25 July 2016


Oh, my country, bless the training that from cot to castle runs -
The pitfall of the stranger but the bulwark of thy sons -
Measured speech and ordered action, sluggish soul and un - perturbed,
Till we wake our Island-Devil-nowise cool for being curbed! 
When the heir of all the ages "has the honour to remain,"
When he will not hear an insult, though men make it ne'er so plain,
When his lips are schooled to meekness, when his back is bowed to blows -
Well the keen aas-vogels know it-well the waiting jackal knows. 
Build on the flanks of Etna where the sullen smoke-puffs float -
Or bathe in tropic waters where the lean fin dogs the boat -
Cock the gun that is not loaded, cook the frozen dynamite -
But oh, beware my Country, when my Country grows polite!
Rudyard Kipling,  Et Dona Ferentes (1896)

12 January 2016
Persian Gulf, off Farsi Island

It had been frustrating voyage for the two-boat detachment making a routine transit from Kuwait to Bahrain.  The departure had been delayed by engineering problems with one of the boats.  When they finally got underway shortly after local noon, the detachment commander [hereinafter, the Commanding Officer] conducted only a cursory briefing for the crews of his two boats because of time constraints.

Several hours into the transit, one of the boats suffered yet another engineering casualty and the other came alongside to render assistance.  Each boat had a crew of 5 sailors and each was armed with both .50 calibre heavy and 7.62 mm medium machineguns, a total of 3 weapons per craft.

Shortly thereafter, two small Iranian boats approached and the crews began displaying small arms of the AK-47 variety.  The Commanding Officer was able to notify NAVCENT (the Naval Component of Central Command) that he was being hailed, but shortly thereafter, all communications between NAVCENT and the boats ceased.

Air assets from USS Harry S Truman began a search and USS Anzio (CG68, whose motto, ironically, is Stand and Fight) responded.  A few hours later, it was Anzio who had entered Iranian waters in search of the American craft and engaged in “robust bridge-to-bridge communications with Iranian military vessels.  (If there is one good side to this pathetic story, it is that at least one American Naval officer that day had remembered to strap on his balls—or her balls, as the case may be!)  At any rate, Anzio was informed that “the RCBs were in Iranian custody at Farsi Island.”
The crews and their boats were released the next morning and taken under escort by Anzio.  The crews were relieved and transferred ashore and Anzio put replacement crews aboard the RCBs which took them to Bahrain.
But then the sickening details began to come out.  What follows is from a Navy investigation.
As soon as the Iranian boats made their approach, the Commanding Officer –an officer of the United States Navy of the same rank as Stephen Decatur, an officer in command of two warships of the United States and of nine American bluejackets—promptly surrendered.

He did not go to GQ.  He did not tell the Iranians to “get the hell away from my boats or I will blow you out of the water.”  (He could have easily done so.  Four of “ma deuce” would have reduced the small Iranian boats to splinters.)  He did not tell his crews “Don’t give up the ship!”

He surrendered!

After the Korean War, it was discovered that many American soldiers and airmen who were captured by the Chinese and North Koreans had turned their coats, turned on their fellow prisoners, and collaborated with the enemy.  (Interestingly, hardly any Marine did so—and  note was taken that in the Marine Corps, an institutional ethic of honor, self-sacrifice, and loyalty was specifically built into recruit training, so that Marines would rather die than betray their Corps or their fellow Marines.)  As a result, President Eisenhower directed that steps be taken to create an aspirational statement of core ethical standards applicable ALL of America’s warriors.  To
this day, those six aspirational standards are taught to every American fighting man and woman starting in boot camp, the Academies, ROTC, and OCS.

I.  I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life.  I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

II. I will never surrender of my own free will.  If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.

And yet, HE SURRENDERED!  He had two (relatively) heavily armed warships of the United States of America and nine American bluejackets under his command, BUT. HE. SURRENDERED!
I am surprised that Bancroft Hall is still standing.  Surely John Paul Jones must have leapt from his sarcophagus in the Academy Chapel and dashed to Memorial Hall to make sure that Perry’s flag was still there, and then…..wept for a Navy that puts officers in command who are afraid to “go in harm’s way.”
There is an old saying in the Armed Services, probably dating from Caesar’s X Legion, or perhaps from Alexander’s Army 300 years earlier:  “Excuses are like ass holes; everybody has one.”
In this case, the Commanding Officer had a doozy!  Did he remember San Bernadino Strait (see Part I)?  Did he think of Ernest E. Evans, Captain of USS Johnston who, at  0700, that awful morning, saw, not a couple of Iranian boats but a fleet of 22 battleships, heavy and light cruisers and destroyers coming at him.  Did he consider emulating this American hero who informed his crew that "This will be a fight against overwhelming odds from which survival cannot be expected. We will do what damage we can."  Then, without consulting with his commanders, did he go to flank speed with his one good boat and attack the approaching armed enemy—an enemy who had stated its attempt to board his command, set foot on what is American soil, and thereby earn the undying respect and admiration of his Country.
Oh, hell no!  Here is his confession to the investigators:
“So at that point and time, if I had decided to start a firefight, I know a lot of my guys would be dead….We all might be dead at that point….I didn’t want to start a war with Iran either.  I didn’t want to start a war that would get people killed….”

The investigation by the Navy is still under way.  Only three senior commanders have been relieved because they have lost the confidence of their superiors.  Well, duh!  They clearly failed to properly train their subordinates, and they put a coward in command of one of our warships.
Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article  99:  Any member of the armed forces who before or in the presence of the enemy—…(2)  shamefully abandons, surrenders, or delivers up any command, unit, place, or military property which it is his duty to defend;…shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.

If I were that Lieutenant, I would be sweating, but I doubt that this pathetic Administration will let him go to trial.  Hell, John “American-Fighting-Men-In-Vietnam-Were-Murders-And-War- Criminals” Kerry actually thanked the Iranians for their cooperation and remarked that “we can all imagine how a similar situation might have played out three or four years ago.”  (New York Times, 13 Jan 2016)  Actually, I wish he had looked back a little further.

Having, shamefully surrendered his command without firing a shot, he apparently decided to throw out the rest of the Code of Conduct, too.
III.  If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all means available.  I will make every effort to escape.  I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.
V.  When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth.  I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability.  I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.

What he did was allow himself to be videotaped telling the Iranians “It was a mistake that was our fault and we apologize for our mistake…. The Iranian behavior was fantastic while we were here and we thank you very much for your hospitality and your assistance.”  The American POWs who endured days and weeks of torture rather than betray their Country must be sick to their stomachs.  But not our President.  According to Reuters in an article published on 18 January 2016, the Obama Administration said that the release of the sailors “shows the power of diplomacy and the promise of its new engagement with Iran.” 
Or hearkens back to the days when the Barbary Pirates could seize our ships and ransom them back to us.

I leave this where I started, with a quotation by Robert A Heinlein, the dean of American science fiction writers and USNA, Class of 1929:  “Roman matrons used to say to their sons: ‘Come back with your shield, or on it.’ Later on this custom declined.  So did Rome.”

20 July 2016


Roman matrons used to say to their sons: “Come back with your shield, or on it.” Later on this custom declined. So did Rome.  Lazarus Long  (The Notebooks of Lazarus Long, Robert A. Heinlein)

12 January 2016
Persian Gulf, off Farsi Island

            It had been frustrating voyage for the two-boat detachment making a routine transit from Kuwait to Bahrain.  The departure had been delayed by engineering problems with one of the boats.  When they finally got underway shortly after local noon, the detachment commander conducted only a cursory briefing for the crews of his two boats.

            Several hours into the transit, one of the boats suffered another engineering casualty and the other came alongside to render assistance.  Each boat had a crew of 5 sailors and each was armed with both .50 calibre heavy and 7.62 mm medium machineguns, a total of 3 weapons per craft.

            Shortly thereafter, two small Iranian boats approached and the crews began displaying small arms of the AK-47 variety. The Commanding Officer warned them away and sounded general quarters.  Two more boats, also armed with riflemen, then approached and indicated their intention to board the American ships.

            The American commander announced that his craft were exercising the right of free transit and were experiencing minor and temporary engine problems, but would get underway as soon as possible.  According to the after action report, “There was a verbal exchange between the American commander and the Iranians but no exchange of gun fire. However, armed Iranian military personnel then attempted to board the RCBs.”

The American commander ordered “Stay clear of my ship or we will sink you.”  When the Iranians ignored him, he ordered  “All hands repel boarders”, at which time his gunners opened fire.  One American sailor, S1c Jane Doe, dashed from a covered position to activate the emergency beacon and was then killed in action as she attempted to retrieve a weapon from a dead Iranian soldier in order to defend her boat.  She is the first American woman to be nominated to receive the Medal of Honor since the Civil War.

            Having been alerted of the Iranian attack, aircraft were launched from USS Harry Truman and were overhead within 10 minutes.  By this time, all four Iranian vessels were on fire and sinking or had been sunk.  One Navy boat was also taking on water, but damage control parties from USS Anzio, which had responded upon receipt of the initial reports from the Detachment Commander, were able to get the boat alongside Anzio and secure it.

            Anzio then took up station to “discourage” any other Iranian vessels from entering the battle. The senior surviving member of the Detachment, Petty Officer Second Class John Roe, assumed command of the remaining boat and followed Anzio from the scene.  He declined any other assistance, reporting that “Before he died, Lieutenant Smith (Lieutenant Joseph Smith, USN) told me, ‘Get my ship and my people home.’  No power on heaven or earth will make me break that promise.” 

            The Iranian Government has protested the action, but to their surprise, the President responded “Learn your lesson well. Where goes the flag, goes the Nation. An American ship is American soil. That was our position in 1812 and it has not changed in the ensuing 200 years.”

Tomorrow:  What Really Happened

14 July 2016


No captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy.”  Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, RN

Our Navy is in trouble. Before I explain why I say that, consider this:

I am the son of a Squared Away North American Bluejacket.  From the time I was eight, until I discovered the Marine Corps after high school, I dreamed of being a naval officer. I was 11 when I first wrote to my Congressman about an appointment to the Academy. I read about the heroes of the American Navy.  And where else would I have started but with Captain John Paul Jones and USS Ranger and USS Bonhomme Richard?   Jones who wrote “I wish to have no Connection with any Ship that does not Sail fast for I intend to go in harm's way.”

Remember Jones and Bonhomme Richard against HMS Serapis off Flamborough Head.  “Struck, Sir?  I have not yet begun to fight!”

By some accounts, the inquiry from Serapis was occasioned when Bonny Dick’s colors were shot away, prompting Jones to order that the replacement colors be nailed to the mast!  Later in the fight, according to Captain Jones’s after action report, he responded to another similar inquiry “in the most determined negative”. Some of his sailors were quoted in British newspapers at the time as saying his reply was really I may sink, Sir, but I'll be damned if I strike!”  

In fact, Bonhomme Richard did sink, but not before Serapis struck her colors and was taken a prize.
Speaking at an address to the Brigade of Midshipmen in Bancroft Hall in 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt said of Captain John Paul Jones

The future naval officers, who live within these walls, will find in the career of the man whose life we this day celebrate, not merely a subject for admiration and respect, but an object lesson to be taken into their innermost hearts. . . . Every officer . . . should feel in each fiber of his being an eager desire to emulate the energy, the professional capacity, the indomitable determination and dauntless scorn of death which marked John Paul Jones above all his fellows.

Remember also Captain James Lawrence, USN, mortally wounded while in command of USS Chesapeake against HMS Shannon during the War of 1812.  His final orders to his men were “Don't give up the ship. Fight her till she sinks!”

Fast forward to international waters in the Eastern Med off Israel in 1967 when the Israeli sneak attack on USS Liberty failed to sink her.  IAF aircraft first strafed the ship, knocking out her communications array, and killing, the entire bridge watch except for the Captain who was seriously wounded in the arm and leg.  Then Israeli torpedo boats attacked the ship, firing five torpedoes for a single hit and then shot away all of the ship’s life boats. A second air attack again killed the entire replacement bridge watch, except for the Captain.  Then, a few minutes later, the Israelis again attacked with the clear intent to destroy Liberty and her crew so as to hide the fact that they had intentionally attacked a United States Ship.  Due to the unbelievable heroism of the crew, a jury-rigged mast was put into service and the Sixth Fleet was alerted.  The Israelis then pulled away.  The ship suffered 34 KIA and 172 WIA.  In addition to the torpedo hole, there were over 800 holes in the ship measuring 30 mm or more. 

Captain William McMonagle, USN, was hit in the first strafing run, suffering a gash in one leg that ran from the crotch to the knee.  The gash was closed using safety pins and his web belt was used as a tourniquet.  He refused to leave the bridge, and after realizing that all of the bridge instruments were shot away, he walked from bridge wing to bridge wing all night, navigating by sightings of the North Star.  He finally left the bridge the next morning only after Liberty rendezvoused with two American destroyers that had been dispatched to escort her.  Captain McMonagle received the Medal of Honor.

In his report, he stated that after the Sixth Fleet was alerted, an Israeli torpedo boat came along side and asked “May we be of assistance?”  He replied, “No thank you.”  One of his crew told me that the real reply was “Get the hell away from my ship or I will run you down.”  Captain Jones of Bonhomme Richard would surely have approved.

Through the intervening years, the American Navy has set the example.  From 1776 forward, our Navy has been characterized by gallantry in action, aggressiveness, and taking the battle to the enemy.

Consider the gallantry of the ships, officers, and men of Task Unit 77.4.3 ("Taffy 3") fighting one of the famous two hours in the history of our Navy.

The Place:  Philippine Sea off Samar Island, in the Philippines

The Date:   25 October  1944. 

In no engagement of its entire history has the United States Navy shown more gallantry, guts and gumption than in those two morning hours between 0730 and 0930 off Samar.

Samuel Eliot Morrison, RAdm, USNR, History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Volume XII, Leyte

Consider, the Battle of San Bernardino Strait (aka,“Battle Off Samar”) in which a Japanese task force of 4 battleships, 6 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers, and 11 destroyers was able to get to within a few miles of the amphibious and supply ships effecting and supporting the invasion of Leyte (Philippines). 

Get close, but….

A small force of three destroyers Hoel, Heermann and Johnston, and four destroyer escorts Dennis, John C. Butler, Raymond, and Samuel B. Roberts spotted the enemy and immediately attacked!!  (By way of comparison, a single Japanese battleship in the enemy task force, IJS Yamato, displaced more tonnage than all seven attacking American ships.)

Two hours later, with the American defenders sunk, sinking or on fire and the way open to destroy the Leyte invasion force, it was the Japanese force that broke off and fled, having lost three heavy cruisers sunk and three other heavy cruisers and one destroyer heavily damaged.

But if you want to really understand what our Navy and its Bluejackets are all about, listen to Rear Admiral Clifton A. F. Sprague, commander of Taffy 3, that morning:

At 0925 my mind was occupied with dodging torpedoes when near the bridge I heard one of the signalmen yell, '... dammit, boys, they're getting away!' I could not believe my eyes, but it looked as if the whole Japanese fleet was indeed retiring.... At best, I had expected to be swimming by this time.
Three of the American ships, Hoel, Johnston, and Samuel B. Roberts (the "destroyer escort that fought like a battleship"), were sunk and three more, Heermann, John C. Butler, and Raymond, were severely damaged.  Captain Ernest Evans of Johnston was awarded the Medal of Honor (posthumously). 

Aboard Samuel B. Roberts, Gunner’s Mate Third Class Paul Henry Carr, USN was the gun captain of the Roberts’ Mount 52, its after 5-inch/38 gun.  Under his charge, Mount 52 kept firing continuously throughout the battle.  In ordinary operation, electric power was used to train and point the gun, and high pressure air was forced through the barrel to cool it.  At the time that power and air were lost due to enemy fire, Mount 52 had already fired over 300 rounds in less than 30 minutes.

GM3 Carr then began firing rounds by hand, accepting the risk that without air the gun would not cool down between firings. With seven rounds left in the magazine, the tremendous heat in the gun breech "cooked off" a round while the breech was open, exploding the projectile loaded in the gun and killing most of the gun crew. When a damage control party member made his way into the shattered mount, he found Carr, literally torn open from neck to thigh, attempting vainly to load a shell into the demolished gun breech. The rescue team member took the round from Carr and laid him aside as he began to remove the bodies of the others of the gun crew.

Returning to the mount, he found that Petty Officer Carr had dragged himself back to his gun, and with projectile in hand, he was trying to load his gun. Carr begged the sailor to help him get off one last round. His shipmate pulled him from the mount and laid him on the deck, where he died a few moments later, beneath the gun he served.

Petty Officer  was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, and USS Carr (FFG-52) was named in his honor.

 Struck, Sir?  I have not yet begun to fight!”

Don't give up the ship. Fight her till she sinks!”
“Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.”  Lt (jg)  Howell Forgy, ChC, USN, USS New Orleans, Pearl harbor 7 December 1941 
“Take her down.” Cdr Howard W. Gilmore, USN, off the Solomons in USS Growler, 7 February 1943 (His dying words from the bridge as he placed his ship and crew before himself.)

“A ship that won’t be sunk, can’t be sunk!”  Capt L. E. Gehres, USN, USS Franklin, off Honshu, 19 March 1945

 "No! I'll never abandon ship as long as a single gun will fire." Capt F. Julian Becton, USN, USS Laffey, Radar Picket Station 1 off Okinawa, 17 April 1945

"Write something about Aaron Ward. She was a great ship.”Alexander Sharp, VAdm, USN (ret), referring to USS Aaron Ward (DM 34) and her 40 minute fight for her life on the evening of 3 May 1945, Radar Picket Station 10 off Okinawa.

“Get the hell away from my ship or I will run you down.”

“Dammit, boys, they’re getting away!” 

That was our navy. That is the proud heritage of the Navy.  

Whether or not it still is remains to be seen.

13 July 2016


I have always enjoyed Garrison Keiler’s reports from “Lake Woebegone, Minnesota, my home town….where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”  Perhaps it is because I come from a family of strong women and from a little town that—a lot like Lake Woebegone—has an almost mystical hold on those of us lucky enough to know and love her.  I’m not sure that Stanberry, Missouri is a “town that time forgot,” but there is no doubt in my mind that it is a little town that “memory cannot improve.”

The McCarty Family was one of the founding families back in September, 1879.  My Dad and his brothers and sisters were born and raised there by James Marion and Gertrude Margaret Kurtright McCarty

My Mom was raised there from the time she was in fourth grade because my grandfather, William Bertrand (“Bert”) Kennedy--who was employed by the Wabash Rail as a Superintendent—and grandmother, Mary Theodosia Goodrich Kennedy, chose Stanberry, as the place to raise their family.

My Dad was the eldest of 11 children; nine of them survived infancy.  He went to war from Stanberry and after, in my eyes, he won the war, he came back home to the heartland.  Even after he joined Eastern Airlines in 1953 and moved us to the St Louis area, Stanberry was always home.  My brother and I spent every summer from 1954 until I entered OCS in 1966 in that dear little town.

Yesterday, the matriarch of our clan, my Aunt Mary (Mary Kathlyn McCarty Harris) passed away in Wichita, Kansas.  Aunt Mary is the last of her generation to leave us.  

I won’t be the only member of Clan McCarty traveling back to God’s country in the next day or two.  If you want to find Stanberry, just follow the traffic.   On Saturday, we will all go to St. Peters for Mass and then gather at Mount Calvary Cemetery—on the hill where we have gathered so often in its two resting grounds—to say “so long.”  That’s the good thing about our faith—we don’t say “Goodbye.”

Long ago, my Uncle Charlie, "Mr. Stanberry," coined a phrase, a slogan, that has for his children and his nieces and nephews, and their progeny become almost gospel to us.  If "Home is where the heart is," then tomorrow, I start for home.  

It is an easy trip, you see, for as Uncle Charlie taught us, "ALL roads lead to Stanberry."

11 July 2016

DALLAS AND THE SECOND AMENDMENT: A Response To Professor Beau Weston

As my gentle readers know, from time to time I commit “poetry”, “punery” and even “punditry. 

The problem is, you cannot be any real kind of pundit unless you read other pundits.  You have to have something to respond to.

Note: Do this only at home, kids.  

You see, in academia, the practitioners of the art of “publish or perish” take things to a high art.  But it can be dangerous when played with the pros.  Just ask Judge Robert Bork, arguably one of the most qualified nominees for the Supreme Court in the past 75 years.  He published a lot, usually in response to someone whose view of the law was 180 degrees out from his own.  That’s the way real intellectual discourse is supposed to work.  Unless you are Joe Biden (who I once, live and in person, heard suggest that perhaps, just perhaps, in the interest of national security, we might have to bring back the Court of Star Chamber (used by Charles I to enforce unpopular political and ecclesiastical policies, without cluttering up the proceedings with little niceties such as witnesses, evidence, the presence of the accused, defense counsel; it became a symbol of oppression)) or Teddy Kennedy.  Then, all that intellectual discourse becomes a weapon.  Ever wonder why no Supreme Court nominee since has let his or her judicial philosophy be examined?  But, I digress,
I frequently read Professor Beau Weston’s blog, Gruntled Center. He is a pundit worth reading, and responding to.  And here's the thing:  He doesn’t like guns.  He really does not like guns!  And like most liberals, because he doesn’t like something, guns in this case, he doesn’t stop there.  He doesn't want people who do like guns to have them, either.  

Now, as a conservative, I must admit that liberals do not have a monopoly on this.  An awful lot of people who detest the sin of abortion—who would never undergo the procedure themselves—are nonetheless always ready to take away from those who do favor abortion that which the Supreme Court—however erroneously—has declared to be a Constitutional right.

But, again, I digress.

Fall out!

Good.  You're back.

Fall in.

Right, Face.

For-ward, March!

Moving, even.

 And, I have to concede, a fair presentation of your side of the argument.  Fair, but one-sided, but that is OK: that’s why we historians and lawyers remember the Lincoln-Douglas Debates rather than The Lincoln Debate or The Douglas Debate....Fair, that is, until you wandered off into fantasy land where you get to re-write the Constitution and laws.  Fair right up to the part where you said "Everyone, that is, except the actual 'well-regulated militia,' the police force.”

Did you really think that no one would look?  No one would check, for instance, the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky ?  Your home.  The place where you teach and worship and vote.

I looked.   

Let’s start with the Kentucky Constitution:

"PREAMBLE We, the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy, and invoking the continuance of these blessings, do ordain and establish this Constitution.

BILL OF RIGHTS That the great and essential principles of liberty and free government may be recognized and established, we declare that: Text as ratified on: August 3, 1891, and revised September 28, 1891. History: Not yet amended. (sic)
 Section 1. Rights of life, liberty, worship, pursuit of safety and happiness, free speech, acquiring and protecting property, peaceable assembly, redress of grievances, bearing arms. All men are, by nature, free and equal, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned:

First: The right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties. …

Fifth: The right of acquiring and protecting property.

Sixth: The right of assembling together in a peaceable manner for their common good, and of applying to those invested with the power of government for redress of grievances or other proper purposes, by petition, address or remonstrance.

Seventh: The right to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the State, subject to the power of the General Assembly to enact laws to prevent persons from carrying concealed weapons. Text as ratified on: August 3, 1891, and revised September 28, 1891. History: Not yet amended. Free speech, right of, Const. 8; Religious freedom, right of, Const. 5. (sic) …
Section 219. Militia, what to consist of. The militia of the Commonwealth of Kentucky shall consist of all able-bodied male residents of the State between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years, except such persons as may be exempted by the laws of the State or of the United States. Text as ratified on: August 3, 1891, and revised September 28, 1891. History: Not yet amended. (sic) (Emphasis added.)
Section 220. General Assembly to provide for militia – Exemptions from service. The General Assembly shall provide for maintaining an organized militia, and may exempt from military service persons having conscientious scruples against bearing arms; but such persons shall pay an equivalent for such exemption. Text as ratified on: August 3, 1891, and revised September 28, 1891. History: Not yet amended. (sic)"

Note: Professor, if you are under the age of 45, you are part of Kentucky's militia (§219), but you can pay a bounty and let someone else serve if you want to (§220).  

Continue to march!  But why stop at a mere constitution. 

Ky Rev Stat "37.170  Kentucky State Defense Force -- Organization -- Reorganization.
(1) The Governor is hereby authorized to enlist, organize, maintain, equip, discipline and pay when called into active field service a volunteer state defense force other than the National Guard, which shall constitute the active militia and shall be known as the Kentucky State Defense Force, which shall consist of able-bodied citizens who are residents of the State (sic) of Kentucky between the ages of eighteen (18) and sixty-four (64) who are not active members of a reserve component of the Armed Forces of the United States.  (Emphasis added.)
 (2) Whenever the President of the United States shall call any part of the National Guard of this state into active federal service, the Governor is hereby authorized to organize the Kentucky State Defense Force under such regulations as may be promulgated by the Governor or adjutant general.

(3) The Governor shall have the power to alter, divide, annex, disband or reorganize any organization of the Kentucky State Defense Force whenever in his judgment the efficiency of the state forces will thereby be increased, and he shall have power to change the organization so as to conform to the regulations now or hereafter prescribed by the laws of the United States for the organization of the National Guard or militia. History: Amended 1984 Ky. Acts ch. 414, sec. 47, effective July 13, 1984. -- Amended 1974 Ky. Acts ch. 108, sec. 10; and ch. 386, sec. 9. -- Amended 1962 Ky. Acts ch. 48, sec. 3. -- Created 1942 Ky. Acts ch. 4, secs. 1, 4, and 8. (sic)"

Oooooo, did you see that?  The statute says 18 to 64.  Hey, I am a strict constructionist.  I'll represent you to challenge that apparent use of legislative fiat to amend the Constitution, although you may want to get someone more prominent than me.  

If I was the Commonwealth's Attorney General and I was going to defend the Statute, I would look for a really prominent Constitutional Law Professor--one nearing the end of his current job and one who thinks the legislature, or even the Governor, can just use a pencil and a telephone to change the Constitution to do the job.  But if you want me, I'm there for you.

But, you say, that’s just Kentucky.  Good point.  Let's look at federal law:

10 U.S. Code "§ 311 - Militia: composition and classes

(a)  The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard. 
(b)The classes of the militia are—

(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and

(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

(Aug. 10, 1956, ch. 1041, 70A Stat. 14; Pub. L. 85–861, § 1(7), Sept. 2, 1958, 72 Stat. 1439; Pub. L. 103–160, div. A, title V, § 524(a), Nov. 30, 1993, 107 Stat. 1656.)"

(Emphasis added.)

So, let’s recap.

One: The Police are not "the" militia!  

Two: At best, the National Guard is only one small part of  the militia.

Three:  The Constitutions of many States (and arguably, the Constitution of the United States, see amend 2) recognize and actually reserve to the people the “right of revolution,” a right which can only exist so long as the State has no power to disarm its citizens. 

But, “Wait,” you say.  “Right of Revolution," you say/  "In this day and age," you say?  Nonsense,” you say!

OK. Yes. Yes. No.

Yes, in this day and age. Consider New Hampshire Constitution, art 10, adopted 1784, never amended or abolished:

 “Art 10.  Right of Revolution.   Whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.”  See, also, Pennsylvania const, art 1, §2 (Declaration of Rights) ("All power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their peace, safety and happiness. For the advancement of these ends they have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think proper.”); Tennessee const, art 1, §2 (“That government being instituted for the common benefit, the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind."); North Carolina const, Declaration of Rights, 3d (“That Government ought to be instituted for the common benefit, protection and security of the people; and that the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive to the good and happiness of mankind.”).  (Emphasis added.)

Oh, and seeing as how you started this with Texas, see, Texas const, art 1, § 2 (“All political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their benefit. The faith of the people of Texas stands pledged to the preservation of a republican form of government, and, subject to this limitation only, they have at all times the inalienable right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think expedient.”

But, I saved the best of all for last!  Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Bill of Rights. 

 “Section 4. Power inherent in the people – Right to alter, reform, or abolish government. All power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their peace, safety, happiness and the protection of property. For the advancement of these ends, they have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may deem proper. Text as ratified on: August 3, 1891, and revised September 28, 1891. History: Not yet amended. (sic)”
That's it.  The militia is so much more than the United States armed forces, and the National Guard.  It is all of us.  And lest we forget that wonderful "manner as they may deem proper" language, that says when the oppressive government will not listen, will not redress grievances, the people, the militia, have as a last resort the right to grab their rifles and exercise their ultimate political right.  

And they can only do that if they are armed--armed with the same kind of weapons as the Government's troops, just as the men at Lexington Green and Concord Bridge were armed with the same type of weapons as the Brown Bess--the M-16 of its day.

And that, kind Sir, I submit to you, is what the Second Amendment is really all about.

10 July 2016


Rev Jim Rigby of Austin Texas is a prolific epigramist, frequently publishing on Face Book up to three or four of his pithy remarks daily.  He has good company: among noted modern epigramists are Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, and Harry Truman.
I commend him to you.  He is rarely capable of being boring:  you may nod your heads to his sagacity, or your stomachs may twist and turn as he condemns everything you have spent your life defending, but he will rarely bore you. And if you read him closely, you may even find yourself saying “Hmmm.  Well, has a point!”
And that’s OK.  That’s America!  We get to freely disagree as a birthright.  Shoot, the blood of disagreeable misfits flows in our veins.  We come from those who looked at where they were and said “To heck with it.  I’ll go start my own Country where I can say and think anything I want.”
Today, he wrote
“There is a problem when our principles are no bigger than the boundaries of our nation. ‘My country right or wrong’ sounds noble until you consider the fact that, if such patriots had been born in another country, they might be zealously killing Americans by the same unthinking principle.”

To which one needs only answer الله أكبر --while slashing the throat of an American journalist.

The problem is that Rev Rigby has omitted the most important part of Commodore Decatur’s toast.  Decatur said 
“Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong.”
Consider John Stuart Mill in this regard:
 “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth a war, is much worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice, — is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.”
Is America perfect?  Not by a long shot, but I suggest to you that it has been closer than most countries in the past century.  It has lived up to Decatur’s aspiration, “[i]n her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right…” much more often than not.  And she has done so at huge cost of her blood and treasure.  

Those who misquote Decatur, those who are so well-defined in Mills’ fourth sentence, ignore the fact that tens of thousands, millions, are willing to become criminals, to risk horrendous obstacles, to die, just to get into America illegally.  This truth is not a condemnation of our Country.  We must be doing something right.  I suggest it is a condemnation of the rest of the world for failing to make equal sacrifices.