Monday, October 06, 2008


I have been summoned as a juror in Kane County. Presently I am sitting in a large room with about 250 of my fellow jurors. Jury duty is one of the only functions of the State that I actually don't need to be threatened with violence to comply with. I'm rather hoping I am selected and get to sit on a trial for some poor schmuck who committed one of the State's innumerable imaginary crimes.

We've been told a handful of times that we will be waiting for the majority of our time here, and thus I am currently waiting. The first
20 or so jurors were called up right before I started this post and since then nothing has happened. Free coffee and donuts are being served to keep us pacified. Can't say I mind that.

One thing I've definitely noticed is that while over 23% of Kane County's population is Latino, I would estimate that 99% of the juror pool here is white. I see two black people, an Indian, and ZERO Latinos. Jury of your peers indeed. I wonder what percentage of crimes are committed by Latinos in Kane County?

Well, more updates later if something interesting happens. Though I'll be forced at gun point to turn off my BlackBerry if I get called upstairs. So much for free speech I guess.

Update: (9:30 A.M) twenty more jurors called, myself not included. One annoying factor is that there are 8 overhead televisions providing limited entertainment. As soon as I sat down the channel was changed from ESPN to Home and Garden Television. I think the guy who controls all the TV's thinks he's getting points with the ladies or something.

Update:(9:45). I've been called.

Update: (12:00) Well the jury selection went like this. Twenty-five of us were called upstairs to the court room and told to sit in audience section of the room. Then four jurors were called (apparently randomly) to sit in the juror box where they were questioned first by the judge, then the prosecutor, then the defense. If any of those three had objections to the juror being questioned the juror was sent home. All in all sixteen jurors were called to sit in the jury box. Three were released to go home, and one was set as an alternate. After this was done the trial had enough jurors and the remaining nine of us who were never questioned were sent home.

I am convinced that had I been questioned I would have been excused. Among the questioned asked of the jurors two of them would have made the prosecution, if not the judge, excuse me immediately. The first was, "do you have any opinions on the legalizations of drugs?" Well yes, I do, actually. The second question was, "If the judge instructs you of the law would you be able to follow the law even if you disagree with it?" I find this question to be appalling. I think it should be illegal for the prosecution or judge to ask this question before a jury trial. What the question basically means is that if I find their laws to be morally repugnant, I still have to abide by them and convict people of them. It means, for instance, if there were still laws legitimizing slavery, I would have to convict black men who ran away from the captors. It means, if there were still laws segregating race, that I would have to convict a black woman who sat at the front of the bus.

After we were excused the judge gave some ridiculous speech about how were were all doing our civic duty by serving on a jury, even if we weren't selected. And that "Your government wouldn't work, and it is YOUR government, if you as citizens didn't serve as jurors. That is what democracy is to me." Well apparently this judge does not believe his own rhetoric. If this were a free society the jury box would be the last stand against unchecked government power. See, we don't REALLY have much say when it comes to voting. I mean they'll tell us our vote counts, but really your one out of a hundred thousand, or even hundred million, hardly effects the governments actions. Sure, you can vote for a different legislator but how much say do you have over what the person legislates? Case in point the recent bailout vote, which the public was overwhelming against passed anyway.

But one place in which we do have a direct say on the matter of legislation is in juries. There, one vote can stall the State's legislation. And just twelve votes can overturn it outright. But jury votes in favor of the State's laws lend them legitimacy. Which is why, when you take people out of the pool who object to the laws legitimacy, you stack the deck in favor of the State. I mean all trials are already stacked in favor of the State since every person except for the defense lawyer (and even him in some cases) who is executing the trial is on the State's payroll. Taking people out of the courtroom who think independently, who do not believe in the laws of men but the Rule of Law, or who do not see legitimacy in the State at all, expose the whole system for the sham that it truly is.

Well, it made for an interesting, yet boring day. And in the end somewhat pointless.

UPDATE: Jeez, I totally forgot to mention that the trial was for a young latino man (maybe 19 or 20) for the imaginary crime of "possession of a controlled substance." All the jurors selected save one were at least 50 years old and white. And like I said earlier, 99% of the jurors that were called were white.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

lol camping

It's a wonderful World in which a man can sit by a camp fire in the Middle of Nowhere, Wisconsin and write a blog post on his Blackberry as I am now. I don't particularly like camping, but having even a small piece of the digital age helps some. I am, however, posting this without the benefit of a spell checker. Hopefully this will provide some entertainment for an otherwise uncontroversial or particularly enlightening post. Which is not to make the claim that any of my posts ARE particularly enlightening.

We're here with Crystal's family for a little get together, and thankfully won't be spending the night. I am not one for intentionally exposing myself to nature's elements a good century after the glorious Industrial Revolution reached the American shore. I understand that there are some people who enjoy this entirely pointless activity, so I would not advocate making the practice illegal. I do think that rigorous counseling should be strongly advised, or even compelled.

Back in the real World my White Sox are in a two game hole in the ALDS against the Devil Rays. What's disappointing about this is not that they are losing, I actually expected them to lose. It's that they actually played well enough to be competetive in the first two games. And on the road in a dome at that, where they have been absolutely terrible all year. Still, they have a chance to send it back to Tampa Bay if they can simply win two games at home. That won't be the difficult part of winning the series though, the tough part will be going back to that dome and stealing one there. A task that will most likely prove beyond this team's abilities.

Across town the Cubs are in even more a dire situation. Somehow managing to lose the first two games of their series to a lesser team in the Dodgers. At home no less. I am a Cubs hater for the most part, so I can't say I feel much in the way of sadness for their demise, but I do feel a tinge of sympathy for their fans who had their hopes sky high for this year. Just a tinge though as Cubs fans are certainly nothing if not an annoying lot. What with their stupid Go Cubs Go song and blue W that never seems to come down even when they lose.

Well it's log splitting time so I should probably be signing off.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Can Joe Biden be the Vice President of a Change administration?

We are told, time and time, from both the Obama campaign and the majority of grassroots supporters of the democratic ticket, that Obama is the "Change We Need.". That the country needs change seems beyond reproach. Even McCain has shifted his message to be that of reform rather than Bush's "Staying the course." And it was in this climate that Obama gained the nomination from the Democratic Party. He was nominated, I believe, in large part due to his opposition to both the war in Iraq and his willingness to tone down the United States’ aggressive foreign policy toward it’s perceived enemies. This is how he established himself as a “Change” candidate and differentiated himself from Hillary Clinton. However, despite his well stated sloganeering, his first executive action as said “Change” candidate was to nominate someone who has followed, and even preceded, the Neo-Conservative agenda every step of the way in both action and philosophy. An action that totally contradicts his message prior to that point.

To me, this means one of two things:

1. Obama was vaulted to prominence by his Party who saw him as an electable candidate, and in return for the favor Obama agreed to nominate the Party’s pick for VeeP.

2. Choosing Biden was purely political in that Obama is hoping it will help him avoid the weak-on-national-security smears used against Democratic candidates generally. However, this speaks no better for Obama’s “Change” candidacy because *IF* his selection of Biden was his way of showing he is strong on national security than Obama’s views on what national security is are similar to that of the GOP's. In other words, if I were going to pick a VP candidate that was strong on national security I would maybe pick someone who I felt might make us safer by toning DOWN our rhetoric to places like Russia, for instance. However, Obama selected Biden, a man who takes an aggressive and threatening position on any country he sees as our enemy. Which is quite similar to how the GOP runs their foreign policy.

I’m more inclined to think the former true because I’m probably more cynical about the American political process than most people. But neither scenario bodes well for Obama and his so-called “Change” campaign. At least not to someone who is actually interested in a change from the foreign policy of the past seven years and not just the expansion of power for the Democratic Party.

Now, as for Biden, if you want a long term view of his history I suppose his approval of the war in Iraq is a good place to start. Oh, I know, that was a long time a go and since the Surge WORKED(!) it's silly to go back and actually hold the people who authorized the thing in congress accountable, but I think it's still a significant point that he didn't have enough of a disagreement with the neo-Con theology at that point to actually raise a voice in protest. In fact, you'll remember he was at the time the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and had the power to select any speaker he wanted when his Senate hearing happened in '02. But, when the witness list came up, it was void of a single dissenter on the issue. The only people who disagreed with the war that were asked to participate were those who only disagreed with the motive, not the final outcome, such as humanitarian interventionists who argued we should invade to dispose Saddam, not to get the WMD's.

Even as the war grew more and more unpopular Biden maintained his position never demanding we exit the country, only that we add more troops to the area. His goal has always been to improve Iraq by "leaving Iraq better than we found it". Of course it's American minds that can better Iraq, not Iraqi minds according to Mr. Biden.

Though, I should not paint Biden as a totally Republican Neo-Con in his foreign policy view because, while most Republicans were opposed to Clinton's invasion of Yugoslavia, Joe Biden fully endorsed it! Calling it "absolutely correct," and claiming that if we didn't bomb them, "our interests will be badly hurt." So I suppose you could call Biden more of a bipartisan warmonger than just a party shill

Bully for him.

Also, Biden was pretty hawkish against Iraq even before 9/11. He did his fair share of saber rattling in 1998 when then UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter came to the Senate for a hearing:

"But that doesn't guarantee, if these sanctions are in place, that the program is going to be curtailed. Anything other than curtailed doesn't guarantee that we're going to be able to stop it. I think you and I believe and many of us believe here as long as Saddam's at the helm there is no reasonable prospect you or any other inspector is ever going to be able to guarantee that we have rooted out, root and branch, the entirety of Saddam's program relative to weapons of mass destruction.

And you and I both know and all of us here really know, and it's a thing we have to face, that the only way, the only way we're going to get rid of Saddam Hussein is we're going to end up having to start it alone -- start it alone -- and it's going to require guys like you in uniform to be back on foot in the desert taking this son of a -- the -- taking Saddam down. (Laughter.) You know it and I know it."



So basically, in 98, he supported preemptive strike, unilateral attack, and regime change before the Bush doctrine existed. Hey, well at least he probably knows what it is. And all of this says nothing of McCain, Obama, Biden, and Palin's insistence that we need to give a war guarantee to Georgia. Because offering war guarantees to tiny countries in the middle of border disputes with super powers has never started World Wars or anything.

Change indeed, Mr. Obama.