rejecting rousseau and locke, selective pressure of bacteria, green grotto

There was some controversy for years over what Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s meant by the General Will. It was not an unimportant matter since Rousseau is thought to be one of several important early proponents in the 18th C. of what eventually came to be modern democracy. The General Will might be better known in modern conversation as the rule of the majority. Sounds good, but there is a problem with a pure rule by majority. If you live in a city state of a few hundred people and the majority votes to burn Joan as a witch the majority has turned into a mob and Joan has been deprived of her individual rights ( unlawful detention, a fair trial, empirical evidence, expert testimony etc). The tyranny of the majority. Philosopher John Locke on the other hand put great emphasis on individual rights. So Lord Billy Bob dumps his toxic waste in the river that runs through his back yard. Its Lord Billy Bob’s property, his waste and he owns the waterway that parallels his property out to the middle of the river. The majority gets shafted because Lord Billy Bob and his property are not islands onto themselves. That waste will kill fish that feds other people and make the water toxic to people and animals. The tyranny of the minority. Most philosophers and scholars now think that the mob rule interpretation of Rousseau’s writing in Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen has been misinterpreted, but the misinterpretation serves as a good study in the difficulties in balancing the will of the majority against the protection of individual rights. It is possible, per the actual historical examples, to go too far one way or the other. When the mob is dead set on preventing a discussion of Joan’s witchcraft or the Lord’s toxic waste, the mob manages to mangle both concepts at once. It ain’t no kind of democracy anymore, Right-Wing Harassment Strategy Against Dems Detailed In Memo: ‘Yell,’ ‘Stand Up And Shout Out,’ ‘Rattle Him’

This morning, Politico reported that Democratic members of Congress are increasingly being harassed by “angry, sign-carrying mobs and disruptive behavior” at local town halls. For example, in one incident, right-wing protesters surrounded Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) and forced police officers to have to escort him to his car for safety.

This growing phenomenon is often marked by violence and absurdity. Recently, right-wing demonstrators hung Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-MD) in effigy outside of his office. Missing from the reporting of these stories is the fact that much of these protests are coordinated by public relations firms and lobbyists who have a stake in opposing President Obama’s reforms.

The lobbyist-run groups Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, which orchestrated the anti-Obama tea parties earlier this year, are now pursuing an aggressive strategy to create an image of mass public opposition to health care and clean energy reform. A leaked memo from Bob MacGuffie, a volunteer with the FreedomWorks website Tea Party Patriots, details how members should be infiltrating town halls and harassing Democratic members of Congress:

Tea Bagger Memo

Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: “Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington.”

– Be Disruptive Early And Often: “You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early.”

Try To “Rattle Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate: “The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions.”

The memo above also resembles the talking points being distributed by FreedomWorks for pushing an anti-health reform assault all summer. Patients United, a front group maintained by Americans for Prosperity, is currently busing people all over the country for more protests against Democratic members. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), chairman of the NRCC, has endorsed the strategy, telling the Politico the days of civil town halls are now “over.” ( all emphasis mine)

In my research I can find Founding Fathers who read both Rousseau and Locke, but not one that read and was a proponent of Monsieur Yell de Loudest. Though I can think of a few people with some awful historical reputations that subscribed to that school of politics.

health warning circa 1940s

I was hoping it was just the new bulbs in the bathroom, ‘Feather-eating bugs’ dull birds

“If bacteria detrimentally influence feather colouration, they may place selective pressure on birds to evolve defences against them,” says Gunderson.

“There is evidence that certain avian traits are defences against feather-degrading bacteria. For instance, we know that feathers coloured by melanin pigments are resistant to bacterial degradation, and that the preen oil that birds apply to their plumage inhibits the growth of some feather-degrading bacteria.”

“In general, an understanding of the influence of feather-degrading bacteria on birds could, to some degree, help explain the evolution of these and other avian traits,” he says.

green grotto