The Declaration of Arbroath

Today is National Tartan Day, and more importantly the anniversary of one of humanity’s greatest political documents. The Declaration of Arbroath was a letter submitted in Latin to the Pope, protesting his support of English claims on Scottish independence. Along the way, the knights and barons declared that, while they accepted Robert the Bruce as their divinely-appointed king, they would throw him out and choose another if he failed to protect their rights. 
From these countless evils, with His help who afterwards soothes and heals wounds, we are freed by our tireless leader, king, and master, Lord Robert, who like another Maccabaeus or Joshua, underwent toil and tiredness, hunger and danger with a light spirit in order to free the people and his inheritance from the hands of his enemies. And now, the divine Will, our just laws and customs, which we will defend to the death, the right of succession and the due consent and assent of all of us have made him our leader and our king. To this man, inasmuch as he saved our people, and for upholding our freedom, we are bound by right as much as by his merits, and choose to follow him in all that he does.

But if he should cease from these beginnings, wishing to give us or our kingdom to the English or the king of the English, we would immediately take steps to drive him out as the enemy and the subverter of his own rights and ours, and install another King who would make good our defence. Because, while a hundred of us remain alive, we will not submit in the slightest measure, to the domination of the English. We do not fight for honour, riches, or glory, but solely for freedom which no true man gives up but with his life.

May it ever be so.  

Le Morte d'Arthur

My dearest friend in the world, to say the least about her that can be said, told me last night that she has a cancer that has spread to her bones. You may recall that I wrote an Arthurian novel; it was dedicated to her. Starting tomorrow and for five days, which is as long as Amazon will allow it, it will be available for free on Kindle in the hope that more people will know her name. 

There will be no comments on this post.

To Help Your Friends and Harm Your Enemies

Most people who have only read one thing Plato wrote -- or, more likely, excerpts from one thing -- read the Republic. It is without question the most famous of Plato's works, though very far from his best. Plato himself obviously wasn't satisfied with it, as he reprised the subject at much greater length in the Laws (on which I have written a commentary that you can find on the sidebar).

One of the more famous passages of this most famous dialogue has to do with the definition of justice. The antagonist in the dialogue, an aggressive man named Glaucon, gives what must have been the standard definition of the term. This was what Plato wanted to argue against, after all, so he sets up the most plausible definition in the popular sense of the time in the mouth of Socrates' opponent. 

Socrates: And what is that which justice gives, and to whom?

Glaucon: If, Socrates, we are to be guided at all by the analogy of the preceding instances, then justice is the art which gives good to friends and evil to enemies.

The justice of that proposition must have been self-evident in ancient times. Your friends help you, so you should help them. Your enemies seek to harm you, so seeking their harm is the 'turnabout' that the proverb states is fair play. 

What could be more just than to do to others as they do to you? From the Christian input into our society, we have two model answers: the Silver and Golden rules. The first is "Do not do unto others that which you hate," which we have from the Book of Tobias; the latter is "Do unto others as you wish they would do unto you," which we have from Jesus himself. Both of these set aside the actions you have received as important considerations. 

It isn't obvious why we should set that aside, though, other than that it comes as instruction from Jesus. Prudentially, the fact that someone is your enemy seems like an important consideration in how you treat with them. It may mark out an ideal of excellence to dispose of the matter as unimportant and to do what you would want them to do for you instead; but you might get knifed, depending on just how seriously they take their enmity.  Raymond Llull risked his life as a martyr having laid down the knightly sword of his youth to try his hand at the peaceful conversion of Muslims in Islamic Tunis, and maybe that's the saintly path. Perhaps it is more for older men, or unmarried ones: husbands and fathers may choose to imperil their souls to save their wives and children.

I'm thinking about this today because of two pieces I read, one from the NYT and one from Protein Wisdom
Its members refer to it as the Axis of Resistance.... The Axis of Resistance includes Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis and other groups, and both its strategy and its tactics have long been radical. The official slogan of the Houthis — the Yemen-based group that has attacked commercial ships in the Red Sea — includes “death to America, death to Israel, a curse upon the Jews,” for example.
Emphasis added. These people are our declared enemies, which either is or is not an important consideration. Against it being so are the authority of Jesus and the arguments of Plato; in favor of it being so is natural prudence and the fact that Plato's arguments are terrible, leading to an endorsement of totalitarian government and an elitism that would eliminate natural families in order to preserve itself. 

Longtime readers understand my position, which is that in matters of war we do what we must and trust in the forgiveness we are promised. Greg, who is not actually welcome here but keeps coming around anyway, raises the just and defensible point that this does not live up to the standard set in the Sermon from the Mount. 

It does not. As Martin Luther, I sin boldly as a proof of my faith in the promised forgiveness. I think we should, as a rule, help our friends; and sometimes I think we must, however disinclined to the business we may be, harm our enemies. 

Frankly, I'm not even especially disinclined to it. This is the sort of revenge that was said, in the recent discussion of Aquinas, to be good because it aims at justice. And justice, as Glaucon said, is very plausibly helping your friends and -- at least sometimes -- harming your enemies. May our trespasses be forgiven, and let us forgive them theirs once they can no longer harm us, but sometimes in this world there is little wiser than to do unto others as they intend to do unto you. 

If you can do more kindly by them, I think that's wonderful. Sometimes, however, you just can't; and as Kant said, 'ought implies can.' 

Addendum to Last

Charles H included a link to a story about how John Prine contributed to the songwriting of the perfect country-Western song. Along the way it makes the point that Coe started as a folksinger, working with pieces much lighter and gentler in character than the Outlaw songs that would later become famous. It claims that "what might be the most underrated song of his career [is] the sweet and harmonious 'Jody Like a Melody.'"

I'd never heard it before. It really is quite nice. 

The Mask of Fame

Ed Driscoll over at Instapundit links a post celebrating Charley Pride, America's real first black country superstar. Charley Pride was so famous he scored a mention in David Allan Coe's most famous hit song, as part of Coe's strategy of name-dropping more famous acts in the hope that they'd return the favor. The song was actually written by Steve Goodman, who was therefore playfully mocking his friend Coe, who returned the favor by improving the song and then recording it himself. In any case it was a great moment when a white singer from the South was only too happy to liken himself to a black singer in the same genre; all forgotten now

Along the way Ed mentions that album we were talking about in the recent post "A Vagueness Problem." One of the songs on it turns out to be a re-imagining of Dolly Parton's "Jolene," which Dolly had said she had hoped young Beyoncé might record. 

As little as I know about the young singer, I knew she wasn't going to record "Jolene." I don't know a single one of her songs, but I read the newspaper enough to understand the persona she affects. The persona she pretends to is often described as a "Queen," and there was no way she would sing a song built on humility like "Jolene." That song is a frank confession by a young woman to another that she is far more beautiful than the first, and a plea -- "I'm begging you" -- not to steal the man she loves. There is simply no way that could be made coherent with the persona that is the real product being sold here. 

Naturally this had to be 'reimagined' as a dominant snarl. "I'm begging you" was re-written to "I'm warning you," the first of several threats: "Your peace depends on how you move, Jolene," culminating with "I know I’m a queen, Jolene/ I’m still a Creole banjee b**** from Louisianne (Don’t try me)."

It's obvious why Dolly Parton would want a mega-act to re-record her song, for which she was given full writing credit even though she clearly wouldn't have written any of that. It's the same reason she wanted Elvis to record another of her hits, and the same reason she eventually turned him down: royalties. She was in talks with Elvis to record her "I will always love you" until his manager pointed out that he would demand half the publishing on that song, not just his version but any version. Dolly Parton making money is not a problem for anyone, I trust: she will doubtless use those royalties as she has used others to provide for the poor people in the Appalachian community she comes from herself. 

Still, it would have been better if someone had suggested a Loretta Lynn tune. The young lady could have done that one without having to drop the mask of fame, without having dared to express another part of herself that would have destroyed her product line.

"Our Democracy" not Democratic

On the subject of a 'terrifying' result from a Rasmussen survey, we learn that the crosstabs identify a major disconnect between elites and actual democracy.
Earlier this year, pollster Scott Rasmussen asked voters a simple question: “Would you rather have your candidate win by cheating or lose by playing fair?”

The answers he got back were, as he put it in a Daily Signal podcast last week, “the most terrifying poll result I’ve ever seen.”

Among all Americans, just 7% said they would want their candidate to win by cheating. As Rasmussen put it, he’d rather see that number lower, but that’s not bad.

But more than a third of the elite 1% he surveyed would condone cheating. And among those who are “politically obsessed” – meaning that they talk about politics every day – that number shot up to 69%.

They go on to list several other views that this group espouses at rates quite at odds with ordinary Americans. 

  •  Nearly 60% say there is too much individual freedom in America – double the rate of all Americans.
  • More than two-thirds (67%) favor rationing of energy and food to combat the threat of “climate change.”
  • Nearly three-quarters (70%) of the elites trust the government to “do the right thing most of the time.”
  • More than two-thirds (67%) say teachers and other educational professionals should decide what children are taught rather than letting parents decide.
  • Nearly three-quarters (74%) say they are financially better off than before COVID, compared with 20% of the general public.
Now, democracy -- rule of the many -- is often said on the right to be a corrupt form of government (following Aristotle, wisely) because it allows the majority to override the rights or interests of the minority. However, a democrat would at least admit that a view held by only a minority should not govern. 

Here we see majorities of the 1% differing from the majority of the 99%, which means that the 'general public' view is the one with democratic legitimacy. Yet the same 1% are disproportionately likely to be fine with cheating in order to see their undemocratic view enacted on the majority, especially those who are interested in politics. 

Whatever that view is, it is not democratic. 

Young Men and Women Drifting Apart

Politically, at least, but it can be hard to make a home with someone whose politics you hate.
People in 27 European countries were asked whether they agreed that “advancing women’s and girls’ rights has gone too far because it threatens men’s and boys’ opportunities.” Unsurprisingly, men were more likely to concur than women. Notably, though, young men were more anti-feminist than older men, contradicting the popular notion that each generation is more liberal than the previous one. 
We always used to joke in those old days that the war between men and women would never be won, because there was too much fraternizing with the enemy. Now it sounds like there's a lot less fraternizing. 
In America... Generation Z (typically defined as those born between the late 1990s and early 2000s) have their first romantic relationship years later than did Millennials (born between 1980 and the late 1990s) or Generation X (born in the decade or so to 1980), and are more likely to feel lonely. Also, Gen Z women, unlike older women, are dramatically more likely than their male peers to describe themselves as LGBT (31% to 16%). 

I think partly the reason older men are less anti-feminist is because older men grew up with a better sort of feminism. The "Society for Cutting Up Men" existed in the 1970s, but it was a fringe: mostly women wanted what they plausibly referred to as equality. What young feminists want now is not equality but equity, meaning 'our side deserves more.' That's a different proposition. Apparently it's even worse in Europe. 

Not all male grumbles are groundless. In some countries, divorce courts tend to favour the mother in child custody disputes. In others, pension rules are skewed. Men enter the labour market earlier and die younger, but the retirement age for women in rich countries is on average slightly lower. In Poland it is five years lower, so a Polish man can expect to work three times longer than he will live post-retirement, while for a Polish woman, the ratio is 1.4, notes Michał Gulczyński of Bocconi University. This strikes many men as unfair. Mateusz, the Polish fireman, recalls when a left-wing lawmaker was asked if she was so keen on equal rights, what about equalising the pension age? “She changed the subject,” he scoffs.

We don't do that here, but it is true here that women go to college and grad school more often, enjoy careers in comfortable settings more often, earn more on average in the younger generation (due, presumably, to those education advantages), live longer, and enjoy a consumer society that is built to cater to them because women control the lion's share of spending decisions -- 85%, in fact, if these numbers are right. Men commit suicide more, suffer from every form of violent crime more, go to prison more -- at 90%, even more disproportionately than women control how the money is spent -- and are more likely to work in physically demanding jobs that pay less. Meanwhile, however, if you are a man who wanted to compete for the comfortable jobs with women -- an academic professorship, say -- you'll be facing a formal system that intends to ensure that she has advantages in the selection process. 

It seems like some sort of rough equality has already been reached, and now the conversation for the younger generation is about how much 'equity' is acceptable to those who end up on the short end. It was easier for us older folks to go along, even if there was grumbling, because the fairness of 'equality' was more evident than is the fairness of the current push for 'equity.' 

UPDATE: This analysis puts the 'Gender War Scorecard' at a 66/34 female victory, but has also built out a Google sheet that lets you weight the different factors yourself as you prefer. (The writer is definitely a male.) If you're inclined to play with it, you can see what you come up with in terms of how close to 'equality' we are, and how close to 'how much equity is this going to take?' we are.

One thing that's not on our lists is mental health, which varies both by sex and by ideology. That may be an important factor in one's perception of one's well-being. The original article offers some examples of paranoia that seems to be inculcated by social media, which may be making the female experience phenomenologically unpleasant even as it may be empirically privileged. Liberal women experience the largest share of mental ill-health (over 50% of liberal white women under 30 in that study were diagnosed with a mental health disorder). Thus, this same political trend in young women towards liberalism that is dividing them from the men may also be heightening the problem of making them feel oppressed even if they are empirically doing ok. 

Historical Medieval Battles

YouTuber Sensei Seth (whom I've never heard of before) visits Carolina Carnage, which he claims is the biggest Buhurt (from the Old French béhourd, meaning joust or tournament) tournament in the US.

England vs. USA, 2018

150 vs 150 Battle of the Nations

Devil May Care

Language warning on this one, from North Carolina’s own River (formerly “Sarah”) Shook. Shook is a very common name in these mountains. 

Live version after the jump.

Atlanta had Major Irregularities in 2020

Fulton County Election Board member Mark Wingate's testimony doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know: there were more voters registered in Fulton County than the whole population of the county, the mail-in ballots were totally unsecured, there were never chain of custody documents as required by law, video surveillance of the outdoor drop boxes didn't exist, etc., etc. 

The absentee ballot signature matching was nonfunctional and that legal requirement was simply set aside, which we knew was a problem because the lawsuits back in 2020 drew the line at any actual signature matching being done in any audits. 

Estimated dodgy ballots in that county? About a hundred thousand. The margin of victory, allegedly, was 11,779.

Inculcating Virtue

The College Fix posts this approvingly because these officials are rejecting the designation of a peaceful student protest group as 'terrorist.' That part is right -- chalking sidewalks or walls is not plausibly terrorism -- but notice the reasoning why.
She told The Fix that START’s portrayal of pro-lifers does not resemble how the DHS typically views “radicalization” in any political camp.

“We didn’t have a great definition, so we wanted to clear it up, what we were trying to prevent, which was violent thought,” she said. An act of “vandalism” by college students would not have been a concern, she told The Fix.

There is no legitimate government activity that entails "we were trying to prevent... thought." It doesn't matter what goes in the ellipsis. 

Universities in particular should be places that encourage thought, and then arrange encounters of poor thinking with better thinking. Ideas should not be suppressed but engaged, and the better and more truth-bearing ideas will win out. 

Some encounters can produce thought that is violent or angry in a righteous way, as today's post by D29 points out. If you follow the discussion to the original documents -- Aquinas and Aristotle -- you will find that the object of righteous anger is revenge, which, Aquinas says: a desire for something good: since revenge belongs to justice. Therefore the object of anger is good.

Now you can go wrong with anger, as Aquinas and Aristotle both warn, because it is a spur to action and yet also an impediment to reason. You have to get the reason right in order to measure the revenge taken against the full interests of justice, both in terms of the scale of the revenge and the means taken to exact revenge. Getting the reason right is hard, but necessary if there is to be a just and virtuous act.

In order to be able to do that, you need to practice thinking in cases when you are angry and, yes, even inclined to violence. Violent thought is important to practice getting right, which means it mustn't be stopped. It needs engagement and training, so that justice can flourish. Indeed, Aristotle holds that such anger is produced by one's excellence: it is one's virtuous attachment to justice that provokes anger when injustice is encountered. is our duty both to feel sympathy and pity for unmerited distress, and to feel indignation at unmerited prosperity; for whatever is undeserved is unjust, and that is why we ascribe indignation even to the gods.... All these feelings are associated with the same type of moral character. And their contraries are associated with the contrary type; the man who is delighted by others' misfortunes is identical with the man who envies others' prosperity. 

There is a great deal of value here, but you don't develop virtuous citizens by defanging them. You only get virtuous citizens by training and educating them to use their natures well and wisely. That requires practice, even -- especially! -- practicing the dangerous things. 

Charley Crockett

Charley Crockett -- yes, a relation of Davy Crockett -- is another of the young singers bringing good new music. In fact he sings both kinds of music.


Nurse Practitioners at Fort Stewart, home of the 3rd Infantry Division, have been notified that they’re all being broken a full pay grade. 
“Defense Health Agency at Fort Stewart just announced to all Nurse Practitioners (NP) that they will all be downgraded from GS-13 to GS-12. Many of these NPs are veterans and/or spouses. According to the Winn Army Community Hospital Commander, they did not meet the requirement to continuing receiving the GS-13 compensation they were initially hired on receive. They do not know when it will be effective, they refuse to answer questions regarding the pay of others. It’s not their money, so they don’t care. Expect the availability of PCMs for veterans, spouses, and their families to decrease drastically as these NPs search for jobs with loyal employers.”

Congress just gave the TSA a pay raise, but nurses serving our military? 

Are 78% of Americans racist extremists?

The AP lards this story with scare quotes from the Bad Orange Man, but it can't quite obscure the poll results:
A recent Pew Research Center poll found that 45% of Americans described the [border] situation as a crisis, while another 32% said it was a major problem.
So 77% of poll respondents think the border is somewhere between a major problem and a crisis. The AP's take is that this is a result of Trump's illegitimate rhetoric's beginning to "resonate" outside his "base." Even those awful Hispanics on the border, and those awful Chicago Democrats, are objecting. And Gov. Abbott's "publicity stunt" of sending north a tiny fraction of the illegal immigrants has begun to be viewed by faithless progressives as straining local budgets so close to them as to be impossible to ignore any longer. As long as it was just tiny Eagle Pass, Texas, who cares.


As political rhetoric goes, this is one of the more clever things I've seen.

H/t Dad29.

Wanted: Knights Templars

Formally the Church still has knightly orders. It has long ago lost heart for using them, however. We could benefit from the restoration of an order designed to protect the faithful and the order of worship. 

One must defend a space for the sacred, for thought and prayer. Raymond Llull, one of the most important of all Christian philosophers, also authored a book of knighthood that explains the importance of the institution. Knights are not less necessary than priests, for without security there is little capacity for contemplation of the divine nor for carrying out the sacraments. Lk. 22:36-8 instructs us that no less than disciples should bear swords even if they need to sell their coats to buy them. 

The greening of the cross


A happy Easter to all of you.