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April 28, 2008

And To Keep Our Honor Clean

I haven't felt much like writing lately. There hasn't been much to say about the news that doesn't seem intuitively obvious, even to those who can only afford half the proverbial clue.

Jeremiah Wright is still an egotistical, bigoted blowhard. Andrew Sullivan is still firmly in the running for Most Delusional Person on the Face of the Earth. Britney Spears seems grimly determined to plumb the depths of serial emotional train-wreckery as performance art. If you give kids an inch, (duh) they'll still take a mile (though at this point, some intrepid soul will pop up like Whack a Mole and argue the sheer impossibility of imposing any limits on human behavior without careening down the Otter Slide to Hell and an eventual police state).

Somewhere along the line, common sense seems to have gotten lost.

The latest Brouhaha-du-Jour is a real gem: a non-story that doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting past both Houses, but nonetheless managed to fire up Outrage-o-Meters everywhere. Who knew there were nosy, incompetent morons in Congress?

Over at National Review, there has been a brief kerfuffle over Representative Broun's (R-Ga) bill to ban the sale of Playboy, etc, in military exchanges. He does not approve of federal funds being expended to provide this service. When he was told the Exchanges were self-funded, he and his staff didn't blink an eye. They said "soldiers are paid with federal funds, therefore..."

No, really. I've been contemplating a response. While I've been dithering, Patrick Lasswell of Moderate Risk put up something I can live with as a response. I would note that troops buy tobacco and alcohol and fatty foods, fast cars, and motorcycles with those *federal* dollars. As do I, as a retiree. Perhaps the Congressman wishes me to account for all my purchases, and find another source of funds for those things he might find offensive.... -the Armorer

I haven't had much to say about it for a number of reasons.

First of all, this bill isn't going anywhere. During wartime, a bill with 16 sponsors to ban Playboy from post exchanges isn't going to garner anywhere near the public support needed to pass muster in both houses, especially with stories like this in the news:

The U.S. military is promising action to address conditions in a barracks at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, after a soldier's father posted images on YouTube showing a building that he said "should be condemned."

Frawley's 10-minute video shows still photos from throughout the building, which appears to be falling apart and filled with mold and rust.

Paint -- which Frawley said is lead-based -- is chipping. Ceiling tiles are missing. A broken drain pipe allows sewer gas into the building, while another one has tissues stuffed into it in an apparent effort to stop the gas from coming in.

Photos from the communal bathroom show some of the most disgusting images. In one, a soldier stands in a sink to avoid what Frawley describes as 3 inches of sewage water that filled the floor when toilets overflowed.

Paging Rep. Broun: your constituents would like a word with you. And it's not Playboy they're exercised about.

But the biggest reason I didn't care to weigh in on this issue is that I didn't care to be identified with several of the people I happened to agree with on the topic. If you find it at least mildly entertaining when I get wound up, prepare to be amused.

First of all, let's stipulate a few things. And because of the emotional (that's right, I said emotional) nature of the arguments I saw presented for opposing this bill, I'm going to bold them so there is no mistaking my position:

1. I think Rep. Broun's bill is not only misguided but counterproductive. In plain English, that means I think it's a Very Dumb Idea.

But I disagree - strongly - with many ,if not most, of the arguments made against the bill along with the behavior of many of the opponents of those who support it. You do your position no favors by arguing in emotional terms, or attacking your opponents personally. If you have the right of an issue, you ought to be able to express yourself dispassionately and articulately without resorting to ad hominems. If you cannot do so, perhaps you ought to take a long, hard (heh... she said 'long and hard') look into the old bathroom mirror and ask whether there isn't, perhaps, a tiny grain of truth to what your opponents have to say?

Because more often than not in life, there is.

There are ALWAYS two sides to an argument, and it is almost never the case that only one side possesses a monopoly on virtue. It may be that your values cause you to come down on one side or the other. But that doesn't mean that there is no merit to the other person's position, and if you are so philosophically and intellectually rigid (heh... she said... oh, never mind) that you can't see that then I don't see much light between you and the so-called Looney Left "we" are always taking to task for their "intolerance".

Yeah, I'm really angry. And yeah, I'm talking to both sides here.

I see a logical argument to be made against this bill. It is, simply, that these magazines, like alcohol, tobacco and the like, are morale and recreational items greatly desired by adult service members. They are, in a word, enjoyable. That is all they are. They are not "necessary". The world would not come to a precipitous end if they were more difficult to obtain. They are just enjoyable.

Consumed in moderation (which is the responsibility of all rational adults) they cause no undue harm. They are not illegal for civilian citizens of the United States. And it is not illegal for service members to possess them.

Now here comes a BIG caveat. Under the 1997 law, our very own Congress DID make it illegal for both Playboy and Penthouse to be sold in base exchanges. No rational reading of that law could possibly find that these magazines are mere cheesecake (Have you read a Penthouse lately? Penthouse features actual sexual penetration, which last time I checked goes way beyond mere naked female breasts). No rational reading of that law could find that Playboy or Penthouse were meant to be exempted from that law. Which brings me to my Stipulations #2 and #3:

2. I think the 1997 law is stupid, misguided, and probably counterproductive as well. I think DoD exempted Playboy and Penthouse to make the best of a bad situation, but I don't think we want DoD deciding which federal laws they will obey. They went about this in the wrong way. The law should have been fixed to make it more reasonable instead of doing an end run around the law.

Bottom line: currently, DoD is quite arguably in violation of a federal law. Which in my book gives Rep. Broun a rational, if unpalatable, leg to stand on. People may not like it, but there it is. Furthermore, I'm not sure that defending the "right" of DoD to defy federal legislation is a hill conservatives want to defend.

Interesting position, guys. You'll pardon me if I observe that your outrage is beginning to sound an awful lot more like end-justifies-the-means expediency rather than principle. And over girlie magazines, no less. Fix the law so it is just and correct, gentlemen. But don't rationalize the so-called "right" of DoD to defy Congress.

3. Sorry, but the "Boys will be boys" argument is not a compelling basis for making or refraining from federal legislation.

Argue your constitutional rights, and I'll defend you to the death.
But do not waste my time with emotion-based arguments like this one:

Oooohhhh!!!! Don't take away their porn or Our Boys won't be able to fight!!!

Oh. Come. On. Can we be any more condescending? Sure, men like porn. But it's a want, not a need. They can also fight without cigarettes. Or alcohol (General Order #1 anyone?) though I have no desire to force them to do either. Men are better than this. I know. I'm married to one and I raised two more.

Armies have fought before without porn and they will fight again without it. Oddly enough, there are even men who don't like porn and don't use it and yet have gone on to actually do manly things. Go figure. And there are others who do use porn and manage not to be perverts or immoral degenerates. It takes all kinds in life. I am sick to death of judgmental posts/comments to the effect that that anyone who doesn't share the writer's sexual tastes (whether they choose to indulge in erotica or not) must have some kind of sexual dysfunction.

How about a little humility? Be honest. You don't know a Goddamned thing about the intimate life of the person you're talking to. Again, if you're not able to formulate a cogent argument for your position without calling your opponent either a joyless scold or a pervert, perhaps it is you who has issues and not them?

Then there's the Ne Plus Ultra of all argument enders:

The Appeal To History.

Guess what? While I don't have any aesthetic issues with pinups either (anyone take a look at the top of my site lately?), that ship sailed long ago.

Whether you like it or not, the military workplace has changed since Vietnam and WWII. As a matter of fact, so has the civilian workplace. Grow up.

Nowhere that I am aware of would anyone be allowed to post pinups or centerfolds. Do the words "hostile workplace environment" or "sexual harassment" mean anything to anyone? It doesn't really matter whether anyone likes this: it is reality. The military is a federal employer and they are subject to federal laws. Posting photos of airplanes with nude women painted on the side, though no doubt arousing and amusing, just isn't "on" anymore and that isn't Rep. Broun's fault.

Somewhere, when you weren't looking, the world changed and you're going to have to change with it.

Open sexuality has no place in a mixed gender office, and for better or worse, even the battlefield is now mixed gender. When people are forced to live and work in close quarters, they have to accept certain limits on their behavior. That is precisely why I have harshly criticized oxygen thieves like Taylor Marsh who want to dress provocatively in the office and yet criticize men for staring at their breasts. If you display your wares, men are going to look. This (aside from nursing) is what breasts are for.

And if you react like a scalded cat, you earn the enmity of not just men but other women who aren't taken seriously as professionals thanks to your destructive game playing.

Likewise, if your conception of being "manly" includes the "right" to display full nudity in the workplace and call anyone who has an issue with that a joyless scold with sexual issues, well, I'm going to call BS on that because I happen to think that's unprofessional as hell. When I show up in an office, I don't expect to see either the Playmate of the Month or Casey Donovan's wanker. It's an unnecessary distraction, just as seeing your children scurrying around the office is an unnecessary distraction. Leave the personal at home.

4. Women who feel validated by putting other women down need to knock it off.

Again, to head off the by-now-mandatory flood of "Ooooh! you frigid, joyless scold" remarks, let me refer you to Stipulation #1:

I DON'T AGREE WITH BANNING GIRLIE MAGS FROM THE BASE EXCHANGE.

I DON'T AGREE WITH BANNING GIRLIE MAGS FROM THE BASE EXCHANGE.

I DON'T AGREE WITH BANNING GIRLIE MAGS FROM THE BASE EXCHANGE.

Beetlejuice!

Happy now? But what I like even less is seeing women who for some unknown reason feel obligated to unleash the tactical nukes on other women who disagree with them. It's bad enough watching the men go to town on these women.

But quite frankly, I'm not any more impressed with the "I mail my husband/SO" porn argument than I would be with the "I mail my husband/SO" any other contraband in violation of General Order #1.

Good for you. So what, precisely, is your plan if he gets in trouble because of something you unwisely sent him? Because, you know, that thought occurred to me too. Several times. At my age, there is very little that doesn't occur to me.

If I had a dime for every officer from whom I've seen comments about his wife mailing him some form of contraband on this topic, I'd be a rich woman. And hey, whatever floats your boat. None of my business, really. But does it ever occur to you people what kind of example that sets?

We all know there are rules out there, which we may not as private citizens care for.

We all also know that people can and do go around them.

I think we all also realize that in general it sucks to be an officer because you really are supposed to be trying to enforce those rules, whether or not you personally endorse them or the morality/ends they seek to uphold. The thing is, I don't understand people who feel it necessary to undermine the command.

I really don't understand officers who feel this need. Part of what you are getting paid for is to support the command, even when you disagree with it. This was what I liked so much about Sec. Gates' speech the other day: sure, voice your dissent all the way up to the point where the decision goes against you. But then, it is your duty as officer to faithfully implement policy.

EVEN POLICY YOU DON'T, PERSONALLY, CARE FOR.

And it seems to me that it really doesn't help to have officers (and milbloggers) openly making it quite plain that they go out of their way to personally flout the rules whenever possible.

Or didn't that occur to you?

Yeah. I guess not. We don't have to talk about everything we do in life, and yeah, I guess I'm a joyless scold for reminding some people of things that are (or ought to be) uncomfortable. Get the fuck over it.

Maybe that's just one more thing "we women" do in life. I'm not anyone's mother, nor do I aspire to be. No one has to listen to me, or be persuaded by anything I say. But one thing I will never do is back down from what I genuinely believe to be the right thing in life. Even if I know beforehand it is going to cause some people to think I am sanctimonious or preachy.

To me, that is the definition of honor: to defend the principles you think are right. In this case, that has very little to do with porn and everything to do with staying true to what we purport to believe in.

I guess I've said my piece.


Posted by Cassandra at April 28, 2008 08:56 AM

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Comments

Guess so...
*whistles*

Posted by: spd rdr at April 29, 2008 11:00 AM

Well said as usual. The workplace is not a porn stage with all the distractions that would entail. The true measure of character is holding dear principles you don't particularly agree with. Personal integrity is more important than personal desires.

Posted by: vet66 at April 29, 2008 11:33 AM

To be clear, porn doesn't happen to be my thing but it is not illegal and I see no reason for Congress to place onerous restrictions on it when they would never dream of imposing such restrictions on private citizens. And I don't think much of most of the arguments coming out of Rep. Broun's office.

But I thought even less of most of the arguments I saw comings from "our side".

There's a principled argument to be made for opposing the bill and it's that the ORIGINAL bill was overly restrictive. Not sure what problem Congress thought they were solving (Rep. Broun's rape argument is nothing short of ludicrous), but there ought to be more of a burden on them to show some rational benefit before they start arbitrarily chipping away at the rights of military men and women. And if you live on a remote installation and live in a barracks, the PX may be the only place you can shop, so the argument that "they can just shop elsewhere" is a non-starter.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 29, 2008 11:48 AM

Also, when are they going to ban Cosmo? There's more prurient material in the average issue of Cosmopolitan than you can shake a stick at, but hell will freeze over before our Congressional overlords aim their moral thunderbolts at any of the idiotic grrrrllll mags.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 29, 2008 11:52 AM

WOW! For someone who adds a "k" to a familiar four-letter word to avoid invoking the Dark Lord by referring to the putrid pit of boiling excrement that is his abode for all eternity, you sure did put a lot of "strong" words in this post. We admit we kinda like it when a lady knows how and when to swear. But then again, we always were getting into trouble.

Posted by: Ministry of Love at April 29, 2008 12:02 PM

Don't have anything to add to what Cass said (other than pointless personal anecdotes) except to say that apparently Rep Broun represents a district with no military bases in the area. What that means is probably nothing, other than none of his constituents would be affected by his bill.

Oh, and Cass... please remind me never to get you angry. :)

Posted by: MikeD at April 29, 2008 12:18 PM

Whew, that was a lot of shelling, kidding. I read some of those comments and I was thinking, "do you really talk to people this way?" It often amazes me what people are willing to write as a comment. My motto: if you wouldn't say it, don't write it.

Posted by: Allen at April 29, 2008 12:35 PM

Tempest. Teapot.

Personally, I'd rather see the Congresscritters lean on the local PX/BX to stock more than a single brand of disposable razors ("New! Triple-flex action reduces razor-burn *and* induces 5-o'clock shadow by noontime!") and some ground coffee that doesn't use date-palm sawdust for filler...

Posted by: BillT at April 29, 2008 12:36 PM

That was my husband's reaction.

It annoys him that these guys would try something like that, but he is smart enough to realize it's going nowhere. Frankly, he was more offended that I couldn't mail him pork products over there.

I don't have any problem with people discussing it.

What I don't get is the need to go nuclear on anyone who disagrees with you on a personal level. This is a big part of why I have written about this issue as often as I have.

I don't, actually, have anything to say about it anymore because it's not that big a deal.

Aside from one or two interesting facets to the debate, I'm not sure how much you can talk about it. But what bothers me is how quickly these discussions devolve into the personal.

Women are already hesitant to bring a lot of contentious topics up without knowing that if they dare to say anything contrary to the accepted mantra, they'll be branded 'shrill shrieking harridans" or "joyless scolds".

Wow. And yet women are defensive and emotional on this subject? Yikes.

I think there are intelligent points to be made in most debates, even by people I happen to disagree with. I thought that Patrick Laswell (whom I don't know from Adam) managed to be respectful and dispassionate in his comments, though in his posts he couldn't quite keep out the condescension, and that's unfortunate. I know most of the women he linked to and they're great people. But just because you disagree with them (or me) doesn't make you bitter or horrible.

I think we can do better.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 29, 2008 12:49 PM

Sput! Sputter! If they want my pr0n they can just Molon Labe!

To the Ramparts! Prepare to Repel Boarders!

Ready the pitchfork-benders and torch extinguishers!

Geez, just point out a Congressman with more time on his hands than sense and what's it get ya?

Linkage!

Except nobodies' clickin' on it.

Faugh!

What's the point of bringing up pr0n if ya can't score some decent linkage?

*Flounce*

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at April 29, 2008 02:09 PM

If you find it at least mildly entertaining when I get wound up, prepare to be amused.

In return, let me amuse you by pointing out that we're on opposite sides of our usual fences. This is an occasion when I'd be willing to accept regulation, provided it were properly structured. I was perfectly willing to accept banning Playboy, etc., from the PX -- if it had been done on the grounds that PXs are located on Federal land.

What outraged me about this was the claim that soldiers' use of their salaries should be subject to Congressional legislation.

That is a very bad principle. The concept that the Federal government doesn't want Playboy sold on its property, well, OK. I could buy that.

Posted by: Grim at April 29, 2008 02:12 PM

Oh, actually I agree with you 100%, Grim :p

I didn't want to get into the weeds, but if you go into the actual full arguments made, I don't entirely disagree with all of them.

I think the federal government has a limited right to decide what the exchange system will, and will not sell.

Furthermore, I think the Congressman's office wasn't entirely inaccurate when they pointed out that federal dollars are used to transport this merchandise and to employ the DoD personnel (though not the sales clerks) who work in the exchange system. And exchanges are located on federal land. So on that ground they can certainly argue that to some extent the sales of these mags are being "subsidized" by federal dollars and ought to be subject to federal regulation.

The paycheck argument, on the otter heiny, was 100% BS and I'd fight that one to the death.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 29, 2008 02:23 PM

... a non-story that doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting past both Houses, but nonetheless managed to fire up Outrage-o-Meters everywhere

Tempest. Teapot.

reminds us of ...

" ...Old lady judges, watch people in pairs
Limited in sex, they dare
To push fake morals, insult and stare
While money doesn't talk, it swears
Obscenity, who really cares
Propaganda, all is phony."

Posted by: Ministry of Love at April 29, 2008 02:33 PM

Milady, you have thrust a deft pen to a point yet again and right after your Cliff's Notes on Leadership, Duty and Honor in the Comfortably Dumb thread. As was said above, I hope to never incur your wrath.

"They said "soldiers are paid with federal funds, therefore..."
AKA US tax revenue, which BTW just happens to be the source of income for the Congressional widgets and their staff, therefore... Shouldn't they be doing something about some of the major issues facing the nation and for the benefit of those who pay the taxes into the federal funds repository? Something constructive?

Speaking of which, did anyone hear The Shrub speak this am? While he may not be a Toastmaster, he surely nailed some very important points concerning the health of the nation, the economy, energy and security. The responsibility for all of which, if I'm not mistaken, rests collectively at the feet of the Congress.

Compare and contrast with candidate B.O. who is now speaking, oh so eloquently, on Wright versus wrong...

Posted by: bthun at April 29, 2008 02:34 PM

Ok, so I do have something to add. Grim and Cass are 100% correct. Congresscritters certainly DO have the right to regulate what is and is not sold on federal property, and also are correct that it's utter and total bullshite that he was claiming that soldier's pay is taxpayer money. And there's where I have stuff to add.

Much like the irate driver who bitches to the cop "I pay your salary," this gets on my nerves. No, you don't. You pay taxes. I pay taxes. Pretty much everybody pays taxes. A solder's (or cop's) salary IS NOT YOUR MONEY. It is a payment of debt from the government to that solder (or cop). That money ceased being yours when you sent that check to the government, and it ceased being the government's when they cut that check for the solder. Any sorry politician who tried to prevent me from purchasing any legal product or service with MY MONEY (regardless of source) would be in for a razor-edged tounge lashing about the extent of government intrusion on my civil liberties. Now, if he'd like to outlaw something so I can't buy it, pass the law. If he'd like to regulate where I can buy it, pass the law. But to try and regulate HOW I spend MY money on something outside those boundaries above, kiss my ass.

Posted by: MikeD at April 29, 2008 02:35 PM

What's the point of bringing up pr0n if ya can't score some decent linkage?

John, you would have liked the post I almost did a few days ago better :p Fortunately for everyone, I thought better of it.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 29, 2008 02:36 PM

If bloggers (or Congress for that matter) want to get outraged, why don't they get outraged over the condition of many of the living quarters we have to deal with?

Why don't they get outraged over the fact that as long as I can recall, the military has run out of funds for training before the end of the FY?

Why don't they get outraged over our shrinking ability to meet the mission?

Why don't they get outraged over increasingly expensive weapons systems and start asking when we will put money into PEOPLE, which is what it takes to fight and win wars? You can't take and hold ground with weapons systems. You can't do COIN with weapons systems.

Duh. Yes, we need those things, but they are (often) Congressional pork. People are what it takes to fight and win ground wars.

There are some legitimate gripes about the Army's tours and perhaps Congress ought to start increasing the size of the services so people aren't doing back to back tours. These are force structure problems. They won't go away.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 29, 2008 02:43 PM

I guess I've said my piece.

um ... your peace?

Posted by: Ministry of Love at April 29, 2008 02:51 PM

No.

I meant it as in, "a piece of my mind" :p

Posted by: Cassandra at April 29, 2008 03:03 PM

I can't help it if I am addicted to wordplay :p

Posted by: Cassandra at April 29, 2008 03:04 PM

While I object to porn for personal/religious reasons, my political one is that I didn't see restricting it as a violation of free speech.

Goodness knows, porn has been around since pictures could be drawn or painted. That isn't the point I am trying to make here.

What I have always objected to is the availability of it in the base exchanges. No adult section policed by some wizened old geezer to check IDs.

It is right there on the rack...covered discreetly of course, but with titillating titles tantalizing taller patrons of the male and age indeterminate gender.

That is all.

Posted by: Cricket at April 29, 2008 03:15 PM

After all, wizened old geezers need jobs too!

*ducking and running*

Posted by: Cricket at April 29, 2008 03:16 PM

Heh. While the Cricket-derived CLUs may not have the access, more and *ahem* "better" pr0n is available with the flick of a mouse.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at April 29, 2008 03:24 PM

That's true. I've been posting bawdy lyrics for weeks.

Posted by: Grim at April 29, 2008 03:30 PM

I think the federal government has a limited right to decide what the exchange system will, and will not sell.

I promise that I will *not* raise the subject of displaying thongs amidst the 40mm grenade pouches and ChiCom KaBar knockoffs.

After all, wizened old geezers need jobs too!

Thanks Ever So for not referring to me as a sunken-chested, pencil-necked gnome...

Posted by: BillT at April 29, 2008 03:43 PM

Multicolored thongs, no less!

Posted by: Cassandra at April 29, 2008 03:47 PM

Yeah, calling you a pencil-necked, sunken-chested wizened old gnome is *my* schtick.

This thread hijack is compleat.

Grim, posting bawdy lyrics? I've *got* to tweak my RSS feed... I missed that.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at April 29, 2008 03:53 PM

I can't help it if I am addicted to wordplay :p

better than being addicted to porn ... or is it?

Posted by: Ministry of Lust at April 29, 2008 03:59 PM

Well, Ms. Minister, at least we've avoided swordplay wordplay.

Oops.

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at April 29, 2008 04:02 PM

My wife's son is a Ssgt, and has been over there twice so far. When we sent him stuff through the mail, there was a list a mile long of things we could not send. The stuff on Broun's list is just a fraction of what's on their list.

But it looks like Broun is envious of some screen time on CNN, so he's put on his moron hat.

On the other hand, this is a case of "when we're there, we have to live by their rules". Doesn't matter that we're there trying to save them from one of the most virulent cancers around.

On the other matter, I read the comments under the Ft Bragg video. Some made a good case that building maintenance is done by the troops. Evidently the Ft Bragg homeowner's association doesn't hire a crew - though considering that the troops are otherwise engaged in remote places for lengthy periods, it seems reasonable to cut loose a few of those Congressional dollars that now go to public monuments and regional beautification programs, and spend them fixing up the barracks (which at their best don't even come up to Motel 6 standards).

About your #3 - there's a delightful story about an English woman known as Jane, during WW II. She was the archetypical "pinup girl" for English warriors. Her story's at

Jane

She was a real trouper.

Here's the part relevant to the argument of #3 (3rd paragraph)

"... one story comes to mind that best illustrates her effect on those in the armed services. A British submarine had been attacked, and was crippled and powerless on the bottom of the ocean. Sea currents swirled round the vessel and there was always the chance the enemy would swoop in for the kill. The crew inside fully expected the vessel to become their tomb, but knew how they wanted to spend their last moments. A request was put in to the captain. The submariners wanted to live out what time remained gazing at pictures, currently in his safe, of a stunningly beautiful woman from Eastleigh, Hampshire. Their commanding officer obliged and the images of the supremely sexy Christabel Leighton-Porter, aka "Jane," were distributed.

Unbelievably, this particular maritime incident had a happy ending."

The difference between then and now - and perhaps between English and American - is this:

"Though Jane certainly made male hearts pound faster, she clearly inhabited a smut-free zone. There was a sense of innocence about the cartoons and the heroine's honor always remained unsullied."

Posted by: ZZMike at April 29, 2008 04:07 PM

See my latest post :)

You'll like it.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 29, 2008 04:18 PM

Well, Ms. Minister, at least we've avoided swordplay wordplay. ... Oops.

Yes - the readers have kept the lid on the verbal thrust and parry ... [pi]

Ms.?

Posted by: Ministry of Lust at April 29, 2008 04:20 PM

Ms=Brainfart.

Run with that, Feministas!

Posted by: John of Argghhh! at April 29, 2008 05:04 PM

Socrates refused to have Plato break him out of jail because Socrates said that if he started disobeying the death penalty verdict against him, then what other laws would other Athenians be motivated to disobey then?

So Socrates died and Greece lost one of her greatest philosophers because a four hundred Athenian jury was pissed off at the Spartans.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at April 29, 2008 07:08 PM

Minor correction: Crito. Plato was not present at the execution. The Phaedo explains thus: "Plato was ill."

Posted by: Grim at April 29, 2008 07:25 PM

Socrates refused to have Plato break him out of jail because Socrates said that if he started disobeying the death penalty verdict against him, then what other laws would other Athenians be motivated to disobey then?

Is this a veiled argument in favor of civil disobedience?

Posted by: Ministry of Lust at April 29, 2008 08:52 PM

Grim has been posting body lyrics? What are body lyrics? As to the CLUs being deprived, it isn't so much what they do when they are 18...it is the fact that with the pulchritude being available, I
have also seen the mags put down to kid level where really young ones can get a good look and some very distorted ideas. Fortunately, there are vigilant(e) moms out there...heh.

I am that way about Fangoria and anime magazines.
SOME of them...not all. Just using common sense.

Posted by: Cricket at April 29, 2008 09:26 PM

That Grim is nothing but trouble :p

Posted by: Cassandra at April 29, 2008 09:29 PM

Absolutely nothing but.

Posted by: Grim at April 29, 2008 09:34 PM

"...'soldiers are paid with federal funds, therefore...'"

*knock knock knock*
Hello, McFly..um...Rep. Broun? Is there anybody in there? Those federal funds you speak of? Civilians aren't the only ones paying into that *pot*. They are also derived from taxes collected from military paychecks. First you make the military "pay" their own paychecks, now you're going to tell them how they can spend what money they have left after you've taken out "next month's salary"? Well, let's just impose that across the board with all federally funded employees, shall we? Starting with Congress....how do you spend your paycheck, Mr. Broun?

Posted by: DL Sly at April 29, 2008 10:07 PM

"Just using common sense."

But, but, but....Cricket, you're Army. Are you allowed to do that!?

*skippin' away*

Posted by: DL Sly at April 29, 2008 10:13 PM

"Sput! Sputter! If they want my pr0n they can just Molon Labe!

To the Ramparts! Prepare to Repel Boarders!"---John

(Starts shoving his stuff over the ramparts)
What? It leaves more room for comic books.

Posted by: ry at April 29, 2008 10:38 PM

Coming to this discussion late, I'll say I do agree that people need to be more civil in the way they argue disagreements. Cheap personal shots don't strengthen your argument, no matter isn't actual merits.

However, I will say that from those I've read in the milblogosphere in regard to the proposed legislation, it wouldn't just ban Playboy - it would ban FHM and Maxim, which while risque, aren't porn. The good Congressmen needs to find an actual, real, important and pressing problem to solve. There have been plenty of them listed here, and I know the list could go on. I'm just thankful that we never had to put up with dilapidated quarters at any of our duty stations growing up, and some were actually pretty nice. Congress likes to complain about the cost of the war/military, but then likes to but up on Bush for things like the poor conditions in Building 18 at WRAMC. But, you'll never hear anyone propose cutting other spending (like all those entitlements that are bankrupting this nation's budget) to do what needs to be done to ease the burden of our armed forces (through improving facilities, improving pay/benefits, and expanding the force, just to get things started). Those other things are too important for the cause of getting re-elected, and there aren't enough military constituents that they can be written off as a group that needs to be pandered to...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at April 29, 2008 11:41 PM

No dogs or horses in this race, however...

MikeD says:

"Much like the irate driver who bitches to the cop "I pay your salary," this gets on my nerves. No, you don't. You pay taxes. I pay taxes. Pretty much everybody pays taxes. A solder's (or cop's) salary IS NOT YOUR MONEY. It is a payment of debt from the government to that solder (or cop). That money ceased being yours when you sent that check to the government, and it ceased being the government's when they cut that check for the solder."

Um, well, it depends on how you look at it. We understand the concept of theft quite well, don't we, when someone takes what belongs to us and says it's theirs now. No, it's mine, and possession does NOT imply ownership. But I'm not here to argue that taxes are government-sanctioned theft and extortion. Governments are, after all, entrusted with the power to collect taxes for law enforcement and national security, and those taxes fund the paychecks of those people who work in those capacities. Same as money from purchasers of Wal-Mart goods and services funding paychecks of Wal-Mart employees.

Should I stop buying stuff from Wal-Mart, I do not contribute to paying Wal-Mart employees. You surely cannot argue that if I buy stuff from there, the monies handed over do NOT constitute the pay of employees.

So, philosophically speaking, yes, my taxes fund certain activities, and therefore I am paying (along with a whole host of other people) for paychecks of govt employees. Even if it's in the order of some cents.

Aside from that philosophical digression, however, I find myself in great agreement with most of the people here.

Posted by: Gregory at April 30, 2008 02:42 AM

Multicolored thongs, no less!

And *how* did you know that, pray tell?

Posted by: BillT at April 30, 2008 06:29 AM

Governments are, after all, entrusted with the power to collect taxes...

Let's not go so far as to say that we trust them.

Posted by: Grim at April 30, 2008 06:56 AM

"Um, well, it depends on how you look at it. We understand the concept of theft quite well, don't we, when someone takes what belongs to us and says it's theirs now. No, it's mine, and possession does NOT imply ownership. But I'm not here to argue that taxes are government-sanctioned theft and extortion. Governments are, after all, entrusted with the power to collect taxes for law enforcement and national security, and those taxes fund the paychecks of those people who work in those capacities. Same as money from purchasers of Wal-Mart goods and services funding paychecks of Wal-Mart employees.

Should I stop buying stuff from Wal-Mart, I do not contribute to paying Wal-Mart employees. You surely cannot argue that if I buy stuff from there, the monies handed over do NOT constitute the pay of employees."

While I agree that the taxation power of government is sanctioned use of force to take money from citizens, I would also hasten to remind you that it's part of the social contract of government that we permit them to do so. In exchange, we expect those taxes to go to purposes that we as individual citizens need and cannot provide ourselves (such as national security, police protection, fire protection, roads, emergency services, etc). It is when the government misuses this power that it becomes state-sanctioned theft.

So long as my tax dollars are used responsibly (and cop and soldier salaries definately fit the bill), then I do not object. But to compare essential services to Wal-Mart is a bit objectionable to me. If you do not shop at Wal-Mart, it is true your money does not pay the company to pay the workers. But I still put it to you that your money does NOT pay the worker, it pays Wal-Mart to settle a debt for the goods and/or services they provide to you. At that point, it is NOT your money. Otherwise, by the same logic, that garden hose you purchased is NOT your hose, it's Wal-Mart's. And I don't think you'd be best pleased if they came to your house to take it back.

Posted by: MikeD at April 30, 2008 10:15 AM

Since the Engineer retired, I am allowed a modicum of common sense twice a day. It keeps everyone happy.

Grim, government doesn't collect taxes. Satan's imps, aka the IRS, does.

Just saying...

And after the citizens had a mini-tax revolt in the late eighties and early nineties, the IRS was told to cool it with regard to their extortionist bullying tactics.

Oh, and since we are here, I thought I would mention that my Final Draft got the max amount of points and no corrections.

Yeah. Life is good.

Posted by: Cricket at April 30, 2008 10:19 AM

Is this a veiled argument in favor of civil disobedience?

It is a principle of law and why the rule of law gets undermined when people put their own petty ambitions over the good of the team.

The irony is always that a society often does not deserve the truly lawful amongst it, since a society has the greatest power and the greatest desire to abuse those that obey the law when things don't go the way that they demand.

Look at the 2nd Amendment and the belief that abusing the law abiding by taking away their liberty of self-protection is justified on the basis that criminals will be inconvenienced so this justifies taking away somebody's right to life.

A society that focused on punishing its criminals would not have selected such a fashion for expedience's sake.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at April 30, 2008 11:57 AM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 04/30/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Posted by: David M at April 30, 2008 01:15 PM

Going back to the "Wal-mart = government" analogy...

Wal-mart cannot dictate what it's employees can purchase on Wal-mart property. They might say "no shopping while on duty", but they can't say anything otherwise. And, Wal-mart customers have no say in how a Wal-mart employee sends his or her money, either. Once that money is in the employee's pocket, it ceases being anyone else's money. If someone (say, this Congressman) wants to start claiming since a soldier is paid by the government, the government can tell the soldier what he can and cannot spend his (meager) paycheck on, he better include himself and anyone else who received money from the federal government on that list (any federal employee ANYWHERE, and welfare recipients). Maybe that will start to illustrate for the Honorable Mr. Broun how ridiculous and unConstitional his legislation is...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at May 1, 2008 01:29 AM

Sadly Miss LB, I have more than a little doubt that your reasoning would ever occur to Broun.

Posted by: bthun at May 1, 2008 08:27 AM

To quote that unsoldierly individual George S. Patton Jr.: "This is a barracks, not a bordello."

Would anyone care to argue with his results? And this was WWII yet...

(And, yes, I know that the quote is from a movie, but it would be consistent with what we know about his discipline.)

Posted by: SDN at May 1, 2008 08:59 AM

And if he'd seen a barracks on one of his bases in that kind of shape, the *ss-chewing would have been epic....

Posted by: SDN at May 1, 2008 09:00 AM

I would like to point out that General Patton had command authority over those soldiers in the barracks. Rep Broun does NOT. He is not a commisioned officer or member of the Department of Defense, nor is he president of the United States. So he has zero power to dictate what may or may not be in the barracks of soldiers (except by proposing legislation based upon what may or may not be on federal land).

And it is also true that soldiers in Southwest Asia currently are under General Order 1 which prohibits them from bringing or having alcohol or pornographic materials in theater, you'll please note that their commanders do NOT tell them that they may not purchase said items out of theater. Any lawful substance, service or item may be purchased by a soldier when he is off duty. I should know. I purchased many questionable but legal substances, services and items in my youth.

Finally, I think you're REALLY stretching cause and effect to equate the sucess of Patton's Second Army with the fact that he did not tolerate pin-ups in his soldier's barracks. To make that leap is no more valid than to claim he was so successful because he slapped a soldier in Sicily, and that motivated his troops. Both statements are ridiculous in the extreme.

Posted by: MikeD at May 1, 2008 10:03 AM

Well, I think the point was more that it's not exactly unknown for the military to restrict "recreational items".

And it's not. At all. Contrary to some of the hype.

It may be unwise, but it is not unusual, and they've done it for a variety of reasons, including respecting local customs.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 1, 2008 10:20 AM

I guess I should have been more specific, Mike.

Sorry! I was in a hurry as usual. I dip in here just for a sec and sometimes I am not careful to word my comments carefully. After all - I know what I meant and so should you! :)

In my post, I took exception to the notion that men can't fight without porn (or alcohol, for that matter). And history shows this is true. The Spartans were the best warriors around and they fought under conditions that were... well... Spartan. And there have been commanders who allowed no licentiousness of any kind, and yet were followed gladly by their men and fought well.

So I don't think porn, cigarettes, or alcohol are what make men fight well. They are not the essential ingredients of leadership in battle. They are recreational adjuncts. Nice to have to blow off steam, but not essentials. As I said, I see no real reason to limit access to them, and the idea that a Congressman would do so offends me, but it is hardly unprecedented for the military itself to do so and for soldiers to soldier on and rise above the deprivation.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 1, 2008 11:07 AM

Oh no arguement there. Men can and do fight well with or without porn (or Maxim, Sports Illustrated, or even Better Homes and Gardens). Nor do I think it's unreasonable for their command to restrict what they can and cannot have ON DUTY. Heck, I remember my First Sergeant at DLI who forbade male and female soldiers to occupy the same piece of furniture (if she's on the floor, you better be on a chair). No problems there Top. Command authority and whatnot.

My big beef is (and has been) the pathetic excuse that "well, they get PAID in taxpayer money, so we can regulate it." And I KNOW you too have a problem with that nonsense. But I will admit getting a bit tweaked by SDN's comment about Blood and Guts. Not for the content so much as for the association in my head of comparing Broun with Patton is like comparing a Chihuahua with a Mastiff.

Posted by: MikeD at May 1, 2008 12:31 PM

"...comparing Broun with Patton is like comparing a Chihuahua with a Mastiff."

Well, if you're talking about one *eating* the other for lunch (either literally or figuratively)...well, I could agree with that.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at May 1, 2008 01:18 PM

When the US military starts using porn as a psychological weapon against the Islamic Fundamentalists... then what happens?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 1, 2008 05:11 PM

Ha! Now the lower Dungeon is open for more comics. He didn't even notice, nor the other 'dults attempt to stop me! Comic books everywhere! Comic books forever!

Though, if I get near the ammo cans I imagine he'll use some of the ammo in those cans---and as everyone knows, that's the real pr0n for Armorer.

Posted by: ry at May 2, 2008 01:48 AM

Dear MikeD:

"But to compare essential services to Wal-Mart is a bit objectionable to me. If you do not shop at Wal-Mart, it is true your money does not pay the company to pay the workers. But I still put it to you that your money does NOT pay the worker, it pays Wal-Mart to settle a debt for the goods and/or services they provide to you. At that point, it is NOT your money. Otherwise, by the same logic, that garden hose you purchased is NOT your hose, it's Wal-Mart's. And I don't think you'd be best pleased if they came to your house to take it back."

Far be it from me to be pedantic. I understand your point completely. I was trying to analogise the two situations. Feel free to drop in a different analogy, maybe public education if you prefer.

What I am trying to say is that it is all part and parcel of the payment experience. When I purchase a good, usually I am not only purchasing that good, but everything else; what marketers call the 4Ps. Sort of. Service. Ambience. Courtesy. Otherwise, why would anyone pay $25 bucks for a hamburger in Tony Roma's against, say, $3 at your local deli? So I am not only paying for the good, but for everything else - including the salary of the local dude who bags my groceries - which is built into the price I pay at the counter.

Similarly, essential services also have this built in - and we call this mandatory payment a tax. When I fork over my 400 bucks in taxes, the rationale is that I'm paying for a whole host of services - fire, police, armed forces, roads, etc etc etc. Otherwise why would I fork it over? I'm paying for SOMETHING - and that something includes the payroll of soldiers and police, even if it's in the order of cents.

Does this give me the right to dictate how they use the money? Likely not, at least not alone - but that was never my point anyways. I'm just saying that philosophically (and maybe even economically), it IS my money funding the Wal-mart bagger - and it IS my money funding the poor soldier who cannot jackoff due to lack of imagination. To that small, almost infinitesimal degree anyway.

Posted by: Gregory at May 5, 2008 01:13 AM

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