. They're just made of very cheap cloth, but when they wear out and fall off the sticks, I have painstakingly folded them into tiny triangles and stored them until I could dispose of them properly. That day never comes, because it's a chore I continually forget, so I now have quite a few American flags to dispose of in the traditional fashion.

They are stored in the very top of my closet, on the top of my hat boxes, because I would never set anything on top of an American flag or a Bible. Why not? I really couldn't tell you why. It's just how I was raised.

I sympathize somewhat with the Obama supporters who are pulling their hair out over this story: 'Why can't we get past this kind of thing, and talk about what we think are the real issues facing the nation?' Substance is surely more important than symbol, yes. Yet there is a reason you can't 'get past' it, and that is this: you don't understand what these symbols mean to people.

Men are both rational and irrational. We have a part of our soul for each. The irrational part is not bad, and can be very good: it is what gives rise to love as well as hate, joy as well as sorrow. Even sorrow can be noble, when it points the way to the beautiful, for a man ought to be able to mourn the loss of something beautiful.

A man who wishes to lead must be the right kind of man: he has to win the loyalty and service of his fellows. This is the real meaning of the Marine Corps University motto, Ductus Exemplo, "Command by Example." It is not that you should set a good example in the hope that others will follow. It is that the example you set is what wins the right to command. Men follow you because their hearts tell them to do so.

Substance matters, no doubt about it. It is not enough alone, however: it never can be.

UPDATE: Think they found 12,000 people to give 'em to? Looks like it to me.

Hard to say for sure, though, since the NYT piece doesn't mention the flags. At all.

UPDATE: The NYT piece has now changed the picture, so it no longer shows the massive McCain-Palin rally. It now shows Sen. Obama standing in a small ring by himself.


PUMAs On The March:

I have a certain fondness for the PUMA movement, as someone who has also spent a certain part of his life as a Democrat trying to move the Democratic Party away from some of its dumber ideas. (As is Armed Liberal of Winds of Change: see here).

So, today I notice three important posts by PUMAs moving against the Obama campaign.

Drawing the Line:

From the NYTimes an hour ago, we have this, Obama Camp Turns to Clinton to Counter Palin.... This is a career ending move for Obama for countless reasons.
Hey, Precious! Fight Your Own Fights.
News last night from The NY Times, via Riverdaughter, that Obama has run home to Big Sister to plead with her to fight his battle with Saracuda Palin for him. Oh, the poor Precious! Can’t face a tough woman on his own, huh? What’s the matter Barack? Just tell Saracuda that she’s likable enough. Call her a Sweetie and tell the media that she gets moody and bitchy periodically when she’s feeling down. That oughtta work.
These ladies seem a little... bitter? How about some video?

PUMAs for McCain.

H/t to Southern Appeal and Hot Air.

UPDATE: Link fixed above. Meanwhile, this one is not by a PUMA but cites one of Sen. Clinton's female advisors.
McCain has a strong woman? Well, the Obama campaign wants voters to know they’ve got one, too, and they’re going to deploy her to crush the moose hunting hockey mom from Alaska. In a strange twist of logic, the Obama campaign is touting the woman they passed over as the woman they need to beat the woman the other guy picked....

So, let’s get this straight. They didn’t choose her and her 18 million voters to put on the ticket. They gave the VP spot to Joe Biden. But now that Sarah Palin has arrived on the political scene, they’re promoting Hillary as the female answer to the Republican VP nominee. Awkward, to say the least. And as one female democratic strategist tells me, don’t think that Hillary hasn’t noticed.
Yeah. Not good enough to be (even considered as!) my VP; good enough to save me from that evil Palin woman!

My favorite of the Sarah Palin "facts," by the way: "Sarah Palin is the reason compasses point north."


A Man's Oath:

The latest discussion on chivalry has generated well over a hundred comments, plus now two poetic oaths from readers. Fiacha put forward this one:

Come dance with me...

Is it evil? For I believe in that which is better than I. Willing to strive for that which I cannot show proof. To suffer from a disease called faith. You say I am evil, for I have killed, I have caused harm, and I proclaim I will do so again, for I know the cost. You say I am a monster? Come dance with me...
I tell you this my soul is not beautiful, I carry shame for that I could not stop, guilt for the harm I have caused,and despair is burdan twists my spirit, I do not blame others for those things that I cannot change. I chose action instead of letting others carry the sword. I bring fire instead living in darkness. Come dance with me...

I have the tarnished and broken armor, and sword of one who works and builds and wants to selfishly protect what others have made. I gather to feed those I love, and to support the causes I believe. I am a monster because I am willing to make hard decisions and not expect others to do it for me. For those that call me monster, come dance with me...
Let me show you what truly is in a monsters heart, and learn about the darkness.
Please; you who call me monster bring me the key... for you are willing to sacrafice another, a child, while I am willing to sacrafice myself, and you call me monster? Come dance with me...

The lock and chains I wear are those I forge myself, off love, and friends, of hope, and faith, the codes and oaths and chants of old help me bind myself, so please bring me the key if a monster you wish to be...

For when I look into the lake, the reflection of a paladin is what I wish to see...
It's not that often, these days, that you see tough men moved to poetry. I write poems on rare occasion -- I wrote one on 9/11, for example, which will be reposted soon on the anniversary. It was once a man's business, poetry, and still today if you list the greatest poets, you'll go a long way down the list before you hit the first woman (Emily Dickinson? But how far below Homer and Shakespeare does she come?). We normally think of poetry as a female endeavor today, but that is really quite new.

I though Douglas had an insightful comment as well:
I'll have to work on this, but it will take time. We take many oaths, though- Wedding vows, Pledge of Allegiance, Boy Scout Oaths, Religious Creeds (the Apostle's Creed for me, as I'm Catholic). I always make an effort, any time I'm repeating one of those- like the pledge, or the creed, that I not simply repeat it from rote, but consider what it means, and mean what I say. I only wish others would give such oaths the reverence they deserve, along with the deep consideration they require.

The idea of the personal oath is an interesting one. It reminds me of the admonishment from an instructor in Architecture school that an artist should do a self-portrait at least once a year. The introspection required is a good excercise, and the product a good record of our growth (hopefully). This strikes me as another means of self-portrait. A useful exercise indeed.
I think I agree. And with the anniversary of 9/11 coming up fast, we have a proper occasion for swearing oaths, and rededicating ourselves to certain tasks.

So: what oaths can you think of that we should consider? Every man might well write his own, but many have come before us, and had good ideas to consider. One of my favorites is from the old Boy Scout Handbook, written by Sir Baden-Powell (a knight himself, note). As far as I know, it does not have the historical accuracy that the Boy Scouts claimed for it -- Baden-Powell had a right to write a "Knight's Code" on his own, being one, but there seems to be no one before him that used it. Aside from that -- and a clumsy last verse -- it has some good qualities.
The Knight's Code

BE ALWAYS READY with your armor on, except when you are taking your rest at night.
Defend the poor, and help them that cannot defend themselves.
Do nothing to hurt or offend anyone else.
Be prepared to fight in defense of your country.
At whatever you are working, try to win honor and a name for honesty.
Never break your promise.
Maintain the honor of your country with your life.
Rather die honestly than live shamelessly.
Chivalry requireth that youth should be trained to perform the most laborious and humble offices with cheerfulness and grace; and to do good unto others.

The odd clumsiness of the last verse does not detract from the truth of it. It is true that young men in training were asked to do a great deal of humble tasks, from helping their lords dress and arm, to serving them at table. This teaches the high truth, "Respect your elders," but it also does a great deal to undercut the false pride that comes of high birth.

This is as true today as ever: Americans are of "high birth," the very highest, because we are free men and because we are citizens with a vote in the running of the most powerful government on earth; and because we are powerfully rich. Just yesterday I got a toy catalog in the mail with any number of toys for children of all ages, many priced over a hundred dollars each, some priced several hundred dollars each, and my wife remarked: "How rich we are! People have that kind of money to spend on toys for their four year old!" And more yet when he's five -- well, I don't, but obviously quite a few people have.

So, engendering pride and an ethic of service in the young is a good thing. Most of what is phrased here are good things. I think "not offending" is more an English than an American value (or necessarily a chivalrous value -- D'Artagnan was advised to fight duels at the drop of a hat).

There's the oath of enlistment. What else should we look at?


Politics and Clothing:

National Review has a piece on a certain article of Democratic Party clothing. The t-shirt is offensive, so please bear that in mind if you choose to click the link.

So I’ve been taking note of how many of those pro-Obama, anti-Hillary... t-shirts there are on the streets, and by my count the number is higher post-primary than before.
Today, a top Obama supporter and fundraiser declared that Gov. Palin 'should be home taking care of her kids.' So apparently this is a theme for Obama supporters.

A commenter at Hot Air notes:
Shouldn’t [Sen. Obama] be in Kenya to take care of his African grandma[?] Oh, just remember his grandma can’t vote so she’s ain’t helping Micheele [sic] and Barry’s kids. And neither can Barry’s half brother who’s living on a $1 per day budget.
A noteworthy observation, that.

"All's Hair"?

"All's Hair"?

I don't know what Deborah Tanen is talking about. This kind of article is purely evenhanded.

Yes, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin has a lot on her plate: a pregnant teen daughter, a son on his way to Iraq, an infant with Down syndrome and a looming national election.

But must her hair suffer?
I'm sure we all remember the last time the media took to mocking a Republican figure over hair: John Bolton.

Totally evenhanded. Uh, well, they're both Republicans, but other than that.


Sukiyaki Western Django:

This sounds like a highly memorable movie.

A lone gunslinger rides into town, ties his horse to the hitching post, and strides down the middle of Main Street. Two rival gangs come flooding out of their respective hideouts: the White Gang on one end of the street, the Reds on the other. There's a buried treasure hidden somewhere nearby, and everyone's crazy to find it, so the lone gunman stands between the two gangs and makes them an offer.

"Witch axe gonna by it. Marvy rose? What there—if tank glut treasure, no pain."

Welcome to Sukiyaki Western Django (First Look), the English-language Western by Japanese director Takashi Miike. The all-Japanese cast, augmented by Quentin Tarantino in two cameo roles, learned their English dialogue phonetically and attack their lines as if the words were small furry animals that need to be beaten into submission. The dialogue is crammed with weird, Christopher Walken-esque line readings and bizarre placement of emphases—phrases like "You old biddy," "Dang!" and "You reckon?" become hilariously divorced from meaning.
Now, by "memorable" I don't mean to imply "good." On the other hand, the director has quite a reputation, and the Japanese have already mined this ground with some profit. For example, the famous cult film Django's trailer will explain a mystery to anyone who saw Cowboy Bebop's mushroom episode on the Cartoon Network. The anime's makers apparently felt no explanation for the reference was necessary, suggesting their audience will be familiar with the Spaghetti Westerns -- and not just the Eastwood ones.

The film Django was also apparently inspirational to the director Robert Rodriguez, whose title character in El Mariachi uses a guitar case for the same purpose as the coffin. As I imagine most of you know, Rodriguez and Tarantino have since worked together on a number of cult-movie projects (mostly bad ones); and now Tarantino is hooking up with the Japanese effort here.

That makes it dangerously likely that the film will get lost in in-jokes; but I suspect, from the description, that it will be hard to forget in any case.

Comparison in Pictures

A Comparison in Pictures...

...and a few words. Well done.

(H/t: The Castle).


Tom Shales Speaks:

It is unfortunate, he says, that the media is being falsely portrayed as biased.

It's unfortunate considering the strong showing of Palin that the Republicans have again decided to run against "the media" as well as against the Democrats, and to portray themselves as poor, abused victims of media aggression. Giuliani, who has made a second career of courting the press, referred sneeringly to "the left-wing media." Mike Huckabee spoke of "the elite media." And a poorly made film about Ronald Reagan, shown to the delegates on Tuesday night, included the outright lie that "the media hated" Reagan, when just the opposite is closer to the truth.

Reagan's time in the White House was a virtual love affair with the press, whom he charmed as infectiously as he charmed the whole country.

Does he think none of us were alive in the 1980s?

The Palin Speech

The Palin Speech:

I stayed up too late last night so that I could watch this speech, and then read some of the early commentary.

The speech was good: a sketch of an introduction, a sketch of the line of attack she intends to pursue through the election, a sketch of a biography of John McCain for those Americans who still don't know his heroic story -- of which there remain a few who are unaware, a few more that are vaguely aware, and others who are aware of the story but not the powerful details. In and of itself, it was only a sketch of each of these positions, with the details to be filled in later: but that is important too.

This is why books have introductions: to take a moment to sketch the overall picture for you, before they delve into details that you might not understand without that framework. If she can fulfill the promise of the introduction, she should have no trouble with Obama and Biden.

Let's talk a moment about the importance of our reaction to Gov. Palin. For the last few days, we've been angry at her mistreatment by the press and Obama loyalists, and especially her family's. We've defended her, fought back a bit against the attacks, and praised Sen. Obama for taking a better road.

Last night, she seemed to show that she was capable of defending herself without such help. Yet look again, not just at her but at her family. They are smiling and proud, even Bristol, who was the target of the worst of the attacks.

That comes from this: from the tremendous support that they have received, and -- especially at the convention -- has let them understand the depth of conviction with which so many Americans are ready to fight alongside them. You can see that confidence in their faces. You can hear the reason for it in the wild cheers and applause. They have reason to be smiling, they have reason to be proud.

A few days ago I said I had never before seen the press try to destroy a candidate outright in her first week. Now we have all seen them try: and the wave has burst against the rock.

Smoke 'em.

As most of the on-air cable television personalities focus on the national politics of the Republicans' nomination of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for vice president, stories and footage of clashes between the St. Paul police and protesters at the Republican National Convention are turning up on the internet.

The Uptake, an online citizen-journalism training outfit in Minneapolis, has been at the forefront of documenting much of the unfriendly interaction between the police and the protesters.

I wouldn't really call this a clash. But look at the crusties: First you got the tubby guy on the bike yelling sieg heil, and then the idiots advance on the police. What the hell did they think was going to happen?

Lenin would have been laughing at these amateurs. This is why I have such contempt for them. They're just playing around. They're not serious, they have no idea that they look both foolish and stupid. More bored, white-bread middle class kids. They have no idea how good they've got it.

The War Against What?

The War Against What?

Howard Kurtz titles his column of today, "The War Against the Press."

I've talked to many political professionals over the years who were mad at the media, or me in particular.

But I've never quite had a conversation like the one Tuesday night...
"The press" isn't the one having a war waged against it. Not yet. The war -- as is absolutely obvious to any observer -- is being waged against Governor Palin. It is that war in which we are called to enlist in the defense of the lady, and in seeing that she and her family are treated fairly. No one asks that she not be held to the same standard as other vice presidential candidates, like for example John Edwards ("there will be a glow").

Peggy Noonan, senior American female conservative journalist, was... rather strongly moved on the subject.
Fact and data are our product, we're putting everything into reporting, that's what we're selling, interpretation is the reader's job, and think pieces are for the edit page where we put the hardy, blabby hacks.

That was a long way of saying: Dig deep into Sarah Palin, get all you can, talk to everybody, get every vote, every quote, tell us of her career and life, she may be the next vice president. But don't play games. And leave her kid alone, bitch.
Now that's something I never thought to see.

It's no service to our country that we've come so far as to have to see it.

More on Chivalry

"This Man's Path" and Creeds:

Reader 21stCenturyMike posted the following in the comments below. I thought it merited its own post.

This mans path

I am a man that wishes to walk in peace, but prepares for war. It is my way, it was my father’s way, and it is my ancestral heritage to become the warrior when called. That warrior spirit has become restless and I now seek refuge in an old code. Ancient whispers call to me and I feel the grail I seek is near. The choice is mine and I can no longer ride between the many trails that life has presented me. Now I stand before two paths as I emerged from the wilderness of time. I have sought the spirit guides of old and felt the yearning power of both paths. I am a man of the sea and soil and before me lies the time to choose. I seek the righteous path, that path of honor and loyalty my heart aches to follow. Let me walk with you for a short time on this gloomy day as I seek the wind and sky above the ground I shall walk and defend as my own. I may never have need of the comfort I perceive in chivalry, but will have the joy of knowing a knightly existence. The human condition is warmed by the hearth shared with comrades in arms and friends well defended. Chivalry shall be the foundation of my hearth and home. Come, join me, teach me, and experience my joy as I learn how to follow this primordial calling.
If any of you have similar oaths you want to take or declarations to make, let us hear them.

In the meantime, "The Lady of the Lake" has hit 99 comments at this time. I believe that's far and away a record for the Hall.

A Fine Idea!

A Fine Idea!

Rand Simberg, via InstaPundit, has a poll on debates. Which debate would you most like to see?

One of the options is "Palin v. Obama." It is currently the runaway winner at 89%.

This would be a fine way to settle a certain question about experience and qualifications. The debate should be held! The challenge should be put forward in public, and as soon as possible.

The Less Respectable

The Less Respectable:

We have seen what even some who pretend to be respectable enough for public discourse have said and done to destroy Gov. Palin's candidacy through attacks on her family, in the post just below. At First Things, they have been watching the less respectable:

Film-maker Michael Moore has apparently praised the gulf weather for its chance of disrupting the Republican convention: “This hurricane is proof that there is a god in heaven.” Another low point in politics, though possibly one that could be passed off with a laugh—a partisan irony, rather than a serious derangement.

But over on the leftist Daily Kos website, there is a post that sinks much lower—so low that it caused many of the commentators to denounce it. Which led another commentator to make this remark:
I am prepared to do whatever is necessary to destroy the Republican Party as it exists today as well as everything it stands for.

If health insurance for all, an end to the Iraq War, an end to torture and illegal wiretapping, and a sane energy policy can be obtained at the price of destroying one teenage girl, her family, and the surrendering our self-respect I see that as a cheap trade.

Go talk about nobility of purpose to those 4,000+ dead American soldiers in Iraq.

Indeed, as another comment added:
This is about Power . . . How it is obtained—and how it is wielded in ways that affects all of us.

Are you telling me that you would not use character-destroying lies to ensure a war against Iran does not occur?

Are you telling me you would not spread lies about a man’s integrity, even if it defeated a candidate who take away the right to choose?

Are you telling me you would not destroy the love a family holds for one another, even if it meant letting someone who would destroy the constitution become president?

None of use would use these tactics in a perfect world. It is not a perfect world.

It is a fallen world. We have to judge costs and benefits, not moral absolutes. I know this is the way to fanaticism and destruction—believe me I do. But, when we face opponents such as the ones we face . . . what else is there for us to do?
What choice do we have? When faced with monsters, we have to be monstrous ourselves.
That is a kind of summons: Abyssus abyssum invocat! It is an evil magic, because it has the danger of summoning exactly what it imagines. Men are monsters, and the only thing that restrains them are the chains they lay on themselves: courtesy, chivalry, honor.

It is possible to fight monsters without becoming one, but it is not easy. St. George could fight the dragon without becoming a dragon, but only by becoming a saint. If he had set out to become a worse monster instead, we would have a different legend -- and a different world.


A New Frontier, Indeed:

I'm a little bit astonished today.

At this:

The Politico has received an opposition research file from the Alaska Democrats. You can read it in PDF here.

In the file, the Democrats have released Sarah Palin's social security number minus the last four digits. Also tied to the information are her various home addresses.

Back in 2005, Democrats used Michael Steele's social security number to get his credit record.

It is atrocious that the Democrats would not only seek out Sarah Palin's social security number, but release it in opposition research to the press.
And the Drudge Report:

McCain campaign rips NYT reporter for factual errors...

Philadelphia Columnist Warns: 'If McCain wins, look for full-fledged race war'...
At this:
SCHULTZ: The facts are this. What kind of mother is she? Is she prepared to be the vice president? Is she going to be totally focused on the issues.

MOLINARI: Wow. You got to be…

SANCHEZ: Whoa, whoa, whoa.

SCHULTZ: There are questions.

MOLINARI: I bet you don’t have a lot of women listeners there, do you? If you do, you’re not going to have them tomorrow after…

SCHULTZ: Actually, today on my show, I took only phone calls…

MOLINARI: Oh my gosh.


SCHULTZ: from women and they are not happy with them.

MOLINARI: So every — so every person out there who has an unwanted pregnancy in their family is a result of bad mothering? Wow. That’s really bold to say that.

SCHULTZ: Don’t tell me she’s a role model.

MOLINARI: Come on…

SCHULTZ: You know, most professional gardeners have a really nice yard, you know what I mean?

SANCHEZ: You know what, she’s…

SCHULTZ: Most professional gardeners cut their own lawn.

SANCHEZ: No, I’m thinking in all of our families…

SCHULTZ: It seems to me they have trouble in their backyard.
And this:
Video: “How can a woman run a state and bring up … five children at the same time?”
I've seen rough politics before, but they really came out swinging for the fences this time. I've seen the media try to deny air to a political campaign to kill it, and I've seen them run imbalanced coverage of the two sides (rember 'the glow about them' when it was Kerry/Edwards?).

I don't believe I've seen the media try to actually destroy a candidate in the first week before this.

Governor Palin is obviously terrifying to these folks, and it's not because she's 'inexperienced' or because she has a teenage daughter. She's running for VP, and has at least as much experience as Sen. Obama -- who is running for the top spot.

I will be steadfast in defense of this lady. Neither she nor her family deserves this. Entering the public eye has come to entail some rough-and-tumble treatment, but this is new. Releasing her social security number to the public? Three (!) front page stories on her daughter in one day?

And the attacks -- when we were talking about Senator Clinton, it was things like Senator Obama saying "the claws come out." They were small, belittling but each affront from any noteworthy individual too small to point to by itself. "I understand that Senator Clinton, periodically when she's feeling down," he said, and it could have been just an odd phrasing. You couldn't prove it was an attack on her as a woman. What was disturbing was the pattern, which grew ever larger, but the individual statements were never so blatant, neither from him nor those supporters who pretended to respectable behavior.

That standard has been abandoned entirely.

As Cassandra notes, it's not just us to notice.
It’s Over. We’ve lost.

September 2nd, 2008. The 2008 Election ended this morning as a vast cadre of liberals, progressives, Democrats and like minded journalists lifted the white flag and surrendered.

We surrendered something a whole lot more valuable than our vote. We surrendered our principles. We surrendered our core values.

We surrendered all hope. We surrendered our shared dreams that our daughters would inherit a better world, a world of promise, equality, justice, fairness and honor.
We had dreamed of a world where our 17 years old daughters wouldn’t be striped naked and raped on the front page of the New York Times, above the fold.
It's a good post. The language is rough, but I gather it is rough from righteous anger. They have a right to be angry, and so do we.

G'night, Jerry.

Good Night, Jerry:

A sad headline passed across the screen today, and with it, I knew that Jerry Reed had passed from the world.

He was one of Georgia's greats, a simple man with a long laugh. I guess most people know him best -- or only -- from his role as the Snowman, the outlaw truck driver in Smoky and the Bandit. He also wrote and sang the theme song, and indeed all the songs from that movie.

He had quite a talent, though, for jazz, blues, and rockabilly, as well as country music. If you were from the South in that time, you probably saw him far more often than that once. He and Chet Atkins did a large number of pieces together. Here they are playing our state's song.

You might have heard this song during the high gas prices of the summer:

Along with the Late, Great Lewis Grizzard, Jerry Reed was a pretty good icon for what Georgia was about in the 1970s and early 1980s. It's amazing how much the place has changed in so short a time.

Thanks, Jerry. Goodnight.


Large Hadron Rap:

Via Shari, a remarkably coherent lesson in particle physics:

I wouldn't have thought that rap music would be an ideal teaching tool, but it certainly works here.

Bristol Palin

As Regards Young Bristol Palin:

I realize that this will be a topic for discussion in coming days. In order to ensure that the Hall's courtesy is in full force, we will treat the young lady as if she were a member of the Hall.

The regular courtesies will apply, as if she were here to listen to what you have to say. You may say what you want about her philosophy, if she has one you can find; but we will be respectful of her personally, as we are of each other. The normal ethic of the Hall is: 'Be nice to your neighbors, be hell to their ideas.' So: be nice to the lady, though we may debate the issues in terms that are not personal.

Comments in violation of this rule, as usual with comment violations, will be deleted. My co-bloggers, all of whom have access to the comment code, are invited to use their discretion in this matter. I will honor their judgment in cases of dispute.

In Praise of Sen. Obama II

A Good Word for Sen. Obama:

I once lauded Senator Obama's defense of his wife; let me now laud his defense of his mother, and by extension, the daughter of Gov. Palin. He said:

Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama Monday afternoon issued a strong statement to "back off" reports of Bristol Palin's pregnancy, telling reporters families — and especially children — are off limits in this presidential campaign.

Mr. Obama, campaigning here, also noted that his own mother was 18 when she gave birth to him.

"People's families are off limits," he said. "People's children are especially off limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin's performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president."
Let it be noticed here that the Senator is entirely correct on this occasion. Good for him.


From A Friend of a Friend:

I don't know anyone in Alaska to ask about Gov. Palin directly; but I do have a friend who has an old friend, known to him from Vietnam and elsewhere, who has a few things to say. He sent me this today. I have redacted personal information about the sender, as indicated by notes or ellipses.

I met and spoke with Sara Palin about two years ago at our downtown Park Strip. It is a place for walking, carnivals, political outdoor things and such. She was cooking hotdogs at a fund raiser and introducing herself to the public as a Governor hopeful. She came by and said the usual "Hi, I'm Sara Palin and I am running for Governor"...and I expected her to keep on to the next person but she asked me who I was and what I did in Alaska and we ended up talking for 15 minutes about me [personal details redacted, but you should know this is a pilot. -Grim]. She is a pilot (Super Cub) I'm told although all she told me about that was that she loved flying.

As I watched her over the next six months as she successfully ran for Governor I was really impressed. I was impressed greatly even before that after she resigned a good position (Alaska Gas and Oil Regulatory Commission) because a fellow Commission member (Chair of the Alaska Republican Party) misused their office and position. He was using the FAX, computers, printing room and all to promote the Republican endeavors while in a State job. That is a huge no-no in any government employment position. She resigned and made her point and within weeks Randy Ruderich (the above bad guy) found his ass out on the street and a subsequent investigation found him guilty and he was fined $12,000. Small change actually but a giant point was made.

Next she went after our most horrible Governor ever, Governor Murkowski, and damned if she didn't beat him! All of us here in Alaska, except the Democrats, are sick of our State's corruption. That fact was shouted to the heavens after she was elected with an overwhelming point spread. After she got into office she started after corrupt legislators and with the FBI's help we've put four of them in prison, indicted six more and the "Corrupt Bastard's Club" as they arrogantly called themselves (even had hats made with CBC on the front!) suddenly found it no fun anymore. Club membership is now in the toilet!!

The current flap which has cost her a ten point loss of popularity (she's still 82%!) was over firing a popular Commissioner of Public Safety who is responsible for our Alaska State Troopers. She fired him for no STATED reason which was her prerogative as the Gov. He served entirely at her option. She and her whole family had a bad, bad experience with a rogue Trooper who was married to Sara's sister. His name is Trooper Wooten. This dimwit Trooper had threatened Sara's father (death threat!), threatened Sara ("I'll get you too"), tasered his 12 year old stepson, drove drunk in his AST cruiser, got a pass by a fellow Trooper who stopped him for erratic driving a second time while in civvies and just a host of other things not yet released to the public. He got away with it and got another pass by the Commissioner's appointed AST Trooper Internal Affairs investigator with a tiny slap on the wrist. Five days off without pay to be exact!! This maverick Trooper is still on the payroll but only just. The Union intervening saved his malcontent ass. He'll yet get his I'm sure. Incredible heat is being heaped on the Troopers. Public heat, not the Governors office. The Democrats had the audacity to appoint a obviously biased investigator, Rep. "Gunny" French (so called because he lied about being in the USMC while running for the Legislature) is a staunch liberal and under the orders of Senate President Lyda Green who hates Sara. She hates Sara because after being elected Governor Sara told the whole Legislature in one of her first meetings with them that, quote; "All of you here need some Adult Supervision!!!". Sara was seriously pissed and not afraid of anyone there.

That played wonderfully well with Alaskan's after all of our corruption and after all of her successful battles against a seriously entrenched corrupt government here in Alaska. It pissed off the whole Legislature though! They have stayed pissed but also afraid of her because of her popularity. She reminds me personally of our Alaska wolverine which will fight anything in it's path if it see's fit to do so. No respect at all for size or position....

In closing I must tell you that she is the best, most moral and most focused leader I've seen since President Reagan. I feel, really strongly, that like Alaska the rest of our country will love her within a few weeks. Put simply, she represents middle America like NO leader we've ever had.

I think McCain made a totally brilliant move in choosing her. She's a maverick who is probably tougher and more focused than McCain himself....and she won't be a total "Yes Man" or more appropriately, woman. McCain will love her.

In 2012 she will be President.

My best to all of you in the hurricane belt....

Semper Fi
This is the first candidate we've had in the race to whom I've felt any personal sympathy. I was supporting the McCain ticket merely because it was the least-bad option; but I think I genuinely like this governor.

The Lady of the Lake

The Lady of the Lake:

This post is to follow upon this series from April, on how the ethics of chivalry may help repair our own culture's division between men and women.

A culture has powerful images, symbols that the people do not fully understand, may not fully be aware of knowing: but they are there, and echo in our lives. I wrote about the Paladin while I was in Iraq, and again a few weeks later. These were legends from Charlemagne and Arthur, that modern men were living out. And in a sense they knew it, as you can see from the name they chose for the artillery and the banner that marks Camp Slayer: but in a sense it travels below consciousness, as you can see from the heraldry that ties Sir Lancelot to the 3rd Division.

I'm going to quote a section from The Return of King Arthur: The Legend Through Victorian Eyes by Debra N. Mancoff. It is a beautiful book available here; though many of the paintings are also reproduced in this book by David Day, which is available used for less than two dollars.

The commentary, however, is Dr. Mancoff's.

In the early hours of the morning of 20 June 1837, William IV died in his bed in Windsor Castle. The lord chamberlain and the royal physician were dispatched to Kensington Palace in London, to convey the grave news to the duke Kent's widow, whose daughter, Alexandrina Victoria, was the next in the line of succession. Only nineteen years old, Princess Victoria was the new queen. She had been sleeping in her mother's bedchamber, a habit maintained from childhood, but when she received emissaries from Windsor she received them alone.


[H]er diminutive figure, swathed in the Parliament Robes of crimson velvet, trimmed with ermine and embellished with golden lace and tasseled cords, gave the crowds pause.... [She] stirred compassion as well as loyalty in the hearts of her subjects. As small as she was, she was ready to serve... The gentlemen knights of England now had their fair lady, and the new reign channeled romantic energy into practical service.
This is the beginning of the story of how Victorian England produced not only the greatest power ever known by the British Empire, but also a renaissance in art reviving one of the main themes of Medieval literature: the Arthurian epic. The story is fascinating and important in its own right, but I wish only to follow her this far for now.

The power of the thing lies in this phrase: "...their fair lady, and the new reign channeled romantic energy into practical service." It happens that the lady was young, and seemed to need protection; but the channeling of romantic love into practical service has a deep history in the West, one where often -- usually! -- the lady was more powerful than the knight offering his service. Maurice Keen, in Chivalry, explained how the Medieval ethic of courtly love allowed women to enter the power structure. A knight could be loyal to his lord in friendship, as brothers in arms, but this ethic allowed him to base his loyalty to his lady on that strongest foundation: love.
Her acceptance of her admirer's love (which meant her acceptance of his amorous service, not admission to her bed) was the laisser passer into the rich, secure world of the court of which she was mistress. The courtly literature of the troubadours encapsulated thus an amorous ethic of service to a lady which was essentially compatible to the ethic of faithful service to a lord: indeed, it borrowed not a little of the vocabulary from the legal vocabulary of lordship, fealty, and service.... Thus in courtly love female approbation offered a new, secular, and psychologically very powerful sanction to the secular conventions of the code of courtly virtue and martial honour. As Wolfram von Eschenbach's Willeham declared, in a great eve-of-battle speech to his knights, 'there are two rewards that await us, heaven and the recognition of noble women.'
The two were often combined in the Arthurian cycle, where the lady is sometimes a messenger of God as well as a lady of power -- whether courtly or, as these are romances, sorcerous. To continue with Dr. Keen (p. 81):
The right perspective on it is given in the wonderful passage in the romance of Lancelot in which the Lady of the Lake instructs her charge in the duties of knighthood and the significance of the knight's arms. All that she has to say is permeated with religious significance and symbolism.... But we have to remember too who is giving these instructions to young Lancelot -- a great lady of regal family and endowed with magical powers, not a priest.
Thus too, in Edmund Spenser's great epic poem, the Red Cross Knight -- none other than Saint George! -- is sworn to knight's service to the poem's namesake: The Faerie Queene. He is guided by a lady, Una, who keeps him on the right path and recovers him to it when he is lost. The concept of love and womankind and faith are so deeply intertwined by this point, which is less Medieval than Early Modern, that the audience is not at all bothered that Una is a symbol for the Anglican Church, and that the false lady competing for St. George's love is a symbol of a different Church (the Roman Catholic one, given the politics of the day), and that the marriage St. George gains to Una is therefore symbolic of eternal love through chastity rather than the marital release our own time would insist upon.

The key things that matter are these: the lady is noble of spirit; she, like the Lady of the Lake or Queen Victoria, has the power to bestow arms, or to approve of their use in her defense and interests; she is morally worthy of service; and she calls men to channel their feelings of admiration for her, even love for her, into practical service. Such love thus expressed is no danger to marriages -- rather, it reinforced feudal bonds by giving a useful channel to the sexual tension that might otherwise exist, and by giving the knights a way to serve the lady with as much intensity of feeling as they served their lord.

It also opened the way for women to occupy genuine positions of power in the Middle Ages, for just this reason: it diffused the tension. Even as late as Elizabeth I, a queen could be loved by many knights, though none of them were her king.

The channeling of romantic love into service takes advantage of the natural impulse of men to love more than one woman, without violating the strictures against adultery. Indeed, the romances are clear on one thing: the destructive nature of adultery, when even the greatest knights and noblest ladies should choose to give themselves to it. Arthur's infidelity leads to the birth of Modred, who slays him; Lancelot and Guinevere's, to the fall of Camelot.

We received this unconsciously, but powerfully. It is the ethic at work in Shane. He rides in as the cowboy version of a knight errant, and falls in love with the lady of the homestead. He renders what is nothing less than knight service against the raubritter, and then -- conscious that he cannot keep his love in proper limits, and feeling loyalty to the lord of the homestead as strongly as his love for his lady -- he rides off into the wilderness. Replace the hat and Colt with a sword and lance, and it could have been written in the 1400s.

For another such lady, the gentlemen of England raised their nation to heights even its proud history had not known before. Such an ethic of love and service may allow us to renew our society's connection between men and women, which we have seen strained: at least, for those who hear the call of these ancient things.

USCGE on Palin

Palin and Foreign Policy:

One of the groups I deal with occasionally is the US Center for Global Engagement, a nonpartisan center that shares my interest in ensuring that US civilian agencies are able to perform at the same level as DOD in foreign policy. They support SECDEF Gates' call, which originated with LTG Chiarelli's call, for a civilian expeditionary force that can support US military COIN operations -- or that can serve as the lead in some cases, with the military supporting them.

You've probably read my citations of them several times at BlackFive, so I won't go back through the whole thing. I got a letter from them today, however, which mentioned that they had done a backgrounder on Gov. Palin in response to her selection as a VP nominee.

You can read it for yourself; but it certainly presents a different picture than what we've seen so far.


"Maybe I Didn't Show You The Right Picture"

When these guys stick to their meat-and-potatoes issue of pretending to be authentic rednecks, they are really funny.

Oh, and here is another guy who -- just every once in a while -- knocks one clean out of the park.
Speak to me, O Muse, of this resourceful man
who strides so boldly upon the golden shrine at Invescos,
Between Ionic plywood columns, to the kleig light altar.
Fair Obamacles, favored of the gods, ascends to Olympus
Amidst lusty tributes and the strumming lyres of Media...
Just that one line there at the end justifies the whole project, for me.

Anyway, I hope you're having a fine Labor Day Weekend.