I often use a term “borked” to mean to fail in a spectacular fashion. (The official definition is: obstruct (someone, especially a candidate for public office) through systematic defamation or vilification.)

The “fake” news about President Trump wanting to end Mueller’s investigation in the Russia connection reminds me of origin of this word.

President Nixon ordered the firing of an independent special prosecutor looking into the Watergate scandal. The Attorney General refused and resigned in protest. The deputy who was then acting also resigned in protest. The Solicitor General, Robert Bork, was the new acting AG and fired the special prosecutor.

Bork’s memoir stated Nixon promised him a Supreme Court seat afterwards for his loyalty. Instead, he was given an appeals court seat by Reagan in 1982. Then Reagan put him up for a Supreme Court seat in 1987. He was so strongly opposed that we got a new word from it. There were 46 Senators in Reagan’s party and 6 voted against Bork. Justice Kennedy was then appointed and managed to get confirmed 97-0.

Weird that I missed the stories celebrating the 30th anniversary of the nomination on July 1, 1987. The nomination vote was October 6th, so there is still time!

The current witch hunt firestorm makes me curious what new terminology we will have in 30 years because of current events.

Constitution Day

Apparently September 17th is Constitution Day. This is the day in 1787 when the document was signed. (July 4th is for the Declaration of Independence.) Schools receiving Federal funding are supposed to spend part of the day teaching about the Constitution.

I wonder how many people have a copy of it?

If you have an eBook reader, then you should be able to get a free copy of the United States Constitution. Because it is in the public domain, anyone can publish it for free. Project Gutenberg posted it back in 2003.

Happy Constitution Day!

Interesting that we have a Federal holiday for thumbing our noses at England, but the anniversary for founding the government for our country, Constitution Day, goes unmarked with barbeques, fireworks, and intoxication. This year is the 225th one.

Not so long ago I read the Federalist Papers. It was an interesting look at how some Founding Fathers responded to complaints about weaknesses and overreach in the Constitution. I hope most people read the federal Constitution, their state Constitution, and the Federalist Papers every few years.

Laws and Presidential Candidates

See Spot Go Something that annoys me about politics in the United States is candidates for President claiming they will pass or repeal laws. A President can ask, cajol, badger, and otherwise influence Congress to pass or repeal a law. However, the President cannot go alone and create a law. He can only agree not to prevent a law from being created. This is easier when the political parties running both the House and the (60+ majority in the) Senate are the same as the President’s. Any one of these being different creates the impasse we have seen lately where even somewhat simple legislation becomes a nightmare.

An example is candidate Romney’s fix for immigration by removing Obama’s Executive Order and putting in place a law in the Washington Examiner.

“I will put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the president’s temporary measure,” Romney said.

(I do realize “long-term solution” is not explicitly a law passed by Congress, but what else could it be? Another Executive Order would be another temporary measure because any President coming along could remove it.)

Only if Romney becomes President AND the GOP keeps the House AND the GOP gets to 60 seats in the Senate is Romney likely ever to pass this kind of legislation. Maybe Romney banking on being at getting Democrats to support him than even Reagan? The Democrats’ DREAM Act fell victim to not having the votes required to pass it. Why would Romney’s version be any different unless the GOP get control of both houses of Congress?

I guess maybe stating one will ask Congress to pass one’s platform is too weak. Also, stating one will cram one’s platform through Congress is too dictatorial. So it is more convenient to pretend like one will have the ability to go it alone.


An Open Mind

1. A mind willing to consider new ideas. (source)

Tuesday I had the bounty of serving on a trial jury. Perhaps even more so for being chosen to be the foreperson.

Many people gave me advice for how to get out of serving on the jury. None of it I memorized because I was kind of excited about serving on one. Television and movies distort the reality, so getting to see how they really work was something I wanted to experience.

A coworker decided as a well educated, state employee, minority race, with no criminal record, there was no way I would not be picked. He did not warn me as the sole male on the jury foreperson was a given.

One of the items in the charge by the judge given to us jurors was to keep an open mind. The importance of this is that we as a jury have to have a unanimous decision. A single member in disagreement invalidates it. This is what makes it hard. In our civil trial case, two members went strongly one way and another two members went strongly in an opposite way. Hearing the first two’s arguments the latter two shifted some but not all the way. Nor were the first two going go budge. So at an impasse, I realized it was not going to go anywhere, so I asked a bit about having an open mind to change the frame of the discussion. Then I took some votes on the items I thought we were all in agreement to show that of the four points we already agreed 100% on three. It was only the last point that was in contention. So when I asked about splitting the difference being reasonable, everyone agreed it was.

I think playing the “open mind” card helped. I asked one person about how she knew her position. She knew from the beginning certain things. So everything one lawyer said confirmed everything she thought. The opposing lawyer’s statements were all wrong. I responded that stance was the antithesis of having an open mind. I started to use an example with her as the victim, but the conversation shifted before she could respond. When it came back around to the possibility of splitting the difference, her response was that it was reasonable couched in trying to have an open mind. Everyone shifted their positions to meet in the middle.

In the end, the process hurts. There is no reasonable way for everyone to be completely happy. In any direction we as a jury chose, someone is hurt by our decision. This, I think, is the key insight we as citizens ought to learn and keep in mind for when we vote on representatives. We are picking people who have to make tough decisions about how to represent us and sometimes chose to vote for things we dislike. Though to represent us, sometimes that means having an open mind to speak for the people. All too often elected politicians claim a mandate to vote their will over the peoples’.

Facebook Passwords

Facebook is a useful tool for gathering information about others. From the beginning, the advice has been to be careful that what is posted well represents us. Or… To limit who can see those things we might not want seen.

Hiring managers also have a difficult situation. Is who you are looking to hire who they say they are? One approach is to look at what candidates offer publicly. Another is to friend the candidate. In both cases, I as a candidate can easily hide information by controlling who can see it. It looks like the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services wanted to know if applicants had gang affiliations. Intelligent users would not publicly proclaim this information, but they might have the information privately available.

Michael Covington says in his blog you could be committing a crime in Georgia by giving out your Facebook password:

An employer who asks for your password is potentially requiring you to commit an illegal act (unauthorized computer password disclosure) under the laws of Georgia and other places, as well as breaching your contract with Facebook. Your password is not yours to give away. You have agreed, as part of the terms of service, to keep it secret. (And while you’re looking at the Georgia law, look at computer invasion of privacy, too.)

The relevant code from the page to which he linked:

(e) Computer Password Disclosure. Any person who discloses a … password, or other means of access to a … computer network knowing that such disclosure is without authority and which results in damages (including the fair market value of any services used and victim expenditure) to the owner of the … computer network in excess of $500.00 shall be guilty of the crime of computer password disclosure.

So, if by giving your Facebook password to a potential employer you cause more than $500 to Facebook or another entity with that account, then you face criminal penalties. Causing damages with the account whose password was given out is the key, which I think would require the user of the password doing something criminal with the account. You as the holder of the account are a criminal. What kind of penalties?

(h) Criminal Penalties.

…(2) Any person convicted of computer password disclosure shall be fined not more than $5,000.00 or incarcerated for a period not to exceed one year, or both.

Worse, you intentionally violate the Terms of using Facebook by giving an employer the password. Facebook emphatically rejects that employers should ask for a password.

4. Registration and Account Security

8. You will not share your password,… let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account.

I have seen a compromise suggested, where a candidate logs into the account and lets someone else look around for whatever it is they seek. Even that makes me squirm.

Privacy is always a tough issue, but I think when in doubt side with preserving that of the individual.

SOPA Blackout

January 18th and 23rd are planned blackout days for a number of web sites in protest to passing the Stop Online Piracy Act. Existing legislation like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act already reveal copyright owners ask to shut down web sites even when there is no infringing material. Granting them more power seems like a bad idea.

So in my little way, I will participate. This blog will show a message on the 18th and 23rd on a visitors first visit. Get the Stop SOPA WordPress plug-in and participate too.


One of those Facebook poll things had a list of American Film Institute top 100 movies. Fortunately for me, Netflix Watch Instantly has several of the ones I wanted to see.

Network was one of them. The scene where Beale, the news announcer breaks down in the rant, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore,” was like watching Fox News. The rambling conspiracy-theory laden monologue strongly reminded me of the shows I have seen with Glenn Beck. Later Beale does a monologue even more Beck-ish and passes out. Amazing!

It is clear to me Beck committed copyright infringement against this movie.