The Hidden Tragedy of the Assassination of Lincoln

 

Left out in Steven Spielberg’s cinematic work of hagiography, Lincoln, is the fact that, as scholar Phil Magness continues to show us, the sixteenth president was devoted until his dying day to a program of African colonization as a component of any scheme of black emancipation. In this, of course, Lincoln was hardly alone. Most of those nineteenth-century Americans–North and South–who condemned slavery believed in white superiority and the inability of the black race to co-exist with the white race in America. Lincoln believed this, as did Thomas Jefferson, as did many lesser known Americans…. (Stephen M. Klugewicz, “Emancipate But Colonize: Abe Lincoln, Matthew Carey, Robert Walsh, and the Antislavery Consensus,” The Imaginative Conservative, April 28, 2013)

In June of 1863 Abraham Lincoln entered into an agreement with the government of Great Britain to colonize recently freed African Americans in its West Indian colonies of Guiana and British Honduras (modern day Belize). [A document discovered in Belize] bears Lincoln’s endorsement of the project and was produced for Frederick Seymour, the colonial governor of British Honduras. It is one of four known first-generation copies. (From an entry at “Current Scholarship by Phillip W. Magness“; see also “New Revelations as the Emancipation Proclamation Turns 150“)

Imagine life in America had Lincoln lived to finish his second term. A Republican Party less zealous to wreak vengeance on the South might have turned its attention to the colonization project, with these results:

  • Southern blacks would have been spared the cruelty, indignity, and privation that was their lot for a century after the end of the Civil War.
  • The black ghettos of the North — and all that goes with them — probably wouldn’t have been formed.
  • There would be far less crime; far less money spent on police, prosecutors, and courts; and far less money spent on prisons.
  • There would be far fewer illegitimate children and welfare mothers dependent on the dole.
  • Whites and Asians wouldn’t be punished for their non-existent sins by being deprived of jobs, promotions, and college admissions in favor of less-qualified blacks.
  • Honest, hard-working taxpayers wouldn’t be burdened with nearly as much “affordable” housing.
  • The kinds of low-down-payment, low-initial-interest loans that triggered the Great Recession probably wouldn’t have been pushed by members of Congress and federal agencies.
  • There wouldn’t be a powerful voting bloc that supports big government and the welfare state.
  • Congress and State legislatures wouldn’t be cluttered by big-government-pro-welfare-state black lawmakers who owe their seats to the dictates of the Voting Rights Act.
  • “Racism” wouldn’t be an issue; thus, Americans wouldn’t waste their time in “conversations” about race, and “white guilt” would be a nullity — as it should be.

Skewering Modern Idolatry

My first reaction upon learning of the death of Princess Diana, who had become a celebrity’s celebrity and an (unfortunate) fashion model for legions of young women, was to blurt out “Princess Die.” I envisioned it as a pithy headline suitable for a tabloid. My guess is that it didn’t appear in print anywhere.

Weeping Willie (“I feel your pain”) Clinton has been for more than twenty years the idol of impressionable women of a certain age and connoisseurs of political tradecraft. The Lewinsky affair and other instances of his exploitation of women didn’t loosen his grip on the heartstrings of the impressionable because — we were assured — his heart was in the right place. (Just ignore the fact that his hands and other body parts were in the wrong places.) As for Clinton’s vaunted political tradecraft: (1) it somehow never translated to a majority of the popular vote, and (2) the GOP took control of the House and Senate midway through Clinton’s first term and held on to the end of his presidency. It was pressure from the GOP, not Clinton’s “magic,” that led to welfare reform and budget surpluses. The political genius of Weeping Willie is a figment of his — and the media’s — imagination.

Albert Gore Jr., the bloated buffoon who was once a wonderkind of the Democrat Party, owes a lavish (and heavily carbonated) lifestyle to his bogus expertise about “global warming” and his ability to acquire government funding for “green” enterprises in which he has invested. There is little more to be said about the man, except that his 45-year romance/marriage dissolved because he and Tipper had “grown apart.” How could they not, given Al’s burgeoning girth and blatant, profitable hypocrisy?

Finally, for now, I come to the coronation of Barack Hussein Obama on January 20, 2009, which was attended by a huge throng on the National Mall. The evident hysteria of the mob resembled nothing less than the Nuremburg Rallies. These, for the benefit of the historically disadvantaged, were assemblies dedicated to the adulation of Adolf Hitler. History repeats itself as farce — if we’re lucky.

Americanism … from the Left

The surviving Boston Marathon bomber is not an enemy combatant, according to the White House, because he is an American citizen. Ah so! All that a terrorist must do to be accorded his Miranda rights is to slip behind the veil of citizenship. He will then be treated like a common criminal (murderers being no more than common criminals in the left’s taxonomy of crime) and afforded the luxury of years of trials and appeals before he receives anything remotely resembling justice. He certainly will not be subjected to interrogation of the kind that could reveal other terrorists and terrorist plots.

This is of a piece with the left’s embrace of illegal (oops!) undocumented immigrants, who — in the left’s view — are just Americans who happen to be citizens of other countries. Not to mention that they are also prospective voters who will help the left to sustain and expand the welfare state upon which illegal immigrants feed.

It seems that the left holds an unbounded view of Americanism: Everyone who wants to be an American, and to enjoy the privileges attaching thereto, should be considered one. How else could leftists — the enemies of the Constitution, the common defense, justice, and private property — claim to be my fellow citizens?

What a laughable claim. Leftists are no more American than their heroes, from Stalin and Mao to Castro and Chavez.

Buy Loco

It is loco to buy local, as so-called local merchants urge us to do.

What is the point of buying local? More to the point: How does one decide whether a business is local?

The ultimate in local buying is to buy from oneself, that is, to make with one’s own brain and hands everything that one consumes and uses, and to do so by drawing only on the resources that are available on one’s property. Absurd, you say? Of course.

But if we admit the absurdity of self-sufficiency (except for the rare bird who is willing to dress in animal skins, live in a lean-to without electricity, and subsist on a limited diet), we must admit that trade is necessary. And once we admit the necessity of trade, we are hard-pressed to say how far it can reach.

In terms of the buy-local movement (if it may be called that), are we to boycott a locally owned hardware store because most of what it sells is made elsewhere — and most of that in far-flung places, even including Asia? What makes the locally owned hardware store any more local than a Lowe’s or Home Depot? Certainly not the source of its goods. Certainly not the source of its labor.

Ah, but, there are all those employees (some of them extremely well-paid) who work and live elsewhere. And there are of those shareholders and bondholders, who live as far away as China. How dare they “suck” money out of the local economy.

But they are not “sucking” money out of the local economy. They, along with local employees and suppliers far and wide, are providing items of value to the local economy, in return for which they are paid in dollars that they often spend on products and services of local origin.

The moral of this tale: If you are not willing and able to be truly self-sufficient, you cannot in good conscience subscribe to the buy-local movement.

Life in Austin (2)

Life in Austin (1)” introduces some of the themes on which I will here elaborate. But there is more to say about Austin than greenness for its own sake, growth to stoke the egos of elected officials and other smug Austinites, the horrendous traffic that ensues, and the diversion of precious road space to Austin’s powerful (though minuscule) cadre of bicyclists.

The last-mentioned are not content to stay in their lanes. When they are not riding abreast and riding the white line to force drivers to swerve around them, they are waiting for lights to change (when they do wait, that is) by parking themselves square in the middle of traffic. The purpose of this maneuver, of course, is an ill-advised attempt to irritate drivers. Ill-advised because many drivers, who have a distinct weight advantage, make it a point to harass cyclists. I would not be surprised to learn that the occasional cyclist who is picked off by a never-discovered driver was a casualty of a poorly calculated near miss.

Austin’s self-designated status as the “Live Music Capital of the World,” to which I adverted in part one, is a matter of misguided opinion. How does one determine the “most musical” city and, more fundamentally, what counts as music? My idea of music isn’t a lot of twenty-somethings making a lot of noise that is heard mostly by other twenty-somethings. (Nor is it the corny trash for thirty-to-ninety somethings that seems to be Nashville’s staple.) Give me a first-rate symphony orchestra that plays (mostly) music composed before 1900 and a bevy of chamber ensembles that do the same. By that (correct) standard, there are dozens of cities that could claim the title of “Live Music Capital of the World,” but Austin wouldn’t be among them.

You may also have heard that Austin is a “beautiful” city. And that would be true, if only its parks and tonier residential areas are considered. But most of Austin — that part of it which hasn’t been paved over in a vain attempt to move traffic — is flat, brown much of the year (because of a continuing drought), and occupied by ugly houses and commercial buildings. Austin’s downtown area, which once was dominated by the beautiful Capitol of Texas, is now dominated by the random and graceless spires of high-rise buildings, to which the more affluent denizens of Austin have fled so that they have a place to park when they are conducting business in downtown Austin.

Getting back to Austin’s drivers, I can only say that they are, on the whole, the worst that I have encountered in my 56 years behind the wheel. Without further ado, I give you my essay on “Driving in Austin”:

It begins with (1) driving in the middle of unstriped, residential streets, even as other vehicles approache. This practice might be excused as a precautionary because (2) Austinites often exit parked cars by opening doors and stepping out, heedless of traffic. But middle-of-the-road driving occurs spontaneously and is of a piece with the following self-centered habits.

(3) Waiting until the last split-second to turn onto a street.  This practice — which prevails along Florida’s Gulf Coast because of the age of the population there — is indulged in by drivers of all ages in Austin. It is closely related to (4) the habit of ignoring stop signs, not just by failing to stop at them but also (and quite typically) failing to look before not stopping. Ditto — and more dangerously — (5) red lights.

Not quite as dangerous, but mightily annoying, is the Austin habit of (6) turning abruptly without giving a signal. And when the turn is to the right, it often is accompanied by (7) a loop to the left, which thoroughly confuses the driver of the following vehicle and can cause him to veer into danger.

Loopy driving reaches new heights when an Austiner (8) changes lanes or crosses lanes of traffic without looking. A signal, rarely given, occurs after the driver has made his or her move, and it means “I’m changing/crossing lanes because it’s my God-given right to do so whenever I feel like it, and it’s up to other drivers to avoid hitting my vehicle.”

The imperial prerogative — I drive where I please — also manifests itself in the form of (9) crossing the center line while taking a curve. That this is done by drivers of all types of vehicle, from itsy-bitsy cars to hulking SUVs, indicates that the problem is sloppy driving habits, not unresponsive steering mechanisms. Other, closely related practices are (10) taking a corner by cutting across the oncoming lane of traffic and (11) zipping through a parking lot as if no child, other pedestrian, or vehicle might suddenly appear in the driving lane.

At the other end of the spectrum, but just as indicative of thoughtlessness is the practice of (12) yielding the right of way when it’s yours. This perverse courtesy only confuses the driver who doesn’t have the right of way and causes traffic to back up (needlessly) behind the yielding driver.

Then there is (13) the seeming inability of most Austiners to park approximately in the middle of a head-in parking space and parallel to the stripes that delineate it.  The ranks of the parking-challenged seem to be filled with yuppie women in small BMWs, Infinitis, and Lexi; older women in almost any kind of vehicle; and (worst of all) drivers of SUVs –(14) of which “green” Austin has far more than its share on its antiquated street grid. It should go without saying that most of Austin’s SUV drivers are (15) obnoxious, tail-gating jerks when they are on the road.

Contributing to the preceding practices — and compounding the dangers of the many dangerous ones — is (16) the evidently inalienable right of an Austinite to talk on a cell phone while driving, everywhere and (it seems) always. Yuppie women in SUVs are the worst offenders, and the most dangerous of the lot because of their self-absorption and the number of tons they wield with consummate lack of skill. Austin, it should also go without saying, has more than its share of yuppie women.

None of the above is unique to Austin. But inconsiderate and dangerous driving habits seem much more prevalent in Austin than in other places where I have driven — even including the D.C. area, where I spent 37 years.

My theory is that the prevalence of bad-driving behavior in Austin — where liberalism dominates — reflects the essentially anti-social character of liberalism Despite the lip-service that liberals give to such things as compassion, community, and society, they worship the state and use its power to do their will — without thought or care for the lives and livelihoods thus twisted and damaged.

It should be unnecessary to add that the 16 egregious practices described above are especially prevalent among Austin’s self-important, SUV-driving, guilt-trip-Democrat-voting yuppies.

What is the cost of living in Austin’s smug, raucous, clogged, irritating, and (mostly) ugly environs? It isn’t cheap, because Austin levies the highest sales-tax rate permitted by Texas (8.25%), and routinely raises property assessments by 10% a year (the maximum allowable by law), while also raising property-tax rates (just enough to evade approval at the ballot box).

So, if you’re thinking of living in (or near) Austin, consider yourself warned.

As for me, I’m out of here as soon as my 90-something in-laws see fit to quit their earthly abode.

People with Special Needs

That phrase occurs in a news story that I read yesterday. The story itself is irrelevant here. What struck me is that the phrase was used without an explanation of those special needs. A lot is left to the reader’s imagination. The special needs could be fast cars, wild women, and kinky sex for all I know.

Of course, that’s not what the phrase is intended to convey. It is yet another euphemism that applies to persons with mental and physical handicaps. Persons (not people) with special needs are, most likely, mentally retarded or crippled in some way.

To refer to such persons as having “special needs” is on a par with references to the “differently abled” and the “_____-challenged” (insert the appropriate adverb). All of this euphemistic blather arises from the liberal conceit that handicapped persons are just as capable as persons without handicaps. And they may well be the same, in many ways, but they are also different, in significant ways. Simply put, they are less capable, physically or mentally, and therefore unable to perform in ways that “normal” people can perform.

It is this liberal refusal to face facts — or, rather, to distort them — that underlies affirmative action and “diversity” programs. When these are mandatory, the result is that persons who are brighter or more physically able are shoved aside — in the workplace, in the academy, on police forces, in the armed forces, and so on — so that the less bright and less physically able may take their place.

It is this liberal refusal to face facts that leads to the toleration of crime and criminals — especially if they are from “disadvantaged” groups. How many innocent persons have suffered at the hands of criminals who were not executed or kept behind bars for murder, rape, and child molestation? Who knows for sure? The liberal press certainly will not tell us.

“Special needs” may be an amusing example of the liberal penchant for sugar-coating reality. But that penchant has many un-amusing consequences.

Liberals are “people with special needs” — well, one special need: to be mugged by reality.

The Death of Francis Urquhart

I have just finished watching the original House of Cards trilogy, a BBC production that originally aired in three four-episode series (1990, 1993, 1995). The protagonist is Francis Urquhart (pronounced urk-ert, and played by the late Ian Richardson). Urquhart is meant to be a caricature of a callous, mendacious conservative. Thus he is portrayed as having murdered and ordered the murders of several persons who posed threats to his advancement and possession of power.

Despite that portrayal — or, rather, because of its implausibility — I sympathized with Urquhart because he served as a stand-in for Margaret Thatcher. His supposed loathing for Thatcher did not conceal the purpose of the producers of House of Cards, which  was to discredit Thatcher’s espousal of personal responsibility and the rule of law.

In the end, Urquhart’s wife — a Lady Macbeth in modern guise — has him killed. She does this ostensibly in order to save him from political disgrace. But her real purpose is to hold onto power by elevating a new surrogate. She is the very model of a modern, amoral politican.

House of Cards, is a good example of an old liberal device: Erect a strawman; label it conservative; and then attack it with inflammatory rhetoric. Truth be told, the real Francis Urquharts of the world — the non-murderous defenders of personal responsibility and the rule of law — are to be commended, not caricatured and castigated.

So, three cheers for Francis Urquhart, whose moral certainty is sadly lacking in politics — American as well as British.

The Iron Lady

Thus endeth the earthly career of another of our heroes, Margaret Thatcher.

To say that she epitomized Great Britain at its greatest will offend her opponents: layabouts, takers, dewy-eyed leftists, and opportunistic leftists who use the aforementioned to slake their power-lust. I welcome this opportunity to offend them.

What Britain and the U.S. need — now, more than ever — are no-nonsense, no-holds-barred leaders cast in Margaret Thatcher’s mold. She was sometimes compared with Ronald Reagan, but that comparison fails scrutiny because Reagan was too kind and too accommodating. Her closest peer among American presidents of the 20th century was Calvin Coolidge.

It is unlikely that the U.S. will ever again see Coolidge’s ilk in the White House. It is equally unlikely that Britain will ever again see Thatcher’s ilk in residence at 10 Downing Street.

The Best-Looking Attorney General

Barack Obama,* the hemi-demi-semi-great communicator, stands accused of sexism for calling Kamala Harris, California’s toothsome attorney general, “by far, the best looking attorney general in the country.”

BO’s remark is not only sexist but also lookist. But what’s the big deal? It could be the truth, and there’s nothing wrong with the truth, is there? So, let’s line up the AGs of the 50 States (or is it 57?) and let the people decide if BO told the truth. (Eric Holder, BO’s AG, is disqualified from consideration because he is just plain butt-ugly.)

I must admit that the outrage stirred by BO’s remark — even on the left — is a refreshing departure from the treatment of Slick Willy Clinton.** SW’s exploitative aggression toward women (Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, Juanita Broaddrick, et al.) was excused during SW’s impeachment trial (by a female lawyer, of all things) on the ground that his heart was in the right place.  That is, he paid lip service to the supremacy of the female race, which therefore excused his abominable treatment of that species.
__________
* Hereinafter BO.

** Hereinafter SW.

Life in Austin (1)

You may have heard that Austin, Texas, is the “Live Music Capital of the World.” That dubious, self-promoting title points to only one of Austin’s many noteworthy characteristics. Most of them, unfortunately, make Austin an unsuitable locale for those of you who may be in search of a better place in which to live and work.

If you haven’t been keeping track of such things, let me tell you that Austin ranks among the worst cities in the nation for traffic congestion. There are four contributing factors worth mentioning here:

  • There is a powerful cycling lobby that represents (at most) 2 percent of Austin’s residents but which has gobbled (and continues to gobble) road space for bike lanes.
  • Then there is the foolish belief (common among Austin’s green-hued elites) that an urban rail system will somehow absorb the influx of new residents, despite the fact that the system (as it stands) is mainly a means of subsidizing businesses and yuppies by transporting low-wage workers from outlying (low-rent) areas. And, like the city’s bus system, it does this by running almost-empty coaches most of time. The proposed expansion of the system will do more of the same, while also compounding traffic problems during construction (as roads are torn up and blocked) and afterwards (as more almost-empty coaches cause traffic backups at grade crossings).
  • Austin’s rapid growth has been spurred by the insistence of its elites on promoting growth (often through tax breaks that rebound onto current residents). Austin’s elites may be green-hued lefties, but they are just as irrationally attached to the idea of a “greater Austin” as any jingo is attached to the idea of “national greatness” and protectionism.
  • The preceding factors militate against clear thinking and the expenditure of tax monies in ways that would actually relieve traffic congestion. One such way, which seems never to have occurred to Austin’s elites, is the conversion of existing, stop-and-go east-west thoroughfares into high-speed, controlled access highways. The lack of such highways undoubtedly accounts for a goodly share of Austin’s ungodly traffic mess.

All of this is lost on Austin’s multitude of guilt-ridden, SUV-driving yuppies who — together with Latinos and blacks — represent Austin’s Democrat super-majority.  That super-majority, which takes its intellectual cues from the leftist academics at the University of Texas (UT), consistently elects a Democrat mayor and city council, whose adherence to political correctness trumps every tenet of economic sensibility. In addition to the aforementioned bike lanes, dysfunctional transit system, and growth for its own sake, Austinites “enjoy” (and pay through the nose for) a recycling program that loses millions of dollars a year; electricity that (in obeisance to the prevailing, antiscientific religion of “warmism”) is generated in significant part by high-cost “sustainable” resources; a health-care agency that, in a few years, has expanded its mission from the administration of tax-funded medial services for the poor and lazy to the extortionate, tax-funded subsidization of a medical school for football-rich UT.

You will, by now, be unsurprised to learn that a recent revenue windfall (higher sales tax revenues arising from economic recovery) led Austin’s rulers to ask for ideas about how to spend the additional money. Was a tax reduction considered? Ask a stupid question. This is, after all, the Peoples Republic of Austin, with government of the left, by the left, and for the left and its dependents.

If all of that isn’t enough to deter you from moving to Austin, stay tuned.

Death Panels

Obamacare is an obama-nation — no doubt about it. The addition of many millions of persons to the rolls of the insured, at little or no cost to them, will cause the vast majority of Americans to receive worse medical care, and to pay more for it.

The federal government’s takeover of the health-care industry will lead, inevitably, to rationing of the constricted supply of medical products and services (limited by government action, that is). And one aspect of rationing, which was widely predicted years ago, is the establishment of death panels. They won’t be called that, of course, but whatever they are called, their function will be to determine who gets health care and who doesn’t. But that’s all right (isn’t it?) because everyone will be in the same, leaky boat (well, everyone but politicians and the “rich” whom they claim to disdain).

I must admit that I have mixed feelings about death panels. They are abhorrent in principle. But I have three parents and parents-in-law in their doddering, whining, inflexible, troublesome 90s, and I am beginning to think of death panels as a plus. (Though I may change my mind in about 20 years.)