Thanksgiving

Don’t know about you guys, but I’m mostly going to kick back, eat too much, and generally screw off. So here.

But also like you, I’ll remember who made it possible

Happy Thanksgiving

 

Why the Electoral College? Because State and Regional Diversity Matters.

Thomas Hart Benton

Thomas Hart Benton

One of my very favorite blogs, Grassroots in Nebraska (GIN), has undertaken to explain, pretty much after every election why the electoral college, especially as implemented in Nebraska and Maine, is by far the most fair and equitable method of electing the president. A few highlights.

Where you live, your day-to-day experiences gained through interacting with your physical environment, influence your political viewpoint. The Founders realized this. When the Electoral College was born through compromise in 1787, each former-colony-turned-state had a unique history and perspective giving rise to significant political differences between it and its neighbors. The Founders had to resolve these interstate differences in order to form a more perfect Union. The Electoral College was an important part of the Founders’ efforts to ensure our election process gave voice to these regionally diverse viewpoints.

What critics of the Electoral College fail to realize is the strong influence state and regional diversity continues to exert today. In fact, differences of opinion concerning most hotly contested political issues, past and present, can be traced to the influence of state and regional diversity. Neutering the Electoral College, as 48 states have done with their winner-take-all systems, deadens the impact of intrastate diversity on election outcomes.  Ridding us of the Electoral College entirely, either by amending the Constitution or by the states conspiring to do an end-run around the Constitutional provision by awarding all of their respective electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, would render our election process deaf, dumb, and blind to both state and regional diversity.  I contend either change makes our electoral process more prone to something the Founders referred to as “the tyranny of the majority” or “mob rule.”

Still skeptical? Some examples are in order: […]

Linda also quoted a non-favorite Nebraskan of mine William Jennings Bryan, in his “Cross of gold” speech, and this I do agree with wholeheartedly.

“But we stand here representing people who are the equals before the law of the largest cities in the state of Massachusetts. When you come before us and tell us that we shall disturb your business interests, we reply that you have disturbed our business interests by your action. We say to you that you have made too limited in its application the definition of a businessman. The man who is employed for wages is as much a businessman as his employer. The attorney in a country town is as much a businessman as the corporation counsel in a great metropolis. The merchant at the crossroads store is as much a businessman as the merchant of New York. The farmer who goes forth in the morning and toils all day, begins in the spring and toils all summer, and by the application of brain and muscle to the natural resources of this country creates wealth, is as much a businessman as the man who goes upon the Board of Trade and bets upon the price of grain. The miners who go 1,000 feet into the earth or climb 2,000 feet upon the cliffs and bring forth from their hiding places the precious metals to be poured in the channels of trade are as much businessmen as the few financial magnates who, in a backroom, corner the money of the world.

“We come to speak for this broader class of businessmen. Ah. my friends, we say not one word against those who live upon the Atlantic Coast; but those hardy pioneers who braved all the dangers of the wilderness, who have made the desert to blossom as the rose —those pioneers away out there, rearing their children near to nature’s heart, where they can mingle their voices with the voices of the birds — out there where they have erected schoolhouses for the education of their children and churches where they praise their Creator, and the cemeteries where sleep the ashes of their dead — are as deserving of the consideration of this party as any people in this country.
. . . . .
“You come to us and tell us that the great cities are in favor of the gold standard. I tell you that the great cities rest upon these broad and fertile prairies. Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic. But destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.”

True when the Founders were writing the Constitution, true in 1896 when Bryan said it, and yes, it’s still true today. The folks that he was speaking of are those who feed our families, fight our wars, and do all things that have made the United States what it is, the dream of the rest of the world. I’ve been proud all my life to be amongst and one of them. If you would know us, you would be well advised to listen to the lyrics here.

This, this is who we are. If you would know why Donald Trump won, think about those lyrics, and what has happened in the last few years.

via Why the Electoral College? Because State and Regional Diversity Matters. | Grassroots in Nebraska. Do read it and by all means follow the links in her article and in the article linked in them. This is one of the greatest civics lessons you will ever get, and it will come to you painlessly.

Kellyanne Conway becomes First Woman to Win Presidency!

downloadEventually, I’ll have something more to say about the election but, I simply didn’t believe Trump had much chance, and so I didn’t have my thoughts ordered. In fact, 2012 rather demoralized me, more than I knew, and nothing since has lifted that gloom. Your mileage may differ, but I bet I’m not alone. Meantime, an old friend of mine has written on it, and I pretty much agree, I think, with her. Enjoy!

Hooray, hallelujah, thank the Good Lord, the Wicked Witch has melted. The improbable Donald Trump slayed her, benefiting from the widespread dislike for Hillary Clinton across party lines. I went to my bed for an evening of crossword puzzles and reading (oblivion) as soon as I got a look at the earliest returns showing her way ahead in key states. I was resigned, and sad, and prepared to shed a tear, no more, when I turned on the computer in the morning to find “Madame President” splashed across the news. And when I did turn to the computer, I first went to email and there I found a message from someone I worked with in Bosnia, hadn’t heard from him for a long, long time — he was gloating at the upset– against all odds! he crowed. My heart leapt, I turned to Fox News to find that the glorious American people have thrown the bums out! And Ms. Conway became the first woman ever to guide a presidential campaign to victory. Wow. I did shed tears, but joyful ones, and I did praise God for the outcome. I had even prayed Tuesday evening with my birds that God would smile on Trump’s venture. My birds are as happy as I am, although less demonstrative.

Here is what we won: our future. Trump will name at least one if not more Supreme Court justices, thus securing the Court for the foreseeable future. And by the way, Ruth Bader Ginsburg publicly declared she would retire from the Court should Trump win. I’m waiting as are we all. That would be two wicked witches downed.

 

via Kellyanne Conway becomes First Woman to Win Presidency! | Ooobie on Everything

Maintaining the Dream

w1056

John Stuart Mill said

… the very principle of constitutional government requires it to be assumed, that political power will be abused to promote the particular purposes of the holder; not because it always is so, but because such is the natural tendency of things…

And that’s the thing, isn’t it? One of the reasons we vote is to vote for whoever we believe will abuse the power we grant them less. Yes, that’s a pretty low standard, but over the years, well centuries, it has proven to be a valid one.

To me, maybe partly because I’m an American, I’ve always thought it applied more to us than to other countries, because as Jessica (who is British) has written here several , “Other countries are a place, America is a dream”. She’s right, you know, we are American because somebody in our ancestry, or we ourselves, followed that dream. Maybe for a better material life, maybe for a more politically free life, maybe to follow their religion free from interference, maybe for other reasons, or for all of them.

It has always been thus, in America. Way back in 1630, John Winthrop said

…for wee must Consider that wee shall be as a Citty upon a Hill, the eies of all people are uppon us; soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our god in this worke wee have undertaken and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us, wee shall be made a story and a byword through the world…

And so it is still.

So, tomorrow we will vote for a new president. Like all presidents, he will find he has both more power than can be imagined, and at the same time less power than he hoped, for good or ill. This has been a very distressing campaign, for all of us, and I suspect any who read here have made up their minds. So be it. I’m not going to argue the case anymore. Vote for the candidate you think fulfills the need best. But remember, this country was founded to give the individual in community the best shot at being successful, however, success is designed. It was not founded to make your life easy from cradle to grave.

Out here along the Oregon Trail, where I live, it used to be said, “The sick never started, and the weak died along the way.” That’s pretty much America, right there. It is not now, and never was, a country for the weak. Those people that braved the Atlantic in small wooden ships, in steerage, however, they got here really did not expect to find the streets paved with gold. A promised land it may have been, but it has never been a land of milk and honey. It’s a country built on sacrifice and very hard work, as well as personal responsibility for you and yours.

But the hard work and the sacrifice paid off. It paid off well enough that Russian immigrants wrote home ecstatically, “Here, we eat wheaten bread, everyday.” Where they came from, they were lucky to have a chunk of wheat bread on holidays.

So by all means vote, it is, after all, your right. But remember this too, it is your responsibility, and your duty, to vote for the person you think will do the best by you, and by America.

And remember what Thomas Paine said in An American Crisis

To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture. Enjoy, sir, your insensibility of feeling and reflecting. It is the prerogative of animals. And no man will envy you these honors, in which a savage only can be your rival and a bear your master.

Our Country’s Father’s Advice on his Retirement

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

Note: I see that this got rather long, I sort of regret that but, Washington had a long and distinguished career, from the study of which we would prosper, if we gave it the appropriate attention. So while I’m going to crave your indulgence of another old man who worries about his country, I am not going to ask your pardon for the length of this post. If we don’t learn from the great leaders of our history, who will we learn from?

Let’s talk about Washington as a leader. After all, he was a military officer, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army and a two-term President as well as the President of the Constitutional Convention, he should have some leadership lessons to teach us. And he does. All quotes unless otherwise noted are  from George Washington on Leadership by  David Witt. Link to his article here.

With great power comes great responsibility.  In the unsettled atmosphere of the American Revolutionbetween the victory at Yorktown in 1781 and the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, a movement arose from officers in the Continental Army to proclaim George Washington as King George I of America.

As incredible as it might sound today after 200 years of U.S. democracy, it was a very real possibility and opportunity for Washington.  As the military leader of the fledgling republic, he had the ability and the backing of the colonists who had put their faith and future in his hands.

And yet, Washington quickly dispelled the idea. Upon learning of the proposal, Washington sincerely and admonishingly responded to the officer who had written the original proposal saying that, “…if you have any regard for your Country, concern for yourself or posterity, or respect for me, to banish these thoughts from your Mind, and never communicate, as from yourself, or anyone else, a sentiment of the like Nature. “

For Washington, leadership was not about personal gain or ambition, but instead, service to a higher purpose and a greater good.  And to confirm his intentions eight years later, when the people wanted him to run for a third term—Washington  again voluntarily gave up his power when he refused to be nominated.

Emphasis is mine.

What a difference from today, isn’t it? It wasn’t about Washington at all to Washington. It was about the mission: to create and see the United States of America off as a free and independent country. Here we are hearing one of the best practitioners of servant leadership that ever lived. And because of it, 200 years later he is still considered a demigod all over the world.

Let’s compare the difference in revolutionaries, shall we?

In His Excellency, his heralded biography of Washington, Joseph J. Ellis underscores “the truly exceptional character” of Washington’s act. “Oliver Cromwell had not surrendered power after the English Revolution. Napoleon, Lenin, Mao, and Castro did not step aside to leave their respective revolutionary settlements to others in subsequent centuries. … Whereas Cromwell and later Napoleon made themselves synonymous with the revolution in order to justify the assumption of dictatorial power, Washington made himself synonymous with the American Revolution in order to declare that it was incompatible with dictatorial power.” Ellis thus reminds us that Washington, in relinquishing power — not just once, but twice — was bucking an imperialist pattern that stretched back to the days of the Roman and English republics, and which, sadly, continues to this day.

Joseph Campbell might have called this pattern “ego imperialism,” “trying to impose your idea on the universe.” “That’s what’s got to go,” Campbell insisted in The Hero’s Journey. “Your ego is [only] your embodiment and your self is your potentiality and that’s what you listen to when you listen for the voice of inspiration and the voice of ‘What am I here for? What can I possibly make of myself?’” The great task of the hero, Campbell tells us, is “not to eliminate ego, it’s to turn ego and the judgment system of the moment into the servant of the self, not the dictator, but the vehicle for it to realize itself. It’s a very nice balance, a very delicate one.” It is also a lesson that every American citizen, of any station, would do well to heed.

And it was a lesson engraved in Washington’s psyche by Masonic philosophy and ritual. Unfortunately, Ellis never mentions Washington’s involvement in Freemasonry — a lamentable omission, since Masonic beliefs provide deep insight into Washington’s mind and heart. For example, in the Crata Repoa, an 18th-century work of Masonic philosophy, a ritual is described in which a king “meets [the initiate] graciously and offers the aspirant the royal crown of Egypt,” as Masonic scholar Manly P. Hall recounts. “This pantomime suggests that part of the New Testament where Jesus, as the neophyte, is offered the kingdoms of the earth if he will give up his spiritual mission. … The neophyte takes the crown and, throwing it upon the ground, tramples it under foot. This symbolizes the final conquest of pride, egotism, and the love of power. The initiate refuses the crown of the physical world because his kingdom is not of that world but of the hidden world of spirit.”

Emphasis is again mine.
That makes for an exceptionally American leader, doesn’t it?
Now to the man’s words:

Friends and Citizens:

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that in withdrawing the tender of service, which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffrages have twice called me have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to abandon the idea.

I rejoice that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty or propriety, and am persuaded, whatever partiality may be retained for my services, that, in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire.

The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trust were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will only say that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious in the outset of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied that if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe that, while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.

In looking forward to the moment which is intended to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free Constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.

Strong words from a true “Servant of the Republic” aren’t they? To continue:

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.

The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole.

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

Read these paragraphs carefully in light of our recent experience of government run amok.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the Constitution, alterations which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of governments as of other human institutions; that experience is the surest standard by which to test the real tendency of the existing constitution of a country; that facility in changes, upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember, especially, that for the efficient management of your common interests, in a country so extensive as ours, a government of as much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. It is, indeed, little else than a name, where the government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each member of the society within the limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositaries, and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can at any time yield.

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it, avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertion in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion should co-operate. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment, inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.

And finally:

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.

How far in the discharge of my official duties I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated, the public records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them. …

Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations, I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever-favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.

Geo. Washington.

Sir Edward Coke on the Latest Soros Leak: How To Censor The Internet

soros-1-worldBoth of us here actually prefer to deal with underlying causes of the problems of our civilization, which is fine but we also realize that current events (and their daily alarms) are also part of our brief. We ignore quite a few, mostly because if you are moderately aware, you will find them easily enough. That’s all well and good, but sometimes we do think we should comment on some of them.

You may have heard that in about a month, America is due to turn over control of the internet to the United Nations. Sounds pretty harmless to most, I suppose. But is it really? Is it a good idea to turn over the last real bastion of free speech to an organization that thinks Cuba, China, and Saudi Arabia are valid choices to judge human rights violations? Doesn’t strike me as a very good idea. Our friend Cultural Limits wrote about this recently, including part of an email dated 2014 from George Soros’ Open Society Foundation that is relevant.

“Our freedom of expression work furthers the free exchange of information and ideas via the media and internet, and proposes to begin to address the free expression and association rights of NGOs. The internet has been a key tool for promoting freedom of expression and open societies — as in the Arab Spring — and is a potential safeguard against monopoly control of information in such places as China and Central Asia,” page 19 of the document notes.

“But it is also presenting underaddressed challenges, including lack of regulation of private operators that are able to decide, without due process procedures, what information is taken off the Internet and what may remain. A ‘race to the bottom’ results from the agendas of undemocratic governments that seek to impose their hostility to free speech on the general online environment. We seek to ensure that, from among the norms emerging in different parts of the world, those most supportive of open society gain sway.”…

One of the “Program concepts and initiatives” listed in the document is to “Promote — by advocating for the adoption of nuanced legal norms, and litigation — an appropriate balance between privacy and free expression/transparency values in areas of particular interest to OSF and the Justice Initiative, including online public interest speech, access to ethnic data, public health statistics, corporate beneficial ownership, asset declarations of public officials, and rights of NGOs to keep information private.”

Another initiative is to “Establish states’ responsibility to collect data necessary to reveal patterns of inequality, and define modes of collection that are effective and protect privacy.” (RELATED: UN Internet Agenda Tied To George Soros)

Throughout the document, OSJI’s position appears to be that private actors on the internet must be brought under international control in order to prevent them from suppressing each other’s freedom of expression and speech.

CL’s emphasis and  noting that this was part of the cache that was wiped from the DCLeaks website.

She continues:

[…] (This would be the end of Charity Navigator and like websites that keep non-profit claim transparent and honest.)

Fortunately for the rest of us, The Daily Caller saved a copy of the communications and is able to deliver a steady drip of information that will never be reported on the regular news organs.  The optics are not good for anyone who thinks that American-style freedom of speech would be maintained in any sort of international takeover of the internet.  This document very clearly presents the case for stamping out messaging that does not fall in line with the Open Society agenda.

via Latest Soros Leak: How To Censor The Internet ⋆ Dc Gazette

I agree, and I wouldn’t bet on the survival of many of the sites you have come to depend on either. I simply don’t trust the UN at all on this sort of issue. In fact, while I tend to be sceptical of even the US, we are much better about this than even the UK, with their penchant lately for uneven application of so-called hate crime legislation (not to mention any objective definition of the very vague term).

But most of us do understand freedom of speech, and that it is a fundamental right of a free society, going back officially to the First Amendment, but its roots are in the Declaration’s list of natural rights. Over at The Calvinist International, they reminded us the other day that Sir Edward Coke (one of the major legal interpreters in 17th century Britain, and one of the most read books in colonial America) said this about natural rights

The law of nature is that which God at the time of creation of the nature of man infused into his heart, for his preservation and direction; and this is lex eterna [the eternal law], the moral law, called also the law of nature. And by this law, written with the finger of God in the heart of man, were the people of God a long time governed, before the law was written by Moses, who was the first reporter or writer of law in the world. The Apostle in the second chapter to the Romans saith, Cum enim gentes quæ legem non habent naturaliter ea quæ legissunt faciunt [For when the Gentiles, who do not have the law, naturally do the things of the law]. [..] Aristotle, nature’s secretary, lib. 5. Ethic. saith, that jus naturale est, quod apud omnes homines eandem habet potentiam [It is the law of nature, which has the same force among all men].

via SIR EDWARD COKE ON THE NATURAL LAW

You may be quite certain that both Tom Jefferson and Jemmy Madison had read and understood this passage quite well.

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