aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Last week James Joyner had the president’s job approval rating up noting, “what goes down must come up.”
President George W. Bush’s overall job approval rating has reached the lowest ever measured in this poll, and evaluations of his handling of Iraq, the economy and even his signature issue, terrorism, are also at all-time lows. More Americans than at any time since he took office think he does not share their priorities.
Last week it was CNN, at 45%. This week CBS has it at 37% (Republicans still give him 79%).
It seems flat out obvious that he will sink like a stone. An unpopular war was hurting in August, before high gas prices. On the 4th of July gas cost $2.04 here and that I recall thinking was high. A delivery we were quoted at $10 a month or so ago has gone up to $50. Winter home heating has yet to hit.
That’s just got to ripple through the economy.
Last week Joyner said, “Bush has very little control over gasoline prices, of course, but we have been conditioned to associate all events in our lives with presidential authority.”
I don’t assume Bush could have stopped this, but he could have prepared us (be preparing us now), mitigated some, done anything more than continue in denial.
Then again, he’s likely been busy with other things.
Yes, I’m intrigued and reading lots of speculation on Rove’s return to the grand jury. Since there’s absolutely nothing I can add, I’ll point instead to today’s other Rove news:
Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) announced that Frances Lovett, a registered voter in Kerr County, Texas, sent a complaint this week to Kerr County District Attorney, E. Bruce Curry, urging an investigation into whether Karl Rove, Deputy Chief of Staff to President Bush, violated Texas state law by illegally registering as a voter in Kerr County, despite never residing there.
Mr. Rove and his wife, Darby, registered to vote in Kerr County in 2003 after they sold their Austin, Texas home. County property records show that Mr. Rove and his wife have owned two tiny rental cottages in Kerr County since 1997, the largest of which is only 814 feet and is valued by the county at $25,000. In contrast, the Roves’ Washington, D.C. home is valued at over $1.1 million. Other local Kerr County residents have stated that they have never seen Mr. Rove in the area.
John Battelle and Tim O’Reilly opened the second edition of the Web 2.0 conference this afternoon with an exchange along these lines: Battelle said that last year, the mood at the conference was simply, “We made it”—we survived the Internet industry’s dark winter. This year, he said, it’s more like, “Something really important is going on—let’s not screw it up.” O’Reilly added: “We are definitely running the risk of another hype cycle.”
I’d say it’s no longer a risk, it’s a reality… it’s probably too late, John and Tim—the hype-cycle wheel is already in spin, up, up, up.
Talk about bubbles and spinning up, AOL’s buying Jason Calacanis’ Weblogs for $25 million:
Calacanis was an interesting guy. He had the dotcom pre-requisites. Amazing drive. Sassy PR machine. Huge ego. Manhattan pad… He liked to play the quintessential Silicon Alley guy.
Calacanis tried to make money out of SAR, but it died a death with 9/11… He eventually turned it into a VC web site, VentureReporter.com. He might have made a bit of money.
A few years later, without much else to do, he started Weblogs Inc. It was not long after Nick Denton, formerly of Moreover, had come up with Gizmodo.com and Gawker.com. A great rivalry ensued, each playing off the PR of the other. Everyone wrote about them, from the WSJ to, well, little me.
Now, as Rafat Ali reports - exclusively (perhaps it’s because he used to work for Jason?) that Calacanis has now gone and sold his blogging company for an estimated $25m.
Trot out that same old argument:
Ultimately, if consumers are going to be able to fully benefit from the flexibility and ease of access afforded by the Internet, they must not have their choices curtailed by misguided federal legislation.
A well-meaning U.S. Congressman, Rick Boucher of Virginia, is the author of the legislation in question. He first tried to make circumvention of copy-protection mechanisms legal back in 1998, when Congress was debating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. His effort to amend the bill failed. Since then he has been continuing his crusade through standalone bills; his version in this Congress is HR-1201. Boucher claims DRM on DVDs, CDs, etc., can stifle fair use. The U.S. Copyright Office largely has disagreed in DMCA review proceedings, but nonetheless, Boucher persists.
Fortunately, his argument is not persuasive; it will affirm our already held positions. I read it twice and still don’t understand it, and I’d have to say I’m at least somewhat familiar with the topic.
It did include this piece of hokum:
[A]t The Progress & Freedom Foundation’s recent Aspen Summit, we heard Warner Music Group Chairman and CEO Edgar Bronfman, Jr., promise an e-label for up-and-coming artists. At an event we hosted earlier this year, Motion Picture Association of America President Dan Glickman said his members are hard at work on new online distribution methods for motion pictures. And more anecdotally, the increasing number of e-books on my PDA attests to the potential of that growing market.
How long have we been hearing this kind of claptrap??? As far back as I can remember. They’re fighting a rear-guard action and only interested in preserving their turf. They trot out the innovation rhetoric to cover their tracks.
He does note in passing that fair use isn’t codified. Maybe we should work on that? That way we wouldn’t have to build all of our machines to lock up all the content because we’d know just exactly what’s legal and what’s not.
Progress and Freedom wouldn’t want that. A look at their list of supporters suggests why they take the positions they do.
Here’s the Electronic Frontiers Foundation on Boucher:
Congressman Rick Boucher (D-VA) continues to be one of the smartest voices on technology policy in Washington, and a strong advocates on the Hill for fair use and reform of the DMCA. He’s been involved in Net issues for over a decade (his first Internet legislation helped open the Internet up for public use in 1992), and has worked hard to reconcile all sides in the copyfight.
My money, my allegiance, my advice is, support EFF. They’re supporting your interests.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
We’ve got six prisons in our town. But not one prisoner’s rights advocacy group. It’s the parole board that’s come up with this:
Under a new policy proposed by the state parole board, people who have been convicted of one of 20 serious crimes would no longer have to serve 90 percent of their sentence before possibly being paroled.
The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles set the current policy in 1998 when there was political pressure to completely abolish parole in the state.
The public probably won’t let it happen. Among the crimes covered by the proposed new policy is child molestation. Here’s what one Georgia legislator proposed just last week:
House Majority Leader Jerry Keen has a message for sex offenders: Go somewhere else.
The St. Simons Island Republican leader is pitching changes in Georgia’s sex crime laws, from substantially increasing minimum prison sentences for several charges to requiring lifetime electronic monitoring of those who are labeled dangerous predators.
Check out this quote, as
edited clarified by the reporter:
“I hope this law becomes so onerous, costly, inconvenient (for sex offenders) that they leave Georgia. I don’t care where as long as it’s not here.”
Lest you missed it, the irony is his actual words might apply to Georgia’s citizens. The onerous cost will inconvenience taxpayers who pay for the care and feeding, minimal as it is, of the incarcerated prisoners.
Remember, it’s the folks who work with the prisoners—have you met any parole officers lately? They’re not the liberal elite—who are saying let these folks go.
I want law and order too, honest I do. And I don’t want dangerous child molesters running around free. But the cost here is not just money, which is significant; it’s also the human lives sacrificed, all those prisoners sitting in prisons.
I just know some of them are innocent, and some are in on trumped up charges. That’s not right. It’s not moral.
A factory, one that’s been here for 34 years, is closing down at the end of the year. We can’t afford that:
Georgia’s job growth is ranked among the 10 worst in the country, and the industries adding jobs the fastest don’t pay enough to afford the median-priced home, according to a quarterly economic report released Tuesday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
For April-June, payroll growth in Georgia was only 0.5 percent higher than the same period in 2004, and less than one-third of the nation’s tempo. Georgia’s pace is behind what it was before the 2001 recession even though more than 400,000 people have come to the state seeking work since then.
Five Georgia metro areas, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Macon and Warner Robins, have fewer jobs than before the recession.
On Moonbats and Wingnuts
The Bostonian Exile, a Republican (in Boston?), has some thoughts on Moonbats and Wingnuts:
...or rather the level of disrespect embodied in those two words.
They are words I have never used, and they are words that I intend never to use against specific individuals. Of course, I—like everyone else—have read things on the Internet that have led me to question the author’s sanity. Usually, I will give an argument a full and fair chance, but sometimes things are just too incredible to pass the giggle test. That’s the way the world is, and so goes the blogosphere. I accept that, and you have to do so to stave off misanthropic tendencies. That said, I generally consider it a defeat to resort to name-calling.
I don’t use those words either (except this once). I don’t read rants; I find them culturally destructive and intellectually lazy. I notice that lots of sites that do get good traffic and sometimes wonder… But I am not tempted.
Overall, the tenor and tone of my small audience, my site and those I read regularly, is quite high. Whenever I see those words I wince, and find that it works to undermine, rather than augment, the argument being put forward.
Via Joe Gandleman.
Honda’s got a dog-friendly concept car:
A special crate for dogs in the glove apartment allows owners to interact with their pets while driving. A bigger crate pops up from the floor in the back seat area and can be folded back into the floor when it’s not needed. For even bigger dogs, just buckle them up with a special seat belt to the floor.
The big danger for pets riding along in cars is that they get thrown out during a crash. About a fifth of Japanese households have a dog, and demand is growing for cars that cater to man’s best friend, according to Honda.
It’s part of their “ongoing effort to create vehicles that are easy to use and comfortable to ride in.” Does Detroit make that same effort?
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Though decried by many gay-rights leaders, “outing” - the practice of exposing secretly gay public figures - is expanding into new terrain as Internet bloggers target congressional staffers, political strategists, even black clergy whose sermons and speeches contain anti-gay rhetoric.
Few issues are as divisive within the gay community. Numerous gay organizations, such as the Human Rights Campaign and the Log Cabin Republicans, staunchly oppose outing, yet many other activists support it when the targets are public figures - or their aides - who work against gay rights or condemn homosexuality.
I favor outing. But more, I oppose the closet.
The closet is a damaging shame-based relic that can only lead to bad things. It is not a benign place; it’s an unhealthy place that fosters unhealthy behavior. It should be eliminated and gay leaders should understand that and say so.
Buying a bulb
I bought a great lamp at Lightforms in New York in 1993. The bulb burned out when we got here. An unusual bulb, I’ve been looking for a replacement since. Today I went looking all over Macon.
I ended up in a downtown camera store, behind a man upset to discover that he couldn’t have a DVD copy made of his son’s high school graduation tape. “Federal copyright law,” said the sales clerk. Potential copyfighter I thought.
There was also a woman having photos printed of Jane Fonda’s visit to Macon last week. She was here to kick off an adolescent pregnancy prevention campaign. I like Jane; and I like that she does that work.
I never found the bulb. So, duh, I ordered it online! From Top Bulb: Any Bulb Any Time. Love the Internet…
I know. We know. But more evidence.
“At the time I started at Fox, I thought, this is a great news organization to let me be very aggressive with a sitting president of the United States (Bill Clinton),” Shuster said. “I started having issues when others in the organization would take my carefully scripted and nuanced reporting and pull out bits and pieces to support their agenda on their shows.
“With the change of administration in Washington, I wanted to do the same kind of reporting, holding the (Bush) administration accountable, and that was not something that Fox was interested in doing,” he said.
Brad Friedman debated Ann Coulter on Republican ethics on the Ron Insanna show:
Prior to the show, when Ron asked her off air if she would be able to stay for the full hour, she said “Well, I had it down for 30 minutes, so I’ll have to let you know at the bottom of the hour if I can stay.”
For some reason or another, she was then gone after the bottom of the hour. Hopefully, you can listen and decide for yourself why that may have happened.
Yes, listen for yourself.
And from the Right?
Here a caller tells Limbaugh “I’m done with you” and says he’s been giving George and all Republicans a pass; that Rush should support conservatives.
Rush’s stumbling response?
“This makes me think of retirement sooner than later...”
I’ve never bought the idea that Bush, well educated and a son of power and privilege, ever really bought the message he pitched to the base. Think Cheney and Bush are really anti-gay? Think Yale’s Bush is really against the evil academic elite?
It’s an act.
Does this ring true?
Suddenly all the repressed anger and resentment at Bush and Rove is boiling over. Hordes of wing nuts are almost literally howling (in ALL CAPS) about the metric tons of shit they’ve put up with—the round-the-clock pork festivals, the federal entitlement for drug companies, the congressional leadership so corrupt it would make Boss Tweed blush, the bloody quagmire in Iraq, Mike Brown, the New Deal on the Mississippi, etc. etc.
Oh, right. Today’s twist on that old James Carville line is, “It’s the ideology, stupid!”
Monday, October 03, 2005
Bennett and public education
I believe this, from Reed Hundt:
When I was chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (1993-97), I asked Bill Bennett to visit my office so that I could ask him for help in seeking legislation that would pay for internet access in all classrooms and libraries in the country. Eventually Senators Olympia Snowe and Jay Rockefeller, with the White House leadership of President Clinton and Vice President Gore, put that provision in the Telecommunications Law of 1996, and today nearly 90% of all classrooms and libraries do have such access. The schools covered were public and private. So far the federal funding (actually collected from everyone as part of the phone bill) has been matched more or less equally with school district funding to total about $20 billion over the last seven years. More than 90% of all teachers praise the impact of such technology on their work. At any rate, since Mr. Bennett had been Secretary of Education I asked him to support the bill in the crucial stage when we needed Republican allies. He told me he would not help, because he did not want public schools to obtain new funding, new capability, new tools for success. He wanted them, he said, to fail so that they could be replaced with vouchers,charter schools, religious schools, and other forms of private education.
Time to turn off the TV.
Take what we can get?
I reserve the right to change my mind, but Miers’ biggest sin, at this early juncture, is her allegiance to Bush. That her appointment is an act of cronyism is without a doubt, but if that’s the price of admission to another Souter or moderate justice, I’m willing to pay it.
Miers Backed Gay Civil Rights
Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers went on record favoring equal civil rights for gays when she ran for Dallas city council, and she said the city had a responsibility to pay for AIDS education and patient services....
Although she came to a coalition meeting to answer questions during the campaign, she said at the time that she was not seeking its endorsement....
I’m watching yesterday’s Fox News Sunday (WHY???) and Bill Kristol is confidently predicting “There’s going to be a fight. The president’s going to nominate a conservative...” Today he’s Disappointed, Depressed and Demoralized.
UPDATE: I almost wrote “intellectual lightweight,” reflecting what I had read, but she sure does seem to have a good number of accomplishments.
Another reason to buy a Mini
How to turn a mac mini into a powerful PVR
And no pesky DRM.
Never heard of her. And this, from Rich Lowry, is the first thing I read:
Just talked to a very pro-Bush legal type who says he is ashamed and embarrassed this morning. Says Miers was with an undistinguished law firm; never practiced constitutional law; never argued any big cases; never was on law review; has never written on any of the important legal issues. Says she’s not even second rate, but is third rate. Dozens and dozens of women would have been better qualified. Says a crony at FEMA is one thing, but on the high court is something else entirely. Her long history of activity with ABA is not encouraging from a conservative perspective - few conservatives would spend their time that way. In short, he says the pick is ‘deplorable.’
Miers’s long affiliation with the ABA will serve up lots of interesting tidbits that are unlikely to please social and legal conservatives. For instance, she apparently submitted the following report to the ABA’s House of Delegates. Here are two of the report’s recommendations:
“Supports the enactment of laws and public policy which provide that sexual orientation shall not be a bar to adoption when the adoption is determined to be in the best interest of the child. ...
Recommends the development and establishment of an International Criminal Court.”
Sex offender statutes
[M]any forensic psychiatrists, victim advocates and law enforcement officials say the effort to zone out sex offenders is unlikely to make towns and cities safer, and could even be harmful. They say other solutions, including longer sentences, are more effective, though they may be more costly.
The restrictions could create a false sense of security, since many convicted sex offenders did not live or work near their victims, said Ernie Allen, the president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The laws could also end up bouncing sex offenders from one community to the next, setting off a competitive spiral of ever-tougher “not in my backyard” ordinances.
Many of the new laws appear to be driven by the perception that sex offenders in general are bound to repeat their crimes, and only the most drastic measures can stop them.
In fact, a number of studies have found that pedophiles - the group of sex offenders that has provoked the most public fear - have recidivism rates of more than 50 percent, and do not tend to respond to treatment. But many other criminal groups have higher recidivism rates than these “high-risk” sex offenders, said Dr. Karl Hanson, a Canadian researcher and leading authority in the field.
And outside of the high-risk cases, sex offenders are unlikely to repeat their crimes, studies suggest. Sex offenders over all are less likely to be rearrested than drunk drivers, drug offenders, and domestic violence offenders, Dr. Hanson said. Violent repeat offenders like those who committed the child murders in Florida earlier this year are extremely rare.
Another thing not often commented on is that in this hysterical atmosphere innocent people are being swept up.
There’s no doubt, for example, that there was/is a huge problem in the Catholic church. There’s equally no doubt that some of the accused priests - thrown overboard by a defensive, embattled church - are innocent of those charges.
Have we learned nothing from the McMartin Preschool experience?
Meanwhile, in August USA Today reported sex crimes against children have dropped. The Center for Sex Offender Management has this list of Myths and Facts About Sex Offenders. And Talk Left points to this case in which a man chose his target, and murdered him, from a sex offender website.
Sunday, October 02, 2005
Iraq a strategic disaster
From the Lowell Sun:
The invasion of Iraq was the “greatest strategic disaster in United States history,” a retired Army general said yesterday, strengthening an effort in Congress to force an American withdrawal beginning next year., Retired Army Lt. Gen. William Odom, a Vietnam veteran, said the invasion of Iraq alienated America’s Middle East allies, making it harder to prosecute a war against terrorists.
The U.S. should withdraw from Iraq, he said, and reposition its military forces along the Afghan-Pakistani border to capture Osama bin Laden and crush al Qaeda cells.
“The invasion of Iraq I believe will turn out to be the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history,” said Odom, now a scholar with the Hudson Institute.
10 Big Things
Dan at Searchlight Crusade has tagged me with a meme. After noting how four years ago we were a nation united and that now we are a nation divided, he suggests that we’re losing site of the big stuff and stuck in the muck of the little stuff.
He lists his ten biggest political things and is challenging others to list ours:
So now my big things are on the table. I’m not hiding my agenda. Put yours on the table too, and even if we cannot come to an agreement, it may be obvious why, and we may get along better because of it.
Notice, please, that even though I generally support the Republicans more then the Democrats, there is no reason why this cannot change; indeed I promise you it will if the Democrats start doing better at what’s really important.
There’s a challenge I’m up for; I’m always running around here telling folks that I’m going to make a Democrat out of them, but TEN??? For crying out loud, I could spend a month on this.
And I will.
For each of my big things it would take hours to articulate my hows and whys. So I’ll do my best here to throw out some thoughts, and follow them up with more detailed reasoning as time goes by. Ok Dan?
The deals they make
The other day Crooks and Liars reported on Bob Bennett’s offense at Wolf Blitzer’s question about his brother:
BLITZER: Have you discussed this issue with him?
BENNETT: Well, no, and, Wolf, let me say, I am rather disappointed at you for not telling me you would ask me about that. This was about Judy Miller, and I think that’s a courtesy you could have extended to me…
BLITZER: Well, the reason I ask is because I know you and your brother love each other and you are good brothers. And it was only obvious to me, I assume, that you know I would ask a newsworthy question.
BENNETT: I didn’t know that at all, Wolf. In the past you’ve always been very straight with me. And I’m honest with you and I’m offended by that.
BLITZER: You are a good lawyer and a good brother and a good friend. Thanks very much for joining us.
Exactly right. The reason it’s noteworthy is because the “good friend” typically is more “straight with” the interviewee than with the audience; it’s the public the press is supposed to serve.
On one hand I actually think it was pretty inappropriate for Blitzer to ask Bob Bennett about his brother’s nonsense, but on the other hand I find the implication that guests usually know what the questions are in advance rather disturbing.
I don’t think it inappropriate for Blitzer to have asked; I find it deeply disturbing that we are kept in the dark about the web of relationships and deals, both implicit and explicit, that are behind the television news appearances of the professional pundit class.
The WaPo on Beatty today:
In other times, this joust—between Bulworth and the Terminator—could be written off as just two aging Hollywood titans sparring over social policy. But as California moves toward an election year, Democrats are buzzing about Beatty’s broadsides because their party has yet to find an exciting, recognizable candidate to challenge Schwarzenegger in November 2006. Polls show the governor lagging with an approval rating a little over 30 percent. But neither of the two declared Democrats, state Controller Steve Westly and Treasurer Phil Angelides, has electrified the electorate.
Via Steve Gillard:
You take Warren Beatty lightly at your peril… Beatty is actually a charming, good speaker and he would be a serious threat to go to Sacremento. And he has a LOT less bagggage than Arnie. He’s also a real progressive as well.
8 Dem, 12 Rep
20 policymakers who want to give the FCC the power to issue mandatory design blueprints for any device capable of receiving free over-the-air high-definition TV signals, regardless of the impact on consumer rights and technological innovation:
Charles Pickering, R-Miss.
Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y.
John Shimkus, R-Ill.
George Radanovich, R-Calif.
Mike Ferguson, R-N.J.
Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.
Bart Gordon, D-Tenn.
Mary Bono, R-Calif.
Lee Terry, R-Neb.
Ed Whitfield, R-Kt.
Bobby Rush, D-N.J.
Vito Fossella, R-N.Y.
John Shadegg, R-Ariz.
Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.
Albert Wynn, D-Md.
Michael Doyle, D-Penn.
Charles Gonzalez, D-Tex.
Charles Bass, R-N.H.
John Sullivan, R-Okla.
Frank Pallone, D-N.J.
I pointed to this CNet article the other day. This is not an issue my friends here can easily get a handle on. But I promise you, if asked, they would not vote in favor of it.
If lawmakers get away with this it is because their constituents aren’t tuned in. We’ve got to let them know we are.
Please, click the link. It only takes a minute.
SNL’s “Creative Commons Comics”
These three are a model I’ll point to when working with students:
Live from New York, it’s—three comic talents who first made a name for themselves on the internet.
Andy Samberg will become a performing member of Saturday Night Live’s 31st season cast debuting Oct. 1, while Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer have joined the show as writers.
But all three got their first big break online, thanks in part to the viral popularity of video shorts they released on the net.
In a move that may have helped fuel rapid grass-roots distribution, the comics released their work under Creative Commons licenses, which essentially let anyone copy a given work for free provided that person doesn’t try to profit from it.
Here’s Xeni Jardin’s Wired article on the three.
Last night a group of friends got together to eat pie and watch SNL. The consensus was that the show was “not so great.” I recall doing that same thing 30 years ago. That the show has lasted that long, that’s what’s so great.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
Praise for the Mac Mini
The mini is a flattened white cube, smaller than most hardback books. It has no keyboard, no screen - it is just that cube with a variety of ports on one side allowing connections to most normal computer peripherals…
Less than five minutes after I had taken the mini out of its box, I was sitting at my desk typing on my usual keyboard, looking at the usual flat-panel display, automatically connected to the Internet through the usual Wi-Fi link, with pages coming out of the usual printer - but now I was using Mac software, under the Apple operating system OSX. No configuration was required for anything…
And it goes a long way toward addressing the PC user’s concern that whatever the Mac’s benefits, they couldn’t possibly be worth the nuisance of transition. You can use a home network to transfer data files from one system to another, or use certain applications on each machine rather than making a total change. The mini’s existence is no longer news, but it is worth re-emphasizing because of the choices it creates.
I like the Mac for photos and email and music. My favorite OS feature is Spotlight (I’m hobbled on the office PC without it). I’ll use my old iMac for shared storage and backup. And continue using the PC for finances and Office.
Fallows also likes TiVo:
[S]ome elegant advances distinguish it from the generic competitors. One is online scheduling, the answer to that modern heartbreak of leaving the house without remembering to set TiVo to record a show. From an Internet connection anywhere in the world, you can give instructions to your home machine as if you were standing in front of it. TiVo’s other recent innovation is a home-networking option that lets you transfer the recorded programs to your own computers, using Wi-Fi or some other network.