The Needs for Legal Reform

China prepares for first-ever jury trials,” AFP, 25 April 2005, ( from The Horse’s Mouth through Simon World).

China is introducing real trial by jury…

Around 27,000 jurors will report for duty in China next week, state media said, as the country introduces jury trials in an attempt to reform a system widely criticised for its lack of independence.

The jurors will start work on May 1 helping decide both criminal and civil cases, sitting on a panel of three with judges, the China Daily reported.

Improving the jury system was one of nine major tasks the Supreme People’s Court mapped out for 2005 during a meeting in December.

but an usual type of juror

They were chosen through elections in January and February and are expected to have powers equal to those of a judge.

Are popularly elected jurors better or worse than randomly selected ones? That’s a good question, and China is clearly innovating. Hopefully the world will learn from her experiment.

At least it will be better than the old system…

Under the current system, judges are the sole arbiters in court cases but they have been widely criticised by the public for lack of independence from the government and the Communist Party.

China recognizes that an independent judiciary isn’t just a “human right” — it’s good for business. If investorsand entrepreneurs do not feel safe in the court system, they will leave. That’s the same reason America is modernizing her legal system, too.

Arbitrary justice is terrible for growth — whether its money skimming in Sichuan or jackpot awards against McDonalds in Shreveport.

The Grooming of John Thune

Behind The Scenes Photos,” LauraIngraham.com, 1 April 2005, http://www.lauraingraham.com/freephotos?action=viewPhotoSet&photoSetID=20 (from CCK)

What to make of this?

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Marine General John Sattler (Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionery Force [Fallujah]), Laura, and U.S. Senator and Mrs. John Thune (R-SD) talk before the concert on April 1, 2005 at Camp Pendleton.

South Dakotans don’t care about California trips. His peers in the Senate don’t either. What office requires hooking up with influential Republicans from around the country while establishing a national profile?

John Thune is being groomed for running as a Vice Presidential candidate in 2008.

Thune would be a great balancer for McCain, Giuliani, or any other Republican weak on “religious” issues. Senator Thune, besides being a giant-killer, is deeply popular with the religious Right.

John Thune is not the only option for GOP Vice President in 2008. But the party wants him to be a very strong option.

Update: Now The Hotline notices, too. CCK was still first.

The Final Days of the Third Stage of the 4GP Against Liberalism

All God’s Children Got Values, by Michael Walzer, Dissent, Spring 2005, http://www.dissentmagazine.org/menutest/articles/sp05/walzer.htm (from MyDD).

I’ve written before how Fourth Generation War is applied to Fourth Generation Politics, and its first and second stages. This post looks at the final significant battle in the fourth generation struggle against American Liberalism — the battle for the Courts — and the reasons we have arrived here.

Liberalism had won: to begin with. There is no doubt about that. The register of its victory was signed by FDR, Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson. Carter signed it. And those names were good upon Law, for any bill they chose to put their names too. Liberalism had won.

The long and slow collapse of liberalism is the greatest political song of our time. A movement that had begun in intelligence and optimism is fighting its last battles. Liberalism is empty of thoughts and visions. It is now merely anti-Conservatism, like the fighters in Saigon in 1975 were merely anti-Hanoi. We are in the final years, if not the final months, of third stage of this four generation political battle. This war began in the 1960s with high-profile attacks on individual initiatives and ends whens the Courts are taken.

Dissent Magazine’s Michael Walzer shares much of this analysis

In fact, ideology rules everywhere on the right, across the spectrum of issues in which right-wing intellectuals and activists take an interest (note the combination: it used to be only the left that had intellectuals and activists). Everywhere, we see radically coherent, single-causal analyses of social problems and radical proposals to deal with the problems once and for all: lower and lower taxes, privatized Social Security, tests and more tests in the public schools, torture for terrorists, war for Saddam, democracy for the Arabs. And everything will be wonderful, after the revolution.

Walzer sees clearly. And he describes what many regimes have seen: an ideological opponent. Liberalism is facing an ideological insurgency. Further, American Liberalism is not like homosexualism, which is an insurgency fighting an insurgency. It is an entrenched regime composed of corrupt (self-interested) factions

This is the first crossover: ideological certainty and zeal have migrated to the right. Of course, there are still people on the left who are absolutely sure about their political position and zealous in its defense. But they don’t set the tone; they are off on the margins, a frequent annoyance, but not a political force. Most of us on the near-left live in a complex world, which we are not sure we understand, and we move around in that world pragmatically, practicing a politics of trial and error [though of course all politicians practice trial and error tactically. — tdaxp]. We defend policies like Social Security, which have worked pretty well, and try to make them work a little better. We want more redistributive tax and welfare systems, but we are not Bolshevik egalitarians-even if our opponents are Bolshevik inegalitarians. We opposed the Iraq War but are painfully unsure about how to get out and when. National health insurance is the most radical proposal that I’ve heard from American liberals in recent years, and it’s a European commonplace.

Make that a dispirited, entrenched, and corrupt regime

So this is the second crossover: ideological uncertainty and skepticism about all-out solutions to social problems have migrated to the left. This must have something to do with 1989 and the collapse of communism-though I don’t think that the left, near or far, has even begun to come to grips with the disaster that was communism. Perhaps the second crossover is also the product of the (very incomplete) success of social democracy in Europe and New Deal liberalism here, of civil rights and feminism, even of multiculturalism. Successes of this sort don’t leave us without an agenda, but they may leave us without the kind of agenda that makes for passionate conviction and zealous endeavor. A lot of near-left energy over the last fifteen years has been spent defending past victories, whose problematic features we know only too well.

Add on to this the inflexibility of the left and maneuverability of the right. Conservatives are more likely to be horizontal thinkers, able to fight where needed, rather than vertical thinkers, able to defend only their own turf. (The comparison to France 1940, and the Panzers against the Marginot Line, is unavoidable.)

Intellectuals on the left certainly lack certainty: we no longer have a general theory, such as Marxism once was, that tells us how things are going and what ought to be done. Does that mean that we are no longer “general intellectuals” but only locally and particularly engaged-“specialists,” as Michel Foucault argued? This left intellectual writes about education, this one about city planning, this one about health care, this one about the labor market, this one about civil liberties-and all of them are policy wonks. Is that our world? Well, maybe it is ours, but it isn’t theirs. Here is the crossover again: there are definitely general intellectuals on the right. The theory of the free market isn’t a world-historical theory exactly; one might say that it is a world-ahistorical theory. But it does have extraordinary reach; it allows its believers to have an opinion about pretty much everything. In this sense, it is an imperial doctrine, like Marxism. And combined with a theory of American-led democratization (and, for many people on the right today, with a conviction of divine support), it is also an imperialist doctrine: it allows believers to have an opinion about pretty much everywhere.

Add to this the four-to-three numerical advantage conservatives have over liberals in the United States, and you see something like this

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Inflexible, Dispirited, Self-Interested, the Left Defends

In the diagram, the force on the left is in trouble. It doesn’t have a coherent program — it is not an ideological network. Rather, it is a series of fiefdoms which have their own internal structure. These networklets can fight only their direct enemy on the right. Meanwhile, the right is an idelogical network with much cross-communication. Authoritative nodes communicate with their peers more, and even follower peers reach out to their fellow travelers. The network of the right fights where the battle is, while the groups on the left must wait for the battle to come to them.

When faced with a dedicated and networks Fourth Generation program, even powerful regimes can fail. When the fourth generation network is larger than the regime, the war is all but lost. As indeed, it is.

Remember that the final stage of fourth generation politics is lawfully coopting the government. In 4GPS3, the government is used to further the movement’s agenda. This has happened — America has a Conservative President and a Conservative Congress. The only branch of government that still gives liberalism regular victories is the courts, and that is the target. The battle of the courts is the last battle in the third stage of this fourth generation war.

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Having seized most of the countryside,
the 4GWarriors prepare to annihilate
the remnant of the Ancien Regime

When we hear about the battles for the courts, this must be remembered. It is not just another battle that the parties are fighting. It is the last gain from Left-Liberalism’s rise it has to defend. After this, the war is over.

This is the state of contemporary ideological politics in the United States.

The Downfall of Tina Leans (Geopolitical Fan Fiction)

What follows is an involved parody, a swaydo sequel to the pseudo-series Allawi’s Law.

TV Trailer Script

Reign of Fire: The Downfall of Tina Leans

The trailer opens with Requiem for a Dream’s overture. The Tina Leans’ character sits on a stool hunch over thinking about the events of her life. The background is dark.
Voiceovers:
Man 1: You’re a loose cannon!
Man 2: She must be stopped
Man 3: On national TV! She said that on national TV!
Tina’s voice: I will betray America

Narrator: See her life from her point of view. How a young patriot….
Image of Tina graduating from the FBI Academy
Narrator: …. went bad
Footage of Tina, as a page/intern, handing classified documents to Senator Kow on the House Waize and Means committee.

Narrator: How she meet the Kurds for the first time….
Tina meets the Kurds (played by Albanians). Together plotting on killing the President in Damascus (played by Russell Means).

Tina to Kurds: Then it’s agreed. This “peace” will be mutually bad to everyone’s business and the most popular, beloved president of all time must die.
One of the Kurds then starts to hand out guns and drugs.
Tina: No thanks. I only snort the stuff I grow in the daycare’s playroom.

Narrator: Also starring Benjamin Netanyahu as Ehud Barak
Barak: Who should we betray? The United States or Israel?
Tina: Why not both?

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Narrator: And learn the inside story on how one brave street cop ended the national nightmare
Allawi: (Yelling at his unseen boss) Two people a week is too high of a body count anywhere, including Alexandria, Virginia!
Camera view switches to L. Paul Bremer, Allawi’s boss
Bremer: (Angier, frustration in his voice) I know Allawi! (Calms down to a whisper) I know…… But the only way to end the madness is to….
Allawi: Stop Tina Leans.

Narrator: And see the final confrontation
Tina and Allawi are in a control room. Allawi points a gun at Tina and yells

Allawi: Step away from the launch pad!

Trailer closes with Tina back on the stool in the black background room. Requiem for a Dream’s overture plays once again.
Narrator: This fall, see “Reign of Fire: The Downfall on Tina Leans” based on Tina Lean’s own book recently released, From Kurdistan to Candyland.
Trailer ends with the Tina character’s eyes staring directly into the camera.

FBI Special Agent Dr. Leans’ Reaction, while watching the TV trailer

Hey, that’s Rina Lensi, why is she on TV?

WHAT????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!????????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No, I helped end the committee!

Those are Albanians!

WHAT??????????????????

I never meet him!

WE WERE FRIENDS! He held a good-bye party for me!

WHAT?????!!!???!!!???!!!???

No! That’s not what my book is about! Its about politics. Its not an autobio!

Stenberg v Nelson

Stenberg poised to announce Senate bid,” by Don Walton, Lincoln Journal Star, 27 April 2005, http://www.journalstar.com/articles/2005/04/27/local/doc4270091ee7cb5435055815.txt (from Daily Kos).

To quote “Screw Them” Kos

Our unlikely Democrat from deep red Nebraska has a challenger.

Former Attorney General Don Stenberg appeared poised Wednesday to jump into the 2006 Republican Senate race and seek a rematch with Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson.

Stenberg, who served as attorney general for 12 years, will hold a news conference today at Republican state headquarters to make “an important announcement about his future political plans.” All signs pointed to his third bid for a seat in the Senate.

Stenberg, who left the attorney general’s office in 2003 to enter private practice in Omaha, lost to Nelson in 2000 by 15,000 votes.

But Stenberg supporters are quick to point out that was the closest margin since Nebraska began directly electing senators by popular vote in 1916 and that the Republican voter registration advantage over Democrats has grown by 34,000 since 2000.

On the other hand, Democrats note, Nelson won that 2000 election swimming against a Republican tide in a presidential election year. Even though George W. Bush defeated Al Gore by 202,000 votes, they point out, Stenberg was defeated.

By November 2006 I will have lived in Nebraska for a bit more than a year. This will make it interesting.

Global War on Terrorism or Global War on Drugs

US arrests Afghan ‘heroin baron’,’ by Jeremy Cooke, BBC News, 25 April 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4483469.stm (from Democratic Underground).

What’s more important? Not having Islamist murderers kill pilots, hijack planes, and crash them into buildings? Or “saving” you for your own stupid decisions?

The government’s chosen for you

An Afghan man regarded by the US as one of the world’s most wanted heroin traffickers has been arrested, American officials have announced.

Federal prosecutors say the arrest of Bashir Noorzai on US territory will be a severe blow to the Afghan drug trade.

A US federal indictment alleges Mr Noorzai has been at the centre of a multi-million dollar heroin operation.

He is expected to appear in a federal court charged with conspiring to import heroin worth $50m (£26m).

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Afghan Businessman Arrested by American Authorities

So instead of legalizing the drug-cash exchange, and allowing people to treat their bodies as they will, we make criminals out of Americans, Afghans, and everyone in between.

With policies like this, we risk shoving rich drug barons into the hands of our enemies.

But they also believe that the arrest may have wider implications, claiming that Mr Noorzai had close links with the Taleban and had used drug money to supply Islamic militants with arms and explosives.

Too late.

How many American soldiers will die to keep American drug users from Afghan drug suppliers? Because they sure are now.

Aljazeera Sell-Off Comes Closer

Qatar draws up plan to sell off al-Jazeera,” by Jane Kinninmont, The Guardian, 27 April 2005, http://media.guardian.co.uk/site/story/0,14173,1470981,00.html (from Democratic Underground).
Wednesday April 27, 2005

Following up my thoughts on Free Arabi Media and Free Egyptian Media, the privitization of al Jazeera is coming closer…

The Gulf state of Qatar is considering privatising its satellite TV channel, al-Jazeera, because of pressure from the US and a de facto advertising boycott by Arab countries offended by its critical coverage.

Reporters at the station fear that if the channel is privatised commercial pressures could force it to tone down its coverage.

Good. On the one hand, it makes no sense to subsidize a media outlet that encourages rebellion on war. On the other…

Some say the station represents a big step forward for Arab democracy, which Washington advocates. Mouafac Harb, director of al-Jazeera’s less popular US-funded rival, al-Hurra, said: “Al-Jazeera has hijacked the role of the mosque as the primary source of information and views. Al-Jazeera is the only political process in the Middle East.

In a region where there is intense anti-US sentiment a private-sector al-Jazeera could well be more critical of the superpower.

Exactly right. Al Jazeera retards actual political debate in the Greater Middle East, because it looks at everything from an old-school secular Sunni Arab Nationalist perspective. Why? That is no longer a popular political philosophy in the Arab Middle East. Allow political discourse to develop, don’t try to pre-empt the emergence of real popular voices because they might be more “critical,” allow Arabs to have freedom too. The privitization of al Jazeera is a good step to those goals.

Update: Doug Petch weighs in

Given that al Jazeera has been plagued by controversy surrounding it’s coverage of events in Iraq, I’m surprised it’s taken this long for Qatar to move to sever its official ties to the network. Of course, I’m not naive enough to believe that they won’t see increased pressure to avoid stepping on toes with their reporting once they lose the protection Qatar’s Government. Nor will I be surprised should the network adopt a decidely more anti-US tone in its coverage. But, while some of the fears expressed in the article are no doubt well founded, if the network is putting out a credible product it should have no problem surviving in a free market environment. If not, its demise will be no great loss.

Perfectly said.