View 732 Saturday, July 14, 2012
Happy Bastille Day
Sable came home from the vet ravenously thirsty, but when she drank water she vomited it. I became concerned about hydration and also about electrolytes. We kept her from other water sources and I began giving her small amounts of water with a pinch of salt at about hour intervals. She continued to have stomach upset until about 2300, then she settled down, and about 0300 I gave her a last drink with some electrolytes and went to bed. This morning she was much more alert, and hungry. We gave her her pills, and a bit of water, and then her breakfast. She are it all and begged for her treats. Not as vigorously as usual, but she was hungry.
We are about to take her for a short walk. She’s not her usual hyper perky self, but she’s interested in the world and eager to go out, so we’re pretty sure things are all right now.
I didn’t get a lot of sleep so I’m a bit behind, but I’ll try to catch up.
I haven’t paid such close attention as I might to the state of the nation, but it’s the silly season. Nothing much has changed. No one has made any gross mistakes unless you can call the President’s promises to fix things in three years or be a one term president a mistake, and that one was made three years ago.
The House has shown that the Republicans can repeal Obamacare if they win this November. This election really does become a plebiscite on just how much of the economy do we want to trust to the Feds.
And I am out for a walk.
I respectfully suggest that there’s not really much to celebrate about this day, certainly if Mr. von Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s article contains much in the way of fact.
If anything, this day should be remembered as the start of a time of monstrous evil, by monstrous men. And a reminder that such things can happen anywhere. Even here.
From the View for July 14, 2008 http://www.jerrypournelle.com/view/2008/Q3/view527.html
On July 14, 1789, the Paris revolutionaries with aid of the local militia stormed the Bastille, a fortress in downtown Paris which was similar in purpose to the Tower of London. The revolutionaries freed all the prisoners held in the Bastille on royal warrants. They were all aristocrats: four forgers, two madmen, and a young man who had challenged the best swordsman in Paris to a duel, and whose father had him locked up so that the duel could not take place. The garrison consisted largely of invalid and retired French soldiers. After the surrender much of the garrison was slaughtered and their heads paraded on pikes. The four forgers vanished. The two madmen were sent to the common madhouse where they much missed the special treatment they’d had in the Bastille. The final freed prisoner joined the Revolution, became Citizen Egalite, and was later killed by guillotine in the Place de la Concorde for joining the wrong faction.
Since the fall of the Bastille France has enjoyed a number of governments including The Directorate, the Consulate, The First Empire, the Restoration, The 100 Days, The Second Restoration with several variants including the July Monarchy, the Second Republic, The Second Empire, The Commune of Paris, The Third Republic whose Constitution was framed to allow the possible return of the Monarchy, the Vichy regime, and the various permutations since the end of World War Two.
Lest we be too proud, the bloodiest war in US history was our Civil War; and while we have not had any formal changes of government since the Constitution of 1789, our Supreme Court has certainly rewritten the Constitution to the extent that we can probably boast of having at least three different forms of government since the Civil War.
I have often told this story in my comments on Bastille day (e.g. http://www.jerrypournelle.com/archives2/archives2view/view318.html) and the true story of the fall of the bastille was always a part of the seminars I taught on political theory. I was in a hurry this morning and neglected to do so.
I always have mixed emotions about this. National patriotic holidays celebrate myths and legends, and myth and legend may be more informative than the historical truth. Much of what we feel for George Washington is from a safe distance. He was a man much larger than life, and far more to be admired that most Kings designated “the Great”, but as the sad movement of ‘truth in history’ of a few years ago told us, he had bad fitting wooden false teeth, and he drank a lot of brandy although there is no evidence that he ever made any important decisions while under its influence. I would rather contemplate General Washington, whose men would have followed him to Hell, sitting in the hot summer weather of Philadelphia presiding over the Constitutional Convention than his evenings in which he tempered the misery of his separation from home and family for the delights of a Philadelphia rooming house and a bottle of brandy.
The legend of the Bastille is that the French people rose up against tyranny in the name of Liberty. Doubtless most of those who assaulted the Bastille thought they were doing so. Alas, the truth is more harsh. But Edmund Burke dealt with all that in his Reflections on the Revolution, another of those books like Ortega’s Revolt of the Masses, The Education of Henry Adams, and The Federalist Papers that civilized people of all nations ought to read at some point in their educational process.
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