Thomas Paine's birthday slipped quietly by on Sunday, somehow appropriate given the vote that will take place later today in the Senate (the Alito confirmation). Borrowing from "The Writer's Almanac" entry:
"He joined with Washington's Army when the war broke out, and at nights after fighting, he worked on a collection of essays titled The American Crisis (1783). His pamphlet, Common Sense (1776), was a best seller and helped inspire the move toward a declaration of independence. At the end of the Revolution he returned to England, where he published The Rights of Man (1789), a response to anti-revolutionary sentiment there. After reading it, his friend Benjamin Franklin said, "I would advise you not to attempt unchaining the tiger, but to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person." He was imprisoned in France in 1794, where he wrote The Age of Reason (1795). This book angered his critics further, until he was brought back to the United States in 1802 by Thomas Jefferson. Here, he received much public abuse for his writing, and he died poor and alone in 1809."
Sadly, I fear today marks the end of another revolution. Some of the main goals of the "elite" for the last 70 years have been the overturning of the social protections won by the "working class" in the labor struggles of the 30's, and through the New Deal. Having been stymied in their initial attempts, they began a long slow assault that will end with their final triumph this afternoon. To wit:
1) They couldn't control the press, so they bought it, through outright purchase or merger and acquistion. Now there are no Willam Paleys to tell Edward Murrow to go ahead, advertisers be damned. Most cities have a single daily paper struggling to even be read, there are no "crusading editors" in print or on the air in this "brave new world"...
2) They managed to take over the legislative branch through campaign contributions and lobbyists; now they can get anything they like written into law and passed; the lawmakers claim to need the lobbyists to explain it, and the reporters aren't looking...
3) At this point, you don't even need the White House to have your own way, but a rubber stamp is nice...
4) Today, with the confirmation of Alito, they have a Supreme Court that will back most anything they would care to write into law!
So a "new revolution" would seem to be ending this afternoon, without a shot being fired, no 3" banner headlines, not even enough phone calls to warrant a second thought on the part of some of the Democratic Senators, let alone the Republicans!
I truly hope I am wrong about this; I hope I am just being too cynical for my own good. Somehow I fear that there is even more to this iceburg than my cynicism is showing me, and that the rip in the hull, like the one in the Titanic's, is going to be one that sinks us all!
Good night and good luck!