John L. O’Sullivan, (15 November 1813 – 24 March 1895) sketched in 1874, was an influential columnist as a young man, but he is now generally remembered only for his use of the phrase “manifest destiny” to advocate the annexation of Texas and Oregon. (See Manifest Destiny, Wikipedia.)
Micheline is sad, says Belaud the cat. She is sad because she does not think President Obama knew to what extent practices, proponents of the “Manifest Destiny” would have allowed, were used by United States President George W. Bush.
She also thinks that, in all likelihood, abusive surveillance continued after Barack Obama was elected President of the United States because he did not know the US was listening in on the entire world, including its friends. We need to trust at least a few persons and nations, which fully explains Chancellor Merkel’s reaction. President Obama knew he had to protect his people, but may not have been aware that the NSA (National Security Agency) was monitoring Chancellor Merkel’s mobile telephone.
“Now Micheline” I said, “you know very well that people hear what they want or wish to hear and that the manner in which a message is understood depends largely on the way it is formulated. He may not have known.”
The term “Manifest Destiny” was coined by John O’Sullivan in the July-August 1845 issue of his United States Magazine and Democratic Review and, according to William Earl Weeks,[i] quoted in Wikipedia, its three themes were the following:
The special virtues of the American people and their institutions;
America’s mission to redeem and remake the world in the image of America;
A divine destiny under God’s direction to accomplish this wonderful task.
Founding fatherThomas Jefferson (13 April 1743 – 4 July 1826) was a proponent of the “Manifest Destiny.” Yet, he owned hundreds of slaves and fathered six children with slave Sally Hemings (c. 1773 – 1835). Four survived to adulthood, at which point they were freed. Sally Hemings was of mixed ancestry and the children were “seven-eighths European in ancestry” and white in appearance. (See Sally Hemings, Wikipedia.) But he did not free Sally Hemings. She would have been auctioned off, had Jefferson’s daughter, Martha Washington Jefferson Randolph, not freed her.
George W. Bush
I also told Micheline that, although former US President George W. Bush (born July 6, 1946) adhered, knowingly or unknowingly, to the concept of the “Manifest Destiny” (see Manifest Destiny, Wikipedia), after the events of 9/11, former President G. W. Bush may have felt very distraught which could have led him to enter Iraq, a sovereign country. He was the President of the United States, its Commander-in-Chief, the US had been attacked by terrorists, and he had been influenced by the “Manifest Destiny.”
And now we have learned that former President G. W. Bush did not know how far he could go too far. He let the NSA (National Security Agency) monitor the telephones of allies of the United States. If an individual adheres to the notions set forth in the “Manifest Destiny,” there is a risk that individual will not know that his or her rights end where the rights of others begin.
President George W. Bush may not have been as great a president as Thomas Jefferson, but I’m quite certain he will never be made to answer for his actions. All is right under the mantle of the “Manifest Destiny,” which is why Micheline fears the notion of exceptionalism.
“Don’t worry, Micheline, President Obama will do all that is needed to regain the confidence of his allies. Yes, some people will use this opportunity to fault him, but it will not work. Too large a number of United States citizens will see the truth. What is really sad, Micheline, is that we have extremists right here who threaten Canadian unity.”
“The term McCarthyism, coined in 1950 in reference to Joseph McCarthy‘s practices, was soon applied to similar anti-communist activities. Today the term is used more generally in reference to demagogic, reckless, and unsubstantiated accusations, as well as public attacks on the character or patriotism of political opponents.” (See Joseph McCarthy, Wikipedia.)
The bottom line, Belaud said, is that one can fully expect citizens who insist on carrying firearms also to monitor their friend’s telephone conversations.
Le Roman de Renart. Noble le Lion, (Bibliothèque nationale de France BnF [br. Va])
BEAST EPICS AND FABLES
Generally speaking, European beast literature consists of two genres: fables and beast epics, or mock-epics. Fables are short, but epics are very long. Le Roman de Renart is a beast epic, but it contains the story of a Crow, Tiécelin or Tiercelin, who is led to sing (chanter) by a cunning Sir Fox,andloses his living. Jean Batany calls the various fables “parcellaires” and the entire beast epic, or fabliau, “unitaire.”[i] In short, beast epics are frame-stories (outer stories) that join shorter stories (inner stories).
One of our WordPress colleagues added the expression “to eat crow” to my “crowing.” As it turns out, Mr Boehner, Sir Fox, may well be “eating crow,” and the expression “to eat crow,” may be rooted in “The Fox and the Crow.” So, it is possible that “The Fox and Crow” shaped the English language to a greater extent than I suspected and that it may have done so because of the wide dissemination of beast literature in both fables, popular collections of fables, and various epic poems we will name Reynard the Fox stories, an umbrella term. So we have another curtain to raise.
Where fables are concerned, there exist several sources.[ii] However, we could begin with Marie de France[iii] who was born in Normandy but then lived in England. She is French literature’s first, chronologically, important woman writer. Her collection of fables contains a “Fox and Crow” narrative, entitled “Del corbel e del gupil,” that may predate the Ysopet-Avionnet, but not necessarily.[iv]The Ysopet-Avionnet dates back to the period during which the goupil became a renard,whichmay explain why her Fox is named gupil. Marie lived in the 12th century and retold 103 ‘Æsopic’ fables, her “Fox and Crow” being the 13th.
In the Ysopet-Avionnet, our fable is entitled “Du Renart et du Corbel” and is fable number 15. Foxes used to be called goupils, but as of 1250 approximately, the success of the Roman de Renart led to the “goupil” being renamed “renart.” In other words, the part became the whole, so to speak, as in a synecdoche, a figure of speech, hence its “Fox and Crow” being entitled “Du Renart et du Corbel.”
The Ysopet-Avionnet, a widely-used medieval grammar book, contains a “Fox and Crow,” the above-mentioned “Du Renart et du Corbel,” a translation of the Latin “De Vulpe [fox] et Corvo,” fable number 15 in theYsopet-Avionnet(p. 73).[v] Avianus (Avionnet) lived in the 4th century CE, and he wrote in Latin. However, “Du Renart et du Corbel” is not one of the 18 fables Flavius Avianus contributed to the Ysopet-Avionnet. It is one of the 64 fables attributed to a Romulus.
(Please click on the small images to enlarge them.)
Reynard (Reinardus) was born in the Ysengrimus and attributed to Nivardus of Ghent. Nivardus is a latinizedversion of Nivard. The Ysengrimus is a very long poem: 6,574 lines of elegiac couplets. It was translated into English by Jill Mann and is still available (see Jill Mann). The pioneer, however, was John Voigt who translated the Ysengrimus into German. Ysengrimus was the Wolf and Reinardus, the Fox. In French, Ysengrimus is Ysengrin and in English, he is Isengrim. Renart is Reynard.
The Roman de Renart (1170-1250)
The French Roman de Renart was written between 1170 and 1250. Pierre de Saint-Cloud was its first author, but it has other authors: Richard de Lison, the Prêtre de la Croix en Brie, and others. Beginning with the Ysengrimus, beast epics were written not only as mock-epics, but also as satires of a greedy Church.
Le Roman de Renart contains 27 narratives and 2,700 octosyllabic verses (eight syllables). These are joined into clusters called “branches.” The central theme is the fierce competition between the Fox, who uses ruse or “engin” (ingenuity), and the Wolf, who uses brutal force and is forever hungry. It eats ham mainly, but has been caught eating lamb. Other animals featured in the Roman de Renart are Bruin the Bear, Tibert the Cat, Tiercelin or Tiécelin the Crow, Hersent the She-Fox (Isengrim’s wife), Chantecler the Cock, etc. For a reading, in French, of the Roman de Renart’s “Fox and Crow” episode, one may visit the Bibliothèque nationale de France. It may be that the site is in English as well as French, but I have yet to discover a translation.[v]
England, the Netherlands and Germany
The Roman de Renart then migrated to other lands, the Netherlands in particular. But it also moved to Germany. It was hugely successful in both the Netherlands and German-language states. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is the author of Reineke Fuchs(1793). But the Brothers Grimm also wrote Reynard stories.
Reynard in Georgia, the United States
In North-America, Reynard inhabits Joel Chandler Harris‘ (9 December 1848 – 3 July 1908) Tales of Uncle Remus. However, in The Tales of Uncle Remus, our trickster, the Fox, is replaced by the Rabbit. The traditional North-American trickster is the Coyote.
AN ANTI-SEMITIC REYNARD
Title credit: About Reynard the Fox. (Nederland Film, 1943) Courtesy Nederland Filmmuseum (frame enlargement Ole. Schepp).[vi]
Robert van Genechten (25 October 1895 – 13 December 1945) produced an anti-Semitic version of Reynard the Fox, entitled Van den vos Reynaerde. He was a collaborator.At the end of World War II, Genechten was condemned to death, but committed suicide in his cell to avoid the humiliation of a public and ritualistic execution.
There are so many Reynard stories and, consequently, so many “Fox and Crow” fables that it could argued successfully that expressions featuring linguistic elements such as “to eat crow,” “crowing,” “faire chanter” and, by extension, “chantage” (blackmail) originate in “The Fox and the Crow” and Le Corbeau et le Renart. “The Fox and the Crow,” however, is a transcultural text. Related narratives can be found in Ibn al-Muqaffa‘s KalilahwaDimnaand,earlier, inthe SanskritPanchatantra.
Meanwhile in Washington: The Deceiver Deceived
Farcesbles vs Fa
However, allow me to return briefly to a Washington reading of “The Fox and Crow.” In fables, the birthplace of proverbs, among other forms, the crow ends up eating humble pie, or “eating crow.” In farces, however, the deceiver is deceived, le trompeur trompé. In fables, one can be fooled; Sir Crow opens his mouth and loses the cheese. But Mr Boehner, as Sir Fox, did not succeed in making Sir Crow, President Obama, “crow.” It could be said, therefore, that the shutdown of the American government was not only senseless and far too costly, but that it was… a farce!
[i]Jean Batany, Scène et Coulisses [wings] du « Roman de Renart » (Paris : Sedes, 1989), pp. 48-49.[ii] For a more complete list, see Æsopica: http://www.mythfolklore.net/aesopica/[iii] Harriet Spiegel, editor and translator, The Fables of Marie de France (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000 ).
[iv]They may have been written at approximately the same time.[v] The Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) has a lovely site on the Roman de Renart. “Roman” does not mean novel, it points to the language, “le roman,” in which the text was written. Click on:
“Fables are among the oldest forms of folk literature. The word “fable” comes from the Latin “fabula” (“little story”). Typically, a fable consists of a narrative and a short moral conclusion at the end. The main characters in most fables are animals. The purpose of these stories is to ridicule negative human qualities.” http://www.worldoftales.com/fables.html
Perched on a lofty oak,
Sir Raven held a lunch of cheese;
Sir Fox, who smelt it in the breeze,
Thus to the holder spoke:
“Ha! how do you do, Sir Raven?
Well, your coat, sir, is a brave one!
So black and glossy, on my word, sir,
With voice to match, you were a bird, sir,
Well fit to be the Phoenix of these days.”
Sir Raven, overset with praise,
Must show how musical his croak.
Down fell the luncheon from the oak;
Which snatching up, Sir Fox thus spoke:
“The flatterer, my good sir,
Aye lives on his listener;
Which lesson, if you please,
Is doubtless worth the cheese.”
A bit too late, Sir Raven swore
The rogue should never cheat him more.
“The flatterer, my good sir,
Aye lives on his listener[.]”
In this post, I will focus on the moral of this fable. The moral is explicit. Sir Fox is quoted in full. Flattery, on the part of the fox, fools the raven/crow into singing and, as he sings, he lets go of his piece of cheese. By the way, in European beast literature, animals usually eat cheese, honey and ham.
However, it so happens that the French translation for blackmail is lechantage. Sir Fox fait chanter le corbeau (makes the raven sing) and manages to convince a rather vain Sir Raven or Crow to sing or to “crow.” The cheese falls to the ground. Now that cheese was Sir Crow’s dinner. Sir Crow’s loss is therefore significant.
So what we have seen is how a fable can shape a language. Chances are that the word ‘chantage’ is not rooted in our fable (faire chanter), but there is a strong likelihood that it is. For instance, we now hear people say a “perfect storm,” without referring to the 2000 film based on Sebastian Junger‘s non-fictional account of events. In this case, events were fictionalized into a film and the title of the film is entering the English language and may remain a useful but uninformed English-language metaphor.
Moreover, in LePoète et le Roi; Jean de La Fontaine en son siècle (Paris: Fallois, 1997), a book about La Fontaine, Marc Fumaroli, the most prominent member of the Académie française, wrote “to know how far one can go too far” (“savoir jusqu’où on peut aller trop loin”), without using quotation marks and without naming his source: Jean Cocteau (5 July 1889 – 11 October 1963). The clever expression is therefore entering the French language and, a few years from now, people might not know who coined the expression.
For those of us who also speak English, the word “crow” is significant. When Sir Raven or Crow opens his mouth, he does not sing, he “crows,” which is not flattering. Could that be rooted in the “Fox and Crow?” To crow suggests a degree of boastfulness. Remember that “Æsopian” fables entered England, at least in part, when printer and translator William Caxton (ca. 1415~1422 – ca. March 1492) printed the Latin fables of Avianus and then translated them, naming his collection TheFables of Avian. Avian’s translation of Æsop’s fables into Latin was a favourite and was rooted in both the Latin and the Greek traditions: Phædrus (Latin) and Babrius (Greek). (See “The Cock and the Pearl:” La Fontaine cont’d [michelinewalker.com]).
We know that La Fontaine is writing about humans because he calls his protagonists “Sir” (Maître or Monsieur). Moreover, we may have uncovered the origin of the word chantage as well as an instance of unsuccessful chantage (blackmail), a deceiver-deceived narrative: trompeur trompé.
Maître Corbeau, sur un arbre perché,
Tenait en son bec un fromage.
Maître Renard, par l’odeur alléché,
Lui tint à peu près ce langage :
“Et ! bonjour, Monsieur du Corbeau.
Que vous êtes joli ! que vous me semblez beau !
Sans mentir, si votre ramage (the way he talks)
Se rapporte à votre plumage, (your feathers)
Vous êtes le Phénix des hôtes de ces bois. ”
À ces mots, le Corbeau ne se sent pas de joie ;
Et pour montrer sa belle voix, (voice)
Il ouvre un large bec, laisse tomber sa proie.
Le Renard s’en saisit, et dit :
“Mon bon Monsieur,
Apprenez que tout flatteur
Vit aux dépens de celui qui l’écoute
Cette leçon vaut bien un fromage, sans doute. ”
Le Corbeau honteux et confus
Jura, mais un peu tard, qu’on ne l’y prendrait plus.
I am Belaud (pronounced ‘below’), the little fur person who shares Micheline’s life. She has asked me to write a note on her behalf. She somehow got interested in “The Fox and the Crow” and started writing a post she could not finish.
She is lucky to be able to count on me when such “accidents” occur. The best remedy, I told her, is to slash and slash. She explained that there were times when one could not slash and slash. Since the Syrian crisis and the debt-ceiling crisis, one nearly overlapping the other, she has not been her usual self. What would she do without me?
Micheline is now returning to her post. The arrangement is that she will discuss the moral in one post and will provide additional information in a separate post. I explained that she may run out of pictures, but this does not appear to be the case.
About me, Belaud
I am a pure-bred chartreux and, as we will see, a celebrated cat, but Micheline does not take me to shows. The two of us stick to a humble lifestyle. She says class is irrelevant. After all, she is, on her maternal grandmother’s side, a descendant of Alix de France, one of Eleanor of Aquitaine‘s (1122 or 1124 – 1 April 1204) two daughters by King Louis VII.
During the years she spent in Nova Scotia, she didn’t know this and knowing has not improved her life. She cannot play a musical instrument in this apartment and selling it, the apartment that is, would not buy her a little house or a townhouse however humble.
Joachim du Bellay (c. 1522 – 1 January 1560; aged 37) was the first French author who felt French could be a literary language. He was a member of the Pléiade, an informal academy. He wrote their manifesto: Défense et illustration de la langue française (La Deffence, et Illustration de la Langue Francoyse, 1549.)
Despite lineage, no great author has made Micheline into a celebrity. But Joachim du Bellay eulogized his cat Belaud, one of my ancestors:Sur la mort de Belaud. I don’t think anyone will eulogize Micheline, not even me, except modestly, if I’m still alive. Public speaking scares me.
The Hudson River School was a mid-19th century school. Therefore, Bricher was a late member. As Modern Art gained prominence, he was nearly forgotten, but he later regained notoriety as a marine painter. In the 1890s he purchased a house near the sea in the New Dorp section of Staten Island. He could view the Atlantic Ocean and Raritan Bay. He remained active until his death, in New Dorp in 1908.
The Hudson River school: the United States’ first art School
Sanford Robinson Gifford (10 July 1823 – 29 August 1880) was a member of the 19th-century American Hudson River School and, as did members of this school, he painted landscapes and seascapes. Gifford first studied art under the direction of John R. Smith, a water-colorist and drawing-master. He painted the scenery that surrounded him: the North-East coast of the United States, but he also travelled and studied abroad, as did many Hudson River school artists. They were in search of scenery. Gifford first travelled to Europe in 1855 and met Albert Bierstadt and Worthington Whittredged. Gifford was in fact close to several members of the Hudson River school, the United States’ first art school.[i]
Most members of the Hudson River school travelled not only to Europe but also to various parts of the United States. Gifford travelled to Vermont in 1858 and spent the summer of 1867 on the New Jersey coast, at Sandy Hooke and Long Branch and, in 1870, he went to the Rocky Mountains accompanied by Worthington Whittredged and John Frederick Kensett, the most prominent member of the Hudson River school.
Meanwhile, however, in 1668, Gifford had returned to Europe and travelled to the Middle East and to Egypt.
When he travelled, Gifford made sketches and, on his return to his studio, in New York, he would enlarge his sketches into small oil paintings and then enlarge his small oil paintings into large paintings, the definitive work. Therefore, the date given a painting does not necessarily correspond to the date the sketch was made.
He died of malaria, in New York, at the age of 57.
The paintings of members of the Hudson River school are associated with luminism. Luminism resembles Impressionism in that artists attempt to capture the effect of light on landscapes and seascapes. Light molds an object. However, American luminism is much less suggestive than French Impressionism. The artworks of French Impressionists are at times blurred to the point of abstraction.
According to Wikipedia,
luminism is characterized by attention to detail and the hiding of brushstrokes, while impressionism is characterized by lack of detail and an emphasis on brushstrokes. Luminism preceded impressionism, and the artists who painted in a luminist style were in no way influenced by impressionism.
As for the Encyclopædia Britannica, it describes luminism as a “late 19th-century painting style emphasizing a unique clarity of light. It was characteristic of the works of a group of independent American painters who were directly influenced by the Hudson River school of painting. The term, however, was not coined until 1954 by John Baur, director of the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.”[ii]
In Britannica‘s definition, the operative words are “a unique clarity of light.” However, members of the Hudson River were never a movement and, if they were “luminists,” it was sans le savoir, unawares. The term did not exist in the 19th century.[iii]
Yet, I am afraid. I heard Mr Boehner, courtesy of the BBC. He mentioned the Affordable Care Act, but called it what it should no longer be called: Obamacare. The name of the programme is the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act, or ACA, and it is a long-awaited health-insurance plan.
Warren Buffet: “It would be ‘asinine’ if US defaults.”
I listened to Warren Buffet. He stated that the “house” would no longer use a government shutdown to negotiate a rise in the debt ceiling.
All I know about the deal is that, although it will “pass,” it is a short-term arrangement. I expect therefore that we will soon be watching a replay of the drama that is currently ending. When “negotiations” resume, there may not be a government shutdown, but I do not think extremist Republicans will ever want to fund the Affordable Care Act. As for the rich, they will continue to oppose paying their fair share of taxes.
Here is the history of the United States debt ceiling, from Wikipedia.
This is a brief post. I will end it by saying that I am delighted the crisis is over. We can breathe again. However, we have now seen an episode of obstructionism: a government shutdown. I just hope President Obama will not be blamed. That would be scapegoating. Who knows, President Obama may have gained supporters.
Abraham Lincoln in 1863 (aged 54)
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
(Post revised on 20 October 2013)
A House divided: 1858
“A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.” (Abraham Lincoln, 16 June 1858)
But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (Matthew 12:22-28, NKJV)
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Oak Alley Plantation, looking towards the main house from the direction of the Mississippi River.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
President Abraham Lincoln
President Abraham Lincoln (12 February 1809 – 15 April 1865; aged 56), elected in 1860, opposed the expansion of slavery into the United States’ territories. I will quote Wikipedia: “Lincoln won, but before his inauguration, on March 4, 1861, seven slave states with cotton-based economies formed the Confederacy.”[i] Abolition was about to cost a great deal of money, as will the Affordable Care Act, so seven states turned to mutiny, or a form thereof.
It is quite appropriate for a nation to defeat an abusive and tyrannical leader. But it is in no way appropriate to elect a leader only to divide a country or to hold it and the world ransom and to jeopardize his policies. A policy “is a statement of intent.” (See Policy, Wikipedia.) Everyone knew President Obama’s intent: affordable health care. The Affordable Care Act, the ACA, was passed into law, and it has now been implemented. As I wrote in a previous post, two words sum up Barack Obama’s presidency: obstructionism and scapegoating, the kind of misery inflicted on President Obama by members of Congress and various Sarah Palins.
At any rate, slavery was abolished on 31 January, 1865, but President Lincoln, a Republican, was assassinated on 14 April 1965, Good Friday, by actor John Wilkes Booth. Born on 10 May 1838, Booth died on 26 April 1865 (aged 26). He was shot by Union soldier Thomas P. “Boston” Corbett (1832 – presumed dead 1894 [he may have died in a fire]). In other words, Lincoln won the election, but at the cost of his life. As written above, he was assassinated at the age of 56.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 therefore jeopardized the Missouri Compromise of 1820. Settlers reserved the right to use popular sovereignty to determine whether or not they would have slaves. Put in a nutshell, this is the history of western expansion. Settlers were in search of cheap and submissive labour. Lingering in their mind was the memory of beautiful alleys bordered by oak trees and leading to the plantation owner’s mansion.
Has anything changed? I don’t know, but I am seeing extremist Republicans so wish to avoid higher taxes that they are holding not only the United States, but the world hostage. Slavery is over, but the Declaration of Independence, quoted below, remains an unfulfilled ideal. This time, no one will lose slaves, but the Affordable Care Act will be expensive and the wealthy do not want to pay their fair share of taxes. However, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law on 23 March 2010 and implemented on 1st October 2013.
Insurance Companies will no longer make huge profits by considering certain illnesses, such as cancer, as “pre-existing” conditions. The only pre-existing condition all of us have to face is our own mortality. But does anyone have to die for lack of money? And must people die in pain? Insurance Companies have long allowed innocent individuals to die prematurely and in pain. Humans have a right to work, a right to education, and a right to health, not to mention other rights.[ii] And they have duties, such as the duty to protect these rights and to protect women who also have rights. Is the health of a woman less equal than the health of a man?
Wealthy individuals can afford an education and they can afford to pay medical bills, but in the US many are saying to the other half, the less affluent and the poor: “Perish if you wish; I am safe.” (Discours sur l’inégalité, Jean-Jacques Rousseau.) No one is asking that wealthy citizens take their shirt off their back and give it to less fortunate citizens. However, there has to be some equality, as stipulated in the Declaration of Independence (4 July 1776).
Taxes are the “Freedom we surrender” (Thomas Hobbes)
A number of extremist Republicans hail from states that once constituted the Confederacy. Their ancestors had slaves. But slavery is no longer acceptable. It’s a crime. Moreover, it is now part of the social contract to provide citizens with affordable health care. Nations no longer threaten their economy and global economy over a right, such as the Affordable Care Act, but it is happening in the US. No, it’s not President Obama’s fault.
As for the scary videos on the internet, one expects the worst, only to learn they are about the taxes everyone will have to pay. That is the fear these videos are instilling in people who are not always in full possession of the facts. Yes, taxes will probably go up, but, as I mentioned above, taxes are the “freedom we surrender” (Thomas Hobbes) so we can live in a civil and just society. The Affordable Care Act is a law and one doesn’t break the law. Nor does one blackmail a President whose intellectual superiority no longer needs to be proven. He is a man of colour. So this smacks of racism. There comes a point where one decides that racism should be put away once and for all.
It’s relatively simple, in the short-term. I believe Congress should raise the debt ceiling immediately! It’s an obligation. That debt was incurred during a Republication administration waging wars in the Middle East. If the debt ceiling is not raised, those who have caused delays will have abused the power invested in them by their constituents and they may have triggered a depression that will affect not only the United States, but its trading partners.
President Obama said that a default would be “devastating.” Those are the sentiments expressed by Christine Lagarde, the chief of the IMF. “IMF’s Christine Lagarde warns America’s lawmakers they risk pushing world into recession.”
President Obama cannot give in to blackmail and he has to protect Joe Biden, the Vice-President. Mr Biden is currently under the Witness Protection Program, which is prudent. I cannot understand that the Affordable Care Act would cause the US Government to shut down. So, I’m afraid I may have to agree with those who look upon Congress as “immature.” Yet, somehow, I believe matters will be resolved.
A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. (Abraham Lincoln)
These words are uttered by the philosopher or person who uses reason only. He always sleeps peacefully. He is not endowed with the pity/compassion that moderates self-love (l’amour-propre or l’amour de soi-même) in the savage. (Part One, more than two paragraphs after Note 15)
The Romney-Ryan Team
Allow me to place in the proper mouths, the mouths of extremists in the Republican Party, Rousseau’s “Perish if you wish; I am safe.” I may be wrong, but I suspect that the reason these Republicans can speak like choir-boys on the subject of planned parenthood is that they are sufficiently wealthy to fly to countries where birth-control is available and inexpensive as well as to countries where abortions are not criminalized. They can also pay a doctor the “right” fee. In other words, I suspect a substantial degree of hypocrisy. “Perish if you wish: I am safe.” (On rape, see The Washington Post). On the “Gag Rule,” see The Huffington Post).
In fact, hypocrisy may not be the only sin. We are also looking at inequality and an unjust society. The rich and wealthy will have a freedom that will be denied the poor. As I have indicated in earlier blogs, the rich and the wealthy do not need health-insurance. They can pay for medical treatment and medication. Well, let’s raise that curtain again: the wealthy, wealthy women, need not give up controlling how many children they will have and when these children will be born. This is again something they can buy. In fact, they can also afford several children and help galore, in which they are very fortunate (no pun intended). They are therefore saying: “Perish if you wish; I am safe.”
So it could be that the debate is not about morality
In other words, if Republicans are against planned parenthood and abortion, I am inclined to think it has little to do with morality. I hope I’m wrong, but the debate about abortions seems such a convenient front. Extremists among Republicans will attract the votes of persons who are against abortion and who think naively that because a party does not criminalize abortion, members of that party are for abortion. This is not the case and there are very real drawbacks to criminalizing abortion. For instance, what are doctors to do when an abortion is an imperative?
Tying up the hands of doctors: unfit women
An abortion may indeed be an imperative. What does a doctor do—assuming a woman can afford to see a doctor—if a woman’s life is at risk, if the fetus is abnormal, if she is taking medication that can harm the child, if she is taking drugs or is an alcoholic, if the pregnant patient is much too young to bear a child or if a woman cannot otherwise face a pregnancy, etc. Under privatized health-insurance, it may again be privatized, not only will these unfit women be told that they are suffering from a pre-existing condition, but if an unfit woman consents to an abortion and a doctor intervenes, he or she, i.e. the doctor, and the unfit patient will face criminal charges. “Perish if you wish; I am safe.”
A few years ago, I met a woman who had not slept since giving birth. Her son was three years old but she could not look after him. Nor could she work. Fortunately, she lived in Canada so all that could be done, medically-speaking, was done at no cost to her. However, I doubt that a doctor would have allowed a second pregnancy. She was sick: severe postpartum depression. Doctors need a little leeway.
Would that matters had been as they are now when my mother was having her babies. My poor mother carried a child every year knowing that the child would probably die in infancy of a congenital blood disease. Her first children survived. But she buried all the others. I will spare you the number. To make matters worse, in those days, a good Catholic woman could not say “no” to her husband. Sexual intercourse was a duty (un devoir). It was called: le devoir conjugal. I fail to see what was good in having babies that would die. This was cruelty. And I also fail to see what was good in our attending a funeral or two every year.
Saying “no” as the only recourse
If Mr Romney is elected to the office of President of the United States, the only recourse women who are poor and “women of humble means” will have is the word “no” both outside and inside marriage. There are husbands, such as Charles de Gaulle (rumor has it), who will not ask their spouse to engage in sexual intercourse if she is not prepared to carry a child and give birth to this child.
That is rather noble, but it isn’t very realistic in the case of most couples. After a fine meal and, perhaps, one or two glasses of wine, hormones tend to take over, crippling intellectual resolve, particularly in younger people. In fact, even we, older folks, snuggle up from time to time and may be induced to “play doctor.”
The above poster: reality
The above poster goes a long way into describing the situation poor and raped women will face (there is no “legitimate rape”) if planned parenthood is criminalized. Before abortion was decriminalized in Canada, women, particularly unmarried women, who could not face a pregnancy, sometimes used tools that killed (metallic coat hangers) or went to charlatans and, in many cases, they committed suicide. In the Quebec of my childhood, to avoid bringing shame on their family, young girls who got pregnant were sent to special institutions and when the baby was born, it was taken from them. The babies were raised in an orphanage or adopted. It would appear that some were sold.
So allow me to say that when it comes to a woman’s right to choose when and if she will have a child and her right to undergo an abortion when an abortion is necessary, I take matters very seriously. It would be my view that a woman
should not be forced into a pregnancy, especially if she has been raped (there is no “legitimate rape”), including rape within marriage;
that she should act responsibly when she engages in sexual intercourse, as should her husband or partner. Pregnancies can usually be avoided. And I would like to point out
that there are cases when a doctor, with the consent of his or her patient, should be allowed to end a pregnancy.
On Day One: shackling women
However, if Republicans get into office, “On Day One,” not only will Mitt Romney call the Chinese “currency manipulators” and end the health-care reforms introduced by President Obama, but he will also shackle women who are poor and women of “humble means.” Poor women and women of “humble means” will not have access to what is available to the rich.
So scratch out most of the paragraph preceding the “On Day One,” because the conclusion is that “On Day One” women who are poor and women of humble means will be denied what will be accessible to the rich. It will again be all about money and appearing virtuous when virtue is not part of the equation, but a convenient means to an end: being elected. People who are against abortions will be fooled into thinking that are voting for the morally superior party.
Such is not the case. If members of that party are elected they will impose on the poor repressive measures that seem virtuous, yet they will be hiding millions and billions, if not more, and demand tax cuts thus acting criminally. So how can these persons talk about morality? Wake up; it’s a smokescreen. What they are saying is “Perish if you wish; I am safe.”
Make sure everyone knows that if the President does not criminalize abortions, it does not mean that he is for abortion.
Canadians were lucky. In 1967, future Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau got the Omnibus Bill passed.