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Gentle reader, not for the first time, we call your attention to the French expression “Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.”
This is usually translated as “The more things change, the more they are the same.”
This truism was brought to mind once again as we have been reading a book detailing the life of Henry Temple, Second Viscount Palmerston, 1739-1802.
He was the father of the Third Viscount Palmerston, 1784-1865, who was Queen Victoria’s Foreign Secretary for 15 years and twice her Prime Minister.
The elder Viscount, while visiting France during their Revolution, wrote this on 31 July, 1791: “Blind and violent zeal seems to have taken place of reason....” (Portrait of A Whig Peer by Brian Council, 1957, Andre Deutsch Ltd., London.)
Does this not have a familiar ring to it?
In virtually any report on the radio, or on the TV, or, we are advised, on any number of cable and internet presentations, “blind and violent zeal” have indeed “taken the place of reason”.
It is truly unfortunate that this virulent attack of “blind and violent zeal” has infected one of the nation’s once-great political institutions, the Republican Party.
From our vantage point of three-quarters of a century, we have had the opportunity to observe the decline of what was once an assemblage of reasonable people pursuing reasonable ends in a reasonable fashion, but no more.
We fully expect the small segment of reasonable people still calling themselves Republicans will finally decide that the only honourable course open to them is to disassociate themselves from this newly dominant faction of their party — those motivated by “blind and violent zeal,” coupled with willful ignorance and baseless hatreds.
Those Republicans of reason and respectability have struggled for the past few years to preserve their party, but they have failed in that effort, and we fear they will conclude as we have that there is no place for their calibre of people in a group paying homage to the likes of Sarah Palin, Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, and Christine O’Donnell.
They will be forced to recognize that while there are still some few old-line reasonable Republicans, such as Howard Baker and John Duncan, in the party, their days of dominance are over.
The emergence of such people as the four mentioned in the preceding paragraph, along with the back stage manipulations of Karl Rove, Dick Armey, and the billionaire Koch brothers, are not only reducing the large tent shelter of the old Republican Party, but they are in fact setting the tent alight with a fire that will destroy it entirely.
This, we fear, is just another example of the triumph of trash on the American scene.
In bygone days there was a phrase for certain disreputable people, i.e. “Poor White Trash.”
That phrase is no longer commonly heard, but the concept has spread throughout the society.
It is an infection that grows not just in the slums and ghettos, but even more potently in the enclaves of wealth and privilege. The sons and daughters of people of power and influence conduct themselves with a complete disregard to any standards of decency or propriety. (The Hilton girl springs to mind immediately.)
Divorce is so widespread as to be an epidemic. Bastardy is fast becoming the dominant aspect of reproduction.
Teachers and priests, doctors and evangelists assume the mantle of sexual predators. Congress is bought and sold by corrupt industries.
The pharmaceutical industry is paying countless doctors to promote their drugs almost like the old-time medicine show “doctors”, but at least they gave some entertainment along with the wild promises as to the efficaciousness of the “snake oil” they were selling.
Incredibly, the very man who is assumed to be the coming Speaker of the House, Rep. John Boehner, not many years ago was openly handing out wads of cash on the Floor of the House of Representatives to his cooperative colleagues.
Decent people, honest people, respectable people would not have done any of these things, nor would they have associated with, or condoned, those who did.
Our old-line Republicans must soon realize this, and, from what we hear, some of them already do.
What may well be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back locally is the candidacy of Dr. Scott DesJarIais.
In so many aspects he is the very personification of the old concept of poor white trash, except as a physician he isn’t poor. But his tangled family history certainly qualifies him as trash in our humble opinion.
His first wife may well have lied on him in the divorce proceeding, but remember, he’s the one who chose to marry her in the first place.
And he’s the one who sought to get out from under the responsibility to support his child — making him what has previously been described as “a dead-beat dad.”
He’s the one who has taken what is sometimes referred to as a trophy wife, and who has sent her out on the TV to defend his actions rather than, as the current Republican expression is, to “man up” and defend those actions, if he has a defence.
He’s the one who seems to have eliminated his first child from his family listing and TV ad pictures of his happy family. No, gentle reader, trash he was, trash he is, and trash he always will be in our opinion. If this opinion brands us as a snob, so be it.
Well, kind reader, it appears that the big banks and their buddies in Wall Street continue staggering down the road of incompetence in the ongoing real estate mortgage fiasco. The latest we have heard is that in many cases where the mortgage has been “securitized” the original debt papers have been lost and no one can prove who actually owns the debt obligation, and thus who has the authority to institute foreclosure.
(In the interest of full disclosure, the old curmudgeon is the owner of shares in three of the biggest banks involved in the financial mess, i.e. Citi, Bank of America, and J. P. Morgan Chase.
He did not buy into any of the three, but due to the mergers and acquisitions craze of the last few years, the banks that he did buy into, United Jersey, and Manufacturers Hanover, as well as the Travelers’ Insurance Co., were merged or acquired by these three behemoths of finance.)
As we have opined repeatedly, these banks, as well as their lesser brethren should be returned to the status that prevailed for so long, that is the Glass/Steagall Act should be re-enacted, as should the prohibition on interstate banking, restrictions on branch banking, and re-institution of the usury laws.
The nation would be stronger, and the people, including the investors, as well as the banks, would be better off were this to be done.