Oh my God - they've freed Kenny!

That was the Scum's headline yesterday, you see - I skim their front page so you don't have to. Anyway, Kenny Richie has released after serving twenty years for failing to babysit a small child properly. Now, what exactly happened that night is still slightly unclear, but it's been obvious for years that there was no solid evidence that he set a fire. Nevertheless, at least one of the late toddler's family seem to have no uncertainty whatsoever - her aunt (according to the BBC) said in court Richey would "burn in hell". I don't personally see how the interests of justice are served by having the court solicit that sort of inflammatory statement, but doubtless the profane cannot be expected to understand these mysteries.

I have some reservations about criticising her for taking that point of view - her niece died, after all, which was and is tragic - but it does rather remind me of the people who went on believing that the Birmingham Six were definitely guilty and got away with their crime on a technicality. It's that sort of absolute certainty that creates miscarriages like this in the first place.

Weird comments reported elsewhere include the prosecutor, Mr Gary Lammers, saying "The fact that he spent 21 years in prison — I don't think that makes him a victim" because he's not the dead child. Apparently Ohio law says there's only ever one victim, even in very complicated situations. Well, you live and learn.

Richey is reported to have had a "New York strip" at lunchtime, which is apparently some kind of steak.

Meanwhile, back in Bay City, appeals are upcoming for Luke Mitchell and William Beggs. Should be interesting. I don't particularly envy those involved.

In other news, as I type it's neck-and-neck in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, with available estimates showing Clinton actually slightly ahead. 40% of the vote has still to be counted, but it doesn't look like the whitewash that has been being predicted1. I feel the need to describe her as the "Comeback Kid" at this point.

McCain seems to be ahead on the Republican side, which I understand may make things interesting, although probably not for Chinese values of interesting.

Update: Aaaand it's Clinton and McCain, sports fans, with Obama and Romney making generous comments about the winners. A useful lesson there about polls and volatility, methinks.

Fox's exit polls favoured Obama, CNN's favoured Clinton. Who was the better news provider? You decide.

1: Many thanks to Dr Dan Streetmentioner's excellent book at this point.
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Maybe Fox was trying to screw with Obama's brain after his security dude shook down Bill O'Reilly for being a dumbass (context here).

Actually, I will be really curious to see the final returns tomorrow and compare them with the tracking polls through yesterday, and the exit polls done by the Manchester Union-Leader and the Portsmouth Herald (state papers who tend to keep a closer eye on these things than the big national networks). Hillary had looked like she was done for 36 hours ago, and yet she appears to have won by about 8000 votes statewide, so ~3%. How much of that disparity is polling error, versus private racism (say one thing to the pollster who can see your face, but vote whatever bigotry is in your heart). That margin could have obvious implications for Obama. Not that I'm a cynic or anything...

[ETA: apparently even the best of the tracking polls had a 17% response rate from independent/undecided voters as late as yesterday afternoon but the media just didn't get around to mentioning that in any of their polls. Charming.]

I had really hoped Mitt Romney, the worst governor Massachusetts has had in my lifetime, would be humiliated tonight and crawl back under his bridge to die. Alas. I'm not sure why anyone outside Massachuetts and New England thinks that Mitt would make a good president, given that the people for whom he was governor have overwhelmingly repudiated him and his legacy. He started ignoring his constituents about a week after he was sworn into office, so why expect he's going to actually do the job of POTUS?

My brother in law who got bitten by Mormons and turned into a vampire (or however it works) is a die-hard Romney man. Mark is an imbecile, though, so I'm not surprised. But the other BiL is also a Romney man, and I can't understand it. Joe is a mostly-sane human being with a brain and everything. How can he not tell that Romney is as venal and phony as Rudy 9iu11ani is slimy? I mean, good God, man, support Huckabee if you need to polish your whack-job Christian bona fides, but don't support the Mittster! Mitt would exploit the little baby Jeebus as child labor in a sweatshop in Burma.

I'm very glad the New Hampshire primary is over. Boston is about 40 miles from the New Hampshire border, so we've still been inundated with advertising even though we'd done nothing wrong to deserve it.

Edited at 2008-01-09 06:03 am (UTC)
his security dude shook down Bill O'Reilly

Hadn't seen that. Smug bastard.

I will be really curious to see the final returns tomorrow and compare them

Well, yes. What struck me was that Obama is to an extent the romantic choice for Democrats, and Clinton the pragmatic one, which puts Obama in (to an extent) the same position as the SNP in Scottish polls - they generally poll over their final vote by some-to-several percent, and this should be borne in mind. It doesn't mean they can't end up winning, of course.

the worst governor Massachusetts has had in my lifetime

Now don't bottle it up. Tell us what you really think.

There have been various comments about losing NH being fatal to Clinton or Romney, which I don't really buy. It's got to hurt him, though, especially as it wasn't even particularly close.

I'm very glad the New Hampshire primary is over

I can imagine. I suppose it'll be less intense for the next month, with attention and advertising spread so widely?
Now don't bottle it up. Tell us what you really think.

It seems like hyperbole, but it really isn't. Within months of becoming governor, having swooped in after the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City to depose Acting Governor Jane Swift for the GOP nomination after the state party convention, he started ignoring his official duties, slagging Massachusetts voters as a bunch of vegan communist homosexuals (which we are, but jeez, tact much?), and hanging around with that tramp South Carolina.

Meanwhile, I had the surreal experience one day of standing on a corner, waiting for a bus, with the Mittster staring out from the covers of both local papers at me, when across the street I saw an older guy walking down the street with a plastic shopping bag, picking up garbage. That older guy is former governor Mike Dukakis. Apparently he dose that sort of thing all the time as he walks back and forth to the classes he teaches at Northeastern University.

Actually, Massachusetts has a problem with Republican governors, so I don't understand why we've elected so many of them. Weld and Cellucci both bailed before their terms were up (Weld to try to become ambassador to Mexico, Cellucci to become ambassador to Canada), and Jane Swift, God bless her, was just never quite ready to be the woman in charge, so she stepped aside without much struggle when Captain Hair-do came into the picture. I just don't understand the GOP's compulsive need to run for offices they don't want to hold.

There have been various comments about losing NH being fatal to Clinton or Romney

I think that's more about failure to meet expectations than about outright losing. Given what the late tracking polls showed, a lot of people had thought Clinton would put minds at ease merely by staying withing a point or two on the final returns. I think losing NH by a margin similar to Iowa would have been fatal, as would a second third-place finish have been.

For Romney, coming second by six-ish points won't be fatal, but there was a hope briefly last week he might come third behind the Huckabee juggernaut. Then we all realized that Huck was going to get exactly as many votes as there are Baptist New Hampshirites, plus about a half a percent who were drugged, confused, or thought Huckabee really looks an awful lot like Jim Nabors, and they like Jim Nabors. So much for momentum.

I suppose it'll be less intense for the next month, with attention and advertising spread so widely?

It's that, too, but mostly it's that they're going to concentrate their advertising bucks for the moment in places like Florida, so I don't have to put up with it. By the time the Massachusetts (and Rhode Island) primaries roll around, football season will be over so I will have packed away the telly for the season anyway.
I saw the aunt say he would burn in hell on live TV (ah, the joys of News 24). The judge pretty effectively ignored her.
But . . . in court. What good does it do allowing that? Either it's ignored, in which case you might as well not bother, or it makes a difference, in which case it should be banned. A judge isn't a therapist - the point of a trial isn't for people to let steam off.
Aside from making Jerry Springer-esque, TV, I was wondering that myself even as I watched it. Especially as (I think, I'd only just turned it on) they'd already decided to let him go.

The ways of American "justice" confuse me immensely.
No, but the special pleadings are often a forum for interested parties (including the families of crime victims) to try to make the case that the defendant is still a danger to the public and should remain in custody. Unfortunately, families then pull stunts like this, putting the judge in the position of gaveling them down (and facing the wrath of either the appellate courts or voters, depending on the jurisdiction), or letting them waste everyone's time with their weepy bullshit.

And people wonder why the courts are always dealing with a backlog.
There is the competing view that since the actual point of courts is not strictly justice, but to prevent blood feuds and vendettas and generally to maintain the state's monopoly on violence (oops where did I put me black flag?). In that sense, letting interested parties blow off steam in the presence of people trained to ignore them seems perfectly sensible.

Now of course, were I to wave my black flag even more vigorously, I would say that religion is here acting in a similar social function, since despite being (in her view) deprived of retaliation by the state, righteously wrathful auntie has the reassurance of comprehensive reckoning in the hereafter, hopefully not therefore pursuing vengeance in the here and now.
This is of course exactly right - the state's interest is primarily in order rather than justice. However, allowing that behaviour in an official arena validates it in the public eye. I don't have a problem with an impact statement from those affected, but allowing (and therefore in the long term encouraging) people to talk about the process as if it was supposed to extract private revenge rather than an more abstract justice (ha ha) blurs the difference between the two.

Not that this is that unusual, of course - US culture validates personal retribution more than British or (as far as I can tell) most industrialised countries' do.
Though I do recall a UK case (in the early 1990s, I think, it's all getting blurry) of a man who had taken a shotgun, and blasted a truck driver (in the chest, I think).

Said truck driver had "caused" (don't recall precise facts) the death of his daughter (neice? granddaughter?) but had been given a "light", possibly non-custodial sentence. I think that the shooting was non-fatal, but must have smarted a little.

The English jury, despite direction by the judge, refused to convict the shooter even of "possession of a firearm with intent to harm". Which is a fair endorsement of retribution from a UK court. If my memory serves.

Bah, now I'm going to waste time trying to track down the case without a name, place or date...

The difference in exit polls could be a fluke, or possibly younger Obama voters having more time and inclination to stop for an exit-poll and tell FoxNews who they voted for. Or something else. It may well be that Fox being the less respected netwok among Dem-voters leads to them attracting a less-than-representative survey group and causing this inaccuracy. Also, Obama actually got more delegates (one more) than Clinton, so technically he did "win" the state moreso than HRC, though not in the manner they were reporting--though it's by superdelegates that are in play.
A colleague at work, who hails from South Carolina, has alerted me to certain factors (from startlingly low educational attainment to the KKK) that may influence the next round strangely.

Our conclusion: the predjudices against Clinton and Obama cancel out, leaving the pork-barrel and catfish-noodling votes as the deciders for the democratatic nomination in the next big test.
Well...yes, SC does have a certain level of low-education, rural population, poverty and old-South-ness. But generally speaking the more educated are more likely to vote than the less, the middle-classes more likely than the less-affluent, and the older folks more likely than the middle-aged who are more likely than the young.
SC also is one of the most racially diverse states with one of the largest black populations as a percentage of the whole. A fair percentage of them are less-affluent and rural (while states like NY and CA that also have large black populations see them almost entirely in urban areas). THAT will make things interesting as polls have indicated they were going to remain loyal to Clinton...until very recently...that's going to be the demographic that calls the SC primary.
It's more complicated than that of course, since the educated, motivated party electorate (especially the educated, motivated black electorate) tends to try to second-guess the stoopid bigots when selecting candidates. So the catfish noodlers remain influential by proxy (apologies to all educated, left-leaning catfish noodlers - I'm using shorthand here).
It could be a fluke, but obviously I chose to ignore that in order to have a cheap jibe at their (oft-mocked) slogan. Alternatively, there could be a number of factors such as you mention that they didn't manage to take account of. If there is an element of their reputation hindering their gathering of accurate figures, then that clearly does affect the ability to gather news properly (of course, this could in other cases apply to CNN too, and I wouldn't particularly want to laud them to the skies either).
It could be a fluke, but obviously I chose to ignore that in order to have a cheap jibe at their (oft-mocked) slogan.

I knew that, but I had itchy fingers.