Saturday, July 06, 2013

Assassination Attempt on French Consul in Benghazi

An assassination attempt was made on France's consul in Benghazi, reports Le Monde, which turned out to prove unsuccessful.

"Phew, both of you are alive" were François Hollande's first words to Jean Dufriche and his wife, after none of the bullets targeting his car on July 4 hit either spouse. They were driving through the Libyan city when passengers in another car opened fire upon them. "At least 10 bullets hit the car" said Mohamed Hijazi, spokesman for Benghazi's secret services, "but no one was wounded".

The honorary consul and his wife left the Libyan city for Tunis (but there were no reports of his making a variant of the Samuel S Jackson speech in Pulp Fiction).

Gettysburg: Sweeping Republicans Aside and Redefining History the Leftist Way

Redefining Gettysburg for the Democrat party, at the 1938 commemoration and during the 1963 anniversary:

Winding up the great three-day ceremonies on the scene of the Civil War’s decisive battle seventy-five years ago, President Roosevelt today [July 3, 1938] told 50,000 cheering veterans of the Civil and World Wars that the present generation is fighting its way through “another conflict as fundamental as Lincoln’s” — a conflict on the battlefield of the mind. “It is being fought not with the glint of steel, but with appeals to reason and justice on a thousand fronts,” he said, “to save opportunity and security for the citizen in a free society.”
Fifty years ago, on Memorial Day in 1963, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson gave a speech in Gettysburg, Pa., that foreshadowed profound changes that would be achieved in only 13 months and that mark us still.
The occasion was a speech that almost wasn’t given at all, for an anniversary that was still a month off, delivered by a man who had grown weary of his apparent uselessness in an office that neither interested him nor engaged his capacious gifts.

 … [When the veep was distracted, distressed, and depressed, Juanita Roberts, Johnson’s personal secretary] wrote Johnson directly, saying, “I can’t regret this one yet — I am excited by the possibilities it could offer.” She told the vice president that this was a chance to deliver “a masterpiece to be remembered by” and suggested that Dwight D. Eisenhower, living in Gettysburg in retirement from the presidency, might be drawn to the event.

By then the idea had gained momentum, all except the Eisenhower element. “Bringing in nationally prominent Republicans, however, could reduce the advantage of this situation,” a top Johnson aide, probably Busby, wrote in an unsigned internal memo that now rests in the files of the Johnson Library. 

All politics, in L.B.J.’s time as in ours, is personal.
Wouldn't it be surprising if the Times had dismissed the political element so cavalierly (as "mere" politicizing), had it been a Republican wishing to keep Democrats away from a like event?

In addition, The New York Times has a slide show of Gettysburg, three pictures (one third) of which have nothing to do with the Civil War.
Related: The Last Best Place on Earth

Friday, July 05, 2013

Could You Pass The Literacy Test Given To Black Voters In The 1960s?

Buzzfeed's Brian Galindo asks if you could pass a literacy test given to black voters in the 1960s.

For myself, the answer is: no way.
In case you care, I have been called Mensa material several times, and I could not have passed this test for the simple reason that after going through the shock (and, indeed, the insult) of discovering the type of questions asked (15 seconds wasted just there) — which have not an iota of relevance to real life (or to any preparation in real school exams) — I would be wondering if I were answering these — inane — questions entirely right and wasting time every time wondering if there wasn’t some kind of trap somewhere. 

Unfortunately, the article comes in context of the Supreme Court decision to strike down "Section 4(b) of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a key provision in the law that mandated nine states with a history of racial discrimination, mostly in the South, to get federal permission before they could change their voter laws", suggesting that such obstacles will now reappear in the South.

Indeed, I take issue with many a comment the Buzzfeed post: To everybody dissing the Republicans , let’s not forget too quickly that from the 1870s to the 1960s and 1970s, the segregationist South was in lockstep with the Democrat  party.  

 In the past — indeed from before the Civil War — the Dems counted on the white vote while demonizing minorities. What’s new is that since the 1970s the Dems count on the minorities while demonizing the white race. (Didn’t LBJ go along with civil rights precisely because he saw that now that, in the civil rights era, the Jim Crow-built society was floundering, this would bring all the “Negro” (LBJ’s word) voters to the Dems?) 

To win their elections nowadays, it is true the Democrats don’t exclude people by giving literacy tests. Instead they demonize their opponents as racist (precisely the reason so many feel it a non-brainer to equalize the Jim Crow laws with the GOP), all the while unleashing the IRS on them — along with various other branches of the federal government.  

In addition, they try to import impoverished workers in need of government help to add millions of Democrat voters to the rolls. 

And why do millions of American go along with this?

Isn’t it precisely because they have been convinced (thank you, U.S. school system) that the caricature of conservatives can’t be anything but factually correct?

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Tocqueville: A power that is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild and seeks to keep men in perpetual childhood

Tocqueville also predicted the current danger to the United States (and, through it, to the world), notes Joel B Pollack on, notably "the slow imposition of Obamacare in the United States, delayed only so that it might never be defeated, creeping gradually into every aspect of life, administered by agencies already shown to be hostile to freedom."
The words of Alexis de Tocqueville in Book Four, Chapter VI of Democracy in America are particularly poignant:

I had remarked during my stay in the United States, that a democratic state of society, similar to that of the Americans, might offer singular facilities for the establishment of despotism...

I think, then, that the species of oppression by which democratic nations are menaced is unlike anything which ever before existed in the world: our contemporaries will find no prototype of it in their memories. I seek in vain for an expression which will accurately convey the whole of the idea I have formed of it, the old words despotism and tyranny are inappropriate: the thing itself is new, and since I cannot name, I must attempt to define it.

I seek to trace the novel features under which despotism may appear in the world. The first thing that strikes the observation is an innumerable multitude of men, all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives. Each of them, living apart, is as a stranger to the fate of all the rest,--his children and his private friends constitute to him the whole of mankind; as for the rest of his fellow-citizens, he is close to them, but he sees them not;--he touches them, but he feels them not; he exists but in himself and for himself alone; and if his kindred still remain to him, he may be said at any rate to have lost his country.

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications, and to watch over their gate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent, if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

This, it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range, and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things; it has predisposed men to endure them, and oftentimes to look on them as benefits.

After having thus successfully taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp, and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting: such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.

I have always thought that servitude of the regular, quiet, and gentle kind which I have just described might be combined more easily than is commonly believed with some of the outward forms of freedom, and that it might even establish itself under the wing of the sovereignty of the people....

It must not be forgotten that it is especially dangerous to enslave men in the minor details of life. For my own part, I should be inclined to think freedom less necessary in great things than in little ones, if it were possible to be secure of the one without possessing the other.
Subjection in minor affairs breaks out every day, and is felt by the whole community indiscriminately. It does not drive men to resistance, but it crosses them at every turn, till they are led to surrender the exercise of their own will. Thus their spirit is gradually broken and their character enervated; whereas that obedience which is exacted on a few important but rare occasions, only exhibits servitude at certain intervals, and throws the burden of it upon a small number of men. It is vain to summon a people, who have been rendered so dependent on the central power, to choose from time to time the representatives of that power; this rare and brief exercise of their free choice, however important it may be, will not prevent them from gradually losing the faculties of thinking, feeling, and acting for themselves, and thus gradually falling below the level of humanity.

I add, that they will soon become incapable of exercising the great and only privilege which remains to them....
A constitution which should be republican in its head, and ultra-monarchical in all its other parts, has ever appeared to me to be a short-lived monster. The vices of rulers and the ineptitude of the people would speedily bring about its ruin; and the nation, weary of its representatives and of itself, would create freer institutions, or soon return to stretch itself at the feet of a single master.
Related: Some Thoughts on American Patriotism

The progressives' ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers

Steve Bartin (thanks to Instapundit) links what he (rightfully) calls "One of the great speeches in American history."
Calvin Coolidge's classic July, 4 speech. We re-link this one:
About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.
Yes, writes Instapundit, what the progressives preach is in fact regress.

Related: Some Thoughts on American Patriotism…