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  • TRNN Panel: Thomas Ferguson, Michael Ratner and Jennifer Taub

    -   November 8, 12
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    TRNN Panel: Thomas Ferguson, Michael Ratner and Jennifer TaubPAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore, coming to you from The Real News news center, brand-new building, almost brand-new studio.

    Well, okay, we're coming to you from temporary digs in what will be the new studio, which we are going to introduce to you soon. In the next week or two, we're going to give you a virtual tour of the new national headquarters of The Real News in Baltimore, which is this amazing 33,000-square-foot building. And we are building a new studio and offices and a radio studio. But today we're coming to you in a rather temporary way, and there's likely to be all kinds of technical glitches. So please be patient, because in a few months from now, we will blow your socks off with what we are going to produce.

    Now we're going to pick up with the election coverage tonight and we're going to talk to our guests. But first let me introduce my cohost, Jihan Hafiz. Jihan has been covering Cairo for us. She's covered Spain for us. And she's going to help me cohost tonight, and she'll be part of the discussion. Thanks for joining us, Jihan.

    JIHAN HAFIZ, JOURNALIST AND PRODUCER, TRNN: Thanks for having me, Paul.

    JAY: And now we're going to go right to our panel, our first panel of the evening. And there'll be lots of different guests tonight.

    But first of all, joining us from New York City is Michael Ratner. Michael is president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights. But I should say tonight he is not speaking on behalf of the Center for Constitutional Rights; he is speaking on behalf of only Michael Ratner. He's also chair of the Center for Constitutional Human Rights in Berlin. He's also a member of the board of the Real News Network. And he's not speaking for them either. He's only speaking for Michael Ratner.

    Joining us from Massachusetts, in Boston, is Tom Ferguson. Tom's a professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He's a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and an often-contributor to The Real News Network. And I suppose he's only speaking for Tom Ferguson, too.

    And joining us and probably only speaking for herself is Jennifer Taub. Jennifer's an associate law professor at Vermont Law School, and before that, she taught at the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. And she researches and writes in the area of corporate governance and shareholders rights and financial market regulation.

    Thank you all for joining us.

    So, Tom, there's a—I'm going to start with a viewer question, and then we'll be kind of just chat for a while. But I thought it was an interesting question. I'm not going to read it exactly, 'cause it was a little complicated the way it was written, but the gist of it goes like this. Do the different candidates represent different sections of big business? Do they represent, you can put in other words, different sections of capital? Do we know what these different sections are? Do they have—do the differences between them matter in terms of what's going to happen over the next four years? What do we understand about that? Go ahead, Tom.

    TOM FERGUSON, PROF. POLITICAL SCIENCE, UMASS BOSTON: Well, look, I could hardly be expected to say no to that question. For sure.

    Now, I have to tell you, when you're trying to analyze an election, you run pretty far behind the data. And that's certainly my situation tonight. I've been working with Paul Jorgensen and Jie Chen. We've been looking at this election data. We don't use anybody else's data. We take it down from the FEC and process it ourselves. You know. But we're—there's an awful lot of it, and we're behind.

    I think I can say a few things about this election for sure. One of them is, you know, oil, gas, chemicals, a large chunk of, basically, energy suppliers and some folks who use them are certainly all ardent Romneyites, hugely. The financial sector's divided. I would not agree that, like, the whole of the financial sector went to Romney. Some—my best read on that at the moment is about 60-40 for him. That is a substantial change from 2008. But it's—you know, that financial backing for the president is going to be, I think, important in the next few years. What else? A lot of telecommunications companies seem to be showing up for the administration, but, I mean, this is pretty—that's the sort of general run of things [crosstalk]

    JAY: I mean, clearly—Tom, yeah, fossil fuel industry seems—. Tom, can you hear me?

    FERGUSON: And is that going to matter? Yeah. On everything they share with the Republicans, you know, the Democrats, you're not going to see much differences. To me what that means is that, you know, right after this election there will be an effort to do a grand bargain, and it will hit both Social Security and Medicare, and the president will try to do it if he's reelected. Now, I think that's still a little iffy. I don't think we should get too far out in front of real facts. But then for sure, you know, a lot of regulatory issues will clearly be up for grabs with this election.

    JAY: Tom, can you hear me?

    FERGUSON: I can hear you. It's a little difficult, but I can do it. A little bit sounding like you're coming through the Boston Aquarium.

    JAY: Okay. Well, let's see if we can fix that. So, Jennifer, what's your take on what these different alliances and sections mean? And just before you answer, as far as I'm getting fed here, Virginia's still too close to call. We're going to do a little horse race coverage as we go here, 'cause everybody does want to know the results. It's—whatever you make of it, it's interesting. Romney has apparently been called to win Indiana and Kentucky, and Obama has taken Vermont. And I guess there's no surprises there so far. Jennifer, what do you make of this question of, you know, what are the differences between these candidates? I mean, some of the debates they had, the moderator, Jim Lehrer, was saying, well, is there a difference between you on this and that, and not just where they are on policy, but who they represent, you know, who's the main financiers. What do you make of this differences?

    JENNIFER TAUB, ASSOC. PROF., VERMONT LAW SCHOOL: Well, you know, it's obvious that the Obama administration, in particular the Treasury, has been very bank-friendly. And so one might wonder how much more that would change under an Obama administration.

    Certainly, Romney has suggested he would either entirely or partially repeal the Dodd–Frank Act. So to the extent that there are some strengths in the Dodd–Frank Act, when it comes to bank regulation, those are quite modest. The concern would be that Romney, for example, would work with the Congress to perhaps either repeal the Volcker rule or through the agencies water it down. Obviously, it hasn't been implemented yet.

    But the other concern, I think, that differentiates a Romney administration on this front would be that he comes from the private equity world, and neither private equity nor hedge funds were really regulated very much under the Dodd–Frank Act and eliminated requirements. You know, there's a possibility that this would be diluted.

    But it is actually difficult to really distinguish them too much, because neither candidate has talked about what they will do to further reform the financial sector—or I should probably say reform the financial sector, because we really have not seen much actual change in four years.

    JAY: Right. Jihan.

    HAFIZ: Yes. I just wanted to mention, in relation to the viewer's question, if you actually check out, which is a government watchdog group, they have actually been breaking down the finance between both the Obama campaign and the Romney campaign. And, of course, it's important to not forget that there's also a congressional race underway. And they discovered in their report that this is one of the most expensive campaign cycles in American history. And if you check out the breakdown of them,, you'll see that there's agrobusiness, telecommunications, energy groups. So they sort of had the breakdown on actual numbers there if that viewer wants to check that out.

    JAY: But is there a sense from that of which way they're going as an industry? I mean, traditionally—Michael, you can comment on this, and Tom—traditionally, big corporations often give to both parties.

    HAFIZ: Exactly.

    JAY: But is that true in this round? But, Michael, what's your take on the broader question?

    Okay. Hang on. Now we've had an audio problem here. I'm not hearing Michael at all.

    MICHAEL RATNER, PRES. EMERITUS, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: Oh, no, I can speak now. I didn't—I couldn't hear a question, Paul.

    JAY: Yeah.

    RATNER: But I did have a—based on—I can't remember whether it was Jennifer or Thomas who said it, who said that I think almost no matter who wins, there's going to be a deal on Social Security and Medicare that doesn't sound like it's going to be good for people on Social Security or Medicare. So whoever said that (I don't remember now),—

    JAY: That was Tom.

    RATNER: —could you just address that a little more? Because that's pretty significant, assuming Obama wins, that that still is going to happen or may happen.

    JAY: Yeah, that was Tom. Go ahead, Tom.

    FERGUSON: [inaud.]

    RATNER: So let's hear what—I mean, how—I mean, you just dropped it, and it's a pretty big drop.

    FERGUSON: Well, I hardly think I'm saying anything that's not sort of moderately well known. You may remember in the first debate, the president actually made a remark that he didn't think that he and Governor Romney disagreed much on Social Security. You know, that's said to a guy who has Paul Ryan on his ticket. And my—the administration, when they called, when Biden made that promise—oh, this would now be back, what, almost two months ago—he may have said something like we won't touch it, and the White House called him back. I think anybody who's watched that colloquy has to realize that that was deeply significant.

    And my—if you'll pay sort of in the—what you might say, in the shadows, the administration's clearly thinking about both cost of living—toy with cost of living adjustments to make it less good, and extending the age of eligibility for Social Security. On Medicare, I'm not sure exactly what they're thinking about, but you can be sure that it will involve, I think, some significant cuts. When the president went out of his way to say that that sequester would never happen in the third debate, he also deprived his Senate negotiators of their best weapon to sort of cut—to block Republican efforts to sort of make those cuts bigger in Social Security and Medicare, a point that I know was not lost on many senators.

    JAY: So we did an interview with Bill Black where he made that point. He was talking about the grand bargain or the grand betrayal on Social Security. And if we remember when President Obama, just after being inaugurated, he had a dinner with David Brooks, Charles Krauthammer, George Will, and there were a couple of other conservative columnists at the dinner, and he promised them that once he could, once he was in a position, he would take on all the entitlements. And Social Security was clearly on the table. And that was right from the beginning of his administration.

    But that being said, you can kind of argue it two ways, can't you? Because if you had a President Romney that wanted to make the kind of dramatic transformations he's talking about, can he make a grand bargain with a Democrat-controlled Senate? Or do they become the party of no to a Romney the way the House was to Obama, meaning that in fact Romney might be able to do less undoing of Social Security than President Obama might?

    FERGUSON: That question, who's that directed to, Paul?

    JAY: Yeah, that's a good question. I was waiting to see if anyone jumped at it.

    FERGUSON: Look, I'll just—

    JAY: Go ahead.

    FERGUSON: I'll tell you this. If the Democrats lose the White House and they manage to hang on to the Senate, I think it's a pretty easy thing for a Republican president and a Republican House to fissure the Democrats in the Senate. You're not dealing here with sort of folks who are big defenders of the common man and woman. Some of them will split. I think that the notion that the folks who have sort of sat through the last four years of, you know, quite inadequate legislative work are going to suddenly turn into aggressive defenders of us, I don't think so.

    JAY: Jennifer, what's your take on this? But also you raised the issue of financial regulation, that President Obama's been rather friendly. But if Romney is serious about undoing Dodd–Frank and going even further, well, isn't that a significant difference?

    TAUB: Well, to the extent that he has a Republican House, even if there is a slight majority in the Senate. If you look at prior—if you look at the Obama administration and you look at the votes on the really what would have been meaningful reform in terms of either helping homeowners through bankruptcy reform or actually trying to downsize the banks, you know, as Tom has mentioned, there were—you know, there were a number of Democrats even then who did not side with real structural reform or truly helping out homeowners. So I would expect you'd see a similar number of Democrats, perhaps the same folks or others, who essentially are following the money and would move over to support what the Republican House proposed, perhaps. And it's really hard to speculate, but if you look at past behavior, it seems like that's quite likely.

    JAY: Well, Michael, what do you make of the argument that President Obama can actually sell some of the same policies Romney might want, but he can do it in a way that kind of defangs opposition in the liberal and left segments of the population? I mean, one of the things people point to to make that on the foreign policy side is the drone strikes, that, you know, a President Romney or a Bush couldn't have sold drone strikes in Pakistan the way President Obama can?

    RATNER: Yeah, well, I mean, I can talk to that, Paul. You know, I was thinking about why we have so little opposition on civil liberties and why we have so little opposition, really, by black Americans. And someone told me the other day, a guy who's very active in the black-American community and said, look it, you're getting a 93 percent vote for Obama. They sort of feel disabled in really criticizing him or going after him.

    And it's similar on the civil liberties issue. The same people who supported all the work that we do on civil liberties, from, you know, closing Guantanamo to stopping drones, all those kinds of issues, those people are Obama supporters.

    And so we've essentially disabled, in my view, two of the communities that we need. And that's why when you say you may have an easier time disabling the liberals as he passes different kinds of financial stuff, I think that's certainly—that's more than conceivable.

    JAY: But what do you make of that? Even if that's true that the foreign-policy gang and others that a President Romney might have tracked around him, you know, people like a John Bolton and many of the people that were involved with the Bush–Cheney government, that these people have such an aggressive agenda to project American power, essentially regime-change agenda, like for—if you take Iran, I mean, it seems to me that President Obama's made it clear that unless Iran is really heading towards a bomb and there's clear evidence they've made a decision to produce a bomb, he's not going to launch a war against Iran. People like John Bolton and those people who apparently are going to be around a Romney, they want regime change. It's not really just about some bomb. Doesn't that make a significant difference between what either president might do, at least on the foreign-policy side?

    RATNER: You know, from my point of view, I think—I mean, certainly on two kinds of issues—one of the issues I mentioned, whether you talk about, you know, drones or closing Guantanamo and military commissions, warrantless wiretapping, prosecution of whistleblowers, those I—you know, I don't think you could slip a piece of paper between the two candidates on those issues. I mean, we're not going to move on either of those issues at all.

    On the foreign-policy issues, I tend to think that what happened after eight years of Bush and why maybe—and maybe, you know, both Jennifer and Thomas can talk to this—why maybe some of the hedge fund people and other financial people started to support Obama is because the policy was just too harsh, too aggressive, putting us into too many wars.

    And so I—my sense is that same restraint will be on a Republican administration. And when I say restraint, I don't consider it great restraint. It's, you know, Obama's increased the number of drones by seven times what Bush has done in half the amount of time, and he invaded Libya without congressional consent. You know, I don't consider that great restraint. But I do think that the U.S. got burned quite a bit by the combination of Iraq and Afghanistan, and I don't foresee that, I don't see a major war coming, whether it's Romney or Obama, at least not with lots of American boots on the ground.

    JAY: Right. Jihan, did you want to get in?

    HAFIZ: Yes. I want to, I guess, make a comment and see what you all thought about it. Now, of course, the United States governments for about 100 years now has been touting democracy worldwide and the ability to choose independently different candidates. But it seems the United States government has been stuck in a two-party system for decades. And, in fact, it would shock many, I think, more in the international arena, that it's not the popular votes that wins the election, it's the electoral vote. And I was hoping that you could possibly speak to the United States representing the idea of democracy worldwide when in fact we're here in a two-party system, although we have third-party candidates, and it's not the popular votes that wins the election.

    JAY: Michael, that's—why don't you do that, and then Tom?

    RATNER: You know, I couldn't really hear the question clearly [crosstalk]

    HAFIZ: Sure. It's mainly about—because we're talking here about foreign policy, and, of course, the U.S. for decades has been going on expeditions worldwide to spread democracy, and the democracy that we're—people are participating in here today is pretty much a vote for two parties, although there are many third-party candidates. So my question to you both was to speak a little bit about the electoral process here in the United States and how democratic it is as far as there being a two-party system, and then, of course, there being only the popular vote does not choose the winner.

    JAY: Well, let me ask one other—let me add one piece to that.

    HAFIZ: Sure.

    JAY: I don't know. First of all, did you guys hear all Jihan's question?

    RATNER: Yeah, I heard it roughly, yes.

    FERGUSON: I caught part of it. Yup.

    JAY: Let me add just another—let me just add another piece to it. Hang on, Tom. Tom. Tom.

    FERGUSON: But before we do this, though, could I just come back to this question of the differences on foreign policy?

    JAY: Yeah, go ahead.

    FERGUSON: I certainly agree with everything Michael just said, but let's—it would be—I have some foreboding, though, on the question about war. I mean, the Republicans made enough noise about Syria, so that even though you could see them gulp hard and say, well, we're not quite sure what we'd do differently from the president at that time, I'm not persuaded that a Republican president wouldn't be somewhat more likely to intervene in Syria if they could ever find anybody on which they could hang their support, which is, you know, problematic.

    The other thing is, no matter how you slice and dice any particular Middle East issue, you know, Iran or Syria, the Romney folks made an absolute flat commitment to vastly enlarging the Navy. Now, look, you know, navies are very expensive. I mean, when you see a load of Tomahawk cruise missiles going off some American ship in the Persian Gulf, think dealer display floors full of Mercedes Benzes. I mean, that's a big chunk of Social Security, medical care, education spending, and everything else. I mean, and you cannot build up the U.S. Navy on anything like the scale they talked about and have much of a social program in the United States.

    And, you know, I suppose you can say, well, did they really mean it? I suspect that they do. And moreover, you can see, in the way the battle has been fought inside the Congress, overspending.

    I think it's fair to say that the Republicans are sort of busting out all over to try to sort of push up defense spending. In that sense, there is, I think, some substantial difference between these parties yet for all of both the commonalities and the—what are from the standpoint of most people not all that big differences in many economic issues.

    RATNER: One issue—on the defense spending I'm not as—you know, I don't know as much about that, although I think that on this so-called compromise that Obama had a while ago on the taxes, that he stuck that in there 'cause he knew it would be unacceptable and not palatable and they'd have to go back to the table.

    But on Syria, you know, I think there's probably as many liberal Democrats, the likes of—who believe in humanitarian intervention and will want to go into Syria for that reason. And so I think the constraints are not about the Democrats or Republicans, 'cause I think there's probably—you know, the people on the Obama administration who went into Libya, on that theory will want to go into Syria.

    And I think the bigger constraints are China, Russia, and what it'll do to the Middle East. I mean, the U.S. is already, obviously, giving some support. That's one constraint is China and Russia.

    And the other constraint, I think, is that there's been a significant amount of information that the people that are involved are involved either with al-Qaeda or similar kinds of groups, and I think there is some fear now of the blowback that has happened throughout the world as we arm those groups and they get involved.

    So I don't know the answer, obviously, Thomas, on that, but I just think the risks are probably not much greater than the humanitarian intervention people sitting with Obama right now.

    FERGUSON: Well, just—that does force you to, like, pay no attention to all those Republican senators who were calling for the intervention and then Romney's non-disavowal of that. You know, you might be right, but I don't [crosstalk]

    RATNER: No, I don't know. I mean, I—.

    JAY: Yeah. If you—. Lindsey Graham was directly talking—. Tom, can you—.

    FERGUSON: [crosstalk] Democratic president is, too.

    JAY: Yeah. Tom, Tom—.

    RATNER: [crosstalk] came out plenty in the last couple of years. So—.

    FERGUSON: But I wouldn't underestimate the Republican Party sections that actually are aggressive.

    JAY: Okay. Tom, can you hear me? This is Paul.

    Okay. We're having a sound problem here. The guests don't seem to be hearing me. Tom, are you hearing me?

    FERGUSON: Barely. I mean,—.

    RATNER: Yeah, I can hear you, but badly.

    FERGUSON: It has the quality of an operatic singing. That is to say, it's not quite sure what the words are; we like the music.

    JAY: I was going to go back to Jihan's point about the sort of relationship of democracy to foreign policy, actual foreign policy. And there was an interesting poll done by CBS about a year, year and a half ago. Amongst other kinds of questions, one of the questions was: do you believe that United States should use military force when attacked, when it's directly attacked or preemptively if it thinks it might be attacked? And it was over 70 percent "only if directly attacked". And so, clearly, if—that kind of poll on a specific question is completely at odds with the foreign policy of both parties, which clearly now believe in all kinds of preemptive attacks and clearly always have.

    FERGUSON: Paul, I would not—actually, I don't like the question wording. I mean, foreign-policy questions are famously a problem. I mean, you look at the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations surveys, they don't actually show a population that is real eager for foreign intervention. I mean, the problem with that question that you just read off is, if you [incompr.] it would throw in any relationship with uncertainty about that judgment, you'd get a very different answer from people. I wouldn't accept the premise of the question at all.

    JAY: Well, no, I don't agree. I hope you can hear me, 'cause it's hard to go back and forth if you can't. Can you hear me?

    FERGUSON: I can hear you, yes—poorly.

    JAY: Yeah. No, the question was framed in a way quite clearly: do you believe in preemptive military strikes, or only if there's a direct threat to the United States? And it was about—you know, in relationship to the Iraq War and other things, which were, you know, about preemptive strikes. And public opinion was overwhelmingly against preemption unless there's a direct threat to the country, which I think you can interpret to mean about projecting military strength.

    FERGUSON: Yeah, okay.

    JAY: So, Jennifer, let's go back to the finance side. In terms of where we're at right now with financial regulation, is there any change in our situation as it was in 2008? Is there any reason why the crash of 2008 can't happen again?

    TAUB: Yeah. I mean, I just gave a talk the other day, and I think the title will reveal to you my view on this. It was called "Still Risky after All These Years". And if you just look at the numbers, the top six banks, their total assets represent or are equal to a greater portion of GDP than they were right before the crisis. In terms of permitted leverage at the banks, they're permitted to have a very, very thin equity cushion. Now about the largest banks, 3 to 4 percent minimum equity cushion is permitted, which is grossly undercapitalized.

    Also, what's often overlooked beyond size and leverage is the largest banks' tendency on very short-term, often overnight funding to fund big portions of the assets on their balance sheets. And this is referred to as the repo market, referring to repurchase agreements, and at the point of distinct vulnerability that was really at the heart of the run on the banking sector, and that has not been fixed.

    So I'm—you know, I do see changes. I don't want to mislead. I mean, there were some important changes in the Dodd–Frank Act, in particular the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that candidate Elizabeth Warren championed. That was very important. And there are other aspects.

    However, when it comes to the problem of too big to fail, too big to manage, and too interconnected to fail, that has not been solved. And there's still a lot more to be done.

    And what I want to emphasize, too, is sometimes we ask: could another crisis happen? You know, for the American middle class and poor the crisis is continuing. There have been, I think, over 5 million foreclosures since 2007, and there's over $1 trillion in negative equity, meaning people owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. I think the number there is about 11 million households. This is serious. The crisis isn't over for those folks. And so it is distressing that it hasn't been taken care of yet.

    JAY: Alright. Now, for those of you who don't have a television on while you're listening to this and see results, I'll give you a little bit. Apparently, Romney is ahead in the popular vote, about 51 to 48 so far. But it's pretty early for that to be too meaningful, I think.

    FERGUSON: Yeah. That's—look, Paul, I have one eye on a quite silent thing, and, you know, I do this stuff. I will tell you there's one thing there that I see is a problem, and that's the Indiana win that they're projecting for Romney. It's not a surprise that he's winning that. The question is: is he winning by, like, ten percentage points or more? He might actually be doing that. It's impossible to tell right now, but what that says to me is that he may be running somewhat stronger in the Midwest than people thought he would.

    JAY: Actually, hang on. Tom, hang on one sec. You can leave that—we're going to put up the CNN picture as we're talking so people can see the results as we're going. You watch—CNN shows these results at the bottom of the frame. So, yeah, go ahead, Tom.

    FERGUSON: Well, it's simply that there's—I mean, we all know that Ohio is often thought to be the key, if not a key, to the race. And we also know that Indiana and Ohio are quite close to each other, and while they've got some significant differences in their industrial structure and things, it's not a terrible laboratory. And it looks to me like Romney's running a little stronger in Indiana than he figured to be.

    I mean, basically, I had a few tests made up for—in my mind as I was thinking here, and I thought, well, one of them is probably Indiana, and if he wins that by 10 percentage points or more, look out. It looks to me—I mean, I can't tell—I mean, the current results don't mean anything. I'm guessing it's just the way they likely report there, that Indianapolis is reporting already, and that's likely to be fairly heavy for Obama. But the fact that they called it so early says to me that they have a wide lead. They're not telling us, on anything I can see, how big that lead is. But I actually think this is becoming, unfortunately, perhaps, I mean, if I may step out of a purely [incompr.] a real race. This is something of a problem if you believed, you know, the stuff going into the evening.

    JAY: Now, I suppose most people have followed this, but just in case they haven't, this will go on into the next days if the margin of difference in some of these states, like Ohio, if they are the electoral votes that decide the election one way or another. If absentee votes and provisional votes are more than the difference between the two candidates, this becomes a big mess. Is that right, Tom?

    FERGUSON: Yeah, I actually couldn't catch your question. I'm sorry.

    JAY: Alright. It was: if the absentee ballots and the provisional ballots—.

    FERGUSON: Oh, yeah. No, no. Yes, they're enormous. And the different states use different rules under counting them. And I know—my memory is that Ohio, they don't even begin to count all those absentee ballots till some time after today, at least the ones that come in from abroad. I mean, I think they did actually publish earlier today a tabulation of the stuff up through yesterday. But they got all kinds of rules about provisional ballots if they're challenged, and then ballots from overseas. And, I mean, each state's different on this. You're looking at a state crazy quilt. I mean, I don't know any generalization that's applicable, to be absolutely sure.

    JAY: Okay. Jihan, you want to get in?

    HAFIZ: Yeah, I just want to chime in on that, because last week or, I believe, maybe two weeks ago, both campaigns, Obama and Romney, hired an army of lawyers in case something like this happens. So I think they're very prepared and they were aware that it was going to be a race, and razor-thin in some instances, especially in the swing states. So I think that both campaigns were aware that this race could end up this way, and that Indiana or Virginia or Ohio could swing any way. And, of course, not to bring up the 2000 election, but in that instant they had to have a number of lawyers for the cases that came afterwards. So just the comments for our viewers about regardless of when the results are announced, whether it's tonight or the next week or next month, they definitely have a team of people who are prepared to take these cases.

    JAY: Right. So we're going to take a break right now. We're going to come back to our guests on this panel later in the evening. And Tom, we're going to keep coming back to you, sir, for some analysis of the results and the process. So thank you all for joining us, Jennifer, Michael, and Tom, and we'll be back soon, and—.

    FERGUSON: Thanks to my panelist friends here.

    JAY: So we're going to take a little break. We're going to run a little, like, a promo, and we're going to bring some guests into the studio, and then we're going to carry on with the Real News programming. So please join us in a minute.


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