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The Capital Murders and the County Vote

absolutely no connection

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, October 23, 2002.

With luck, the server gods will acknowledge that I was correctly uploaded today. Sorry about last week, but what can you do?

Last week was devoted to the Maryland sniper, then called the Tarot card killer although it turns out that the handwritings on various notes supposedly left for the police are different, so there may be copycats, several separate killers, or accomplices. Either way, to summarize, the image of high tech competence that all the documentaries, movies, and cop shows on television seek to impart is pretty much blown away. All the helicopters, satellite photos, and SWAT teams in the world aren’t doing the cops much good. You notice the FBI is not bidding to take over. The reason is, the Bureau knows this one might get away and that its profiler mystique, always overblown and questionable, might get fried. The Ten Most Wanted List was traditionally composed of people the FBI thought it could catch, not the ones who needed catching. That is why the Mafia never appeared on it till long after J. Edgar Hoover died.

It is worth noting that every alleged characteristic of this killer has been wrong. Given the various electronic cloaking devices for phone voices, who is to say the killer is not a woman? In any case, ten dead, three more shot and the police seem to be at sea. But at least they are further ahead than the media, which has just about used up its trove of clichés to deal with the problem. Today, for example, an NPR reporter announced almost in self parody that people were “struggling to explain…” some aspect of the case. This was followed by the inevitable psychologist who managed to get his name and type of practice announced nationally in what was an advertisement for his services to dotty parents of supposedly terrified children. His opinion was then lacerated by a psychiatrist. And so it goes.

We return to the pettiness of Boulder and voting. Boulder County just announced it is one of four counties in Colorado that does not have the ability to verify the signatures of mail in ballots and so they do not, since – one supposes – that only becomes an issue in a close election anyway. But it heaves up the issue of how people should vote in a Democracy.

I’m old. I don’t like new fangled inventions like the telephone, fax, or internet for voting. I am of the opinion that voting had better be done in person, and if a citizen is too busy to vote on a given day he doesn’t plan his life correctly. If you cannot make it to the voting booth at a given time, hospitals and elderly care homes ought to provide that option. If you are out of the country in the military or not, embassies or mail ins are fine, if they are needed.

I don’t think it so onerous for a citizen to have to put down his burden and once every two years apportion part of his day to voting. That strikes me as a reasonable, altogether fantastic exchange for the lives we lead. And if college students are willing to stand in front of T-54’s in Tiananmen Square, and be machine gunned in Asian capitals distant from the coast, or risk disappearance in South America, than the great bastion of Democracy ought to shut up about the flag and baubles and vote.

And if we accept mail in ballots but have no ability to verify their authenticity, isn’t that – given the activity in question – the very definition of process without point?