Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy Birthday and Semper Fi!

When I first met Sam, we were still new to Missouri, and he and his family were neighbors of ours in a condo development that was starting to slide downhill. Sam, at that time, always had a spit cup at hand for his chewing tobacco, and had a deep rural drawl, that made his larger than normal vocabulary almost sound humorous. He had just joined our Condo board, as did my wife, and though I privately called him 'burp' (he did, alot), he was surprisingly sharp and diligent, surprising to me anyway - at that time, that his being in the Marines didn't really lend much of a plus in my eyes, not that it was a minus, but I still had a touch of the old 'people join the military because they don't have ambition' view, and it played into the rural air about him (hey, this was nearly 20 yrs ago, after playing in a band for ten years on the west coast, gimme a break - Sam did).

As we began to spend more time together, our wives had become best friends and our boys prickly friends, politics and history began to crop up often in our conversations, and something I wasn't much used to began to happen, something that I wasn't used to happening at all, let alone frequently - I was being not only corrected, but shown some wide gaps in what I thought I knew, regarding the Constitution, the Supreme Court, American History in general, and the Civil War in particular, and even about Edmund Burke.

WTF!? How was this jarhead more knowledgeable than... than me?!


It turned out that Sam was a fast rising Sgt. (I had no idea how many grades of Sgt. there could be!) in the Marines, a top recruiter in his office, then managing the office, then top in St. Louis, then the district and then over the entire region. He took his job, and the young men his job was about, very seriously. He showed me the recommended reading list for "Riflemen" recruits, and the list he augmented that with, and my jaw dropped. He also was not an unusual character for the Marines, and he saw to it that his recruits followed suit as well. So much for there being any 'poorly edum'icated' meaning to having a rural drawl or any of the other jarhead caricatures. He was a plain spoken man, yet not to be trifled with. A few years later, after we'd both moved out of the condo's to a nicer neighborhood, some poor carload of teen rowdies decided to drive down and up the lawns on Sam's street in the dark of the a.m... their fun met an abrupt end as Sam, clad only in his shorts, flew out of his house with a baseball bat and charged their car, bashing in the windshield, drivers side and rear windows, before their terror could carry them off into the night. Double LOL.

Sgt. Sam was very capable, well informed, widely read, and a damn good guy.

I had the pleasure of being invited to a few of the 'wet downs' after his promotions and to spend time with he and his Marines over the years, and it was always a blast; but not only that, it went a long way towards showing me that my jaded musicians view of the world was the view that was the real oddity, and that a view that saw 'normal' as more likely being that of the solid and trustworthy person, willing and eager to serve and defend their country, that was far more normal and justified a view than I had dreamed - and that was reaching several years back before 9/11 - and what a pleasure it was to be rid of the immature view of the world I'd gathered 'on the road'.

Sam and his family were transferred out of state about 6 yrs ago, and what with another move or two, I guess we haven't seen them in about 3 yrs now, but no matter - come Nov. 10th, it's time once again to wish the United States Marine Corps. a hearty Happy Birthday, and to Sam...wherever you and your family are, a fond

Semper Fi!


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing that, Van!
I should've known it was a Marine that set ya on the straight path, LOL!

Semper Fi, Sam, and Semper Gratus, Van for passing on to us Raccoons so great info on our history as well as so much more (Constitution, Federalist Papers, Ammendments, intents of the Founding Fathers...hell, I could go on all night.

It's amazing what Sam and you are doin', spreadin' the truth n' educatin'! :^)

robinstarfish said...

My ex-jarhead BIL still to this day startles me with his reading depth - it wouldn't surprise me to learn that Sam had something to do with that.

Thanks, Van, for this fine tale of a fine Veteran.

Van Harvey said...

The pleasure is all mine!

Anonymous said...

Van: I read this from a link on VanderLeun's site. It's long, but fascinating. What do you think?

Unqualified Reservations


Van Harvey said...


I read Moldbugs post, he gives me a run for the long-winded award, but very much worthwhile, thanks for the link. A very well put together and curmudgeonly post, and it very well illustrates, maybe not the worst case, but certainly many of the very bad case scenarios I've been concerned about, for the coming administration.

I had to laugh at several of the commentators on his post being up in arms about his pointing out the idea that Communism showed up here before it did in Europe proper... guess they haven't read anything about the Pilgrims, Oneida, several of the Transcendentalist's ventures and many, many, more instances of communism rearing it's ugly head here first.

Rousseau was allegedly inspired in his fancies about tales of noble savages among the American Indians, and Progressivism had its start LONG before Marx came along, making their pushes for Rousseauian inspired progressivism long before Marx lent a faux-scientific air to the movement with his 'theories'. They'd do well to read either and or 'Liberal Fascism', 'A Conservative history of the Left' for the narrative level history, or the more in-depth philosophical examination of Rousseau, Hume, Kant and co in 'The Ominous Parallels'.

Particularly spot on are Moldbug's concerns about Bill Ayers, Saul Alinsky, and the near impossibility of their ideas not rubbing off on President-Elect Obama. My biggest hope in such matters are that he has made his associations not out of ideological belief and purity, but rather out of the sheer politics of social climbing and using the people best suited to help him position and advance his ambitions.

I get the feeling that Obama has ambitions of ambition, rather than ambitious things to do. I get that impression from his accounts of how he moved from friends to politically connected friends, cliquish leftist classes and Marxist professors who could help him be seen and advance, his declarations of undying loyalty to his grandma, church pastor, public financing, all before tossing them over without a blink of the eye when it became expedient. He's a second hander, not an initiator.

I hope.

While Mencious Moldbug rhetorically captures the sense of the matter, I do think he overshoots the actual mark in a few areas, such as calling the normal American voter a little 'c' communist- that applies in only the most superficial of ways. While most unthinking Americans today do want to receive stuff, especially from "The Rich", very few are willing to go along with the idea of owning nothing of their own, of earning nothing for their efforts, and having the state give all an equal share, or worse, only what some bureaucrat things you need, no matter their own merits. We're sick, no doubt about it, but not that terminal yet. Envy has wormed it's way into our culture, but it hasn't yet made the widespread transition to corrupt, hateful envious malice yet, it's still stuck at the level of "oh man! I want that!".

He is on to a major issue with Obama & Rahm Emanuel's calls for mandatory community service however, and other's like Comments such as Lance's recent post about requiring everyone to be compelled to 'give back'; those do alarm me, "Each citizen needs to understand and accept the essence of the American bargain: Each of us has to do his or her part. While the rights of citizenship are explicit in our Constitution, the implicit responsibilities are every bit as crucial." That is terrifying, not just for the obvious enslaving issues, but it being coupled with forced indoctrination of state selected 'moral' ideals. It has often been remarked that Slavery has been our original sin, and the desire to 'do good' for others, for their own good, and despite their wishes, and the need to obfuscate, excuse and justify such thoughts, has been a serious problem for us from the very start. Perhaps the flipside of having self confidence in your own abilities, but not a grasp of your own limitations, thinking that you are able to better direct the fate of another, puts you into the notion that you should control another - for their good.

Slavery may be bound tighter to our psyche than we suspect, and incidentals such as skin color are mere distractions from its real source and danger.

"The problem is: Washington is fresh out of power. It already controls everything it can possibly control. It just nationalized the financial system, and no one noticed. Why? Because a US bank in November 2008 has to comply with exactly the same ten-foot-tall stack of regulations that it had to comply with in September 2008. What difference can another love note or two from Barney Frank make?"

I most definitely have bouts of the gloomies, especially after learning more about Obama's constitutional ideas, but. Elections have consequences, and one of the requirements of even having elections, is your agreeing to abide by the results of the election, even and especially, if you lose. Doesn't mean we drop our opposition, but it does mean that we must accept the Dem's right to make the selections that are rightly within the scope of their prerogatives.

There are limits, but we must be careful about declaring them prematurely. However, with...

"As for conservatives and mainstream libertarians: forget it. You've lost. You're in roughly the same position as a Southern segregationist in 1968. History may or may not vindicate your cause, but it has determined your chance of victory, which is zero. If you have a life, go live it. If not, now is probably a good time to get one.

In the era of Barack Obama, Washington is one thing. It is progressive from top to bottom, east to west, and ass to elbow. Everyone with a real role in governing America, whether in the White House or the civil service, in the press or on the Hill, at Harvard or at State, in the Wilderness Society or on the Supreme Court, is a communist. I exaggerate, of course - slightly. But if you have fantasies of reforming this thing, of making it conservative or libertarian or whatever, you're either a fool or a fraud. Now and for the foreseeable future, you are for Washington or you're against it. And if we have Barry Obama to thank for that, God bless Barry Obama."
"A dose of Obama may disenchant voters with Obama. It may even persuade them to elect another Republican. But he will be a communist Republican. Want a peek at the future? Google "David Cameron." Want a peek at the rest of the future? Google "Leonid Brezhnev.""

...I think he's a little too transfixed by the perils of the moment, and our ability however diminished, to learn from our errors and correct our mistakes... as long as we are able to freely access and discuss information, history, each other, we have a chance. We have recovered from worse, think back to not just the 30's, but the Truman administration when we had nat'l boards that set prices and wages and Truman attempted to nationalize the steel industry, and Nixon's wage and price freezes... as long we are free to communicate, we have a chance.

There is nothing preventing us from rediscovering our proper boundaries, other than our lack of understanding the necessary history and ideas. Evil is pitifully weak, and we should be ashamed at how easily we yield to it, but the fact is, it is easily defeated with simple understanding and willingness to see, stand up and acknowledge the Truth.

On that note, the biggest perils coming down the pike at the moment are the 'fairness doctrine' and the attempts to give the U.N. more control of the ICANN and internet related issues in general, but as bad as it is, and may become... and I think very grim times are coming in the next couple years, we can recover, and it might even - if we make it so - be the impetus to rolling back the constitutional accretions of the 20th century.

Nothing focuses Americans like being smacked upside the head where they weren't expecting it. And unless I miss my guess, we've got a big dose of that coming down the pike.

We'll see. We'll see.

Anonymous said...

Good assessment of MM. The tone of the whole piece was a fusion of "Is that all there is?" with "It's the End of the World as We Know It". Black, black humor. I read a couple of his other pieces. The guy is a curmudgeon/satirist of grand proportion- as I said, he could be the all time greatest crank of all time, or something close, anyway. He's an atheist, to boot. We ought to send Ray over there.


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Evil is pitifully weak, and we should be ashamed at how easily we yield to it, but the fact is, it is easily defeated with simple understanding and willingness to see, stand up and acknowledge the Truth."

Aye, that's for sure. We must teach our children and anyone else willing to listen, how to recognize evil. How to discern, discriminate and judge.

The only "strength" of evil is that it's relentless in it's attacks. Like the Terminator it never stops, so it requires of us who know that, to answer in kind, nay, to answer overwhelmingly.

Of course, it's much easier to prevent evil in the first place, but humans have a tendency to ratchet back our watchfullness when obvious threats are neutralized.

World War One over? Cut the military.
Vietnam war over? Cut our military and military readiness.
Cold war over? Again, we cut back our military, not foreseeing that evil will come again, as it always does.
Only the form it takes is different.

This is just one example, but it shows how crucial it is to be strong n' ready at all times and in all places, be it our military or education or politics or judges.

We must learn that we can't simply wipe out evil and be done with it.
We must train and prepare, because as weak as evil is, it can hurt us...even destroy us if we go to sleep and worse, if we can't recognize it.

Good back n' forth exchange guys!