Archives for category: Rule of Law

War and chess have a lot in common.
Most strikingly, the different manners in which both of them end.

The king is captured.
Or the other side gives up.

A tie is nothing but the prelude for an encore, not a real end.

Even the roads to the end are very similar in both cases.
While at the start of the game/’joust’ everything is ‘possible’ – nobody knows what the other side might be doing next, as the end nears each of the combatants are more and more limited in their currently available choices by the consequences of their previous decisions. By the very path they had followed since the beginning. Which path becomes more and more evident for everybody present. Opponent as well as spectators.

Finally – but not the least important, the similarities go even further. Deeper?
The king is the most ‘important’ piece but not the most powerful. In fact, the king cannot do much by itself. It can help the other pieces achieve their common goal but when left alone it is basically powerless. The only thing it can do is run. But only as far as the board allows it to go…
A pawn, if it manages to reach the eight rank, gets to be promoted. To become the new ‘right hand’ of the king. The new ‘most powerful member of the team’.

‘OK. And the real point of your post is?’

Putin cannot win this war – cause war it is, by himself.
Hence he needs to preserve the loyalty of his henchmen, to instill enough fear into his opponents to make them quit and to convince the ‘spectators’ that their efforts to help Ukraine are too expensive.

Now!
Are we smart enough to understand that we, each of us, are ‘next’? That each time a bully gets his way, all other (would be) bullies present become even more bullish?
Are we smart enough to understand that the most meaningful thing we can do in this situation is to separate Putin from his power base? From the ordinary people who see no other alternative and from those who, for various reasons, continue to support Putin’s misconstrued ‘vision about the world’?
Are we smart enough to understand that no matter how hard it is for us, the Ukrainians have it ten times harder?

Democracy is about every body having the opportunity to speak up their minds.
To speak up their minds, not to kill their neighbors under the pretext that there is a difference of opinion between them!

“We didn’t invade Ukraine,” he claimed.
“We declared a special military operation because we had absolutely no other way of explaining to the West that dragging Ukraine into Nato was a criminal act.”
“Russia is not squeaky clean. Russia is what it is. And we are not ashamed of showing who we are.”

Are you trying to figure out what’s the real meaning of Lavrov’s words?
Let me translate for you this fine example of NewSpeak.

‘We – those who are currently running Russia, will do whatever we need to do in order to preserve our power.
In order to achieve that, we first and foremost need to convince the ordinary Russians to continue to obey our orders.
In order to achieve that, we need to convince the ordinary Russians that you are the enemy and that their only chance lies with us, their current masters.
Hence each time we destroy an Ukrainian apartment block and any of you says ‘Russians are savages’ we’re one step closer to our goal. Each and every time any of you declares ‘Russia has to pay for what it has done in Ukraine’ we tell them, the ordinary Russians, ‘See? This is what they plan to do to you once we’re are gone’.

WWI had lasted until 1945.
We have the opportunity to end the Cold War now.
The war in Ukraine will reach a conclusion. Let’s make it so that after the war will have ended, Russia will fold in the family of ‘civil’ nations.

Those nations that choose to live in peace!
Not because they cannot win wars but because they have learned that winning wars it’s not enough. Those nations which have learned, the hard way, that war has but one winner while for peace to last every body must be a winner.

Some say that history repeats itself until we figure out what it meant in the first place.
Others maintain that history’s first ‘helping’ comes as a tragedy while the second becomes a farce.

Well, I’m afraid things are a little more complicated.

For starters, history doesn’t do anything.
History is nothing but a string of events. Considered noteworthy and written down by some of those who have survived the above mentioned events.
NB, ‘winning’ is not necessary. Being able to survive – and to write, of course, is!

It is us who consider some of the events we have witnessed – or read about, to be noteworthy.
It is us who attempt to draw meaning from what we ‘hear about’.
It is us who are arrogant enough to believe we have learned anything.

Which brings me to the next step.

We live in a huge reality.
But see only a small portion of it. Understand even less than that.
But consider ourselves rational human beings. We are convinced that what we do – the decisions we reach and then put in practice, are based on reason. And good will!!!

Day to day practice tells us that individuals make mistakes.
I’ll leave ‘alone’ the actual ‘criminals’, I’m going to consider – for the scope of this post, that all of us act in good faith, all of the time.
Hence we need a mechanism to cope with the ‘honest mistakes’ made by every one of us.
No matter how low or how high in the ‘pecking order’.
No matter how feeble or how powerfull each of us is.
How much decision power each of us musters at any one moment.

We need a ‘procedure’, an ‘opening’, for each of us who sees something going amiss to be able to tell the others that ‘the emperor is naked’.

That’s what ‘democracy’ is for.

But there’s a caveat here.

Like history, democracy is a human concept. A man-made ‘tool’!

Each of the individual members of the group using this tool is ‘limited’. Has a limited knowledge and a limited ‘processing power’. By definition… Otherwise, democracy wouldn’t have been necessary in the first place. If at least one of the individuals involved would have been omniscient, they would have – somehow, climbed to the pinnacle of the hierarchy.
The fact that all imperia – all ‘arrangements’ where one individual garners a lot of power over a complex system comprising of many other people, have inevitably collapsed is a very powerful empirical proof for my assertion.
Further more, the number of individuals involved in any democratic arrangement is also limited. Also by definition. There’s no place on Earth – there are no humans living someplace else, for an infinite number of people. Hence even the ‘aggregate understanding of things’ any democracy might reach is also limited. Fallible, that is.

Thus even democracies need to follow rules. They just cannot ‘vote’ whatever their members wish to happen…

The first rule, of course, being you should not vote ‘against’ the rules of nature. You cannot, for instance, abolish Newton’s gravity by voting it ‘unlawful’…
The second rule being that the individuals comprising the democratic arrangement have be convinced that each of them is equivalent. Not equal, that’s impossible, but ‘equivalent’. That each of them should be able to vote, that each of them should have only one vote and that each of them should have the opportunity to voice their concerns. In a nutshell, that all of them have equal rights and that nobody – no individual or a smaller number of people than the entire ‘congregation’, has the right to tell anybody else what to do. Or what to refrain themselves from doing.

Now, that I have reached this point, let me go back to history.

The first ‘democratic arrangement’ known to us was the Ancient Athens.
It had evolved, for while, as an increasingly democratic form of government. During this time, the city’s fortune and influence in the region had grown almost constantly until Pericles had ‘bent’ the democratic principles so that he could yield more influence. Almost two centuries of democratic ebbing on and off followed until Philip II of Macedonia had taken over entirely. As a consequence, Athens’ influence had waned and then disappeared entirely.
The second one had dawned in Scandinavia, during the Viking era.
That democratic seed had, in time, spread in Europe, America and, gradually, in many other countries.

In the US, for example, at first only the white men were involved in the democratic process. They were the ones who voted and who were elected into office. Gradually, the democratic ‘rights’ had been extended to the female portion of the society and to the ‘members of the other races’. These successive ‘extensions’ had been parts of the general improvement of the society as a whole. During this period – not necessarily due to but certainly simultaneously with, the entire population lived better and longer lives while the country as a whole had become more and more powerful. The energy and potential of the population – of an ever increasing proportion of the population, had been put to better and better uses.

Simultaneously, individuals – an ever increasing proportion of the individual members of the society, with the criteria of sex, gender and race gradually losing the previously held power of discrimination, had enjoyed more and more power. More and more autonomy to determine their own fate.

Which brings us to the current developments in the US.

Some people, far from a majority of “The People”, would like to see the ‘other end’ of Roe v Wade.
‘These’ people seem to have somehow convinced a majority of the Justices sitting in the Supreme Court not only to hear their plea but also to ‘consider it in a favorable manner’.

In other words, a very small number of people – five out of nine, are going to restrict a previously granted right which had been enjoyed for almost 50 years by more than half of the American Population.

‘You have got it completely wrong!
Scotus isn’t going to prohibit abortion. Only the states can do that!’

Do you remember what the Civil War had been fought over?
Basically, the Confederates were claiming that individual states had the right to determine which people were to be considered ‘free’ while the ‘others’ kept maintaining that all people, regardless of their skin color, were free. That individual freedom was something which had to be determined at federal level, not by each ‘individual’ state.
Nowadays we have the very same thing. Some states claim it’s their ‘right’ to tell ‘their’ women whether, and in which circumstances, they may – or not, have an abortion.

Not a very ‘appealing’ proposition.
It opens the door for individual states claiming more and more ‘rights’ over their ‘specific subjects’.

The absolutely baffling thing about this whole development is the fact that those who want Roe v Wade to be repelled claim they do this in order to enhance individual rights (to live). I can understand that. I even sympathize with them. Ending a life, even that of an embryo, is not something to be treated easily.

But for a minority to impose their point of view – no matter how sound it might appear to some of us, to a majority… that cannot be, either, taken lightly.

Until recently – historically speaking, people had two ideologies to choose from.

Conservative and liberal.

The conservatives used to posit ‘law’ as a ‘cage’ which didn’t allow any transgression while the liberals understood ‘law’ as an agreed upon environment which allowed people an individual but orderly pursuit of happiness.

The advent of Marx’s communism changed everything. His promotion of ‘class warfare’ as a legitimate political instrument had effectively muddled that which had previously been considered a clear choice.

After communism proved itself to be an abject failure, the naifs have forgotten about Marx.
Flying under the ideological radar, ‘class warfare’ has metastasized.

Nowadays, Regular Joe is confronted with three ideologies. And to make things worse, their names – attributed and/or assumed, are misleading.

We have a line of thought which uses (natural) ‘law’ as a line of defense against any kind of change. And as a means of bringing back the ‘better yesterday’.

Another line of thought which sees (man made) ‘law’ as an instrument to implement – forcefully, if needed, whatever the ‘implementer’ wants to achieve. One of the most often professed goals being ‘equality’. Close on its heels comes ‘diversity’.

And the ‘classical’ liberals who are squeezed between the previous two.

The state/government – whose job is to keep ‘the playing field’ level and functional, is paralyzed by the first two factions fighting to control it.
The ‘conservatives’ want to use the state/government as a ‘preserving agent’ for what they consider to be their (natural) ‘rights’.
The ‘progressives’ want to use the state/government as an instrument of (forceful, if needed) change towards what they consider to be ‘the common good’.

Meanwhile, the classical liberals – berated by both of the above, have a hard time explaining to a shrinking audience that the state/government is an extremely dangerous instrument if allowed to fall into the hands of ‘single-minded’ operators. That as soon as the freedom of the markets (the economic and, way more importantly, the ideatic ones) is curtailed, everything starts to go south. Fast!

Democracy and the free market have brought us so far.
The freedom of thought/expression and the freedom to act as an honest entrepreneur have been instrumental in us reaching the present state. With the goods and the bads in it.

Each instance in which the state/government had fallen prisoner in the hands of ‘men of state’ with ‘focused vision’, history started to run backwards.
No matter whether that ‘limited vision’ had been focused in the past or on “a certain” future.

Each time this subject comes about I remember about Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History.
About how concentrated he was on the future he considered to be forthcoming.
About how his ‘hard focus’ had prevented him from noticing the sunken part of the iceberg.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/oct/10/texas-abortion-law-jonathan-f-mitchell-profile
https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/pdf/Manifesto.pdf

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As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
And to provide for my family.
Earning money takes time.
If you’d like me to write more, and on a more regular basis, hit the button.
Your contribution will be appreciated!

As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
And to provide for my family.
Earning money takes time.
If you’d like me to write more, and on a more regular basis, hit the button.
Your contribution will be appreciated!

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Don’t you dare to tell me how to take care of my body!
Or that I should wear those face diapers of yours and that I should accept to be immunized!
According to my book, my individual right to be the sole master of my body trumps your collective right to survive a pandemic. And, by the way, this whole Covid thing is a fraud.

On the other hand, the same book I’ve already mentioned gives me the right to deny all women their right to determine what happens to their own wombs. I infer from reading that book that an unborn fetus is a person – even before it had overcome the viability threshold and despite Roe vs. Wade.
The way I see it, my simple declaration – that an unborn fetus is a full blown person, is reason enough for me to consider that anybody performing an abortion – or aiding a woman to have an abortion, is committing a crime.
And being witness to a crime is detrimental to my well being. To my spiritual well being, in particular.
Hence whenever I learn that an abortion has happened, I’m entitled to receive damages.

Anyone who successfully sues an abortion provider under this law could be awarded at least $10,000. And to prepare for that, Texas Right to Life has set up what it calls a “whistleblower” website where people can submit anonymous tips about anyone they believe to be violating the law.”

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leonardo_da_Vinci-_Vitruvian_Man.JPG
https://www.https://www.npr.org/2021/09/01/1033202132/texas-abortion-ban-what-happens-next

Bill Cosby was released from prison Wednesday after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his 2018 conviction for sexual assault,

Let’s recap the events, as described in the NY Times article.

2004 – Ms Constand was raped by Mr. Cosby.
According to the 2018 sentence!
Please note that the Pennsylvania High Court didn’t say the 2018 jurors had ‘seen things”. Only that the trial shouldn’t have taken place!

2005 – The district attorney prosecuting the case “announced in a news release at the time that after an investigation he had found “insufficient” evidence. He later testified that he had given Mr. Cosby the assurance to encourage him to testify in a subsequent civil case brought by Ms. Constand. (A civil suit she filed against Mr. Cosby was settled in 2006 for $3.38 million.)”
As he was convinced he didn’t have enough evidence to make a penal case against Mr. Cosby, the prosecutor promised the defendant he will not be further prosecuted if he testified (a.k.a. ‘told the truth’) in the civil suit.
“In that testimony, Mr. Cosby acknowledged giving quaaludes to women he was pursuing for sex.”

2006 – The civil case was settled for $3.38 million. As in Bill Cosby agreed to pay that amount of money for something the prosecution wasn’t sure that it was able to convince a jury that he had actually done it.

2015 – The next district attorney reopened the case. And got a conviction. Despite the fact that the ‘main’ evidence had been provided by the defendant himself. Given after he was promised he wasn’t incriminating himself in a penal way.

2018 – Mr. Cosby is convicted for something he had done 14 years ago.

2021 – The Pennsylvania Supreme Court decides that Mr. Cosby had been practically duped into incriminating himself, found this to be unacceptable and released the former prisoner.

What are we, ordinary citizens, to make out of all these?

Be glad that our individual rights have been upheld?
It makes a lot of sense!
After all, upholding individual rights is what makes the difference between a free society and an authoritarian one.
Between people being free and finding themselves at the whims of the government.

Ask ourselves ‘what about the individual rights of the victim’?
That also makes sense.
But my experience of living under a dictatorship strongly suggests that letting some guilty people walk free is a small price to pay for making resonably sure that a government – any government, doesn’t accrue too much power over the individuals making up the people.

Ask ourselves ‘what happened to us’?
What drives so many of to use constitutional rights as loopholes?
Is this OK?

No legislation will ever be perfect!
That’s why verdicts are given by ‘peers’, judges are given so much ‘leeway’ and why, in general, the law is administered by highly trained responsible people and not by ‘machines’.

After all, how we use whatever we have at our disposal – legislation included, speaks more about ourselves than about the things we use and the circumstances in which we make our choices.

Just came across this story:

A king had 10 wild ferocious dogs.

He used them to torture and kill any minister that misguided him. A minister once gave an opinion which was wrong and which the king didn’t like at all. So he ordered that the minister to be thrown to the dogs. The minister said “I have served you loyally for 10 years and you do this?”

The king was unrelenting.

Minister pleaded “Please give me 10 days before you throw me to the dogs”.

The king agreed. In those 10 days the minister went to the keeper of the dogs and told him he wanted to serve the dogs for the next 10 days.

The guard was baffled, but he agreed. So the minister started feeding the dogs, caring for them, washing them, providing all sorts of comfort for them.

When the 10 days were up the king ordered that the minister be thrown to the dogs as sentenced. When he was thrown in, everyone was amazed at what they saw. The dogs were wagging their tails playing with the condemned minister, licking his feet.

The king was baffled at what he saw.

“What happened to the dogs?!” he growled.

The minister then said “I served the dogs for only 10 days and they didn’t forget my service. I served you for 10 years and you forgot all at the first mistake!”

The King realised his mistake and replaced the dogs with crocodiles!

As soon as I finished reading, I started to wonder…

Who, in their right minds, would accept to work for such an ’employer’?
After all, sooner rather than later, everybody makes mistakes!
And if the penalty for the slightest mistake is being thrown to a pack of wild dogs…

On the other hand, who – in their right minds, would treat their employees like that?
Given the fact that no right minded people would accept – as per my previous observation, to work under such ‘constraints’.

And, even more interesting, who – as an ‘owner’, would hire such a ‘manager’?

Two Republican senators are criticizing President Donald Trump and his team for their efforts to pressure state and local election officials to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victories in several closely contested states.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, one of Trump’s most vocal GOP critics, tweeted Thursday, “It is difficult to imagine a worse, more undemocratic action by a sitting American President.”

Romney accused Trump on resorting to “overt pressure on state and local officials to subvert the will of the people and overturn the election.”

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., went after Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who held a press conference Thursday presenting a list of far-fetched, thoroughly debunked claims on the 2020 election.

Sasse tweeted: “Rudy and his buddies should not pressure electors to ignore their certification obligations under the statute. We are a nation of laws, not tweets.”

Given what’s currently going on in the most powerful democracy on Earth, it becomes obvious why Putin had helped Trump’s 2016 campaign to become POTUS.
Remember Ulises’s Trojan horse?
OK, it’s impossible to know for sure whether Trump and Putin actually ‘negotiated’ anything.
The point being that for a seasoned judge of people Trump behaving like an elephant in a china shop after being sworn in office was a no-brainer.
Putin could not know exactly what Trump was going to do. But he was certain that it would not end well…. For America!

Now, that Trump is throwing democracy to the dogs simply because the process didn’t end up the way he wanted, Putin must be gloating in front of the biggest mirror in Kremlin!

“We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.”

The words, attributed to John Swindon by Richard O. Boyer and Herbert M. Morais were supposedly uttered sometimes in 1880.

Nowadays, back in 2019, more and more people blame the MSM – main street media, for the sorry state the contemporary society finds itself in.
In fact, those who consider the media to be the source of all evil have been numerous, and focused, enough to elect somebody from their ranks to the highest office in Washington…

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not naive enough to pretend that journalism is any different from any other human activity.

And this is exactly my point.
Journalists are humans. Like all of us.
There is no way that they’ll behave any different than the rest of us.
The day to day practice provides ample proof that far too many of us currently “are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes”. Sometimes even without being aware of it… but that is another issue.
While it is true that too many of the journalists function as “intellectual prostitutes”, the same thing is valid for the members of too many other professions.

Then why do we – all of ‘us’, demand that journalists behave any differently from the rest of us?
Why do we accuse them for not being saints when we are sinners ourselves?
Our sins are lighter? Have less impact?

Are we so thick in our vehemence against journalists that we are deaf to Swindon’s real message?

“We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.”

Three things have grabbed my attention this week.

Carrie Lam, the Cambridge educated Hong Kong’s top civil servant, whose career spans more than 40 years, who happens to be a devout Catholic, had tried to fast track legislation allowing the Hong Kong authorities to extradite people to mainland China.

More than a million of the 7.4 million inhabitants of Hong Kong have taken to the streets, in protest.

Across the Pacific Ocean, in Venezuela, a pregnant mother accompanied by her two small children, had joined other 31 people who attempted to flee their impoverished country. They had climbed aboard Ana Maria, a fishing boat which was supposed to take them to Trinidad but never made it across the 20 km wide stretch of treacherous water.

Maroly Bastardo, the Venezuelan mother, was trying to survive. Since it is harder and harder to find food in Venezuela – for themselves and for their children, more and more people attempt to leave the country. Which, despite having an immense natural wealth, is being led to disaster by a group of ultimately incompetent people.

The one million people protesting in Hong Kong have adopted another strategy. They attempt not only to survive, physically, but also to preserve their way of life. Their cherished way of life.

These two are relatively easy to figure out. It’s easy to understand the need to survive. Equally easy to understand is the determination of those who want to continue a lifestyle they enjoy.

But what drives the Carrie Lam’s and the Nicholas Maduro’s of this world?
OK, I might accept the idea that, somehow, each of them might have ‘lost it’.
But what about those around them? How come so many people still consider they can, somehow, contradict the entire human history?
‘This time will be different!” ” ‘This Reich’ will rule for one thousand years!”

Yeah, right…

“A district judge has ordered the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office to release property that deputies took during a child abuse investigation and kept after the charges were dropped.

In October, the District Attorney’s Office dismissed sexual assault charges against a nuclear weapons expert who formerly worked at Kirtland Air Force Base. But the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office didn’t release the man’s property, which included thousands of dollars of electronics and a draft of a book.”

 

They kept the kids in cages. And Excel spreadsheets. And more than 60 other government files and databases that made it nearly impossible to track the thousands of children who have been separated from their parents by the Trump administration while trying to enter the United States.

This is according to a new report released Thursday by the Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Inspector General, which finds that, since 2017, the Trump administration has separated thousands more children from their parents than it previously disclosed and that it tracked these kids in ad hoc, disparate databases, including Excel spreadsheets and Microsoft Sharepoint accounts, further complicating the already tortured process of figuring out where those children are today.”

I have no first hand knowledge about any of these two separate ‘incidents’.
The first one might have been caused by a series of ‘misunderstandings’ while the second is only a portion of a hugely complex matter.

What really bothers me is what they have in common.

Both have been initiated by people belonging to/working for institutions put in place to protect the greater good of children. Children who are nothing but our future. Our only future.
Each of these ‘actions’ have been botched. By those who initiated them.
The institutions themselves had failed. To control the ‘runaway operators’ and to perform adequate ‘damage control’.

“Why are we doing things like these to our fellow human beings?”

Because we don’t consider them, in earnest, ‘our fellow human beings’?
For whatever reason?

https://i.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/001/178/733/780.jpg

Last time I checked, for a rebellion to make sense, it had to be against some precise thing. Otherwise…

On the other hand, there are only two kinds of freedom.
‘Against all others’ – which starts as anarchy and very soon becomes atrocious dictatorship. Where the dictator is free to rule and the oppressed are free do obey. Or to attempt to climb into the dictator’s shoes…
Or ‘with all others’. Also known as ‘democracy’. The real thing, of course, not the ‘mob rule’ variety which is currently creeping upon us.

Hence the only sensible rebellion would be the one against any form of dictatorship and ‘executed’ in concert with the rest of the oppressed.

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