“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, December 08, 2007

How About The Magna Carta for Xmas?

it is worth a click to the photo for a close-up

The Magna Carta is without doubt the single most important document to the cause of freedom, individual liberty and rights. It is the fountainhead to The American Declaration of Independence, US Constitution and The Bill of Rights. That a spare copy exists and is for sale is remarkable.

I have linked a translation. The BBC says it will sell for something over $25 million. My money is nothing under $100 million. Talk about a legacy gift. Any guesses on who will buy it and what they will do with it?

Here is more on this magnificent document.

Magna Carta: 2,500 words, 710 years old –and for sale
By Lisa Anderson | Tribune national correspondent
December 8, 2007

NEW YORK—Even in the hyperbole-prone world of fine art, antiques and documents, there is the "rare," there is the "important" and there is the Magna Carta.

As rare as it is important, a 13th Century original copy of this medieval template for modern laws upholding human rights and freedoms will be sold to the highest bidder on Dec. 18 at Sotheby's here. It could be yours for an estimated $20 million to $30 million.

Such a chance may never come again, according to David Redden, Sotheby's vice chairman, who showed off the vellum manuscript at a preview Friday. He described the document as the most important ever to be sold at auction.

"I guess the most astonishing thing is it's here and it's for sale," said Redden. Only 17 original copies of the Magna Carta are known to survive. English archives and libraries hold 15 of them and Australia has one, none of which is likely ever to be sold, he said. He noted there are no restrictions on who may bid on the Magna Carta or where they may take it.

The document is being sold by The Perot Foundation, a philanthropy founded by Texas billionaire and former presidential candidate Ross Perot, which purchased it for $1.5 million in 1984. For approximately five centuries before that, the document belonged to the wealthy English Brudenell family of Deene Park in Northhampshire, although it is not certain how they acquired it.

Sotheby's is auctioning the only original copy of the manuscript that has been held primarily in private hands since it was produced by a royal scribe in 1297. That was the year the Magna Carta, originally written in 1215 and revised through the 13th Century, finally was entered into English common law by King Edward I. Handwritten copies were made for distribution around the kingdom.

Long, elegant manuscript

Written in ink on a 710-year-old sheet of animal skin vellum and bearing the wax seal of King Edward, the manuscript has held up surprisingly well. Although it is marred by some staining and missing words, Sotheby's Magna Carta, or Great Charter, is about 14 inches wide by 16 inches high and features 2,500 Latin words densely packed into 68 lines of text. Most of it is legible, particularly if you use a magnifying glass. The now-sepia-colored handwriting is exquisite, in an elegant chancery script with flourishes on perfectly formed letters that are only about one-eighth-inch high.

"Quite frankly, the reason it's called Magna Carta is it's big," said Redden, noting that because the document was long and vellum was valuable, scribes had to write in the most economical manner possible.

But, he added, "In a very important way it doesn't matter what it looks like because what one is offering is one of the most important symbols of world history."

Beyond England, the Magna Carta provided the foundation for legal systems throughout the world, Redden said, including those of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, former British colonies in Asia and Africa and, of course, the United States. Many of the ideas and language used in the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Gettysburg Address and the Declaration of Independence find their roots in the Magna Carta.

These include the right to a speedy trial before a jury of one's peers; no taxation without representation; the concept of government of the people, by the people and for the people; the idea of government drawing power from the consent of the governed; the right of habeas corpus, which protects against unlawful imprisonment; and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.

Most important, the Magna Carta established the revolutionary concept that no man is above the law, even the king. In 1215, it was forged out of outrage against the abuses of King John, a cruel sovereign who ran roughshod over his subjects. After a rebellion by barons, he hammered out the first version of the Magna Carta with them and signed it at Runnymede, a meadow alongside the Thames. Although it was revised over the years, the document did not become part of common law until 82 years later. The catalyst was rebellion against another abusive king, John's grandson Edward I, who exploited his subjects, seizing goods, extorting loans and raising taxes to finance his wars of expansion.

On display in archives

After The Perot Foundation purchase of the document, it spent most of the last 23 years on display at the National Archives in Washington. It was removed this fall. Proceeds of the sale will fund medical research, education and aid to wounded soldiers.

"It wasn't our copy. It belonged to The Perot Foundation. We always knew it was on loan to us. That's the nature of a loan, it's not permanent," said National Archives spokeswoman Susan Cooper. When asked if they would like to get it back on loan from the next owner, she declined to speculate.

But Redden was not as shy on their behalf. "The National Archives would like it back," he said, crisply. "They very much, explicitly, would like it back."


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. "These include the right to a speedy trial before a jury of one's peers; no taxation without representation; the concept of government of the people, by the people and for the people; the idea of government drawing power from the consent of the governed; the right of habeas corpus, which protects against unlawful imprisonment; and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure."

    As mentioned below, some hundreds of years later the British government now is attempting to push yet more of Parliament's authority onto the continent, and desperately trying to avoid its predecessor's promise to put it up to the people through referendum, for fear it no longer acts in their will. Consent of the govern not wanted.

  3. Dazed Desert Rat said,

    "A North American Union, not a surrender of US soveriegnty, but an expansion of it.

    Count on it.

    The Founders might not recongnize it, but they'd not now, either.

    But whose culture will win, how much faith do you all have, in the United States of the Americas.
    Please point to any evidence of our Political Class, Educational System, Legal System, Welfare System, or any other that promotes our history, culture, and our way of life to a greater than it sacrifices them to the greater good of Politically Correct Submission to the other.
    Giving Illegal Aliens in-State Tuition credit ahead of Mexican US CITIZENS from a neighboring state does not count.
    Nor does giving free health care to illegals.

    Maybe Mexico's becoming more like us and will start giving us these bennies?
    DON'T Count on it!

  4. Scalia is still looking for a *single case* of habeas being granted to enemy combatants!

  5. "...and our way of life to a greater DEGREE than it sacrifices them "

  6. "Well, sure. If it were easy, it'd be done already.

    But first the WalMarting of Mexico has to be further along.
    Consumer banking has to be developed, but they are working on it as we speak.
    Good that that was posted in the "Faith" thread, inasmuch as the country seems to be spiraling down the drain, led by Drug Cartel Terrorists and the exodus of young workers North.
    Will consumer banking work the same magic in a country composed of the rich and the dirt poor?

  7. It ought to be in the British Museum, but it will probably end up owned by Prince so and so of Saudia Arabia in Riyadh, as a family curiosity, or a conversation piece from a foreign society, an example of how one should not subvert allah's laws. Or as a warning to the King, not to piss off the other Princes. Since it is definitely not a Campbell's Soup Can quality piece, it will go for 11.8 million, unless there is a minimum.

    My lawyer has a photo copy on his office wall, along with somebody's death mask. You'd think he'd have The Ten Commandments, being a Jew.

  8. Saudi possession would be further proof of expansion of US Sovereignty, Albob, inasmuch as it would be purchased with what were once OUR Dollars!

  9. Didja ever worry that Death Mask might be a recalcitrant client?

  10. Maybe a mask of an unsuccessfully defended client.

  11. Oh, Bernie Ward was once the assistant to none other than
    Babs Boxer!
    How Quaint.

  12. Well, doug, the merge is in progress.

    We either win or lose, but the game is in play, today.

    The hands of time not moving in reverse. Despite the best wishes of most of US.

    Sure, we can slow it down, we may regularize the transformation, but look to the "serious", "first tier" candidates.

    The man with the "Mo" the darling of the "Christian Right", a truly compassionate one. Ms Clinton and drivers licenses for New York's undocumented. Even Rudy and Mitt.

    Mr Trancedo and Hunter not in the running for first tier status, let alone the nomination or the Oval Office.

    So have faith, amigo, or start swimming to Japan.

  13. C.I.A. Was Urged to Keep Interrogation Videotapes

    The Central Intelligence Agency ignored advice from the White House, Congress and the Justice Department to preserve the tapes.

    The current and former intelligence officials said that when Mr. Rodriguez ultimately decided in late 2005 to destroy the tapes, he did so without advising Mr. Rizzo, Mr. Muller’s successor as the agency’s top general counsel. Mr. Rizzo and Mr. Goss were among the C.I.A. officials who were angry when told that the tapes had been destroyed, the officials said.

    Mr. Rodriguez retired from the agency this year.

    The Senate Intelligence Committee announced Friday that it was starting an investigation into the destruction of the videotapes.
    If I were President, Mr. Rodriguez would be getting a Presidential Medal of Freedom!

  14. Hey, I'm halfway there, 'Rat, but think I'll just stay here nearer to Sonia.

  15. But since it's the compassionate one, he would have preferred keeping the tapes as evidence, so he could send the CIA guys that saved our Bacon off to Sing Sing where they belong.
    ...Like patriotic Border Agents.

  16. Just because you do not like the Rules, does not mean we can quit the game.

    Try to change the rules, well sure, try.

    But the majority of the Government wants "Comprehensive Immigration Reform". By not passing it, the status que was maintained.

    Which we all support, right?
    There was no alternative offered into Federal law, no other "fix" of the existing situation offered.

    Even here in AZ, where we passed a stringent employeer responsibility law, there is no funding adequate to enforce it. Exemplified by Mohave County, funded $7,000 for the law's enforcement, enough for ONE legal enforcemnt action. Or so says the County Attorney, there.

  17. The new "Compassionate One" being Mr Huckabee.

    Even more compassion than the cowboy with no cattle.

    Ever more Christian than Mr Bush.

  18. What Bernie has going for him is if they get to court, he'll have a San Francisco jury. Which means it really will be a 'jury of his peers'. Bernie's got a problem, his lawyer has admitted he traded kiddie porn. The laws are tough on that. Set five years, each count, I read. Bernie needs a Johnny Cochran, but it looks as if he doesn't have one, from the public statements the guy has made.

  19. The Romney Plan

    Stop Illegal Immigration

    Secure The Border. Follow through on Congressional commitment to build a physical and technological fence along the southern border, and secure other points of entry.

    Implement An Enforceable Employer Verification System. Issue a biometrically-enabled and tamperproof card to non-citizens and create a national database for non-citizens so employers can easily verify their legal status in this country.

    Reject Amnesty. Do not give amnesty or any special pathway to those who have come to this country illegally.

    Punish Sanctuary Cities. Cut back federal funding to cities that are "sanctuaries" for illegal immigrants and refuse to comply with federal law or aid federal law enforcement.

    Improve Interior Enforcement. Provide resources to enforce immigration laws throughout the nation, and crackdown on employers who continue to hire illegals with stiffer fines and penalties.

    Encourage Legal Immigration. Streamline the system to recruit and retain skilled workers and welcome the best and the brightest from around the world to our universities.
    Course Mitt's chances are no greater than the odds on him being invited into Evangelical Heaven.

  20. Faith. Family. Freedom.
    The Huckabee Plan.

    Chuck Norris. Jesus Christ. Mike Huckabee. The Triumphant Trio.

  21. "The new "Compassionate One" being Mr Huckabee."
    Having elected one destructive moron, the Evangelicals figure they're on a roll, and can now elect another.

  22. Hey, Dude!
    He's a Christian!
    No one else need apply.

  23. John Bolton, the former UN ambassador and a hawk on Iran, charged that intelligence agencies have used the assessment to "torpedo" the administration's policy on Iran.

    "Too much of the intelligence community is engaging in policy formulation rather than 'intelligence' analysis, and too many in Congress and the media are happy about it," he said in an opinion piece in the Washington Post

    President Loses Control

    Bush might as well go back to Crawford and chop wood rather than sit around D.C. any longer.

  24. I quess it's a Federal charge, for Bernie. That would mean he's got the 9th Circus Court of Appeals, too.

    They might well come up with some non-sense about contempory community standards, or some shit.

  25. I wonder when, and if, the day will come when a declared atheist will run and have a chance in one of the major parties.


  26. Ever more Christian than Mr Bush.

    No, not more Christian, just more "compassionate."

  27. There never was a chance we stay engaged in a "Long War".

    It was a foolish formulation from the get go. Developed by folks that have guarenteed job security. A 20 to 30 year career and retirement, the personal perspective.

    Lifers always speaking of how much "time" the have left. Almost like prisoners in a jail. Time to retirement, time to redeployment.
    How "short" are you?

    No real comprehension of how the civil society works. So, for now, the "Long War" is all but over.

    It was part of the True Blue Boner plan, never ending war, that cannot be won, as there is no enemy that can be identified and defeated.

    We have mold foreign minds of mush, not beat them bloody.

  28. Democrats Want Probe of Tape Destruction

    The Associated Press
    Saturday, December 8, 2007; 7:31 AM

    WASHINGTON -- Angry congressional Democrats demanded Friday that the Justice Department investigate why the CIA destroyed videotapes of the interrogation of two terrorism suspects.

    Of course they do.

  29. One sits in pews, the other the pulpit, whit.

    The pulpit purer than the pews.

    Or they should switch roles.

  30. If it turns out Hill or Huck, I take Huck. But this election is getting complicated. There may be a lot of twists and turns not even dreamed of yet, by the pundits. Huck was unknown, almost a laughing stock, Hill a shoo in. What happens in the south? Who knows.

  31. bobal:
    I was thinking that this business with Romney's Mormonism shows that "Atheists, Muslim and others need not apply." Oh, they can apply but they have the proverbial snowball's chance. A prime example is the "new ager," Dennis Kucinich.

    All of this attention on the faith of the Republican candidates is bad politics encouraged by the liberal media who could not care less about the Church affiliation of Mr. Obama . Notice that the Dems have avoided this particular spotlight? It's all about creating and exploiting divisions. Of course, Republican pundits and talking heads play right into the trap. Bad politics for Republicans. It's time to move on.

  32. The reason given, by the CIA, for burning the tapes was farcical.

    Especially considering they were requested by Courts and Federal Commissions. The destruction of evidence of misdeeds by Government agents should never be destroyed, by the Government.

    If there were no misdeeds, there'd have been no reason to destroy the evidence.

    The identities of the interrigators easily protected, if that was the real issue. I think it was an attempt to not allow another Abu Grhaib moment.

    As damaging as those photos were to the strategic effort, the perps were punished. To have covered up Abu Grhaib or the torture of prisoners is not the American way.

    If the public were to see an actual waterboarding, they'd know it was torture, or not. But the CIA did not want anyone to see, or to know or make that independent decision.

    The CIA is not the sole judge or jury, nor a law unto themselves.

    Especially when these cases, against the terrorists, are working their way through our system of justice.

  33. Do the Gospels offer any real guidance for politics today? Have they ever? What would Jesus do? Good questions.

    Believe or not, Whit, and I don't know if I can hardly believe it, but I read of a poll that said as many Americans distrust a Mormon to be President as distrust a moslem to be President, which shows a woefull lack of knowledge about things Mormon and moslem. Somewhere around the 40% bracket in both cases I think it was.

  34. Two of our problems these days are a loss of confidence in our "leaders" and a mediocre crop of candidates (Republican and Democrat).

  35. I agree with Doug on the tapes. A Presidential Medal of Freedom would be in order...even if offered privately and figuratively. The release of these tapes which would surely be leaked, would likely do more harm than the Abu Ghraib photos.

    Once again, the Democrats confirm their all consuming lust for absolute power at any cost.

  36. A lot of people see Jesus as being non political but I think that is wrong. He at least had the good sense to see that fighting the Romans was a fool's game, I believe, an act leading to national suicide. But he wasn't sectarian, as he had lots of different type folks around him. In the miracle of the loaves and fishes, the miracle was not the multiplying of food, but rather getting all these diverse people to actually sit down together. But then they wanted to take him and make him King, so he hightailed it out of there. Just my own reading of the gospel.

  37. Come on, whit. It's been the GOP that been exploiting Religion for the past dozen cycles. Now it's coming to bite 'em in the ass.

    What goes around, comes around.

    "Social Conservatives" the "Religious Right". They are the ones that care about abortion and religion, first and foremost.

    Romney's trouble, he was for abortion, before he was against it. Not that he's Mormon, amongst the non-Evangelical Christians.

    He is a LIBERAL from the Northeast, more liberal than Rudy.
    Romney is using the Mormon issue to deflect views of his past positions, Dick Morris discusses it with O'Rielly

    I think he's right.

  38. You and doug are right, in that if those tapes had been made widely seen, support for the Administration and it's policies would have cratered even more.
    Reality sucks ...
    Ignorance is bliss.

  39. bobal:
    Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and be in this world but not of it.

    Christianity is not about the foibles of fallen mankind but a preparation for the afterlife. Man's institutions are imperfect; some more so than others, but all, sadly, ultimately unsatisfying.

  40. Huckabee's proposal quickly drew criticism from a spokesman for rival Fred Thompson, Jeff Sadosky, who said it "contradicts everything he did as governor."

    He pointed out that Huckabee denounced a 2005 raid on illegal immigrants at an Arkansas poultry plant and gave $1,000 in state funds to help children whose parents were arrested.

    And Huck Was Easy On Immigration Before Becoming Tough On It

  41. Good analysis by Morris, Rat. What has bothered me about Romney is that he comes across as a plastic, telegenic, unauthentic candidate. Too polished. He seems to be a technocrat with a command of the facts and figures but an ideological chameleon.

  42. We're twisting ourselves in knots over this crap but in the end, I think we're going to be more like Russia. They like a strong man and they love Putin's prosperity and security.

    If I had to make a bet today, I would bet that we're going to overlook Giuliani's personal life and elect him as the next Republican nominee.

  43. I've thought that from the beginning.

  44. Jesus is hard to corner. He always seems to slip away, like a drop of mercury on a glass plate. Render unto Caesar, the normal reading--and it may be the right one--is, are you going to get upset about this, a coin? Yet, taken to its logical conclusion, from the Jewish theological point of view, since all the world is God's and none of it Caesars, it becomes a very subversive saying. Taken that way, you can't render anything to Caesar. And yet Jesus was not a revolutionary, not a Zealot that wanted to fight the Romans. Same with the legion of devils he scared out of the crazy man, making them inhabit the pigs, who ran over the cliff. A good joke, and any Israelite would appreciate it, hearing of a Roman legion of devils finding themselves in a herd of pigs, heading over a cliff, in the land of the Gedarnes(sp?), gentile country. And the gentile farmers had the good sense, from their point of view, to please, Jesus, leave our land, leave our pigs alone. :)

  45. Sentry: Do you want the padre?
    Harry Morant: No, thank you. I'm a pagan.
    Sentry: And you?
    Peter Handcock: What's a pagan?
    Harry Morant: Well... it's somebody who doesn't believe there's a divine being dispensing justice to mankind.
    Peter Handcock: I'm a pagan, too.
    Harry Morant: There is an epitaph I'd like: Matthew 10:36. Well, Peter... this is what comes of 'empire building.'
    Major Thomas: Matthew 10:36?
    Minister: "And a man's foes shall be they of his own household."

  46. Dissenters Are Left High And Dry In Bali

    We have no problem with the IPCC taking control of its meeting destinations. But we do oppose the intellectual dishonesty of seizing control of data and torturing them into the outcome IPCC scientists are looking for.

    The possibility of such fraud has been raised by Nils-Axel Morner, former head of the paleogeophysics and geodynamics department at Stockholm University in Sweden. According to his June interview with the British Telegraph that was revisited on a Telegraph blog last week, the IPCC might have doctored data to show a sea- level rise from 1992 to 2002.

    "Suddenly it changed," Morner said of the IPCC's 2003 sea-level chart, which is intended to convince the public that warming due to man's activities is melting ice that will cause the oceans to rise to dangerous levels.

    The change "showed a very strong line of uplift, 2.3 millimeters per year," which just happens to be the same increase that was measured by one of six Hong Kong tide gauges. Morner said that particular tide gauge is "the only record which you shouldn't use" because "every geologist knows that that is a subsiding area. It's the compaction of sediment."

    A simple error by the IPCC? Not in Morner's mind. "Not even ignorance could be responsible for a thing like that," he said. "It is a falsification of the data set."

  47. Doug: Scalia is still looking for a *single case* of habeas being granted to enemy combatants!

    Doug, they either get their day in court, or they are Prisoners of War. If they are Prisoners of War, they get rights under Geneva, which by the way forbids torture. You can't hold them in limbo forever just because you're afraid they get a mistrial because the CIA destroyed evidence from the interrogations.

  48. They have no rights under Geneva as they are not a signatory to that Convention.

  49. Very good, whit. That means we need to try them under the criminal justice system. We can't go around picking people up and taking them to secret camps to be tortured, that's a war crime. Dictatorships do that.

  50. Whit: The release of these tapes which would surely be leaked, would likely do more harm than the Abu Ghraib photos.

    WHITE HOUSE INFOBABE DANA PERINO: I think I would say -- I would take this opportunity, though, to take a step back and remind people about this interrogation program, which was put in place to deal with a very limited number of
    people; the most intransigent of terrorists. This program has saved
    lives. It is legal, safe, effective, it is limited, it is tough, and it has led to the capture of individuals -- terrorists -- who had information that was able to lead us to others. These are the -- General Hayden has talked about this several times, in terms of how
    many people -- we had this debate earlier this year, and the program
    is critical to the safety of the country.

    Q And if it's so defensible, then why destroy any part of it?

    MS. PERINO: Again, I'm not going to comment on that...

  51. This comment has been removed by the author.

  52. That was a stupid question which deserved no answer.

    As to the civil trials. No, military tribunals are adequate for foreign combatants captured on foreign battlefields.