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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-09-13 04:59 AM
Original message
We heart liars and plutocrats. (Pardon the redundancy.)
Edited on Wed Oct-09-13 05:15 AM by No Elephants
Take our system of justice.

Okay, okay, I'll do the ancient joke.

Take our system of justice.


Originally, the jury system, which the states adopted on independence from the Crown, was based on the idea that someone should make the decision other than judges. (Thank you, magna carta of 1215 C.E.. )

Judges were plutocrats who were a lot more loyal to the monarch, who controlled their lives outside the courtroom and paid their salaries (and maybe the church, also headed by the monarch after Henry VIII), than they were to the people (you know, the people who had made both the king and the church rich, since monarchs and popes have day jobs).

And, who better to help the judge make the decision than the local yokels, who knew the reputation of the accused and the ins and outs of local yokels generally?

And, so that the local yokels would not make decisions involving death and physical liberty solely on their gut and the reputation of the accused, the accused got to have a lawyer represent his or her side to the jury, while a prosecutor or a plaintiff presented the side of the Crown or the plaintiff(aka accuser) to the jury. In time, our Supreme Court even "realized" that only the rich could afford lawyers and required federal and state governments to pay for them, if the accused had no money to do that. Okay, not pay like good lawyers get, but, still, pay.

But then, we watered down the jury system. In a series of court decisions, some of which got written down in the form of statutes, court rules of criminal procedure and court rules of civil procedure, as well as being precedent, we forbade jurors from considering anything except that which is presented at trial. And not even all of that, if the lawyer for one side or the other persuades the judge to exclude it. So then, a lot more depended on how good the lawyers of the accuser were versus how good the lawyers of the accused were.

Yadda, yadda, yadda, now, when we're really pissed, we simply do away with conventional civilian courts. And, when we are really, really pissed, we do away with all courts.

And we are secretive about everything, too. Who does all of that protect? The general public? Or only the liars and the plutocrats?

Our politics are based on a similarly adversarial system. The theory of First Amendment case law is, in essence, that you let all ideas, good or bad, honest or lying, into "the marketplace of ideas." Then, the public is supposedly somehow able to sort out who is honest and who is lying, who is certifiable or only highly neurotic and so on. Who does that really end up protecting? Liars. Only this time, the penalty for being the worst liar is not death, but only losing a primary or an election.

Proof of political bs? We don't need it. We have magical public powers! We can sort out people who are sincere about their campaign promises from those who are not. We can sort things out in the marketplace of ideas much better than we can sort out bad deals in the marketplace of high finance.

But, wait. Before making a public offering, we are entitled by law (until someone repeals it) to full disclosure. And, we're entitled to sue if they failed to disclose something material to our decision to plunk down money or lied about it. Not so when we plunk down our votes, our taxes and our physical and mental well-being and that of our kids and other descendants, though. And it's not as though financial decisions always turn out well, either.

But, hey, f the public doesn't really have magical public powers of discernment, it doesn't really matter much anyway, because we have only two choices, evil and lesser evil.

We could amend the Constitution, of course. Yeah, that's the ticket! Remind me how we do that?

Article V

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

Heh. Gotcha, again, suckas!

And just in case you forgot, both Congress and state legislatures in 1789 had come down from the classes favored by the Crown. And, per other parts of the 1789 Constitution, only about 6% of any of the colonists had a right to vote--assuming the state legislatures also allowed them to vote.

Again, no one called it ever class warfare until a tiny fraction of the 99% began fighting back.
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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-09-13 05:50 AM
Response to Original message
1. Yes, we could sure stand with some improvement.
And improvement would be just as difficult as your interesting OP explains it would be.
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-09-13 06:22 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Q. Are the ONLY ones bound by the Constitution
Edited on Wed Oct-09-13 06:42 AM by No Elephants
the sheeple people who pay all of government's bills?

Just asking.

'Cause I don't know about you, but I'm feelling like we don't have any real rights anymore that government cannot rationalize taking away and we don't have any real representation anymore unless we are lobbyists for big business. (Maybe we never did, but I happen to be living now.) And they get plenty of help rationalizing away their wrongs by the fans of whichever "team" happens to be ignoring the Constitution at the moment. (And the chief spokeman for that beleaguered document was a man who feared "mob" rule--also known in some circles as "the will of the American people.)

BTW, Scalia said recently that even he would amend the provision I quoted in my OP if he could. Hey, why not? He amends the Constitution quite often, while pretending to be ascertaining the intent of the Framers, whom apparently agreed with each other on everything, including channeling as one through Scalia.

That reminds of an OP I've been wanting to do about Scalia. Not today, though.

Meanwhile, thanks for the "interesting."
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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-09-13 08:29 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. Scalia is a piece of work.
He's deserving of an OP. Should get ugly.
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-09-13 02:19 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. I was going to try to expose his judicial activism masquerading as originalism.
Think I tried once before, but I am not sure. But he's given me a fresh example in some remarks he made recently.

Given your comment, I'll see what I can do about doing so in as ugly a way as I can manage.
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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-10-13 06:38 AM
Response to Reply #4
by Scalia was his refusal to recuse himself when the supreme court heard the case of the Cheney secret energy meetings. These were secret meetings between private corporations and Vice President Cheney (Scalia's duck hunting buddy). It was ruled the people of the United States had no right to know who participated in the meetings or any content.

If we knew what happened in those meetings it might explain why the nation now has more of a Fascist character.

Sounds exactly as the founding fathers intended. :sarcasm:
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-10-13 11:54 AM
Response to Reply #5
7. I like the founding fathers less and less
I know that was not what you were going for, but it is the way I feel.

I think they were a bunch of bigoted elitists.

John Adams may have been an anomoly in the bunch. Hard to tell so long after the fact, but it seems that he did try at least to keep slavery out of the new nation. Failed, but tried.
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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-10-13 08:44 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. Here you are.
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-14-13 06:09 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. In fairness to Scalia (ugh), our government was indeed created by plutocrats, to be
administered by plutocrats, and most probably saw its primary purpose as to benefit plutocrats.

We are taught and bombarded with a lot of buzz words and rhetoric to the contrary, but it's mostly bs.
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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-14-13 07:58 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. Yes, but.
Plutocrats were not allowed to buy the government to extent they do today in this post Citizens United world. This is unprecedented. The only fair thing to Scalia would be a rope around his neck.
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-14-13 10:32 AM
Response to Reply #9
10. I am not sure that is so.
Remember, Citizens United decided whether CU violated certain campaign laws.

The answer was yes, but the laws CU violated were unconstitutional because they restrained CU's free speech.

Campaign laws limiting campaign spending are relatively new in the history of the US. Before those relatively new laws, there were no limits at all on campaign spending.

Granted, the invention of television and radio advertising kicked up the cost of campaigns considerably, but that happened outside the Constitution, the intent of the Framers, etc.

The way the Framers assured the plutocracy was by severely limiting the things that the general populace could vote on and then by severely limiting who within the general populace was able to vote. Between gender, race and wealth restrictions on the right to vote, only about 6% of the population of 1789 was entitled to vote. And they were very unlikely to elect anyone who was not like themselves.

So, one way or another, the plutocrats have always had control.

The Equal Time rule (1927) and The Fairness Doctrine (1949) were intended to mitigate the impact of buying air time, but the former is almost meaningless at this point and the Obama Administration put the final nail in the coffin of the latter during Obama's first term.

It's odd. When Reagan and Bush were opposing the Doctrine, Democrats opposed them. When the Obama administration put the final nail in the coffin, though, neither party gave him much opposition.

BTW, the FCC was also a New Deal program.
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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-15-13 06:37 AM
Response to Reply #10
11. Money doesn't equal free-speech.
It just doesn't.

When a citizen has one billion dollars at their disposal to spend on massaging public opinion they have far more influence than the citizen with mere pennies to spend. The wealthy and corporations speak with a bullhorn. The average citizen is only heard in a whisper. There is no way the founders would have seen this as fair representation.

Yes, groups of citizens with pennies can have an impact. But groups of citizens with billions can have an overwhelming influence. And that is where we find ourselves today. Such is the state of democracy in the US. Look at the results. You are seeing it right before your eyes. Like what you see?

Don't you find it a bit odd that the President would see the fairness doctrine as some artifice from a bygone era? Many actions by the President are beyond curious to me.

Plutocrats have had control throughout much of US history. But they were a different brand of plutocrat. In the 20th Century the plutocrats lost much of their control. You know the history. In the 20th Century millions of citizens were finally allowed to participate in the democratic process. The constitution is a living document. Only Scalia-like neanderthals claim that it is not.

What has transformed this modern brand of plutocrat into the criminal greedy fucks we see today? They have no sense of patriotism. If they did, they would believe in preserving our representative democracy.
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-15-13 04:34 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. I find it odd that the President would put the final nail in the coffin of the
Edited on Tue Oct-15-13 04:39 PM by No Elephants
Fairness Doctrine, yes. But, then again, I also found his cooperation with privatization of the US Postal Service odd. And so many other things.

About money in politics,

A Democratic Congress passed some campaign finance restrictions. Ford vetoed. Democrats overrode his veto. So far, so good.

But then,

A lawsuit was filed in the District Court for the D.C., on January 2, 1975, by Senator James L. Buckley of New York, former Senator, 1968 presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota, and others.


They argued that the legislation was in violation of the 1st and 5th Amendment rights to freedom of expression and due process, respectively.

Buckley was a Republican who had switched parties--to the Conservative Party. McCarthy was, of course, a Democrat. So, politicians of both the largest political parties in the country were of one mind about this lawsuit.

Several provisions of the campaign finance laws were struck down.

The other right given (or affirmed) by Citizens' United was the right to remain anonymous. The SCOTUS first articulated that First Amendment right in NAACP v. Button, when law enforcement was demanding that the NAACP turn over its membership list. The SCOTUS used the Button doctrine to say that Citizens United did not have to disclose its donors. Funny, huh, how a rule can seem so right and so just in one case and so foul in another?

I could not agree with you more that elections are being bought and they should not be bought.

I don't know what you mean by plutocrats are different now.
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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Oct-16-13 06:26 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. I think most of the plutocrats of yesterday had a sense
of nation and duty to the nation, to an extent. Depending on the individual. Today they only see the US as a resource to exploit and a series of laws to manipulate or get around.
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