News & Features | Vice in a vise (continued)

On Vice:

It's not every day you see an article in a serious publication approvingly cite Modern Drunkard magazine:

When you look back at history, all the major movers and shakers, these artists, these writers, they were all heavy drinkers. And they were totally fine. They were fully functional drunks! Look at Churchill! Look at FDR! They freed the world from tyranny, and they were drunk all the time.
Well, indeed they were, though there were a few other people involved who were perfectly sober. Not as many as you might think, as European armies of the day got liquor rations. The US Navy & Marine Corps were early adopters of Prohibition. Though they had provided a daily liquor ration from the 1700s, in 1899 they put on the breaks, and by 1914 consuption was banned totally. By 1918, federal law banned alcohol within five miles of a naval station. The situation was similar in the Army during WWI, and so it was the case that our military fought the first two World Wars officially sober.

Officially, but under protest. As Bill Mauldin's Up Front reminds us in several of his collected cartoons, the first "strategic" target on liberating any French village was often the wine cellars. One I remember shows a hogshead that was broken up by the Germans before they retreated. The GIs coming in are shocked. "Them rats! Them dirty, cold-blooded, sore-headed, stinkin' Huns! Them atrocity-committin' skunks..." Another buries his face in his hands. Mr. Mauldin had a long bit of writing on the topic, as well. If any of you out there still haven't read Up Front, you should.

If drinking was an acceptable part of life in the European armies, it was a plain vice in the American forces. Yet, as Bill Mauldin and Modern Drunkard point out, the pursuit of vice didn't preclude the pursuit of virtue. It just helped to fill the long, cold spaces in between.



Both Blogger and HaloScan are acting up. As soon as I can force them to let me, I'll have more.


Bolton and the UN:

Joe Conason has a piece this week called "Bolton's Nomination an Insult to the U.N.: Latest in Bush Pattern of Appointing People Who Hate The Institutions They Are To Serve."

Not quite.

Twenty years ago, the then Secretary of State George Schultz used to welcome the Reagan administration's ambassadorial appointments to his office and invite each chap to identify his country on the map. The guy who'd just landed the embassy in Chad would invariably point to Chad. 'No,' Schultz would say, 'this is your country' -- and point to the United States. Nobody would expect a US ambassador to the Soviet Union to be a big booster for the Soviets. And, given that in a unipolar world the most plausible challenger to the US is transnationalism, these days the Schultz test is even more pertinent for the UN ambassador: his country is the United States, not the ersatz jurisdiction of Kofi Annan's embryo world government.
Bolton's nomination is an affront to the UN, but it's not an insult. The UN has no dignity to insult.
Sending John Bolton to be UN ambassador is like ...putting Sudan and Zimbabwe on the Human Rights Commission. Or letting Saddam's Iraq chair the UN conference on disarmament. Or...
The challenge posed by Bolton may be bracing, or it may destroy the organization. I'm rooting for the latter, myself. The world would be better off without the United Nations. I join with The New Republic in holding that the UN "performs the magic of evil."

The destruction of the UN isn't the point, however. The point is this: Bolton understands what Conason does not. The ambassador's job is to serve the US, not the UN. This is his country. It's permitted for an ambassador to be of service to his host if it does not interfere with the interests of his country. It is not permitted to go native.

The Background of Edsall Road

On the 17th of March:

I went by my favorite pub north of Savannah, Molly's of Warrenton, for a pint or two today. Edsall Road was playing from two o'clock, and I stayed until the crowd got too loud to hear them -- which was about four. I therefore went home well before sunset.

I'm a semi-regular at Molly's; nobody there knows my name, but they all know my two-year-old son's name, and everybody asks me after him when I stop in. The sign they put out front today promised I'd have my ID checked both at the door and at the bar, but in fact nobody asked at all. While other folks were having their credit cards taken up before they'd see a pint, my credit was assumed valid the moment I sat down. It's a nice way to live.

Normally it's a quiet place. In fact, they've quit opening before four on most days, having run into the Southern gentleman's general prohibition against drinking before five (or at least one, if it's a very bad day, or you just really want to). St. Patrick's Day is an exception, though, as all the amateurs come out.

I don't quite know what to do with these folks.

The worst of them consort around Boston, Chicago and Savannah, Georgia. Savannah contains America's greatest Irish pub, and a large contingent of Irish citizens. St. Patrick's Day in these cities -- I've been in Chicago and Savannah on them, and assume it's not different in Boston -- is like Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The city becomes unlivable. One-day Irishmen riot through the place. Sane people stay hell and gone from what are otherwise very nice places.

Well, fun's fun. Good luck to the crazies. Everyone deserves their day, I suppose.

Happy St. Patrick's Day to the rest of you. For those of you who believe in saints, Southern Appeal has a prayer.

Matters Abroad:

Our honorable brethren across the sea, Samizdata, have two interesting posts today. One is on what they call a "counterrevolution" in British constitutionalism, which is worth considering in light of Scalia's comments on US constitutionalism. That can be read here.

The other is about the current Blair government's attempts to impose global gun control. In this matter, the government in the UK has its principles all wrong. The UN, also cited in the piece, knows exactly what it is doing: it is using its pseudo-democratic mechanisms to pursue the defense of human tyranny, like always.

My wife and I were discussing gun control principles the other day. She began with the assertion that gun control was foolish because it wasn't practical; since it wasn't possible to really remove guns from the hands of criminals (as the British surely ought to understand by now), it was unwise to remove them from the hands of good citizens. People should be allowed to protect themselves.

I'm glad to say that I convinced her completely to reconsider this principle. Firearms, and particularly handguns, represent a positive good in society. The small, handy, concealable firearm is unique in that it makes equals of thuggish brutes and the elderly; or the brutes and young women, who may have children or their own bodies to protect. A rifle makes it practical for such a person to defend their home. In those places where roving gangs control the streets -- say, the Congo or Philadelphia -- that can make all the difference.

If gun control were practical, we would be thrown back into a situation in which the strong had more force to bear than the weak, and crime would simply be easier for the brutal.

We've seen this in Rwanda, as Samizdata mentions, but also the Congo. I assume you saw the piece about African victims cooked on spits and boiled alive? Didn't need guns for that -- just strong men of no character, fire and oil. Didn't need guns for the raping or mutilations either -- nature provided the necessities for the one, and a machete works fine for the other.

A firearm would have been useful for the mother wanting to protect those children. Life would be better if the villagers of the Congo kept rifles handy, instead of merely the "militias." It is a slander to use that word, as the above article does; these are merely gangs of thugs. If there were real militias, militias of the people that trained together and could rise to protect their common peace against these thugs, Africa would be a happier place.

Those are the principles we ought to use when considering the issue.


Scalia Is Right:

I had time this afternoon to read this transcript of Scalia's remarks. I think he's right, from first to last.

The "Living Constitution" points to the end of Constitutionalism. It is not the only trend in that direction. Consider the question of Declarations of War, which are now done by simple Congressional votes that aren't, in fact, a Declaration of War. Thus you get what we had in the last election: a Congress that had "authorized military force" but not declared war, and thus a Presidential candidate who had voted 'to authorize force' but claimed to be an antiwar candidate. If Congress were keeping up its Constitutional duties, there would be no such wiggle room: Your Senator would be on record, for or against.

The Supreme Court's abandonment of genuine Constitutionalism is even more dangerous, because the USSC is unacountable, and because the USSC has become the "final word" on what the Constitution is and says. If Congress does something unConstitutional, you can turn to the court; but the USSC claims authority to be the last word.

You don't have to agree with Scalia on any particular case to find his reasoning compelling. He points to some real problems with the system. Unlike many who do that, he has a solution. We need more like him on the Court.

Sharp Knife

Heroism's Alternative:

Noel picks up on an interesting fact:

In 1996, when Canadians were asked to name both the greatest living and the all-time greatest Canadian, 76 percent said "no one comes to mind."
Americans, asked the same question, would have a knock-down, drag-out fight over who belonged on the list -- and who was a Nazi/Socialist/Commie who ought to just be shot. We wouldn't have a shortage of candidates, though, either for hero or scoundrel.

Yeah, I like it that way too.

The Ides of March

Today was my grandfather's birthday. Had he not died at the age of eighty, he would have been ninety-three today. I will shortly raise a glass of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer in his honor -- it was his favorite.

He was a welder, and eventually the owner of a body shop and service station catering to long-haul trucks down in Knoxville. He was the kind of man who would, and more than once did, disarm a man of a knife or a gun with his own bare hands. Oh, he had a gun -- never until he was very old was he without one. He just didn't feel the need to resort to it.

His given names were "Jackson Theodore," which tells you enough to know that my politics are honestly inherited. He didn't go by that mouthful. The world knew him as "Jack T." My father, even when he was fifty years old, still called him "Daddy" when he talked about him. He called him "Sir" when he talked to him.

You all know by now that I wear his Stetson a great deal of the time. It's a big old thing, in a color called "Silver belly" by the folks at JB Stetson Hats. [UPDATE: Yeah, that hat.] Almost everything I know about being a man I learned from him. Much of that was filtered through the stories of my father.

It's a fine day, the ides of March. Once it saw the end of a tyrant; once, the birth of a brave, free man. I hear a few other things have happened too: but surely that is enough for any day.

Grim's Hall


While pondering Joel's comments to the TR post this morning, I decided to switch the comments section to "oldest to most recent" form. Newer comments will be located at the bottom instead of the top, as is the standard for blogs.

When I first started blogging, there wasn't a standard yet, and I liked the other way better. However, I bow to the common wisdom, and hopefully will cease confusing new readers.

Southern Gentleman, Marine, Germanic Tribalist -- A Different Point of View

March, Texas!

Daniel, who offers monthly posts on tactics here at Grim's Hall, has a post on the month of March in Texas history.

One example: the battle of the Alamo ended on March sixth, after "thirteen days of glory." Daniel ends with a quote on the great Jim Bowie:

By Hercules, the man was greater than Caesar or Cromwell- nay, nearly equal to Odin and Thor. The Texans ought to build him an altar.
Hear, hear!


Thank You, Greyhawk:

BlackFive points out that Greyhawk of the Mudville Gazette is now a twenty-year man. B5 says all that needs to be said, but I'll repeat it: thank you, Hawk, and Mrs. Hawk.