aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Rove on the Sunday chat shows (& Porky Pig)
In three Sunday show appearances, he was not asked once about his efforts to politicize the federal government, despite the fact that a front-page article appeared on that very subject this morning in the Washington Post. Rove was also not asked about his role in selling the war prior to the invasion. Nor was he asked about his connections to Jack Abramoff, his use of non-White House email accounts, or his stewardship over the Katrina reconstruction efforts.
I’m thinking this more accurately reflects what he really meant to say:
Cory Booker’s Atlanta connection
I am hoping that Cory Booker is one of those who can re-ignite and re-imagine a Civil Rights movement for our era.
Booker was born in Washington, D.C., and the family moved to the north Jersey suburb of Harrington Park when his father earned a promotion. Both parents worked as executives at IBM and helped to integrate the company.
To ensure that they could buy their home, a white couple posed as Booker’s parents.
Cary and Carolyn Booker instilled the values of respect and hard work.
“You’ve got to give 110 percent,” said Carolyn Booker, who now lives with her husband in suburban Atlanta.
Cory Booker, their youngest of two sons, left New Jersey for California, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University and played football.
RELATED: More arrests and a look at the role of race, immigration, and the conservative bandwagon forming around the Newark murders.
Rich on Rove
My friend Sam is a Frank Rich fan. He finds today’s column particularly delicious. Me too:
Forced to pick a single symbolic episode to encapsulate the collapse of Rovian Republicanism, however, I would not choose any of those national watersheds, or even the implosion of the Iraq war, but the George Allen “macaca" moment. Its first anniversary fell, fittingly enough, on the same day last weekend that Mitt Romney bought his victory at the desultory, poorly attended G.O.P. straw poll in Iowa.
A century seems to have passed since Mr. Allen, the Virginia Republican running for re-election to the Senate, was anointed by Washington insiders as the inevitable heir to the Bush-Rove mantle: a former governor whose jus’-folks personality, the Bushian camouflage for hard-edged conservatism, would propel him to the White House. Mr. Allen’s senatorial campaign and presidential future melted down overnight after he insulted a Jim Webb campaign worker, the 20-year-old son of Indian immigrants, not just by calling him a monkey but by sarcastically welcoming him “to America” and “the real world of Virginia.”
This incident had resonance well beyond Virginia and Mr. Allen for several reasons. First, it crystallized the monochromatic whiteness at the dark heart of Rovian Republicanism. For all the minstrel antics at the 2000 convention, the record speaks for itself: there is not a single black Republican serving in either the House or Senate, and little representation of other minorities, either. Far from looking like America, the G.O.P. caucus, like the party’s presidential field, could pass for a Rotary Club, circa 1954. Meanwhile, a new census analysis released this month finds that nonwhites now make up a majority in nearly a third of the nation’s most populous counties, with Houston overtaking Los Angeles in black population and metropolitan Chicago surpassing Honolulu in Asian residents. Even small towns and rural America are exploding in Hispanic growth.
Second, the Allen slur was a compact distillation of the brute nastiness of the Bush-Rove years, all that ostentatious “compassion” notwithstanding. Mr. Bush and Mr. Rove are not xenophobes, but the record will show that their White House spoke up too late and said too little when some of its political allies descended into Mexican-bashing during the immigration brawl. Mr. Bush and Mr. Rove winked at anti-immigrant bigotry, much as they did at the homophobia they inflamed with their incessant election-year demagoguery about same-sex marriage.
Finally, the “macaca” incident was a media touchstone. It became a national phenomenon when the video landed on YouTube, the rollicking Web site whose reach now threatens mainstream news outlets. A year later, leading Republicans are still clueless and panicked about this new medium, which is why they, unlike their Democratic counterparts, pulled out of even a tightly controlled CNN-YouTube debate. It took smart young conservative bloggers like a former Republican National Committee operative, Patrick Ruffini, to shame them into reinstating the debate for November, lest the entire G.O.P. field look as pathetically out of touch as it is.
Criminals and cable
Last night my nephew - no Right Wingnut he - argued that we coddle our criminals in prisons by allowing them to watch cable television.
I argued that his position is a reflection of our more punitive culture:
One simple measure of punitiveness is the likelihood that a person who is arrested will be subsequently incarcerated. Between 1980 and 2001, there was no real change in the chances of being arrested in response to a complaint: the rate was just under 50 percent. But the likelihood that an arrest would result in imprisonment more than doubled, from 13 to 28 percent. And because the amount of time served and the rate of prison admission both increased, the incarceration rate for violent crime almost tripled, despite the decline in the level of violence. The incarceration rate for nonviolent and drug offenses increased at an even faster pace: between 1980 and 1997 the number of people incarcerated for nonviolent offenses tripled, and the number of people incarcerated for drug offenses increased by a factor of 11. Indeed, the criminal-justice researcher Alfred Blumstein has argued that none of the growth in incarceration between 1980 and 1996 can be attributed to more crime:The growth was entirely attributable to a growth in punitiveness, about equally to growth in prison commitments per arrest (an indication of tougher prosecution or judicial sentencing) and to longer time served (an indication of longer sentences, elimination of parole or later parole release, or greater readiness to recommit parolees to prison for either technical violations or new crimes).
This growth in punitiveness was accompanied by a shift in thinking about the basic purpose of criminal justice. In the 1970s, the sociologist David Garland argues, the corrections system was commonly seen as a way to prepare offenders to rejoin society. Since then, the focus has shifted from rehabilitation to punishment and stayed there. Felons are no longer persons to be supported, but risks to be dealt with. And the way to deal with the risks is to keep them locked up. As of 2000, 33 states had abolished limited parole (up from 17 in 1980); 24 states had introduced three-strikes laws (up from zero); and 40 states had introduced truth-in-sentencing laws (up from three). The vast majority of these changes occurred in the 1990s, as crime rates fell.
Worse than the huge financial burden of our punitive criminal justice system - to build and staff prisons and the expansive legal system required to place and hold them there - are the social costs. Every prison inmate is some mother’s son, brother, sister, father, uncle or friend to those of us on the outside. And if while inside we do nothing more than provide cable television and a gym, how can we be surprised to find that when they are set free they re-offend and wind up right back in jail?
Our punitive lack of rehabilitation services is a de facto training program for criminals. They come out of the system worse than when they went in. I just don’t see how that’s good for any of us.
Jail time added to list of teen sex risks
This AP story is making the newspaper rounds:
Atlanta | Health teachers have long warned teens that they risk becoming pregnant or contracting diseases if they are sexually active. A few are now adding a new lesson to the list: Have sex and you’re breaking the law.
Pop culture may be filled with images of promiscuous high schoolers, but in many states it’s still illegal for them to actually have sex, even if they’re close in age. And although legal experts say it’s rare for prosecutors to seek charges, they can and sometimes do.
Perhaps the most famous example is Genarlow Wilson, the Georgia man serving a 10-year prison sentence for receiving oral sex from a 15-year-old girl. Georgia lawmakers have softened the law prosecutors used to sentence Wilson but they didn’t erase the criminal penalty altogether. It’s still a misdemeanor.
Lawyers and health educators say most teens - and even many parents - are unaware that consensual teenage sex is often a crime.
SEE ALSO: My5th.org
Wikipedia and media authority
An issue I find more fascinating than the one addressed by WikiScanner is Wikipedia’s reliance on traditional media to determine when a subject is ”notable” and whether a source is credible and authoritative. danah boyd makes the point:
I’m trying really hard to figure out ways in which we can get youth to think critically about the construction and production of information. I believe that Wikipedia is a great source for working through and thinking about these issues, but I’m extremely worried about the ways in which Wikipedians fetishize mass media as ideal sources. Hell, I’m worried about the ways in which my own industry [academia?] sees mass media as proof that the sky is falling. Media is often very useful for citations, but to assume that it is always right seems to be extremely dangerous, especially for a community that’s fighting an image issue concerning the ease with which things can be edited and published. I also think it’s dangerous for Wikipedia to perpetuate inaccuracies in mass media just cuz mass media said so.
To those Wikipedians out there who happen to read my blog - is there any conversation amongst Wikipedians about how to deal with mass media coverage? Is there any conversation about how mass media coverage is often biased or inaccurate? Why is mass media coverage so valued? (And why on earth am I notable because I’m profiled in mass media instead of because of why mass media was covering me?)
In comments a Wikipedia editor writes:
Most Wikipedia editors know that mass media is often unreliable… but it’s all we can agree on. “What is a reliable source” has occupied literally tens of thousands of messages. What the policy should say and when to make exceptions on it start flamewars of legendary intensity; I think some often forget that Wikipedians made the policies and thus can change them if they’re bad. [...]
There’s not one sort of Wikipedia editor, any more than there’s one sort of blogger. Some people place more importance on some things than others: effect on the subject, reliability of sources, proper procedures for verification, etc.; with people it is more difficult to come to agreement, because there’s more importance on getting it right *now* as opposed to something where the subject isn’t herself affected.
There’s a new unofficial Wikipedia search tool, WikiScanner, that lets you enter the name of a corporation, organization or government entity and get a list of IP addresses assigned to it. Then, with just a few more clicks, you find all the anonymous edits made from those addresses anywhere in Wikipedia’s pages.
WikiScanner is the work of Virgil Griffith, 24, a cognitive scientist who is a visiting researcher at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico. Mr. Griffith, who spent two weeks this summer writing the software for the site, said he got interested in creating such a tool last year after hearing of members of Congress who were editing their own entries.
Mr. Griffith said he “was expecting a few people to get nailed pretty hard” after his service became public. “The yield, in terms of public relations disasters, is about what I expected.”
Mr. Griffith, who also likes to refer to himself as a “disruptive technologist,Ã¢â‚¬Â� said he was certain any more examples of self-interested editing would come out in the next few weeks, “because the data set is just so huge.”
Wired has more, including a list of too-good-to-be-true Wikipedia spin jobs, submitted by the public and rankable by all, that actually turn out to be true (MPAA edits DRM, ACLU slanders the pope, Subway declares its sandwiches ‘delicious’....).
Busy with the first week of classes, I’m late to this party. Here Cory Doctorow comments on the Disney whitewashing of his entry; here Wonkette sees vandalism by the Republican Party of Minnesota as proof that Republicans Hate Harry Potter.
Crooks and Liars points to the diligent detective work of dKos diarist Democrashield for cataloging the “egregious even by FOX standards” editing of anchor entries (Fox hits back here); and from the UK, the Telegraph whacks the BBC for hypocrisy in pointing to the CIA when its own house is unclean.
All of this is good blogger fun, but really just a tempest in a teapot. The fact that kids make prank phone calls is an annoyance, nothing more (do kids even do that anymore?), and does not delegitimize the phone network. Similarly, pranksters don’t delegitimize Wikipedia; they’re an annoyance to be dealt with and Virgil’s done that nicely:
[Wikipedia founder Jimmy] Wales, who called the scanner “a very clever idea,” said he was considering some changes to Wikipedia to help visitors better understand what information is recorded about them.
“When someone clicks on ‘edit,’ it would be interesting if we could say, Ã¢â‚¬ËœHi, thank you for editing. We see you’re logged in from The New York Times. Keep in mind that we know that, and it’s public information,’ “ he said. “That might make them stop and think.”
Like prank phone calls, this is an issue that is bound to fade away.