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    Didn't you make a post about your jury experience?

No. I intended to, but for various reasons that I'll not go into, I didn't feel like doing much of anything at that time. By the time I dug myself out of that temporary funk I couldn't really remember all that I wanted to say. Here are some hastily thrown together details.

All in all, being on a murder jury was pretty surreal. Thankfully, MI abandoned the death penalty back in 1847 (according to Wikipedia, it was the first English speaking jurisdiction to do so), so I didn't have to wrestle with that choice. Were it an option, I assume the prosecution would have requested it. The guy on trial killed a disable man for his SSI money, the check for which he had just cashed at a liquor store. There were two defendants, actually. They were being tried separately by two juries at the same time. There was one piece of testimony that was inadmissible for us to hear, but not for the other defendant's jury. So for those 15 minutes, we stepped out of the court. Otherwise, it was two simultaneous trials. Our kid was 23. The other was 17. 17.

It was an interesting experience seeing the legal system from the inside out, at least hearing arguments was interesting. Most of the 7 or 8 days were spent in isolation rooms, which was torture. I don't mind being in isolation, because I can read until my eyeballs bleed, and I'm all the happier for it. The other 13 jurors...not so much. All they did was complain about how bored they were. That was the worst part. I have a very short fuse with complainers. For most of 7 days (arguments were only 1-3 hours per day), I was forced into a small conference room with 13 strangers who incessantly bitched about how there's nothing to do. One girl brought a magazine a couple days, but other than that, not a soul brought reading materials (and any devices were strictly forbidden). I couldn't believe it.

I was convinced enough that these people were big enough morons that I essentially appointed myself foreman, not being able to abide any of them running a meeting. I knew the kid was guilty. Everyone else knew the kid was guilty. But still, I made us run through every possible scenario in which we could think of a reasonable doubt about his guilt. It took about 12 hours of deliberation. In the end, there was no other choice. The kid didn't flinch when the verdict was read.

The most interesting part was after the trial was over, both the prosecution and defense invited us for interviews to determine what they did well and what they did poorly. It was very enlightening, because at that time, the prosecutor was able to fill us in on all the details that weren't admissible, including a cell phone video of the kids waving guns around and doing drugs. Apparently, since it couldn't be determined if any was the gun used in the crime, the video would be considered "prejudicial". Also, there were two eye witnesses whom the prosecution called. Neither provided any informative details to the jury, and each denied saying that they said the things that the police had written in their report that they said (which, apparently were repeated in subsequent pre-trial interviews with the prosecutor), much to the dismay of the prosecutor. As it turns out, on the day they were called, the whole rest of the gang with whom the defendants were affiliated packed the court gallery to intimidate the guys. It made sense, because the one guys looked scared out of his mind and the other almost didn't say a word. The prosecutor informed us that this gang's MO was basically to rob disabled people and the elderly of their government checks.

Of course you hear about murders when you live in the ghetto (or anywhere if you turn on the news), and you hear the gunshots from time to time, but it's different to be faced with the accused and the details of their crime. How much money can an SSI check be made out for? $500? $1000? I have no idea. Apparently, there are areas in the US where that is a sum worth the life of a father of 5. Hard to comprehend, really, that such places exist not more than a few miles from civilization. These guys had to go; I'm glad they're in jail. But still, my heart broke a little bit having to have a hand in their fate. I felt (and still feel) no sense of pride or accomplishment, only sadness for everyone involved.

by: b_b

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b_b  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: The GOP's fractal incompetence problem

Not sure if you're being rhetorical, but asking if Trump is a cause or a symptom is akin to asking whether heroin addiction is a cause or a symptom. The answer is yes. Godry is correct that the GOP has basically been rotting since the end of the Cold War. They've tried to cram the square pegs that are "against terrorism" and "against taxes" into the round hole of "against communism" but it's just not fitting right. Lubricated by a thick layer of KFC grease, Trump has been able to squeeze himself into a hole he didn't have much to do with creating, but damn if he isn't splitting it wide open.

Did you see that viral video of Bernie Sanders eviscerating Steve Mnuchin? It's a thing to behold, because Mnuchin is left almost speechless, but he sits there with the smug look of someone who doesn't give a shit about being wrong because he knows that there isn't a logical rip in space-time big enough to make the GOP give a shit how bad his tax bill is. They've reached critical mass, and the light and heat from their bullshit can no longer escape orbit, and thus it's turning in on itself. Competence surely isn't an asset, because any attempts to compute 'A' and 'not A' simultaneously break logic machines. Only a guy who claims that the Constitution is Christian scripture can compute this logic. Thus the ascendancy of fictional hyperboles like Roy Moore makes sense.

"Terror Babies!" "Death Panels!" "Job Creators!" It's difficult to not sense that the mountains of horseshit that they've been shoveling for the past quarter century aren't beginning to decay. Hopefully it decays into fertilizer and doesn't cause a cholera epidemic. One of the upsides of Trump being elected is the awakening on sexual harassment. I don't think that without "grab 'em by the pussy" that we'd have people like Glenn Thrush and Charlie Rose being suspended. Harassment is no longer something creeps from the other side do; it took someone as disgusting as Trump to make us recognize that. I hope he'll have a similar effect in other areas (racism, classism, etc.).

Trump is a symptom and a disease, and he's finally convincing us to make that doctor's appointment we've been putting off for too long. If his tax bill keeps getting this level of criticism (even the most generous estimates say it costs $1 trillion), there's a good chance that will collapse, too. Maybe at that point Godry will start to be taken seriously by his fellow conservatives.

    The central challenge for Democrats in taking back the White House will hinge on the party’s ability to persuade a majority of Americans to support a more progressive agenda going forward.

Apparently, Mr. Sosnik isn't familiar with how the Electoral College works. A plurality of Americans already vote democratic, and have so in all but one presidential election since 1992. Democrats' problem isn't one of majorities; it's one of geographics. That is unlikely to change anytime soon, and moving further leftward will accelerate, not decelerate this phenomenon.

The leftward lurch has some real perils in it. The numbers cited above I think don't paint the whole picture. Immigration, e.g., wasn't much of a partisan fight until like 2015 when the Muslim Ban was first proposed. Immigration reform was the darling of W and the Kochs and was opposed by Bernie Sanders as recently as the beginning of the primary season. That dramatic 52 point shift has seen a lot of its movement only in the last couple years. Similarly, we're seeing a dramatic increase in "single payer" devotees in just the last half year. Democrats and liberals should be wary of getting caught in the "against Trump" vortex, and not let it color their chances of ever winning another presidential election.

Speaking of, NYT published an OpEd today calling for Al Franken's resignation. That's the level of crazy liberals are going to rise to in service of all things "against Trump". Of all the moronic OpEds NYT has published over the years, this one got me particularly pissed off (because when Erik Prince or John Bolton publish one they're easy to laugh off), because it represents the worst of the left mob: letting a staff writer (as opposed to a one off partisan) call for the head of one of America's finest senators because, well, Roy Moore is a child molester and Donald Trump is a rapist and we don't like them so everyone gets a trophy.

People need to keep their heads. America and the Democrats don't need a leftward push, especially one that's driven by "against Trump". We need a push toward sensible regulatory and tax reform, driven by a shared sense of community and compassion. That's not a leftist agenda, even though it sounds like one in today's world. It's a humanist agenda that the left has the best mandate to push. It will only happen, however, if we move past the identity driven leftism that's currently en vogue.