Saturday Open Thread

Your turn. President Obama officially launched his bid for reelection today.

I haven't read any George Zimmerman news today, but feel free to discuss the case here.

It doesn't look like the Government is going to call Rielle Hunter in the John Edwards trial. Hampton Dellinger says the Government told the court yesterday afternoon it anticipated concluding its case by next Thursday. It provided its next six witnesses and Rielle wasn't one of them. While that's no guarantee, I don't see any benefit to the Government from calling her. All the money she got went though Andrew Young. And since two of the lawyers who represented her in the state civil case against Andrew Young are now representing Edwards at trial, with her approval, I think she'd try to help Edwards, even though the Government gave her immunity from prosecution in exchange for her telling its the truth.[More...]

I also don't think Andrew Forger, Bunny's lawyer, hurt Edwards by saying he knew the money went to his benefit. There was no time frame given as to when Edwards first knew that, and Forger didn't get the information until the fall of 2008, after the crime. According to Forger, in 2007, Edwards and Fred Baron both told him they didn't know Andrew Young had taken money from Bunny. Edwards suggested to Forger that Andrew Young should have to repay the money.

Also, an expenditure "for his benefit" amy not be the same thing as for his "personal use" under the campaign contribution statute. And even if it did go to his benefit and was for his personal use, it still had to be for the purpose of influencing the election -- rather than hiding Hunter from the media so his wife wouldn't learn that his affair was more than a one night stand. And Edwards, during his case, may present evidence that Baron and Mellon would have given the gifts even if he hadn't been running for office, because they were friends. I'll write more about all this later.

In the meantime, here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

< 9/11 Defendants Appear at Guantanamo Court | Chaotic Court Proceedings at Guantanamo >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Saturdaydreams (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Dadler on Sat May 05, 2012 at 03:18:32 PM EST
    This old photo of my wife and son at the zoo (link) has been holding my attention for about an hour now.  Something about the composition, the big old orangutan, the shadow on half my son's face, I dunno, just has my mind pondering the simple joy of a loved existence. Have a good one, y'all. And happy Cinco de Mayo. Peace.

    no offense to the big guy (none / 0) (#2)
    by Dadler on Sat May 05, 2012 at 03:23:31 PM EST
    who's in that glorified cage.  Ah the irony.

    I read (none / 0) (#3)
    by lentinel on Sat May 05, 2012 at 03:54:42 PM EST
    that Obama is pressing ahead with Bush's idiotic StarWars project of placing missiles on the Russian border.

    For some unexplained reason, the Russians don't seem to like the idea very much. They have gone so far as to say that if things get in the least dicey, they will preemptively blow the fking things up.

    I hope this doesn't deter Obama from his quest to fulfill yet another of Bush's fiascos.

    The deal to place missile defense ... (none / 0) (#8)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sat May 05, 2012 at 09:56:03 PM EST
    ... units in eastern Europe -- not on the Russian border, save for the tiny Russian enclave around Kaliningrad, formerly the German city of Koenigberg -- was actually brokered a long time ago when Poland joined NATO, with the Poles actually insisting on it. Given Poland's very thorny history with Russia, I don't blame them in the slightest.

    The Russians can bluster and threaten all they want. The Cold War is long over, and they lost. The sooner they realize that they no longer call the shots in the former Soviet Union's old eastern European satellites, the better off Europe will be as a whole.

    President Putin is not an idiot, and he's not going to risk a war with NATO over this issue. Frankly, there's actually very little he can do to prevent it, because he has no practical leverage. The Russian military is in very questionable shape, and they have their own internal security issues right now, with ongoing separatist movements in the Caucasus region and other areas to the east, where Muslims comprise the local majority.

    War with NATO would likely destabilize the Moscow regime, and the resulting defeat could lead to further dismemberment of Russia, well beyond what the country suffered in the wake of the Soviet collapse in 1991.


    Not to mention... (none / 0) (#10)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Sun May 06, 2012 at 12:00:31 AM EST
    the missiles have been in place for nearly two years now and these are Patriot missile batteries, not a "Star Wars" system.  

    That, in fact, was cancelled by Obama in 2009  

    Defence Minister Bogdan Klich was among the dignitaries officially welcoming the US Patriot missile battery in Poland, Wednesday, along with around 100 American troops, stationed in the northern town of Morag.

    The ceremony, at 13.00 CET, Wednesday, was attended by U.S. Ambassador to Poland, Lee Feinstein and director of U.S. Army logistics operations in Europe, Brigadier General Mark Bellini.

    "Placing the Patriot batteries in Poland makes the country more secure and contributes to Poland's cooperation with the U.S," Minister Klich told the delegates at the ceremony.  Klich said that it is important that American troops will be deployed in Poland. "The more America and Europe in Poland, the more Poland in American and European politics," he said.

    The US 5th Battalion arrived from the U.S. base in Germany at the weekend. Since then troops have been unloading and assembling the Patriots, the stationing of which in Poland was initially agreed between Warsaw and Washington during the previous Bush administration. The details were finalized when the two sides signed the Supplemental Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in February this year.

    Strengthening short-and medium-range air defense was a condition put on the negotiations on Poland's participation in the US central European missile defense program, subsequently cancelled by Barack Obama in September last year.


    In September 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama scrapped a plan agreed to a year earlier by his predecessor George W. Bush to install a controversial anti-missile shield system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

    Under that now-shelved deal, the U.S. also pledged to help upgrade Poland's national air defenses with Patriot missiles and has stuck to that part of the agreement.

    [Emphases added.]

    The Obama admin (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by brodie on Sun May 06, 2012 at 10:29:58 AM EST
    has apparently been planning to put a newer multiple-phase missile system in place in Poland which would be technically superior to the Patriots and it is this system which is causing the Russians some anxiety.  This was also the subject of NATO, US and Russian negotiations this past week.  

    Well, at least they are trying to talk out their differences at this point.  But in a US election year Obama seems determined not to do anything which the GOP could plausibly depict as weakness, while the Russkies seem to be taking a tougher line, as Putin comes back to power, against what they consider American encroachment in their sphere of influence.  

    A bit of a tense situation developing it seems.  And while Donald makes some good points, if the US pushes ahead with this new system (which might happen or not in a second O term, but would definitely occur in a Romney presidency) there could be the start of deteriorating relations with Putin's Russia, possibly a Cold War 2.0.  And they may decide to retaliate and get very hardline in other areas where they have more leverage (Iran, Syria) or perhaps a few years from now in the Arctic, where they are currently much better positioned and prepared militarily than any other power, as the fight for the vast energy resources there gets underway.

    One thing I think is certain:  Putin is going to be much tougher for the US to deal with than Medvedev and he's unlikely to let such things as a major US-NATO missile defense system right next door go completely unchallenged.


    The U.S. and the West ... (none / 0) (#22)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sun May 06, 2012 at 05:54:12 PM EST
    ... can live without Russia, which has an economy that's only slightly larger than that of the State of Illinois. The question is whether the Russians can live without the West. Therefore, the burden of this decision of whether or not to escalate tensions with NATO is solely upon them, and not upon us.

    I think our side would do well (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by brodie on Sun May 06, 2012 at 07:43:07 PM EST
    to try to put ourselves in the other guy's shoes -- Putin's specifically -- and gauge how he might think and react, even if it doesn't seem logical from our perspective.

    My immediate sense of it is this new system, if put on Polish soil, will first poison US-Russian relations and second cause a provocative Russian counterreaction, either in Eastern Europe or elsewhere, then or later.  I very much doubt tough guy Putin will just sit back and take it.


    I agree (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by NYShooter on Sun May 06, 2012 at 09:48:18 PM EST
    When a country, Russia, which has many thousands of nuclear warheads and a proven delivery system that can deliver annihilation to every corner of the world I would think only a fool, or an idiot, would believe bullying them to be a prudent approach to take with them. Add to that the fact that their country lost over 20 million soldiers and civilians in WW2 and are lead by a former KGB Chief and the situation becomes even more sensitive.

    When it comes to their national security, threats and brinkmanship are worthless strategies if a peaceful solution is our goal . Communism may have proven to be a failure but their military was not.

    Intelligent, knowledgeable negotiators, with a healthy respect for Russia's history is an approach that has a chance for a satisfactory solution. Threats and chest beating is guaranteed to make a dangerous situation worse.


    The New Zealand PM was interviewed... (none / 0) (#4)
    by EL seattle on Sat May 05, 2012 at 05:02:18 PM EST
    ...yesterday by John Campbell (who was in fine voice). Campbell and John Key talked about Kim Dotcom, the John Banks donations, and the Americans.

    It's a fairly detailed interview, mostly about the (local) political controversy related to the $25,000 donations to John Banks, and also why the Prime Minister wasn't aware of the Megaupload bust until almost the day of the event.

    The more of John Campbell's (none / 0) (#9)
    by sj on Sat May 05, 2012 at 10:04:28 PM EST
    interviews I see, the more I like him.  He is respectful but far from obsequious.  And he asks the right questions, I think.

    Let's do away with exit polls. (none / 0) (#5)
    by lentinel on Sat May 05, 2012 at 05:54:55 PM EST
    In France, they will be having their national election on Sunday.

    I have always hated exit polls. I have always considered them a means that the media use to influence and corrupt the electoral process.

    And guess what?

    From the NYTimes:

    Reliable projections of the result based on a partial vote count will be published as soon as the last polling stations close. Media that publish exit polls or partial results before that risk fines and legal action.

    Why we can't do that here baffles me.

    it's called the 1st amendment (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by desmoinesdem on Sat May 05, 2012 at 06:43:53 PM EST
    but quite a few countries prohibit the media from publishing opinion poll data for the last few days before the election.

    The corporate-owned media ... (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sat May 05, 2012 at 09:30:23 PM EST
    ... will indeed manipulate their polling data, and occasionally will even go so far as to produce polling that's subsequently proven to be so far out there as to be laughable, ex post facto.

    During our 2010 Democratic gubernatorial primary race between then-Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and Congressman Neil Abercrombie, the mainstream Honolulu media made it very plain that they preferred Hannemann, parroting the Sen. Inouye-led Democratic establishment. In the week prior to the primary, the newspapers and TV stations kept posting articles and data suggesting that the race was too close to call. Nate Silver's 538 column at the New York Times, picking up the local mainstream polls, was also predicting a nailbiter.

    Meanwhile, one online local media source, Honolulu Civil Beat, published their polling data, and their writers strongly suggested that the mainstreamers either didn't know what they were talking about or were being very disingenuous with the public. According to Civil Beat, it wasn't close at all, that Abercrombie was up by 20 points and even further, was killing Hannemann in Honolulu, his home turf.

    The mainstream media several prominent local officials immediately lit into Civil Beat, poo-pooing their polling as an outlier, and reaffirming their own "comprehensive" analysis that the race was close, and one anchorman (our local Fox News affiliate, natch) went so far as to predict that Hannemann would win.

    (Our own internal campaign polling data at Abercrombie HQ that final week actually mirrored the Civil Beat poll, and we were quietly anticipating a landslide. But we stayed out of the public media polling debate altogether, thinking that if Sen. Inouye and the local Democratic political establishment were that delusional, why intefere when they're about to suffer a very public pratfall?)

    So, come primary election day, Abercrombie not only won the Democratic primary in decisive fashion, 60% - 38%, he won every single precinct in the entire state, save for four on the island of Kauai. And as Civil Beat predicted, he even wiped out Hannemann in Honolulu by 24 points, 61% - 37%.


    I think (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by lentinel on Sun May 06, 2012 at 12:35:31 AM EST
    it is a serious violation of privacy to ask someone for whom they voted.

    Just say "no." (5.00 / 4) (#12)
    by oculus on Sun May 06, 2012 at 01:41:50 AM EST
    Absolutely. (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by lentinel on Sun May 06, 2012 at 04:34:13 AM EST
    But I would add an expletive before the "no".

    No invasion when you (none / 0) (#15)
    by brodie on Sun May 06, 2012 at 10:49:52 AM EST
    have the right to decline to answer or to answer honestly.

    Meanwhile exit polls, when done professionally and reported responsibly by the media -- no reporting until the last polling station has closed -- serve as a crucial means to determine whether an election is honest.  And since the premature reporting in 1980 and the media's voluntary actions thereafter not to jump the gun, there have been few problems with irresponsible media calling it too soon.


    I really disagree. (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by lentinel on Sun May 06, 2012 at 03:42:34 PM EST
    The asking is already an invasion.
    It's like the mob in the old days in Chicago.
    It's intimidating.

    It's also a violation of the feeling of a secret ballot.
    Of course you can decline. But it takes a bit of effort. And it is unpleasant.

    What if some turkey asks you how old you are?
    Or how much money you make?

    Of course you can refuse to answer - but it takes some goddam nerve for some s.o.b. to get in your way and ask.

    It's not that dissimilar to the invasion of unsolicited phone calls from people selling things. Of course you can hang up. But it is an invasion of privacy.

    Of course, being accosted by some arrogant ambitious pip-squeak while emerging from your polling place is much worse.


    Wow. A classic, (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by brodie on Sun May 06, 2012 at 07:31:33 PM EST
    mind boggling overreaction to what is for most Earthlings a rather benign social encounter.

    Most level-headed, socially-adjusted adults who don't wish to discuss their vote would respond something like this:

    Pollster:  I'm with Acme Polling.  May I ask you a few questions about how you voted today?

    Sane Citizen Voter:  Sorry, I don't care to discuss it, thanks. (voter walks away and pollster turns to talk to another voter)

    I would imagine a voter being approached by a pollster ranks about a -0.1 on the 1-10 scale for stressful social encounters.

    "the mob in the old days of Chicago" -- Wow ...


    Why (none / 0) (#32)
    by lentinel on Mon May 07, 2012 at 02:41:34 AM EST
    should we, the voters, be subject to even the least stressful encounter from these egomaniacal pinheads?

    Isn't it stressful enough having to vote on a workday - and wait for at least a hour - assuming the machines aren't busted?


    As long as that is the last (none / 0) (#16)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun May 06, 2012 at 11:02:24 AM EST
    polling place in the nation.... I agree.

    Bush v. Gore? (none / 0) (#17)
    by oculus on Sun May 06, 2012 at 11:02:35 AM EST
    A few networks did jump (none / 0) (#18)
    by brodie on Sun May 06, 2012 at 11:37:37 AM EST
    the gun in 2000, but only by 10 minutes wrt one relatively small strip of FL.  And there's not been any proof that it affected anyone not voting, just allegations, mostly from the GOP.

    Minor error by the media, they shouldn't have done it.  But it ended up doing no provable harm.


    How do we (none / 0) (#19)
    by lentinel on Sun May 06, 2012 at 03:32:23 PM EST
    know how many people who planned to vote for Gore in Fla. did an about-face and went home after the election had been called for Bush.

    I know I would have.


    I think I said that backwards... (none / 0) (#21)
    by lentinel on Sun May 06, 2012 at 03:45:48 PM EST
    After the State had been called for Gore, how many people no longer felt that they needed to stand in line to vote for him?

    How many might have voted for Nader thinking that Gore had won and there was no harm in it?


    You only prove (none / 0) (#23)
    by brodie on Sun May 06, 2012 at 07:11:16 PM EST
    my point -- mere allegations, no solid proof.  Then or twelve years later.

    No proof. (none / 0) (#30)
    by lentinel on Mon May 07, 2012 at 02:34:09 AM EST
    But a dangerous precedent.

    In any case, in the US calling an election (or even indicating strongly the direction it is taking) disenfranchises States in the West - as well as influencing their behavior.

    We seemed to do fine before this phenomenon of exit polling.
    And it just seems to me to be both an attempt to sway results and also make people tune in and see more and more commercials.

    And even if there is no proof that exit polling actually corrupts the electoral process, it is, for me, on its face a horrible intrusion upon the privacy of the sacred act of voting.

    And in this paranoid times, when one candidate is often framed as being more patriotic than the other, it reminds me of the era of Al Capone. One wouldn't want to admit having voted for the anti-war ("pro-terrorist") candidate lest one be placed on a list of "suspects".

    I would not participate in it - and I wish there were a movement to encourage others either not to participate or to give false answers so that results would have no credibility.


    Think of the last time you voted in a (none / 0) (#26)
    by ding7777 on Sun May 06, 2012 at 09:05:54 PM EST
    presidential election...

    How many people arrived at the polling location 10 minutes before closing carrying a radio/tv to listen to poll results?

    And why would they not stay to vote for the other elections(state and local)?


    Do you live in a 'late state'? (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by nycstray on Mon May 07, 2012 at 12:59:01 AM EST
    Goes for both voting and primaries. It's not the folks that show up 10mins before closing. Polls on the EC close when folks get off work on the WC, and are heading off to vote. And yes, they generally know what the score is without carrying a TV. Especially these days. There's that lil' thing called the internet . . . .

    my reply (2.00 / 1) (#29)
    by ding7777 on Mon May 07, 2012 at 01:49:47 AM EST
    was specific to the 2000 Florida vote being called 10 minutes before the Fl Panhandle polls closed.

    But to answer your question... I live in an EC state;however I know who I'm going to vote for prior to election day.

    Why can't easily swayed WC voters who must vote after 7:00pm EST  force themselves to ignore EC results before they vote?


    It's not ignoring the vote (5.00 / 2) (#33)
    by nycstray on Mon May 07, 2012 at 02:43:38 AM EST
    It's more about 'why bother'. And it's 6PM, not 7.  It doesn't matter to many if they know who they are going to vote for, it matters about 'why bother'.

    I've voted on both coasts. I prefer knowing my vote counts and it's not already called. I don't care where I am. I can't be alone in this . . . .


    I guess I just do not understand why (2.00 / 1) (#34)
    by ding7777 on Mon May 07, 2012 at 08:45:24 AM EST
    your knowing what the EC states have done influences your decision to vote.

    But since knowing the EC results will deter you, then why not vote before 7:00pm EST or get an absentee ballot or discipline yourself to turn off your radio/tv until you vote.



    Oy (none / 0) (#36)
    by sj on Mon May 07, 2012 at 11:22:54 AM EST
    But since knowing the EC results will deter you, then why not vote before 7:00pm EST or get an absentee ballot or discipline yourself to turn off your radio/tv until you vote.

    Great idea.  Contact all those voters and convince them of the efficacy.  Then ensure compliance.

    In the meantime.  One person (me) thinks "Hey!  I'll turn off the TV in the cafeteria, and the lobby and get rid of the news banner that scrolls on the newpaper build and make sure that traffic stays out of my way to get there before seven and I'll follow up on my absentee ballot".

    Oy again.  It's not about nycstray's individual vote.  It's about nycstray's vote as a representative (or representation) of other voters.


    It's not just about 'my' knowing (none / 0) (#37)
    by nycstray on Mon May 07, 2012 at 02:00:17 PM EST
    it's about the knowledge in general and how it might effect a voting population. And out here on the west coast, we're hearing about most of the nation before all is said and done.

    So we need to vote by 4PM? (I was thinking polls closed at 9PM back there). Thankfully, I do vote by mail.


    Why (none / 0) (#31)
    by lentinel on Mon May 07, 2012 at 02:37:24 AM EST
    should we be forced to ignore information that is going to be thrust upon us anyway?

    How do you ignore this information?

    It's like trying to ignore setting the clock back or forward for Standard time.

    Even if you want to not know, they'll make you know.


    not forcing but making an effort since you (none / 0) (#35)
    by ding7777 on Mon May 07, 2012 at 08:54:40 AM EST
    are swayed by early results.

    AVOID KNOWING what the early results are or better yet, vote before the early results are called