Happy Birthday, You Rebels!

It’s that day again where we contemplate the great project a bunch of rebels set out on 237 years ago.

In recent years, I’ve focused on what those rebels said about the judicial abuses of King George — language about denying some of Trial by Jury.

But this year, particularly given the coup in Egypt, I want to contemplate this passage.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

We’re far from the militarized state that existed when the rebels threw off King George. Obama’s Administration is, reportedly, currently investigating two retired Generals for telling secrets the Administration didn’t want told. Most of the country barely contacts the 1% that fights our wars for us.

All that said, we are experiencing a sequester that has had the effect of cutting off funding from our most needy, while not affecting the funding of our military contractors.

We are learning that our military — the NSA — is collecting all of our calls and keeping the emails we try to encrypt.

Before we welcome immigrants, we’re going to make another attempt to wall off our southern border — another attempt for the profiteers to get wealthy while the poor suffer.

Mostly, though, I’m thinking of our foreign policy.

One key strategy of the Obama Administration is to pursue secret trade deals that subvert our sovereignty to the wishes of corporations (and to cut off other countries if they try to do something, offer asylum, that is well established under international law).

Then there’s our use of the military in relations with others. Some months ago, a top General argued the way to restore our relations with Pakistan is to forge even closer ties with its military; already the military has succeeded in vetoing civilian efforts to rein in drone strikes in that country. Similarly, while Egypt has been through two governments in the last several years, we continue to fund their military, and continue to expect and encourage it to broker power.

With Edward Snowden, we appear to have placed demands on NATO countries France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal to deny Evo Morales overflight. But Austria, not a NATO country, offered Morales a place to land. Did we secretly declare Snowden mutual defense threat against NATO, because he revealed how much the government spies on us all?

We don’t have soldiers sleeping in our homes. We’re a long way from that kind of militarization. But we are, increasingly, becoming a military empire at the expense of the Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness of American liberty and — even more so — the liberty of people around the globe.

Happy Birthday, you rebels.

Update: Meanwhile, the NSA wants you to know it’s okay if you go join a RestoreTheFourth protest today.

The Fourth of July reminds us as Americans of the freedoms and rights all citizens of our country are guaranteed by our Constitution. Among those is freedom of speech, often exercised in protests of various kinds. NSA does not object to any lawful, peaceful protest. NSA and its employees work diligently and lawfully every day, around the clock, to protect the nation and its people.

That’s big of the NSA.

37 replies
  1. seedeevee says:

    With the overwhelming militarization of our police forces and the enlistment of the judiciary in our various wars on civil liberties – I’d say we have quite a large body of troops stationed in our country that are not accountable to the People.

    The quite easy ways that these forces get entrance into our personal spaces and things makes the “quartering” unnecessary.

  2. JThomason says:

    Well I guess the USPS won’t necessarily see a rebound with the NSA disclosures after all. There is still hope for the cafe rendezvous I suppose.

    Edit: Maybe the Cone of Silence was the right approach from the get go.

  3. What Constitution? says:

    It’s “purfuit”. “Purfuit of Happineff.” Says so right in the document.

    And I’m not sure which makes me more uncomfortable: the fact that the thought crossed my mind today that if I signed on to an internet petition about the 4th of July and NSA spying, I’d find myself further behind the 8 ball relative to the NSA — or the fact that the NSA has apparently issued a press release to reassure me that they won’t arrest me for doing so.

  4. HotFlash says:

    My dear Ms Wheel, re

    “We don’t have soldiers sleeping in our homes. We’re a long way from that kind of militarization.”

    But we have them sucking up our emails, on our phones, putting trash in our newspapers, TV and radio, and we are taxed to make sure they get three square meals — so, what is the diff? We are a long way from blameless or invulnerable, come to that. Hey, hey, http://dronestre.am/. It could be YOU!!!

  5. P J Evans says:

    We successfully institutionalized revolution – we have one every four years – but it seems that people would rather have the monarchical merchantman that looks good but runs on rocks and sinks, than the democratic raft that will never sink but leaves your feet always in the water.

  6. Dredd says:

    We’re far from the militarized state that existed when the rebels threw off King George.”

    Yes, but isn’t that “far from” in the direction of worse not better?

    Should we celebrate because they made us build houses for the soldiers all over the world instead of them staying on our couch?

    They had no vast system of houses around the in King Georges time. They do now. They took our money and built them housing … much more than demanding a visit to our couch and a blanket to sleep under.

    I would say we are far worse off now than they were then. They had another place to go. We don’t.

    If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” – James Madison

    At the moment, we are addicted to whatever they want to do to us.

  7. joanneleon says:

    Oh thank you NSA!! I feel so much better now.

    Now about those non-lethal (I thought we were calling them “less than lethal” now) weaponized drones used to immobilize “targets”… Can we talk? I’m sure you’d never use those on protesters. All that riot gear and Pentagon surplus and Bearcat tanks that the police have nowadays… those are only used on terrorists, right?

    Anyway, what method did the NSA use to get that message out to the populace? Kind of creepy to have them issuing 4th of July messages. More than a little creepy.

  8. rosalind says:

    happy b’day y’all. for anyone wanting to head to the movies to escape the heat/rain/world situation, i highly recommend a new documentary just rolling out called “20 Feet From Stardom”, profiling the top background singers from the 60s & 70s, including Merry Clayton who did the legendary vocal run on the Stones “Gimme Shelter”.

    the women are freakin’ hilarious, Darlene Love steals the show, and longtime Stones b.g. singer Lisa Fischer steals your heart. (for those on Itunes pull up the soundtrack and listen to track #12 “Sure On This Shining Night” – this is Lisa multi-tracking her voice. goosebumps).


  9. LeMoyne says:

    As My birthday present to those rebellious souls who cling to liberty and the Constitution, both living and long gone, I created a follow-on post @ FDL — http://my.firedoglake.com/lemoyne/2013/07/03/down-the-robot-hole-less-ethical-privacy-protection/
    to the emptywheel post — http://www.emptywheel.net/2013/06/25/keith-alexanders-secret-lie-retention-and-distribution-of-domestic-hacking-and-encrypted-communications/

    The emptywheel post looked at encryption and hacking – I see more basic holes big enough to eat everything. I think the minimization procedures were straight up turned into maximization procedures by creating exceptions that eat the rules, all electronic communications and the 4th Amendment. Perhaps still technically lawful because Congress gave the NSA permission to write their own rules, but is it lawful to turn prohibition into permission? Please let me know what you think…

  10. emptywheel says:

    @LeMoyne: Thanks for sharing. It’s a good post and may be right on. Though I will say the FISC opinion can’t have struck down ALL the minimization-as-maximization activity, bc Wyden and Udall’s language remains consistent across that time, IMO.

    I’m actually working on a post on the legal language behind this. But your notion that “minimization” has been completely turned on its head is right on.

  11. thatvisionthing says:

    @LeMoyne: I clicked, skimmed over it and hope to read it all later, but still I like the ending:

    Restore the Fourth!

    We need to take a good look at the Fifth as well. Last time I made a call it made ringing noises instead of telling me “You have the right to hang up. Anything you say may be used against you…” and neither did my phone come with a Miranda Warning ringtone when I bought it.

  12. thatvisionthing says:

    @LeMoyne: Plus, I think you’re right about looking at the Fifth too – was just re-reading a passage from the 1928 Olmstead wiretapping case – Brandeis’s dissent.



    However, with the technological advances, the government has received the ability to invade privacy in more subtle ways; further, there is no reason to think that the rate of such technological advances will slow down. “Can it be that the Constitution affords no protection against such invasions of individual security?”, Brandeis asks. He answers that a clear negative answer is evident in Boyd v. United States.[8]

    Brandeis argues that the mail is a public service furnished by the government, and the telephone is “a public service furnished by its authority.” He concludes that there is no difference between a private telephone conversation and a sealed letter. In fact, he writes, “the evil incident to invasion of the privacy of the telephone is far greater than that involved in tampering with the mails.”

    And here’s the part about the Fifth in the dissent itself:

    JUSTICE BRANDEIS: When the Fourth and Fifth Amendments were adopted, ‘the form that evil had theretofore taken’ had been necessarily simple. Force and violence were then the only means known to man by which a government could directly effect self-incrimination. It could compel the individual to testify-a compulsion effected, if need be, by torture. It could secure possession of his papers and other articles incident to his private life-a seizure effected, if need be, by breaking and entry. Protection against such invasion of ‘the sanctities of a man’s home and the privacies of life’ was provided in the Fourth and Fifth Amendments by specific language. Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616, 630 , 6 S. Ct. 524. But ‘time works changes, brings into existence new conditions and purposes.’ Subtler and more far-reaching means of invading privacy have become available to the government. Discovery and invention have made it possible for the government, by means far more effective than stretching upon the rack, to obtain disclosure in court of what is whispered in the closet. [277 U.S. 438, 474] Moreover, ‘in the application of a Constitution, our contemplation cannot be only of what has been, but of what may be.’ The progress of science in furnishing the government with means of espionage is not likely to stop with wire tapping. Ways may some day be developed by which the government, without removing papers from secret drawers, can reproduce them in court, and by which it will be enabled to expose to a jury the most intimate occurrences of the home.

    (I know! A jury trial, public court – how quaint! All those oathers have pretty much done away with those. Ok, reading on:)

    Advances in the psychic and related sciences may bring means of exploring unexpressed beliefs, thoughts and emotions. ‘That places the liberty of every man in the hands of every petty officer’ was said by James Otis of much lesser intrusions than these. 1 To Lord Camden a far slighter intrusion seemed ‘subversive of all the comforts of society.’ 2 Can it be that the Constitution affords no protection against such invasions of individual security?

    A sufficient answer is found in Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616 , 627-630, 6 S. Ct. 524, a case that will be remembered as long as civil liberty lives in the United States. This court there reviewed the history that lay behind the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. We said with reference to Lord Camden’s judgment in Entick v. Carrington, 19 Howell’s State Trials, 1030:

    ‘The principles laid down in this opinion affect the very essence of constitutional liberty and security. They reach farther than the concrete form of the case there before the court, with its adventitious circumstances; they apply to all invasions on the part of the government and its employe of the sanctities of a man’s home and the privacies of life. It is not the breaking of his doors, and the rummaging of his drawers, that constitutes the essence of the offense; but it is the invasion of his indefeasible right of personal se- [277 U.S. 438, 475] curity, personal liberty and private property, where that right has never been forfeited by his conviction of some public offense-it is the invasion of this sacred right which underlies and constitutes the essence of Lord Camden’s judgment. Breaking into a house and opening boxes and drawers are circumstances of aggravation; but any forcible and compulsory extortion of a man’s own testimony or of his private papers to be used as evidence of a crime or to forfeit his goods, is within the condemnation of that judgment. In this regard the Fourth and Fifth Amendments run almost into each other.’3

    In Ex parte Jackson, 96 U.S. 727 , it was held that a sealed letter intrusted to the mail is protected by the amendments. The mail is a public service furnished by the government. The telephone is a public service furnished by its authority. There is, in essence, no difference between the sealed letter and the private telephone message. As Judge Rudkin said below:

    ‘True, the one is visible, the other invisible; the one is tangible, the other intangible; the one is sealed, and the other unsealed; but these are distinctions without a difference.’

    The evil incident to invasion of the privacy of the telephone is far greater than that involved in tampering with the mails. Whenever a telephone line is tapped, the privacy of the persons at both ends of the line is invaded, and all con- [277 U.S. 438, 476] versations between them upon any subject, and although proper, confidential, and privileged, may be overheard. Moreover, the tapping of one man’s telephone line involves the tapping of the telephone of every other person whom he may call, or who may call him. As a means of espionage, writs of assistance and general warrants are but puny instruments of tyranny and oppression when compared with wire tapping.

  13. thatvisionthing says:

    Which fell first? Sixth? Fifth? Fourth? First? Or do they all collapse together?

  14. thatvisionthing says:

    @What Constitution?: Remember how we were taught that Jefferson changed Locke’s “life, liberty and property” to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”?


    And so by secret rules we regress:


    Marcy Wheeler: But they changed that. So in the secret rules that they bind themselves to, it no longer says a threat to person, bodily harm to a person, it says to property. And if you think about what the government does online, if you think about how heavily they police intellectual property, if you think about how often they shut down sites that they claim are infringing on somebody’s rights, then it gets really dicey, because if they’re keeping U.S. person communications because it’s a threat to property and they see the most dire threat to property as somebody, you know, copying a Hollywood movie or copying some rock musician’s song, then you’re getting into a whole new realm. And, you know, I don’t know if they’re doing this, but that’s the way they’ve written their own rules secretly to allow that kind of thing to be kept.

  15. thatvisionthing says:

    Among those is freedom of speech, often exercised in protests of various kinds.

    Doesn’t that sound like leashes and taking your veal for a walk?

    NSA does not object to any lawful, peaceful protest. NSA and its employees work diligently and lawfully every day, around the clock, to protect the nation and its people.

    Buffy Sainte Marie: “Now that we’re harmless and safe behind laws”


    Now that the pride of the sires receives charity,
    Now that we’re harmless and safe behind laws,
    Now that my life’s to be known as your “heritage,”
    Now that even the graves have been robbed,
    Now that our own chosen way is a novelty —
    Hands on our hearts we salute you your victory,
    Choke on your blue white and scarlet hypocrisy
    Pitying the blindness that you’ve never seen
    That the eagles of war whose wings lent you glory
    They were never no more than carrion crows,
    Pushed the wrens from their nest, stole their eggs, changed their story;
    The mockingbird sings it, it’s all that she knows.
    “Ah what can I do?” say a powerless few
    With a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye —
    Can’t you see that their poverty’s profiting you.

    My country ’tis of thy people you’re dying.

  16. thatvisionthing says:

    @emptywheel: Looking at language – I hope you saw the U of Wisconsin Madison students questioning of the NSA recruiters? The NSA titled themselves: “Language Career Information Session”

    The students go after the NSA for selling themselves as language specialists yet not being able to clarify, say, the difference between an enemy and all the rest of us adversaries (settle on “targets”). How to believe them when they’re clearly telling lies. It was a thing of beauty. I quote too much, but I’d quote the whole 12 minutes, except it’s actually better to listen to the audio:


    The NSA recruiters know nothing above them yet take orders unquestioningly, then “afterwards go down to the bar and dress up in costumes and play karaoke.” (quote from posting student Madi_Hatter tweet): https://twitter.com/Madi_Hatter/status/352141092671590400

    Students cannot get NSA recruiters to recognize that it’s not a word game, it’s not a game at all.

    NSA says it’s okay to choose another career, their job is not for everyone.

    Student says it’s not an option to not be surveilled.

    NSA says all 3 branches have approved. Did you read Senate Judiciary report?

    Student says I’d love to read the FISA opinion saying NSA program violates the 4th Amendment, but it’s a secret.

    And, earlier,

    Student A (female): I have a lifestyle question that you seem to be selling. It sounds more like a brochure smallercolonial expedition. You know the “globe is our playground” is the words you used, the phrasing that you used and you seem to be saying that you can do your work. You can analyze said documents for your so-called customers but then you can go and get drunk and dress up and have fun without thinking of the repercussions of the info you’re analyzing has on the rest of the world. I also want to know what are the qualifications that one needs to become a whistleblower because that sounds like a much more interesting job. And I think the Edward Snowdens and the Bradley Mannings and Julian Assanges of the world will prevail ultimately.

    NSA_M: I’m not sure what the –

    Me: The question here is do you actually think about the ramifications of the work that you do, which is deeply problematic, or do you just dress up in costumes and get drunk?

    I swear I want to quote the whole thing.

    NSA_F: Our director is not general Clapper.

    Student B: General Alexander also lied in front of Congress.

    NSA_F: I don’t know about that.

    Student B: Probably because access to the Guardian is restricted on the NSA’s computers. I am sure they don’t encourage people like you to actually think about these things. Thank God for a man like Edward Snowden who your organization is now part of a manhunt trying to track down, trying to put him in a little hole somewhere for the rest of his life. Thank god they exist.

  17. john francis lee says:


    3. When permitted under emergency authority in accordance with Reference (c), Federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the President is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances because:

    a. Such activities are necessary to prevent significant loss of life or wanton destruction of property and are necessary to restore governmental function and public order; or,

    b. When duly constituted Federal, State, or local authorities are unable or decline to provide adequate protection for Federal property or Federal governmental functions. Federal action, including the use of Federal military forces, is authorized when necessary to protect Federal property or functions.

    Makes it plain to me that the groundwork has been laid for a coup using the typical Maximizing/Minimizing ‘legalese’ that’s replaced the rule of law since the turn of the millennium.

    This made my jaw drop when I read it … everyone else seems to think it’s just another big yawn. I conclude that everyone has simply given up and accepted the rule of Big Brother Barack … not of himself of course, but of the TNCs he represents as POTUS.

  18. orionATL says:


    lemoyne’s theorem:

    maximization = minimization, iff a highly placed u.s. gov’t official (alexander, clapper, feinstein, rogers, obama) assures the citizenry that nsa spying oppprtunities are “minimized” and, by implication, not a threat to citizen’s privacy.

    maximization > minimization, iff an independent auditor examines minimization rules and discovers evasions and allowed exceptions to the minimization rules.

    corollary 1. u.s. gov’t officials who assure american citizens that the nsa spying does not intrude on their privacy are evading the truth or are lying.

    corollary 2. nsa analysts are permitted/ordered to routinely use evasions of and outright violations of minimization rules in order to meet their supervisor’s expectations.

  19. C says:

    @thatvisionthing: Shifting from Locke may have also been an attempt to support democracy. A focus on property rights alone is biased towards those who have property, i.e. the rich, and lends itself to an Ayn Rand style of life where as guaranteeing the “pursuit of happiness” for all emphasizes freedom of action even for the poor.

    Personally I like the change.

  20. Mauimom says:


    Saw “20 Feet From Stardom” at the local film festival a couple of weeks ago. It’s fabulous.

    And, for those of us weird enough to have watched “The Voice,” this past season, there’s a final 10 minutes or so on Judith Hill, one of the contestants. She is wonderful, and I wish her much success.

  21. What Constitution? says:

    @thatvisionthing: You’re absolutely right. There is only one “f” in “Pursuit of Happinefs” (actually, there are two since there’s an “of” in there). I claim a case of Stan Freberg — my unresearched reference apparently can be traced to a childhood exposed to a comedy album my parents played, which had a bit with Ben Franklin reading over Jefferson’s draft and asking about all the f’s in “purfuit of happineff” — Jefferson’s response was “it’s very in” to do it that way, which was good enough for Franklin and, apparently, for me. Another childhood certainty squelched. It’s pretty funny — I’ve even looked for it in the National Archives and it didn’t register in my mind there weren’t f’s everywhere there should be s’s in that great phrase. Thank you for that moment of clarity — but please don’t be telling me there’s no Santa Claus[e]?

  22. LeMoyne says:

    @emptywheel: Thanks for checking it out. Sadly, we cannot yet be sure what the current policy is. I think that calls for imagining/intuiting/inferring all possible skullduggery to be able to get a more complete and precise accurate set of questions for people to ask, especially journalists, true reps in Congress and maybe the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

  23. LeMoyne says:

    @thatvisionthing: Thanks for the considered opinion of an SCJ about how wiretaping is worse than reading the mail.

    At this point, with the rampant privatization, it would be nice if we the people could accept that the rights in the Bill of Rights apply no matter who is doing the searching, seizing, etc. For example, the 4th prevents seizure by *anyone* without meeting the standards set forth there. I keep thinking at the bottom of this mess the actual data gathering is done by security corporations working with the telcos.

    As to which right went first I think it’s equal protection (14th). Endowing corporations with human rights grants the owners and operators of large corporations a second, potentially much more powerful set of human rights and thereby inherently violates equal protection. Similarly, equating money with political speech relativizes a natural human right to each person’s financial status and, again, inherently violates equal protection. Eisenhower’s last draft of his MIC speech called it the Congressional-Military-Industrial Complex and it has really burgeoned beyond all sense after the Powell Doctrine increased political spending by factors approaching a thousand in the last 40 or 50 years.

    People are willing to accept inequality on the basis of authority (power, wealth, expertise or legal authority). The whole secret national security state relies on the assumption/belief that the insiders know best because they have every form of authority in parens above. Then they shred the BoR for our their own good – just to save their more important selves some time and money if nothing else.

    I maintain that none of the natural inherent human rights can actually be taken away from living people. The natural and political rights of people can be abrogated but they are only fully cancelled by death. And most commonly they are self-abrogated. People often give up their 1st Amendment rights in the face of authority, and the first step in that loss of free speech is often when we accept the inequality of power or wealth as the reason for not speaking out.

    Liberty and equality are inextricably related – any debate that talks about trading one for the other is likely within a false frame. True liberty for all is only achievable with equal access to that liberty. The reality of a secret national security state within the USG is predicated on inequality (requires acceptance of unequal protection and power and brings it into practice and being) and that inbuilt inequality naturally consumes the liberty of the greater mass of people.

    I think that this is another mass effect of the Snowden revelations as they unfold: people realize we are all in this together. The fact that everyone’s communications have been (or soon will be) consumed by the USG is a great equalizer. In turn this creates a space for the common expression of rights and liberty at least nominally shared by all.

  24. thatvisionthing says:

    @C: I think the pursuing happiness was light and genius. We used to have something! Now regressed to just threats and property. Look ma, no foundation.

  25. thatvisionthing says:

    @What Constitution?: You weren’t wrong, here’s an original I think you’re thinking of, the one published by the printer on the night of July 4, 1776, by order of Congress:


    We hold thefe Truths to be felf-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Purfuit of Happinefs-

    I have to thank you for making me look – they’re all different in interesting ways:

    Jefferson: A Declaration by the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
    Handwritten official one: A Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
    Printer’s: A DECLARATION BY THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (in different font sizes) – he didn’t get the corrections?

    England probably thought we were calling ourselves States of America, that’s what I think their copy read. Or else we mailed it to great Britain.

    Love this: Jefferson wrote “laws of nature and nature’s god” – which got changed to “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” in the others.

    I feel so comp lit – lise and liberty to all…

    (now why does the printer have “Happinefs” and “unlefs”, and “diffolve” “affume” and “Affent”?)

  26. thatvisionthing says:


    At this point, with the rampant privatization, it would be nice if we the people could accept that the rights in the Bill of Rights apply no matter who is doing the searching, seizing, etc. For example, the 4th prevents seizure by *anyone* …

    You said something.

    And reading that over, I see you’re saying there is no distinction between private and public, yet the twang I had was that there should be no difference in rights we see and respect – between any of us, between government and people, between citizen and noncitizen, between Americans and other people – if we believe in our constitution, which I do, or at least the way I see it.

    This is the hugest thing for me. Like the govt keeps narrowing down, excluding out, winnowing away, and it’s a fail in progress and they can’t see it. What are they going to do when they’re 100% pure? There will be 0.00000almostnothing of them and 99.99999almostall of us. We are all terrorists now, the 0.000001 and the 99.999999. And we relate how? Not meaningfully in any way that I can see. It’s a broken ecology. And who is happy? There’s an interesting question. And how did this happen? Is this like cell mitosis, are we just foreseeably and naturally separating into two, and both sides will be happy and whole until the next cell division, in a while? And who believes in what now? We manifestly have a government that does not believe its own Constitution, does not grok it, has turned against it, and has disabled the cells that do get it and would defend it. Sounds like AIDS.

    So much to think about. I’ve linked forever to the E Pleb Neesta youtube from Star Trek, and that line of Kirk as he’s trying to explain the meaning of the words to the remaining Yang tribesmen who can only recite holy mangled syllables anymore of words that only the eyes of their chief may see, in their endless war with the Komms: “They must apply to everyone or they mean nothing at all.”


  27. thatvisionthing says:


    As to which right went first I think it’s equal protection (14th).

    I kinda was there once, because the 14th is where faux legal personhood for corporations nonsensically came from, in 1886. But then when I learned that the first Supreme Court sat with a jury, and I read the jury instructions given by the first Chief Justice John Jay, I rethought and now I’m thinking maybe blame John Marshall, Marbury v. Madison, which put the Supreme Court above being checked and balanced, or maybe the change in the textbooks in the early 1800s, where future lawyers learned the function of juries differently than the founding fathers had, though the word jury stayed the same. Maybe. Don’t know enough about history.

    @11-14: http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2012/10/11/ex-cia-agent-john-kiriakou-accused-of-leaks-has-subpoenaed-journalists-who-are-they/#comment-49903

    I had an epiphany once about juries, that they’re there to judge the law at work, what was being worked in their name, that every exercise of the law put the law itself at risk of judgment by those it would rule, by anybody’s conscience. And that epiphany still lights everything for me. And when those juries worked, I saw the Constitution light up, it started moving, it came to life. It’s alive! Holy moly! All the details weren’t artistic doodads, they were functioning parts! They functioned together. Now when I try to say what I see is wrong with this or that political/governmental move, I can hardly be coherent because I have EVERYTHING to say–look, this part is disabled, and this one is harmed, and this one and this one and this one.

    Was that what Jefferson was thinking when he said this?

    Thomas Jefferson (1789): I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution.

    I can’t imagine anyone reading this long late comment, much less the links, and the links within the links, but I have tried to say this all before. Spent a long while here looking back, and this feels like one of the better comment threads I ever participated in: http://www.emptywheel.net/2012/12/29/future-forecast-half-ignored-poor-result/#comment-488805 … link starts @16, and I just read down the entire thread again to @48, and it was all worthy. If you go there, the things I said then that I’d want to say again here particularly are @16-18, I’ve already pointed out @19, also @26 (the key to it all!), and yes please @36.

    Okay, stop me.

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