‘Won’t someone rid me of this turbulent priest.’
Attributed to Henry II,
before the murder of the Archbishop of Canterbury
The first thing we noticed when we got back to Ireland was the cold. There’s frost on the cars. And the canal in Ranelagh is iced over.
‘This is a record cold we’re having.’ said the taxi driver.
‘The temperature went down to 27 degrees last night. That’s Fahrenheit. We don’t see that very often in Ireland.’
Ireland has a mild climate. Rarely very hot. Rarely very cold.
‘It happens only about once every 10 years.’ continued the taxi driver.
Unlike much of the rest of Europe, Ireland doesn’t depend on the Russians or the Americans for its gas. It seems to have enough of its own. People here don’t need to chop down forests or steal firewood from each other’s front porch.
Meanwhile, here in Dublin, the shops are adorned with the usual Christmas bling…the restaurants are full…the bars are noisy…
…and at 4:00pm you will have a hard time getting a table for tea at the Westbury Hotel.
Today, we’re going to leave our usual beat. But before we do, we check in on Wall Street and note that in this hinge season…the stock market is turning back towards deflation. From CNN:
‘The Dow plummeted nearly 765 points, or 2.3%, Thursday, and it is down 4% in December following solid gains the previous two months. Verizon (VZ) was the only one of the 30 Dow stocks in positive territory.
‘The S&P 500 fell 2.5% and the Nasdaq was 3.2% lower Thursday. The S&P 500 is now off 4.5% for the month while the Nasdaq has sunk nearly 6%.’
Asset prices are going down. If we’re right, they’ve got a lot further to go.
But let’s switch topics.
The remarkable upshot of Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter is that he decided to release the records that show what the feds are up to. In effect, they outsourced the suppression of the First Amendment. Twitter executives colluded with federal authorities to censor what writers could write and readers could read.
Private companies can do what they want, is our view here at our headquarters. But there’s a lot more going on here…and it’s worth exploring.
We, the elite
The idea of the US, its Constitution, and Bill of Rights is that government should be limited. There are things it can do. And things it shouldn’t be allowed to do.
Most importantly, it can’t take anything away from ‘The People’ without ‘due process of law’. It can’t take away their property, or their liberty, or their right to go about their business.
In the case of ‘free speech’, the prohibition is very clear: ‘Congress shall make no law’ that keeps people from saying what they want.
In other words, the American system is meant to protect people from their government. And we know, too, that ‘the government’ is just an abstraction. What the restrictions really do is protect the common man from the elite who control the government.
This worked reasonably well. But gradually, laws and regulations ate away at the restrictions and took a big bite out of the rights reserved ‘to the people’. The elite wanted not only to control ‘the people’, they wanted to enlist them in their pet projects.
It wasn’t enough to let people pursue happiness in their own way, they also had to change the way they interacted with one another. There’s a whole body of ‘labour law’, for example, that tells employers and employees how they need to treat each other. And there are laws and regulations up the gazoo, telling restaurants, banks, and hotels how to deal with customers.
Those laws grew into today’s disputes over whether a pastry shop has to put two gay guys on a wedding cake…or whether website designers may be required to work for people of whom they disapprove.
But now, the Twitter files reveal a whole new dimension to the elite’s efforts to control ‘The People’; now, in full contempt for the First Amendment, they want to regulate what ideas and news people may read.
How does this work?
You’ll recall that until fairly recently, the US took a dim view of torturing prisoners. So, in the War on Terror, prisoners were sent to ‘Black sites’, where they were tortured by allies and friendly nations. In effect, the Pentagon outsourced what it didn’t want to do itself.
Now, let’s imagine that the feds notice that some people don’t vote the way the elite would like. ‘For the good of the country’, they might get together with a private printer to make sure that some people got illegible mail-in ballots.
That would clearly be wrong.
Or imagine that the elite — acting through the government they control — contact Visa and say: ‘It would be a lot better if some people were denied credit cards; they just send their money to the wrong things. Some drive too much and harm the environment. Some eat too much and overburden the hospitals. Some give money to wingnut causes.’ And then, couldn’t Visa, a private company, advised by the federales, decide for itself who should get a credit card?
Or take the actual case at hand.
Apparently, some government officials — those from the FBI and Homeland Security have been mentioned — said to Twitter executives:
‘Won’t someone rid us of this troublesome information? Look, some people have the wrong ideas. We can’t censor the news. But you can. How about making sure “The People” don’t get any misinformation?’
Twitter honchos were eager to help. They met with the feds regularly, deciding what should be published and what shouldn’t. The government effectively outsourced what it couldn’t do directly — ignoring the Constitution and censoring speech. Doing so, it took away from citizens their First Amendment rights…
…the right to hear both sides of the story…and decide the truth of it for themselves.
It will be interesting to see what happens next. But we will take a guess. The media will find the story not worth reporting. And the public — always easy to gull or bamboozle — won’t care.
For The Daily Reckoning Australia