Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Members of Connecticut’s Democrat State Central Committee on July 22 voted unanimously to pull the eject lever on Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States, and Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States, widely considered the father of the modern Democratic Party. On a unanimous voice vote, the names of the two gentlemen were stripped from the Party’s annual “Jefferson, Jackson, Bailey Dinner.” The Confederate Flag lowered permanently from a flagpole on the lawn of the State Capitol in South Carolina following the racist-terrorist murder of nine churchgoers at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church has brought down more than a flag.
On the 67th year of the annual Jefferson, Jackson, Bailey fete, Connecticut Democrats awakened suddenly to the slaver pasts of both Jefferson and Jackson. U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro stoutly resisted the effort to airbrush Mr. Jefferson from Democratic Party history. The third American president was, Mrs. DeLauro noted, one of the founders of the Republic, but she seemed willing enough to efface Mr. Jackson, an Indian killer and slaver whose violent character is far less defensible.
Perhaps Democrats in Connecticut spearheading the change should be asked if they would rather see Mr. Jackson replaced on the twenty dollar bill than Alexander Hamilton on the ten dollar bill. The change is being made to make room for a yet unannounced woman of moment. Mr. Hamilton certainly was no friend of slavery and did much to shape the American economy. Mr. Jackson resisted the establishment of the Second Bank of the United States, moved Indians onto reservations, robbed black farmers of their land in Florida and was as President at least as intemperate with his political foes as the current Democratic President or, coming closer to home, our prickly Governor Dannel Malloy, all of whose budgets were formed without Republican Party input. Bi-partisan government in Connecticut was thrown to the winds when Mr. Malloy, the first Democratic governor in the state since 1991, assumed office.
The politically opportune airbrushing of history presents awkward practical problems. George Washington, considered the father of the country, was also a slaver, though Washington did manumit his slaves to freedom in his will. Washington D.C., where Mrs. DeLauro commingles with other Democrats at the policy salons she holds at her plush Capitol Hill townhouse, is named after the nation’s first President. Should the nation’s capital be renamed? And what is to done with the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial?
A hint that the author of the Declaration of Independence was to be degraded was provided by Governor Dannel Malloy at the last Jefferson, Jackson, Bailey Dinner. Mr. Malloy said the change would not trouble him and later offered a few suggestions that would attach the Democratic Party to its more modern evocations.
The problems of the past will continue to haunt the Democratic Party for years to come. Slavery, Jim Crow and its modern equivalents must continue to be denounced, and there is little question that Republicans -- called by Democrats in the South during slave days “black Republicans”-- have less need than the Democratic Party to shed the past. “Shed” is exactly the right word: As people and institutions move from the past to the future, they slough off their past sins, like snakes shedding their skins. The oak tree is not the acorn. And the problems that face blacks today in America are both similar and different than those that confronted Frederick Douglass, who was asked by Abraham Lincoln following his Second Inaugural Address what he thought of the speech now engraved on the north chamber wall of the Lincoln monument. John Wilkes Booth, in the audience, heard Lincoln say:
“The Almighty has His own purposes. ‘Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.’ If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
Lincoln's remarks run like lava through Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech, delivered nearly a hundred years later from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. This was the same Lincoln who praised Jefferson on the occasion of his birthday celebration in Boston for having inserted into the Declaration of Independence language – “All men are created equal” -- that in time struck the irons from the feet of slaves:
“This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, cannot long retain it.
“All honor to Jefferson--to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there, that to-day, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of re-appearing tyranny and oppression.”
Frederick Douglass would have agreed with Lincoln’s assessment.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
“It was as though in those last minutes he was summing up the lesson that this long course in human wickedness had taught us -- the lesson of the fearsome word-and-thought-defying banality of evil.”
― Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem : A Report on the Banality of Evil
― Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem : A Report on the Banality of Evil
The relationship between U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal and Connecticut’s left of center media during his twenty years and more as the state’s Attorney General has been a cordial one. There are reasons for this. A consumer protection Attorney General, Mr. Blumenthal found it easy to press all the right buttons, and journalistic experience he had acquired at Harvard – he was an active journalist for the Harvard Crimson – put him in good odor with newspaper editors. A sampling of Mr. Blumenthal’s news reporting is preserved even today in the news morgue of the Harvard Crimson.
Monday, July 20, 2015
Somewhere, Fyodor Dostoyevsky says the average life of a man is about three generations; that would be around 180 years.
Why so long?
Well, a man lives in the lives of his family, children and friends. The problem of death – real death, in the sense of obliteration and forgetfulness – begins after the third generation. By the fourth generation, a man is forgotten. Life has lost its grip on the human imagination, and the man is gone, utterly gone, at least on this side of death’s veil. For Christians who believe in the promises of the Living God, death is swallowed up in life everlasting. But not all of us have the courage – or the imagination -- to believe such things.
Friday, July 17, 2015
Never has a president waved the white flag so gaily. The sanctions on Iran were a success, which is why, come to think of it, Iran has so importunately insisted on their removal. Removing the sanctions for so little in return is an abject failure.
One day after the Obama-Iran deal was inked, Obama faced the cameras and said the alternative to his agreement would have been war rather than, say, tougher sanctions. That is a false alternative. But then this administration has been for several years on good terms with falsity. The operative assumption of the Obama administration seems to be that you really CAN fool most of the people all the time. The only thing more disgraceful than the Obama-Iran agreement – which surrenders any real possibility of preventing the distribution of nuclear weapons throughout the Middle East – is “Winter Soldier” John Kerry, the second worst Secretary of State in recent times.
Thursday, July 16, 2015
For anti-sprawlists in Connecticut, many of whom are environmentalists, local farms are essential to a movement that seeks to nudge businesses back into cities; the more farms there are in the hinterlands, the less land will be available for “exploitation” by businesses and home construction companies. Environmentalists do not generally object heatedly to “urban sprawl.”
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Here in the United States, we supposed we had washed our hands of aristocratic pretensions after the American Revolution. So packed with aristocrats was France prior to its own revolution that the sans culottes had to resort to the guillotine to rid the country of the pestilence. The absence of aristocrats following the French Terror paved the way for Napoléon Bonaparte, which paved the way for a restoration of the monarchy and the consequent re-emergence of French aristocrats. The same road to power was traced in imperial Rome following the destruction of the Roman Republic.
Though a bloodline aristocracy in the United States was never possible, George Washington and many of the founders feared the emergence of a political aristocracy. When Napoleon, First Council of France and later Emperor, heard Washington was to retire as President to return to Mount Vernon, thus refusing a permanent directorship, he said that, if Washington did this, he would be the greatest man his own age had yet produced. Vain himself, Napoleon knew vanity makes great men think they are indispensable, and vanity, the pleasant illusion that life cannot go on without the intervention of personal genius, is a trap door to all sorts of calamities.
Saturday, July 11, 2015
Growing up as a boy in Windsor Locks in the early fifties, you could not help brushing up against blacks at close quarters. My very first boss at age thirteen was a Jamaican whose voice was, like a cello, deep and musical. It threw off chords that made you fall in love with your own native tongue. Mr. Black – his real name -- was a straw boss in the tobacco fields of Windsor Locks and Suffield. And when you wanted to catch his attention, you had best not omit the Mr.
The man was cloaked in immense dignity. He stuttered when excited, a defect nearly all the toughs in the tobacco fields were careful NOT to notice.
Tuesday, July 07, 2015
Governor Dannel Malloy – former New York State prosecutor, former Mayor of Stamford, Connecticut, a progressive, chief of the gayest administration in Connecticut history, architect of both the largest and second largest tax increases in state history, “Porcupine” (a self-description popularized by political humorist Colin McEnroe) – recently turned off the light during press conference on the budget, the most expensive in state history.
Mr. Malloy had been taking questions on the budget, each reporter being given one. A short follow-up session occurred. The interrogatory took about thirty minutes, at which point Mr. Malloy and communications director Mark Berman proposed that the remained of the briefing should be conducted “off the record.” Reporters were asked whether they were comfortable with such an arrangement. When Waterbury Republican American reporter Paul Hughes expressed his discomfort, Mr. Malloy said he could leave. There was no point in continuing to object, since Mr. Malloy and his communication director had settled upon an “off the record” communication. Mr. Hughes quietly departed.
Sunday, July 05, 2015
Progressive Governor Dannel Malloy is in the midst of building “a new economy in Connecticut.” So Mr. Malloy claimed in an address during the Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson, Jackson, Bailey fund raising dinner, soon to be renamed.
Democrats only recently discovered that Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Jackson were slavers. A proposal to rename the annual event was made following progressive firebrand U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s key note address before assembled Democrats. The names of Mr. Jackson, a notorious Indian killer, and Mr. Jefferson are to be scrubbed from the marque event, Democrats announced four days before the Fourth of July, also known as Independence Day, so named after Mr. Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence.
Thursday, July 02, 2015
French Foreign Minister Pierre Laval was impertinent enough to suggest to Josef Stalin in 1935 that he should encourage Catholicism in the Soviet Union in order to appease the Pope. Stalin responded, “The Pope? How many divisions has he got?”
He hadn’t enough, apparently.
If in the unlikely event Governor Dannel Malloy should demand of public employee unions “shared sacrifices” they are unwilling to embrace, the question no doubt will be asked, “How many divisions has Malloy?”
He will not have enough.
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