Honor and Progressives

Interesting to see the word come up in a progressive piece, and even employed correctly to describe this particular problem.
Two changes are required for Democrats to diminish the 39-point margin by which whites without college degrees voted for Mr. Trump over Hillary Clinton.

This first concerns social honor. Too often in otherwise polite society, elites (progressives emphatically included) unselfconsciously belittle working-class whites. We hear talk of “trailer trash” in “flyover states” afflicted by “plumber’s butt” — open class insults that pass for wit. This condescension affects political campaigns, as in Hillary Clinton’s comment about “deplorables” and Barack Obama’s about people who “cling to guns or religion.”

“My biggest boneheaded move,” Mr. Obama mused.

He was right. Democrats should stop insulting people. The high cost of doing so is dramatized by “I’m deplorable” T-shirts and Inaugural DeploraBalls. There’s no need to accept racism, sexism or homophobia from working-class whites or anyone else. Just live up to our progressive ideals by acknowledging social disadvantage more consistently....

That’s the first step. The second is for Democrats to advocate an agenda attractive to low-income and working-class Americans of all races: creating good jobs for high school graduates.
I sometimes get the sense that progressives think that step two is sufficient: that if they come up with a good enough set of government-based gifts, they'll win (and deserve to win) the working class without needing to treat the honor of working class members as important. This guy clearly sees both that this is not sufficient, and also understands just why.

Education theory

I'm proofing a sweet little juvenile story on Project Gutenberg, called "Squib and his friends," by Evelyn Everett Green (1900).  Our young hero is befriended by a wise man during a family trip to Switzerland, and is regretting having to go home, where he will be
". . . just having stupid, tiresome lessons to do. It will be so dull!"
"Dull!" said Herr Adler, in a voice which brought a sudden wave of red into Squib's cheeks; "dull to learn all sorts of wonderful and interesting things about the great wonderful world we live in! Why, what did you say to me the other day about finding everything so interesting? And now you call your lessons dull. Why, that is nonsense!"
"Oh, if you taught me my lessons they would all be interesting," answered the little boy quickly; "but some people can't make anything interesting; and then--and then--"
Herr Adler nodded his head several times, with one of his grave smiles.
"Yes, you may well say, 'and then--and then--' and stick fast. Can't you make things interesting for yourself? How is it your games are all so interesting?--your collections and your carving? Why, because you are interested; because you want to learn and to know and to do more and more, and better and better. And your lessons will be just as interesting--no matter who teaches you--if you just make up your mind that you want to know.

A promise we can all get behind

In a nice counterpoint to the hyperventilating about Trump's withdrawal from the Paris "accords," Commentary Magazine gives us an example of the pitiful tissue of nothingness in which the participating countries are expressing their continued staunch support.  Pakistan, for instance, has agreed to "reduce its emissions after reaching peak levels to the extent possible.” As the author points out, that is a definition of the word "peak," not a commitment.

Anarchy and McMaster

David Benson makes a reasonable point‏: "McMaster/Cohn simply accept the world as anarchic. If Putin does, too, that just means they're all right together. Putin may also believe water is wet."

Wolfpack Malaysia

You say you've got a bomb? We've got a pack.

DB: ISIS Condemns Kathy Griffin

“This is just another example of a privileged white woman culturally appropriating the proud custom of a marginalized people. Beheadings are our thing, not your thing,” said the statement, which was released on Telegram.

It's Not Bias -Exactly-....

Opinion, CNN: "Everyone should have a shot at paid family leave." (4 April 2017)

Headline, CNN: "Trump's Budget to Include Paid Family Leave..." (22 May 2017)

Opinion, CNN: "How Paid Family Leave Hurts Women." (Yesterday)

I mean, different people wrote the opinion pieces. The timing is plausibly a coincidence. And yet...

Today's Great Debate

Well, it's understandable why the pace of reporting on more substantive issues has slowed.

Warning Order: Wolf Time Discussion

I think we'll do the Wolf Time discussion starting next Monday, unless people need more time. Sound off in the comments if that's too soon for you, but you'd like to join in.

Death Song for Ragnar Lodbrok

Beheading the President in Absentia

There were a few occasions during the Obama administration that the President was hung in effigy, and Bush, and Hillary Clinton. So it's not new.

Holding up the severed head instead of hanging him, though, has interesting symbolism in the age of ISIS. But the same sort of thing was said about the tricky symbolism of hanging Obama, as opposed to hanging Bush.

The only thing that's maybe new is that this is not some fringe dude putting up a gallows in his cornfield somewhere, but a celebrity recognizable to most Americans.

UPDATE: Scott Adams has a good account.
I have been telling you since before the inauguration that the country was going to split into two movies on one screen. Some of us are watching a new president do his best to make America great. But half the country is watching a disaster movie in which we unknowingly elected a Hitler-monster to destroy civilization. The Kathy Griffin situation illustrates the two-movie idea perfectly. For Kathy and her associates at the photoshoot, this photo was intentionally provocative, but in a silly way. In their movie, beheading the Hitler-monster is a widely-approved fantasy. Perfectly acceptable. Nothing to see here.

Then they published the photo.

And learned there was another movie on the same screen....

Obviously I support Griffin’s right to produce provocative and sometimes offensive art. That is part of her job. And I also respect her rapid and thorough apology. To feel otherwise about Kathy would make me one of the overly-sensitive folks I have been mocking for years. You don’t get to turn me into that person. But you can go full-snowflake on this topic if you like.

The takeaway here should not be so much about Griffin. The takeaway is that a room full of people involved in the photoshoot did not see this as a huge problem from the start. They were living a different movie. If you judge this situation to be an error of taste, judgement, intelligence, or morality, you are missing the bigger picture. The bigger picture is that the country is living two movies at the same time, and Griffin was acting “normal” in one of them.

In the Company of the Dead

I grew up in a rather Spartan Protestant denomination where we believed when people were dead, they were dead and gone. We could remember them, but that was all we could do. There was a permanent severing that, for me, always seemed to magnify the loss.

In the last decade I've been reading more and more about some of the liturgical churches: Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox. Visiting an Orthodox church was interesting, the walls and even ceiling covered in icons, hundreds of images of Christ and dead Christians that, according to the liturgical churches, are not gone. They are still "here" in a sense: we can talk with them, ask them to intercede for us, be inspired by them. To a point, I guess, we can get to know these strangers who are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

However, according to the priests and scholars, it is not just canonized saints we can talk to. We can speak with our own dead, too. Reading and hearing and coming to accept this tore down the wall between the living and dead that my old denomination had erected in my heart, and it was a great comfort when my aunt passed away recently. There are things I'd wished I told her, and in mourning I took the time to say them. But it doesn't end there; she is still with us; all of our dead are. Death does not need to tear a hole in our community.

Some say this is just a way to deal with grief, but it isn't. I believe it is a way to keep the fabric of community whole and strong, and it is more about building and maintaining the courage to fight the good fight than comforting us in loss.

There should be tears as we look out on those fields of crosses, row on row, and gaze upon those stones that mark our own personal dead. Death is a tragedy. But we should also feel our courage renewed in such company, and we should eat and drink and sing and talk with them.

Memorial Day seems a good time to speak of this. Maybe our fallen warriors are all around us, cheering us on, interceding with the Commander for us. Maybe we already live in Valhalla, in a way. Whether we are victorious in our current struggles or not, if we live courageously, then when we die they are here to welcome us home, and we can join them in their mission.

Rolling Thunder

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson knows how to ride.

Rolling half a million strong this year.

Talking About the Queen Again? On Independence Day?

Vox apparently decided that Memorial Day was the right day to run an article titled, "The Marine Corps has a 'toxic masculinity' problem."
The Marines’ reaction was to be expected, though. The corps acts like a fraternity, according to Emerald Archer, an expert on women’s advancement at Mount St. Mary’s University in California. Many Marines, she said, believe that integrating women would ruin that brotherhood.

Those who work with Marines agree. There’s a “toxic masculinity culture” in the Marine Corps, James Joyner, a professor at the Marine Command and Staff College, told me.

That may be what is at the core of the women-in-infantry debate among Marine ranks: the identity crisis of a historically macho club now being forced to let in women.

Now that the Marine Corps must allow women to serve in combat roles — and is putting out recruiting commercials highlighting that fact — it tears at the social fabric of the service.
Like a fraternity, right. With graveyards.

Meanwhile, long-time commenter and former milblogger "Daniel, USMC" dropped by the comments to our recent discussion on the USMC's falling infantry standards. The recent sharp drop in standards to accommodate female Marines comes at the end of a long decline in standards for the School of Infantry, he notes.
I spoke to a friend of mine who did SOI a decade after I did; they've lowered the standards for SOI even before women in the infantry was an issue.

When I went through Alpha-traz in the early 90's, the benchmark forced hump was based on MCCRES standards: 40K in at least 8 hours. Troop handlers made sure we made it under par. Benchmark hump when he went through was 20K, half of MCCRES. We aren't even training Infantry to FMF standards.
(SOI: School of Infantry; MCCRES: Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation; FMF: Fleet Marine Force, i.e., the post-training Corps that deploys on missions worldwide.)

We're told by Vox that "the Marine Corps needs to change," and that this marks a "fight for the soul of the Marine Corps." An institution doesn't have a soul, but it can have an essence. The real question ought to be: what is essential to an institution like the Marine Corps? That it be able to win the wars it is sent to fight, or something else?


Task & Purpose has some interviews with Army female infantrymen from the recent class, plus trainers and some men involved.
Much of the controversy surrounding the integration of women has involved the maintenance of standards. In a statement, Command Sgt. Maj. Tyrus Taylor affirmed that “the standards remained the same from previous classes” and that “male and female trainees all had to pass the same significant requirements to graduate.”

Asked if he agreed, the male infantryman wasn’t so sure. “A lot of them were pushed through because they were females,” he said, explaining that he thinks the female soldiers were given more chances to stay in the course than their male counterparts were afforded. The instructor took issue with that assertion though. “Everyone did the same thing, and that’s why not all 34 that started, graduated,” he said. “If anything, the standards were upheld even more because there were females in the unit.”

There was one notable exception though: The standard Army Physical Fitness Test. “They [the Army] still grade them on the female scale,” the instructor admitted, “however, they are also part of a pilot program to do away with separate gender grading. This will in turn lower the standards for males, yet make the playing field pretty even when it comes to physical fitness test.”

As it stands now, female infantryman have to complete 23 fewer push-ups than their male counterparts, and they have more than three additional minutes to complete their two-mile run.
So, lower standards for all! That should fix everything.

Mattis at West Point: "They Hold the Line"

A good speech on graduation day.

Memorial Day in Film

A tribute to the way American filmmakers have tried to help the rest of the nation understand war and its consequences.

Assumed Arms

On treating heraldic arms as intellectual property.
The British are known to take matters of heraldry seriously, and Mr. Trump’s American coat of arms belongs to another family. It was granted by British authorities in 1939 to Joseph Edward Davies, the third husband of Marjorie Merriweather Post, the socialite who built the Mar-a-Lago resort that is now Mr. Trump’s cherished getaway.

In the United States, the Trump Organization took Mr. Davies’s coat of arms for its own, making one small adjustment — replacing the word “Integritas,” Latin for integrity, with “Trump.”
The United States has no law governing the assumption of arms, and no authority for granting arms. I interpret the Second Amendment as recognizing the right of Americans to "keep and bear" heraldic arms as well as practical ones; after all, the heraldic arms symbolize what was originally a real right to keep and bear armor and weapons as a defender of the state. American citizens (but not British ones, anymore) continue to exercise that real underlying function. There is a very real sense in which we are much more properly entitled to heraldic arms than the British national whose countrymen have allowed his "right to bear arms" to become purely symbolic.

On the other hand, this assumption does not adequately difference Trump's assumed arms from those from whom they were assumed. A change to the arms themselves (and not just the motto) should be made to make them distinct from those that were inherited (at least under British law) by some descendant of the man to whom they were granted. Under American law that isn't necessary, and I assume it will not be done, but it would be the respectful thing to do.

Fellow travelers

Holman Jenkins makes the case that the clearest sign of Russian manipulation in the 2016 election was its skillful goading of "semi-witting" members of the deep state into engaging in criminal leaks.

Blind Peer Review

If it works, it's really blind. That can lead to stories like this.
This week, the prestigious Journal of Political Philosophy published a series of articles under the heading “Black Lives Matter.” One problem: All the authors published in the series are white.... The editors of the Journal of Political Philosophy have also not deigned to feature a single black philosopher in its pages. As Lebron (who is moving to John Hopkins this summer) wrote: “So far as I can tell, not one black philosopher has seen her or his work appear in the pages of your respected journal, on race or any other topic.”
Naturally, they apologized and are taking steps to make sure that blind peer review ceases to be the standard at their journal.

Our SecDef

CBS' John Dickerson asked SecDef General James Mattis a question, and the general answered him.

Right on, General.

Eric Hines


Taliesin was one of the five worthy poets according to the Historia Brittonum; as of the time of Culhwch and Olwen, he was supposed to have been of the court of King Arthur. As such he is a righteous companion of ours.

This Memorial Day weekend a young man bearing his name (and the Welsh form of Merlin's, as a middle name) walked into a knife for a good reason. A Bernie Sanders supporter who turned towards Jill Stein killed him, and another man, after he stood up to protect others that the knifeman was harassing.

His mother gave him a good name, indeed a pair of them. He did his best to live up to those names, which does him honor. But Arthur's court, and Arthur's peace, was won with good swords. The good names followed the work of those swords.

Too often that is forgotten, and this weekend of all weekends it ought not to be forgotten. It is wise to give a name that remembers, but it only counts if you also teach their hands the skill that can effect anew what is remembered.
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.