aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, November 18, 2005
La Nouba at Downtown Disney
Georgia’s Poll Tax exposed
The chief sponsor of Georgia’s voter identification law told the Justice Department that if black people in her district “are not paid to vote, they don’t go to the polls,” and that if fewer blacks vote as a result of the new law, it is only because it would end such voting fraud.
The newly released Justice Department memo quoting state Rep. Sue Burmeister (R-Augusta) was prepared by department lawyers as the federal government considered whether to approve the new law. [...]
Burmeister said Thursday that the memo’s record of what she said “was more accurate than not,” but added: “That sounds pretty harsh. I don’t remember saying those exact words.”
Well, Justice Department attorneys do remember her using those words, and since she’s willing to concede they’re pretty accurate, they deserve to be judged accordingly.
Needless to say, this isn’t going over well in Georgia. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a veteran of the civil rights movement, said, “It’s unbelievable that any elected official would say something like this. It doesn’t have any, any merit. This is an affront to every black voter and would-be black voter not just in my district but in the state of Georgia.”
It also raises questions anew about the priorities of Bush’s Justice Department.
This law is a naked, racist, attempt to restrict the voting rights of blacks, yet the outcry from liberals has been rather muted compared to Diebold. This isn’t subtle or reliant on machines. The Georgia Legislature used chicanery to take the voting rights away from blacks.
Make voting mandatory
The theory the article suggests is that in countries in which there’s a strong belief that voting is a civic obligation, people vote so that other people can see them voting. So a vote-by-mail option, by making it less necessary for people to be seen voting to get social credit for voting, actually reduces the reason for people to vote.
If that theory is correct, then what policy - short of manditory voting, which I think is a good idea that will never happen here (if we can make taxpaying and jury duty manditory duties of citizens, why not voting?) - should we use to encourage voting? Perhaps the “I voted” stickers should be made of nicer material and be more prominent.
I’m reading Freakonomics. They’d love the mail observation, probably not the legal requirement. I’m inclined to like it - civic duty invests us in our civil society.
There is no abortion debate
Michael Kinsley makes the good point that in Roe one side wants to uphold precedent while in Lawrence the other side does then notes:
Machiavellians of my acquaintance believe that it is the anti-abortion folks who are getting conned. The last thing in the world that Republican strategists want is the repeal of Roe. If abortion becomes a legislative issue again, all those pro-choice women and men who have been voting Republican because abortion was safe would have to reconsider, and many would bolt. Meanwhile, the reversal of Roe would energize the left the way Roe itself energized the right. Who needs that?
Abortion is the most important issue in American politics. It shouldn’t be. Others have as big an impact on the lives of individuals and a far bigger cumulative effect on society. No other nation obsesses about abortion the way we do. But many Americans believe that legalized abortion is government-sanctioned murder or something close to it. And many others (including me) believe that forcing a woman to go through an unwanted pregnancy and childbirth is the most extreme unjustified government intrusion on personal freedom short of sanctioning murder. For many in these groups, abortion is almost by definition an issue that overwhelms all others, or comes close, when they are deciding how (and whether) to vote. It is also, on both sides, a reliable issue for opening wallets.
Yet there is no abortion debate. Or at least the debate is unconnected to the reasons people on both sides feel so strongly about it. What passes for an abortion debate is a jewel of the political hack’s art: a big issue that is exploited without being discussed.
What’s in a name?
No not that name. The other topic I’m so fond of…
The name “Google Print” is gone; the new name is ”Google Book Search.” Says The Future of The Book, “‘Print’ obviously struck a little too close to home with publishers and authors.” From Google Blog:
When we launched Google Print, our goal was to make it easier for users to discover books. Now that we’re starting to achieve that, we think a more descriptive name will help clarify what our users can do with it: namely, search the full text of books to find ones that interest them and learn where to buy or borrow them.
No, we don’t think that this new name will change what some folks think about this program. But we do believe it will help a lot of people understand better what we’re doing. We want to make all the world’s books discoverable and searchable online, and we hope this new name will help keep everyone focused on that important goal.
RELATED: I missed the webcast of last night’s NY Public Library forum, THE BATTLE OVER BOOKS: Authors & Publishers Take on the Google Print Library Project; I only hope it’s archived and available soon.
UPDATE - Lessig on the morning after: “ I awoke this morning more resolved about the wrongness in the rhetoric around this issue.”