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Senate Passes "CARES" Financial Help Bill

Update: The Amendment is denied. Now they are voting on the main bill. How tone deaf are these Senators? No 6 feet clearance for them.

The "CARES" bill passes with no "nay" votes. Here is the 619 page bill as of this afternoon. I've been reading it for the last several hours (while listening to the speeches). I'm not sure if there are any changes to what they are voting on. Update: All the speeches for the past few hours have been delivered to an empty room. There are only two senators in the room during voting on the Amendment. I guess they all phoned in their votes. Why bother to have a public vote if you don't have sound for the senator's voices saying yes or no? All you can hear is a woman calling out the names and then she says how they voted. Towards the end of the vote on the Amendment, more Senators begin straggling in. [More...]

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Tuesday Open Thread: Down for the Count

Denver goes on home stay (aka sheltering in place) this afternoon. The only places we can go are the grocery store, drug store, pharmacy and for medical treatment and the like. It's kind of like home detention without the electronic monitoring, but not quite as strict as home incarceration.

Who else here is stuck at home? What are you doing to pass the time?

I think we're going to be at home for a long time. Last night, The Late Late Show with James Corden repeated his first show from four years ago. If they are planning on going through seasons 1 to 4 in order, that's a few hundred or more shows.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Colorado Ends the Death Penalty, Commutes Sentences to Life

Thank you Governor Jared Polis! The death penalty has been officially abolished in Colorado.

Today Governor Polis signed the bill passed by the Colorado legislature last month ending the death penalty.

While the bill did not cover the three inmates on death row in Colorado, Gov. Polis commuted their sentences today to life without parole.

Colorado is the 22nd state to abolish the death penalty.

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Harvey Weinstein Transferred, Contracts Coronavirus and Is Put in Isolation

Four days ago, on March 18, Harvey Weinstein was transferred to a reception facility at the Wende prison complex in Erie County, New York. Reception facilities are intake facilities where a new inmate undergoes diagnostic testing and observation and then the staff decides which prison he should be sent to to serve his sentence. Wende also has a maximum security prison.

Apparently, upon arrival he and another new transferee tested positive for the Coronavirus and were put in isolation in the medical unit at Wende's maximum security prison.

Wende has a long history as a prison, going back to the 1920's. It is now comprised of 49 buildings on 15 acres. It has a Regional Medical Unit (RMU) at the maximum security prison that at least on paper, provides comprehensive care. [More...]

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Coronavirus Numbers in Colorado

Now that testing is available in Colorado (albeit limited and involving long waits), the Colorado Department of Public Health is reporting results online with updates every five minutes. Denver and Eagle County (Vail) each have 24 cases. Total for Colorado as of today, March 15, 2020: 131. One elderly woman at increased risk due to a history of pulmonary issues has died in El Paso County (Colorado Springs).

On March 13, 2020 there were 5 new cases. On March 14, 2020 there were 24 new cases. Today, there are 30 new cases confirmed by testing.

Here is a realtime updated map and infographic by the Colorado Department of Health and Public Safety. [More...]

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Elizabeth Warren Drops Out

It's down to a two man race for the Democratic nomination -- Elizabeth Warren has suspended her campaign,

She didn't make an endorsement but said there's no rush to do so.

So after all the hub-bub with a diverse field of 20, we are down to two white almost-octogenarians. What a disappointment.

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Chris Matthews Retires from Hardball, Effective Tonight

Will whatever went down today at MSNBC between the network and Chris Matthews, host of Hardball, ever be fully explained? I'm not sure. But I suspect Matthews' sexist comments to a certain female and his inappropriate remarks about Hitler and Sanders, for which he apologized, are merely examples of why the network decided he was so incompatible with the politics of now as to have become obsolete.

Matthews seems to believe that covering politics today is the same as it was 20 years ago and the only changes are the names and faces of both those in front of the camera and those being interviewed. He likely believes his institutional knowledge of politics makes him a hugely valuable asset.

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Sunday Night Open Thread (All Topics)

I spent half the afternoon writing the absurdly long media open thread below, and then had two posts in a row on the primaries, so here's an open thread for all other topics, without making you scroll forever to reach the bottom.

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Sunday Night Media Open Thread: Non-Primaries Edition

Enough today about the Democratic primary. It's not like there's one totally desirable candidate we are all jumping up and down for.

In the TV department, here's what I've watched lately and can recommend:

"The Last Thing He Wanted", a film based on the book by my most favorite author, Joan Didion. It stars Anne Hathaway, William DaFoe, Ben Affleck and Rosie Perez. Hathaway plays a liberal journalist in the mid 1980's whose father, an arms smuggler to Central America (Nicaragua, Salavador, etc) cons her into making a trip on her own. Vague on details, she is supposed to collect $1 million for what he insists will be his last ever "deal".

I had read some reviews that said it was so fast-paced that at times it was hard to keep track of the plot. So before watching, I re-read the first three chapters of the book to remind myself what it was about (While I first read "Play it As it Lays" in 1971 and have probably re-read it every year or two since then and can probably recite large sections of it, this book I barely remembered. The Denver Public library has it instantly available to download as an E-book which I did, and then watched the movie. [More...]

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Harvey Weinstein Acquitted on Most Serious Counts

Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of one count of a first degree criminal sex act against Miriam "Mimi" Haley and one count of third degree rape as to Jessica Mann. He was found not guilty of the more serious predator sexual assault charges for which he could have received a life sentence. The reason for the acquittal on the top two charges: The jury did not believe Annabelle Sciorra's 30 year old account of what Weinstein did to her.

The first degree criminal sexual act charge carries a penalty of 5 to 25 years in prison. The third degree rape charge is punishable by anywhere from probation to up to 4 years.

In order to convict him on the more serious sexual predator charges, the jury would have had to have believed Annabelle Sciorra that he raped her 30 years ago and with respect to Jessica Mann, that he had committed the more serious first degree rape charge against her. That they acquitted him on all three of those charges is a testament to the work by his defense team.

[More....]

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Trump Grants Clemency to Rod Blagojevich, Pardons Bernie Kerik

It's a big pardon day for Donald Trump. He commuted the 14 year sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich who has served 8 years, and pardoned former junk bond king Michael Milken (who served 22 months and was released in 1993) and former NYC police chief Bernie Kerik (convicted of tax fraud for which he served 3 years of his four year sentence).

I wrote about the Blagojevich trial extensively and have always believed his 14 year sentence was unduly severe.

In 2010, Bernie Kerik reported to prison to serve a 48 month sentence for 48 month sentence for crimes related to under-reporting the value of renovations on a personal residence and making false statements on his Homeland Security application. (He had been nominated for Chief of HHS by his former buddy Rudy Giuliani).

Trump also pardoned a former NFL guy I never heard of who backed one of his fundraisers and former junk bond king Michael Milken (famously perp-walked while Rudy was Mayor).

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"Reporting Problems" Delay Iowa Results

All eyes are on Iowa for tonight's caucus results. But problems with reporting have delayed the results .

Iowa is complicated. I remember from 2008 that the caucus I attended was like musical chairs. First everyone goes to their part of the auditorium where someone is holding their candidate's sign. After a preliminary vote, the candidates who didn't get 15% were eliminated. Then the hard bargaining begins with the candidates who made the cut vying for the votes of the losers' supporters. Then they voted again. Edwards and Hillary ended up being 7 votes apart, state-wide. Nobody got any actual delegates -- what they got were delegates to the state convention which in June, 2008 picked national delegates.

This year the rules changed so things are even murkier. As the New York Times reports: [More...]

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Superbowl Time: Open Thread

Will JLo and Shakira be great as Superbowl half-time performers? Will anyone ever top Michael Jackson's 1993 performance?

As for commercials, I have never remembered a single one other than the one with Cindy Crawford and I didn't see it while watching the Superbowl but years later on late night tv.

For those of you watching, feel free to share your thoughts. (I am not watching the game but have it playing on a TV in another room so I know when half-time begins -- the crowd sounds really loud). For those of you not watching, here's an open thread, all topics welcome. [More...]

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Tuesday Open Thread

Donald Trump's lawyers are a snooze. Listening to disjointed Sekolow is like listening to talk radio. Yesterday the lawyer I was listening to in the car who talked about the legal intent of the impeachment clause of the Constitution was very articulate but I thought his citing of the Federalist papers and quotes were selective and didn't paint a fair picture. He kept saying the House didn't give Trump a chance to fight the subpoenas in court before jumping to impeachment. Wasn't it Donald Trump's responsibility to go to court and seek to quash the subpoenas on privilege grounds? Did he do that? (I don't know the answer but I don't remember reading about a legal challenge).

Also, the lawyer kept repeating the equivalent of "good faith reliance upon advice of counsel" as a defense for Trump. Is that a defense to abuse of power? In criminal cases, that defense is usually limited to specific rather than general intent crimes (willfully vs knowingly). I don't see the willful intent in abuse of power (as opposed to obstruction of Congress by disobeying subpoenas but I'm following this sporadically so I may have missed something.

Trump lawyer Pam Bondi's attempts to smear the Bidens will likely only work with diehard Trump supporters who are already conspiracy theorists. But I still don't want Biden to be the nominee based on his horrendous 25 year record on crime legislation. (Bill Clinton has at least admitted the 1994 crime bill was a mistake.) [More...]

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NYTimes Passes Over Biden and Bernie. Picks Both Women

The New York Times has made its endorsements for Democratic candidate for President. It's picked two candidates, independently. (i.e., the Times is not suggesting a two women ticket). And those candidates are: Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren.

“There will be those dissatisfied that this page is not throwing its weight behind a single candidate, favoring centrists or progressives,” the board writes. “But it’s a fight the party itself has been itching to have” since Hillary Clinton’s defeat in 2016, “and one that should be played out in the public arena and in the privacy of the voting booth.”

.... “Ms. Klobuchar and Ms. Warren right now are the Democrats best equipped to lead that debate. May the best woman win.”

I agree. [More...]

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