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February 17, 2005

Comments

That is just pocket change to Soros. It is no more significant to him than you dropping a quarter in the collection basket on Sunday.

But the fact is Soros gave the contribution with the PURPOSE "to conduct a public education campaign around the broad civil rights implications of Lynne Stewart's indictment" BEFORE Stewart was convicted.

At the time of the donation Stewart was just a lawyer doing her job. The Soros donation was not even to help defend her in court, it was to educate the public about the implications of the government indictments of a working lawyer.

So what exactly is your problem?

The first thing we do, let's kill all the defense lawyers.

This post is yet another example of conservative political correctness. Believing a person accused of treasonous acts is entitled to competent defense is now beyond the pale. Believing that fair trials for all accused is compatable with open societies is now "mission leap."

What was Soros thinking?

Maybe that Stewart was entitled to defend herself in court.

What are you thinking? That she should have been designated an "unlawful combatant" or whatever and whisked off to prison on Bush's say-so?

Come off it, Bird Dog -- the Stewart case was entirely supported by governmental eavesdropping on what would normally be privileged client-attorney communications. Tis is something new and disturbing to many of us.

Helping pay for the defense in such a case is nowhere near as nefarious as your loaded language implies.

Charlie, methinks that your enthusiasm to find something to hold against George Soros overruns itself. He contributed to her defence fund, which was based on freedom of speech. He would not be alone in thinking that her defence was relevant (even if the court disagreed) and believing freedom of speech to be vital to an open and liberal society, felt that it was one of the occasions where the dictum about defending to the death the right of others to express opinions which you find abhorrent applied.

Now whether he was misguided in holding this belief, or whether the court erred - as the Guild of Lawyers (whoever they are, I am Irish and not well acquainted with US professional bodies) is a moot point, but being wrong on this doesn't mean that Soros personally, or OSI institutionally favours Sharia etc.

If we're playing the guilt through association game again can we back up and re-examine the ties between the Bush and bin Laden families? I always loved that one.

I always loved that one.

oo! me too!

Edward, can you tell us the story of Uncle Bandar's Bush Family Christmas?

Or could we maybe just refrain from playing the game at all? Please? Why not talk about ideas that matter?

This thing about Soros is a non-starter. Advice to commenters: drop it and move on.

"Advice to commenters: drop it and move on."

I disagree. The post's implications are entirely inconsistent with my concept of a free society. Getting people on the other side of the fence (like Charles) to see this and to stop making these implications is a necessary step to prevent society from unraveling further than it already has.

at least he's not using a male whore to give himself favorable press coverage

Why not talk about ideas that matter?

I'll go along with that.

sorry for bringing up the "game" nonsense...although Charles started it...;PPPPPPPP

Let's start with the basics. Was what Lynne Stewart did something you want to defend? Because if the answer is yes, it is obvious that there is nothing wrong with Soros defending her. If the answer is no, we need to expand further on the issue. It isn't obvious to me which direction you all are going with it.

Bad Bird Dog is back ...

Amy Weil told National Review that while the Institute initially underwrote Stewart's defense, the foundation's commitment was not open-ended. "More recently, OSI was asked for additional funding and we turned down that request," she said.

So ... they funded an education campaign ... and then dropped her.

Moving on.

Sebastian,

Let's start one step further back. Is someone who is accused of doing what Lynne Stewart is accused of doing someone who is entitled to be defended? If so, contributing to her defense is entirely appropriate. If not, you are, among other things, advocating a reversal of the concept of being viewed as innocent until proven guilty and thereby changing the whole basis for our criminal legal system.

I read the title and immediately realized who would write this nonsense.

Bird's smear and hate by association is an art form by now. It makes Powerline's "Carter is one of them" and Instapundit's "Kennedy is practically a traitor" amateur by comparison.

I really don't understand why you let someone like Bird post here. Ask Tom Maguire to join you if you need other conservatives. He has good points to make and doesn't make a practice of spreading hate all over.

Charles: the Lynne Stewart case has always had two angles. (1) is Lynne Stewart guilty? (2) how does either bringing a case against a defense attorney for speaking in public or using surveillance of attorney/client conversations affect attorney/client privilege, the business of defending people, and the practice of defense law generally? Now: those two are completely separate questions. I, for instance, have no particular love for Lynne Stewart, but I have an abiding love for the Sixth Amendment.

According to York, Soros made his donation in September 2002, which seems to be fairly shortly after it became clear that the government had been secretly recording her conversations with her client. This step, according to an article written at the time in Salon, alarmed a lot of people besides Soros:

"The indictment of Stewart has alarmed defense attorneys. "We take this as a very serious threat to the Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial," says Jim Harrington, an attorney with the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. "Since the founding of this country, one of the fundamental rights our people have had is the right to a lawyer you can confide in. In this situation, you have the government interfering with that right." The association, he said, has already filed a friend-of-the-court brief objecting to the government's seizure of paper records and computer files from Stewart's office.

"This is a case that puts the attorney-client privilege in great jeopardy," adds Martin Adelman, a defense attorney and spokesperson for the New York State Bar Association.

"No one contests that the government has a right to monitor and indict a lawyer who is involved in something like helping a client plan a bank heist," says the New York State ABA's Adelman. "But it's not clear that Stewart did anything like that. She doesn't even speak Arabic, so it's not clear she even knew what her client was saying." "

Now: The Open Society Institute, according to its web site, aims "to promote open societies by shaping government policy and supporting education, media, public health, and human and women's rights, as well as social, legal, and economic reform." The Lynne Stewart prosecution raises serious issues about the nature of the attorney/client relationship -- issues that are completely independent of the question what we should think of Lynne Stewart. (In the same way, the recent case of someone who was put to death despite the fact that his attorney seems to have slept through most of his trial raises serious questions about the application of the death penalty, which are completely independent of what you think of that particular defendant. I know nothing about him; he may be horrible; but no one should be put to death without a trial that at least involves their lawyer being conscious.)

I don't see Soros having donated money for "a public education campaign around the broad civil rights implications of Lynne Stewart's indictment" as mission creep at all. Those issues are real, and they're exactly the sort of issues Soros' foundation normally addresses. Nor do I think it's at all right to describe this as giving money to, or supporting, Stewart: I would have considered giving money to defense of the guy whose lawyer slept through the trial, if that was necessary to get him another trial with competent counsel, and that wouldn't have been because I necessarily liked him, supported him, or even thought he was innocent; it would have been because I think people accused of serious crime should have competent counsel. Same thing here: there's Lynne Stewart herself, and there's the principle of being able to talk to your attorney without the government eavesdropping, and the two are distinct, and Soros seems to have supported the latter.

Oh look! Soros had something to do with Stewart!

Spare us the middle school gossip rountine.

In my quote from Salon, I should have put an ellipsis between the second and third quoted paragraphs. There is stuff in between them.

"The Lynne Stewart prosecution raises serious issues about the nature of the attorney/client relationship -- issues that are completely independent of the question what we should think of Lynne Stewart."

I agree with you until this point, but I cannot agree that they are completely independent questions. I would argue that being used as a conduit for terrorist messages is a punishable abuse of the attorney/client relationship. That relationship exists for defense, not to create a kind of diplomatic pouch to the outside world. Then you get to the problem of how you would prove such an abuse. And then you see that the two issues are not independent.

I think that funding the defense in 2002 is not an awful thing for the Institute to do. Funding an appeal at this point (when much more of the evidence is known) would be worse.

This may be seen as an attempt at threadjacking--but I think the much more interesting question is: How do you prevent serious (and possibly life-threatening) abuses of the attorney-client privilege without allowing taping and if you allow taping, how is it possible to do so with seriously hurting the attorney-client privilege?

Wow. Charles still has posting privileges after writing contemptible, Limbaugh-grade hackery like this?

The bar at ObWi has reached a new low.

"The Stewart conviction is a travesty. She faces up to 30 years in prison for speaking gibberish to her client and the truth to the press. It is devastating for lawyers and for any American who may ever need a lawyer. Shouldn't the Justice Department be defending our constitutional freedoms rather than assaulting them?"

Andrew P. Napolitano, Fox News analyst and former judge.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/17/opinion/17napolitano.html

Seems like Fox news has a connection to the support of Lynne Stewart, too. Drive them off the air!

riffle

That is just pocket change to Soros.

But not to Lynne Stewart and her defense, Ken. Nice of you to twist it around by saying that there's something wrong with me for bringing it up.

Come off it, Bird Dog -- the Stewart case was entirely supported by governmental eavesdropping on what would normally be privileged client-attorney communications.

The conviction speaks for itself, Philip. Beyond reasonable doubt, Stewart was convicted of providing material aid to terrorists. Soros can put his money where he pleases, but surely it could've been better spent in a cause against terrorists' helpers rather than in support of them.

your faith in the jury system is touching, CB. So you don't support the Bush admin's call for tort reform?

Francis

Sebastian,

It is threadjacking, and throwing up a tangential issue to obscure some unpleasant facts.

Look, there's something else important going on here. There is clearly an effort by some on the right, including not least the Speaker of the House, and the former spokesman of another Speaker, to smear Soros. York has joined in and Charles now endorses York's views, effectively claiming that there is something insidious about helping an accused criminal mount a defense. This is outrageous.

Myself, I always love it when Sebastian and Charles let the human mask slip. They may be adorable, but they still have hearts of coal.

"The conviction speaks for itself, Philip. Beyond reasonable doubt, Stewart was convicted of providing material aid to terrorists. Soros can put his money where he pleases, but surely it could've been better spent in a cause against terrorists' helpers rather than in support of them."

I think we need a new award for this comment, something which requires a person to base their actions upon knowing how future events will unravel. Congratulations, Charles, you've just been awarded the first Alphee (after a character in one of Spider Robinson's short stories).

"The conviction speaks for itself?"

She was convicted so, ex post, she was not entitled to a defense?

Double standard that he will never apply to the Republicans he votes for? Check!

Lame smear/innuendo of Soros with no real basis in fact? Check!

Manufacturing an issue where there is none? Check!

This crap belongs on worldnetdaily.

I have to echo that everyone is entitled to the best defense they can muster in this country and that being found guilty in no way retroactively denies one that right. If I want to support the defense of someone who's accussed of a terrible crime on the basis of believing in the US Justice System, it in no way implies I support that terrible crime.

The sillyness here is getting out of hand.

Hmmm... In light of the Poor Man's most excellent post yesterday, I think it's really high time that we start taking Bird and Holsclaw at their word and treat them like the adults they are. They actually mean this stuff. They're not just inflicted with the blog posting equivalent Tourette's syndrome that we have to decode with special rings lifted out of cereal boxes. It comes dripping through in every post and every comment they make. As PZ sez

We aren’t responding to this kind of crap strongly enough. These people aren’t just clowns saying stupid things that we should laugh off, they are fascists-in-the-making laying the groundwork for not just marginalizing those they disagree with, but treating them as criminals.

Hal,

You need to stop short of calling folks here fascists. Even via another person's words.

Check the posting rules if you're not clear about this.

Thank you.

"If I want to support the defense of someone who's accussed of a terrible crime on the basis of believing in the US Justice System, it in no way implies I support that terrible crime."

I agree, but only sort of. I think it is perfectly legitmate to point out that spending fund money on the defense of some particular person,(mob hitman, twice before convicted child molestor, etc.) is odd coming from a particular person or group. Everyone gets a defense, but that doesn't mean that paying for that defense is automatically laudable. I think you would agree Edward (though correct me if I'm wrong) that if we discovered that Bush had given $20,000 to the defense of the Matthew Sheppard murderers, it would say something about Bush that wouldn't be dismissed by saying that everyone deserves a defense.

The question is whether or not this case is such a case. I think it is a close call. The issue of attorney-client privilege is important, and implicated in this case. The issue of how to deal with serious attorney-client abuse is one that is not well defined (or maybe not properly defined). It is clear to me that we can't let lawyers be conduits for terrorist information under the privilege, but it isn't easy to see how we are going to deal with that and leave the privilege intact. So on the balance, in 2002 when the donation was made, it is a defensible expenditure though not one I would have made.

Obsidian Wings has a *big* troll problem right now. At the very least, could those of us who want to think rather than smear get a Bird-free feed?

Hmm, I get called a fascist for agreeing with you. I guess that makes sense on some level....

I'll try not to do it again. :)

And if Soros was funding this guy's defense would the thread be identical?

Bird left out some damning evidence against Soros: "[he] is a self-admitted atheist; he was a Jew who figured out a way to survive the Holocaust." (via Tony Blankley).

"And if Soros was funding this guy's defense would the thread be identical?"

I can only answer for myself by saying my opinion would not change.

Stan, do you believe that an equivalent post (perhaps equating contributing to the killers' defense with supporting a return to Jim Crow) would not be condemned by you?

I think you would agree Edward (though correct me if I'm wrong) that if we discovered that Bush had given $20,000 to the defense of the Matthew Sheppard murderers, it would say something about Bush that wouldn't be dismissed by saying that everyone deserves a defense.

That's not a good parallel for a lot of reasons. A better one: Bush gives $20,000 to the defense of Ken Lay's lawyer, who's accused of helping Ken hide his assets. You can claim that doesn't hurt people the way aiding terrorists does, but assuming that's not legally Ken's money but instead the money of ailing retirees who need costly medication, we're closing in on a parallel situation. Is Bush wrong for standing on principle and helping Lay's lawyer get a good trial? I'd say no.

...we have, in short, always been willing to offer to subversives the choice that Athens gave to Socrates: silence, exile, or death.

Excuse me, I have a question. Do we think this is a good idea?

Nice tries Sebastian and Stan LS, but last I had heard neither of those (presumed innocent until proven guilty) parties had their attorney client privilege violated.

Cheers,
Bob

Here is a principle that we ought to be able to establish: Journalists, commentators, bloggers, etc., are not officers of the court. We are in no way obligated to assume any given defendant's innocence, and, concomitantly, we are perfectly free to speculate and, yes, pronounce upon said defendant's guilt without in any way implying that the legal concept of assumed innocence should be revoked.

And if Soros was funding this guy's defense would the thread be identical?

"If wishes and buts were candy and nuts..."

If Brewer had been tried on evidence that had been gathered in a similarly constitutionally shaky fashion, I wouldn't have a problem with Soros mounting a defense.

Of course, the nice thing about hypotheticals is that you can just assume that I'd act differently, but I just don't know it.

Um, Edward, did I say anyone was a fascist?

I suggested that we start treating them like adults and start taking what they say at face value rather than going through this ritual of where we try to figure out if they really, really meant what they just said.

I mean, please clarify how I'm crossing the line. I've repeatedly read the rules and don't see where I've crossed the line. I'll gladly stand corrected if you will only show me where there rule is that I broke.

"your faith in the jury system is touching, CB. So you don't support the Bush admin's call for tort reform?"

Heh.

"We have, in short, always been willing to offer to subversives the choice that Athens gave to Socrates: silence, exile, or death."

Excuse me, I have a question. Do we think this is a good idea?

Yes. A very good idea. Socrates agreed.

Paul,

Here's another principle we should all be able to agree upon: supporting someone accused of a crime does not mean that if that person is later found guilty of it the support was based upon knowledge that the person would eventually be found guilty. Therefore, support for someone accused of a crime does not mean that one supports the commission of the crime.

Yes. A very good idea. Socrates agreed.

Socrates agreed with corrupting youths as well, Paul. ;-)

Hal, you quoted

We aren’t responding to this kind of crap strongly enough. These people aren’t just clowns saying stupid things that we should laugh off, they are fascists-in-the-making

If you didn't mean to imply Charles and Sebastian are fascists by that, I can't fathom what you did mean. Let's not play games about this, please. Let's just leave all fascist talk out of the dialog here.

Edward:

Socrates agreed with corrupting youths as well, Paul.

Indeed, but he did not begrudge the Athenians when they moved to stop him. That was my point.

Dantheman:

I agree with your principle. My own charge against Soros is not malice but stupidity. Stewart's well-documented apologetics for every dreary tyranny that ever mouthed the proper Leftism, coupled with her defense of terrorist sympathizers, ought to inclined him to keep his distance.

"My own charge against Soros is not malice but stupidity."

Really? Did Charles misquote you in his update? The quote seems to indicate you do think Soros acted out of malice.

"Is Bush wrong for standing on principle and helping Lay's lawyer get a good trial? I'd say no."

I'd say Bush should not do that under those circumstances.

Indeed, but he did not begrudge the Athenians when they moved to stop him.

Not honoring their belittling request that he pay his way out of the judgement is not quite the same as not begrudging their moves to stop him. My understanding is he felt the charges were bogus. But, we're getting into splitting cilia here, so...

I'd say Bush should not do that under those circumstances.

Why, is Lay's lawyer only entitled to the defense he can afford on his own? Does principle mean nothing here?

"Does principle mean nothing here?"

What principle are you asking me to sign up for?

Edward - no problem. Seems kind of bizarre considering this is a comment thread on a post literally calling Soros a treasonous supporter of terrorists, but hey. It's your blog.

Really? Did Charles misquote you in his update? The quote seems to indicate you do think Soros acted out of malice.

My comment did not address the question of Soros' financial support for Stewart's defense. It addressed Soros's whole Open Society project and the principles behind it, which I regard as dangerous and quite alien to the political tradition of this country.

What principle are you asking me to sign up for?

Guilty until proven innocent.

Seems kind of bizarre considering this is a comment thread on a post literally calling Soros a treasonous supporter of terrorists, but hey. It's your blog.

Soros is not protected by the posting rules. Only those who comment here are.


We try to stay polite, if only to keep the conversation going.

I do note that the positions advocated by posters on this board - such as guilt-by-association and guilt-by-assumption; the strange statement that assumptions of innocence are mindgames we play but don't actually mean; and statements conflating contributions to a defense fund with treason - are morally repugnant and philosophically indefensible. One needn't use the "f word" to say that.

Where the "f word" comes in handy is dealing with the response one generally gets to pointing out the above. On a polite site, like this one, proponents of those positions will be dismissive. On a less polite site, the proponents will take a strutting glory in how appalled you are, as if the test of their politics was how much fear and loathing they can provoke in you.

The "f word" comes in handy for such situations, if only because there are no others I know of that describe a political philosophy which embraces brutishness and willful non-thought so rapturously.

"It addressed Soros's whole Open Society project and the principles behind it, which I regard as dangerous and quite alien to the political tradition of this country."

I think you will find that the political tradition of this country strongly supports the concept of a marketplace of ideas (to use Justice Holmes' phrase) where people can openly try to convince one another of the desirability of anything.

Let's see, according to the OSI site:

An open society is a society based on the recognition that nobody has a monopoly on the truth, that different people have different views and interests, and that there is a need for institutions to protect the rights of all people to allow them to live together in peace. Broadly speaking, an open society is characterized by a reliance on the rule of law, the existence of a democratically elected government, a diverse and vigorous civil society, and respect for minorities and minority opinions.
which I suspect sounds like the sort of society most of us would like to see. When Paul Cella reframes it as:
The principle behind the idea of the Open Society is this: all questions are open questions -- even the question of whether the open society should endure. On its own logic, the Open Society cannot silence any opinion, no matter how heinous.
it sounds like it's a stone's throw away from anarchy. What happened? Primarily, it appears that Paul places little faith in the marketplace of ideas in a democratic society to marginalizing the heinous ideas. It's not clear to me whether he thinks that "reliance on the rule of law" also provides inadequate protection to society.

Fortunately, the United States never has been, is not, and (please God) will never become an Open Society. We have always been willing to proscribe certain opinions, to place a high enough price on holding certain views that most people simply give them up; we have, in short, always been willing to offer to subversives the choice that Athens gave to Socrates: silence, exile, or death.

And fortunately for the United States, Paul is confusing the real world for the one he apparently wishes we lived in. If we lived in this fantasy world of his, members of, say, the KKK and neo-nazis would be imprisoned simply for holding their opinions, to say nothing of legally demonstrating. Fortunately for the United States, we allow community pressure to do the work of what would otherwise require unconstitutional laws. The price we place on views we find abhorrent is not exile, but ostracism, and the only death we offer is the ignominy of being held in contempt by history. What we criminalize is actions: the translation of First Amendment-protected violent opinions into a crime committed.

Silence, exile, or death: I have absolutely no reservations declaring anyone who thinks this is a good philosophy to be un-American. As for the manufactured outrage over Soros, let's dissect the nonsense that Charles has offered us here. The facts:

- Lynne Stewart was accused of a crime based on taped attorney-clinet communications.
- Soros provided funding to her defense on the principle that indicting someone based on the contents of privileged conversations jeopardizes the trust that must exist between defendants and attorneys.
- Soros did not provide additional money to the Institute for her after she was convicted.

Even a cursory examination of the facts and BD's rhetoric reveals this to be a hit piece that does not even rise to the level of tabloid journalism.

Its beyond bizarre that someone who favors an "open society" would be financing the advocate of those who prefer the closed society of sharia law.

Notice the choice of the word "advocate", which transforms Stewart from a defense attorney into someone who endorses her client's worldview. Notice how Charles misrepresents money contributed to her defense committee as "financing" her, and thereby implies that Soros is financing terrorism. Notice how Charles stops just short of that libel, instead throwing out a mixture of misrepresented facts, loaded phrasing, and the ever popular "The Person1-Person2 Connection" formulation, well-abused by hacks everywhere to smear Person1 with the negatives associated with Person2, devoid of any context at all.

Assuming this piece of character assassination is honest--and that is purely a concession to the posting rules, as that is an assumption I do not believe is supported by the facts--it reveals either a lack of insight or a view that should be disturbing to anyone who thinks it through. Charles' reasoning, as it were, is that Lynne Stewart was found guilty, and therefore someone contributing to her defense before she was found guilty--a contribution made out of a principled belief that her indictment sets a chilling precedent for the privilege of attorney-client communications--is endorsing the crime of which she was committed.

This tripe is a spectacular embarassment to Obsidian Wings.

"What principle are you asking me to sign up for?

Guilty until proven innocent."

I have to think you were saying more than merely that, otherwise you wouldn't have objected that my defenders of the murderers of Matthew Sheppard hypothetical wasn't a good one.

And I would like to echo the idea that "guilty until proven innocent" is a legal issue before the court and before the law, not a moral issue. I wouldn't have given money to the defense of Gotti because he is a lying, cheating, mafia-controlling murderer whatever the state can prove in a court of law before conviction.

I think you will find that the political tradition of this country strongly supports the concept of a marketplace of ideas (to use Justice Holmes' phrase) where people can openly try to convince one another of the desirability of anything.

Not "anything." Most things, perhaps, but not anything. We have always been willing, as I said, to proscribe certain opinions; we have always been willing to apply limits to what can be said, advocated, even thought.

Examples abound: the suppression of the Loyalists in the Revolutionary period; the suppression of Jacobins under the Alien and Sedition Act; the suppression of the Northern Copperheads by Lincoln; the persecution of German-sympatherizes in both World Wars; and of course, the suppression of the Communists during the Cold War.

Which, by the way, is why it wasn't ridiculous to give money to Stewart's case. From what I know (incomplete as it is) her guilt wasn't as obvious.

Mr. Cella's accusations regarding Soros's Open Society are provably false.

The Open Society website says: "The Network Women’s Program works to promote the advancement of women’s human rights, gender equality, and empowerment as an integral part of the process of democratization" link

now, one could conceive of an organization which is tolerant of every point of view, including intolerant ones. (both the democratic and republican parties have this problem, a point not mentioned either by Mr. Bird or Mr. Cella). This is not, however, Soros's Open Society. His organization clearly supports initiatives which support such radical concepts as the rule of law, universal education and women's rights.

how dare he. doesn't Soros know that the only acceptable non-profit for billionaires like him is the Scaife Foundations?

Doh.
I took an illicit hiatus from my pledge of Feb 1 just to check in on things Avian and Canine, and I was rewarded like Lot's wife for my transgression.

There is a discontinuity between the outraged liberal population, who believe their complaints will chasten Mr Bird away from serving as a repeater for Freeptastic innuendo, and Mr Bird himself, who likely sees the outrage he generates like clockwork as evidence of a job well done. . the sweet wages he derives from speaking hard truth to the power of complacent and foolish liberals. As long as that is the case, your complaints are part of the problem.

I expect if enough people join me in my pledge of Feb 1, a more reasonable solution will have been found.

"Examples abound: the suppression of the Loyalists in the Revolutionary period;"

Not quite sure what you mean here, as I don't believe anyone was prosecuted (note, not persecuted under public opinion, but prosecuted under the law) for supporting England during the Revolutionary War. Can you give examples?

"the suppression of Jacobins under the Alien and Sedition Act;"

A matter which is generally believed to be unsupportable today, and I believe was found to be unconstitutional at the time.

"the suppression of the Northern Copperheads by Lincoln;"

An exception to the rule, as the Constitution gives the President the power to suspend habeas corpus during insurrection. Are you seriously arguing that either this has been done or that there is such an insurrection?

"the persecution of German-sympatherizes in both World Wars;"

Again, persecution, not prosecution.

"and of course, the suppression of the Communists during the Cold War."

Again, a matter of dubious constitutionality, so long as it was limited to advocacy, and not support of overthrow of the government by violent means.

Tell us, Paul, exactly what these ideas and opinions are, that ought to be banned, and how banning them upholds, rather than defies, American tradition. tell us how to recognize new subversive ideas in the future.

We have neo-Nazis running around. We have secessionists. We have those who think it would be nice if the army targeted journalists. We have those who advocate the overthrow of the government. Are they "subversives" who ought to be exiled or killed? Be careful. Some of these nuts are popular on the right.

Or is it only ideas you don't like that shouldn't be expressed?

Tell us exactly who should be making these decisions. More specifically, tell us how a group of people should be selected who will have control over what ideas you are free to express.

Charles, when you came aboard as a poster I had my doubts, but was willing to hold them in abeyance. With this post, and your view that advocacy of thought police is "astute," I'm seriously wavering.

Nice to know that GT and Catsy can slam Charles without respect to the posting rules... I guess for the left that is civil behavior.

And I would like to echo the idea that "guilty until proven innocent" is a legal issue before the court and before the law, not a moral issue.

OK, I got that backwards...obviously I mean "innocent until proven guilty."

Still, I believe morally everyone is entitled to the very best defense they can get. Otherwise "innocent until proven guilty" means nothing.

More specifically, "innocent until proven guilty" IMO must mean that an accused person is presumed to be the victim of mistaken identity, having no guilt in the case at hand whatsoever.

If that's the case, what's moral here is to help that person through any means available prove they're the victim of mistaken identity.

They're not on trial for how mean they are or how ugly they've been to people or how many unpaid parking tickets they have if the charge is murder. There's one charge before the court and if they're not guilty of that charge, how dispicable they are otherwise is totally irrelevant.

Assuming this piece of character assassination is honest--and that is purely a concession to the posting rules, as that is an assumption I do not believe is supported by the facts--it reveals either a lack of insight or a view that should be disturbing to anyone who thinks it through. Charles' reasoning, as it were, is that Lynne Stewart was found guilty, and therefore someone contributing to her defense before she was found guilty--a contribution made out of a principled belief that her indictment sets a chilling precedent for the privilege of attorney-client communications--is endorsing the crime of which she was committed.

This tripe is a spectacular embarassment to Obsidian Wings.

I agree. I'll take it a step further though. Charles Bird is a hack who couldn't analyze his way out of a paper bag. I always considered ObWi to hold a higher position intellectually than tacitus. So much so that I often find I have nothing to contribute because it's been said or that I just am not as informed as current commenters.

These bulls**t birddog pieces really drag it down in the mud though. Yeah I know he's ruining the site haha old joke, but I always felt there was a kernel, however small, of truth in that joke at tacitus, and it sure as hell is true here.

I find myself stunned that any regular reader of tacitus would have ever considered this idiot to come on board here. What are you guys smoking?

If you wanted everybody to be polite and nice to eachother you should have left him out of the equation. His posts are often inciteful and not well thought out.

This piece is so absurd it's not even funny. I guess I could say that if you contributed money to Bush's relection campaign that you support torture, the demonization of gays, etc, etc.... Oh no wait, we've got to be pansies and let the moral cowards run and hide behind "not all of us are like that" (yeah, just the ones running things).

Jesus, I just wish we could drop all the niceties and start the next civil war already. I am soooo ready for that.

Yeah...gonna get banned. Should have never started commenting on this site. Should have stayed in the lurker's box.

First Socrates, now the Alien and Sedition Acts. Such shining examples of how society should be. Let me disagree:

To courageous, self-reliant men, with confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning applied through the processes of popular government, no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present, unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion. If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and [ ] fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.

Justice Brandeis, WHITNEY V. CALIFORNIA

Bill, whoa.

Dantheman:

I did not limit myself to purely legal prosecution. Most often what we are talking about is social in nature. Legal measures have only been used rarely.

Loyalists.

The Alien and Sedition Acts were allowed to expire. They were not ruled unconstitutional.

Mr. Yomtov:

Tell us exactly who should be making these decisions. More specifically, tell us how a group of people should be selected who will have control over what ideas you are free to express.

State legislatures or Congress, of course. This is a republic.

When I first read Bird's post, I tried to figure out whether other attorneys had been convicted for speech-related "aid" or "conspiracy." I'm not a lawyer and so probably don't know how to search effectively. Most of the sources I found that did not pertain to Stewart talked about defense lawyers who had been found guilty of moving assets. Anyone better at this kind of search have any tips?

(With all this talk of treasonous sedition punishable by exile or death going round, I hope to have an aggressive defense available to me someday...)

"There's one charge before the court and if they're not guilty of that charge, how dispicable they are otherwise is totally irrelevant."

Irrelevant to the court, not to the general public.

Paul, there seems to be a gap between this statement--

I did not limit myself to purely legal prosecution. Most often what we are talking about is social in nature.

--and this statement--

State legislatures or Congress, of course. This is a republic.

Could you explain how legislation and persecution should interact?

On one hand, posts like this one make me want to request that ObWi put the contibutor's name at the top of the post so that I can just do my own filtering without actually wasting time reading it. On the other hand, someone biting the head off a live chicken does tend to draw a crowd, and this kind of tired smear job is the blog equivalent.

So I'm indesisive. Of course, following with an update that essentially advocates and endorses totalitarian-like thought-control is like biting the head off a really diseased-looking rodent, so this should draw an especially big crowd. And, as intended in the oldtime carny days when geeks actually did bite off animal heads, after watching with revulsion the crowd could then wander into the ten-in-one to see some quality acts.

And apologies to Charles for the added pile-on here, and the above analogy, but I'm a big believer in natural consequences, and this kind of lame guilt-by-association is going to inspire this kind of response from a lot of readers. I like to keep my voice moderate here, but it's getting somewhat difficult when this precious group blog gets polluted with the kind of stuff you can find in the seedier comments sections of the cheap seats in the boggodome. I mean, come on, you can't be so desperate for analysis critical of Soros that you have to resort to this stuff. He advocates free speech? The monster!

You know, with stuff like this, and this, it strikes me that there are a lot of elements in the U.S. right now that are desperately looking for an honest-to-goodness traitor, any traitor, to call out. Why? Why does this seem to be important to them? If they can identify a traitor, does that make them better patriots or something?

The update and the Cella comment is more odious than the original post, which was simply a small-minded Soros snark.

Unfortunately for Cella, we are an Open Society, per our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the various writings of the founding fathers. Glad to know he advocates dumping our core tradition.

Or else what Bush and crew mean by America standing for freedom is something very differnet from the plain meaing of those words.

We last flirted with the Cella "casus belli" on free speech (and all that it implies) in the 50s, when there were attempts to make illegal membership in the Communist party since it did advocate violent overthrow of the US government. Didn't work then, and won't work now.

By the way, the founding fathers were advocates of the violent overthrow of government, just in case you forgot.

Where Cella gets it wrong its right out of the gate --

It [Open Society]cannot say to the Islamist: "your opinions are not welcome here."

Uh, yes it can. That is the whole point of an open society.

What you are not supposed to do is advocate criminal penalties (or other violent means of suppression) against people based on their ideas, which is exactly what Cella advocates, and is the cornerstone of all tyrannies, whether they are fascist or communist, or whatever.

"I did not limit myself to purely legal prosecution. Most often what we are talking about is social in nature. Legal measures have only been used rarely."

If legal measures are not used, then you are simply talking about attacking or defending the argument in the marketplace of ideas.

That is very different than saying "We have always been willing, as I said, to proscribe certain opinions; we have always been willing to apply limits to what can be said, advocated, even thought." Doing this strongly implies use of the legal process to punish those who hold those positions.

...it strikes me that there are a lot of elements in the U.S. right now that are desperately looking for an honest-to-goodness traitor, any traitor, to call out. Why?

Because it's easier than contemplating the mess in the Middle East? Because it's easier to feel like a knight in shining armour slaying a hideous dragon if you can first get your opponent into a dragon suit? Because if you solely define your political stance by who you aren't, then its important to demonize the opposition as much as possible? Because strawmen are so soft and pliable? Because if your opinions are true and pure, then surely opposing opinions must be traitorous at some level, if only we could find it?

I dunno, actually. It soes seem a bit on the playground level, and I hope it doesn't get more serious than that.

Tell us exactly who should be making these decisions. More specifically, tell us how a group of people should be selected who will have control over what ideas you are free to express.


State legislatures or Congress, of course. This is a republic.

Silly me. I thought Congress could "make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech or of the press;" and that this extended to the states.

Not in the astute Paul Cella's America. There if Congress wants to ban dissent against the Iraq War, for example, it is free to do so. What does the First Amendment have to with American tradition, anyway?

Oh, rest assured that Congress, in its infinite wisdom, would only ban bad ideas, Bernard.

Jackmoron:

Could you explain how legislation and persecution should interact?

That's a fair question. I would say that, in general our tradition has been to socially ostracize (as another commenter put it) those factions whose opinions we find intolerable. The legal measures have tended to come into play when the faction in question is perceived to constitute a pressing threat to the security of the nation. Thus, we socially ostracize neo-Nazis, because there is little reason to fear that they might actually take a shot at violently overthrowing the country. But we went farther with Communists because they were (rightly, in my view) perceived as an immediate threat; and we go further with radical Muslims, for obvious reasons.

Classical Greece was a society based on slavery and was in an almost perpetual state of war. Such a society might well rely on suppression of ideas in order to achieve stability.

Perhaps Mr. Cella advocates a return to those glory days.

Classical Greece was a society based on slavery and was in an almost perpetual state of war. Such a society might well rely on suppression of ideas in order to achieve stability.

Perhaps Mr. Cella advocates a return to those glory days.

No, my "glory days" vision is of another age -- but I'll note that alot of thinkers far greater than I have pined for the glory days of Greek antiquity. They are often categorized under the historical heading "Renaissance."

dmbeaster:

We last flirted with the Cella "casus belli" on free speech (and all that it implies) in the 50s, when there were attempts to make illegal membership in the Communist party since it did advocate violent overthrow of the US government. Didn't work then, and won't work now.

It worked fine. As Leftists were never hesitant to remind us, the Communist Party (USA) had one of the smallest membership counts in the Western world. All our domestic Communists had to avoid associating with Party. I wonder why that could be?

and thereby implies that Soros is financing terrorism.

You made that connection, not me, Catsy. If I thought Soros financed terrorism, I would have said so, directly.

My beef with George Soros and his institute is this:.... his anti-Bush obsession is causing a fundamental misallocation and distortion of huge resources.

It's his money, Bird Dog. What you are saying is that anyone spending money on political causes you disapprove of is "causing a fundamental misallocation and distortion of ... resources." Well, I misallocated some resources to the DNC and the Kerry campaign myself. Sorry if that offends you.

The fact is that without Soros' money, Lynne Stewart's rights to a competent defense are the same as with the money.

No doubt. Indigents have the same right to a competent defense as does Michael Jackson, or Ken Lay. But somehow having more money to spend affects that competency. Did you not know that?

"The legal measures have tended to come into play when the faction in question is perceived to constitute a pressing threat to the security of the nation."

The error is in focusing on the faction, not the action. Surely you don't believe that criminal law ought be based on how or with whom people associate, not what they do. Consider these possible 'crimes':

1 Reading Communist Literature
2 Being Communist
3 Publicly Advocating Communism
4 Engaging in Destructive Acts in Order to Advance Communism.

In an Open Society, you are free to socially ostracize someone for any of these, and it is within the purview of the state to punish someone for #4. Are you advocating something different? Are you, for example, advocating that 3, 2, or even 1 ought be punishable by the state?

OK: keeping posting rules in mind, I will add my considered opinion that this post IS one of Charles' suckier contributions to ObWi in his brief tenure here, having hit a sort of bad-blogpost trifecta.
First, for simply re-posting a NRO piece - complete with its irrelevant references to George Soros' oppostion to President Bush (seeming enough of a sin in their book to earn opprobrium all by itself).
Second, by adding an inane comment like "...someone who favors an "open society" would be financing the advocate of those who prefer the closed society of sharia law." I suppose that in CB's view (especially if informed mainly by reading biased blogs like NRO) the Lynne Stewart case is such a simple example of "WarOnTerror" good-vs-evil that anyone who just MIGHT find deeper or more important issues in her prosecution, or contribute money (pre-conviction, mind) to promote these issues is, ipso facto, what? A dupe of terrorists? A "Subversive"? Or worse, A Democrat?
(and PS; anyone know what George Soros' personal input into this contribution was? or was it done by the OSI? Do they have to clear things with GS?)
And third, though, compounding the bad-bloggery, is updating it with Paul Cella's comment (from RedState? That sump?) - "Astute" is hardly a term I would use for a post that includes a gem of a comment like:
"....we have, in short, always been willing to offer to subversives the choice that Athens gave to Socrates: silence, exile, or death."
Nice sentiment, Paul (complete with Classical reference!) - but it runs afoul of just one little sticking-point: who, exactly, is it, that gets to define (and on what grounds) who is a "subversive" and who isn't? You? Me? Charles? George Bush? George Soros? George of the Jungle?
Sorry, in the 'marketplace of ideas", the shoppers ought to pass stuff like by while holding their noses.

Sidereal:

I have no qualms about legal sanctions against 2, 3, or 4. To put it another way: I believe that, this being a republic, the legislative bodies in this country ought to be free to legislate against them.

Sheesh, go away for a few hours and the post and the thread both get much, much worse.

But it is not a Republic, it is a Constitutional Republic, and with good reason.

Jay C:

who, exactly, is it, that gets to define (and on what grounds) who is a "subversive" and who isn't? You? Me? Charles? George Bush? George Soros? George of the Jungle?

We the People do, acting through our duly-elected representatives.

I'm sorry if this point has been made, but Charles' Update II just makes a bad post worse. Did he even try to look at the initiatives that the Soros Foundation funds? (http://www.soros.org/initiatives) They're all over the world. They're involved in major initiatives in Cuba (http://www.soros.org/initiatives/lap), Burma (http://www.soros.org/initiatives/burma), Libya, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and Turkmenistan... (http://www.soros.org/initiatives/regions/mideast). (In Bird's defense, they don't seem to be doing much in North Korea. I can't imagine why that is, but I'm sure it's proof that he hates America.

Does he honestly think that the Soros Foundations are bent on "try(ing) to stick a thumb in George Bush's eye"? This sounds quite a lot like the complaints people have whenever Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, or feminist groups criticize the US. In a twinkling, massive expeditures and efforts around the world are dismissed as intentionally blind conservatives say, "Why don't they worry about Saudi Arabia?" It does no good to point out that they do a ton of work re: Saudi Arabia.

And.... when did Stewart become a Communist? Is that true?

Guys, there are a lot of blogs where I can go to get my intelligence insulted. Don't be one of them.

Correct me if I have misunderstood, Paul, but are you then willing, in theory, to cede the power to decide who among us is a "subversive" and whose expressed ideas are "subversion" (and thus, by your Socratic example above, the power to enforce "silence, exile, or death" over such ideas) to the average State Legislator, and/or Federal Congressman or Senator -without any overriding [Constitutional] safeguards or [Constitutional] judicial review as to what is permissable speech or permissable ideas? Or are said ideas required to pass some sort of test as to their "fitness" for dissemination?
Gee, and I thought it was only "lefty moonbats" who were in favor of Big Government curtailing free speech on grounds of "political correctness"!

just to continue this trainwreck, there's an interesting tie between Cella's idea that the majority can prevent freedom of association and SH's posts on Bush judicial nominees.

after all, Ms. Stewart's appeal, that her prosecution is barred by the First and Sixth Amendments will be heard by . . . judges.

Mr. Bird, I find your views regarding how Mr. Soros allocates his funds utterly repellant. On what possible basis do you assert that he is being hypocritical? On what possible basis do you dare smear his character? IT'S HIS MONEY!

If, for example, Scaife started contributing to the defense of pedophile priests, would your views change on how billionaires get to distribute their funds?

feh.

Francis

This thread is like a 34-car pile-up on the interstate.

America, whatever it is or has been, should be moving toward Soros's ideal of an Open Society. Our shameful past of silencing the voices we disagree with via exile or death or whatever is impossible to change, but to confuse it as our identity to the point that one suggests we can do no better going forward is defeatist, pessimistic, and unAmerican.

Of course we can do better. Our Founding Fathers did not build this nation on the premise we'd hit a glass ceiling of open thought and content ourselves to live under it, like snakes in a terrarium. Our greatest social revolutionists did not risk their lives to force the issues because they wanted to invite death or exile for themselves, but rather because they desired a better life for their children. The ideal is more tolerance of ideas, not some couch-potato-level comfort zone in which bread and circuses placate the masses.

This notion that human tolerance for new ideas is finite is ludicrous. Tolerance is like any art form, only by testing its boundaries does the artist learn what he's capable of. I'd much rather support the Soros-type dreamers of this world than their detractors, however reality-based they thing their limited thinking is.

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