Joseph Siffred Duplessis (1725-1802) Oil on canvas, circa 1785
(image by Public Domain/National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution Gift of The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation NPG.87.43) DMCA
Modern Conservatism; Or Who Says That We're Our Brother's Keepers
Part 3: Cutting Our Own Throats Part Two
By Richard Girard
"The first step in a fascist movement is the combination under an energetic leader of a number of men who possess more than the average share of leisure, brutality, and stupidity. The next step is to fascinate fools and muzzle the intelligent, by emotional excitement on the one hand and terrorism on the other."
Bertrand Russell: Freedom, Harcourt Brace, 1940
"I'm Not Poor, I'm Broke"
Two items from Thom Hartmann's 10 February 2014 radio program's "On the News" segment caught my attention (Taken from Truthout.org/news):
"You need to know this. Once again, the corporate media virtually ignored a massive protest over the weekend. On Saturday, more than 80,000 people from 32 states marched against extreme right-wing policies in North Carolina. Protestors came from all over our nation to push back against what they call the 'immoral and unconstitutional policies' of Governor Pat McCrory and his Republican legislature. The 'Moral March on Raleigh' grew out of the weekly 'Moral Monday' protests that are now spreading to other states, and it was organized by the Historic Thousands on Jones Street group. Over the past few years, Republican lawmakers in that state have enacted voter-suppression laws, cut unemployment benefits, raised taxes on the poor, and refused to expand Medicaid, and people are speaking out against these extreme policies. This weekend, doctors, students, teachers, low-wage workers, voting-rights advocates, and women's-rights groups all marched together from Shaw University to the state capitol, carrying signs about everything from minimum wage to reproductive rights. This march was a perfect snapshot of what millions of Americans are fighting in Red states, yet the so-called 'mainstream media' ignored the massive protest. People all around our country are finding their voice, and standing together to fight extreme policies, but you would never know that by following the corporate news. The issues that Americans care about are being ignored, but these protests are growing, and soon even the corporate media is going to have to start paying attention."
In screwed news... Florida Republicans don't want everyone to vote. After hours-long voting lines during the 2012 elections, people and organizations throughout that state offered suggestions to streamline the voting process. One of the ideas presented was using the student union at the University of Florida as a voting precinct for college students, but Secretary of State Ken Detzner has rejected that idea. Last week, Secretary Detzner claimed that the student union doesn't fit into that state's list of eligible voting sites, which includes government-owned community centers and civic centers. Most people would argue that a publicly-owned building at a public university falls into either of those groups, but Republicans do not agree. In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards said, "This is strategic. They're worried about young people voting." And, she's exactly right. Republicans know that young people do not support their extreme policies, so they are doing everything in their power to make it impossible for college students to vote.
The proponents of oligarchy, the super-plutocrats and their lackeys--witting and otherwise--do not believe in majority rule. They do not believe in equal rights for the middle-class, let alone the poor, minorities, the elderly, women, or the LGBTQ community. Insofar as they are concerned, voting and other rights should be rolled back to at least before 1920, when women were granted universal suffrage. They are quite comfortable with eliminating child-labor laws, public education, workplace-safety regulations, the forty-hour work week, paid vacation, substandard housing for the poor, poverty for the majority of the elderly, monopolistic business practices, and all of the other corruption people like Ida Tarbell and Lincoln Steffens wrote against more than a century ago.
A Brief History of Civil Rights Under English Common and American Law
One of the most recent developments in human society is the ideas of rights and privileges as they apply to the various economic, social, and political classes. At the time King John of England signed the Magna Carta, only rulers had rights; their subjects had those privileges that their rulers granted to them.
Noam Chomsky wrote in 2012 for the website TomDispatch.com (reprinted 23 July 2012 at CommonDreams.org), in an article titled Destroying the Commons: On Shredding the Magna Carta, "The first scholarly edition of Magna Carta was published by the eminent jurist William Blackstone. Blackstone's edition actually includes two charters. It was entitled The Great Charter and the Charter of the Forest. The first, the Charter of Liberties, is widely recognized to be the foundation of the fundamental rights of the English-speaking peoples--or as Winston Churchill put it more expansively, 'the charter of every self-respecting man at any time in any land.' Churchill was referring specifically to the reaffirmation of the Charter by Parliament in the Petition of Right, imploring King Charles to recognize that the law is sovereign, not the King. Charles agreed briefly, but soon violated his pledge, setting the stage for the murderous [English] Civil War."
The idea of "no taxation without representation," one of the central points of the American Revolution, was just one of the list of grievances enumerated when Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. Human reason, and the philosophy through which that reason evolved, had arrived at the conclusion (through Jefferson), "that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness...." Rights did not come to the members of humankind at the whim of some autocrat, sitting in a comfortable palace across the sea. Nor were certain individuals by accident of birth granted a greater and more extensive set of rights because of the name or wealth of their parents. No one human being received a larger abundance of rights than another based on the station they'd achieved, the honors they'd received, or the wealth they'd amassed during their lifetime; although certain privileges might temporarily attach themselves to the individual possessing them. No, all of humanity is born on this earth equal, in what might be called a metaphysical state of reality that exists beyond whatever real-world circumstance a human being might actually find themselves born into.