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Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Bill of Rights’

I Didn’t Join the Military to Fight for Taiwan

Posted by M. C. on September 22, 2022

When I joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, and later the Idaho Army National Guard, I signed up to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution and our Bill of Rights—not Taipei.

by Dan McKnight

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/i-didnt-join-the-military-to-fight-for-taiwan/

Are you ready to go to war to “protect” a place, thousands of miles away from our nation, which we have no treaty alliance with and no overriding national interest?

I’m not talking about Ukraine, even though we continue to pump that country full of billions of dollars in weapons and supplies in a proxy war against Russia.

I’m talking about Taiwan, located off the coast of China in the Pacific Ocean.

Joe Biden just promised to defend it with the full military might of the United States.

When I joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, and later the Idaho Army National Guard, I signed up to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution and our Bill of Rights—not Taipei.

Here’s the story.

After the Chinese Civil War ended in 1949, and Chairman Mao consolidated the rule of the Communist Party in Beijing, a small collection of anti-communists flew the coop and established themselves on the island of Formosa, about 100 miles from the mainland.

That’s where they’ve been ever since, developing from a military dictatorship to a parliamentary democracy with two major parties. One wants closer integration with Beijing, the other wants full independence.

Both Taipei and Beijing claim to be the legitimate government of all of China.

In the 1970s, our government normalized relations with the Chinese mainland, and de-recognized the “Republic of China” in Taiwan, severing diplomatic relations and abrogating a defense pact.

For over 40 years since then our foreign policy has been guided by “strategic ambiguity.”

See the rest here

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The Right to Be Left Alone

Posted by M. C. on September 8, 2022

Every move you make
And every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
I’ll be watching you.
— “Every Breath You Take,” Song by The Police

Today, this is the most violated of personal rights; not by judges signing search warrants for surveillance, but by government officials — local, state and federal — ignoring and evading the natural right to privacy and pretending that the Fourth Amendment does not apply to them. 

By Andrew P. Napolitano

Every move you make
And every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
I’ll be watching you.
— “Every Breath You Take,” Song by The Police

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to privacy. Like other amendments in the Bill of Rights, it doesn’t create the right; it limits government interference with it. Last week, President Joe Biden misquoted the late Justice Antonin Scalia suggesting that Justice Scalia believed that the Bill of Rights creates rights. As Justice Scalia wrote, referring to the right to keep and bear arms but reflecting his view on the origins of all personal liberty, the Bill of Rights secures rights, it doesn’t create them; it secures them from the government.

Those who drafted the Bill of Rights recognized that human rights are pre-political. They precede the existence of the government. They come from our humanity, and, in the case of privacy, they are reinforced by our ownership or legal occupancy of property.

The idea that rights come from our humanity is called Natural Law theory, which was first articulated by Aristotle in 360 B.C. The natural law teaches that there are aspects of human existence and thus areas of human behavior that are not subject to the government. Aristotle’s views would later be refined by Cicero, codified by Aquinas, explained by John Locke, and woven into Anglo-American jurisprudence by British jurists and American revolutionaries and constitutional framers.

Thus, our rights to think as we wish, to say what we think, to publish what we say, to worship or not, to associate or not, to defend ourselves from crazies and tyrants, to own property, and to be left alone are all hard-wired into our human natures by God, the uncaused cause. Nature is the means through which God passes along His gifts to us. We come about by a biological act of nature, every step of which was ordained by God. His greatest gift to us is life, and He tied that gift to free will. Just as He is perfectly free, so are we.

In exercising our free wills, we employ rights. Rights are claims against the whole world. They don’t require approval of a government or neighbors or colleagues. The same rights exist in everyone no matter their place of birth, and each person exercises them as she or he sees fit. The government should only come into the picture when someone violates another’s natural rights. So, if someone builds a house in your backyard, you can knock it down and expel the builders or you can ask the government to do so.

Suppose the builders haven’t consented to the existence of the government? That does not absolve them. Though government is only moral and legal in a society in which all persons have consented to it — this is Thomas Jefferson’s “consent of the governed” argument in the Declaration of Independence — the only exception to actual consent is the use of government to remedy a violation of natural rights.

Professor Murray Rothbard examined all this under his non-aggression principle (NAP): Initiating or threatening force or deception against a person or his rights is always morally illicit. This applies to all aggression, even — and especially — from the government. The folks building a house in your backyard have either used force or deception to get there. Both violate your natural rights and the NAP.

Now, back to the Fourth Amendment and privacy. In a famous dissent in 1928, which two generations later became the law of the land, the late Justice Louis Brandeis argued that government surveillance constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment and thus, per the express language of the amendment, cannot be conducted by the government without a warrant issued by a judge. He famously called privacy the right most valued by civilized persons and described it as “the right to be let alone.”

Today, this is the most violated of personal rights; not by judges signing search warrants for surveillance, but by government officials — local, state and federal — ignoring and evading the natural right to privacy and pretending that the Fourth Amendment does not apply to them. 

See the rest here

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Most Americans can’t answer these simple questions

Posted by M. C. on July 6, 2022

Sometimes people joke about how little of their own history Americans know, but it’s really bad, folks. It’s worse than you think.

Just the other day, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said it was the job of the president and Congress to keep the Supreme Court in check.

Imagine what an upside-down view of American history you would have to have in order to let those words escape your mouth.

Bryan Caplan, in his provocatively titled book The Case Against Education (Princeton University Press, 2018), points out some truly horrifying results from a basic civics test given to American adults.

Below I’ll share with you a few of the questions that were asked, along with the possible answers (the correct answer will be in bold). Then I’ll share two figures: the percentage who got the correct answer, and the percentage who really knew the answer (in other words, correcting to account for people who got the question right simply by guessing).

(1) Which of the following is not protected by the Bill of Rights?
Freedom of speech
Trial by jury
The right to bear arms
The right to vote

39% got the correct answer; 21% really knew the answer

(2) Which of the following events came before the Declaration of Independence?
Foundation of Jamestown, Virginia
The Civil War
The Emancipation Proclamation
The War of 1812

49%, 26%

(3) The Bill of Rights explicitly prohibits
Prayer in public school
Discrimination based on race, sex, or religion
The ownership of guns by private individuals
Establishing an official religion for the United States
The president from vetoing a line item in a spending bill

26%, 8%

The questions continue, but you get the idea.

The vast majority of American adults are not even entitled to an opinion on major issues in American life.

Now imagine asking these same people — many of whom today fly Ukrainian flags — what happened to the Ukrainian people under communism in the 1930s.

If they think the Civil War happened before the Declaration of Independence, it’s a safe bet that they don’t know about the terror famine in Ukraine under Stalin.

The next course we’ll be adding to our collection of on-demand courses at Liberty Classroom, my dashboard university that teaches the history that was withheld from you, will be on the crimes of communism.

To say that fills a crucial gap would be the understatement of the year.

The whole site is about smashing p.c. and teaching the truth.

In honor of that upcoming course, I’m having a flash sale: for just the next 48 hours, take a full 50% off our master (lifetime) membership when you use coupon code communism:

http://www.LibertyClassroom.com
Tom Woods

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Leftists Have It Wrong on Rights

Posted by M. C. on February 7, 2022

Not even the crafters of the Bill of Rights believed that. A careful reading of the First Amendment reveals that it doesn’t purport to give any rights to anyone. Instead, the wording states that Congress (and implicitly the rest of the federal government) is prohibited from infringing on people’s right of free speech. 

Thus when the government enacts a law or adopts a measure that infringes on freedom of speech, leftists are relegated to saying, “We understand that you have given us this important privilege but please be nice and don’t infringe on it.” Libertarians, on the other hand, say, “You have no legitimate authority to do that and so stop it immediately or else we will alter you or abolish you!”

by Jacob G. Hornberger

One of the central defects among leftists (that is, “liberals,” progressives, socialists, or interventionists) is their wrong-headed view of the nature of people’s rights. Their belief on this issue is one of the distinguishing characteristics between leftists and libertarians.

Leftists believe that people’s rights come from the government or from the Constitution. As such, they view rights not so much as rights but rather more as government-granted privileges.

Libertarians, on the other hand, believe that people’s rights are endowed in them by nature and God and, therefore, that people’s rights preexist government and the Constitution. We hold that the main purpose of government is to serve as our servant whose job is to protect the exercise of our natural, God-given rights. 

A good example of this leftist mindset was recently expressed in a fundraising letter I received from a leftist group called the Daily Kos. The letter stated that freedom of speech is “one of those rights granted to us in Bill of Rights.” It went on to refer to “our First Amendment rights.”

Not even the crafters of the Bill of Rights believed that. A careful reading of the First Amendment reveals that it doesn’t purport to give any rights to anyone. Instead, the wording states that Congress (and implicitly the rest of the federal government) is prohibited from infringing on people’s right of free speech. 

In other words, unlike American leftists today, our American ancestors didn’t believe that people’s rights come from the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or from the government. They believed in what the Declaration of Independence stated — that man’s rights come from nature and God and that it is the responsibility of government to protect, not destroy, the exercise of such rights.

We are not just talking about a semantical difference here. The difference between how leftists and libertarians view the nature of rights has profound consequences. 

Given that leftists believe that their rights come from the government, they necessarily put themselves in a position of pleading, or perhaps even begging, that government go easy on them — that is, that government officials give them more latitude in exercising their “rights.” 

Thus, leftists view freedom as living on a leash — they just want the government to let them have a longer leash. What happens when the government begins reining in the leash? Leftists have no principled argument to make against what the government is doing. Since people’s rights come from government, leftists believe, then government can legitimately rein in the leash whenever it wants. 

Not so with libertarians. Unlike leftists, we are not relegated to pleading with or begging the government to treat us nicely. That’s because for us our rights don’t come from government. They preexist government. Government officials are nothing more than our servants whose job is to protect our rights. If they fail or refuse to do so — or if they use their power to destroy or infringe our rights — we have the right to alter or even abolish government and restore its rightful responsibility — the responsibility to behave as our servants whose job is to protect the exercise of our preexisting natural, God-given rights.

Thus when the government enacts a law or adopts a measure that infringes on freedom of speech, leftists are relegated to saying, “We understand that you have given us this important privilege but please be nice and don’t infringe on it.” Libertarians, on the other hand, say, “You have no legitimate authority to do that and so stop it immediately or else we will alter you or abolish you!”

The leftist view of the nature of rights is one reason why you can never count on leftists to protect our rights and liberties. Anyone who wants a genuine defense of our rights and liberties needs to join up with us libertarians. 

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TGIF: Rigged Political Language | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on November 21, 2021

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/tgif-rigged-political-language/

by Sheldon Richman

It’s an old trick: gain advantage over others by hiding one’s meaning behind euphemisms and other forms of linguistic camouflage and misdirection. People do this in all walks of life, but politicians make careers of it. If they engage in straight talk at all, it is by far the exception. The journalist Michael Kinsley defined a gaffe as “when a politician tells the truth – some obvious truth he isn’t supposed to say.”

Obfuscation is the currency of politics. Little has changed since Oscar Wilde’s time: “Nowadays to be intelligible is to be found out.”

Libertarians have emphasized this scam for years. When they say that taxation is theft, they offer an illustration. If you threatened to harm people, say, by imprisonment, unless they surrendered some of their incomes each year, you would be prosecuted for extortion, even if you planned to do good works with the money. Punishment would then follow. Politicians do the same thing, except that taxation is not illegal.

When the government orders people to leave their homes so politicians may put the land to other uses, that is also theft. But it is called by the high-sounding term eminent domain. That euphemism adds to the mystique of the state as it reveals what ought to be a repugnant idea: that the government is the supreme owner of all land in its jurisdiction — even in the United States, whose Constitution implicitly embraces that principle. True, eminent domain is not an enumerated power (so much for the doctrine of the limited power), but it is acknowledged indirectly in the clause about compensation in the subsequently added Fifth Amendment. This shows that the framers thought the power to take private property was inherent in the sovereign.

The so-called “takings clause” is an odd part of the Bill of Rights. It proclaims that people have a right to “just compensation” whenever the government violates their right to property. That the government pays what it calls “just compensation” does not make eminent domain alright. What makes compensation just in a normal transaction is that the buyer and seller freely agree to the amount. Since sellers are coerced under eminent domain, no compensation qualifies as just.

If we set our minds to it, we could all find many more examples of political euphemisms. The Department of Defense was once called the Department of War. The term free election disguises the fact that voters choose among politicians under duress: they will be coerced by government policy whether or not they participate in the election. Climate policy ought to be called pro-poverty policy. Trade policy would better be known as crony-reward policy. Government intelligence and military justice … well, you get the idea.

Scanning the recent headlines, I notice that many places are enacting so-called gun-buyback programs. What a euphemism that is. You would think that the only thing that the government could buy back was something that it had originally sold. That’s what back means in such a phrase. But state and local governments don’t sell guns to citizens, so how can they buy them back?

I concede that the recent programs appear to be voluntary, although the money paid (sometimes in the form of grocery gift cards) is taken by force from the taxpayers. So the politicians aren’t even buying back with their own money. In the past, however, buyback campaigns were mandatory, and some favor compulsion today. For example, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton spoke favorably about Australia’s compulsory program. Beto O’Rourke, who sought the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, has called for a compulsory “assault weapons” buyback.

See the rest here

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Why Trials Are Better Than Plea Bargains | Cato at Liberty Blog

Posted by M. C. on November 20, 2021

But at least that disagreement will be an informed one based on the evidence presented in a public jury trial, just as the Founders intended. We are deprived of that opportunity for civic engagement every time a case is resolved through a guilty plea instead of the public jury trial that the Constitution wisely provides. The time is long overdue for us to take a fresh look at our decision to pursue efficiency in the adjudication of criminal charges through coercive plea bargaining to the exclusion of every other constitutional value.

https://www.cato.org/blog/why-trials-are-better-plea-bargains

By Clark Neily

Surprising almost no one, the jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse prosecution returned a verdict of not guilty on all charges, including intentional and reckless homicide. The verdict may be unsurprising given how the trial unfolded, with a singularly unimpressive prosecution team making one blunder after another and a trial judge who some perceived to be unduly favorable to the defense, but it will nevertheless strike many people as inappropriate and even unjust in light of all the circumstances.

But as I argue in a piece published in the Washington Examiner hours before the verdict came down, the most important—and unusual—thing about the Rittenhouse case was the fact that it went to trial at all. That’s unusual because more than 95 percent of criminal convictions in our system are the product not of constitutionally prescribed jury trials, but instead of an ad hoc, extra‐​constitutional, and often jaw‐​droppingly coercive process that we refer to euphemistically as “plea bargaining.” As explained in the Examiner piece, plea bargaining has been an absolute train wreck of a policy that regularly produces false convictions and puts the government in the historically squalid and abuse‐​prone role of inducing people to condemn themselves.

Given the sheer amount of attention they devoted to trial by jury (among other things, it’s the only right mentioned both in the body of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights), the Framers’ intent to put citizen participation at the very heart of the administration of criminal justice is unmistakable. It was also incredibly wise because allowing government actors (including particularly judges and prosecutors) to dictate the results of criminal prosecutions represents a short and slippery slope to tyranny. Indeed, in a piece for Cato’s Policy Report, I compared the effect that the near‐​total elimination of jury trials has had on the criminal justice system to the effect that the extinction of a keystone species like honeybees would have on the ecosystem: complete and utter disaster.

In sum, reasonable people can and will disagree about whether Kyle Rittenhouse was guilty or innocent. But at least that disagreement will be an informed one based on the evidence presented in a public jury trial, just as the Founders intended. We are deprived of that opportunity for civic engagement every time a case is resolved through a guilty plea instead of the public jury trial that the Constitution wisely provides. The time is long overdue for us to take a fresh look at our decision to pursue efficiency in the adjudication of criminal charges through coercive plea bargaining to the exclusion of every other constitutional value.

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Opinion | The Supreme Court has abdicated its duty to the Bill of Rights – The Washington Post

Posted by M. C. on November 7, 2021

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/11/04/supreme-court-qualified-immunity-frasier-evans/

Image without a caption

By Radley Balko

The Supreme Court, having created the problem of qualified immunity to shield police from being held liable for their misconduct, keeps refusing to fix it.

This week, the court declined to review an especially outrageous ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit involving a Denver man who was detained for recording a traffic stop, then had his computer confiscated and searched.Opinions to start the day, in your inbox. Sign up.

No one doubts the man, Levi Frasier, had the right to record the stop. To date, six federal appeals courts have ruled there is a constitutional right to record police officers in public, a sentiment shared by the overwhelming majority of constitutional scholars. No federal appeals court has ruled the other way. In fact, the law is so well established that the officers in Denver were trained that citizens have such a right, and to respect it.

Yet the 10th Circuit ruled that because that circuit had yet to rule on the matter, the right was not yet “clearly established.” In a truly remarkable sentence, the court added, “It is therefore ‘irrelevant’ whether each officer defendant actually believed — or even in some sense knew — that his conduct violated . . . the First Amendment.”

In my last column, I looked at the origins of qualified immunity, the court-created doctrine that makes it extremely difficult to sue police officers for abuse and other constitutional violations. As I previously pointed out, legal scholars generally point to 1967′s Pierson v. Ray as the court’s first major decision affording protection to law enforcement (and other government officials) from civil liability for constitutional violations, so long as the violations were in good faith.

But that decision required courts (or juries) to determine the state of mind of the officers accused, always a difficult thing to discern. So in 1982, the court revised the policy and created qualified immunity as we know it today. To successfully sue a police officer, a plaintiff must pass a two-prong test, showing that: (A) the police violated the plaintiff’s constitutional rights, and (B) a reasonable person should have known the officers’ actions were unconstitutional under “clearly established” law.

See the rest here

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Buying a New Mind « Jon Rappoport’s Blog

Posted by M. C. on September 23, 2021

At the perimeter of your new mind is the Cattle Farm. Slow moving, meaningless, and random tautologies circulate there, efficiently blocking exit from the overall programmed space of consciousness.

https://blog.nomorefakenews.com/2021/09/22/buying-a-new-mind/

by Jon Rappoport

“Sign up now and get on the list for a new mind!”

The technical description of the surgery is over your head, but the basics are thrilling.

Two solid post-op improvements are speed and accuracy. You will think 20 times faster, and your rate of mistakes will drop to .01%. Your IQ will rise by a minimum of 50 points.

There is also an automatic signal when a problem you’re working on won’t resolve. Your left ear lobe burns. This informs you that, no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to come to a useful conclusion.

You’ll save a great deal of time.

The new mind you’re getting contains several basic elements:

157,893 subconscious generalizations (or premises) deemed to be truthful;

a subconscious deductive logic program;

an instantly accessible technical library adjusted to your job.

The library automatically generates, collates, and summarizes the best available information re the problem you’re working on, in line with the previously installed generalizations (premises) and the logic program.

It produces an answer, a solution. Your solution.

For an additional fee, you can opt for a social program that will enable you to shift out of work-mode and communicate effectively with colleagues, friends, and family.

The left-ear-lobe burn signal will go live whenever social conversations touch on controversial issues. This is your cue to back away and seek other company.

Your new mind will be monitored 24/7 from a combined NSA-DHS node that ensures proper functioning. If repairs are needed, a partial shutdown will deploy. Corrections will normally take less than three hours.

There is also a bullpen function. Persistent questions for which there is no available answer; personal reflections and contemplations; and any instance of social, political, financial, or existential claustrophobia will all be funneled to a dead space where they will linger and progressively fade.

A tiny but important Grand Slam Package will translate any thoughts once deemed to be creative into a sludge-mesh, where the velocity of transmission will slow to one synaptic flash per hour. In other words, you’ll achieve close to a zero rate on imagination.

At the perimeter of your new mind is the Cattle Farm. Slow moving, meaningless, and random tautologies circulate there, efficiently blocking exit from the overall programmed space of consciousness.

You’re centered where you’re most needed, where you can perform usefully and swiftly.

Throughout the day, you’ll think thoughts that trigger a carefully groomed and modulated pleasure-quotient. The overall effect will stimulate you to conclude you are satisfied.

Thought-forms called Border Collies will continuously roam the space of your mind and organize stray electrical effects, bringing them into symmetrical, simplistic, geometric wholes. These wholes will automatically constitute your “aesthetic sense.”

At night, while you sleep, regions of mind unreachable by the surgery will naturally expend extraordinary energies of outrage, resentment, resistance, and pure hatred. This is quite normal.

Scooper Drones will siphon off those energies and their attendant emotional wildfires, and beam them directly into the minds of our soldiers on the battlefield, to help them wreak destruction on the enemy.

It’s estimated that, with your new mind in tow, you’ll require full overhauls every three years. During these periods, you’ll experience total shutdown.

Your families, friends, and co-workers will be notified in advance.

As an historical note of interest, you recall, I’m sure, the so-called spying, the so-called Surveillance State, back in the old days. Yes?

Most people didn’t realize the program was the first attempt to create a single Universal Mind.

The Surveillance State was really the first crude new-mind surgery.

But now we can guarantee the result. The science has advanced majestically. The surgery is extremely specific and comprehensive.

Central Planning for Planet Earth must restructure brains so they perform, in various ways, to produce what we call The Whole X.

What is The Whole X? It’s the meshing of all human thought and function that will indeed produce the greatest good for the greatest number.

Whole X is the plan from above.

It calculates every move and every thought-pattern the billions of Earth inhabitants undertake, during every hour of every day.

Whole X dispenses justice and goods and services and sustainability and shared thoughts from Nome to Tierra Del Fuego.

How can these elements be parceled out unless, at the level of mind, the rational processes of every human are coordinated?

Yes, we’ve come a long way from Spy Headquarters. That was then; this is now.

We’ve walked the path from the Bill of Rights to the Bill of the Mind.

Use your gifts wisely.

To those who lament the loss of freedom, privacy, and imagination, consider that those qualities led us to the brink of extinction. We turned the corner and found enduring peace in our time.

For more information, log on to The Church of Absolute Inescapable Unity.

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Australia Has No Bill Of Rights, And It Shows – by Caitlin Johnstone – Caitlin’s Newsletter

Posted by M. C. on September 10, 2021

One of the most controversial recent developments in Australia’s escalating government overreach (and potentially the most consequential in the long term) has been the hasty passing of a new law greatly expanding government surveillance powers which allows law enforcement to hack into people’s devices and collect, delete, or even add to and alter the data therein, as well as take control of their social media accounts, supposedly “in order to frustrate the commission of serious offences online.”

Australia is not a free country. Westerners are trained to believe that that’s what you call any wealthy English-speaking nation with liberal cultural values, but really it’s just a continent-sized US military base with kangaroos. Human rights are only allowed where they are convenient, which is why they are continually disintegrating.”

https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/australia-has-no-bill-of-rights-and

Caitlin Johnstone

The Australian government has been on the receiving end of more and more criticism for its Covid response lately, not just domestically but from overseas.

There’s a lot to criticize, from soldiers patrolling state borders and policing the streets of Sydney, to people being arrested for merely posting about lockdown protests on social media, to police accessing QR tracing information and firing projectile weapons at lockdown protesters, to news broadcasters naming and shaming Covid patients who violate isolation orders, to the frequently ineffective hotel quarantine system for travellers being replaced with purpose-built quarantine facilities and Orwellian surveillance apps. The states of both Victoria and New South Wales have begun moving toward reopening after the Delta variant proved zero-Covid goals unattainable even amid strict lockdowns, but will do so by adding Australia to the growing list of nations that have implemented the dangerously authoritarian policy of vaccine passports.

And there are other aspects of this trend which have nothing to do with Covid. One of the most controversial recent developments in Australia’s escalating government overreach (and potentially the most consequential in the long term) has been the hasty passing of a new law greatly expanding government surveillance powers which allows law enforcement to hack into people’s devices and collect, delete, or even add to and alter the data therein, as well as take control of their social media accounts, supposedly “in order to frustrate the commission of serious offences online.”

Critics tend to lump this sweeping surveillance state escalation in with authoritarian policies related to the pandemic, but the bill makes no mention of Covid; its proponents cite its utility in fighting terrorism and child exploitation. Indeed this bill, which will certainly lead to myriad abuses, is just the latest in a continuing expansion of government surveillance powers in Australia that has been going on for years. This video from The Juice for example was made in 2018 criticizing Canberra’s assault on encryption:https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/eW-OMR-iWOE?rel=0&autoplay=0&showinfo=0&enablejsapi=0

In reality, while the pandemic has certainly been a major factor in exacerbating civil rights erosion, Australia’s Covid response has simply added to a problem that had already existed and was already getting worse. The 2019 CIVICUS Monitor, a global research group that tracks fundamental freedoms in 196 countries, downgraded Australia from an “open” country to one where civil space has “narrowed”, citing new laws to expand government surveillance, prosecution of whistleblowers, and raids on media organizations

And this ongoing trend can be largely traced back to the fact that Australia is the only so-called democracy in the world which has no national charter or bill of rights of any kind. A tremendous amount of faith has been placed in state and federal legislators to simply do the right thing, which has proved foolish and ineffective. Professor George Williams wrote for the Melbourne University Law Review in 2006:

Australia is now the only democratic nation in the world without a national bill of rights. Some comprehensive form of legal protection for basic rights is otherwise seen as an essential check and balance in democratic governance around the world. Indeed, I can find no example of a democratic nation that has gained a new Constitution or legal system in recent decades that has not included some form of a bill of rights, nor am I aware of any such nation that has done away with a bill of rights once it has been put in place.

Why then is Australia the exception? The answer lies in our history. Although many think of Australia as a young country, constitutionally speaking, it is one of the oldest in the world. The Australian Constitution remains almost completely as it was when enacted in 1901, while the Constitutions of the Australian states can go back as far as the 1850s. The legal systems and Constitutions of the nation and the Australian colonies (and then states) were conceived at a time when human rights, with the prominent exception of the 1791 United States Bill of Rights, tended not to be protected through a single legal instrument. Certainly, there was then no such law in the United Kingdom, upon whose legal system ours is substantially based. This has changed, especially after World War II and the passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but by then Australia’s system of government had been operating for decades.

Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ @caitozFriendly reminder that while 61 percent of Australians believe they have a bill of rights, Australia remains the only developed western democracy without one. There’s literally nothing in place to stop our government from abusing these measures. #auspol World Socialist Web Site @WSWS_UpdatesAustralian governments are aggressively promoting #COVIDSafe, a mobile phone application that will supposedly assist in monitoring and containing the spread of the coronavirus, despite unanswered questions about privacy. https://t.co/JLd0iPTdIb https://t.co/JLd0iPTdIbMay 9th 202074 Retweets163 Likes

The state of Victoria has a Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities, which supposedly includes rights like freedom of movement and peaceful assembly, but such protections have been unceremoniously dismissed as state premiers harnessed sweeping powers hardly anyone was even aware they possessed and began imposing strict laws to get the virus under control.

Officials have been rewarded for these drastic actions with thunderous public support, and until a few months ago the Australian government enjoyed soaring levels of approval from a very collectivist-minded population who overwhelmingly desired the elimination of the virus even if it meant trading some freedoms. Approval of those strict measures has dipped significantly since the Delta outbreak, but a majority of Australians still believe lockdowns and other restrictions are at appropriate levels for the time being. The absence of any federal restrictions on state governments’ ability to limit personal freedoms has allowed premiers to chase this public support regardless of potential long-term consequences.

Australia is not a free country. Westerners are trained to believe that that’s what you call any wealthy English-speaking nation with liberal cultural values, but really it’s just a continent-sized US military base with kangaroos. Human rights are only allowed where they are convenient, which is why they are continually disintegrating.

The first mistake in believing that Australia is a free country is believing that it is free. The second is believing that it’s an actual country. As Julian Assange put it shortly before the Australian government allowed him to be silenced and then imprisoned for journalism exposing US war crimes:

“I love my birth country Australia but as a state it doesn’t exist. Here is why it had its prime-minister denounce me, moved to cancel my passport, secretly passed data on me to US intelligence and has never made representations on my behalf. It is owned by US+UK corporations. Before WWII Australia was dominated by the UK–of which it was a colony. After the war it subordinated itself U.S. hegemony. A brief attempt at an independent Australian foreign policy in 1975 resulted in a US+UK backed constitutional coup.”

Anyway, it’s a mess.

So what to do about all this? If you listen to social media comments from people in the northern hemisphere the answer is that Australians should wage a civil war against their government, which from where I’m standing is hilarious partly because they’re talking about a populace whose entire cultural values system is built around being laid back and unbothered, and partly because most of those commenters are Americans living directly under the single most tyrannical regime on earth who have yet to put their much-touted Second Amendment toward practicing what they preach.

There’s a lot that’s going to have to shift before Australians gain stable protections for their civil liberties, which will necessarily have to include not just some kind of bill of rights but becoming an actual republic and finally getting that ugly old woman off our coins and ending the illegitimate US military occupation here once and for all. This will not happen until there’s an expansion in public consciousness of the need to do this, which may or may not be born out of conditions getting a lot worse before they get better. It may also be born out of a critical mass of Australians deciding they’re fed up and beginning a real push toward becoming a free country.

Bottom line the answer to the question of what needs to happen for Australia to move toward health is the same as the answer everywhere else: we’re just going to have to wake up. Human consciousness wants to awaken, and it will shake us in whatever ways we need to be shaken in order to make that happen. This is a hell of a time to be alive.

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Judicial Review? No. Nullification | Abbeville Institute

Posted by M. C. on February 24, 2021

https://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/blog/judicial-review-no-nullification/

By Earl Starbuck

“Acts of congress, to be binding, must be made pursuant to the constitution; otherwise they are not laws, but a mere nullity.” -St. George Tucker

“There is no danger I apprehend so much as the consolidation of our government by the noiseless, and therefore unalarming instrumentality of the Supreme Court.” -Thomas Jefferson

As a pro-life Jeffersonian, I am constantly frustrated by the endless line of pro-life activists who talk about the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.[1] There are multiple reasons this irks me. For one thing, the Supreme Court will never overturn Roe because its members are dedicated to the preservation of precedent. Add on top of that the absurd kangaroo courts that Senate confirmation hearings have become, with their character assassinations and incessant prattling about the vital importance of Roe, and it’s clear that the potential Justices are being reminded not to tread on that particular landmine if they wish to be confirmed. The brutal character assassination of Robert Bork is ample evidence of this, as are the farcical witch-hunts against Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh.

My other objections to this pro-life reliance on Federal Courts are constitutional and practical. To begin with, accepting the Incorporation Doctrine (the legal justification for Roe and its descendants) means accepting the idea that the 14th Amendment incorporates the Bill of Rights against the State governments, including the implied right to privacy and the subsequent right to obtain an abortion. The legal and historical problem with this is that the Bill of Rights was never intended by the Founding Fathers to be applied to the States.[2] There were two primary arguments against the Bill of Rights. The first of these (advanced by men like Roger Sherman, Hugh Williamson, and Theophilus Parsons) was that, since the States already had their declarations/bills of Rights, and since Congress had been given no authority to infringe upon them, a Federal Bill of Rights would be redundant and unnecessary, and might even undermine the sovereignty and authority of the States. 

The second reason for objecting to the Bill of Rights had to do with its length and scope. Enumerating all of the rights protected would be impossible, and therefore would result in an implied surrender of whichever rights they forgot to explicitly protect in the Bill of Rights. Moreover, why say that the government can’t do something (like restrict freedom of speech or the press) if the government hasn’t been granted that power to begin with? (James Wilson and Alexander Hamilton presented these arguments; Hamilton’s is easily found in Federalist Essay #84).

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About Earl Starbuck

A native of East Tennessee, Jake Starbuck is an independent historian and a descendant of soldiers on both sides of The Late Unpleasantness and of Governor John Sevier. His father, who was a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, taught him to love history and the South. Starbuck holds a BA in History and Political Science from Carson-Newman University and an MA in History from Liberty University. He has no connection to the coffee company. More from Earl Starbuck

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