Tuesday, November 13, AD 2012

The sixteenth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , herehere , here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here and here.

One of the great passions in the life of Kipling was English history.  Runnymede was one of several poems on English history he wrote for A School History of England (1911).  Another great passion of his was liberty, and in the poem Runnymede, Kipling combined both of these passions.  Whenever in English history some great struggle has arisen since 1215 the cry of Magna Carta has usually been raised.  The basis of English liberty, the Great Charter has an honored place both in English and American history.  To look at Magna Carta with a modern eye is initially to be disappointed, since much of it deals with disputes between his barons and King John  which, at first glance, lack any contemporary relevance.  However, the binding of the power of the government, and the restriction of the scope and power of the State, is of crucial importance today, as it is in all times and places.  There are passages additionally that do have a contemporary resonance:

(38) In future no official shall place a man on trial upon his own unsupported statement, without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it.

(39) No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.

(40) To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.

It is no accident that Saint Thomas More referred to the passage in Magna Carta that guarantees the liberty of the Church  in his speech after his trial:

That Law was even contrary to the Laws and Statutes of the Kingdom yet unrepealed, as might evidently be seen by Magna Charta, wherein are these Words; Ecclesia Anglicana libera sit, & habet omnia jura integra, & libertates suas illcesas: And it is contrary also to that sacred Oath which the King’s Majesty himself, and every other Christian Prince, always take with great Solemnity, at their Coronations.

Continue reading...

Kipling on Benghazi

Sunday, November 4, AD 2012

The fifteenth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , herehere , here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here and here.


At National Review Online they had the superb idea of taking Kipling’s poem Mesopotamia and applying it to the Benghazi debacle.  The Mesopotamian, modern day Iraq, Campaign had been a disaster for the British in 1916 with a British army surrendering to the Turks at Kut.  British public opinion was outraged at the incompetence that led to the defeat.  When a report by the government on Kut was published in 1917, Kipling responded with his devastating poem.  (Ironically the British in 1917, under the able General Frederick Maude, had succeeded in capturing Baghdad by the time the poem appeared.)  The lines of the Kipling poem do seem to apply word for word to the Benghazi shame:

Continue reading...

4 Responses to Kipling on Benghazi

  • …but the idle-minded overlings who quibbled while they died…shall they thrust for high employments as of old? Shall we only threaten and be angry for an hour….

    Donald. All of it fits unfortunately. Angry for an hour? So absurd that O uses ( revenge ) in his rousing the libs, yet washes his hands with video rubbish. I pray a tsunami of votes sweeps away the destructor.
    Thanks for this Kipling poem which parallels the disgrace in Benghazi.

  • Wow! Powerful then and still today.

  • From ‘Epitaphs of the War 1914 – 1918’
    R. Kipling


    “If any question why we died,
    Tell them, because our fathers lied.


    “I could not dig: I dared not rob:
    Therefore I lied to please the mob.
    Now all my lies are proved untrue
    And I must face the men I slew.
    What tale shall serve me here among
    Mine angry and defrauded young?”

    My main “issue” with the latter is the good statesman is not where the heroes’ souls repose.

  • T Shaw….that’s powerful!
    Life for all, born & unborn.

Kipling and Brown Bess

Friday, October 26, AD 2012

The fourteenth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , herehere , here, here, here, here , here, here, here and hereCertain themes recurred in many of Kipling’s poems:  a fascination with mechanical devices, strong British patriotism and a puckish sense of humor.  All three of these themes were on display in the poem Brown Bess written in 1911 and which was part of the School History of England authored by Kipling and C.R.L. Fletcher .  The poem was a paean to the British Land Pattern Musket, affectionately know by the Redcoats as Brown Bess.  Brown Bess was the standard English long gun from 1722-1838, an astounding length of service for those who live in a time of ceaseless and rapid technological change.

The video at the beginning of this post is taken from Sharpe’s Eagle and depicts the battle of Talavera.  It illustrates the impact of massed British volleys of Brown Bess  musket fire on French columns.  (The redcoats are armed with muskets;  Sharpe and his green jacketed men are armed with rifles.)  The British Army was a curious thing during the period of Brown Bess.  The men were almost entirely desperately poor, poverty being the main inducement to don the Red Coat, service in the Army with its low pay, harsh discipline and danger being highly unpopular.  The officers tended to be aristocratic wastrels who purchased their commissions and were often regarded by their families as dunderheads fit only for gunpowder.  However, from this unpromising material was created the finest army in the world.  This was largely a function of ferocious discipline, constant training in drill and volley firing, good career noncoms, a few brilliant generals like Amherst and Wellington, and extreme combativeness and courage, amply displayed both by the common soldiers and the aristocrats who led them.

Kipling’s poem was based upon the device of treating the Brown Bess musket as if she was a fashionable belle of society.  Kipling told his father,  ‘A conceit somewhat elaborately beaten out but it amused me in the doing – sign that may be t’will amuse other folks to read.’    Here is the text of the poem:

Continue reading...

7 Responses to Kipling and Brown Bess

When Fake Messiahs Bleed

Monday, October 15, AD 2012


There is a great scene in Kipling’s story The Man Who Would Be King.  Two British adventurers take over  a fictional kingdom, with one of them pretending to be a god.  The whole exploit goes pear-shaped when the “god” attempts to marry a local girl.  She belts him and he begins to bleed.  The local pagan priests seeing this yell out, “Neither God nor Devil but a man!” and things head badly south for the two  conmen.


Something similar has happend to the erstwhile South side Messiah since his first debate with Romney.  Byron York interviewed a young woman who, I think, speaks now for many in her generation:


Danielle Low, a 22 year-old preschool teacher in Lebanon, is the quintessential Romney target voter.  In 2008, she was newly eligible to vote, and she chose Barack Obama. “But then I gave birth to my first son, and I knew we needed a change,” Low said. “We bought a house in ’09 and we’re struggling every day, my husband and I are.  I just want to see things turn around.  I want to be able to afford to have another child.  I want to be able to afford to buy a house where we want to live, and right now, with the economy the way it is, we can’t do that.”

“I think President Obama tricked me into voting for him,” Low continued in an impromptu discussion that could have doubled as a Romney ad.  “I feel like he lied to me.  He made promises he couldn’t keep.  He played on my young emotions.  He played on me because I was young and naïve.  I didn’t know anything about the world.  I believed that he was going to give us a change.  I just feel like he made a lot of promises — there’s no way he followed through with them.  I haven’t seen any change.  I’ve seen change for the worse, not change for the better.  So I hope Mitt Romney can carry us through the next four years.”

Continue reading...

4 Responses to When Fake Messiahs Bleed

  • Donald. Where in the world wide Web???
    You haul in some great materials, and this clip is priceless. Well done.
    Let’s pray Danielle and our clip star are just two of millions of kool-aid drinkers that have shaken off the “bad buzz” and become sober once more.
    Thanks again.

  • Thank you Philip. It is amazing what can be found with some digging.

  • I enjoy you and the all of the other “Fulton Sheen” presenters on your site.
    I live my faith however the lack of formal education shines into my response…so please be patient. My brothers laugh while saying big heart, small brain. It’s okay. I recall a pearl; “knowledge puffith up-while love buildith up.”
    The exception is the majority of your contributors, yourself included.
    Thank you for your research.

  • I’ve recently realized my “Emperor’s New Clothes” analogy regarding Obama was completely erroneous.

    The “New Clothes” are there, but they are are empty. The emperor is grossly deficient.

    Many of us saw it in 2008.

    “Youth is wasted on the young.” I think Yogi Berra.

Klavan: Obama Fantasy Ending

Saturday, October 6, AD 2012

Andrew Klavan at City Journal explains how the media creation Obama ended with the debate this week:

The Obama of the imagination is the media’s Obama. Out of their fascination with the color of his skin and their mindless awe at his windy teleprompted rhetoric, they constructed a man of stature and accomplishment. Now, with the White House on the line, they’re waging an ongoing battle against the undeniable evidence that he has never been, in fact, that man. The result in these quadrennial autumn days has been media coverage of a fantasy election, an election in the news that may bear no relation whatsoever to the election as it is. Polls consistently skewed to favor Democrats in percentages beyond any reasonable construct of reality have left us virtually ignorant of the state of the race. Orchestrated frenzies over alleged gaffes by Mitt Romney have camouflaged an imploding Obama foreign policy, an Obama economy threatened by a new recession, and an Obama campaign filled with vicious personal attacks and lies.

Governor Romney’s unprecedented dismantling of the president in their first debate—an encounter so one-sided it reminded me of the famous cartoon in which Godzilla meets Bambi, with predictable results—was surprising only for Romney’s warmth and clarity. Obama’s hapless fumbling, bad temper, and inarticulate inability to defend his record were actually thoroughly predictable. They were simply facets of the man as he truly is, unfiltered by the imagination of his media supporters: a man who has succeeded, really, at almost nothing but the winning of elections; a man who cannot distinguish between his ideology and life; a man who does not seem to know how the machinery of the world actually works.

Fantasy is a powerful thing, but reality will out. Perhaps by Election Day, the public will have awakened from the media’s dream.

Continue reading...

5 Responses to Klavan: Obama Fantasy Ending

  • Today’s local copybook front page: “Jobs Report Boosts Obama”

    – and the dyed in the wool D’s kids have moved out of the area to find their fortunes
    – or are in government employ
    – and many more remain paid for existing
    – many not looking for employment

  • Excellent article, many very valid points. I can’t help but wonder how much a Romney resurgence can be derailed by good job numbers. Hope that someone with some media “bandwidth” can point out the significant decline in jobless, 8.1 to 7.8 if I remember correctly, with only a moderate growth in jobs, 114,000, means many people have exited the job market. Wonder why? (uttered sarcastically). Seems that perhaps they should also note that 16,000 manufacturing jobs disappeared. My understanding of that is that we remain one (on a macro level) global economy and our manufacturing workforce is not competitive, and not being politically correct doesn’t change the facts. Just ask Boeing why they are in SC. US policy, current and past continues to force jobs offshore and Obama’s policies continue to exacerbate that problem.

    PS – Thanks for the blue type. It is, for me, a huge improvement.

  • Obama it seems to me is completely deflated and in his mind has come to realise that he is under qualified for the job. The Administration is going through the motions now, which accounts for the daft decision to send an Islamic supremacist to the OSCE, I do not think there will be any kind of October surprise. Whether this is enough for Romney to win is another matter, but the spectacle of Obama looking sad and downcast for a couple of minutes with his chin set grimly is indicative of a person who realises that he is out of depth and that harsh reality beckons. I’ve been there before, such a pose cannot be simulated.

  • Phenomenal. I just read this at City Journal. The stars are aligning.

Cold Iron

Sunday, September 23, AD 2012

The thirteenth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , herehere , here, here, here, here , here, here and here.     I have noted several times in this series that Kipling was not conventionally religious, yet many of his poems dealt with religious themes.  One of his lesser known poems, Cold Iron, written in 1910, I have always found personally very moving.

Gold is for the mistress — silver for the maid —

 Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade.”

 “Good!” said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

 “But Iron — Cold Iron — is master of them all.”


So he made rebellion ‘gainst the King his liege,

 Camped before his citadel and summoned it to siege.

 “Nay!” said the cannoneer on the castle wall,

 “But Iron — Cold Iron — shall be master of you all!”


Woe for the Baron and his knights so strong,

 When the cruel cannon-balls laid ’em all along;

 He was taken prisoner, he was cast in thrall,

 And Iron — Cold Iron — was master of it all!


Yet his King spake kindly (ah, how kind a Lord!)

 “What if I release thee now and give thee back thy sword?”

 “Nay!” said the Baron, “mock not at my fall,

 For Iron — Cold Iron — is master of men all.”


“Tears are for the craven, prayers are for the clown —

 Halters for the silly neck that cannot keep a crown.”

 “As my loss is grievous, so my hope is small,

 For Iron — Cold Iron — must be master of men all!”


Yet his King made answer (few such Kings there be!)

 “Here is Bread and here is Wine — sit and sup with me.

 Eat and drink in Mary’s Name, the whiles I do recall

 How Iron — Cold Iron — can be master of men all!”


He took the Wine and blessed it. He blessed and brake the Bread.

 With His own Hands He served Them, and presently He said:

 “See! These Hands they pierced with nails, outside My city wall,

 Show Iron — Cold Iron — to be master of men all.”


“Wounds are for the desperate, blows are for the strong.

 Balm and oil for weary hearts all cut and bruised with wrong.

 I forgive thy treason — I redeem thy fall —

 For Iron — Cold Iron — must be master of men all!”


“Crowns are for the valiant — sceptres for the bold!

 Thrones and powers for mighty men who dare to take and hold!”

 “Nay!” said the Baron, kneeling in his hall,

 “But Iron — Cold Iron — is master of men all!

 Iron out of Calvary is master of men all!”

Continue reading...

6 Responses to Cold Iron

  • Thanks Don. The beauty in truth.
    The 12th Chpt. of Revelation, near the end of the chapter comes to my mind as I read his poem.
    Yes the iron rod, but also the final battle scene; the off spring of the woman who do battle with the dragon are “those who live by the commandments and give testimony of Jesus the Christ.”
    Please excuse me for the quote might not be perfect but its very close….going from memory.
    The child taken to the Father to rule all Nations with the iron rod. The woman, our Lady to lead us in the final battle. It’s a very interesting time.

  • Pingback: Summa Philosophica Peter Kreeft Perpetual Virginity of Mary | Big Pulpit
  • Don, your commentaries on Kipling (and I have gone back and read them all) are truly enlightening. Concerning the ‘Barrack Room Ballads’, Evelyn Waugh (whom I admire) once scoffed: “When ‘Omer smote ‘is bloomin’ lyre – what barrack-room balladeer ever heard of Homer or lyres?”. Yet I knew them by heart and my party piece thirty years ago in the Officers’ Mess of the South Notts. Hussars was to stand on the table (in my cups) and by popular request declaim them. The favourites were Gunga Din, Snarleyow and Fuzzy-Wuzzy; and as we were an artillery unit Ubique, The Captain’s Jacket and The Screw-Guns were also in demand. “Smokin’ me pipe on the mountings, sniffin’ the morning cool …” Happy days!

  • Thank you John. Kipling had an immense impact in his day. English officers noted at the time that their men began to sound like the privates in Kipling’s poems after exposure to his poetry. An odd case of life imitating art! I have loved Kipling since the first time I encountered him as a schoolboy in The Ballad of East and West. His understanding of the human condition I think ranks with Shakespeare. Kipling, the most underestimated writer in the English language. My favorite passage in Kipling:

    The tumult and the shouting dies;
    The Captains and the Kings Depart;
    Still stands thine ancient sacrifice,
    An humble and a contrite heart.

    I often think of it in tandem with this:

    ”Cities and Thrones and Powers
    Stand in Time’s eye,
    Almost as long as flowers,
    Which daily die:”

  • GK Chesterton parodied Kipling’s ‘Recessional’:

    Cut back, our navies melt away,
    From ode and war-song fades the fire;
    We are a jolly sight today
    Too close to Sidon and to Tyre
    To make it sound so very nice
    To talk of ancient sacrifice.

  • Mother o’ Mine


    If I were hanged on the highest hill,
    Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!
    I know whose love would follow me still,
    Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

    If I were drowned in the deepest sea,
    Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!
    I know whose tears would come down to me,
    Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

    If I were damned of body and soul,
    I know whose prayers would make me whole,
    Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

At His Execution

Wednesday, August 22, AD 2012



The twelfth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling.   The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , herehere , here, here, here, here , here and here.  Kipling was not conventionally religious.  He once described himself jokingly as a pious Christian atheist.  However, many of his poems dealt with religious themes.  One of his most moving religious poems he wrote in 1932, four years before his death.

At His Execution


I am made all things to all men–

 Hebrew, Roman, and Greek–

 In each one’s tongue I speak,

Suiting to each my word,

That some may be drawn to the Lord!

I am made all things to all men–

 In City or Wilderness

 Praising the crafts they profess

That some may be drawn to the Lord–

By any means to my Lord!

Since I was overcome

 By that great Light and Word,

 I have forgot or forgone

The self men call their own

(Being made all things to all men)

 So that I might save some

 At such small price to the Lord,

As being all things to all men.

I was made all things to all men,

But now my course is done–

And now is my reward…

Ah, Christ, when I stand at Thy Throne

With those I have drawn to the Lord,

 Restore me my self again!

Continue reading...

6 Responses to At His Execution

  • “Judge of the Nations, spare us yet.
    Lest we forget—lest we forget!”

    “If” for his son lost in battle on being a man.

    So much wisdom, humor and sense in words that could be about today for all of us.

    Young people would benefit for life, individually and as a people, if they could use some time with him all laid out in your posts mentioned above. The three R’s plus Rudyard for four R’s.

    Those beyond young can see life unfolding in his work.

    In 2012, he’d have some ‘tweaking’ maybe – but his words ring true.

  • I hate to be a downer, but isn’t there a certain sense of fatigue or non-Christian selfishness expressed in that last line?

    A Christian would say he gave up himself to find his true self. Or he abandoned his old self to be made into a new self. Or he loses himself completely in God. Kipling’s Paul seems to be saying that he’s done his job – forgetting himself to be all things to all people – and now he just wants to go back to being his old self. “Restore”.

    I could be wrong on this. But I think that some of the other Kipling poems you’ve presented had a theme of the weary soldier just wanting to go back home, trudging through the impossible. That sounds Kipling-y to me. Kipling’s Paul sounds more like that than someone like the historical Paul who became a new creature through Jesus. There’s also the fact that by your reading the tone of the poem is unvarying, and usually that doesn’t happen. Most poems have a mood change in them or a twist in the final verse.

  • Perhaps Pinky, or perhaps it is Kipling’s way of underlining the sense of “mission accomplished” that Saint Paul had when he wrote about completing the race and a merited crown. What Christ had made Saint Paul on Earth through divine intervention, the missionary to the Gentiles, all things to all men, would no longer be necessary in Heaven. Note how Kipling uses the term reward. One of the joys of Heaven is the banishment of the strife and constant battle we find ourselves engaged in for Christ here on Earth. The distinction between the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant.

  • 2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith;”

    Acts 20:24 “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” St. Paul’s Farewell to the Elders of Ephesus.

  • Kipling on point:

    “So we loosed a bloomin’ volley,
    An’ we made the beggars cut,
    An’ when our pouch was emptied out.
    We used the bloomin’ butt,
    Ho! My!
    Don’t yer come anigh,
    When Tommy is a playin’ with the baynit an’ the butt.”
    “The Taking of Lungtingpen” –Barrack Room Ballads.

Pagett, MP

Thursday, July 19, AD 2012


British military historian John Keegan dearly loves the United States, and has visited the country many times.  However, he thinks we have an appalling climate in the summer, especially the hot, muggy summers of the Midwest which he experienced first hand on his initial trip here in the fifties.  He has compared the US climate in the summer in the Midwest unfavorably to the climate in summer of much of India.  Having endured the current heat wave in Central Illinois for many weeks, the worst since the great drought of 1988, I am inclined to agree with him.  Perhaps it is my Newfoundland blood, but I have always been fond of cold weather and despised hot weather.  In tribute to the agony inducing qualities of heat, I submit this poem by Rudyard Kipling.  With this poem, no commentary by me is necessary!

The toad beneath the harrow knows

 Exactly where each tooth-point goes.

The butterfly upon the road

Preaches contentment to that toad.

Pagett, M.P., was a liar, and a fluent liar therewith

He spoke of the heat of India as the “Asian Solar Myth”;

 Came on a four months’ visit, to “study the East,” in November,

 And I got him to sign an agreement vowing to stay till September.

March came in with the koil.  Pagett was cool and gay,

Called me a “bloated Brahmin,” talked of my “princely pay.”

March went out with the roses. “Where is your heat?” said he.

 “Coming,” said I to Pagett, “Skittles!” said Pagett, M.P.

April began with the punkah, coolies, and prickly-heat, –

 Pagett was dear to mosquitoes, sandflies found him a treat.

 He grew speckled and mumpy-hammered, I grieve to say,

 Aryan brothers who fanned him, in an illiberal way.

Continue reading...

10 Responses to Pagett, MP

  • “mumpy-hammered”

    I would love to be abe to use this adjective, but finding its meaning is difficult. Is it “uneven,” as in the weathered nose of an old seaman?

  • Pagett was dear to mosquitoes, sandflies found him a treat.
    He grew speckled and mumpy-hammered, I grieve to say,
    Aryan brothers who fanned him, in an illiberal way.

    As in those old movies set in the tropics where there is only a single fan running, which turns slower the more oppresive the heat . The Indian summer is a killer. My solar myths dissipated when I took a train trip across central India one June, it felt like the train was passing through an endless oven, an antechamber of hell, that the only recourse was to pass out; After that experience I had neveragain begrudged the senors their siestas. And the damned mosquitoes, if only they’ll suck your blood without all that buzzinng in the ears. Defy the Sun!!/a>.

    Airconditioning is the greatest invention… Lee Kuan Yew

  • I have long sung the praises of modern air-conditioning Ivan!

  • Old Man Lee insisted that all government offices in Singapore be airconditioned and efficient from the earliest days, Donald – quite unlike in my native India where till the early 2000s it was always Jarndyce and Jarndyce made worse by the intolerable heat.

  • It says, “He grew speckled and mumpy — [he] hammered, I grieve to say,
    Aryan brothers who fanned him, in an illiberal way.”

  • I respectfully disagree with Mr. McClarey.

    I do not scrape heat and humidity from my car windshield.
    I do not shovel heat and humidity from my driveway.
    I am not encumbered with a coat, a hat, gloves and a scarf when there is heat and humidity.
    I cannot enjoy wading in the Youghiogheny River in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania in bitter cold and snow. I cannot get there in the snow of the Alleghenies.

    January and February are the year end time in insurance accounting. I loathe it, having done if for almost 20 years, and thanks to the NAIC Model Act, it is worse than it used to be.

    Air conditioning, swimming pools, the wading pool near PNC Park, all are available to my family in the summer. Winter is full of cold weather, short days and too much office work.

  • “I do not scrape heat and humidity from my car windshield.”

    True. You merely enter a car with the air of a blast furnace until the AC kicks in and makes driving bearable.

    “I do not shovel heat and humidity from my driveway.”

    As opposed to mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, trimming hedges, etc, in tropical heat while coming up close and personal with a large part of the insect kingdom.

    “I am not encumbered with a coat, a hat, gloves and a scarf when there is heat and humidity.”

    Nope, one is merely arrayed in endless sweat and exhaustion while struggling to get from point A to point B in endless blazing heat and suffocating humidity.

    “I cannot enjoy wading in the Youghiogheny River in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania in bitter cold and snow.”

    Ice fishing and ice skating has its charms for those of us who appreciate the bracing weather of winter.

    “January and February are the year end time in insurance accounting.”

    You have me there.

    Air conditioning, swimming pools, the wading pool near PNC Park, all are available to my family in the summer. Winter is full of cold weather, short days and too much office work.”

    Hot chocolate, sweaters and furnaces all recharge us after we engage in winter sports. The sleeping in a warm bed after a great winter’s day can’t be beat.

  • “I do not scrape heat and humidity from my car windshield.”

    True. You merely enter a car with the air of a blast furnace until the AC kicks in and makes driving bearable.

    In winter, you are hit with another blast of ice cold air and shiver until the car engine warms up.

    “I do not shovel heat and humidity from my driveway.”

    As opposed to mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, trimming hedges, etc, in tropical heat while coming up close and personal with a large part of the insect kingdom.

    Mowing the yard gives me a nice tan – as long as I remember to use sunblock the first time it gets warm. Pulling weeds and trimming bushes lets me work up a sweat without having to go to the gym – which, for me, is important since the señora and I have a four year old boy and a seven month old baby.

    Summer gives us flowers and fresh local farm grown fruit and vegetables. Summer provides the opportunity to have one’s own vegetable garden. Did I enjoy working in the massive garden my dad planted for years? Not at the time. But, we did enjoy the corn, cucumbers and tomatoes. Not to mention the peaches, pears, plums and apples that we usually had in abundance. Those apple trees provided all the apples and then some for my grandmother to bake pies we enjoyed until the next summer.

    Oh, I almost forgot – after twenty years of losing, baseball is fun again in Western Pennsylvania.

    “I am not encumbered with a coat, a hat, gloves and a scarf when there is heat and humidity.”

    Nope, one is merely arrayed in endless sweat and exhaustion while struggling to get from point A to point B in endless blazing heat and suffocating humidity.

    You forgot to mention the slush slop that gets tracked in everywhere. I take the Port Authority bus to work. Geez, there is nothing dirtier than one of those buses in the winter. Slush and salt on the floor and God knows how many viruses are circulating from coughs and sneezes.

    “I cannot enjoy wading in the Youghiogheny River in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania in bitter cold and snow.”

    Ice fishing and ice skating has its charms for those of us who appreciate the bracing weather of winter.

    One of my regrets is that I did not learn to ice skate. Such is the once desolate life that was growing up in Portage County, Ohio. fortunately, ice hockey is very popular in Pittsburgh and there are several indoor rinks to choose from, as well as an outdoor rink in PPG Plaza. I do have skis, but no thanks to my job in insurance reporting, skiing is out of the realm of possibility.

    “January and February are the year end time in insurance accounting.”

    You have me there.

    I knew it.

    Air conditioning, swimming pools, the wading pool near PNC Park, all are available to my family in the summer. Winter is full of cold weather, short days and too much office work.”

    Hot chocolate, sweaters and furnaces all recharge us after we engage in winter sports. The sleeping in a warm bed after a great winter’s day can’t be beat.

    You are quite right there – until January 2nd. Then, winter is something to be endured.

    Sorry, Mr. McClarey, I had to argue…before baby Charles wakes up from his afternoon nap and wants to be fed, carried, played with and bathed.

  • Some men PF argue for fun and some argue for profit. I do it for both! 🙂

The Old Issue and Our Issue

Wednesday, May 23, AD 2012

The eleventh in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling.   The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , herehere , here, here, here,  here and here.   Kipling had a deep love of English history and a deep love of English freedom, and he well understood the turbulent conflicts over a millennium that had created that freedom.  He was also keenly aware of developments in his own time, the rise of socialism first among them, that threatened the freedom he cherished.  Published on September 29, 1899 at the outset of the Boer War, the poem the Old Issue is an interesting meditation on freedom and how it could be lost.  Ostensibly a criticism by Kipling of the tyranny of the Boers over English settlers, the poem goes far deeper than that, and to me has a very contemporary feel:


“Here is nothing new nor aught unproven,” say the Trumpets

“Many feet have worn it and the road is old indeed, “It is the King–the King we schooled aforetime!” (Trumpets in the marshes–in the eyot at Runnymede!)

“Here is neither haste, nor hate, nor anger,” peal the Trumpets, “Pardon for his penitence or pity for his fall,

“It is the King!”–inexorable Trumpets– (Trumpets round the scaffold at the dawning by Whitehall!)

“He hath veiled the Crown and hid the Sceptre,” warn the Trumpets, “He hath changed the fashion of the lies that cloak his will. “Hard die the Kings–ah, hard–dooms hard!” declare the Trumpets, (Trumpets at the gang-plank where the brawling troop-decks fill!)

Ancient and Unteachable, abide–abide the Trumpets! Once again the Trumpets, for the shuddering ground-swell brings Clamour over ocean of the harsh, pursuing Trumpets– Trumpets of the Vanguard that have sworn no truce with Kings!



All we have of freedom, all we use or know– This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.


Ancient Right unnoticed as the breath we draw– Leave to live by no man’s leave, underneath the Law–

Lance and torch and tumult, steel and grey-goose wing, Wrenched it, inch and ell and all, slowly from the King.


Till our fathers ‘stablished, after bloody years, How our King is one with us, first among his peers.

So they bought us freedom–not at little cost– Wherefore must we watch the King, lest our gain be lost.


Over all things certain, this is sure indeed, Suffer not the old King: for we know the breed.


Give no ear to bondsmen bidding us endure, Whining “He is weak and far;” crying “Time shall cure.”

(Time himself is witness, till the battle joins, Deeper strikes the rottenness in the people’s loins.)

Give no heed to bondsmen masking war with peace, Suffer not the old King here or overseas.

They that beg us barter–wait his yielding mood– Pledge the years we hold in trust–pawn our brother’s blood–

Howso’ great their clamour, whatso’er their claim, Suffer not the old King under any name!

He shall mark our goings, question whence we came, Set his guards about us, as in Freedom’s name.

Here is naught unproven–here is naught to learn, It is written what shall fall if the King return.

He shall take a tribute; toll of all our ware; He shall change our gold for arms–arms we may not bear.

He shall break his Judges if they cross his word; He shall rule above the Law calling on the Lord.

He shall peep and mutter; and the night shall bring Watchers ‘neath our windows, lest we mock the King–

Hate and all divisions; hosts of hurrying spies; Money poured in secret; carrion breeding flies.

Strangers of his counsel, hirelings of his pay, These shall deal our Justice: sell–deny–delay.

We shall drink dishonour, we shall eat abuse, For the Land we look to–for the Tongue we use.

We shall take our station, dirt beneath his feet, while his hired captains jeer us in the street.

Cruel in the shadow, crafty in the sun, Far beyond his borders shall his teachings run.

Sloven, sullen, savage, secret, uncontrolled, Laying on a new land evil of the old–

Long-forgotten bondage, dwarfing heart and brain– All our fathers died to loose he shall bind again.


Here is naught at venture, random or untrue– Swings the wheel full-circle, brims the cup anew.

Here is naught unproven, here is nothing hid: Step for step and word for word–so the old Kings did!

Step by step and word by word: who is ruled may read. Suffer not the old Kings: for we know the breed–

All the right they promise–all the wrong they bring. Stewards of the Judgment, suffer not this King!

Continue reading...

3 Responses to The Old Issue and Our Issue

Mother O’ Mine

Sunday, May 13, AD 2012

If I were hanged on the highest hill,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

I know whose love would follow me still,

   Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

If I were drowned in the deepest sea,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

I know whose tears would come down to me,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

If I were damned of body and soul,  

 I know whose prayers would make me whole,

   Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

Rudyard Kipling


Continue reading...

One Response to Mother O’ Mine

Kipling and the Yanks

Thursday, May 3, AD 2012

The tenth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling.   The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , herehere , here ,here, here and here.  Rudyard Kipling had an intensely ambivalent attitude towards America and Americans.  His wife was an American and he and she after their marriage resided in Vermont from 1892-1896.  The Kiplings loved Vermont, Rudyard Kipling especially loving the rugged natural beauty of the Green Mountain State. but eventually returned to England due to a now forgotten diplomatic squabble between the US and Great Britain over the boundary between Venezuela and British Guiana and which led to the last talk of war between those two nations, and a family squabble involving some of Kipling’s wife’s relatives.

Kipling admired American energy and inventiveness, but hated traditional American antipathy to Britain and what he regarded as a boorishness that afflicted many Americans.  This ambivalence is well reflected in the poem American Rebellion which appeared in A School History of England (1911) by C. R. L. Fletcher and Kipling.  The poem is in two strikingly different sections.  Here is the first section:


TWAS not while England’s sword unsheathed
Put half a world to flight,
Nor while their new-built cities breathed
Secure behind her might;
Not while she poured from Pole to Line
Treasure ships and men–
These worshippers at Freedom’s shrine
They did not quit her then!
Not till their foes were driven forth
By England o’er the main–
Not till the Frenchman from the North
Had gone with shattered Spain;
Not till the clean-swept oceans showed
No hostile flag unrolled,
Did they remember what they owed
To Freedom–and were bold.
Continue reading...

4 Responses to Kipling and the Yanks

  • I admit that I feel about Europeans as you state Kipling felt about Americans. I have a visceral reaction to German and French slights because of US conduct during WWII and through the Marshall Plan.

    I have the same visceral reaction to continued European offenses. While I love the show Top Gear, the shows they have done in the US offend me. They are so pompous and dishonest in their presentation. For example, their treatment of D.C., showing nothing but the worst neighborhoods, galls me.

    I’m not sorry for these feelings for I greatly mistrust a man who does not express pride in and affection for his country. It does Kipling credit to note that, however much he finds merit in Americans and the US, he cannot quite get beyond his gut feeling that England deserved better and that the world would have been a better place if the Empire had stayed together.

    I do not doubt that the world would have been a far better place if it had come entirely under American control after the fall of the Soviet Union. Such is my conceit.

  • I love Top Gear also G-Veg and find it hilarious. Insulting foreigners is part of their act, along with acting like buffoons in general, and I don’t take it personally, as opposed to Mexico:

  • I’ve always thought that a lot of Kipling’s love for America died with his little daughter. It’s natural not to want to hang around a place full of sad memories, whereas a place where you think your kids are going to both grow up is a place you do your best to put down roots. I think politics was an excuse. A deeply felt excuse, maybe, but an excuse.

  • Pingback: The Old Issue and Our Issue | The American Catholic


Tuesday, February 28, AD 2012

The ninth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling.   The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , herehere , here ,here and here.  By far If is the most famous poem of Kipling’s, written in 1909 in the form of advice to his only son, John (Jack) Kipling, who would die fighting bravely at Loos shortly after his eighteenth birthday in 1915.  The poem was inspired by the Jameson raid,  undertaken in 1895 by Doctor Leander Starr Jameson.  Jameson, who became a close friend of Kipling, became a British national hero by his leadership of the unsuccessful raid which attempted to start a revolt of British settlers, who outnumbered the native Boers two to one, against the Boer government of the Transvaal.  Jameson, who rose to be Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, throughout his life embodied many of the virtues praised in the poem.

If you can keep your head when all about you

  Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

 If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

  But make allowance for their doubting too;

  If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

  Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

 Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,  

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

 If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;

  If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;

 If you can meet with triumph and disaster

  And treat those two imposters just the same;

 If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

  Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

  Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

  And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

 If you can make one heap of all your winnings

  And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

  And lose, and start again at your beginnings

 And never breath a word about your loss;

  If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

  To serve your turn long after they are gone,

 And so hold on when there is nothing in you

  Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

 If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

 Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch;

  If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;

  If all men count with you, but none too much;

 If you can fill the unforgiving minute  

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

  Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

 And—which is more—you’ll be a Man my son!

Continue reading...

2 Responses to If

  • “If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breath a word about your loss”

    I think the pitch-and-toss is explained earlier in the poem. We can’t be completely in control of our destinies – we all experience triumphs and disasters that we can’t control. Every day the things that we’ve given our lives to can be broken. Life is essentially a pitch-and-toss. That being said, the important thing is to respond to one’s fortune with equanimity.

    In fact, the only way that we can avoid the pitch-and-toss which can wipe out the things we care about and have worked for is to not care or work. The moment we commit to something we risk loss.

  • Kipling is saying a real man doesn’t sweat the small, i.e., temporal, stuff.

    Money quote that defines Obama-worshiping liars in the mainstreet media and their treatment of anything not liberal:

    “If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by hellions to make a trap for morons.”

Benedict XV, Rudyard Kipling, John Bunyan and G. K. Chesterton

Wednesday, November 9, AD 2011

 The cheapest and most childish of all the taunts of the Pacifists is, I think, the sneer at belligerents for appealing to the God of Battles. It is ludicrously illogical, for we obviously have no right to kill for victory save when we have a right to pray for it. If a war is not a holy war, it is an unholy one — a massacre.

                                                                                  G.K. Chesterton, October 23, 1915

The eighth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling.   The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , herehere , here and here.   Kipling wrote quite a few poems during his lifetime.  Some are world-famous, most are not, and some are today almost completely forgotten.  We are going to at one of the poems today in the final category, that is today one of Kipling’s most obscure ones, but caused something of a stir when he wrote it in Advent during 1917.  The Holy War:


A tinker out of Bedford,
A vagrant oft in quod,
A private under Fairfax,
A minister of God–
Two hundred years and thirty
Ere Armageddon came
His single hand portrayed it,
And Bunyan was his name!_

He mapped, for those who follow,
The world in which we are–
 ‘This famous town of Mansoul’
That takes the Holy War
Her true and traitor people,
The gates along her wall,
From Eye Gate unto Feel Gate,
John Bunyan showed them all.

All enemy divisions,
Recruits of every class,
 And highly-screened positions
For flame or poison-gas,
The craft that we call modern,
The crimes that we call new,
John Bunyan had ’em typed and filed
In Sixteen Eighty-two

Likewise the Lords of Looseness
That hamper faith and works,
The Perseverance-Doubters,
 And Present-Comfort shirks,
With brittle intellectuals
Who crack beneath a strain–
John Bunyan met that helpful set
In Charles the Second’s reign.

Emmanuel’s vanguard dying
For right and not for rights,
My Lord Apollyon lying
 To the State-kept Stockholmites,
 The Pope, the swithering Neutrals,
The Kaiser and his Gott–
 Their roles, their goals, their naked souls–
He knew and drew the lot.

Now he hath left his quarters,
 In Bunhill Fields to lie.
The wisdom that he taught us
Is proven prophecy–
One watchword through our armies,
One answer from our lands–
 ‘No dealings with Diabolus
 As long as Mansoul stands.

_A pedlar from a hovel,
The lowest of the low,
The father of the Novel,
Salvation’s first Defoe,
Eight blinded generations
Ere Armageddon came,
He showed us how to meet it,
And Bunyan was his name!_

At one level the poem is a fairly straight-forward paean to John Bunyan, the English writer who penned Pilgrims’s Progress, which every school child used to read back in days when schools spent far more time on academics and far less time on political indoctrination and fake subjects like “Consumer Ed”.  He also wrote quite a few other books and pamphlets, perhaps the best known of which is The Holy War, which portrays a war for the City of Mansoul between the good defenders and the evil besiegers.  I need not spell out the allegorical meaning of the work when the city’s named is rendered as Man Soul.  Kipling had been a devotee of Bunyan since his childhood, and I suppose that part of his motivation in writing the poem was to pay back a literary debt.

Continue reading...

10 Responses to Benedict XV, Rudyard Kipling, John Bunyan and G. K. Chesterton

  • This is a very interesting interweaving of historical strands. Thanks.

  • As I recall, Kipling also versified harshly against America’s neutrality. Can’t quite pinpoint the poem, alas.

  • An interesting poem, and a most useful, perceptive commentary.

    As for Benedict XV, in fact, Merry del Val was replaced as Secretary of State soon after Benedict’s election, and appointed secretary of the Holy Office. Benedict’s Secretary of State was Pietro Gasparri, the architect of the 1929 Lateran Treaty and the 1917 Code of Canon Law.

    I have always figured that Pius XII’s caution during WW II was partly the result of his experiences while serving as a papal diplomat under Benedict, and witnessing how Benedict’s much-maligned neutrality was ultimately vindicated.

  • Katherine you are correct! Perhaps Pope Benedict did have a grudge about the cardinal’s hat after all! I have made the necessary correction in the post.

  • Dale, Kipling wrote the following poem in regard to the American entry into the War. I have always regarded it as a dreadful piece of drek and one of the worst poems ever written by Kipling.

    Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)


    The American Spirit speaks:

    To the Judge of Right and Wrong
    With Whom fulfilment lies
    Our purpose and our power belong,
    Our faith and sacrifice.

    Let Freedom’s land rejoice!
    Our ancient bonds are riven;
    Once more to use the eternal choice
    Of Good or Ill is given.

    Not at a little cost,
    Hardly by prayer or tears,
    Shall we recover the road we lost
    In the drugged and doubting years.

    But, after the fires and the wrath,
    But, after searching and pain,
    His Mercy opens us a path
    To live with ourselves again.

    In the Gates of Death rejoice!
    We see and hold the good—
    Bear witness, Earth, we have made our choice
    For Freedom’s brotherhood!

    Then praise the Lord Most High
    Whose Strength hath saved us whole,
    Who bade us choose that the Flesh should die
    And not the living Soul!

    To the God in Man displayed—
    Where’er we see that Birth,
    Be love and understanding paid
    As never yet on earth!

    To the Spirit that moves in Man,
    On Whom all worlds depend,
    Be Glory since our world began
    And service to the end!

  • That’s the one! Yes, far from his best, but “the drugged and doubting years” is an excellent turn of phrase.

  • Agreed Dale. Even when writing a poor poem, Kipling included nuggets of gold!

  • Hmmm, based upon this I can see why Merry del Val was not kept as Secretary of State!

    “Reportedly Della Chiesa had been elected by one vote. According to the rules in force at the time, the ballot papers had a numbering on the reverse side, so that, if the election was decided by only one vote, it could be checked whether or not the elected person had voted for himself, in which case the election would be void. According to that account, Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val, who had been Pius X’s Secretary of State, insisted that the ballots be checked to ensure that Della Chiesa had not voted for himself – he had not. When the cardinals offered their homage to the new pope, Benedict allegedly said to Merry del Val, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” To which the unabashed Merry del Val replied with the next verse of Psalm 118: “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.””

Occupy Wall Street Goons Spit on Sailor

Friday, October 14, AD 2011

42 Responses to Occupy Wall Street Goons Spit on Sailor

  • If the Fleabaggers do this now “when the wood is green” (so to speak), then what will they do “when the wood is dry?” In fact, what will they do should Obama get defeated in ’12?

  • I think it would be a good idea for the Coast Guard to show up at OWS with billy clubs and soap and literally clean up the mess these fools are making!

  • Considering some of the sailors I have known over the years I would enjoin caution on the Occupy Wall Street crowd about spitting on them. Spitting on a female Coast Guard sailor, probably petite, might be fun. Spitting on a sailor who is male, 6 foot and 200 lbs of muscle and bone might not be.

  • Meanwhile, in other news, compensation for the chief executives of America’s biggest corporations soared 28 percent in 2011 from last year on average, according to a new report.
    As millions of Americans remain out of work and Social Security recipients continue to receive no increase in payments, is it any wonder that people are taking to the streets? As oil companies reap billions in obscene profits and other big companies pocket billions without paying taxes (GE), the Republicans aim their heavy guns on the most defenseless of all citizens: seniors who depend on Medicare and Social Security to merely survive.
    Old but true: The rich get richer, the poor get poorer and it’s business as usual in America.

  • By the way, I served in the Navy and a little spit never bothered me. We used to shine our shoes with it.

  • Joe,

    When you reference General Electric above, remember that one of Obama’s biggest supporters is Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE and former head of its Health Care Division. He is pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage. Under his leadership MS NBC (while it was owned by GE) ended up being the unsolicited spokesperson for Obama during the ’08 election.

    BTW, Father Philip Powell at “Domine, Da Mihi Hanc Aquam” revealed the identities of the big bucks people who are supporting the fleabaggers on Wallstreet, in Boston and elsewhere. The usual wealthy liberal progressive Democrats show up:

    Limo Liberals who support the Occupy Wall St Circus:

    #1 Yoko Ono Net Worth – $500 million.

    #2 Russell Simmons Net Worth – $325 million

    #3 Roseanne Barr Net Worth – $80 million*

    #4 Deepak Chopra Net Worth – $80 million

    #5 Kanye West Net Worth – $70 million

    #6 Alec Baldwin Net Worth – $65 million

    #7 Susan Sarandon Net Worth – $50 million

    #8 Michael Moore Net Worth – $50 million

    #9 Tim Robbins Net Worth – $50 million

    #10 Nancy Pelosi Net Worth – $35.5 million

  • Yeah, I know, Paul, about Obama and his GE pal. A pox on both of them. Why is this a “circus” rather than legitimate protest? From the founding of our nation, the people have always had a right to redress their grievances. From the Declaration of Independence:

    “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    That’s strong language. Sounds close to sedition if uttered in today’s vernacular would likely land someone in jail.

  • Joe,

    What the Tea Party is doing is what you pointed out, “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.” Tea Partiers want Obama’s corporate socialism and Chicago gangsters gone (and preferrably in jail).

    What the Flea Party is doing is entirely different. They have their Red Flags, their Class Warfare signs and posters, their socialist chanting, etc. Their aims are NOT the destruction of despotism but the advocacy of a nanny government that will give them everything they want. These fleabaggers generally reject authority, especially that of Christianity (the Church in particular). They want Caesar as their god to take care of them and give them iPad and iPods and the other wondrous computerized machinery of Apple or Microsoft while they do nothing to support themselves. They are spoiled little brats who have defecated on police cars, harrassed those in uniform and generally made a mess of everything. The most they deserve is 39 lashes.

  • Use of labels such as “flea baggers”, “the “Flea Party” does not advance your argument. And as far as a “nanny state” is concerned, seems to me that the Wall Street fat cats and the multimillionaires are the ones who have been miking the public teat all these years.

    One, however, could take comfort in the words of Jesus: “Woe unto ye that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.”

  • “By the way, I served in the Navy and a little spit never bothered me. We used to shine our shoes with it.”

    Somehow I suspect that you would have a different reaction Joe if someone were spitting on you. However, I trust that your comment was an attempt at humor and not to be taken seriously.

    In regard to the 2010 elections, the Democrats outraised the Republicans in political contributions on the national and Congressional level:

  • Joe,

    I stand by the description “flea baggers.”

    A friend of mine goes on further at a different forum to describe the relationship of lilly white rich liberals and their advocacy for this flea bagger rioting. In this case, RINO Bloomburg is involved.


    So Mayor Bloombergs live-in girlfriend sits on the board of Brookfield, the company that owns Zuccotti Park, the place the Fleabaggers have set up camp. Is this part of the reason that the Mayor backed off his threat to have the Fleabaggers removed? Maybe they (Brookfield) don’t want too much attention for some reason and they applied some pressure.

    But wait, there’s more! (

    Brookfield just got a green business loan, one of the last to do so, from the administration in the amount of $135.8 million. Heather Podesta, the sister-in-law of John Podesta owns the lobbying firm that represents Brookfield. John Podesta is the director for the Center For American Progress, which is funded by…wait for it…GEORGE SOROS!!

  • Meanwhile, in other news

    Why change the subject Joe? It’s okay that these degenerates spit on people because some CEOs make a lot of money? You’re justifying bad behavior through the use of a non sequiter. Shame on you.

  • These are the same rats as their VC-sympathizer predecessors.

    I served in the USAF in the last years of the Vietnam War. A few times I was traveling on orders in civ airports. No one spat on me. If they did, I was taught to respect my uniform. There would have been violence. Of course, I was six feet and 185, and I don’t lisp.

    Michael Walsh: “About the only thing the Tea Party and the unwashed rabble occupying Zuccotti Park have in common is their deep loathing for the financial and political nomenklatura who precipitated the economic collapse of 2008 and — thanks to their massive campaign donations to Obama — have emerged unscathed while the rest of us suffer. Any other resemblance is purely coincidental.”

  • The fact that someone in the OWS crowd is flying a Che Guevara flag says all you need to know about this bunch….as did the Viet Cong flags that flew during anti-war protests in the 60s.

  • Paul, shame on me? Equating the spitting of someone in a protest is akin to getting a flea bite on the Bataan Death March. A hideous act, but where’s your perspective and memory? Juxtapose big bosses making nearly 30 percent more while the layoffs go on and the Wall Street continues to suck the lifeblood out of the economy.

    A trillion in TARP money and Wall Street payoffs, engineered by both parties, to bail out Goldman, AIG and six banks who had set aside $170 billion in bonuses to be divvied up by a few at the top while 15 million were stranded on the unemployment lines.

    How soon we forget?

  • Joe,

    Wasn’t it the Obamanation of Desolation who insisted on all those corporate bailouts? And isn’t it Obama who is being shielded by those fleabaggers protesting against the very corporations whom Obama bailed out? And isn’t it the rich lilly white liberal actors, actresses and other malcontents of wealth untold who are financing and otherwise supporting the fleabaggers?

    For a different point of view, read this:

    I am all for cutting the umbilical cord of corporate socialism between the Obama administration and his croonies in big corporations like GE. We can start that by voting him out of office, and then giving these neo-hippie miscreants defecating on police cars the 39 lashes they deserve, followed by cold showers with lots of soap.

  • Joe, I find it irritating when people change the subject because it makes their side look bad. This isn’t a post about the worthiness of TARP or the bailouts (although as the other Paul noted, it’s Obama who promoted them), but on the behavior of the crowd. So yes, shame on you for excusing disgusting behavior.

  • Yes, Paul, read carefully, I said “both parties” so Obama was in on it as much as anyone. When people are angry, the often do despicable things. Spitting, defecating and all the other reprehensible actions are deplorable.

    But where is the outrage when American taxpayers are continually raped and when so many suffer due to corporate and individual greed?

    I remain a staunch conservative on social issues — abortion, sexual morality, etc. — but this country was built on dissent, best expressed and effected through peaceful and non-violent means not by an unruly few who cross the line.

  • Paul, “disgusting behavior” has a broad range of applications.

  • “But where is the outrage when American taxpayers are continually raped and when so many suffer due to corporate and individual greed?”

    Joe, you forgot politician greed and lust for power, which historically exceeds all the rest, Robespierre, Hitler, Stalin and Mao all being outstanding examples.

    Interestingly, the fleabaggers seem to support exactly those kinds of people. Why am I NOT surprised.

  • “I remember my youth and the feeling that will never come back anymore – the feeling that I could last forever, outlast the sea, the earth, and all men; the deceitful feeling that lures us on to joys, to perils, to love, to vain effort – to death; the triumphant conviction of strength, the heat of life in the handful of dust, the glow in the heart that with every year grows dim, grows cold, grows small, and expires – and expires, too soon, too soon – before life itself.”

    from “Youth”, a short story, by Joseph Conrad

  • Paul, how easy and simplistic it is to point the finger of blame at history’s famous individual villains, ignoring the masses who followed and enabled them. I would recommend Eric Hoffer’s True Believer to see how mass movements such as religions, fascism and communism gained traction by drawing adherents willing to sacrifice themselves and others for the future goals.

  • “…see how mass movements such as religions, fascism and communism gained traction by drawing adherents willing to sacrifice themselves and others for the future goals.”

    Exactly correct. And that’s Obama’s national socialist Democracy and the fleabaggers.

  • “The monstrous evils of the twentieth century have shown us that the greediest money grubbers are gentle doves compared with money-hating wolves like Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler, who in less than three decades killed or maimed nearly a hundred million men, women, and children and brought untold suffering to a large portion of mankind.”

    Eric Hoffer

  • I would wager that as long as Lenin, Stalin and Hitler controlled the money, they really didn’t hate it all that much. What they hated was someone other than them doing the controlling. Oh yeah – those evil capitalists.

  • Joe,
    Stop your lies. The myth about GE not paying taxes has been debunked over and over again. Facts matter, even if they may not fit your silly narrative. The “reporter” who broke that story mis-read GE’s annual report. A stupid mistake with legs apparently.

  • Mike, no doubt new versions cooked up by the rewrite boys at the Ministry of Truth.

  • Report from the field, sort of: I stepped outside about an hour ago to watch an “Occupy Springfield, Illinois” rally march through downtown. The line extended for a full city block or more, and I’m not good at crowd estimates, but I’m going to guess 500-1,000 people participating. Mostly white middle class looking folk, middle aged and younger, including kids in strollers, carrying signs with slogans like “End the Fed” and “Money (Does Not Equal) Speech” and “Stop Media Censorship,” etc. They kept chanting “The people, united, will never be defeated!” and some were beating on drums, but, didn’t see any screaming or altercations or anything at all threatening. (Personally I think the St. Patrick’s Day parade/bar crowd is more dangerous than these people.) The whole thing was over and everyone appears to have dispersed by 4 p.m. with absolutely no public disorder of any kind.

    Seems to me that, outside of major cities like NYC, Boston, etc., the Occupy crowd is mostly young middle class folk looking for an easy outlet for their frustration with the general state of the economy, and not looking to attack anyone personally. However, they do need to be aware that their movement, such as it is, is being coopted elsewhere for more sinsister purposes.

  • I guess the occupation of Springfield didn’t last long Elaine! 🙂 Typical example of Central Illinois Nice. They had their say, made their point, and went home to get ready for Saturday night. We live in a good part of the state!

  • Joe,
    I’m a tax lawyer. The NYT errors were explicated ad nauseum in all manner of serious tax journals. Stop your lies.

  • Mike,

    A layman would not understand the complex differences between generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and tax accounting/The IR Code (credits; timing, temporary, permanent differences; deferred tax assets/liabilities; etc.) in a corporation’s financial statements.

    Plus, if it serves the agenda it’s not a lie. I think journalists glory in their omissions of the truth as they tirelessly advance the narrative.

  • All true, T, and fair enough. And laymen are not likely to realize that in general those differences favor revenue collection. GAAP errs on the side of making sure a company does not deceive investors by overstating income, whereas the IRC errs on the side of making sure that a company does not deceive the IRS by understating income. There are exceptions, of course, but that is the general theme. It is true that some industries (oil is the easy example) benefit from being able to deduct expenses they pay faster than what ordinary accounting might allow and faster than other industries can, and this type of benefit is certainly open to criticism. But the criticism more appropriately should focus on horizontal equity (i.e., a comparison with other corporate taxpayers) rather than vertical equity (a comparison based on ability to pay). In the end how much corporate income tax a corporation pays is truly not all that relevant for vertical equity purposes, and its horizontal equity analysis is best limited to comparisons with competitors. The corporate income tax is a puzzling creature. Its economic burden is necessarily a mystery in that it falls on some unknown (and unknowable) admixture of shareholders (through reduced returns, as though they should be reduced any further these days), consumers (through higher prices), and employees (through reduced wages). The distribution of this burden is based on many market variables that are fluid and impossible to assume or plan for in confidence. In other words, it a tax that progressives love notwithstanding the random distribution of its economic burden. Very strange, actually. This is not to say that corporations don’t impose social costs that they should pay for (e.g., the trucking industries effect on road wear and tear), but such costs (particularly when netted against social benefits) bear no relation whatsoever to the corporate tax burden (very high in the US), and should sensibly be borne regardless of profit just like any other cost.
    Finally, it is true that earnings of CEOs of major corporations high by historic standards. Much has been written about this, and there are many causes including (i) the structure and practices of corporate comp committees and (ii) the move a couple decades ago to tie comp more to stock performance. But as generous as such payments can be, their impact on a company’s bottm line is typically not all that material. I do think that criticism of CEO pay may have some merit, but that is a discussion for another day.

  • Mike, what does a tax lawyer do, tax lawyers? I don’t like being called a liar. As a lawyer, the irony is rich, indeed. (apologies to Don McClarey, the only lawyer I know capable of uttering truths now and then.)

  • Joe,
    I never called you a lawyer. I asked you to stop repeating lies.
    To answer you question, I work very hard to ensure that my clients do not pay any more tax than they are legally obligated to. My clients are large corporations. I am proud of my work. My clients behave honorably, and I have never known them to utter or repeat lies. Lawyers are like anyone else, unfortunately, some honorable and some not. But the lawyers I work with I very honorable. You seem to think that corporations are duty bound to pay whatever you think is just — not what the law requires. Such arrogance is unbecoming.

  • GE and taxes? Let’s set the record straight:

    So much for paying the 35% corporate rate.

  • Joe,
    GE works hard to save costs at every level, thereby benefiting consumers and investors, and preserving jobs. Tax expenses are no exception. Unless you can show that they are doing something illegal or immoral then what is the point of your innuendo?

  • Mike…”GE works hard …” employing more than 1,000 lawyers whose sole job is to find ways to avoid tax liability… GE works hard to cut its U.S. payroll by thousands while its hypocritical CEO boss sits on a job-creation council … GE works hard to manufacture weapons of mass destruction, filling its ever-growing till by billions with Pentagon money… GE works hard to lobby Congress for every tax break, loophole and under-the-table, deal-cutting maneuver to make sure the defense contracts never nauseum

  • GE works hard to manufacture weapons of mass destruction,

    Goodness gracious, you mean they manufacture weapons? Why has no one reported them to the UN?

    And still nothing illegal or immoral in any of the litany reported by Joe. But, whatever mean Joe Green can do to obfuscate the main point of the post.

  • Agreed, Paul. It never ceases to amaze me how passionate liberals are about supporting a tax whose economic burden is unknown and arbitrary. I assume it is grounded in the assumption that the burden rests predominantly on the rich, but really that is all it is, an assumption. There is actually very little basis for believing that. The best one can say about it is that it might be true; or not. There is a reason conservatives are so often quick to accuse liberals of forming opinions based more on emotion than reason.

  • Pingback: Occupying Wall street…Way too late | pindanpost
  • Pingback: Schaschlik « abseits vom mainstream – heplev


Wednesday, October 12, AD 2011

“I thank God that I served as a sergeant and army  chaplain in the First World War. How much I learned about the human  heart during this time, how much experience I gained, what grace I  received.”

                                                                      Pope John XXIII




The seventh in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling.   The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here,  here and here.  Throughout his life Kipling constantly returned to one theme in his poetry and prose:  the common British soldier.  Kipling did not romanticize them, being far too aware that they were merely fallible humans like the rest of us, and often the products of the school of hard knocks with many rough edges about them.  However, he also recognized their virtues:  courage, endurance, good humor and a willingness to place their lives at jeopardy for the rest of us.  He never forgot the men who lived at the sharp end of the stick and who often got the short end of the stick from the society they protected.    His poem Tommy  brilliantly encapsulates this wretched ingratitude:


I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
 O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
 But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,
 The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
 O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
 For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;
 But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,
 The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
 O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
 Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?”
 But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
 The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
 O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
 While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind”,
 But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,
 There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
 O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
 For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
 But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
 An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
 An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

Continue reading...

12 Responses to Tommy

  • “Single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints.”

    Check out Kipling’s eclipse of moral reason.

    “So we loosed a bloomin’ volley,
    An’ we made the beggars cut,
    An’ when our pouch was emptied out.
    We used the bloomin’ butt,
    Ho! My!
    Don’t yer come anigh,
    When Tommy is a playin’ with the baynit an’ the butt.”
    “The Taking of Lungtingpen” — Barrack Room Ballad.

    It’s better today than when they spat on, and threw feces at, Vietnam War soldiers.

    The same ilk that did that are now “occupying” Wall Street.

  • T Shaw

    Help me out.

    The stanza is a narrative description.

    They were in fight with an enemy. For lack of other data in your selection we must assume in accord with the JWD and law of warfare.
    The ran out of bullets
    They to used the Bayonet and Rifle Butt.

    Kipling offers practical advice that to potential enemies that will lose even if it gets down to ‘baynit an’ the butt.”

    Where is the moral reasoning, good bad or indifferent.

    Hank’s Eclectic Meanderings

  • Don

    One of my favorites. It seemed to hit a cord in the early 70’.

    Roger Moore gave a impromptu presentation from memory. Missing a few lines but he catches the emotion better than most.

    <Tommy Atkins>

    Hank’s Eclectic Meanderings

  • ” It seemed to hit a cord in the early 70’.”

    Didn’t it though Hank. I arrive at the U of I in the Fall of 1975. The Armory where I took my ROTC courses had been firebombed before I got there. In the Spring of 1975 the student government held a party to celebrate the fall of South Vietnam and Cambodia to the Communists. Yeah, Tommy fit right in with that milleau.

  • The point: there is no moral reason. War is all hell. There is no way to kill gently or to destroy honorably.

    The story is about Brit regulars taking a Burmese rebel ville after a forced march. Imagine the troops are getting “payback” for ambushes and sentry throat cuttings. Assume the Brits are armed with modern (probably rolling block, single-shot Martini-Henry) weapons. The Burmese have flint locks and edged weapons, maybe a muzzle-loading cannon. The Brits ran out of ammunition and were ordered forward with the bayonet, which employed by organized, trained men is truly fearsome.

    Kipling expresses the ardor and excitement of troops in a rare victorious action, I think.

  • The quote from Pope John XXIII on his learning about the human heart brought me to think about how well Rudyard Kipling did, too. Each revealing the wisdom of the other. The Pope defining the essence of Kipling’s skill, Kipling writing the voice of the Pope’s understanding knowledge. Great minds thinking alike.

    ‘Tommy’ reminds me of a 1971 winter evening scene as I opened the door to leave Goodell Library at U of M to find a passing war protest march proceeding to the nearby Student Union heckling me as misplaced (a Pass/Fail system had been instituted to accomodate anti-war things). Didn’t know what to think, except that I had to get to my job, my brother was on USS Enterprise, and during recent holidays the sad development of a social divide between college and military draft kids I knew of from high school.

    In 2011, I’m glad I went to work that night rather than follow them into the unknown. 40 years from now how will these occupiers have formed their world? Cannot imagine – oh – I guess a little. Outside the grocery store, someone with a handful of petitions was asking for signatures for a ‘dignity law’. What? Translated to passing assisted suicide for the elderly. Wasn’t hungry – but bought cookies and chips.

  • Article 1, Section 8, the Constitution.

  • I saw this silly musical when I was much younger and loved old musicals — this number at the end shocked me. I didn’t know then about the pacifism that followed WWI, in part because of how badly the war was managed and the bitterness of so many people over the deaths of their sons and brothers and fathers. I can’t imagine a movie having a number like this in it today — perhaps a very cynical one, but not one like this.

  • I like Kipling, and I’ve enjoyed the articles about him on this site. But for all the merit in what he’s saying in this poem, don’t you ever get the feeling that he’s pulling your leg? It’s just too much pub song and too little poem. Part of that is that he writes with ease – the same thing that Mozart does, where he makes it look like child’s play. I don’t know.

  • People did sing the “Barracks Room Ballads”; there were a number of popular musical settings for each of the big ones, and people are still setting them to music today.

    You sound like the kind of person who looks for post-postmodern irony while listening to dance songs on a country music station.

  • Pingback: Occupy Wall Street Goons Spit on Sailor | The American Catholic

Gunga Din

Friday, August 19, AD 2011

The sixth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling.   The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here and here.

Kipling is usually regarded, and often dismissed, as the poet laureate of British Imperialism.  A close examination of his poetry and stories reveals a good deal more complexity than that.  A prime example of this is Kipling’s poem Gunga Din, written in 1892:

You may talk o’ gin and beer
When you’re quartered safe out ‘ere,
An’ you’re sent to penny-fights an’ Aldershot it;
But when it comes to slaughter
You will do your work on water,
An’ you’ll lick the bloomin’ boots of ‘im that’s got it.
Now in Injia’s sunny clime,
Where I used to spend my time
A-servin’ of ‘Er Majesty the Queen,
Of all them blackfaced crew
The finest man I knew
Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din.
He was “Din! Din! Din!
You limpin’ lump o’ brick-dust, Gunga Din!
Hi! slippery hitherao!
Water, get it! Panee lao!
You squidgy-nosed old idol, Gunga Din.”

Continue reading...

3 Responses to Gunga Din

  • To me: best part is

    “You may talk of gin and beer
    When yer quartered safe out ‘ere
    And yer sent ta penny fights
    And Aldershot it.

    But when it comes to slaughter
    You’ll do yer work on water
    And lick the bloomin’ boots of ‘im what’s got it.”

    Here we have a vet teaching recruits. He finishes the lesson with the truth that some among that “black faced crew” are better men than you and me.

    My Dad (RIP) told me gin and beer could take the legs out from under you. I never tried.

  • Thanks, Donald. Kipling was earnest, yes, and sincere in his supposed ‘burden.’ I don’t know if that’s the nuance you’re referring to. That he was imperialistic can’t be denyed. His was a time of decadence, though. Folks were jaded. The rich were, at least. People couldn’t get enough of the ‘exotic,’ but civilization arrived. It seemed there wasn’t much else to do. I think that’s why they rushed into WWI.

  • Gin and sake are loathsome drinks.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings Provide The Commentary

Tuesday, August 9, AD 2011

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

Continue reading...

9 Responses to The Gods of the Copybook Headings Provide The Commentary

  • “when all men are paid for existing and no man pays for his sin”

    I always have a hard time reading poems and I really don’t know why. Well maybe that speaks to something about me. This definately speaks about what is currently going on…

  • This poem needed the date of publication!! So I looked it up:

    Published in October 1919 when the poet was 53 years old, “The Gods of the Copybook Headings” has proved enduringly popular, despite the fact that copybooks disappeared from schoolrooms in Britain and America during, or shortly after World War 2. A copybook was an exercise book used to practice one’s handwriting in. The pages were blank except for horizontal rulings and a printed specimen of perfect handwriting at the top. You were supposed to copy this specimen all down the page. The specimens were proverbs or quotations, or little commonplace hortatory or admonitory sayings — the ones in the poem illustrate the kind of thing. These were the copybook headings.

  • “… and the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire; …The gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!”

    Rudyard Kipling handles the ‘history repeats itself’ idea without going blue in the face.

    This poem so fits the speech above, mixer included. Our problem doesn’t appear to be debt reduction according to the Copybook, because we have to agree to continue to support results of natural disasters, and then there are those high payroll taxes that prevent us from going to market, then … (how unspeakably base to use this) wages of war (for what battery element) in current news as final emphasis.

    I was glad for the mixer problem on the speaker, but not amused for the 10 minutes.

    I worry about long it will be before some handling of debt reduction (balancing the budget for a CHANGE) happens. Would it be forgotten if London’s events (are they related to other 2011 uprisings?) moved across the ocean.

  • Robert-
    I generally have the same issue. Kipling has always been an exception, starting with “Female of the Species.”

  • “Female of the Species.”

    My late formidable mother’s favorite poem!

  • Well said Hank!

    “His vows are lightly spoken,
    His faith is hard to bind,
    His trust is easy broken,
    He fears his fellow-kind.
    The nearest mob will move him
    To break the pledge he gave –
    Oh, a Servant when he Reigneth
    Is more than ever slave!”

  • Ouch– well struck, Hank, Donald. The line about Throws the blame on some one else. is especially painful in light of that “look what happens when you type ‘obama blames’ into google” thing.

  • I am most impressed, Don, that you found this poem to epitomise the “ramblings” of the Obamessiah.
    I have never read much Kipling, apart from some of his militaristic writings, and his Indian conection – Gunga Din etc.
    But I find,
    “That a dog returns to his vomit, and the sow returns to her mire,
    “And the burnt fools finger bandaged goes wabbling back to the fire.”
    particularly poignant.
    I listened to Obama after I had listened to Michele Bachman.
    “WOW” – what a woman. She leaves Obama for dead – and she never had a teleprompter 😉

    The US has to get back to its manufacturing and leading design base that made it famous just a few decades ago. Get the design and efficiency right, the price doesn’t matter. Back in the 60’s 70′ sand 80’s the world loved US products. Sure, the cost of labour is critical, but design, quality and efficiency of scale does make a difference. Get rid af the crazy Union control, take a bit of a dip, and ALL the people will benefit.
    (My 2 cents worth)
    The US rating is now the same as NZ – AA+ – its not all bad. 🙂