Thursday Night Open Thread

President Obama has surfaced in the Blagojevich trial about what he knew about Blago's desire for a cabinet position if he named Valerie Jarrett to the Senate. Blago's former Chief of Staff John Harris testified he thinks Obama did know. Obama has said he didn't and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said the same when announcing Blago's Indictment. Now Team Blago wants the FBI 302 (investigative report) of Obama's interview with the feds. Will they get it? This judge doesn't seem to give Blago's lawyers an inch, between limiting their cross and sustaining objection after objection to their questions, so I doubt it. He also refused today to delay the trial so the defense could study any effect of the Skilling opinion on honest services fraud. He told Team Blago, it "may not offer a lot of hope for you."

The report in Sarah Palin's latest ethics probe is out. Her fund for legal fees was unethical. She's agreed to pay back more than $300,000. The report found no criminal conduct because she relied on advice of counsel. This latest probe was one of the reasons she gave for resigning as Governor. The report is available here.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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    Melissa has written an impartial summary (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 08:52:10 PM EST
    On The Allegations Against Al Gore, at Shakespeare's Sister. She is respectful to both Gore and the woman who made the allegations -- thankfully.

    you can't make an impartial summary (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 09:26:01 PM EST
    of a one-sided story. Without Gore's side, it would be irresponsible. It's an unsubstantiated allegation, period.  

    In addition, very few people realize she was reading a statement she had written out before hand, parts of which were written by her lawyer, and she acknowledged she made changes to it between the time it was written and when she appeared for the interview. All she did was read her pre-written statement out loud at the interview. That was followed by a few pages of spontaneous q and a. Again, by a cop.


    Earlier today you wrote an editorial about (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 11:07:35 PM EST
    these allegations called "MassageGate? Al Gore's Alleged Sex Capades". Imo, the title itself is a disservice to Gore and to the seriousness of the subject. It didn't need to be that way.

    Unlike you, I believe it is entirely possible to present an impartial summary of the plaintiff's allegations in this case. Sometimes we only ever get to hear one side of a story. Is it not possible to recount that in an impartial way? By "impartial", I mean, simply, fair and just.

    For example, let's say I have a student who got into a fight this morning and he told me his side of the story -- his subjective account -- of what happened. When I subsequently spoke to a colleague this evening, I gave her an impartial summary of what my student told me. Maybe tomorrow we'll get to hear the other guys side of the story, maybe not. If I do get the other side, I'll try to be equally impartial when recounting that.

    Of course, when it comes to Al Gore, we don't have his side of the story yet, and perhaps we never will. But that hasn't stopped pundits and bloggers from opining on it in a manner which is highly derisive of  Gore -- and also the plaintiff.

    This is what I'm saying: anybody who presents these allegations has a moral obligation to do so in a manner that is as impartial, as nonprejudicial, as humanly impossible -- given the circumstances. Some people are doing that better than others.


    a fight is different than (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 11:26:21 PM EST
    a claim of felonious attempted sexual assault. It carries life in prison in most states now, with the actual sentence not being determined by the court, but by a Sexual Offender Treatment Board. Conviction also requires lifetime registration as a sex offender.

    I have no problem at all saying no one should attempt to credit her story on such a serious matter until the other side is heard. That's how our system of justice works. Even when there has been an Indictment or Criminal Complaint, the DOJ is careful to put at the bottom of every press release "The indictment is not evidence of guilt.   All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law."

    I don't think there was any reason for this to have been reported by the media at all. And it's completely wrong of them to withhold the accuser's name while blasting his all over. That's a media policy that needs to change.


    Accusers' names (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 11:52:24 PM EST
    Boy, I sure agree with you on that because it's WAY too easy to extort money out of a famous person particularly by threatening these accusations.  But I sure as heck don't know where to draw the line.  It is still true, unfortunately, that there's a large degree of shame attached to having been assaulted, and that keeps an awful lot of women from reporting sexual assault if they think they're going to be identified.

    Unfortunately, it's ridiculously easy for unscrupulous or just desperately confused women to make false accusations against men (Duke lacrosse team), especially ones that can't be substantiated by any kind of physical evidence.

    Al Gore could be a terrible creep (which the Washington media is only too happy to believe) or completely innocent.  Three-hour private massages in one's hotel room strike me as a bit icky by definition, but what do I know.  I've never been a majorly stressed celebrity.

    Anyway, on one level, I totally understand the feeling of shame, but on another, it seems to me utterly bizarre.  But whatever I think about it doesn't matter because it's absolutely there and it's very prevalent.

    There just isn't any easy way to draw a bright line on this.


    You know that "three hour massage" meme (5.00 / 3) (#16)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Fri Jun 25, 2010 at 01:33:13 AM EST
    is going to stick like $hit to a shoe.

    Yet, what irrefutable evidence does anybody have for the actual duration of the massage?


    I'd be greatly relieved if (none / 0) (#18)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Jun 25, 2010 at 08:36:47 AM EST
    that turned out not to be true, but my understanding is that the police verified that the hotel did arrange for a three-hour massage session.  I have NOT read the umpty-pages of stuff on this, so I'm relying on reporting, which could of course be wrong.

    It also occurs to me that there may well be a three-hour minimum charge for a masseuse/masseur to come to the customer's location, so who knows what "three hours" even means in this case.


    Huh? (none / 0) (#20)
    by squeaky on Fri Jun 25, 2010 at 09:52:41 AM EST
    A three hour massage is well within the limits of a luxury massage. It is pricy, but hardly unusual. None of this is going to "stick", imo. It is like a flea on an elephant.

    Yes (none / 0) (#13)
    by squeaky on Fri Jun 25, 2010 at 12:01:18 AM EST
    And in particular the press who is selling the gossip for their own profit. Keeping out the name is a tactic, in this case, to bolster their story implying that they have integrity or are following a law to protect the victim.

    Oh, I know a fight and sexual assault (none / 0) (#10)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 11:42:52 PM EST
    are not the same thing when it comes to sentencing. However, it is still nonetheless possible for a third party to give a reasonably impartial account of either event.  

    she's not a third party (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 11:50:08 PM EST
    she's a direct participant and no it's not possible for a third party to judge whether her account is impartial, truthful or false, based on her one-sided, self-serving statement.

    It's not just sentencing that's different between a fight and  sexual assault. A school yard fight may or may not be a crime, and even if a crime, it's unlikely to be a serious crime. You could probably pick another example, like a person describing a mugging, but the end result is the same: When they name another person as the perp, the account cannot be assessed after only hearing one side.


    I didn't say SHE was a third party Jeralyn. (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Fri Jun 25, 2010 at 01:15:21 AM EST
    A third party is, of course, by definition, somebody other than the (two) people who are directly involved. And to further state the obvious, of course, it is NOT possible for a third party to judge the merits of the case based on the woman's sole account.

    If third parties -- like journalists and bloggers -- are intent on presenting these allegations, there ought to be an obligation to present the material impartially. Without insinuations and snide innuendos; and without editorially assessing the allegations in a manner that prejudges Gore.

    BTW, you must know that I know a school yard fight differs from sexual assault in both the seriousness of the crime and the sentencing.


    Some more crappy news... (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by desertswine on Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 09:24:09 PM EST
    in our war against the environment.

    "I don't see any future for whale species except extinction," Payne said. "This is not on anybody's radar, no government's radar anywhere, and I think it should be."

    God I love the movie (none / 0) (#4)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 09:27:53 PM EST
    'Mr Wrong'.  Will I ever get tired of it?  Whitman just broke his finger to prove his love, and Inga and Bob have broken into her house and they're cutting the couch and now she has gum in her hair :)

    Drilling Ban Lifted (none / 0) (#5)
    by squeaky on Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 09:51:29 PM EST
    The Obama administration's efforts to suspend deepwater oil drilling were dealt another setback in court on Thursday when the federal judge who struck down the administration's six-month moratorium refused to delay the decision's effects. .

    The Interior Department petitioned Judge Martin L.C. Feldman of the United States District Court in New Orleans to grant a stay of his decision, which lifted a ban on new drilling projects and on work on the 33 rigs already in place in the Gulf.

    But Judge Feldman said he was denying the delay for the same reasons he gave for his June 22 decision: that the moratorium was doing "irreparable harm" to the businesses in the gulf that depend on drilling activity and that the government had not given sufficient basis for the moratorium.


    Oh and not only is the ban "doing irreparable harm to the to the businesses in the gulf that depend on drilling activity", but it is doing irreparable harm to those who have invested in the oil business. like Judge Feldman.

    NEW ORLEANS -- The Louisiana judge who struck down the Obama administration's six-month ban on deepwater oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has reported extensive investments in the oil and gas industry, according to financial disclosure reports. He's also a new member of a secret national security court.

    U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, a 1983 appointee of President Ronald Reagan, reported owning less than $15,000 in stock in 2008 in Transocean (     RIG - news - people ) Ltd., the company that owned the sunken Deepwater Horizon drilling rig....

    Feldman's 2008 financial disclosure report - the most recent available - also showed investments in Ocean Energy, a Houston-based company, as well as Quicksilver Resources ( KWK - news - people ), Prospect Energy (     PSEC - news - people ), Peabody Energy (     BTU - news - people ), Halliburton (     HAL - news - people ), Pengrowth Energy Trust (     PGH - news - people ), Atlas Energy Resources (     ATN - news - people ), Parker Drilling (     PKD - news - people ) and others. Halliburton was also involved in the doomed Deepwater Horizon project....


    He should have recused himself, because his conflicts of interest are more than obvious.

    And Nancy Pelosi has "invested (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 10:12:09 PM EST
    As reported on dontgomovement.com, Speaker Pelosi bought between $50,000 and $100,000 worth of stock in Pickens' CLNE Corp. in May 2007 on the day of the initial public offering:


    Let's see. I will trade you one judge for the Speaker of the House and throw in an ex-VP to boot.

    Where is a Special Prosecutor when we need one?


    Conflict of Interest (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by squeaky on Thu Jun 24, 2010 at 10:37:22 PM EST
    Most of the Louisiana Judges who are involved with cases revolving around the Deepwater Disaster, either sold their energy stocks or recused themselves from hearing the cases.

    Your point is quite the non-sequitur.

    Should all congresscritters put their money in a blind trust. Probably a good idea.

    I certainly support Pelosi investing in clean energy.


    And then voted against off shore drilling (none / 0) (#17)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Jun 25, 2010 at 07:15:55 AM EST
    ...in fact she prevented bills from being introduced....which ballooned the speculative bubble in May/June 2008 which drove the price of oil up to around $145/barrel with gas at $4.00-$4.50 a gallon.

    The bubble didn't burst until Bush....way to late... signed the EO rescinding the previous one.

    What she did is akin to shooting fish in a barrel and several Internet exs are now in jail for similar actions.


    Good For Her (none / 0) (#19)
    by squeaky on Fri Jun 25, 2010 at 09:48:49 AM EST
    And if she did vote against off shore drilling, she did not vote against if for personal gain. Natural gas is one of the two products off shore drilling provides.

    Doesn't make any reason why she (none / 0) (#21)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Jun 25, 2010 at 09:55:48 AM EST
    committed the crime....When gasoline prices go up, Nancy's stock proves go up...

    BTW - The real deal is that T. Boone wants the government to build transmission systems for his wind mills electricity.


    Wind Mills (none / 0) (#22)
    by squeaky on Fri Jun 25, 2010 at 10:00:32 AM EST
    Well that was not the investment. It was natural gas. And, for the good of America, the Pelosi's should invest all of their money in renewable energy resources. They are true patriots, thinking about America's future and putting their $$ where their mouths are.

    Wrong (none / 0) (#23)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Jun 25, 2010 at 10:17:38 AM EST
    Pickens and Pelosi share the same talking points downplaying the need to drill and open up more access to American oil. Instead, the Pickens pie-in-the-sky plan proposes to replace natural gas with wind power in power generation and theoretically free up natural gas for America's transportation needs.

    Naturally, the Pickens Big Wind plan is proudly endorsed by Do-Nothing Pelosi's friends at the obstructionist Sierra Club. Through another company, Mesa Power, Pickens has committed upward of $12 billion in wind farms on the Texas panhandle. CLNE and Mesa Power are separate entities, but what benefits one piece of the Pickens puzzle benefits them all. The wind venture, as Pickens himself acknowledges, depends on permanent federal subsidies.

    Pickens is banking on `em. And Pelosi is banking on him.



    Nice Wignut Journalism (none / 0) (#24)
    by squeaky on Fri Jun 25, 2010 at 10:20:39 AM EST
    Let's see, Faux, worldnut daily, newsmuks, or tall cotton... lol

    Wind power is a great investment, more of that please.


    Especially if the (none / 0) (#25)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Jun 25, 2010 at 12:47:34 PM EST
    Speaker of the House owns part of the company...

    wingnut errand boys (none / 0) (#26)
    by jondee on Fri Jun 25, 2010 at 01:08:49 PM EST
    tilting at windmills and "the obstructionist Sierra Club"..

    The whole thing takes on a robotic quality after a while, that makes Hannity look like an open minded, freethinker.


    Ah yes.... (none / 0) (#28)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jun 26, 2010 at 09:09:38 AM EST
    keep denying it... right up till the Reopubs get in...

    BTW - Have you seen Nancy's plea for money to fight all the investigations the Repubs will launch??

    Seems like she doesn't think she will look good in prison orange.


    Citing a Michelle Malkin ... (none / 0) (#27)
    by Yman on Fri Jun 25, 2010 at 08:14:52 PM EST
    ... opinion piece as fact to try to prove your point?

    Are you trying to be funny?


    Why don't you try (none / 0) (#29)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat Jun 26, 2010 at 09:11:28 AM EST
    challenging the facts rather than the source?

    You don't because you know the facts to be correct.

    And yes, that is so funny I'm LOL.


    Because her conclusions ... (none / 0) (#30)
    by Yman on Sat Jun 26, 2010 at 09:39:35 AM EST
    ... are her opinions, not facts, and they're the opinions of a wingnut.

    You need to read more closely: (none / 0) (#31)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jun 27, 2010 at 07:46:24 PM EST
    Which brings us to Madame Speaker's 2007 financial disclosure form. Schedule III lists "Assets and `Unearned Income'" of between $100,001-$250,000 from Clean Energy Fuels Corp. -- Public Common Stock. Clean Energy Fuels Corp. (CLNE)

    Does Malkin lie????


    More Details Here (none / 0) (#14)
    by squeaky on Fri Jun 25, 2010 at 12:29:15 AM EST
    According to a GOP operative,
    Jeff Crouere at Bayou Buzz, US District Court Judge Martin Feldman "is now receiving death threats in the aftermath of his bold ruling."
    and Crouere further states that the allegations made that Feldman has a conflict of interest are false:
    Much of the sensational reporting on Feldman's investments was based on outdated information. The Judge was blasted for owning stock in Transocean, Ltd and Halliburton, two of the major companies involved in the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Feldman owned those stocks in 2008; however, he sold those shares long before issuing his ruling this week. In fact, this updated information will be released in the next report on his stock holdings.

    If Feldman held financial interests in any of companies involved in the lawsuit or the Deepwater Horizon rig, he would not have been allowed the take the case. The 5th District Court uses a sophisticated computer system to check whether judges have a conflict of interest in any legal proceeding. This system automatically determines whether a judge needs to be recused from a particular case. In this lawsuit, Feldman was allowed to take the case because he did not own any stock related to the parties involved.

    yet he still owns oil stocks:

    In a current civil case against Transocean before Feldman, the judge raised the issue himself, noting that he had holdings in Ocean Energy Inc. He asked whether the company had ties to Transocean that would present a conflict.

    In a May 24 order, Feldman put the matter to bed at least in his mind, saying he had been advised that Ocean is not owned by Transocean Inc., and "accordingly, the court's ownership of stock in Ocean Energy does not raise a conflict of interest in the present litigation."

    Requests for comment to Feldman weren't returned.

    Also Feldman was the judge who denied the stay on his own drill ban ruling. Seems odd to me, I would think another Judge would have to decide whether or not to judge Feldman's ruling. But what do I know, IANAL