"I would rather have a lucky general than a smart general."

Either Napoleon or Frederick the Great or Eisenhower said this (or Eisenhower nicked the quote from one of the others) and I am beginning to think that President-elect Obama is lucky. I think we all know people like this. I know I do. People who always get the dice roll they need, or pull that card, or meet that right person, or always seem to be in the right place at the right time. Coincidence? I dunno.

It seems to me that in the circumstances of his birth, his upbringing, his start in politics and how basically in every step along the way, he has lucked out. Things seem to be going his way.

So far.
Dogs. They know.


Have Some Sympathy:

Although we're all disappointed by the results of yesterday's election, remember that it could be worse.

Obama's reported comment about his supporters was just harsh.


Rest in Peace, Michael Crichton:

I hadn't realized he was an older gentleman, so I was surprised to hear of his passage. Of course he is respected in this house for his attempt to make Beowulf accessible to modern readers; although the truth is that most people who saw "The 13th Warrior" probably never understood the connection. Still, in spite of the movie's flaws, "Grow stronger!" remains very good advice.

I also love the movie for its fearless use of Greek, Latin, and Norse -- without subtitles.

Shoulda Hung OUt

You Should Have Hung Out, Hunter:

You would have loved this.



From The Corner:

1)  We got this the old-fashioned way: we earned it.  The other side took the fight to us, and we never took the fight to the other side, except coyly and obliquely.  That's not a mistake we should make the next time.  "Honorable campaigns" are for losers.  Next time, call 'em as they really are, not as you wish to see 'em.

2)  Where was Bush?  Once again, and right to the bitter end, he let his passion for "loyalty" supersede what was stragetically right for the party, not to mention what was best for the country.  I think his reputation has nowhere to go but down; yes, he got one big thing right, 
but he got everything else wrong.   Enough of this family in our 
country's politics!

3)  Good riddance to Liddy Dole, the woman who gave us the national  drinking age of 21 and a host of sozzled underage college students.  She won't be missed.

4)  Hillary comes out smelling like a rose, plus unbloodied.  She and Bill are already scoping out 2012.

5)  Time to clean house.  McCain should have been president in 2000, not in 2008.  No more "it's my turn"  for the last loser.  We need to be looking for our candidates in the ranks of returning war vets — think Eisenhower in '52 as the model — and let the Dem's shifty lawyers run the country for a couple of years.  Then hit them across the board with  people who know how to lead.   Gen. Petraeus might be a good place to start.  Lots of junior officers, too. 

6)  You know what?  McCain never did sell himself as a leader.  He sold himself as a maverick. 

7)  One upside: McCain/Feingold is now dead, as is public financing.  Talk about being hoist with your own petard!

8)  That Gang of 14 thing really worked out well, didn't it?  Say good-bye to the courts.  And we were so close...

9)  Joe Lieberman was worse than useless.  When he could have made a difference, he didn't cross the aisle to caucus with the Republicans.  
Now, it doesn't matter.  Thanks, Joe. 

10)  Age matters.  McCain ran an "honorable campaign" because he never really understood in his heart that the other guy had no intention of doing so; he didn't "get" Obama's generation, or Axelrod's..  Obama would lie about public financing, "oppose" gay marriage but also oppose Prop. 8 and never see it as morally contradictory.  The world that McCain understood and operated in is vanishing, and tonight is visible evidence. 

11)  Unlike the Democrats, let's show some class in defeat.  That doesn't mean lie down and roll over: it means fighting for what we believe in, doubly so now.  But their sneering childishness is not for us; and now that they've won, they won't be able to control it even in victory.  This is an unlovely party filled with unlovely people, as America's about to find out once the Obama pixie dust wears off.

12)  Understand, once and for all, that the old media is part of the Democratic Party now.  Ignore it.  Never send Michele Bachmann onto Hardball again.  Never send Sarah to play nice with Katie.  We need to develop and create our own work-arounds — Fox, talk radio, NRO, etc. — and use them.  Don't play by their rules: make our own.

Damn right!! I am not going to roll over for these collectivist, freedom hating, socialists! As my Daddy told me a long time ago “We’re Andy Jackson’s boys.” (As such me and mine take pleasure in distancing ourselves from the Democratic Party, a party that celebrates its retreat from the principles of Jefferson and Jackson)  Thats right Daddy, we don’t bend the knee to anyone!


The Election Ends

"May Have Been The Losing Side. Still Not Convinced It Was The Wrong One."

I see that John McCain has called Senator Obama -- now President-elect Obama -- to conceed defeat. Our country has made a horrible mistake; that much is clear. We will raise taxes in a recession, and cut military spending during a war.

In 2004 and 2006 I wrote:

In medieval battles, often forces coming into contact with each other were nearly evenly matched. The forces fight -- Vikings and Saxons clashing at each other behind their shield walls -- until that small difference in strength breaks one of the lines. Then, pouring through the breach, the victors tear apart the shield wall and rout the enemy. Few of the losers escaped from such battles, when any did. Though the foe may have been of nearly equal size and strength, at the last that small difference led to a complete victory for one side, and complete destruction for the other.

Democracy works in a similar way. We have had a giant clash of peaceful armies, and in spite of the completeness of the rout, we must remember that their force was nearly as powerful as our own.

For those of you readers who were part of the defeated army, I salute you. You have every reason to be proud of how hard you fought, and of the dedication and steadfastness with which you struck for your cause. You can hold your heads high, knowing that you did absolutely everything that could be done.

In the next years, we must remember the 55 million. It may be that some of them can be won over, through argument or through example, or even -- on matters not of principle -- through compromise. Even when not, we must remember that they showed that America is their country too: no one can ever again claim to be backed by the "silent majority." That majority has now spoken, but it spoke on both sides.
At this writing, it is 37-40 millions for McCain/Obama. That small difference is nevertheless total in its speech.

Well, people make mistakes; so do nations. There are three consolation prizes: first, that this will give our fellow Americans who are black a new confidence that this nation is theirs equally. They can tell their children with utter confidence that they can grow up to be President. That is a wonderful thing.

The second is that the Democratic Party has learned a lesson that we used to speak about on occasion. The majority it has gained includes a large number of conservative Democrats of the old type -- many pro-life, or defenders of gun rights. Senator Zell Miller spoke of "A National Party No More," but the Democrats have rebuilt the coalition. That is the reason for their success today -- they were able to compete across the nation.

That will mitigate the worst impulses of the new Democratic Congress, but it also means that the Democratic Party itself is healthier than it used to be. The Republican Party is not, but the third consolation prize is that it has the chance to become so. A sitting party has a great deal invested in its incumbents, due to the way that the system has come to favor them. A party without incumbents is free to look for new blood -- and new blood is necessary.

Furthermore, it is available. It is not only Sarah Palin who represents the future, but the returning armies that have done so much for the freedom of the Iraqi people. From these can be recruited -- by both parties, if they wish -- a band of citizens who have personally sacrificed for the ideal of human liberty.

The moment is difficult; the future is bright. Reread the post below on "Providence." Do boldly; have faith.



Our condolences for the family of Madelyn Dunham, including Senator Obama. Many is the grandmother and grandfather that have raised a child in similar conditions, and it is hard duty. She did right by her grandchild, and that's a fine thing.



William McIntosh, the "White Warrior" of the Creek nation, had risen to the leadership of the Creeks in spite of being of mixed Creek and Scottish blood. That Scottish ancestry offered no shame to a warrior people: he was of the blood of John Mohr McIntosh (the Gaelic byname meaning, "the Great"). John Mohr was recruited by Georgia's own founder, the heroic Sir James Edward Oglethorpe, friend of the Yamacraw nation, to guard the early colony against Spanish raiders from the south. Chief William was of the blood also of General Lachlan McIntosh, who served with General Washington at Valley Forge and helped to negotiate treaties for the establishments of forts in the west during the Revolutionary war; he thereby opened the West to later expansion. General McIntosh also killed Declaration of Independence signatory Button Gwinnett in a duel. Finally, he was a direct descendant of William McIntosh, who was sent by the Revolutionary government to the Creeks to aid them in fighting the British.

Perhaps out of loyalty to this revolution, or out of loyalty to his fathers who fought for it, Chief William McIntosh made a deal that put the lands of the Creek Nation under the jurisdiction of the state of Georgia. Shortly thereafter, he was assassinated in his home by tomahawk; but the transfer of authority held in spite of his murder.

What had heretofore been forested country began to be cleared by homesteaders, who wanted a place to grow food for their families and crops to sell at market. As they cleared a particular patch of land in west central Georgia, they began to notice that the land began to erode far more than other lands in Georgia. The erosion was serious enough to be noteworthy in the 1830s. One can imagine the early farmers wondering how bad it would get. The topsoil, and their livelihood, was washing away: where would it stop?


Providence Canyon, North Rim

Providence Canyon, West Rim

Providence Canyon, Spire

It's a strange world we live in. Divided loyalties lead to murder or betrayal. Other men stake their hopes on a crop, and see the ground literally wash away from them. Hopes are dashed, lives are blasted, the work of a lifetime is lost: and an unimaginable beauty appears from the land. Long she waited there, cloaked in seemingly usual hills and valleys, waiting only the right touch to make her beautiful. How many more wait, and for what man's touch?

The ranger center proudly posts several registry sheets showing the names of famous guests. In 1967, the guest register for Providence Canyon was boldly signed: "John Wayne."


Disaster may give way to beauty.

Many things are hidden.

Here are men who did their best, and followed their vision. They did not get what they sought: Chief McIntosh was killed by his own, farmers lost their fortunes, Lachlan McIntosh slew a great man of his own cause.

Here is their mark: this is how the world received them.

Find its equal. The world loves such men. At their touch, she shows herself as only does a woman who loves.

Miss Manners

Miss Manners & The Ugly:

A fine point made by Judith Martin, better known by her pen name of "Miss Manners." She is responding to this letter:

I am a very private person, and I believe that having good manners is important, so I work hard at being polite every day. I have had a co-worker for the last two years who keeps asking me what I'm "really like."

When this happens, I answer, "This is what I'm really like," until he gets tired of it and gives up. I have encountered other people who ask me variations of this same question, e.g. "What is the real you like?"

If my co-worker ever hears me say something even vaguely negative or not entirely polite, he says with great pleasure, "Now, there's the real you coming out."

I am getting frustrated with people who assume that my slip-ups and mistakes expose more of my real character than the manners I work hard at every day....
Miss Manners notes:
Whole schools of unpleasant art have been built on the idea that only the ugly is real.

The same notion applied to people appeals to those who, like your co-worker, want to justify their own rudeness on the grounds that they are being natural, honest and true to themselves. As they undoubtedly are, more's the pity for the rest of us.
She is right; but that's only the first part of this story.

I recall a historian writing about General Washington -- sadly, I cannot recall his name -- who pointed out that Washington composed and personally copied rules of etiquette. These were not things he always did perfectly, that he wanted others to copy: he did not present himself as a Mohammed, a model for others to emulate because of a special and perfect relationship with God. Rather, the copies he made of these rules were to impress the etiquette upon himself, in the hope of making himself into the man he wanted to become.

The historian pointed to our culture of "authenticity," and noted that George Washington didn't have it. What he had was a vision of the good, and a desire to be better than he "authentically" was.

I've written about that as well:
The best people devote themselves to attempting to make real some part of that ideal beauty in their own lives. This is done through training and practice. Once you have performed the deliberation to know what is right in a given circumstance, you become virtuous by training your character so that you do that, and silence in your mind all arguments to the contrary. Eventually you should become the kind of person who can only do the right thing -- but it was freely chosen training and practice that got you there.

What Aristotle was saying in the initial quote was that we can best be sure that a man has is fully trained in a given virtue if he expresses it in sudden circumstances without time for deliberation. His character is fully formed, so that the deliberation and argument is no longer necessary: he just does what is right, without thought.

This is, for ethical decisions, precisely the condition that the martial arts aspires to teach in physical decisions. It is the condition the Japanese martial arts calls mushin, "No Mind."
The vision you are training to be is the "real you." The vision of the beautiful is the real thing. The rest of it -- all of it -- falls away. Your consciousness of being in charge of those lesser decisions may even be an illusion.

It is the vision, only the vision, that is real.
And I thought, “I will go with you,
As man with God has gone,
And wander with a wandering star,
The wandering heart of things that are,
The fiery cross of love and war
That like yourself, goes on.”