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Now They Want Their Juries Stacked, Too

May 18th, 2005

Having gotten used to stacking all three branches of government with right-wingers, Republicans now want to exclude any and all Democrats from juries in cases where a Republican is on trial, it seems. James Tobin, a political director for Bill Frist, accused in a phone-jamming scandal back in 2002 where GOP dirty-tricks operatives tried to block Democratic get-out-the-vote phone lines, is now saying that any presence of a Democrat anywhere in the system should be grounds for dismissal of the case.

Because the grand jury that indicted him may have had Democrats, the indictment should be thrown out, he claims. Why? Because Democrats were the target of the attack. By the same reasoning, of course, any trial where someone is accused of treason against the United States of America should have their indictment thrown out if anyone on the grand jury was an American.

But Tobin doesn’t stop there. Apparently, he’s now insisting that if his case does go to trial, the jury be untainted by any hint of non-Republicanism. Not only all Democrats must be excluded, not only anyone with left-wing leanings, but apparently anyone who has even seen liberals should be kept out. Anyone who has seen “The West Wing” or even “The McLaughlin Group” (it’s on PBS, and if you watch PBS you must be a liberal) would be rejected, along with anyone belonging to a union. Even watching “Crossfire” would get you axed, even though it’s both liberal and conservative, which means that even having been exposed to liberalism is bound to make you biased against Republicans. Jurors would be asked about what bumper stickers they had on their cars, what blogs they read, and what Internet chat groups they frequented.

What Tobin is looking for, of course, is an all-hardcore-right-wing jury that would naturally acquit him no matter what the evidence. He is essentially looking for jury nullification–the exact kind of thing that Republicans express outrage at if it is practiced by minorities.

But the conflict-of-interest argument is not just here, it is raged hypocritically in many American venues. Right-wing right-to-life groups are arguing that Judge James Whittemore, one of the two dozen or so judges to rule on the Terri Schiavo case, had an “perverse” and “overwhelming” conflict of interest and so was ethically bound to recuse himself from the case. Why? Because one of the former attorneys for Michael Schiavo–not one of the attorneys presenting the case, mind you, but an attorney no longer associated with the case–had been one of many members of a commission which had recommended Whittemore for a different bench seat some 15 years before. Talk about tenuous connections.

On the other hand, you’ve got a Anton Scalia, a right-wing justice on the U.S. Supreme Court no less, absolutely refusing to recuse himself from a case involving Dick Cheney even though the two were friends and had recently gone dining and duck-hunting together–a crystal-clear conflict of interest which Scalia pooh-poohed on the basis that Cheney had not “bought him cheap,” ignoring the incontrovertible fact that friendship is its own bias.

Republicans are now wholly, clearly, and unabashedly in the realm of utter hypocrisy.

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  1. Tim Kane
    May 19th, 2005 at 02:31 | #1

    The sad thing is that at some point in the not too distant future this kind of jurisprudence might gain some kind of traction.

    What we are experiencing and living through right now is a rolling Coup d’etat by the Neocon right.

    Much of this came to gether for me in reading Billmon.org’s review of a Book on Leo Strauss and the origins of the Neocon movement. Fittingly out of the University of Chicago, the place we go to for advanced treatises on neoclassical laisse-faire economics.

    The narrative has several distint steps and goes something like this:

    Step one – Emergence of Calvinism:
    In the late middle ages, Europe was developing economically, and had evolved a bourgiousee class of wealthy tradespeople. These people got rich by doing things, not by land inhertance or clerical endowment – the traditional way. The Aristocracy and the Church each in turn tapped into this new class to perpetuate their wealth and priveledge by manifesting taxes of one sort or another. This discredited the establishment to the tradesman. Along comes the reformation, though not the first attempt at theological reform, it stuck because it found an audience that was both well funded and looking for a way to keep the wealth they had created. Though John Calvin may never have said that wealth and salvation are correlated (“there is no surer sign of God’s favor than wealth in a practical sense, that is what Calvinism quickly became. Since poverty was a sign of damnation and wealth a sign of the elect, if God showed no charity to the poor, than a man could hardly have such an obligation himself. Calvinism quickly spread to wealthy Holland and unwealthy Scotland and converged on England from the two angles. Wealthy tradesmen found a religion that reinforced their behavior and attitudes. Calvinist in Holland enshrined protection of property rights as sacrosanct which help stimulate economic development there and eventually in England after the English civil war resulted in triumph for Calvinist. Meanwhile, pre-Civil war protestant desencters had migrated in mass to New England and other parts of North America. The combination of Congregationalist, Presbyterrian (Scotch-Irish), Dutch reformed (in New York and New Jersey) and reformed Dutch ensured America with Calvinist DNA – which worked well in a wide open continent with lots of space (individualism) and lots of untapped resources just waiting to be exploited. The American’s revolted because they just didn’t like to pay taxes – at all. The same reason why people became Calvinist to begin with.

    Step 2: The Creation of the modern Corporation.
    1862 is a pivatal period. It marks the invention of the statutorily created limited liability corporation. It began in England but soon spread everywhere. It was created to help foster the concentration of capital necessary to build Railroads. But it quickly resulted in the creation of large modern departments stores, of which Wallmart is a descendent and large industrial organizations where economies of scale created competitive advantage. It also faciliated the link between basic scientific research with production and marketing. What Douglas North calls the second industrial revolution. We all know that post Civil War America is vastly different from Pre-civil war America. The main difference is viewed as industrialization on a vast scale, but it was the corporation that made it all possible. The corporation had other affects. It distorted wage bargaining to the extent that wealth became extremely concentrated on the one hand and squalor extensively diffused on the other. The concentration of wealth gave the age its name: the Gilded Age, also known as the age of the Robber Barons. This created a class of priveledge mega wealthy elites (MWE) But concentration of wealth has historically made societies brittle and prone to collapse. By the end of the 19th centurty and the begiing of the 20th century liberal institutions were being adopted world wide, from Japan to China to Russia and Turkey. World War one created stresses and strains on the liberal institutions that caused its collapse in most of the newly liberalizing nations of China, Germany, Turkey, Russia Mediterraneian and Eastern and Central Europe. Reactionary regimes on the left and the right quickly developed and the balance of the 20th century became a struggle amongst the three different ideological expressions: Far Right Fascism (Communitarian reaction to liberty based on Ethnicity/religion), Far Left Communism (Communitarian reaction to liberalism based on economic class) and Liberal Democracy.

    We now know that at the end of the 20th Century, Liberal democracy is the only one of the three still standing. In the 21st Century Liberal democracy is moving on to contend with Islamism. It also has to deal with its own metamorphisis of Social Democracy (Europe, Japan, Canada and South Korea).

    Liberal democracy won the cold war, but only after it found a way to deal with its own structural problems – the creation of collective bargaining to balance the bargaining table with collective ownership (corporations). This cause wealth to become less concentrated and spurred a surge in global economic productivity that, in effect, caused the world to double its Gross Global Product in the 30 years after WWII. Thats right, between 1945 and 1975 the world increased its productivity greater than it had done the previous 100,000 years altogether. In the United States, The Mega Wealthy Elites (MWE) saw much of this done at their expense – deminished political control and reduction in economic status, though not in wealth, just proportion of societal wealth. They sought to redress the situation and return the social system back to the social contract of the Gilded age. The success of the post war system meant that a conserted effort and much patience was required while waiting for some opportunity to find traction to advance their cause.

    In Japan collective bargaining was achieved through Company Unions. IN the United States it was done through Industrial (trade)Unions. The American model created an imbalance in the opposite direction: too much bargaining power in favor of workers. This caused American corporations to tend to consolidate and helped to create entire industries that were ossified autocractic structures that lost much of their competitiveness and entrepreneuralism (Steel especially, but also electronics and automobiles). When the Japanese model collided with the American model, the Japanese model won. Japan made huge inroads into America’s economy – entire sectors like electronics along with huge sections of other industries such a steel and automobiles. In a rational world the American’s would have modified their industrial structure to something similar to Japan’s, though maybe not identical: corporate unions and widely tennured employment.

    The failure of competitiveness in American corporations created the opportunity for the WMEs were looking for. American’s blamed the lack of competitiveness on unions. Begining in 1980s with the Reagan revolution the dismantling of the labor movement began. Since Reagan was elected in 1980s the concentration of wealth has surged in favor of the elites. We have slowly backed are way into a new Gilded age. Much like the old one.

    Step 3: The Emergence of Staussianism
    Leo Straus was a German Jewish emegre to the United States in 1938. He was a political philosopher. He represents an inheretance of much of the German philosophical tradition that proliferated in the 19th century in civics and law. Most imporant among these is nihilism we associate with Nitsche. The concern of Strauss is that society is best ruled by philosophy (neo Platonic philosopher kings) – but the common man can’t handle philosphy. Philosophical education eventually leads man to the realization that their is no god. And once the common man attaches himself to that, society will deconstruct with a decline in morality and we will all beging to lie, cheat, steal and kill each other. Thus governance must be left to a lofty elite capable of governing, capable of handling the knowledge that there is no God and yet still maintain the discpline and code of ethics and morality to not lie, cheat, steal and kill. The masses, for their part must be burdened with an over impossing sense of religiosity to control their base motives.

    The Mega Wealthy Elites in America, like the Dutch burghers were to Calvin, saw in Strauss, a philosophical position that fit their pre meditated attitudes of elitism and concentration of wealth, status and power. Strauss lands at Chicago University in 1938, just on the heals of the institutionalization of the labor movement. The Neocons are largely his philosophical descendents. The Republican elite are wealthy and powerful. They are largely faux christians who really don’t believe in religion at all. Even George Bush told Bob Woodward “in the end we are all just dead – thats it”. Meanwhile we have a well funded religious movement imposing itself upon American life.

    In reading the recently published “The Coming of the Third Reich” by Richard Evans one sees enormous parrallels. The Nazi’s systematically undermined or overwhelmed every institution that threatened their monopoly or hegemony to political power. The Neocon’s are systematically doing the same thing. In regard to the press, they are both buying it up and undermining the credibility of the profession and its professionals (from Gannon to Rather). Douglas North teaches that institutions are a function of belief systems and ideology. Change the belief systems and you change the institutions. The Neocon reality is an assualt on the constitution and other social institutions of our society, basically because it is a belief system that is marekedly different from the one of the founding fathers (they were all deist with faith in humanity, equality and liberty). One of the ways to change the culture is through law. Law is much like architecture as Chuchill once said of architecture, we shape it, and it in turn shapes us. Law is the same way. The battle over what occurs in the courts is thus of epic importance. By impossing their will on the judiciary they will be able to reshape the law, and then, reshape society. Eventually they may be able to do the justice system what Tobin suggest here, which is nothing more than an attempt to avoid accountability for his actions to society at large.

    What is going on now is huge and of vast importance – we are in the final stages of a rolling coup. It took the Nazi’s roughly 6 months from the time Hitler became chancelor to effectively destroy and dismember the institutions that stood to challenge their domestic power. Its will have taken the Neocons, roughly six years to do the same here. I saw a recent documentory on PBS where George Schultz, the former secretary of state, interviewed George Bush in the late 1990s to determine if he was fit for the job of president. Schultz said I invited him to visit, and I then gathered all the usual suspects together to interview him…. I suspect that these usual suspects are the guys behind this movement. It would be interesting to research this – simply by following the money. By the way, PBS is under assault now too. I am inclinded to think that the election in 2000 was a calculated result – coup in itself. The 2004 a similar event. The Neocon’s want the nuclear option. The Moderate Republican’s say, wait, we might not always be a majority. The Neocon’s, by their actions, suggest that they think that they will always be a majority. The rigging of elections is being overlooked by a media that is owned and cowed by the Neocons. I know this all sounds very conspirator-like and perhaps it is. I am airing out an opinion here that I am not sure I believe myself, but on the other hand, I see anecdotal evidence all around me that frightens me beyond cognizance.

    Furthermore it sets the stage for global confrontations. The rest of the first world are Social Democrats: Fairness and Freedom; Justice and Liberty. The Neocon’s are likely to succeed in the United States. They know what they are doing. We will become much like Mexico. A very powerfull elit that has all the chips of money and power and a vast mass peonage that must work to live and find comfort only in the contemplation of the next life.

    The Neocons philosophy is of course wrong. The emergence of mass atheisitic societies in Europe and Japan prove the point that humanity does not need to be cowed by God or Religiosity to behave civil. This of course doesn’t matter to the Neocons, the philosophy simply suits their predisposition. Another troubling aspect of Straussianism is the out look that people are basically bad. Some obviously are, but that vast majority are not. But if you are bad, that means you see the world through eyes of being bad. If you are bad, you think everyone else is bad. What this suggest is that Straussian view is arrived at only by people who themselves are bad. This means that the people who insist on being elites and ruling over all of us are exactly the ones who should be locked up in jail. They are the ones who are bad. Of course, this means that they need jury’s that are sympathetic to them which makes Tobin’s request sound inevitable in our society.

    It is a bit of irony that amongst all of this a new Star Wars movie is coming due that basically parallels much of this sort of drama. Reminds me of when the movie the Quiet American came out just before Bush invaded Iraq. These are interestingy though trying times we live in.

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