Monday, January 27, 2020

Your Anonymity is Gone

Former Stasi prison in Erfurt
Photo: Wikimedia
I wrote before about the 2006 Oscar winner for the best Foreign Language Film, “Das Leben des Anderen” (The Lives of Others), a German drama that describes in painful detail life in the communist East Berlin of 1984, before the fall of the Berlin Wall, how ordinary and not so ordinary citizens were spied upon by their government, using agents of the infamous Stasi, the German Democratic Republic’s secret police.

The movie begins in the Hohenschonhausen prison which is now a memorial dedicated to the victims of Stasi repression. It is alleged that the movie director, Florian Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck, was not allowed to film there because the memorial’s administrator, Hubertus Knabe, objected to making “the Stasi man into a hero.”

Florian Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck is quoted as saying, "I suddenly had this image in my mind of a person sitting in a depressing room with earphones on his head and listening in to what he supposes is the enemy of the state and the enemy of his ideas, and what he is really hearing is beautiful music that touches him. I sat down and in a couple of hours had written the treatment” (the first draft of a screenplay).

The movie is not important because it showed how a famous actress was spied upon, her life, trials and tribulations, and the secondary sycophants who answered to the Kommunistische Partei (Communist Party). It is important because it shows the drab and meager daily life of fear, uncertainty, and horror that people from all walks of life, ordinary and exceptional, endured under the brutal and repressive socialist republics ruled by the communist party.

Like the actress in the movie, homes were bugged; all telephone conversations were recorded and listened to by underlings and useful idiots who were paid by the regime to spy upon the lives of everyone without their knowledge or a court order. All incoming and outgoing mail was opened, read, and copied by small bureaucrats whose job was to report anything out of the ordinary and catalog their daily blogs.

The King of Communism, Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania, a cobbler with only elementary school education under his belt, kept us all well-monitored and oppressed.

The secret police did not have sophisticated wireless technology to spy on citizens like we have today. They also did not seek nor need warrants to record everything people did or said in their homes, cars, at parties, or on the phone. There was no social media sites, email, or text messages. They had the oppressing power of government on their side and technology was not so advanced.

Today the spying game is much more sophisticated and does not require special agents – just a smart computer program with the right software and algorithm, mining social media, especially Facebook via innocent games that ensnare not just every information detail a user voluntarily posts on his/her wall or blog, but all the information, photos, and activities of every “friend,” relative, acquaintance, and commenter they have interacted with on a social platform or using a tech device.

Josh Bernstein, in a recent video asked a very poignant question, “Is this the end of privacy as we know it, or is it already here?” He was referring to the 31-year old Vietnamese-Australian Hoan Ton-That, who developed an app that allowed users to change hair and facial features on photographs. “But, unfortunately, he did not stop there, he shared his invention with law enforcement agencies” federal, state, and local police departments in the United States.

His company Clearview AI has developed a groundbreaking facial recognition software app that, according to Bernstein, “will soon end everyone’s personal privacy.” That’s company boasts 3 billion images that he has “lifted” from all social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and other popular sites. Bernstein stated that That claims that “his database is larger than what the federal government and Silicon Valley have.”

It is alleged that the software has been used to solve crimes and to identify suspects and arrest them within hours of committing a crime. Theft, shoplifting, assault, identity theft, sexual abuse crimes, and murder cases were solved by using That’s technology.

Clearview AI app helped unravel crimes using still video shots, friends’ photos, and other social media posts, and matched the perpetrator, his identity, his friends, his hobbies, and all his media posts, including where he ate recently. So far That’s app has been used for good, to catch criminals, but in the future might this technology be misused to damage and control the innocent?

Government control under communist party regimes required a lot of manpower to spy on its people, and to inform authorities about the whereabouts and contacts of a trapped population, prisoners within the borders of their own countries.

But we now have GPS tracking in smart phones, TVs, cars, boats, appliances, robots, engines, refrigerators, cameras, social sites, credit cards, flights, and grocery shopping, just to name a few. It enables faceless individuals to track us and our lives daily. The NSA data storage center in Bluffdale, Utah is said to be able to handle a lot of zettabytes of information. One zettabyte of data is 1 (one) followed by 21 zeroes.

Satellites can take pictures with extreme accuracy. Drones can spy in your bedroom as you sleep. Smart meters, smart water meters, smart gas meters relay information to the mother ship about your electricity, water, and gas consumption.

Appliances can be remotely turned on and off and refrigerators talk to your grocery store and place food orders for you. Utility companies can turn off your electricity, dial back your air conditioning use or turn it off, change the ambient temperature in your home, turn off water, electricity, and gas whether you want it turned off or not.

Tech giants monitor what you watch, what you say, what you buy, block your access to conservative sites, take down videos that offend liberals, stifling your freedom of speech.

Academia censures by denying tenure to conservative professors and disinviting speakers they disagree with. The MSM promotes political correctness and liberal views, preventing any polite opposition or diverging guests to exercise their freedom of speech.

The more we talk about freedom (of speech, of assembly, to carry guns, religion) in the world today occupied and controlled by everything progressive, the more we hear the chains rattling. Your brothers and sisters are watching you with disdain and hate – empowered by non-elected bureaucrats, politicians, academia, plutocrats who think they know what’s best for us, and young techies who spy on the “lives of others” with gusto and the ignorance of useful idiots.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Sustainability and Greta the Climate Soothsayer

"Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.”     
- Dr. Paul Ehrlich, Stanford professor of Biology

World Health Organization air quality map
The non-profits and think-tanks have now adopted and added another descriptor to their strategical predictions – sustainable. Mimicking and adopting the dictates of U.N. Agenda 21/2030 Sustainable Development 17 goals, everything is now sustainable. If it is not sustainable, it is not hip and worthy of discussion.

The sustainable reports and forecasts are apparently made more challenging by a “mercurial and unpredictable” president. What they mean is that they cannot control President Trump and thus have a hard time influencing the outcome of his policies. He is not playing ball with them by their rules.

They bemoan the “disappearance” of the “liberal progressive order” (read globalism) and its possible replacement with “autocratic dictatorship” influenced by “nationalist populism” and the narrative “China owes us.”

In an executive summary of global trends, the Atlantic Council describes economic migration as a “potential plus for the West.” Statistics forecast that the U.S. population will decline by 2030 if we are not receiving “migrants.” But the “trick will be how fast they can be integrated” and contributing to the economy.

As Europe has shown, the unchecked economic migration has been “politically destabilizing” not to mention erasing borders and national identity. But it was the intent of the EU to become a super state with no sovereignty left in any of its member-states.

Global warming is still everyone’s boogey man.  The climate change industry is back with its Wunderkind Greta Thunberg, the truant teenager, this time at Davos, Switzerland, wondering why the heads of state are not listening and heeding her dire warnings about climate change. The climate change industry might be in danger of suffering setbacks if the shrill and unscientific consensus voices at Davos are not supported. How dare you ignore climate change as a threat?

In her shrill, furious, and hysterical speech, Thunberg said, “Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fueling the flames by the hour. We (who is we?) are still telling you to panic, and to act as if you loved your children above all else… “We don’t want these things done in 2050, 2030, or even 2021. We want this done now.”

We, the good parents whose children go to school and learn, do not need to be chastised by a truant, arrogant, and smug teenager who knows nothing about climatology and should go back to school to study Economics and science before she can lecture states on policy and the rest of the planet on how to live.

How extraordinarily irresponsible that she has a platform to speak, threatening us, “how dare you,” reading a script prepared by environmental activists who are her adult handlers! 

Niall Ferguson from the Hoover Institution wondered why she did not address the biggest polluters of the planet – “Sixty percent of CO2 emissions since Greta Thunberg was born is attributable to China… but nobody talks about that.” Everyone expects Europe and the U.S. to fix the problem. He suggested that India and China must be constrained, and Greta should travel to Beijing and Delhi, not New York and Davos.

Environmentalists have declared that poor countries should not be allowed to use fossil fuels for cheap energy. They can’t be allowed development based on cheap energy from coal - rich countries must provide them with everything they need to produce expensive and unreliable renewable energy.

If you don’t help third world countries and transfer wealth to them, they are going to experience sea levels rise, horrible floods, and severe weather. Apparently, the omnipotent humans can mitigate weather and, if we listen to Democrat Party political ads while campaigning for the presidency, they can stop climate change if we all pay a carbon tax, very profitable for the climate change industry.

The world, as decreed by the U.N. migratory plans, apparently has “environmental migrants” (mostly male) as a result of climate change, sea level rise, and inclement weather. They are no longer economic opportunists in search of a country that gives generous welfare benefits to such migrants without request for work in kind, just “free” money. They are fleeing climate change and wars, leaving women and children behind to fend for themselves.

Billionaires and famous environmentalists have already told poor countries that they cannot adopt our Western lifestyle with cheap electricity from coal because the earth would suffer too much – it is better that they remain primitive and poor, hoping that the developed world would provide them with expensive solar panels and taxpayer subsidies for electricity and battery storage technology from the rich Western nations. Energy production in the poor world must be done sustainably otherwise Mother Gaia will be in Armageddon danger.

There is nothing that we do as human beings that does not involve some type of energy, most of which is provided by fossil fuels. Solar panels and wind turbines cannot function without the use of fossil fuels, they must be maintained and supplanted by energy and oil provided from fossil fuels or nuclear and hydro power. When the sun does not shine and the wind does not blow above 32 MPH, renewable energy must use electricity produced by other means.

Margaret Atwood wisely said, “If all fossil fuel were to go POOF! tomorrow, the result would be a cataclysmic social upheaval, with food riots, warlords, shutdowns, breakdown of social order, water shortages, and outbreaks of bloodshed and disease.”

Using corn as biofuel causes erosion, pollution, food poisoning, and a dead zone. Corn needs fossil fuels to grow because it requires a half gallon of fossil fuel to produce a bushel of corn. And there will be a shortage of corn for food if it is used for biofuel instead.

Fossil fuels and steam have created our modern civilization. Now environmentalists want us to devolve to a time when there was no cheap fossil fuel; they want us to invest in expensive renewables which would never supply enough energy for large economies. Only in the progressive universe will renewable energy be somehow safe, healthy, clean, and durable.

Elizabeth Warren, Democrat presidential contender, said, “I oppose the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. It’s an ill-conceived project that would lock us into further dependence on some of the dirtiest fossil fuels on the planet.”

If you ask anyone, who is charging their electric cars from the many stations that have popped up all over the country, where the electricity is coming from, they will tell you that it is from renewable energy sources which is not true.

The real reason for the global warming hoax later repackaged into the climate change industry was stated plainly by Dave Bower, Friends of the Earth Founder. “We must reclaim the roads and the plowed land, halt dam construction, tear down existing dams, free shackled rivers, and return to wilderness tens of millions of acres of presently settled land.” They want to destroy capitalism. There won’t be many places for humans to go if this green new globalist world becomes reality.

Paul Driessen said it best, “not using fossil fuels is tantamount to not using energy. It is economic suicide and eco-manslaughter.” Perhaps that is the intent.  Maurice Strong, head of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro (the birthplace of U.N. Agenda 21), stated, “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?”

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Monarchy

The monarchy is an in-bred institution that has caused across the centuries untold wars, death, and misery among the masses so that they can be in power and control of wealth. The people, which they subjugated with the mumbo-jumbo that they had a divine right and blue blood, fought and died for the right to be oppressed by one monarch after another who aspired to the throne or demanded to be king or queen. Poor sobs! And they still support a bunch of parasites today as a symbol of who they are - pathetic fans to parasitic glitter and glory.

But then again, we Americans are dopes too, we support parasitic politicians who enrich themselves at the public trough for decades and become millionaires at the taxpayers' expense. They publish more books than they pass bills and they certainly don't care one iota about the taxpayers and the constituents they represent.

It is one thing to hold on to historical monuments, churches, palaces, and preserve them for posterity, and another to support a very large and extended family to reside in castles at the taxpayer expense even though they have created nothing of value or worked a meaningful day in their lives other than parade themselves in pricey outfits, jewels, carriages, expensive cars, yachts, and private airplanes, to the masses.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

When Water Usage and Prices Are Controlled by Government

Living in Italy, Americans were shocked to learn that they couldn’t drive their cars in Verona on certain days if their licenses ended in odd numbers and on other days if their licenses ended in even numbers. Caught driving on the wrong day, the penalty was stiff. It was the bureaucrats’ way of dealing with pollution that affected air quality, soot deposits on marble statues, and buildings in town.  

In Modesto, California, the city deals with water shortages, whether real or imagined, by giving citations and fines to odd-numbered addresses that water lawns on Tuesdays when only even-numbered addresses can use sprinkler systems.

“We have two seasons of enforcement and so we entered the new season several weeks ago,” Modesto City spokesperson, Thomas Reeves said. “There are strict days; three days a week that you are allowed to water and it’s the same for a residential unit or a business.”

As always, one-party state environmentalist California is ahead in curbing and controlling use of resources. It has enacted in 2018 Cal2022 water use controls they call “water-efficiency standards” in preparation for the manufactured global warming now turned into a profitable climate change industry. “The rules are aimed at water districts to cut per capita water usage.” This will eventually force individual customers into compliance.
By 2022, each person will be allowed to use 55 gallons per day and by 2030, 50 gallons per day. To put in better perspective, if you take an 8-minute shower, 17 gallons of water are used. A load of laundry uses 40 gallons, and a bathtub can hold 80 to 100 gallons of water.  

An old dishwasher uses 10 gallons of water per load. A new dishwasher with standards put in place in 2013 uses 5 gallons of water. An Energy Star certified dishwasher uses as little as 3 gallons of water per load. It is alleged that a full load of dishes washed by hand uses 27 gallons of water.
An older model top-loading washing machine uses 30-45 gallons of water, depending on the model. Front-loading and high efficiency washing machines use 15 gallons of water per load.

Sacramento Suburban Water District offers toilet rebates, complimentary showerheads, and complimentary faucets.  They are required to perform stress tests on their water leaks. A representative said, “Right now we lose up to 30 percent of urban water just to leaks in the system.” If a water district does not comply, the fines are $10,000 per day.

Conservation of resources and natural habitats are a noble goal and we should try to conserve as much as we can. But micromanaging people’s lives does not work so well, it ends up in tyranny.
I can still vividly remember having to bathe by boiling a pot of water on the stove, going days and weeks without a bath, having to do without water altogether, especially in summer time when the communist government that controlled everything decided to clean the water tanks of rust and mineral deposits while we trekked to the water truck parked conveniently five blocks away to get a bucket of water at a time for drinking and cooking. The globalists who want to stop electricity use and other modern conveniences use in the third world today would have been pleased that we did not have dishwashers or washing machines.

And the United Nations declared its megatrend campaign for water for sustainable development (everything now must be sustainable this and sustainable that), one of the 17 goals of Agenda 21 now morphed into Agenda 2030 – water and sanitation for all.
We did protect the environment from pollution because nobody had cars except the elites, we just took buses and trains everywhere or walked. We did not have dishwashers or washing machines. Yet the environment was terribly polluted – the air, the soil, and the rivers. The commies did not care about spoiling the environment on an industrial scale.

As Dave Foreman of Earth First said, “We must make this place an insecure and inhospitable place for Capitalists and their projects – we must reclaim the roads and plowed lands, halt dam construction, tear down existing dams, free shackled rivers and return to wilderness millions of tens of millions of acres of presently settled land.” What a primitive life that will be!
The government can certainly try to control consumption behavior by law and economically through price controls. It has done so and still does with various problems and consequences. Put in simple economic terms, when the quantity supplied is less than the quantity demanded, shortages result.

Governments can micromanage the use of a resource and restrict it through price controls. But government intervention into the free market by law can affect negatively many sectors and subsectors of the economy that need a lot of water to produce their output (paper, agriculture, orchards, vineyards, gardens, livestock) or service (hospitals, water parks, pools).
After 1971, when President Nixon decided to experiment with price controls, the economy experienced a plague of shortages - it seemed to be “running out of nearly everything.” When price controls ended in 1974, most of the shortages disappeared.

Price controls cause favoritism and corruption, enforceability problems, auxiliary restrictions, and limitations of volume of transactions.
When shortages or surpluses are created due to price controls, someone gets to buy or sell the limited quantity available. This can lead to discrimination along various lines, political favoritism, and corruption in government.

We had artificially low prices in the economy run by the Communist Party of Romania which resulted in long lines and favoritism of the communist elite class which was able to buy scarce commodities in their own special stores while the rest of us were on the Ceausescu diet.
Inevitably consumers must pay higher prices to suppliers. It is more insidious in industries where numerous suppliers exist. It is hard to monitor the behavior of so many sellers and their attempts to circumvent the law.

New laws may add auxiliary restrictions in order to enforce the original restrictions. So, the marketplace becomes more complex and more controlled by the legal system and suffocating government rules.
A classic example are the laws in New York City which ban conversion of rent-controlled apartments into condominiums. When rent-controlled apartments were enacted, the shortage of affordable apartments increased as landlords remodeled apartments into office space which allowed them to charge whatever rent the free market allowed instead of the low government controlled-rent on apartments.

Last, but not least, government intervention in the market, can lead to misallocation of resources. One example is the Russian farmers who used to feed their animals bread instead of unprocessed grains because price ceilings kept the price of bread very low. Why would they want bread to be so low priced? Because bread was a main staple in the Russian diet and kept them from going hungry on the rationed food in the stores.
It is true that the developed world contributes to the wasteful utilization of resources, including water. But do we need the daddy government micromanaging the behavior of everything we do?

Do elected bureaucrats have the right to protect a tiny fish, the delta smelt, to the detriment of millions of humans whose crops were devastated during a drought season while the government dumped fresh water into the ocean?
We could do better in conserving in many areas but showering with a bucket of water is not one of them. We could follow the late dictator Hugo Chavez’s advice to take 3-minute showers, but I am not so sure he followed his advice as he became rich beyond any socialist dictator’s dreams. His left his daughter billions when he died.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Millennials Caught up in the Lies of Social Justice

Aldous Leonard Huxley in 1954
Photo: Wikipedia
In a 1958 interview with Mike Wallace, Aldous Leonard Huxley, British writer and philosopher, discussed the power of technology, drugs, and propaganda as formidable methods of indoctrination. He talked about Hitler who used the press and radio very effectively to brainwash an entire nation to accept the evil that followed. He explained to Wallace:

“…  a piece of very recent and very painful history is the propaganda used by Hitler, which was incredibly effective. I mean, what were Hitler's methods? Hitler used terror on the one kind, brute force on the one hand, but he also used a very efficient form of propaganda which …he was using every modern device at that time. He didn't have TV, but he had the radio which he used to the fullest extent and was able to impose his will on an immense mass of people. I mean, the Germans were a highly educated people.”

Indoctrination through relentless propaganda is so effective that it creates slaves who are happy to be indentured. For example, most Americans accept property tax increases because they believe it benefits schools and their children. But in some areas, property tax increases educate the children of newly arrived Muslim economic refugees and illegal aliens who have crossed the border illegally alone or in caravans organized and advised by non-profits funded by the United Nations, businesses and elites with an interest to gain new Democrat voters, supporters for the globalist agenda, and cheap labor.

Huxley mentioned Orwell’s “1984” book and said “That if you want to preserve your power indefinitely, you have to get the consent of the ruled, and this they will do partly by drugs as I foresaw in ‘Brave New World,’ partly by these new techniques of propaganda. They will do it by bypassing the sort of rational side of man and appealing to his subconscious and his deeper emotions, and his physiology even, and so making him actually love his slavery. I mean, I think, this is the danger that actually people may be, in some ways, happy under the new regime, but that they will be happy in situations where they oughtn't to be happy.”

Huxley continued, “… there are methods at present available, methods superior in some respects to Hitler's methods, which could be used in a bad situation. I mean, what I feel very strongly is that we mustn't be caught by surprise by our own advancing technology. This has happened again and again in history with technology's advance and this changes social condition, and suddenly people have found themselves in a situation which they didn't foresee and doing all sorts of things they really didn't want to do.”

It is now painfully evident what propaganda through any means, especially through technology and drugs, and indoctrination for the last forty years through education, Hollywood, and the mainstream media, have done to younger generations of Americans. They are now the pliant drones, happy to be slaves to the globalist ideology which includes the U.N. Agenda 21/2030.

I had met recently with Millennials who validated abundantly the indoctrination theory, hard-core liberals, some of whom fortunately have not yet voted in presidential elections. They get their information from other thoroughly indoctrinated friends who hear certain phrases and fabrications passed as reality. Repeated ad nauseam by the shrill leftist media and their low-information followers, the propaganda becomes truth.

The young Millennials told me that they never hesitated to join in the fray of any protest marching in their town, no matter how vile or pointless. The excitement of the melee of the loud and well-paid rent-a-mobs, called them to join in the tussle.

There was a time when young Americans in their late teens and early twenties were responsible adults, settled down in marriage and family with children. Today they are immature in late adulthood, whiny snowflakes, easily triggered, cowardly, intolerant of others who disagree with them, living in their parents’ basements without any shame or feelings of self-respect and responsibility.

I had asked before what is it that they reject so vehemently, and I got blank stares or quick replies that President Trump is hated profoundly for being a racist. I asked them what it was that President Trump did that offended them so, evidence of racism, or how he impacted their lives even before he was sworn in and the answer was, he is bad, repeating the canned narrative they’ve heard on cable channels or from their equally misguided and misinformed friends.

When they received a tax refund last year thanks to President Trump’s tax policy, I asked if they refunded the money since everything Trump did or does, in their view, works against them and the “man.” They laughed and kept the money.

There is no leftist cause, no matter how outrageous, that social justice Millennials will not volunteer to support. They cannot really explain what they mean by social justice, and if there was ever, at any point in time social justice in the world.

They have no idea how society operates, how the economy is run, what it means to be an American citizen, the duties and responsibilities to family and to our nation. They are shameless, compass-less individuals with no future who think that getting a degree in social justice or women's studies will allow them to work for a non-profit and help people. They are not sure how, when, where, which people, and how they are going to pay their own bills and live. They just know, they will help people.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Link to The Epoch Times Article Featuring Yours Truly

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Interesting Post on Lawmakers

“If you don’t get the picture by now, let’s paint it for you. The Congress and the Senate have spent years building an empire in which they rule. They have voted in protections from YOU, the PEOPLE, to protect themselves and their government cash cow. There’s really nothing we do but decide who gets to enter into the government millionaires club. Once in, we have absolutely no control over anything.”

-        Cathy O’Dell

My Musings from a Year Ago

Millennials have been indoctrinated to admire primitive cultures and to despise their own civilization. Why in the world would any civilized American want to revert to primitive societies or to the way of life a century or so ago?

Diana Gabaldon described the hard life of the 18th and 19th centuries best, "People ate, slept, and frequently copulated, crammed into tiny, stifling cottages, lit and warmed by smoky peat fires. The only thing they did not do together was bathe - largely because they didn't bathe."

Like I used to say in jest to southerners asking me in 1978 if we bathed in Romania, "we bathed once a month whether we needed it or not."

Of course, in reality, our bathing was predicated on whether we got hot water or any water at all. The communists had their own secret schedule to keep us starved and in need of water. Heat (via steam) was optional in winter.

Friday, January 10, 2020

The Lee and Fairfax Cemetery in Leesylvania State Park

View of Potomac
Photo: Ileana Johnson 2019
After a long downhill and uphill trek, across thick carpets of dead leaves covering tree roots snaking treacherously out of the ground, I reach the Lee and Fairfax Family Cemetery on the ridge top overlooking Occoquan Bay.

The remains of Elizabeth Fairfax and Henry Fairfax Sr. are interred here. Elizabeth Fairfax died November 6, 1847 at the age of 54 and Henry Fairfax Sr. died October 6, 1847 at the age of 74. Captain Henry Fairfax and his wife Elizabeth are buried in the enclosed portion of the cemetery. Captain Fairfax had purchased the Leesylvania Plantation from the Lees in 1825.

Leesylvania (meaning Lee’s Woods) Plantation became part of the Lee family legacy through the marriage of Laetitia Corbin to Richard Lee II in 1675.

Henry Lee II and his wife Lucy Grymes named the Plantation Leesylvania (Lee’s Woods). The home they built high on the ridge overlooking the Potomac River burned long ago but it was thought to resemble the Rippon Lodge, a neighboring home that was built around the same time. The Leesylvania Plantation home burned in 1790, shortly after Henry Lee II’s death in 1787.

George Washington, residing 14 miles up the river in Mt. Vernon, was a frequent visitor at the Leesylvania Plantation. His diary records dinner visits at the Lees on his way to Williamsburg and Fredericksburg on October 19, 1768, on October 30, 1769 (with his wife Martha and daughter Patsy) and on November 27, 1772.

Lee and Fairfax Cemetery today without headstones
Photo: Ileana Johnson December 2019

The cemetery was established by the Lee family when Henry Lee II died on August 15, 1787. His wife Lucy Lee (Grymes), died in 1792 and is the only other Lee family member buried here. A few of Lucy’s flowers, daffodils and daylilies still bloom around the woods. Henry Lee’s death was noted in the Virginia Journal and Alexandria Advertiser. He was a Senator for the District of Fairfax and Prince William. He was 58 years old and had dedicated thirty years of his life to the service of his country.

Lee and Fairfax Cemetery with bronze plaque
Photo: Ileana Johnson December 2019

Lucy Grymes and Henry Lee were married in 1753 and their home stood on this ridge to the east. There is a deep hole now where the foundation stood. There is no visible evidence of stones left.

Henry Lee was Prince William County Lieutenant and Presiding Justice for many years. He represented Prince William County in the House of Burgesses, the Revolutionary Conventions, and the State Senate from 1758-1788.

Lucy and Henry Lee had eight children born in Leesylvania House. “Light Horse Harry” was a Revolutionary War hero, Governor of Virginia, and father of Gen. Robert E. Lee. The Lee children served Virginia and Country in various capacities. Charles Lee was Attorney General of the United States. Richard Bland Lee was the first Congressman for Northern Virginia.  Edmund Jennings Lee was the Mayor of Alexandria.

An obelisk-shaped monument is dedicated to “Light Horse Harry” at the foot of the hilly and heavily wooded peninsula, in a circular driveway close to the Potomac River.

Lee and Fairfax cemetery with headstones in place
Photo: Archives

The Lee family headstones have disappeared long ago. There are park signs urging visitors not to take stones or bricks as souvenirs from the foundation of what remains of the plantation buildings, chimney, well, and barn. The missing Lee family headstones were replaced with a bronze plaque encased in brick by the Virginia Society of the Lees.

The Fairfax headstones were relocated in the Union Cemetery in Leesburg, near the tomb of their son, John Walter Fairfax, but the remains were not disturbed, they still rest in the enclosed cemetery. 

Fairfax home ruins (1825)
Photo: Ileana Johnson December 2019

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Freedom of the Press and Freedom from the Press

Wikipedia photo
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says simply that Congress shall make no law “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” The courts have since bent over backwards to interpret and re-interpret the intent of the framers of the Constitution, depending on who the aggrieved parties were and whose interests were at stake.

The courts ruled on what is protected speech and what is not, how far journalists can go with their information, and how far they are protected when compared to private citizens.

For the longest time, the American public believed the press, the major newspapers, beloved radio personalities whose political biases nobody knew because they never made them public by staying neutral and objective, and sources such as NBC, ABC, and CBS.

We took pride in America in the freedom of expressing one’s opinion without the fear of going to jail for their views. We also knew that, by expressing such a view people left themselves exposed to judgment by their employer with the potential of losing one’s job or of being ostracized from certain organizations.

One of the basic “tenets” of the communist revolution was a free press.  Lenin was quite descriptive in his version of freedom of the press – “We demand immediate and unconditional recognition by the authorities of freedom of assembly, freedom of press and an amnesty for all political prisoners and dissenters. Until this is done, all words about tolerance, about religious liberty, will remain a miserable game and an indecent lie. Until freedom of assembly, of speech, and of the press is declared, there will not disappear the shameful Russian inquisition which persecutes profession of unofficial faith, unofficial opinions, unofficial doctrines.” He was, of course, referring to his communist brethren who were languishing in prison for various offenses, he had no interest in extending such freedom of the press to those who disagreed with the communist ideology. (Lenin, “The Autocracy is Tottering, Sochtneniya, Vol. VI, p. 314)

Nikita Khrushchev talked about an “objective press.” He decided which articles were objective and asked that they be published in the Soviet press because he believed they were “truthful and objective.” He was the arbiter of truth. But the “free press” the Soviets were cherishing was not really the press that the West viewed as free.

At the time, Turner Catledge of The New York Times wondered why foreign correspondents were censored by the Soviet Union but were not censored in the West. As we well know today, major U.S. publications are quite leftist and openly support socialism, the precursor to communism, and censor those who disagree with them.

Khrushchev responded to Catledge that wasting money on telegraph communications and paper would harm society with news that distort the real life of Soviet Russia and slander and manufacture instead of benefiting society. In such cases, he said, the authorities are justified in withholding false reports and not publishing them.

The USSR Constitution guaranteed “freedom of the press.” Pravda (The Truth) stated on December 26, 1958, “Article Seven – Anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda. Agitation or propaganda, conducted with he aim of undermining or weakening the Soviet power or committing individual, particularly dangerous crimes against the state, the spreading of slanderous fabrications with he same aim, defaming the Soviet state and social order, and equally the spreading of printing or storing of literature of this nature with the same aim will be punishable by imprisonment for a period ranging from six months to seven years or banishment for a period ranging from two to five years.” Discussions of war (“war propaganda”) was particularly distasteful and egregious to the Communist Party. So much for freedom of the press, Soviet style.

TASS, the communist party approved Soviet news agency, said in 1959, “We have no censorship, only control to prevent misuse of the freedom of the press.”

As most historians know, it was mandatory for all regional (oblast) newspapers in the Soviet Union to publish the exactly worded propaganda that appeared in Pravda. It was like today’s Democrat party giving its marching orders to anchors on various leftist channels who repeat the script religiously.

James Reston of the New York Times wondered “why poets, writers, and musicians followed a very narrow line of work” and why Pravda can be bought in New York, but the New York Times could not be sold in the Soviet Union.

The answer was priceless. Subscribers to the New York Times in the Soviet Union were almost non-existent because “Soviet people want the truth and your papers print a lot of untruths and misinformation. Why should we force that on our readers?” The Soviet authorities want their people to understand internal and international events more clearly and not be misled. And western journalists are incapable of understanding the Soviet writers and poets’ literary work. “You understand their literary work quite incorrectly.” (To James Reston of The New York Times; TASS, Oct. 11, 1957)

A “bourgeois newspaper” correspondent not “rightly assesses what he sees, just as not everyone can gaze at the heavens and see the sun as it really is.” In other words, the press can be “objective,” but the definition of “objectivist” is “objectionable” by Soviet ideology.

An op-ed in Pravda on January 27, 1960, said, “The press is a powerful force in the ideological indoctrination of young persons. However, at one time certain newspapers and journals of Latvia were somewhat drawn to objectivist reporting of various aspects of life in capitalist countries. Weak and ideologically depraved literary works were also printed. Party agencies were forced to take serious measures for improving the ideological content of printed matter.”

The oppressed proletariat in the Soviet Union and the other Iron Curtain countries was not stupid. They watched shows like Dallas and saw for themselves how American people lived under the maligned capitalism and the abundance of food in their grocery stores while communist stores were empty. They knew there was a better life beyond the tall barb-wired fences that kept them prisoners in the communist grey paradise.

It is laughable when an apparatchik was quoted saying, “In Moscow there is no censorship. Every correspondent can write what he wants except lies.” And that correspondent would never be heard from again after writing what he wanted.

William Randolph Hearst, Jr., agreed that the free American press has a different view of censorship from Khrushchev’s view. “If I fired everybody who wrote opinions with which I disagree at times, I’m afraid we would not have many people left in the editorial department.”

What about the “freedom to listen” to programs that the communist party found objectionable? The Soviets jammed the Voice of America radio programming because, they said, those voices were dissonant, and the communist authorities did not want the Soviet people to have a “wrong picture of the American people and their voice.”

Speaking to the Economic Club of New York on September 17, 1959, and Irritated that the public was interrupting him, Khrushchev offered to stop speaking if they did not want to hear what he had to say. “The Question of how and what our people should hear is the affair of our people. These questions are decided and will always be decided by the Soviet people themselves and their Government, without foreign interferences.”

It is sad to note that today, conservative Americans have restricted access to social media platforms, and many are periodically banned, and some are shadow banned. Invisible computer censors tell us that we “violate community standards” if we try to read an article, post a photograph, or a video that the leftist censors find objectionable. We are not sure exactly what these community standards are, but they must be quite specifically designed to encompass only conservatives and their viewpoints.

Some conservative Americans have the means to fight back against censorship in a court of law, which is something the communist era victims were not permitted to do. Coral Gables is being sued right now for censoring the showing of the ‘Trayvon Hoax’ movie. Unfortunately, few win against the powerful progressive machine that controls the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press.

In the era of algorithmically designed information highway, do we really have freedom of speech, the freedom to post an opinion, to listen, read, or view? When the press receives its marching orders from the leftist elites who own all venues of the mainstream media, do we still have freedom of the press even though it is guaranteed in the Constitution? What good is a guarantee if it is not enforced? Do we even have freedom from the fake press that overwhelms the airwaves, bookstores, and the printing press?

Monday, January 6, 2020

Democracy of the Left

The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.   - Alexis de Tocqueville

Athenian Democracy Politician Pericles giving a famous
speech Wikipedia photo
Politicians, their low information voters, and indoctrinated Millennials talk about our endangered democracy when their conservative opponents dare to contradict them. We know, however, that our country is a Constitutional Republic, not a democracy.

According to the legal dictionary, a constitutional republic consists of three branches, executive, judicial, and legislative which divide the power of the government equally, and the head of the state and other officials are elected by the country’s citizens to represent them.  As is often the case, these representatives, once elected, do not represent the interests of their constituents, of the American people, but their own and those of special interest groups who supported their candidacy.

Our country has a Constitution which limits the government’s power if it is followed. Unfortunately, over the years, it has been ignored and re-interpreted many times by the courts. The Supremes have construed our Constitution to mean something else at times in order to fit a pre-decided outcome, i.e., the Obamacare forced insurance which was deemed a tax by Justice Roberts.

Merriam-Webster defines democracy today as “a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives,” or “the practice or principles of social equality.”

Webster’s defined democracy in 1961 as “a form of government in which the supreme power is lodged in the people collectively.” But collectivism breeds communism and chaos.

In the actual etymological definition of democracy, it means “power of the people.” (demos, Greek for populace, and kratos, Greek for power, strength)

There were and are quite a few totalitarian states that used the word “democracy” or “democratic” in the name of their country, i.e., the German Democratic Republic, the former Soviet satellite nation that ruled its people with the help of the dreaded Stasi.

There was nothing democratic about this state and it was visibly obvious by the Berlin Wall built to keep the East Berliners trapped inside the socialist state, away from the free West Berliners.

The lesser known visually was the infamous Iron Curtain, an actual wall with barbed wire which ran for hundreds of miles the length of the former German Democratic Republic. The watch towers made sure any citizen trying to flee, who was not blown up by the land mines placed strategically around the wall, was shot by soldiers armed with machine guns.

Stalin wrote that “There have been times in the history of our Party [Communist] when the opinion of the majority or the momentary interests of the Party conflicted with the fundamental interests of the proletariat. On such occasions Lenin would never hesitate and resolutely took his stand on principle against the majority of the Party…” In other words, he became the benevolent dictator because he knew best what people wanted.

Lenin was clearer, “Soviet socialist democracy is in no way contradictory to one-man rule and dictatorship, a dictator sometimes fulfills the will of the class.”

In communist rhetoric and semantics, Democracy is a very essential word. Communist nations are ‘people’s democratic republics.’ The communist party declares arrogantly that 98 percent or more of its people show up to vote, approving of the communist regime. Never mind that people were forced by fear of disloyalty charges to come to the precinct to vote and that there was only one candidate on the ballot, such candidate having been approved by the communist party and thus having no power to change anything.

Khrushchev had his own definition of democracy – he drew a parallel between “bourgeois democracy” and “people’s democracy.” In the people’s democracy, the electorate and their representatives are entirely beholden to the communist party leaders, the proletariat, peasants, and intellectuals. In the bourgeois democracy, he said, the representatives serve lawyers, bankers, consortiums, monopolies, members of boards, leading corporations, etc.

He said, “Bourgeois democracy is the democracy of the rich. Under it the popular masses are pushed aside from administration; the popular masses cannot take part in the discussion and decision of social and political questions concerning the people as a whole. Thousands of obstacles are raised before the working class of the capitalist countries in order to prevent any of the workers from getting into Parliament or Congress….” (Conquest Without War, 1961, p. 372)

According to socialists/communists the one-party state serves the interests of the proletariat best. (See the disaster that is California, a one-party state) Socialists believe that “Only in undemocratic countries do several parties exist.”

Lenin believed that “The state belongs to the sphere of coercion. It would be madness to renounce coercion, particularly in the epoch of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Stalin explained that under the dictatorship of the proletariat the bourgeoisie would have no universal freedom, no freedom of speech, press, assembly. The state would grant maximum of freedom to the “proletarian strata in town and country and deny even a minimum of freedom to the remnants of the bourgeoisie.”

The dictatorship of the proletariat was “the working-class leadership in the struggle to overthrow the power of capital, to win and consolidate people’s government and build a communist society.” (p. 377)

The Soviet Bolsheviks stated that “It was precisely socialist democracy that enabled the Soviet people to get rid of such ‘freedoms’ as the right to choose one’s exploiter or to be unemployed, the right to starve or to be a hired slave to capital.”

I do remember being extremely hungry under Ceausescu’s socialist democracy and standing in long food lines daily in order to avoid starvation. I am extremely glad that I can choose my employer under capitalism, that there is capital to start new businesses, and there are entrepreneurs with ideas, who know how to start a new enterprise that would hire employees to do the job necessary, not a communist community organizer who has never created anything useful in society except empty words and chaos.

The Bolsheviks described themselves as the defenders of the poor and of the downtrodden. It is how Socialist Democrats portray themselves today.

Alexis de Tocqueville said, “Despotism often presents itself as the repairer of all the ills suffered, the support of just rights, defender of the oppressed, and founder of order.” Millions of survivors of communism would agree with Tocqueville and 100 million of victims of communism validate his assessment.

When Hugo Chavez, the former socialist dictator of Venezuela, cracked down on protesters against his regime, George Ciccariello-Maher, then a professor at Drexel University, defended the state violence against its protesting people as “a radically democratic brutality and dictatorship of the wretched of the earth.”

Rand Paul wrote in his book, The Case Against Socialism, “Oh my… ‘egalitarian brutality’… ‘democratic brutality’ - so much for democratic elections restraining the excesses of socialism.” According to Paul, Ciccariello-Maher tweeted infamously, “All I want for Christmas is White Genocide” and doubled down on his outrageous statement with the explanation “when the whites were massacred during the Haitian revolution, that was a good thing.” (p. 13)

The rhetoric of Socialist Democracy promoted by Bernie Sanders and his pupil, AOC, is growing shriller on the socialist-dominated media’s talking points. It is a rhetoric inflated by ignorance and lack of historical knowledge. Sanders calls for a “higher path, a path of compassion, justice, and love.” He calls it democratic socialism. Is this justice delivered by black-clad Antifa thugs with baseball bats?

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all of God’s children.” Democrats include in this redistribution of wealth scheme every illegal who walks across our borders, to the detriment of our own citizens, their children, and grandchildren.

Call it what you may, what Democrats and their ignorant followers want through democratic socialism is plain redistribution of wealth, stealing from those who earned it and giving it to those who did not, forced global equality through government theft - not just through excessive taxation but also through theft of private property.

Democrat socialists also want the erasure of our borders, the destruction of our sovereignty. The Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 provided the basis of the modern state system and of the concept of territorial sovereignty. The treaty brought an end to endless European wars between different factions and principalities.

As Tocqueville said, “Americans are so enamored of equality that they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom… The subjection of individuals will increase amongst democratic nations, not only in the same proportion as their equality, but in the same proportion as their ignorance.”

Note: If you research Athenian democracy on Wikipedia, you will find 48 different types of democracies – anticipatory, Athenian, authoritarian, cellular, consensus, cosmopolitan, defensive, deliberative, direct, economic, electronic, empowered, ethnic, grassroots, guided, inclusive, industrial, interactive, Jacksonian, liberal, illiberal, liquid, media, multiparty, new, non-partisan, participatory, people’s, pluralist, popular, radical, representative, religious, Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Mormon, sectarian, semi, semi-direct, social, socialist, sovereign, Soviet, substantive, totalitarian, and workplace.