Plato's Laws IX, 2: Treason and its Fruits

When we get to the highest crime that America knows how to recognize, treason, the Athenian is willing to allow for corruption of the blood -- but only in extreme cases. 

Ath. Next, after what relates to the Gods, follows what relates to the dissolution of the state:-Whoever by promoting a man to power enslaves the laws, and subjects the city to factions, using violence and stirring up sedition contrary to law, him we will deem the greatest enemy of the whole state. But he who takes no part in such proceedings, and, being one of the chief magistrates of the state, has no knowledge of the treason, or, having knowledge of it, by reason of cowardice does not interfere on behalf of his country, such an one we must consider nearly as bad. Every man who is worth anything will inform the magistrates, and bring the conspirator to trial for making a violent and illegal attempt to change the government. The judges of such cases shall be the same as of the robbers of temples; and let the whole proceeding be carried on in the same way, and the vote of the majority condemn to death. But let there be a general rule, that the disgrace and punishment of the father is not to be visited on the children, except in the case of some one whose father, grandfather, and great-grandfather have successively undergone the penalty of death. Such persons the city shall send away with all their possessions to the city and country of their ancestors, retaining only and wholly their appointed lot. And out of the citizens who have more than one son of not less than ten years of age, they shall select ten whom their father or grandfather by the mother's or father's side shall appoint, and let them send to Delphi the names of those who are selected, and him whom the God chooses they shall establish as heir of the house which has failed; and may he have better fortune than his predecessors!

I'm trying to think of a family that has attempted to dissolve a state for three generations running, let alone four. The Jacobites come close,* with an important clarification: they were in fact the lawful kings who were themselves overthrown. Their generations-long attempt to overthrow the British state was (in their eyes and the eyes of their supporters) an attempt to restore the lawful state rather than to dissolve the current one. Even then you get only James II (Battle of the Boyne), James 'the Old Pretender' (1715 uprising), and Bonny Prince Charlie -- after the 1745 uprising there were no more.  Bonny Prince Charlie's great-grandfather was Charles II, the Merry Monarch, beloved and successful king of England and Scotland.

In any case it worked out more or less as the Athenian wanted: the Stewarts repaired themselves abroad, and after the direct line died out, their claim passed to obscure members of the European nobility. You've probably never heard of the current heir.

The definition of treason here is less strict than ours. The Founders gave it as actually waging war against the state, or giving aid and comfort to those who do; here it is merely 'a violent and illegal attempt to change the government.' Of course as a practical matter, claims of treason usually end up with both sides charging each other with violence and illegality. In the famous (and in my opinion heroic) Battle of Athens, a band of World War II veterans in Tennessee seized arms and overthrew the local government; but the local government was actively involved in voter intimidation and stealing an election. It is definitely true that the losing side would have accused the winning side of 'a violent and illegal attempt to change the government' if they'd managed to come out on top. That they were themselves breaking the law, having seized the ballot boxes by force of arms under color of law, would have seemed immaterial to them.

For this reason I have come to the surprising conclusion over the years that treason isn't always wrong; that perhaps, just as blasphemy has been effectively dissolved as a crime, treason ought to be too. Perhaps just as we no longer consider God's interest in the law, or 'the gods',' we should no longer consider the state's. What we should consider is whether the act was done to keep men free, or to make them subject; to uphold the natural rights, or to suppress them. 

* Kant definitely did not approve of the Jacobite cause, which to him seemed like a clear-cut case of treason. This gives rise to one of my favorite examples from Kantian ethics. Kant talks about the Jacobites to illuminate his view of honor. Consider two Jacobites captured waging war against the crown, the says. Both of them are offered a possible choice of punishment between death or slavery. The more virtuous man loves honor more than life. The Jacobite who was a man of honor would prefer death, because he is “acquainted with something that he values more highly than life, namely honor, while the scoundrel considers it better to live in shame than not at all.”

The right thing is to execute both, Kant says. The moral difference between them makes it right to give the man of honor what he prefers, and the scoundrel what he hates. (If any of you want to look that up, it's Metaphysics of Morals 6:334).

Sidelining vs. reverence

When you're not sure what science is exactly, it's hard to know whether you're sidelining or revering it.
[I]n the U.S., all 50 states are autonomous on most matters. This is what former President Trump soon realized when the virus started spreading. Each state had different approaches. Trump claimed power over them that was absolute, but Georgia and Florida approached the virus with a very light touch, while New York, California and New Jersey were very heavy-handed. Translated for those with limited knowledge of the Constitution, Trump’s embrace or dismissal of so-called “science” was in many ways immaterial.
So while the Times reporters claim that “Science was sidelined at every level of government” on the way to “Failure at Every Level,” the reality is that states were free to keep “science” off the sideline to their heart’s content. New York, California and New Jersey presumably did? How did it work?

Give peace a chance

Friday Night Foley

Written about Ronald Reagan, of course, hated in his day as much as any President ever was.

Blaze Foley wasn't as well known. Clearly in large part it was drugs, but they all did lots of drugs. His instability went deeper. There was a great episode about him on Tales from the Tour Bus that captures what was great and tragic about him.

Cultural Vandalism

It's bad enough to stop teaching Chaucer; it's worse to replace him with something positively harmful, which these critical studies on race and gender happen to be.

The University of Leicester will stop teaching the great English medieval poet and author Geoffrey Chaucer in favour of modules on race and sexuality, according to new proposals. Management told the English department that courses on canonical works would be dropped in favour of modules that "students expect" as part of plans now under consultation.

Wasn't the idea that the students were the ones who had something to learn? That was why they were coming to the University?

Foundational texts such as The Canterbury Tales and the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf would no longer be taught, under proposals to scrap medieval literature. Instead, the English faculty will be refocused to drop centuries of the literary canon and deliver a "decolonised" curriculum devoted to diversity.... 

They would end all teaching on texts central to the development of the English language, including the Dark Age epic poem Beowulf, as well as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur, the Viking sagas, and all works written earlier than 1500 would also be removed from the syllabus.

They are actually cutting out the very best parts of British literature, in my opinion; even if you prefer 20th century authors like Tolkien and Lewis and Chesterton, all of them are rooted in these earlier works. Indeed, one of the great joys of studying those works as a fan of Tolkien is finding signpost after signpost plainly labeled, "J.R.R. was here." 

If you had something superior to replace it with, perhaps it might be one thing; but all they've got for a replacement is corrosive poison. 

Plato's Laws IX

The Ninth Book of the Laws turns to the judicial power. This is a subject on which our own Founders might have wisely spent more time. They famously considered the judiciary the 'least dangerous' branch, and as such the form they put to it was ill-defined. They only asserted that there should be a Supreme Court, but said little about its composition; they left open the potential for as many inferior courts as might chance to occur; and they established that all crimes should be tried by jury. Because they set so few limits the judiciary quickly arrogated to itself the right to determine whether or not laws were constitutional, and that power has grown into the power to be a rolling committee on amending the Constitution itself -- a power the Founders plainly never intended to grant. Likewise, the jury trial they did establish was so unhampered by formal restrictions that it has largely ceased to exist; over 90% of criminal cases in America are settled by plea bargain, with the jury trial in which the state has to prove its case a rare exception instead of the rule. 

So it is worth looking at other ideas about how the judicial function might operate, even if we do not adopt or advocate for them. One day we may have the opportunity to re-imagine how to draw up the laws for the exercise of this power; certainly someday someone will. Having an alternative starting point might give rise to ideas that would never occur to those who have only ever known one approach.

The Founders only took care to define one law in the Constitution, treason, which will be the subject of the second part of the commentary on Book IX. In the first part, the Athenian begins with an even higher crime that the United States decided to define out of criminality -- blasphemy, that is, treason against the gods. It's still possible to incur a harsh penalty here for robbing a church, but not a higher penalty than for robbing a store; for burning a church, but not because it expresses hatred towards God but because it expresses hatred towards men. 

For the Greeks, however, blasphemy was still the highest possible crime. It was the one for which Socrates was executed; we usually hear it said that he was guilty of 'corrupting the youth,' but the particular way he was supposed to be guilty of corrupting them was religious. (Perhaps contemporary readers assume this is a euphemism for sexual immorality with the youth, as priests sometimes get up to today, but this is not at all true: recall Socrates' gentle reproof of Alcibiades.) He was accused of "failing to acknowledge the gods that the city acknowledges" and "introducing new deities." Neither charge was quite fair, but alleged blasphemy was what convinced the Athenians to kill him. 

The Athenian in the dialogue first wants to make clear that he thinks it is a shame even to have to talk about a judiciary, as it assumes that crime might occur even in a population as completely devoted to virtuous training as the one they are attempting to construct. He allows that slaves and foreigners in the community might get up to some bad things, however, not having the fullness of citizen training. Yet the truth is that he knows citizens will as well, because he goes on to construct systems for punishment of citizens that are different from the ones for slaves and foreigners. Even in pre-Christian Greece, the fallen nature of mankind was obvious. 

The punishments for blasphemy for the slaves and foreigners, etc., are very harsh but leave them with a chance to go elsewhere and try again -- although they will be branded on both their hands and forehead with a mark that indicates them to be blasphemers, which will presumably somewhat impair their fortunes. Citizens of course are to be executed, and buried 'in silence, beyond the border.' The Founders and Plato did hit upon one common note in that both ban what the Constitution calls 'corruption of the blood.' The children and other relatives of the condemned receive all of his property, and an honorable name so long as they do not repeat his errors. The family's approximate equality in the community is to be maintained; the Athenian notes that, even in lesser cases punishable by fines, fines may not exceed the amount that would reduce the family below the basic level of wealth all households are to be allotted. (In such cases, corporal punishments will have to do instead; not exile or outlawry, however.)

More important than the punishment is the form of the trial. It is similar to the way elections were to be done in that it is supposed to be repeated over three days, finalized only at the end. 

First of all the plaintiff shall make one speech, and then the defendant shall make another; and after the speeches have been made the eldest judge shall begin to examine the parties, and proceed to make an adequate enquiry into what has been said; and after the oldest has spoken, the rest shall proceed in order to examine either party as to what he finds defective in the evidence, whether of statement or omission; and he who has nothing to ask shall hand over the examination to another. And on so much of what has been said as is to the purpose all the judges shall set their seals, and place the writings on the altar of Hestia. On the next day they shall meet again, and in like manner put their questions and go through the cause, and again set their seals upon the evidence; and when they have three times done this, and have had witnesses and evidence enough, they shall each of them give a holy vote, after promising by Hestia that they will decide justly and truly to the utmost of their power; and so they shall put an end to the suit.

Note that for citizens this is almost a trial by jury. The judges will be their peers, citizens like themselves, and if I have understood correctly they should be 12 in number -- one from each of the major divisions of the city of 5,040 households. Evidence and witnesses are a kind of afterthought; the main action is more like a Supreme Court proceeding, with each judge questioning the two sides until they are satisfied. It differs from our Supreme Court in that they get three bites at the apple, in case the questioning from one day raised an issue they want to ask about later. It differs from a jury in that a majority vote decides it, rather than unanimity as our juries require.  It also differs in that the functions of judge and jury are not separated, but combined.

For aliens and slaves, the process looks much less happy just because the judges are not their peers. The judges come from a class that views itself as superior to them, and that looks down upon them as lowly characters in need of control rather than fellow citizens possibly falsely accused, possibly in need of correction. However, as a practical matter this is more like our own system than not. Most of the cases that come before the court are of relatively poor people, lacking the fine education of the judge and the lawyers acting as prosecutor and defense attorney. Only occasionally do they end up trying one of their own "class," and I think it is fair to say that they tend to be far less harsh even when they render a guilty verdict; and also that they do so far less often.

This problem of factionalism among the classes concerned Aristotle; Plato will address it in the writings on treason, which I will save for tomorrow. 

Easiest Prediction Ever

Just the other day, I closed a post on the National Guard by saying, "Spare a thought for those poor bastards, pardon my French. They deserve better and will receive worse before it's over."

Thousands of National Guardsmen were forced to vacate congressional grounds on Thursday and are now taking their rest breaks outside and in nearby parking garages, after two weeks of sleepless nights protecting the nation’s capital in the wake of the violent assault on Jan. 6.

One unit, which had been resting in the Dirksen Senate Office building, was abruptly told to vacate the facility on Thursday, according to one Guardsman. The group was forced to rest in a nearby parking garage without internet reception, with just one electrical outlet, and one bathroom with two stalls for 5,000 troops, the person said.

“Yesterday dozens of senators and congressmen walked down our lines taking photos, shaking our hands and thanking us for our service. Within 24 hours, they had no further use for us and banished us to the corner of a parking garage. We feel incredibly betrayed,” the Guardsman said.

Well, you have been betrayed. Loyalty is a two-way street, a reciprocal obligation if it is to be an obligation at all, and they have no loyalty to you. In fact, they don't even like you. Nor do they trust you, which is why they kept you unarmed and had the FBI scour your lives to see what they could dig up. Now they want you out of the way, and if that means you have to sleep in a cold garage in January until your superiors can dispose of you properly, that's really your problem and not theirs.

UPDATE: Satire from the Bee; but it does look as if the popular backlash has caused the Congress to retreat on forcing the soldiers to sleep in the cold. One Donald J. Trump, a retiring private citizen in Florida, offered the use of his DC hotel.

UPDATE: Another easy prediction: hundreds of National Guard now test positive for COVID after being thrown into tight quarters with people from other states.

An Artistic Interlude

("Quel squardo sdegnosetto" by Monteverdi)

"The kings go up and the kings go down,

And who knows who shall rule;

Next night a king may starve or sleep,

But men and birds and beasts shall weep

At the burial of a fool.

"O, drunkards in my cellar,

Boys in my apple tree,

The world grows stern and strange and new,

And wise men shall govern you,

And you shall weep for me."

-G. K. Chesterton, selection from The Ballad of the White Horse

Plato's Laws VIII, 3

This is the final post on Book VIII. The rest of the book treats many important subjects, but mostly they are contingent on facts about the particular location of the colony. As contingencies, they aren't of great universal philosophical interest. 

For example, having determined to have public meals, they need to work out where the food is coming from to supply those meals. Now if you remember, the colony is on a part of the large island of Crete that is mostly uninhabited and quite a distance from the sea. Thus, the Athenian reckons they won't need regulations about fishing. That's probably true, but it doesn't mean that fishing regulations aren't philosophically interesting (as much as any regulations). It just means the colony isn't by the water.

Likewise one of the most crucial topics in many places is water rights. On Crete, it's not such a big deal. The Mediterranean climate is generous, the volcanic soil is rich, and the mountainous terrain supplies numerous springs. As such, it's fine to offer the fairly simple set of arrangements the Athenian proposes. It would be a different matter on the Mesa Verde

The respect for property lines and markers is good. There's not a lot to say about it, though. The most that comes to mind is how carefully they treat the border cases, in which they might be intruding on a foreigner's holding instead of a fellow citizen's. The Athenian advises that they treat these cases exactly as if they were fellow citizens, doing justice to the stranger:

Ath. [L]et the first of them be the law of Zeus, the god of boundaries. Let no one shift the boundary line either of a fellow-citizen who is a neighbour, or, if he dwells at the extremity of the land, of any stranger who is conterminous with him, considering that this is truly "to move the immovable," and every one should be more willing to move the largest rock which is not a landmark, than the least stone which is the sworn mark of friendship and hatred between neighbours; for Zeus, the god of kindred, is the witness of the citizen, and Zeus, the god of strangers, of the stranger, and when aroused, terrible are the wars which they stir up.

In addition to avoiding wars and divine punishment (which may well be the same thing in this case), this is a Golden Rule case; but Plato does not invoke anything quite like that principle, which is interesting as an omission. The philosophical principle he invokes instead still has an Old Testament flavor:

Ath. In the next place, many small injuries done by neighbours to one another, through their multiplication, may cause a weight of enmity, and make neighbourhood a very disagreeable and bitter thing. Wherefore a man ought to be very careful of committing any offence against his neighbour, and especially of encroaching on his neighbour's land; for any man may easily do harm, but not every man can do good to another.

That sounds like a principle that you should not harm your neighbor because you may not be able to do good to him in equal measure. That may be true, although presumably one can do more good for one's neighbor than will usually be the case for those further away.

There's another section on the physical quality of the town and its buildings, but it is not interesting compared with the earlier book's.

Finally, the subject of immigrants comes up. Now immigrants are presumably also protected by 'Zeus, the god of strangers,' but he doesn't come up there. The interest of the Athenian is just in preserving the character of his state. Foreigners won't be fed at the public mess, which is for citizens, so they'll need to buy food; so will artisans, who aren't deemed worthy of being full citizens. Aristotle agreed about this; it's an oddity of Greek thinking that artisans are at once the clearest cases of knowledge, but still considered unworthy of citizenship because they have to earn a living through skill rather than having one provided for them via land.

However, the Athenian does not want his state to be commercial in character; the hustling and bustling of markets horrifies him, as does the lure of lucre. He proposes that there be only twelve market days a year for buying food, one a month, and that the artisans and foreigners be required to purchase their rations a month at a time. These markets in the agora should be run by foreigners anyway, to prevent citizens from being merchants. 

Yet there are things one cannot buy a month out at a time, like raw meat; and there are other things like fuel that might be purchased wholesale from producers in the country, which for some reason is perfectly fine with the Athenian. (But no credit is to be extended, or if it is in spite of the rules against it, the law will not enforce the contract and you'll just have to accept not being paid if you aren't.) All together a confused relationship coming out of this distrust of commerce, which tries to map itself on a world in which commerce is a practical necessity.

The basic rule of immigration is that borders are open for all skilled migrants, and residence can last for as much as twenty years, but then you have to go home. There is no path to citizenship. For an immigrant who does some special service, this twenty year period can be extended at the discretion of the government; it can even be extended to lifelong residence, if the service is of great character. 

The children of the foreigners remain foreigners. They also are permitted a twenty year residence, provided they learn the skilled trade that their father brought to town; however, their twenty year clock doesn't start until they turn 15. They may thus stay until age 35, and then they have to go: unless, of course, they can persuade the council to permit them to remain. 

Over time this is likely to lead to a large class of foreign-born non-citizens without political power. Even if they usually do leave at 35, any children they have had will be entitled to stay; and they are likely to reproduce as well. The need for someone to be present to care for children and teach them the trade is likely to prove an acceptable excuse for not expelling 35-year-old fathers who are skilled tradesmen. Given open borders for immigration and natural reproductive increase, then, in a few generations there will be a class of people with necessary skills for the continuation of the state, who nevertheless live under threat of expulsion and lack political power or respect. 

That's an explosive set of circumstances for the Athenian to have built into the plan. 



Purge the Military

I met Lloyd Austin in Iraq, very briefly. He seemed like a decent guy. I expect he's just saying what people want him to say, which is how you get to be a general of any sort.

What a hell of a thing to say, though.

A Toast to Free America

A 21-part video in celebration of America, by Johnny Cash.


That link was working earlier this evening, but the playlist seems to have failed. So here's another Cash tune that isn't about America.

Uncritical Reading

If you've been following the discussion of literary vs. unliterary reading at AVI's, you may also be interested in this essay on the perils of reading like a critic.
Take a moment to think about your favorite book. Now ask yourself: Would you be willing to reveal your thoughts to other readers? Most people wouldn’t think twice about sharing their enthusiasms. But literature professors are not most people. One of the first lessons you learn in grad school is to hide your personal taste or risk being shamed for liking the wrong sorts of things.
Liking the wrong things, or for the wrong reasons, is a social process; it's about the in-group. Finding out some honest facts about what you like and why is worth doing for the same reason that Socrates thought 'the unexamined life is not worth living.' 

I've written praise for Loius L'amour novels here, for example. These were never 'high art,' but they're good books. You can still find them for sale today on shelves in any truck stop in America; I got most of my copies of dusty MWR shelves in tents in Iraq, where they'd been deposited by soldiers who'd read them and left them for others. They're easy to read, and they're easy to follow: somewhat like how Taco Bell mixes about six ingredients in different ways on different tortillas, L'amour has around six plots that he combines and re-combines in different ways. There are even fewer protagonist types: the seriously dangerous virtuous man, the youth set on a difficult course who must learn virtue, and the backcountry man demonstrating folk virtues. Because they are all virtuous in the Aristotelian sense, however, they're really variations on a theme -- but also worthy variations on a theme.

Popular art does not have to be bad art, in other words; it too can convey very worthy things. Or not:
Still the prevailing mode of literary criticism, symptomatic reading holds that the critic’s duty is to uncover the oppressive or subversive elements within literary narratives. For many critics, though, tools of literary theory (including Marxism, psychoanalysis, deconstruction, and other approaches) that once felt empowering now look routine. The inevitable disenchantment set in when novels were all read in the same way—that is, with an eye toward their political implications in the world—with no discernable impact on the world outside their covers.
The mode of criticism the 'critical' reader is being taught to bring to these works lessens them. Whereas the stated intent was to show the reader things about the work he or she had been missing, the actual effect is to compress all the various works into a single wavelength. A tremendous amount is lost by reading the books only in this one way.

Letting go of 'one way' of reading being right also allows you to admit to yourself what you do like, and that it's all right to like it. 
Suspicion was far from my mind as I found myself grappling with aesthetic questions given scant attention by the literary criticism of recent years. Temporarily setting aside my habitual skepticism forced me to confront complicated feelings toward books and what draws me to them—and toward what it means to read as a critic while still being myself.
That may leave you, of course, realizing that you like simple things; or erotic things; or other kinds of things that may not attain the very heights of human excellence. To return to the last reading from the Laws, though, these things are also goods; there is no reason to live in privation from simple joys and the like. The best course is to try to create art that intertwines the lower joys with the higher ones, as Tolkien combines the earthy love of mushrooms with the powerful realization that the beauty of the stars lies forever beyond the grasp of evil. And that's only one character!

Cascade Failure

One of the things I've been trying to piece together is how all the various security forces we have in place at the Capitol failed on 6 January. It's quite embarrassing, really: the Capitol Police alone have 2,000 men, the DC National Guard another thousand-plus battalion, and then there's the FBI, the Park Police, the Metro Police Department, the National Guard units from VA and MD that could be called with short notice, even the 3rd Infantry Regiment in Arlington (and the Marines not too far down the road in Quantico). 

We had plenty of guys who could have been there, and plenty of advance notice of a demonstration likely to spin out of control. Yet somehow, dudes with bison hats were wandering the halls of Congress. 

Here's another part of the puzzle.

"The Politics of Multiracial Whiteness"

I can't better this post at Instapundit by Ed Driscoll, so I'll just link to it. If I were of Latino extraction, which is a perfectly honorable thing to be, I should be quite put out by these people deciding first that I was obligated boldly to assert my ethnic identity in the first place, and also that I must stop doing so as I preferred to do and call myself "Latinx" instead.

Maybe I just want to be respected as a good mechanic down at the shop, go to church with my neighbors wherever they're from on Sundays and holidays, and generally just root myself in my community.  And hey -- per hypothesis the community is apparently willing to accept me if I do. Fine. Great! Right? 

No, it's a moral sin against the order of the day.

Loyalty Checks

Not political but military-oriented:

Our governing class responded to the Capitol failure by setting up a Green Zone around central DC, blockading the bridges, cutting off vehicle access except via a few checkpoints, and bringing in two divisions of National Guardsmen to protect them from their fellow Americans. 

Now they've decided the Guardsmen can't be trusted and that they need their secret police, the FBI, to perform loyalty checks on the National Guard.

This is of course completely unnecessary. It's also insulting, but military service entails suffering regular insults like this. The unnecessary nature of this process is what draws my attention. Chains of command know their troops quite well already, and can easily tell you which ones they're worried about. If there's really some concern here you can assign those guys to special "volunteer" garbage-collection units who will be kept away from anything important. The FBI isn't going to be able to do a better job than their company commander of identifying the problem cases.

The Army is, of course, doing just that kind of thing. 
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told The Associated Press on Sunday that officials are conscious of the potential threat, and he warned commanders to be on the lookout for any problems within their ranks as the inauguration approaches. So far, however, he and other leaders say they have seen no evidence of any threats, and officials said the vetting hadn’t flagged any issues that they were aware of.

”We’re continually going through the process, and taking second, third looks at every one of the individuals assigned to this operation,” McCarthy said in an interview after he and other military leaders went through an exhaustive, three-hour security drill in preparation for Wednesday’s inauguration. He said Guard members are also getting training on how to identify potential insider threats.
The lack of military service among our elected officials is noteworthy. They really do feel threatened by our own people. The very people they brought in to guard them are now seen as a potential 'insider' threat. They don't understand the service or the ranks, or that the Army and the National Guard are the best-integrated part of America (governed by an officer class who have all been to college, and none of whom who did so in the last decade will have escaped university wokeness indoctrination). There is very little danger of an 'insider threat,' not from these guys; and the few who are a little 'out there' are definitely on their bosses' radar and have been for a while.

Now another thing I can tell you about these troops without the bother of asking them is that they hate being there. They were deployed in titanic numbers without any preparation; it's cold; they've been pulled away from their homes and families to stand watch over streets that have checkpoints every block. It's got to be one of the worst assignments ever, even without being insulted, even without being subject to the FBI prowling through your life looking for reasons to punish you.

Spare a thought for those poor bastards, pardon my French. They deserve better and will receive worse before it's over. 

Motorhead Girl

Since Tom liked the first one, try this one. If you hang around here you'll like the visuals, anyway. There's some beautiful machines on display here, and no mistake.

Certain other forms of natural beauty are also on display, for example, an impressive display of flames at about the one minute mark. All beauty is good; I have often argued that the first division of the Good is into the True and the Beautiful.


Here's one with less natural beauty, but a fine collection of machinery and more traditional Rockabilly.