Category Archives: Constitution

The Jury Question

Many years ago, back in the 1970’s, you could, on rare occasions, actually learn something watching a TV crime drama. And so it was that way back when, Dave watched an episode of Quincy, M.E., during which he learned a fact about how Jury trials can work that he retains even today. That single fact is helpful when we recall the purpose of the Jury is to serve as a mighty bulwark against government. To make certain that government isn’t allowed to just run roughshod over accused citizens.

At the same time, that simple fact also makes certain that a person who is guilty can’t hide behind confusion and misdirection.

Back in 2012, a man stood accused of hacking into PriceWaterhouse and stealing the Romney’s tax returns, which he threatened to release to the highest bidder if he didn’t get paid $1Million in digital currency. The self-named “Dr. Evil,” was about as competent as his nom de guerre, and ended up in the custody of the US Secret Service, who take a dim view of people threatening potential Presidents with blackmail. He denied being involved, of course, and eventually found himself sitting in front of a Jury as the Secret Service laid out their digital case against him.

It was extremely complicated, and for people who aren’t computer experts, somewhat confusing. To make sure that the Jury understood the case, the Judge allowed the same thing that Dave learned watching Quincy, M.E., all those years ago to happen…

Never More Divided

Almost daily we are told by some pundit somewhere, that we “have never been more divided.” I think that intellectually we know that isn’t true. But history is past, not always prologue. And without any experiential relationship to it, we find it easy to disconnect from it. We don’t know what happened, except in the broadest of sense, and so it is easy to both ignore its lessons and – like a teenager after a first breakup – believe that nobody could possibly understand what we are going through right now. 

When it comes to the American Civil War of 1861-1865, there are any number of passions, beliefs, arguments, nostalgic wanderings and even warmed over arguments that it’s hard sometimes to keep it all straight. If you want to really start an argument by dropping a grenade into a conversation, just bring up any of the controversial aspects of the Civil War (my personal favorite is, “Could the South have won?”). Then walk over and get your popcorn.

Here we are, one hundred and fifty-two years after the end of the War, and now we have decided that Confederate Monuments need to come down because, hurt feelings. I guess.

Look. I’ll be the second person to say it: Confederate Monuments are the ultimate Participation Trophy. Literally they say “2nd Place, American Civil War.” And while I will also argue that the Confederate States of America was an evil thing in its time, what exactly does tearing down monuments actually accomplish? Supporters of the monuments claim that we can “learn from them.” Fine. Conversely, What is the lesson a person takes away from a statue of Jefferson Davis? 

If education and enlightenment are to be our focus, instead of “feelings” and emotions, when we tear down all of these monuments because, hurt feelings, with what do we replace them? More importantly, when we erase this history, regardless of its stench, what gets reinforced in our corporate minds? That we have never “been more divided?”

Unintended Disconnect

So… unintended consequences, I suppose. That’s what politicians say, right?

The move is going forward. Cami packed up much of the storage in the garage yesterday, while I worked on some technical stuff. One of the things I had done was schedule utilities for disconnect as their cycles came up. First up, our home phone on the 8th. We never use it anyway. In fact, it (the phone) actually has never worked despite my complaints to the Verizon Frontier people over the years. In fact, the reason that I was never able to have live phones was simply because Verizon Frontier couldn’t get their stuff together and get it working. For four years they kept saying it was “my fault,” meaning it was something internal to the house. When they finally sent a repair man two years ago, he discovered that it was a ground in their junction box almost a mile away.

Needless to say, he did not fix the ground, he simply bypassed it. To another partially ground out line. I gave up.

So now the phone line is gone and I got to tell Verizon Frontier that their service sucks and I am happy to be rid of them.

What I forgot, apparently, is that my internet is connected to that service. So now I am sitting at a local restaurant with free wifi to upload this.

Moving is such a pain in the rear end!

It’s hard to believe that it was four years ago today that John and sat down on a Thursday afternoon to have a chat with you fine people. I had been up most of the night with Ben’s skin issues. We had gone to yet another Doctor in the morning and I was feeling very tired and frustrated. As usual though, John was there to more or less get me on track and we had a fascinating show that day. Ariel Castro’s brothers had turned out to actually not know what he had been doing. Disney had finally given up on trying to trademark The Day of the Dead, and in the 5pm hour we were discussing Article 1 Section 10, Federalism.

In the subsequent years, some have told me that this is hands down the best episode of Constitution Thursday. I am too close to it so I have a hard time choosing. I know which episodes are really good, which are average and which ones, well… needed more prep time. But this one is among the best ones.

I think that both John and I were stunned by its events. At one point John even says, “I don’t want to know how this story ends.”

The hanging of Captain Henry Gale helped to change the direction of the Convention going on in Philadelphia and consequently the nation. And it has lessons that we should never ever forget.

Original Airdate: Thursday, May 09, 2013

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