Catherine Eagles, the judge in the John Edwards campaign funds case, has made many seemingly ridiculous rulings that are likely to make any Edwards conviction a slam dunk to be overturned on appeal. So, I’d love to know more about her than can be found in this simple Wikipedia entry. (Here’s a summary of the shakiness of the case that I sketched on the eve of the trial.)
As this Washington Post article tactfully summarizing her miscues last week explained, Judge Eagles refused to allow a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission to testify for the defense about why the commission did not think the money channeled by key Edwards patrons to Edwards’ mistress was a campaign contribution. The judge also refused to allow Edwards’ former campaign treasurer to testify that an FEC audit had concluded that these were not campaign contributions. Nor did she allow testimony that the campaign finance law is confusing, ruling that “it just doesn’t seem complicated to me” - an assessment that the jury, which has now been deadlocked for a week, would probably not agree with.
Beyond that, I’m still hoping for some terrific reporter who covers the Justice Department (Charlie Savage of The New York Times would be my pick) to get the story of how and why Eric Holder’s Justice Department decided to prosecute this case in the first place. Criminalizing political conduct is always dicey, but this case is such an acrobatic stretch that everything about how it came to be begs to be put under the microscope. Someone might as well do it now - before there’s a race to do it if the Edwards jury follows the judge’s lead and convicts him but then the case is overturned with a stinging rebuke of Eagles from the appellate court.
4. Apple and volume discounts:
I recently noticed this article in a trade publication called Government Security News that says the Transportation Security Administration is seeking authority to buy 1,000 Apple laptops and 1,000 iPhones, iPods, or iPads for as much as $3 million. That computes to $1,500 per product, which not only seems high but clearly suggests that the TSA does not expect a volume discount.
The memo seeking that authorization suggests that the government doesn’t have much leverage with Apple no matter how much it spends. Because Apple products only use the iOS operating system, the memo explains, “there is no competition for Apple products.”
Which reminded me of stories like this one I’ve seen lately about school systems buying iPads in bulk, where, again, the math seems to suggest that Apple is bargaining hard. In this case, Education Week reports that San Diego is buying 27,500 iPads for $15 million - which would be $545 each. Assuming the devices don’t come with cellular connections, the middle range (32GB) new iPad lists for $599. Not much of a discount, and that assumes the school isn’t buying the lower capacity (16GB) version, which lists for $499.
So what’s the story with Apple’s volume pricing, especially for nonprofits and government agencies?