Saturday, November 04, 2006

My Ribbon Creek. As I've indicated, work has been busy lately -- well, it's been busy the past 2 years, but the demands have really increased in the past 2 months or so. Because of organizational policy, I don't write much about work and won't really do so today; except obliquely.

When I was a boy and Disney World was brand new, we took a family vacation from the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base to Orlando Florida. On the way, we took a detour to visit the Grinder at Parris Island, S.C. ; excuse me, that is Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. Heading out to that place in the middle of the high heat, high humidity, bug infested swamp lands, my mother made a reference to "Ribbon Creek." It didn't mean much to me, but I could tell it meant something to both Mom and Dad. Especially Dad. And so, it stuck with me.

Years later, I learned that Ribbon Creek was the site of a tragedy at the MCRD; six Marine recruits died while training. The following is from the official history of the MCRD, Parris Island,
Despite the great care thus used in the selection of men assigned to train recruits, a tragedy resulting from the grievous errors of judgment of a junior drill instructor occurred on Parris Island in April 1956. Various regulations and standing orders of the post were violated at the same time. The offending DI was Staff Sergeant Matthew C. McKeon, assigned to Platoon 71, "A" Company, 3d Recruit Training Battalion. On Sunday night, 8 April, between 2000 and 2045, he marched 74 men of Platoon 71 from their barracks to Ribbon Creek, one of the tidal streams on Parris Island, and led the men into the water. Some of them got into depths over their heads, panic ensued, and six recruits drowned in the resulting confusion. The ostensible purpose of the march was to teach the recruits discipline.

* * *

Thus Sergeant McKeon's ill-fated march set off immediate repercussions which shook Marine Corps training from top to bottom. Moreover, an uninterrupted flood of publicity by the press, radio, and television literally divided the entire country into two opposing camps, those who condemmed McKeon for what had happened and those who sympathized with him.

It was in this glare of public gaze that McKeon's court-martial began at Parris Island on 16 July 1956. A noted New York trial counsel, Emile Zola Berman, undertook the sergeant's defense before the military court. For three weeks, the battle ebbed and flowed, concerned as much with the propriety of the rationale and practices of Marine Corps training as with McKeon's responsibility for the Ribbon Creek affair. Witnesses came forward to defend Marine training, others came forth to condemn it. The defense presentation culminated in the appearance on the stand of retired Lieutenant General Lewis B. Puller and the Commandant of the Marine Corps himself.

Finally, on 4 August 1956, the court handed down its decision: McKeon was acquitted of charges of manslaughter and oppression of troops; he was found guilty of negligent homicide and drinking on duty. The sentence was a fine of $270, nine months confinement at hard labor as a private and a bad-conduct discharge from the Marine Corps. Upon review by the Secretary of the Navy, the sentence was reduced to three months hard labor and reduction to the rank of private; the discharge was set aside and the fine remitted.
A Brief History of Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina (1962) at pp 16-18 (notes omitted). See also, Time Magazine, and Keith Fleming The U.S. Marine Corps in Crisis: Ribbon Creek and Recruit Training.

It is my understanding from the reading I have done that the "uninterrupted flood of publicity by the press" was also directed at the Marines and shook the Corps to its foundation. This is part of the reason, again as I understand it, why the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Randolph McC. Pate, ordered the Court Martial reopened (see the history for a more complete explanation of the procedural history).

Further, in reading Thomas Ricks' book, The Making of the Corps he indicates there are framed newspaper articles on the wall today at Paris Island regarding Ribbon Creek. Moreover, as Ricks notes on the "?leadership exam given to students at the Drill Instructors School, . . . five of the fifty questions are about the Ribbon Creek incident."? page 197.

An organization, just as a person, will learn from its mistakes if it wants to improve. Moreover, it cannot just ignore or paper over mistakes, it must review them thoroughly and honestly and report them fully despite the temporary damage it may do to the organization. And those who serve an organization or cause must allow the truth to be fully explored and exposed.

Anyway, at work I'm dealing with a tough issue regarding something (or someone) I really admire. Right now it's in a very preliminary stage, but what I've seen doesn't look good. Of course, it is nowhere near the magnitude of a Ribbon Creek; and I'm nothing more than a hopelite. Still, it will probably be occupying many of my days, nights and weekends at least until the end of the year. If you have read this far, I'd appreciate a prayer that I will have the wisdom to always do the right thing.

(republished with spelling errors corrected)
Interesting robes.

My understanding is that it is intended to reflect her background in Oceanography (wrong -- see below). I can't wait to read the WaPo's Robin Givhan on this (although since politics shape her judgment, I'm sure she will be effusive).


As noted by Judith in the comments (thanks!), the theme of the new Presiding Bishops vestments (and please forgive me if I use the wrong words -- I'm not a native 'piskie) is a new dawn. This can be clearly seen in the full picture:

I should add that from my perspective, this doesn't look like a sunrise -- it looks like a sunset. See also the note and comments at GetReligion.
Allen-Webb, Pt. IV (A New Hope). [Sorry, couldn't resist.] Actually, there really isn't much hopeful or fun about this race. I had started drafting a follow-up to my earlier survey of Webb's books by focusing on his notion of honor, but before I could complete it, he was throwing honor out the window -- embracing Clinton and Kerry -- resorting to vile smears, innuendos and outright lies (he started in with that thoroughly debunked body armor story). So I just couldn't finish and post it.

In short, Webb was, by his campaigning, negating what I thought was his best quality, honor.

This doesn't mean I'm going to now back Allen. He's got his own problems. He acts like a frat boy instead of a leader. Allen's mudslinging regarding the use of inappropriate dialogue (whatever) in Webb's novels are over the edge -- see this rebuttal by Victor Davis Hanson. Yes, as I said before, he was a good governor, but as a Senator, what has he done?

So, maybe it's time for me to check out the Green Party candidate. (I'm already planning on voting Green in the House election -- that's another story).

Also, see the voting guide (here in .pdf format) prepared by Catholics in Alliance ("CiA") a liberal-leaning Catholic organization. As noted by the conservative Weekly Standard, Webb may actually be the more right-wing of the two candidates -- something many of his supporters might not be aware of. Both he and Allen are pro-death penalty, pro-gun rights, anti-affirmative action, etc. So, many of the issues are negated.

The differences, on issues identified by CiA, come down to this (and I'm color coding according to what the CiA sees as crucial issues separating the two; red are negative moral issues, green are positive moral issues, as seen by the CiA):

Webb: for abortion on demand, fuzzy on public financing thereof; for experimentation on unborn children; for gay marriage; for immediate (or phased -- he's claimed both) withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

Allen: opposed to abortion on demand; opposed to public financing of abortions; opposed to experimentation on unborn children; opposed to gay marriage; in favor of finishing up in Iraq.

Of course, as I have always acknowledged and CiA also proposes, it's not just a calculation whereby we add up the positive issues and subtract the negative ones and whoever comes out ahead gets the vote. Take the pull out issue. As I'm reading in The Looming Tower (highly recommended), Osama bin Laden and the other terrorists are emboldened by perceived US weakness. A pull out in Iraq will definitely be seen as a victory by the terrorists and will further embolden them. Therefore, Allen may be right -- it would be better (for both Iraq and the US) to see things through.

Anyway, as I said, I'm going to need to explore the Green option, but in the meantime: James Webb, you lost my vote by your abdication of honor.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Thinkin' 'bout Rosemary and thinkin' about the law.
Top 10 most frequently cited popular music artists in legal writing.
Bob Dylan...............186
The Beatles..............74
Bruce Springsteen...69
Paul Simon..............59
Woody Guthrie........43
Rolling Stones.........39
Grateful Dead..........32
Simon & Garfunkel...30
Joni Mitchell...........28
Source: Alex B. Long
From The Legal Times[$], we find that Bob Dylan is the reigning king of the legal citation. That is, "Bob Dylan is the most frequently cited musical artist by legal writers" according to Alex B. Long, an Oklahoma City University School of Law professor.* Specifically, the article notes,
Long researched the ways judges, academics and lawyers use music lyrics to advance legal themes or arguments. The results will be published in the Washington and Lee Law Review early next year.
I will reproduce the article's chart on the right to show you the top ten most cited artists, according to Prof. Long.

You've been with the professors
And they've all liked your looks
With great lawyers you have
Discussed lepers and crooks

-Dylan, Ballad of a Thin Man

* If I didn't check it on the OCU web site, I would swear this name was a pseudonym; a play on Johnny B. Goode.
Santorum, RIP. As a politician, Rich Santorum will have the rare opportunity to read his obituaries as he loses his bid for re-election. He is greatly reviled by the cultural warrriors on the left and far-left, because he is a right-wing cultural warrior. But he is more than this and in his defeat, the country will be the main loser. Peggy Noonan had a nice column today explaining why he will be missed. As did the NYTimes idea of a conservative (one who is both pro-gay marriage and pro-abortion rights), David Brooks. Because the Brooks column will soon disappear, I am reprinting it below.

Political Theater and the Real Rick Santorum


Every poll suggests that Rick Santorum will lose his race to return to the U.S. Senate. That's probably good news in Pennsylvania 's bobo suburbs, where folks regard Santorum as an ideological misfit and a social blight. But it's certainly bad for poor people around the world.

For there has been at least one constant in Washington over the past 12 years: almost every time a serious piece of antipoverty legislation surfaces in Congress, Rick Santorum is there playing a leadership role.

In the mid-1990s, he was a floor manager for welfare reform, the most successful piece of domestic legislation of the past 10 years. He then helped found the Renewal Alliance to help charitable groups with funding and parents with flextime legislation.

More recently, he has pushed through a stream of legislation to help the underprivileged, often with Democratic partners. With Dick Durbin and Joe Biden, Santorum has sponsored a series of laws to fight global AIDS and offer third world debt relief. With Chuck Schumer and Harold Ford, he's pushed to offer savings accounts to children from low-income families. With John Kerry, he's proposed homeownership tax credits. With Chris Dodd, he backed legislation authorizing $860 million for autism research. With Joe Lieberman he pushed legislation to reward savings by low-income families.

In addition, he's issued a torrent of proposals, many of which have become law: efforts to fight tuberculosis; to provide assistance to orphans and vulnerable children in developing countries; to provide housing for people with AIDS; to increase funding for Social Services Block Grants and organizations like Healthy Start and the Children's Aid Society; to finance community health centers; to combat genocide in Sudan.

I could fill this column, if not this entire page, with a list of ideas, proposals and laws Santorum has poured out over the past dozen years. It's hard to think of another politician who has been so active and so productive on these issues.

Like many people who admire his output, I disagree with Santorum on key matters like immigration, abortion, gay marriage. I'm often put off by his unnecessarily slashing style and his culture war rhetoric.

But government is ultimately not about the theater or the light shows of public controversy, it's about legislation and results. And the substance of Santorum's work is impressive. Bono, who has worked closely with him over the years, got it right: "I would suggest that Rick Santorum has a kind of Tourette's disease; he will always say the most unpopular thing. But on our issues, he has been a defender of the most vulnerable."

Santorum doesn't have the jocular manner of most politicians. His colleagues' eyes can glaze over as he lectures them on the need to, say, devote a week of Senate floor time to poverty. He's not the most social member of the club. Many politicians praise family values and seem to spend as little time as possible with their own families, but Santorum is at home almost constantly. And there is sometimes a humorlessness to his missionary zeal.

But no one can doubt his rigor. Jonathan Rauch of The National Journal wrote the smartest review of Santorum's book, "It Takes a Family." Rauch noted that while Goldwaterite conservatives see the individual as the essential unit of society, Santorum sees the family as the essential unit.

Rauch observed, "Where Goldwater denounced collectivism as the enemy of the individual, Santorum denounces individualism as the enemy of the family." That belief has led Santorum in interesting and sometimes problematical directions, but the argument itself is a serious one. His discussion of the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, for example, is as sophisticated as anything in Barack Obama's recent book. If Santorum were pro-choice, he'd be a media star and a campus hero.

The bottom line is this: If serious antipoverty work is going to be done, it's going to emerge from a coalition of liberals and religious conservatives. Without Santorum, that's less likely to happen. If senators are going to be honestly appraised, it's going to require commentators who can look beyond the theater of public controversy and at least pretend to care about actual legislation. Santorum has never gotten a fair shake from the media.

And so after Election Day, the underprivileged will probably have lost one of their least cuddly but most effective champions.
It should be noted that these comments are not directed at Bob Casey, Jr. -- I wish he were my senator instead of Foghorn Leghorn. Rather, it's a note that we, the country, will be losing a good Senator and a good man.