Combat! blog was going to be about some dumb Hillary shit today, but Conor McGregor stepped in and saved us all. “I have decided to retire young,” he tweeted yesterday at a reasonable hour. “Thanks for the cheese. Catch ya’s later.” Did you know you can almost always delete the last sentence of any tweet? Regardless, Twitter is binding, and the UFC has duly removed him from UFC 200 on July 9th in beautiful Las Vegas. Props to Agent Foxhole for the link. And thanks to the Ultimate Fighting Championship for announcing this dramatic change to their most important event of the year ten weeks in advance, just as soon as McGregor “retired,” so we’d all have time to change our plans.
Those readers who fail to live in Montana may not be familiar with our lone delegate to the US House, freshman representative and former Navy SEAL Ryan Zinke. He is a war guy. His public persona centers on his identity as a former member of one of the world’s most selective fighting forces, sometimes to a degree that verges on parody. For example, his office consistently refers to him as “Commander Zinke,” not “Representative Zinke.” During the 2014 election, his campaign gave away an AR-15 in a raffle. And of course there was the time he criticized President Obama’s participation in the Paris conference on climate change because it wouldn’t do anything to stop ISIS, then levied the same criticism against gun control a month later.
He’s a character, in other words. I have enjoyed Commander Zinke’s hooah schtick, and so have voters in Montana, a state where 13% of adults are veterans and a substantial number of those who aren’t might be described as lifestyle conservatives. As the Republican Party continues to corner the market on warlike patriotism, Zinke is the killer app. But I cannot abide his recent behavior, in which his gung-ho act invades the realm of satire.
Last week, Commander Zinke co-sponsored the Draft America’s Daughters Act with Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), a former US Marine. The DAD Act would require women between the ages of 18 and 26 to register for the draft, just as men do now. Lest you think Zinke and Hunter are at the forefront of gender equality in military service, here’s the latter in a public statement:
It’s unfortunate that a bill like this even needs to be introduced. And it’s legislation that I might very well vote against, should it be considered during the annual defense authorization process.
It turns out the DAD Act is a jab at Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who in December instructed the US military to open all combat specializations to women, including infantry and other front-line positions. Zinke and Hunter object to Carter taking that measure “without regard for the research and perspective of the Marine Corps and special operations community.” If you let women join armor divisions or become SEALS, they argue, drafting them is the next logical step.
This venture into satire might be funnier if Commander Zinke had ever sponsored a bill that actually became law. As it is, his record in legislation lags far behind his record in war. Although he is a fixture on Fox News and anywhere flags come together with guns or motorcycles, he has yet to propose an idea the House actually took up. Maybe now is a bad time to sponsor laws he doesn’t actually support, since he his success rate stands at zero with laws he actually does. You can read all about it in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links.
Yesterday, the Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended Nick Diaz for five years and fined him $150,000 for failing a drug test after his January bout against Anderson Silva. Diaz tested positive for marijuana metabolites. His opponent tested positive for anabolic steroids and was suspended one year. The asymmetry between these punishments is not as clear as it may seem: Diaz has tested positive for marijuana twice before, in 2007 and 2012. That might be because he has a medical card in California, where he lives, but whatever the reason, Diaz smokes a lot of weed. As of yesterday afternoon, that seems to be the central problem in his life.
My brother forwarded me this article from Headline News’s obsessive coverage of the George Zimmerman trial, in which Zimmerman’s friend Mark Osterman explains how he convinced Zimmerman to buy a gun. Quote:
He asked whether he should or shouldn’t—to start with—and I recommended that he should. Anybody who’s a non-convicted felon should carry a firearm. The police aren’t always there.
Dear friends: when I am on trial for murder, please do not describe me as a “non-convicted felon.” Also, great advice on the gun thing, Mark.
CNN has a fantastic article about Usman Raja, the former British MMA fighter and respected trainer whose Unity Project uses fight training to rehabilitate convicted terrorists. You read that right: Raja’s plan is to make terrorists better at hand-to-hand combat. Anyone who came back for two day two of muay thai class knows how it feels to start learning a practical fighting system. It feels bad. The sensation of being a tough guy who can’t get the hang of a check-and-counter drill—or of being a talented striker who’s getting guillotined over and over the first month of jiu jitsu—is immensely humbling. That seems to be the operating principle of Raja’s approach. “Any idea you’ve got of yourself will be challenged as soon as you come in here,” he told CNN. “Once that idea of yourself is challenged and that opening happens we are able to go in and start dismantling that perception.”