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July 04, 2005

Happy Fourth Of July!

First of all, Happy Fourth of July! As part of my duties with the Cotillion, I am happy to be part of our July 4th Salute to the Milbloggers. Luckily for you, I scored an interview with one of my absolute favorite milbloggers, Grim of Grim's Hall. This was not as easy a task as it might appear: not only can the Male Milblogger be extremely wily, but he also is notoriously unfond of spotlights and can be difficult to corner.

To his credit, Grim thought I should have focused on someone closer to the action. But I chose Grim because I think he's one of the more interesting people in the blogosphere: someone I thought you would enjoy finding out more about. I thought he would make an interesting interview. When pressed, he was (as always) a gentleman and agreed to the interview:

I would have stood aside in favor of one of our fighting men who are out on the field; they're the ones who deserve the attention and the praise. But, for the reasons mentioned, I can understand why they'd want a break from the limelight. Still, whatever glory MilBlogs have is properly theirs, not mine, and I'm embarrassed to be taking a place of honor that really ought to go to someone who has done and sacrificed more.

One more thing: I must acknowledge lifting the interview questions wholesale from Normblog. Since I joined the Cotillion so late, I only found out about this at the last minute and so did not have time to prepare. And so, with no more ado, I give you the Grim Interview.

Q: Why do you blog?

Grim: I started blogging for different reasons than those that keep me going. After 9/11, I started trying to find ways that I could contribute to the Republic. I tried a number of things, but one thing that worked was doing open source intelligence work for the government.

You may remember that improving intelligence was one of the things that had everyone's attention on it just after 9/11, until people realized how hard it was and decided to think about other things instead. OSINT is one of the things that people thought might provide a patch until the HUMINT problem could be addressed -- a proposition that requires years. I had a friend 'in the community' who asked questions from time to time, sometimes small ones and sometimes big projects. By early 2003, I found I was used to doing OSINT research and writing, and so I began blogging -- the Iraq war was starting up at that time, and it seemed like it would be a public service to provide an OSINT-based reading of it.

I eventually ended up going back to work for the military, as a contractor in the field, so much of my blogging has since become cultural or otherwise: most of my OSINT projects are now done for the government's consumption. I do blog on security/defense issues at Bill Roggio's "The 4th Rail," and I do discuss such issues in the comments sections of some blogs I frequent. However, those items are not based on the writings I do for the government, which I'm obviously not free to talk about.

Anyway, that's how I got started blogging. The reason I blog now is much simpler: I've met a lot of interesting and intelligent people doing it, and talking to them improves my thinking. Whether I'm being asked pointed questions so that I have to justify my positions, or I'm reading and responding to their own reasoned defense of positions I don't hold, the interaction of blogging is a serious benefit to my work and my understanding of the world. Also, many of the commenters and fellow bloggers I've come to know I would almost consider friends, though we've never met. I would miss them if I stopped blogging.

Q: What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger?

Grim: Read The Mudville Gazette. Whether you're for or against his positions, Greyhawk's blog is one of the most informative around -- and he does more than many to highlight new blogs and offer opportunities for publicity.

Q: What are your favourite blogs?

Grim: I've mentioned Mudville and 4th Rail already. My other favorites are these, in no particular order: Doc Russia's "Bloodletting," BlackFive, Lizard Queen's "The Blue Bus" -- she rarely blogs on any topic I agree with, but the comments section is one of the best for engaging liberal/progressive thinkers in a respectful and even friendly forum -- Southern Appeal, your own site of course, and The Belmont Club. I should also mention Kim du Toit, a swaggering yet grumpy fellow of the sort I myself will probably become in a few years.

Q: Who are your intellectual heroes?

Grim: They are all listed at or close to the top of the site: Aristotle, Sir Walter Scott, G. K. Chesterton, Tolkien, and Thomas Jefferson.

Q: What are you reading at the moment?

Grim: I tend to work my way through several books at a time. I've just about finished Col. McLemore's _Bowie and Big Knife Fighting_, Hayes-McCoy's _Irish Battles: A Military History of Ireland_, and have recently finished Utley's _Lone Star Justice: The First Century of the Texas Rangers_. That's one martial arts text, and two military histories, but I do read fiction as well: favorites include H. R. Higgard, Louis L'Amour, R.E. Howard, Tolkien and Scott of course, and Fritz Leiber. Of course I also read blogs, and newspapers -- more than a dozen of those, mostly in the PACOM region. That occupies a lot of my time.

Q: Who are your cultural heroes?

Grim: I just blogged about one of them: James Jackson, an early American hero of the Revolution who ought to be better known than he is. He was a great man. Also I would say Teddy Roosevelt (who singlehandedly rescued my hope for Yankees). Good old Zell Miller, who is as close to James Jackson as you'll find in today's culture. It's a shame we don't have more like him.

Q: What is your favourite poem?.

Grim: _The Ballad of the White Horse_ by G. K. Chesterton. I am also very fond of the _Beowulf_ and the Fitzgerald translation of the _Iliad_. I wish I could read the original, but my ancient Greek is very limited -- I know only snatches and key phrases, such as I studied while completing my Master of Arts.

Q: What is your favourite song?

Grim: Hard to say. Most of the songs I sing are either old Irish folk songs (due to the fact that they are easy to learn, as any Irish pub will have singers in regularly to play them), or old cowboy/bluegrass numbers I learned growing up in Georgia. These are my favorites collectively, but I'm not sure which one I'd pick above all the others.

Q: Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind?

Grim: Yes. Before 9/11, I was an isolationist. I have come to understand that the liberals were right all along: we do need to be engaged in the struggle against tyranny beyond our shores. Unfortunately, of course, many of the old Bosnia-era interventionists have changed their minds in exactly the opposite fashion, for reasons that aren't entirely clear.

Q: What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate?

A: That a free man must give more attention to his duty than his rights; and that the most important duty, and the most important right, is to uphold the common peace. We must unlearn the notion that enforcing the law is the goverment's job, or that it is first and foremost "police work." The opposite is true, and has always been true in the West: it is the duty of the free citizen. The police are hired to assist us by being easy to call to our aid, and by patrolling to keep an eye on areas not often traveled by honest citizens. But it is our duty first.

The law is actually quite clear on this point: the police have what is called a "general" duty to provide protection for the community, but are never liable for a failure to render aid to a citizen in a specific case. There was a USSC case about that this week, which simply reasserted the old principle. The individual, however, certainly can be brought before the court if he simply ignored a crime or tragedy in progress. The case could be civil, or it could be criminal under several statutes: failure to render aid is an offense in cases of traffic accidents, for example; one could be charged as an accessory after the fact in some cases, and there are other ways in which you are liable as well.

The more citizens who take seriously the notion of being part of the law, themselves, the smaller the area in which criminals can operate. The more of us who become engaged in the performance of that duty, the more capable we will be of restraining the goverment's liberty-threatening expansion, which is always at its most dangerous when it claims to be protecting us. If we would be free men, we must protect ourselves.

By coincidence, this is also a national security issue. I've been talking a lot about 4th Generation Warfare at 4th Rail and elsewhere. One of the key problems of 4gen war is that the enemy blurs the line between civilian and military to the point that it can even vanish -- as in Iraq, where the citizens are now the primary target of the enemy, and must therefore become capable of recognizing and responding to the enemy because they will be the only force in readiness available to protect the common peace. This was true on 9/11, too, when the citizens on the one airplane realized that they alone could rise up to smite the terrorists. Because terrorists choose to strike when police and soldiers are not around, all of us must be ready to do our duty to the common peace at a moment's notice, to the best of our ability. The more we are able to do so, the stronger our nation will be against 4gen threats of any kind -- and the less we'll need Patriot! Acts, intrusive counterintelligence agencies, FBI spies in our own society, and the like.

Q: What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat?

Grim: Obviously, the converse: the notion that only government officials should be armed or trained in arms. A common argument against that is that this road has so often led to genocide or democide, and that is true. But even in cases when it does not, it leads to an unfree citizenry -- either because they end up surrendering their privacy to the point of surrendering liberty (see Mark Steyn's recent article on Britain considering a ban on the wearing of hoods or hats in public, because it interferes with government cameras ability to spy out criminals), or because they become incapable of defending their liberty even when they would.

If decent people can and will stand up and fight, each and every one, neither criminal organizations nor terrorists nor enemy armies pose any threat to our liberty -- and our government poses much less of one. If we can't, or won't, all of these threats magnify out of measure.

Q: Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world?

Grim: Yes, several. But here is a special one: Albert Lord's _The Singer of Tales_, which was a groundbreaking work on epic poetry. Depending on who you are, that either will or won't sound interesting -- but I suspect that the people who most think it sounds uninteresting would be most taken by it.

Q: Who are your political heroes?

Grim: The last good politician was Zell Miller. I'm not aware of another currently practicing who can be trusted. Perhaps another will arise soon; perhaps not.

Q: What is your favourite piece of political wisdom?

Grim: The Gettysburg Address, which captured what should always and forever be the American creed in times of darkness. Our sacrifices must always serve as fuel to relight the lamp of liberty: or, as a contemporary of Lincoln's had it, "as He died to make us holy, let us die to make men free." Someone once said that the path of heroism leads only to the grave, and that is true. But show me the road that leads anywhere else.

Q: If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be?

Grim: The courts would begin to enforce the Second Amendment, according to original intent.

Q: What would you do with the UN?

Grim: Withdraw from it entirely, pay for its relocation from New York so that it could be cast adrift in Europe or preferably in Africa, and sink under its own weight.

Q: What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world?

Grim: Changing technology. Now, don't get me wrong -- I'm all in favor of technology. Nevertheless, it is dangerous in this way: it is taking us out of all known forms and methods for organizing a society. In a way that simply hasn't been true in ten thousand years, we are feeling our way along. We must be extremely mindful to preserve human liberty as we grow in our ability to control the human body; we must be mindful to preserve order as we grow in our ability to develop and control powerful forces, such as nuclear power; and even that will not be enough. There are no clear answers to a lot of the questions raised by technology. I hope, of course, for a bright future made possible by those very technologies -- if we can answer the moral and ethical questions, I think it will come to us. But because old models don't always give us insight, there is no guarantee that we will choose wisely from among the options.&nb! sp; This is something about which we should all spend a lot of time thinking.

Q: What would be your most important piece of advice about life?

Grim: Fear nothing. If you find that you're afraid of something, figure out why, and learn either to accept it if you can't control it, or to control it if you can't accept it. There is no reason to be afraid of anything that doesn't lie in your own heart: and your heart is one thing you can always change.

Q: Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own?

Grim: Only if polygamy becomes legal. Otherwise, I'm already married to a woman who agrees with me fairly well on most points, and I do not mean to be separated from her but by the grave.

However -- I think the spirit of the question was otherwise, so let me say, yes. I don't mind disagreement, even on the fundamentals. In fact, almost all of my close and true friends are people who differ radically from me on politics in one way or another. I seek out people like that, the ones who will accept and return respect, because they are often the ones who can teach you the most. I've found some very good people that way, and I'm the better for it.

Q: What do you consider the most important personal quality?

Grim: Forgiveness. It is what makes love possible between men and women, fathers and sons, sons and fathers, and all of mankind. And love, as we have been told, is the greatest thing of all.

Q: What personal fault do you most dislike?

Grim: I cannot abide cruelty. There is no excuse for it, and it merits no tolerance.

Q: In what circumstances would you be willing to lie?

Grim: A just war. In such cases, it must sometimes be done.

Q: Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge?

Grim: I believe I already mentioned the Yankees. Actually, I embrace a wide range of prejudices: in favor of the life of the wild and the rural instead of that of the city; in favor of the strenuous life, as TR said, instead of the life of urbane comfort; in favor of the life that engages creation with an eager assertion of both body and mind, instead of one or the other -- or neither.

Q: What is your favourite proverb?

Grim: 12:10. I've always held that you can judge the quality of a man best by meeting his dog.

Q: What is your most treasured possession?

Grim: My grandfather's John B. Stetson hat, which I inherited after he passed on. I wear it most days, as it is a fine hat for winter or summer, spring or fall. Some days I wear other hats, but it is by far my favorite, and the best thing I own.

Q: What talent would you most like to have?

Grim: The talent for convincing people to give me a chance to try things. Time and again in my life, people have made up their minds about me based on first impressions. I've missed out on many jobs I know I'd have done well and enjoyed, simply because they had a notion of what 'the right kind of person to do X' was like, and I'm not very much like anybody. As a result, I've missed out on a lot of opportunities.

Q: Who is your favourite comedian or humorist?

Grim: Mark Steyn, who is also a serious writer. Nevertheless, he's one of a very few people who can turn a phrase that will make me laugh aloud.

Posted by Cassandra at July 4, 2005 06:25 AM

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Happy 239th Birthday America!!!!
Long may ye stand.


ftr--the thigh-high stockings and garter belt.....gotta love that look.

Posted by: Greg at July 4, 2005 10:43 AM

Well Said Grim! I still like W.E.B. Griffin as a fiction writer though.

You sir have more patience than the Pope! Your ability to banter with effete liberals is something to be admired. Alas, as you well know, I quickly lose patience and cannot stomach the disagreement!

Enjoyed the 4th Generation Warfare post as well over at Bill's.

Happy 4th of July! May we truly learn to return to the very words our Country was founded upon.

At least the Declaration isn't living and breathing yet. At least last time I checked!

Time to set up the keg and clean the grill! Woo-Hoo! Hair-o-the-Dog? ;-)

Posted by: JarheadDad at July 4, 2005 11:08 AM

Thank you Greg. Two things I am inordinately fond of: pretty stockings and old-fashioned dresses :)

Three things, actually - I like shoes too :) Don't have a million pair because I'm picky and don't like to spend a lot of money, but when I see a pair I really like...

JHD, you hit very close to what I was going to write about today, but no time. Sigh... maybe tomorrow.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 4, 2005 11:49 AM

No hair-of-the-dog for me. I spent part of the morning trying (again) to clear out those wasp nests under the deck, and got stung up once more. Little #@$@# got me in the back -- I never saw or heard him until he was on me.

So, it's Benadryl for me on Independence Day. I swear, I've dumped probably four pounds of wasp and hornet killer down on various nests, and paid a professional $150 to come out and do their thing, and those suckers are still out there. I'm going with the scorched earth plan.

Posted by: Grim at July 4, 2005 12:04 PM

I totally agree with Greg on the thigh high garter thingie! Now that is just simply dead sexy in the most feminine way! heh! More is less and the modern show it all fashions do nothing for me. But then I'm old and gray. And not dead yet! ;-)

Funny aside (well it was funny last night anyhoo): we were all relaxing on the screen porch yesterday evening. Just the family sitting around enjoying the normal banter and having some laughs when all of a sudden our neighbors in the back fired off a HUGE skyrocket. The concussion was LOUD and it caused an unexpected reaction in Da Grunt that took everyone by surprise. He came out of his seat in a full dive and nailed his younger brother on the way down knocking him through the screen door! If it hadn't been so funny it probably would've been sad but we were already in hilarity mode due to massive adult beverage consumption. In no way was he embarrassed as he would've been in another state of mind and after we picked his brother out of the stair well the incident became the highlight of banter and teasing! One cannot have a big head around here or it will be deflated in short order! Heh!

Needless to say there will be no fireworks display in our future for this evening. It is very uncomfortable for him to be around. Hey! At least he already repaired the door this morning. He and his brother giggled the whole time doing the needed repairs! Sounded like a couple of school boys that got caught with their fingers in the pie! :-o

The local Jarheads roll out at 0530 tomorrow morning so we will definitely "pass a good time" today and this evening. I can just imagine them being poured out of the truck when they return to CL! he-he! One poor PFC has been "designated" so his 4th will be a bit subdued I imagine. Oh well, rank, and seniority, hath it's privileges! ;-)

What a leave this has been. I look at these young Marines and just shake my head in wonder. Especially after the evening advances, I find myself "all swole up" with the pride of just knowing them! My youngest says, after a few adult beverages, that I "puff up like a peacock" which naturally leads to not rescuing him quickly when he goes airborn through screen doors. Does him good to hang upside down on the railings for awhile! Teaches humility! :-o

Man! I need to go back to work to get some rest! :-)

Posted by: JarheadDad at July 4, 2005 12:21 PM

Hey, don't laugh. I was walking out of a gas station not too long ago, and unbeknowst to me, these guys were airing up the tire on their dump truck. It was overloaded, and the pressure gauge didn't work right, and so the tire went BOOM!

I didn't even realize I'd heard it go until I was already picking myself up off the ground. And I've only had bombs set off near me in training exercises.

Boy's all right, if you ask me. The ground is just where he should have been.

Posted by: Grim at July 4, 2005 12:27 PM

I have a case of that high powered wasp and hornet killer Grim. You can nail those suckers at 500 yds! ;-)

Man, that's gotta' really bite (pun intended!)! The only excitement we've in regard to Nature was yesterday when Mozart The King came home with his offering to The King of the Castle as is only just! Unfortunately this time it was not the normal fare of dead mice, moles, excetera, but instead a live offering. Of the Copperhead variety! heh! Talk about scrambling for cover! :-o

Mozart did lead me to the nest though. I went around out back and caught up The Terminator (a five foot Kingsnake we keep around) and showed him the nest. End of Copperhead problem although The Terminator can barely slither along as his paunch is rather full. That's one greedy snake! heh! ;-)

Posted by: JarheadDad at July 4, 2005 12:27 PM

Aw, JHD. I know I've said this before, but ask your lovely bride to plant a big one on that young man's cheek for me, will ya?

I don't care if he likes it or not.

He needs all of that sort of thing he can get before he heads back over there. God bless him.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 4, 2005 12:28 PM

And Grim, thank you so much for agreeing to do this - I have already had two emails from readers - very complimentary to you.

I'd say more, but you'll start blushing and I don't want to chase you off. Besides I'm supposed to be in the kitchen...

Posted by: Cassandra at July 4, 2005 12:30 PM

JHD, please pass on to Da Grunt and his posse my best wishes to them all......Keep their heads on a swivel, and GOOD HUNTING!.

Back to the sartorial issue (gosh, I love that look).JHD hit the pint--less is more, and imagination will always be better than a gynecology display....re: camel-toe..thanks again Cassandra, those pin-ups are timeless.


Posted by: Greg at July 4, 2005 03:38 PM

Great post Cass.

Happy 4th!!!! Please tell me you are going to leave that pinup up their permanently. I love those old style pinups.

Posted by: William Teach [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 4, 2005 04:20 PM


Posted by: spd rdr at July 4, 2005 05:55 PM


It takes one to know one, mr rdr :)

And this is the thanks I get - sigh...

Happy 4th of July!

Posted by: Cassandra at July 4, 2005 08:57 PM

Happy 4th, Cassandra! Just wanted to deliver a personal apology for not noticing that I hadn't yet incorporated your Injured Marines Semper Fi Fund into the main body of our comprehensive "How to Support the Troops" post.

It's in there now.

Posted by: Joe Katzman at July 5, 2005 12:29 AM

I read and laughed. Give both of your young men a hug from us.

Our fourth was quiet...

Excellent post Cass, and am looking forward to reading Grim's blog.

Posted by: Cricket at July 5, 2005 10:00 AM

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