stAllio!'s way
Saturday, October 09, 2004 
delayed response
last night when i was voting in the online polls, they all overwhelmingly favored kerry... kerry was getting around 75% in most of them, and even more in some. but freepers have caught up in a riduclous amount of time... so quickly that it seems likely that freepers have taken the time to write hacking scripts in order to pound the servers with bush votes. sort of like they'll try to do to the actual ballot machines on election day. hundreds of thousands of bush votes turning up in the matter of an hour or so isn't very natural (considering you'd already have to be a blindly devoted bushophile to truly think he won the debate, what with all his shouting, leaping off his stool, or the "want some wood?" lie, where bush denied owning part interest in a timber company even though he clearly does. [note that the correction on the cheney-approved, where kerry almost certainly got this factoid, did not go up until after the debate, although the thrust of the argument remains the same]. or the dred scott flub, or anything else mentioned in my previous post.)

but despite the efforts of these bushco black hats, the dems are still faring well in the post-debate efforts: the conventional wisdom has finally come to accept that bush is quick to anger and some are calling him "furious george".

besides, the online polls are terribly unscientific (the sample is unreliable and it's easy to vote multiple times). the overnight immediate polls are a bit more trustworthy and so far they all show kerry winning as well.

bush is cracking under the public spotlight. he's used to his lackeys keeping his isolated from the public and the press. he rarely holds press conferences, and he requires that all attendees at his campaign rallies sign papers pledging their allegiance to him. if you happen to be wearing a kerry/edwards button or shirt, the secret service kicks you out. bush doesn't know how to cope with being publicly challenged, and it's starting to become obvious to everyone.

Friday, October 08, 2004 
dred scott?
when asked about who he would appoint to the supreme court, bush pulls a bizarre reference to dred scott out of his ass. who told him to refer to a slavery case from the 1850s? i was like huh? and my sister pointed out that bush clearly didn't understand the dred scott case either (as atrios points out here)

bush definitely did a better job controlling his facial expressions this time around, but some of them still slipped through. at times he blinked so much you'd think he was trying to get something out of his eye; he still occasionally rolled his eyes or smirked or winked conspicuously; and he was often so desperate to respond that he jumped out of his chair before the moderator could acknowledge him and offer him an extension. one time he was so adamant that poor charlie gibson couldn't even get a word in: it was pretty obvious charlie wanted to ask some specific follow-up but bush kept talking, "i need to respond to that. let me respond to that." (abc news already has a story about him fighting his emotions tonight)

but he was off the hook somewhat because the town hall format proved that the split-screen view was not practical for much of the debate. the candidates didn't have podiums; they had chairs but when speaking they would wander around the stage, trying to address the whole crowd a la theatre in the round. the switcher crew had to stay on their toes lest a candidate walk completely offscreen or turn the wrong way.

we noticed at least 2-3 questions that bush didn't answer at all: a question about how he would work to rebuild relations with other countries (he basically just said "i make unpopular decisions but they're the right decision"), and one where she asked him to cite 3 specific mistakes he's made (he couldn't name one; he just said he'd made "tactical mistakes" and "mistakes in who i appointed").

still a clear win for kerry, but not a total blowout like the first debate. now it's time for the post-debate fact-checking and spin. the democrats have totally killing at those so far...

now this has nothing to do with the debate, but i'd been hearing good things about going upriver, supposedly the definitive kerry documentary, but i looked & it's only showing locally at one theater way on the north side of carmel. then i found out it's available online in what appears to be a sanctioned download. i started downloading the torrent right before the debate and it finished downloading awhile ago. hooray for bittorrent!

time to go vote in some online polls...

[okay; srn is down so i can't post right now (in all fairness, i did receive an email stating there'd be scheduled downtime tonight) so let me say that so far kerry is slaying the online polls. he's usually getting at least 70-80% right now. to think the republicans were bragging before the first debate about their rapid response capabilities.]

Wednesday, October 06, 2004 
meet the jury
in june, the supreme court issued a landmark ruling in the case blakely v washington:

The Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling in June involved the case of Ralph Blakely, who had pleaded guilty to second-degree kidnapping after abducting his estranged wife at gunpoint in 1998. He could have gotten up to 53 months under Washington law, but the judge concluded the crime was cruel enough to merit a 90-month term.

In throwing out the sentence, the Supreme Court ruled that a defendant's right to a jury trial requires that any factors essential to a sentence lengthier than what the state rules prescribe must be proved to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

you see, in the original washington guidelines, a judge alone was responsible for all sentencing decisions, including what aggravating factors should be added to increase a defendant's sentence. the blakely decision set a new precedent that all those factors had to be decided by a jury instead of the judge. as the link explains, the supreme court is right now deliberating follow-up cases to blakely to clarify whether the blakely decision also applies to federal sentencing guidelines in addition to state guidelines.

serendity part ii: this week i was selected to serve on the jury of the first "blakely case" in marion county. my case started this monday, just like the supreme court arguments in the blakely follow-ups.

in our case, the defendant had already been convicted of two counts of sexual misconduct with a minor (a class c felony; the difference between this and "molestation" is that the victim [effectively his grandson; he married the boy's grandmother even before the boy's conception and was the only grampa the boy knew] was older than 14 at the time). we were not retrying that case and didn't get to hear much about that case, only evidence that was tangetial to that case. so we were in a strange position of already knowing the guy was guilty and having to decide if he was extra guilty. most people i tell this to wonder why the original jury that convicted the guy in the first place didn't also decide this case. don't ask me, because that was one of many facts they didn't tell us.

the jury selection actually went pretty quickly. we didn't even enter the courtroom for voir dire until 10:30 and the jury was selected by lunchtime. i suspected that the attorneys just selected every potential juror who didn't immediately freak out at the idea of being on a "child molestor" case.

when we went to lunch, the bailiff escorted us out of the city-county building over to the city market (a very popular marketplace-like lunch spot downtown. almost like a huge food court), where he left us alone until it was time to reconvene. but one juror tried to run off immediately upon leaving the city-county building! that was a very stupid idea, since he'd been given plenty opportunity to get out of the jury: if he'd simply said when asked that he couldn't be impartial, he would've been let go... but oh no, he tries to be a rebel instead. i know they caught him quickly (before the lunch recess was over) and i heard that they had him arrested and threw him in lockup for contempt of court. so let that be a lesson to you: don't try to skip out on jury duty.

we were originally given four "aggravating factors" that the state wanted to prove, whittled down to three by the time we got to deliberations. these are not verbatim as i don't have the jury instructions in front of me, and to remove people's names:

1. the defendant poses a great risk of repeating his behavior because 20+ years ago he had also molested his stepson and/or he'd also molested his youngest (biological) son and/or he'd also molested his eldest (biological) son.

this was the trickiest of all the factors, because the prosecution really fuckled up this one. the state subpoenad both sons (now in their late 30s) and apparently intended to call them to the stand, but never bothered to talk to them personally about that. and when the sons showed up at the courthouse, the state discovered that the boys would not testify to their father having molested them. this was a big coup for the defense, who pulled the sons up on the stand to deny, under oath, that they'd been molested.

very damaging for the state, and eventually reference to the eldest son was removed from consideration, because the state had no evidence to suggest he'd been molested at all. however, the parents of the grandson did testify that the younger son had personally told them about him being molested, and that deteriorated into one side's word against the other. most of the jury seemed more moved by the parents' testimony and were convinced the son was lying, so in the end after much deliberation, we ruled yes for factor #1 as well as subpoint A (the stepson, who did go on the stand and testify to being molested all those years ago) and subpoint B (the biological son; this was the point that held up deliberations for some time, as a couple of us weren't as convinced as the rest; even though the point was effectively moot, we still apparently had to rule on each subpoint).

2. the crime was aggravated because the defendant was in a position of trust with the victim.

this was a no-brainer. the defendant was the only grandfather this kid ever knew and they were very close.

3. the crime was aggravated because the defendant engaged in extensive grooming of the victim.

in this context "grooming" meant that the defendant had basically spoiled the kid rotten in an attempt to butter him up before molesting him. the defendant bought all kinds of gifts for the victim, gave him $30-70 cash every week, took him fishing multiple times each week, and even asked him to look for internet porn. and not only did he show favoritism over all his other grandchildren (all girls), but he apparently only started paying attention to the boy once he hit puberty. after some deliberation we ended up all voting yes to this as well.

4. the defendant needs more rehabilitation than the current max sentence of 4 years (per count) would allow.

this was eventually stricken from the list of aggravating factors for us to decide. the state didn't even attempt to prove it. and how the hell could anyone prove such a thing beyond a reasonable doubt? pull in a bunch of experts about prison rehabilitation? it's basically unprovable; maybe with millions of dollars they could've made a good effort, but they didn't even try because there is no logical argument to prove such a thing.

i was glad the state revoked this one, because it is the only one i would've absolutely refused to vote yes for.

so the jury voted yes on everything they gave to us. at times i wondered if everyone didn't just want to believe all this stuff because the defendant was obviously scum. as one of the other jurors (the other big skeptic) said "the prosecution did such a poor job on this that i don't want to give them everything they ask for." and she had a point: the consensus on the jury was that both attorneys were terrible. but we didn't really give the state everything they asked for, because they had to remove remove a subpoint from factor #1 as well as remove factor #4 altogether.

i was probably the quietest person on the jury, a fact that did not escape others' notice. i was also probably the youngest by a few years. 4 men and 9 women (only one alterate, because of the juror who tried to flee). and there were a few characters, like the woman who claimed she had lost all sense of smell and taste in a head injury a year ago, and told us what local businesses have the dirtiest kitchens (her opinion: arby's is super clean; kfc is not. and don't buy any meat or fresh produce from meijer, because meijer is filthy).

lots of other craziness, like when the defendant claimed on the stand that the detective who'd interviewed him had cut up and rearranged the interview tape in order to incriminate him... that's quite a charge to unload on a cop, and it made him look rather foolish, even giving the state an opening to play more of the tape for us...

anyway, i could ramble on with little anecdotes but it's about time to go home, so i'm done blogging for now. drbmd and i are probably going to the movies tonight to see shaun of the dead, so that should be fun.

thoughtcrime and punishment
ah serendipity... fahrenheit 9/11 came out on dvd yesterday, and yes i bought it (as well as the big one, finally on dvd, and eternal sunshine of the spotless mind). and in the most ridiculous republican attack on moore yet, michigan goopers are actually trying to get moore arrested for giving away free underwear and ramen noodles...

as someone on imn pointed out, it's commonplace for campaigns to give out free crap like t-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers... even purple heart band-aids. i'm certain they do this in michigan like they do in every state. so should all michigan politicians be locked up?

actually, maybe that's not such a bad idea...


Tuesday, October 05, 2004 
i got distracted by all my jury duty stuff that i forgot the vice presidentail debates were on until the first hour was over. what i did catch when i finally tuned in was pretty boring. total policy wonk stuff, which most people don't find that interesting.

the trial is over. blog about it tomorrow sometime. tonight i'm off to dnb night; hopefully it'll be better than the last couple times we went.

Sunday, October 03, 2004 
jury duty
i've been called in for jury duty on monday morning. i'm not exactly looking forward to it, since i have to get up extra early and throw my schedule off whack, but so be it. it is a day off work; i just don't get to sleep in.

last time i got a jury summons i wasn't selected. we'll see what happens this time around.

star letters
i've been browsing the online editorial section of the indystar, looking to see if they've printed my letter. i don't see mine there, but let's look at the "headlines" for today's letters that are there:

and that's virtually all the letters re: the presidential election. there is only one anti-bush letter on the page ("'Alpha male' column offensive to women"), and it doesn't even mention kerry.

on top of it all, there is only one pro-kernan letter (dem candidate for gov), compared to four pro-daniels (gop bush lapdog opponent) or anti-kernan letters, one anti-julia carson letter (dem rep for my district), and one "don't unplug terry schiavo" letter. the others are about spaceship one and local issues.

what's going on? i always though the editor was supposed to choose letters from a variety of opinions... but there's no diversity of opinion on that letter page: it's straight bush/daniels all the way. that's disgusting! i know indiana is a "red state" and the star is well known to be a conservative paper, but give me a break.

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