aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I am sitting in Gallery Espresso off Chippewa Square in Savannah. I’ve spent a good amount of time in the Metro Coffee House on MLK. And last night we went to a live PBR radio play (PBR = “Peanut Butter Radio") by The Savannah Actors Theatre at the Sentient Bean.
I am a great big fan of independently owned local coffee shops. Unfortunately, the best coffee I’ve had here in town is from Starbucks. I’ll happily pay the 9Ã‚Â¢ increase:
Next week, caffeine addicts will pay an average 9 cents more for a cup of coffee at Starbucks, partly because of the rising price of the milk and whipped cream.
The increase was unexpected, given how infrequently the Seattle chain has raised prices. The last increase, which averaged a nickel, came less than 10 months ago.
Before that, Starbucks hadn’t raised prices since an 11-cent increase in 2004. [...]
Starbucks’ price increase goes into effect next Tuesday. While some customers shrugged at it, others bristled.
“If they raise it, I’m not going to go there, even if it’s only 9 cents,” said Mindy Albert of Wallingford.
It’s not the money so much as the idea of two price increases in a row, she said. With Starbucks’ buying power, “you’d think they’d be able to keep costs down.”
The price increases will vary by region and drink. They apply only to brewed coffee and other beverages that baristas make behind the counter, and not to drinks sold in bottles.
Starbucks coffee continues to be cheaper than that of many independent coffee chains. A 12-ounce latte at Seattle’s Espresso Vivace costs $2.95, compared with $2.45 at a downtown Seattle Starbucks.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Black & white on Capitol Hill
If it’s not about race it’s about gender. Either way it looks like bias to me. Facing South:
When Facing South read the news that Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) went ballistic on a Capitol police officer last week, it reminded us of the media frenzy that greeted another member of Congress last year, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA).
You may not have heard about the Shays episode—the media has largely ignored it, despite what was clearly a tense altercation between Shays and the Capitol police. According to CQ.com:[Shays confronted the officer] “in a profanity-laced tirade ... He delivered a tongue-lashing, including several instances of the ‘F-word,’ to the officer before grabbing the name tag on the front of his uniform.”
According to reports, Shays—who happens to be a European-American male—delivered this verbal assault because the officer declined to make a call on his cell phone (they can’t while on duty) to help Shays meet some constituents.
How does this compare to the Rep. McKinney episode? As was eagerly reported by major media, in spring 2006 McKinney was stopped by a Capitol Hill policeman, who put his arm on her shoulder to stop her from entering the building; he said he didn’t recognize her. McKinney turned around and pushed her cell phone into the officer’s chest.
Rep. McKinney, who happens to be African American and female, was widely vilified by the national media, with Fox News leading the charge. Blogger Michelle Malkin implicated all Democrats, calling them ”The Party of Police Haters.” The Capitol Hill police launched a legal investigation and McKinney faced arrest. Many credit the media hoopla around the event as a big part of what caused McKinney to lose her re-election bid in 2006.
Dinner was heavenly. And followed by a cool walk along the river. It’s an unusual dry 71 degrees.
Juveniles and sex offender registries
One more time from the NYTimes Sunday Magazine cover story, How Can You Distinguish a Budding Pedophile From a Kid With Real Boundary Problems?
Another unintended consequence may be that some families will remain silent to protect their children from decades on an Internet registry rather than seek intervention that would benefit both the victim and the offender. One mother I spoke to regretted not keeping quiet. When she discovered that her 11-year-old son had engaged in a sexual act with his younger sister (the mother wouldn’t specify the offense except to say that it did not involve penetration and no force was involved), she called a therapist. “I thought it was the right thing to do,” she told me. “I figured counseling would help.” She thought she knew how the law worked and that her son’s behavior might be reported to law enforcement. “But I thought: O.K., it will teach him a lesson. He’ll get a little probation, but his record will be sealed.” She didn’t realize that one year earlier her state had made children as young as 10 eligible for the state’s Internet sex-offender registry. Police entered her son’s DNA into a database. They took his fingerprints and mug shots. And they placed him on the state’s Web site. That’s where his photo and address have been for the past four years. “I feel it was my fault,” the mother told me. “I did it.”
Of all the worries the public registries create, though, the most frightening for many families is vigilantism. In 2005, a man killed two adult sex offenders he tracked through a Washington State community-notification Web site. And last year, a 20-year-old Canadian man with a list of 29 names and addresses from the Maine Sex Offender Registry went to the homes of two convicted offenders, shooting and killing them. Both men were strangers to the killer. One of the offenders had raped a child. The other was convicted for statutory rape; he was 19 when he had sex with his girlfriend, who was two weeks shy of her 16th birthday.
A self portrait of me by Daniel Shiffman
Why the USA fell behind in broadband access
Krugman has a terrific column today on the French Connections:
As recently as 2001, the percentage of the population with high-speed access in Japan and Germany was only half that in the United States. In France it was less than a quarter. By the end of 2006, however, all three countries had more broadband subscribers per 100 people than we did. [...]
America’s Internet flourished in the dial-up era because federal regulators didn’t let that happen - they forced local phone companies to act as common carriers, allowing competing service providers to use their lines. Clinton administration officials, including Al Gore and Reed Hundt, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, tried to ensure that this open competition would continue - but the telecommunications giants sabotaged their efforts, while The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page ridiculed them as people with the minds of French bureaucrats.
And when the Bush administration put Michael Powell in charge of the F.C.C., the digital robber barons were basically set free to do whatever they liked. As a result, there’s little competition in U.S. broadband - if you’re lucky, you have a choice between the services offered by the local cable monopoly and the local phone monopoly. The price is high and the service is poor, but there’s nowhere else to go.
Meanwhile, as a recent article in Business Week explains, the real French bureaucrats used judicious regulation to promote competition. As a result, French consumers get to choose from a variety of service providers who offer reasonably priced Internet access that’s much faster than anything I can get, and comes with free voice calls, TV and Wi-Fi.
It’s too early to say how much harm the broadband lag will do to the U.S. economy as a whole. But it’s interesting to learn that health care isn’t the only area in which the French, who can take a pragmatic approach because they aren’t prisoners of free-market ideology, simply do things better.
Unfortunately placed ads
Juvenile sex offenders: Johnnie’s story
More from the NYTimes Sunday Magazine cover story, How Can You Distinguish a Budding Pedophile From a Kid With Real Boundary Problems?
Last year, an eighth grader at a Delaware middle school arrived one morning to find kids in the hallway pointing at him and snickering. At first, the boy, Johnnie, who asked me protect his privacy by identifying him by a friend’s nickname for him, was confused. He thought it might be because of his new haircut. Then one kid called him a rapist. Another jeered, “Hey, aren’t you a sex offender?Ã¢â‚¬Â� One teenage boy threatened to beat him up.
Four years earlier, when Johnnie was 11, he put his hand on his 4-year-old half-sister’s vagina over her underwear. And then several months later, he told her to perform oral sex on him, which she did. When Johnnie’s mother found out, she called the police. She may have felt she could no longer control Johnnie, who, according to his grandmother, both adored his sister (he made pancakes and snowmen for her) and tormented her (he punched and bullied her). Perhaps his mother also worried that her son might abuse other children. It’s hard to know what went through her mind that day, because she never explained it to Johnnie or to her own mother, with whom Johnnie eventually went to live. And she did not return my phone calls.
Mac flat as Vista grows
According to Net Applications, in June Windows Vista accounted for 4.52% of all systems that browsed the Web, up from January’s 0.18%. Vista grew its usage share each month since its release to consumers Jan. 30, hitting 0.93% in February, 2.04% in March, 3.02% in April and 3.74% in May. Apple Inc.’s Mac OS X, meanwhile, accounted for 6.22% in January, hit its high point of 6.46% in May, but slipped back to 6% in June.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Harvard cognitive scientist, Steven Pinker, in defense of dangerous ideas:
Do women, on average, have a different profile of aptitudes and emotions than men?
Were the events in the Bible fictitious—not just the miracles, but those involving kings and empires?
Has the state of the environment improved in the last 50 years?
Do most victims of sexual abuse suffer no lifelong damage?
Did Native Americans engage in genocide and despoil the landscape?
Do men have an innate tendency to rape?
Did the crime rate go down in the 1990s because two decades earlier poor women aborted children who would have been prone to violence? [or lead]
Are suicide terrorists well-educated, mentally healthy and morally driven?
Would the incidence of rape go down if prostitution were legalized?
Do African-American men have higher levels of testosterone, on average, than white men?
Is morality just a product of the evolution of our brains, with no inherent reality?
Would society be better off if heroin and cocaine were legalized?
Is homosexuality the symptom of an infectious disease?
Would it be consistent with our moral principles to give parents the option of euthanizing newborns with birth defects that would consign them to a life of pain and disability?
Do parents have any effect on the character or intelligence of their children?
Have religions killed a greater proportion of people than Nazism?
Would damage from terrorism be reduced if the police could torture suspects in special circumstances?
Would Africa have a better chance of rising out of poverty if it hosted more polluting industries or accepted Europe’s nuclear waste?
Is the average intelligence of Western nations declining because duller people are having more children than smarter people?
Would unwanted children be better off if there were a market in adoption rights, with babies going to the highest bidder?
Would lives be saved if we instituted a free market in organs for transplantation?
Should people have the right to clone themselves, or enhance the genetic traits of their children? [...]
...the rear-view mirror of history presents us with a warning.
Time and again, people have invested factual claims with ethical implications that today look ludicrous. The fear that the structure of our solar system has grave moral consequences is a venerable example, and the foisting of “intelligent design” on biology students is a contemporary one. These travesties should lead us to ask whether the contemporary intellectual mainstream might be entertaining similar moral delusions. Are we enraged by our own infidels and heretics whom history may some day vindicate?
The list is easiest to quote; the article is the long and provocatively well-reasoned preface to the book What Is Your Dangerous Idea?: Today’s Leading Thinkers on the Unthinkable.
Via Andrew Sullivan.
Youth to parents: can we talk sex? (reprised)
In response to my commenter’s question - What role should parents play in sex education? More or less than public institutions? What role did your parents play? - I’m reprising this entire post from March. My experience, 40 years ago now, was precisely the same (sans Internet) as these kids...
On Morning Edition [March 8, 2007], from Blunt Radio in Portland, Maine, produced by Youth Radio and reported by Johanna Greenberg:
Ms. JOHANNA GREENBERG (High School Student, Portland, Maine): I’m sorry to say this, but parents are falling down on the job when it comes to The Talk.
Have your parents given you the sex talk?
Unidentified Woman #1: No.
Unidentified Man #1: No.
Unidentified Man #2: No.
Unidentified Woman #2: I feel uncomfortable.
Unidentified Woman #3: No, they never did.
Unidentified Woman #4: No.
(Soundbite of laughter)
GREENBERG: At school, when we compare notes, my friends and I realize we are learning about sex from the Internet and movies because our parents aren’t talking with us.
Unidentified Woman #5: They just assume that I did it already. But they didn’t talk to me about it.
GREENBERG: Have your parents given you a sex talk?
Unidentified Man #2: No.
GREENBERG: Nothing? They didn’t say anything about sex to you? Nothing at all?
Unidentified Man #2: No. None whatsoever. No.
We’re in Savannah
We’re heading to my nephew’s wedding in Harrisburg, PA; spending a few days in Savannah first. Blogging may be spotty.
Obama, Romney & sex ed
So Romney buttresses his conservative bona fides by bashing Barack on sex education:
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Republican Mitt Romney directly appealed to social conservatives in South Carolina on Thursday, criticizing Democratic rival Barack Obama for supporting age-appropriate sex education for children as young as kindergartners.
“Senator Obama is wrong if he thinks science-based sex education has any place in kindergarten,” Romney told some 150 people at a restaurant in the northern part of the state. “We should be working to clean up the filthy waters our kids are swimming in.”
Of course we all want to reduce the number of sex offenders in the world; I’m sure Romney would propose more harsh but unproven, probably ineffective and definitely expensive sex offender laws. But what about sex education as a means to preventing juveniles from ever becoming sex offenders:
And last year, Mark Chaffin, at the University of Oklahoma, and other researchers published the results of a longitudinal study of 135 children ages 5 to 12 who had sexual-behavior problems and participated in a therapy program. The program took just 12 weeks, during which counselors addressed inappropriate sexual behavior, concrete sexual-behavior rules, self-control techniques and sex education. Given that the children were under 13, it’s hard to know if the results can be replicated with older adolescents, though Chaffin has just such a study under way. But in the study of younger children, the 10-year recidivism rate was 2 percent. “You can’t get a whole lot lower than that,” Chaffin said. “That’s a functional definition of a cure.”
Best, of course, would be stopping juveniles before they offend. While some sex education in schools includes lessons on how kids can avoid perpetrators, it is much less common for children to learn how to avoid committing sex offenses themselves. “It is morally wrong,” said Timothy Kahn, the Seattle therapist, “to do nothing to educate kids about the laws and then have them have to register as sex offenders and they haven’t even hit puberty.”
Juvenile sex offenders: “puberty in the first degree”
Continuing my look at the NYTimes Sunday Magazine cover story, How Can You Distinguish a Budding Pedophile From a Kid With Real Boundary Problems? and picking up where I left off, states have created tougher probation requirements for sex offenders. Requirements that do not distinguish between adolescents and adults:
Since juvenile courts were created more than 100 years ago, youths’ records have, with exceptions in some states, been sealed and kept out of the public’s hands. The theory is that children are less responsible for their actions, and thus less blameworthy, than adults and more amenable to rehabilitation. But by publishing their photographs and addresses on the Internet, community notification suggests that juveniles with sex offenses are in a separate, distinct category from other adolescents in the juvenile justice system - more fixed in their traits and more dangerous to the public. It suggests, in other words, that they are more like adult sex offenders than they are like kids.
They are not. They are very different from adult sex offenders:
Most have not committed violent assaults or abused multiple children repeatedly. Usually they have had sexual contact - from fondling to oral sex to intercourse - with a child who is at least two years younger than they are. Also, many of the juveniles have been sexually abused themselves, and as a consequence, they act out sexually, typically for a transitory period. [...]
Under the Adam Walsh Act, a 35-year-old who has a history of repeatedly raping young girls will be eligible for the public registry, and so will a 14-year-old boy adjudicated as a sex offender for touching an 11-year-old girl’s vagina. According to the law, the teenager will remain on the national registry for life. He will have to register with authorities every three months. And if he fails to do so - not an unlikely prospect for some teenagers, especially those without involved parents - he may be imprisoned for more than one year.
Also, under the proposed guidelines issued by the attorney general’s office in May, the law is retroactive: hundreds of juveniles who are on probation for sex offenses that preceded the law could be eligible for the nationwide registry.
Recidivism for juveniles is about 10%, “lower than most other juvenile offenses, including property and drug crimes. “
As Elizabeth Letourneau, the professor at the Medical University of South Carolina, explains, most adolescents don’t have the sexual deviancy that prompts an adult predator to offend repeatedly. “If you’re an adult child molester, you’re violating clear age and legal boundaries. You’re crossing over a lot of lines, so you have to be highly motivated,” she said. “Kids typically don’t cross as many lines when they offend; they do stupid things all the time because their brains aren’t developed.” [...]
The last part of the brain to develop is the frontal lobe, which is responsible for impulse control, moral reasoning and regulating emotions - the things that adolescents lack when they decide, if they make a conscious decision, to molest a younger kid. So, instead of being compulsive like pedophiles, adolescents tend to be impulsive, which means tactics like “grooming,” in which an offender woos a child for weeks or months before a sexual assault, tend not to apply to the majority of juveniles, Chaffin notes. It’s not that juveniles can’t distinguish right from wrong; it’s that they don’t perceive risks and consequences the way adults do - as parents of teenagers know all too well. “I’ve been arguing for a classification called ‘puberty in the first degree,’ “ said Timothy Kahn, a Seattle therapist who has treated and evaluated thousands of juveniles with sex offenses, “which gives them a break for what they do when they are 12, 13, 14.”
WaPo follows Isakson on the war
Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson is one of four lawmakers the WaPo is following as Congress wrestles with what to do about the war in the coming months. Isakson’s moniker for the series is the loyal Republican:
From Tuesday evening until the wee hours of Wednesday morning, Johnny Isakson sat at his desk on the Senate floor and listened as Democrats and Republicans alike took turns making speeches during a rare all-night debate on Iraq. Across the street, antiwar groups had organized a candlelight vigil, a scene Isakson would occasionally survey from the Senate balcony during breaks for sandwiches and doughnuts.
“It was,” he recalled, “all kinds of perfect theater.”
But it was theater with a purpose. Many Republicans mocked the all-night session, but it transfixed the GOP senator from Georgia, who was looking for signs of progress in Iraq if he is to continue to support the president’s war strategy.
“It’s obvious everybody’s getting more educated,” Isakson said. “The speeches have gone from reading something somebody wrote to give you, to where some people are going down there and talking about, ‘On my last visit,’ or ‘Remember when we said, now this has happened.’ And in the end, that’s a helpful thing.”
I’ll be following too.
LATER: Devilstower on the WaPo profiles, “You can’t really say that Republicans haven’t been plotting a strategy on Iraq. Not for removal of the troops, for avoidance of blame.”
On juvenile sex offenders
If you have any interest at all in the issues around the concept and problem of juvenile sex offenders beyond glib statements of your own cock-sure confidence that you know these kids are getting what they deserve for their transgressions, you absolutely must read the entire NYTimes Sunday Magazine cover story, How Can You Distinguish a Budding Pedophile From a Kid With Real Boundary Problems?
Juveniles account for about one-quarter of the sex offenses in the U.S. Though forcible rapes, the most serious of juvenile sex offenses, have declined since 1997, court cases for other juvenile sex offenses have risen. David Finkelhor, the director of Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, and others argue, however, that those statistics largely reflect increased reporting of juvenile sex offenses and adjudications of less serious offenses. “We are paying attention to inappropriate sexual behavior that juveniles have engaged in for generations,” he said.
The significant controversy isn’t whether there is a problem; it’s how to address it. In other words, when is parental or therapeutic intervention enough? What kind of therapy works best? And at what point should the judicial system get involved - and in what ways?
Longo and other experts have increasingly advocated for a less punitive approach. Over the past decade, however, public policy has largely moved in the opposite direction. Courts have handed down longer sentences to juveniles for sex offenses, while some states have created tougher probation requirements and, most significant, lumped adolescents with adults in sex-offender legislation.
Now I do not doubt that there are dangerous kids out there. Rather, I believe we have broadened the definition of sex-offender - most particularly in the case of juveniles - way beyond what it should be.
The story reports that TX has 3,400 people listed for offenses committed when they were juveniles; I hear reports in Georgia of anywhere from 1,100 to 1,300. Extrapolating those numbers means tens of thousands of kids are being locked up for what in many cases is nothing more than normal adolescent sexual exploration.
The consequence of this is not just those horrific individual injustices, the consequence is that it drains resources from addressing those real predatory kids out there. IF YOU CARE ABOUT KIDS, IF YOU CARE ABOUT JUSTICE, READ THIS ARTICLE.
In a furious effort to save their client from execution, lawyers for convicted cop killer Troy Anthony Davis are hinging much of their case on the fallibility of eyewitness testimony.
Racial bias, poor lighting, stress, alcohol, the passage of time, poorly conducted police lineups and other factors often play a role in misidentifications of criminal suspects.
More than 75 percent of the 205 people exonerated by post-conviction DNA evidence in the United States - including all six in Georgia - were imprisoned because of mistaken eyewitness identification. [...]
Concerns over faulty eyewitness identification have reached the state Capitol. Earlier this year, state Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield (D-Atlanta) - on the heels of the exoneration of a man imprisoned 21 years for a wrongful rape conviction - tried to pass legislation that would bring uniformity and higher standards to the way law enforcement officials conduct live and photo lineups.
House Speaker Glenn Richardson said he liked the idea, but it was opposed by prosecutors and did not pass.
RELATED: The pope wrote a letter to the clemency board calling for Davis’ sentence to be commuted to life in prison without parole. And A Public Defender says Sara’s liveblogging of the oral argument is a must read (HT: Audacity).
Saturday, July 21, 2007
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Tammy Faye Bakker was a co-host of ‘’The Jim and Tammy Show,’’ but she also produced her own programs, including the daily ‘’Tammy Faye’s House Party,’’ where she entertained guests, offered advice on homemaking and shopping, staged fashion shows, danced, sang and made fudge.
Speaking by telephone, the Rev. Mel White, a gay Christian advocate who (before coming out as gay) worked closely with many of the major televangelists, explained her appeal: ‘’For the evangelical community she was Dr. Joyce Brothers, Martha Stewart and Carol Burnett, all rolled into one.’’
But ‘’The Eyes of Tammy Faye’’ also reveals a more radical Tammy, who was the host of shows on controversial topics like penile implants, interviewed a gay minister with AIDS in the earliest days of public debate about the illness and reached out to drug addicts and others excluded by the broader evangelical community.
Mr. White is convinced that, for PTL’s largely rural, female and older audience, Tammy Faye Bakker provided an image of empowerment.
‘’Her fans were people who grew up in a very fundamentalist tradition,’’ he said, ‘’not being able to wear makeup, or dance, or go out in public. So here comes Tammy, with her dyed hair and makeup, her ebullient spirit and outspoken ways with both men and women. She talked about sex, and flirted with Jimmy. She took on the caricature of an obedient wife, and blasted it. You have never seen Pat Robertson’s wife, or Jerry Falwell’s wife. They stay at home, doing what those wives do.’’
Tammy Faye dead at 65
Tammy Faye Messner, the former televangelist and Christian singer who battled drug addiction and later inoperable cancer, died Friday morning, CNN’s Larry King said Saturday night. He said the family had asked him to make the delayed announcement.
She was 65.
“She died peacefully,” King said.
Messner was a guest on “Larry King Live” on Thursday. She said she couldn’t swallow food, and weighed only 65 pounds. [...]
The Bakkers’ 30-year-old son, Jay, is a pastor who co-founded the Revolution Church in Brooklyn, New York—a church aimed at those who feel rejected by traditional approaches to Christianity, stating on the church’s Web site that he wrestled with religion after seeing the “excommunicative” treatment his parents experienced from the church after the scandal.
Tammy Faye Messner has also been known as one of the few evangelical Christians who had the support of the gay community. She was one of the first televangelists to reach out to those with AIDS when it was a little-known and much-feared disease. In return, she told King in July, “When I went—when we lost everything, it was the gay people that came to my rescue, and I will always love them for that.”
Google’s $4.6 billion bid for a swath of the airwaves
Open devices, open services, open spectrum.
What would be really cool is if Google paid $4.6bn for the spectrum and then opened it up for the world to use as we see fit, just like Facebook opened up their platform.
It’s gonna happen. I can feel it.
Starry Starry Night in Second Life
Grayson says, “This is so beautiful, on so many levels. It’s little wonder then that Second Life means so much to so many. Bring your hankie.”
Publishing 2.0 to newspapers: Stop publishing in print
Scott Karp says “blogs are now the organizing principle for newspapers’ original online content” and wonders if to fulfill the Fourth Estate mission in our digital media era maybe newspapers should become nothing more than local blog networks:
Maybe there are three tiers of journalists at these blog network “newspapers”:
- Full-time reporters and editors, who ensure breadth of coverage, quality and standards, and public mission
- Paid freelancers who write on a regular basis, but not full-time — these can be stay-at-home parents looking for supplemental income, retirees looking for extra income or to keep busy, college students, etc.
- “Witness” reporters (avoiding “citizen journalist” on purpose), who contribute to the reporting effort when they witness news in some form
I like his formulation and have no doubt they should be; the question, rather, is how long until they will be?
Many newspapers are closer to this model than they may realize, but there a few radical steps required:
To really take advantage of the economies of this model, which could actually enable MORE local reporting, newspapers need to consider one final step — stop publishing in print.
- Use more freelancers who can post to blogs part-time
- Create a platform for anyone to report news — but on the established blogs, not in some big sloshing vat of random submissions — if someone wants to contribute regularly, given them their own blog, a focus, and (just enough) structure
Via Martin Stabe.
Romney and the bogus badges
In an apparent violation of the law, a controversial aide to ex-Gov. Mitt Romney created phony law enforcement badges that he and other staffers used on the campaign trail to strong-arm reporters, avoid paying tolls and trick security guards into giving them immediate access to campaign venues, sources told the Herald.
The bogus badges were part of the bizarre security tactics allegedly employed by Jay Garrity, the director of operations for Romney who is under investigation for impersonating a law enforcement officer in two states. Garrity is on a leave of absence from the campaign while the probe is ongoing.
A campaign source said Garrity directed underlings on Romney’s presidential staff to use the badges at events nationwide to create an image of security and to ensure that the governor’s events went smoothly.
“They (the aides) knew the badges were fake and probably illegal,Ã¢â‚¬Â� said a presidential campaign source who asked for anonymity because the story could damage the individual’s career. “But they went along with it because Jay (Garrity) pushed it on them.”
Via Steve Benen:
How could the candidate not know?
I almost laughed at the carefully-worded statement from the Romney campaign:“No one on the Mitt Romney for President campaign is authorized to use a badge, nor has the campaign provided anyone with a badge,” the statement reads. “Jay Garrity is not working on the campaign because he continues to be on a leave of absence.”
Well, of course civilians on the campaign aren’t “authorized” to use phony badges; it’s illegal. And of course the campaign wasn’t handing out phony badges to Romney staffers; that would be stupid.
Prince: The model of a modern stager General
Prince is offered up as one template for a pop star in our file-sharing era by the NYTimes:
Prince has remade himself as a 21st-century pop star. As recording companies bemoan a crumbling market, Prince is demonstrating that charisma and the willingness to go out and perform are still bankable. He doesn’t have to go multiplatinum - he’s multiplatform. [...]
Like most pop stars, he goes on major tours to coincide with album releases, which for Prince are frequent. But he also gets out and performs whenever he chooses. Last year he took over a club in Las Vegas and renamed it 3121, after his 2006 album “3121,” which briefly hit No. 1 and spawned multiple conflicting theories about the significance of the number. He started playing there twice a week for 900 people at $125 a ticket. In February he had an audience in the millions as the halftime entertainment for the Super Bowl. He has gone on to play well-publicized shows at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood for a few hundred people paying $3,121 per couple, and another elite show last weekend in East Hampton for about $3,000 per person.
Meanwhile Verizon put Prince in commercials that use “Guitar,” another song from “Planet Earth,” as bait for its V Cast Song ID service, making the song a free download to certain cellphones. On July 7 Prince introduced a perfume, 3121, by performing at Macy’s in Minneapolis.
In Britain he infuriated retailers by agreeing to have a newspaper, The Mail on Sunday, include the complete “Planet Earth” CD in copies on July 15. (The album is due for American release this Tuesday.) Presumably The Mail paid him something in the range of what he could have earned, much more slowly, through album sales. British fans have remunerated him in other ways. On Aug. 1 he starts a string of no fewer than 21 sold-out arena concerts, 20,000 seats each, at the O2 (formerly the Millennium Dome) in London at the relatively low ticket price of Ã‚Â£31.21, about $64. The O2 ticket price also includes a copy of the album; Prince did the same thing with his tour for “Musicology” in 2004. Those “Musicology” albums were counted toward the pop charts, which then changed their rules; the “Planet Earth” albums will not be. But fans will have the record.
Prince’s priorities are obvious. The main one is getting his music to an audience, whether it’s purchased or not.
On Prince and the record labels:
Prince ended a two-decade contract with Warner Brothers Records in 1996 after a very public falling out with the label. During the mid-1990s he appeared with the word “Slave” painted on his face and said the label was holding back material he wanted to release. For a while he dropped the name Prince - which was under contract to Warner Brothers and Warner/Chappell Music - for an unpronounceable glyph; when the contracts ran out, he was Prince again. And since leaving Warner Brothers he has been independent. He owns his recordings himself, beginning with a three-CD set called “Emancipation” from 1996. He has released albums on his own NPG label and Web site or has licensed them, one by one, for distribution by major labels, presumably letting them compete for each title. Over the past decade he has had albums released through EMI, Arista, Universal and Sony.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Student loan overhaul passes Senate
The Senate overwhelmingly approved a wide-ranging overhaul of student loan programs early today that would pay for more than $17 billion in grants and other student aid by slashing subsidies to lending companies.
Democrats and student advocates said the legislation, which passed in a 78 to 18 vote, would help millions of Americans pay for college in a time of steady and often steep tuition increases. But lenders and some Republicans said the measure would hurt students by making it unprofitable for many companies to issue such loans.
I haven’t paid near enough attention to the investigations uncovering all kinds of chicanery in the $85 billion-a-year student loan industry but I agree with Kennedy:
“The question is: Are you going to support the students or are you going to support the banks?” Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), chairman of the education committee, said during debate.
Lending companies said the legislation was a backdoor effort to drive some companies out of business and force borrowers to use a federal program, strongly supported by Democrats, in which the government lends directly to students.
The measure would cut subsidies to lenders by about $18 billion over five years and boost student aid by $17.4 billion during that period, with the rest of the savings used to reduce the federal budget deficit. The biggest aid increase would raise the maximum annual Pell grant, the nation’s main aid program for low-income students, from $4,300 to $5,400 a year by 2012.
So please answer me this: we read hear Republicans claim Democrats are going to force private lenders out of business by loaning directly to students and cutting $18 billion in subsidies. Uh, so the only way they’re in business is with subsidies??? I guess that’s the Republican version of private enterprise.
The way the math reads they cut $18 billion in subsidies, give $17.4 billion to students and use the rest to reduce the debt. That sounds about right to me (and is not contradicted in the story or anywhere else I can find). Of course George Bush promises a veto.