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From Wikipedia:

 

Historian Alexis de Tocqueville made predictions in 1840 concerning perpetual war in democratic countries. The following is from Volume 2, chapter 22, “Why Democratic Nations Naturally Desire Peace and Democratic Armies, War”, 18th paragraph, in his book, Democracy in America:

No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country. Not indeed that after every victory it is to be apprehended that the victorious generals will possess themselves by force of the supreme power, after the manner of Sulla and Caesar; the danger is of another kind. War does not always give over democratic communities to military government, but it must invariably and immeasurably increase the powers of civil government; it must almost compulsorily concentrate the direction of all men and the management of all things in the hands of the administration. If it does not lead to despotism by sudden violence, it prepares men for it more gently by their habits. All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and the shortest means to accomplish it. This is the first axiom of the science.

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I remember when reality TV shows were a novelty — unscripted (we thought) stuff like a peephole into life being lived. Trump’s original “Apprentice” was a fascinating look at rigorous challenges in which bright, determined young people would compete for a wonderful job. But then it turned into “Celebrity Apprentice,” wherein B-class theatrical types would do bad jokes and stumble through silly so-called challenges to win money for their charities. We tuned out, not only those televised insults to our intelligence, but to most reality shows on TV in which the real question was: who is grosser, the second-fiddle participants themselves or the disgusting worms they at.

Unfortunately, the “Celebrity Apprentice” phase of reality TV continues with the Trump administration, with it’s B-class President in the starring role, surrounded by a motley B-class assortment of lingering relatives and political hanger-ons.

But the disturbing, really anguishing dichotomy is that the “reality” on stage is not the inconsequential frivolity of those lousy TV shows, but the all-too-real reality of America on the world’s stage. I want to turn off this show, because it is as repulsive as the “Celebrity Apprentice” was compared to the original “Apprentice.” But I can’t find a channel on TV, except maybe the old comedy and talk shows of the 80-s and 90s, where I can avoid the self-destructive bad humor of the Trump administration, especially the bumbling inarticulateness of our B-class President himself. I can handle the world, but this Presidency is just too much B-class reality.

The 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as ratified, states: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

I can read, and if you are reading this, so can you.

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms,” is qualified by the stipulation that: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state.”

So, members of the militia can keep and bear arms. Nothing is said about the general population being allowed to keep and bear arms. So where did the modern Supreme Court get the idea that the right to bear arms is not limited to the militia?

More Americans have died as a result of gun violence at home than in all our foreign wars. At least in part, we can thank the stupid Supreme Court for “interpreting” our Constitution in a way that any literate, fair-minded American would not.

Yes, we need reasonable gun safety laws, but if we and the Supreme Court were to just read the U.S. Constitution, and act accordingly, all the fuss might not be needed.

THOMAS TASCHINGER: Hef was last of Big Three that changed pop culture

Published 6:10 am, Sunday, October 1, 2017

The death of Hugh Hefner last week closed a special chapter in modern American history. He was the final survivor of the trio that changed this country forever after World War II.

Prior to that conflict, this nation had millions of people who lived on farms, rarely traveled far from home and lived basic lives.

After the war, we emerged as a modern, industrialized giant that became the greatest superpower since the Roman Empire.

While all that was happening, Hef and two other men helped change our pop culture from what we were to what we are.

One of them was Ray Kroc, the only one on this list whose name is not instantly recognizable to many. He deserves better, since he changed the way we eat.

In 1954, after he lost his job as a milk shake mixer salesman, he joined a small California hamburger chain called McDonald’s. That company had purchased eight of his mixers for one of its restaurants, and he was impressed by its cleanliness and organization.

He thought the same concept could be expanded, changing roadside dining from spotty quality to something you could rely on. It wouldn’t be great food, but it would be good food. And fast.

Kroc’s vision changed eating, and eating out, in America. McDonald’s was followed by other chain restaurants, and almost overnight it was possible to get cheap, decent chow on the run. It blended well with our fast-paced, postwar outlook, especially because it was also inextricably linked with interstate highways.

They could be credited to the second member of this trio, Dwight David Eisenhower. It was said that he was impressed by the autobahn Adolph Hitler had constructed in Germany prior to starting World War II. Ironically, that of course is the same conflict that Ike ended in Europe.

Congress authorized construction of the system in 1956, also known as the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. The initial goal was to allow troops and trucks to move about quickly in time of war, just as in Germany. Civilian traffic, however, quickly overwhelmed it.

Getting from Point A to Point B became a lot easier. Going from one city to another no longer required the planning of a railway trip. You just got in your car and went. The postwar economy was booming, and almost everyone could afford the latest creation from Detroit.

And thanks to Ray Kroc and his copycats, you could easily grab a meal on the way.

Hugh Hefner grew up in the midst of these vast societal changes. He was also a World War II veteran, writing briefly for an Army newspaper. He is one of the last prominent members of that conflict to fade away.

In 1953, however, he was angry. Esquire magazine, where he worked as a copy editor, had denied him a $5 weekly raise. He quit in frustration and thought he’d try to publish his own magazine.

Whatever you think of Playboy, it changed Americans’ attitude toward sex. It was no longer reserved for married people, and vaguely distasteful. It was pleasurable, and singles could partake. In turn, people who had a new outlook on something so fundamental were open to other questions about what it means to be human.

Sure, eventually someone else would have caused these tectonic shifts in American life. But someone else didn’t. Kroc, Ike and Hef did. Now they are all gone.

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Thomas Taschinger, TTaschigner@BeaumontEnterprise.com, is the editorial page editor of The Beaumont Enterprise. Follow him on Twitter at @PoliticalTom

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