aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
ACLU Asks Georgia Appeals Court to Dismiss Jailtime for Lesbian Mother
The ACLU is asking the Georgia Supreme Court to intervene in the case of a local [Wilkinson] county judge who blocked an adoption after finding out that the adoptive mother lived with her lesbian partner of seven years. Elizabeth Hadaway returned the child to her biological mother, who upon seeing how distraught the child was at the separation, insisted that Hadaway retain custody. Hadaway ended her relationship with her partner, moved to a different county and reapplied for custody, prompting the original judge to cite her for contempt and sentencing her to jail for five to ten days. Despite that, Hadaway persisted and in May she finally won legal custody in her new county. The ACLU is asking that the contempt citation and jail sentence be dismissed.
Google Docs Rocks
Common Craft, Google Docs in Plain English:
RELATED: Microsoft Issues 10 Reasons Why Enterprises Shouldn’t Use Google Apps from Read/Write Web, “It looks like someone in Redmond hit the panic button a bit too early.”
A Blind Trust so candidates don’t know who’s contributing
Greenspan’s making the rounds to flack his book. Good for him, that’s the way things are done:
When he was chairman, his public statements had enormous power. As he’s finding out, they still do. In February, he rattled the markets by predicting there was a one in three chance of a recession this year. It forced the current Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to try and calm things down, and raised questions about the propriety of his speaking out.
“This isn’t like any normal forecaster going public,” Stahl remarks.
“So I then become incarcerated and I’m not allowed to do anything because I might say something?” Greenspan asks.
What’s his responsibility?
“My responsibility is what I am doing now,” Greenspan says. “I’m not commenting on monetary policy, I’m commenting on global things.”
“Yeah, but the comment that has most people upset was your prediction about a recession,” Stahl points out. “That you shouldn’t be commentingÃ¢â‚¬Â¦on recession-inflation.”
“But how am I going to pursue my profession without doing precisely that?” Greenspan asks.
“Well you know, sometimes people in Congress have this rule that they can’t work in related fields, or can’t become a lobbyist for x amount of time. Should there be a respite here?” Stahl asks.
“There was,” Greenspan says. “For a year, I was not allowed to go lobby the Fed, which I have never done,”
Greenspan says there’s no restriction about speaking and he doesn’t think there should be one. He also doesn’t think he should impose restrictions on himself.
Bob Reich, flacking his book, has a different take:
One year! Well… that has almost no consequence. I mean, you want a ban that’s five years. I mean, you want public financing of elections so that our candidates, right now most the Democratic candidates for president have said, `No, we’re not going to take public financing because we don’t want to be limited. We don’t want to be constrained. We can make more money--raising more money by not taking public finance.’ Well, you need more public financing dollars so that candidates don’t make that choice.
And even a more radical suggestion. Have a blind trust so that individual members of Congress or individual candidates cannot know who’s contributing to them. If you want to contribute, sure you have a First Amendment right to contribute, but you don’t have a First Amendment right to have a seat at the table when somebody you contribute to gets in. And if it’s a blind trust so that the individual candidates never know who is contributing to them, then they’re not going to give you an invitation to a seat at that table, based upon your campaign contributions.
Consumer debt opportunists
I’m not sure the world yet knows that I’ve taken in my young nephew to help him make his way through college. One of the biggest trials in the tribulations of doing that has been dealing with his accrued debt.
I certainly don’t blame him; I blame predatory lending practices and elected officials who aid and abet them. As I work to refinance his debt, I am amazed again at how eager these companies are to throw high-interest unsecured money at me.
Why I should be amazed I don’t know. I have my own ignoble history with consumer debt. I broke free in a kindler gentler time; we have no forgiveness now. Only punishing blame. And an industry rising up to take make money from the wreckage.
I recently saw an amazing commercial on CNN Headline News for an operation called 1-800-Credit Card Debt. It appears to be some sort of debt adjustment agency. The CEO, a guy named, Tom Cooke, I think, was speaking and said “Don’t let bankruptcy even enter your thoughts.” I sure hope these guys are not allowed to serve as a BAPCPA credit counselor. (What I believe to be their website is a bit more balanced.) The commercial, though, raises the question of whether there are any ethical guidelines for credit counselors? What about liability? Malpractice? I would think that a credit counselor should be obligated to neutrally inform people of their full range of options under the law. For some folks, filing for bankruptcy is a wise decision.
Of course, this commercial was immediately followed by one for a Merrill Lynch Rewards Visa. From the commercial you’d think that Merrill was selling (or just giving away) rewards, not a payment product. The term the commercial used was “Earn points to use for rewards.” A more accurate phrasing would be buy points to use for things you would otherwise buy directly.” The combined message of these commercials-go out and earn rewards points, and when you get overextended don’t think about bankruptcy.
Here a look at this year’s bankruptcy statistics.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
I’ve been trying to ignore John Stossel’s take on what ails American healthcare (not enough market). Then I ran across this letter from Julie Pierce:
My name is Julie Pierce. My husband was Tracy Pierce. I am featured in Michael Moore’s documentary ‘SiCKO.’ In the movie, I share my deceased husband’s story - his unsuccessful battle with our insurance company to receive what could have been life-saving treatments for kidney cancer.
I just read your Wall Street Journal article written on Sept. 13, 2007, titled ”Sick Sob Stories.” You begin by talking about Tracy’s role in ‘SiCKO,’ and claim the bone marrow transplant denied by our insurer would not have saved him. You also accuse me of “sneering” over our situation.
In your ‘reporting’ of this story, you did not contact me, and you did not contact my husband’s doctors. I cannot believe that a publication like the Wall Street Journal would print such an accusation without talking to anyone involved - especially in such a personal matter, which resulted in the death of my 37-year-old husband and the father of my child.
If you had contacted me, I would have told you that bone marrow transplants became a last option, only after our insurer denied many other treatments again and again and again.
I would have shown you a letter from our doctors at the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at the University of Kansas Hospital, in which they argued strongly for the bone marrow transplant, citing “strong evidence” supporting the past success of that treatment - they wrote that it could “give him a chance to achieve complete remission.” In fact, they called the bone marrow transplant “his only chance of survival.”
Instead of calling me up and doing real reporting, all you can do is throw around studies from 1999 about the supposed inefficiency of bone marrow transplants for breast cancer patients - even though Tracy didn’t have breasts. He had kidney cancer! I understand that you want to try to prove that private insurance in this country really isn’t that bad. And I can see that you won’t let the facts get in the way.
You go on to claim that Tracy wouldn’t have received his transplant in a country with socialized medicine, either. Where is the evidence? Not only are more bone marrow transplants performed every year in Canada, but they invented the technology! So much for your ridiculous claim that “profit is what has created the amazing scientific innovations that the U.S. offers to the world. If government takes over, innovation slows, health care is rationed.”
You are simply carrying water for the for-profit insurance industry that killed my husband. And then you have the nerve to accuse me of “sneering” about it. My husband has only been dead since January 18th, 2006. It is still fresh to me and my family, and comments like this are inhumane.
I have since tried to contact you via email, but you have not responded. I don’t expect an answer. People like you just write with an agenda, without coming to the source or getting any facts, because your main goal is to try to discredit Michael Moore and universal health care. I understand it’s a game - you did it without thinking about how you would hurt a family who have suffered - and are still suffering - such a tragic loss.
My family is not a “Sick Sob Story.” We are a normal, American family that has had a significant member die from a horrible cancer that ravaged his body due to repeated denials from a health insurance company. We will never know for sure what would have worked because Tracy was never given a fighting chance. Over 18,000 Americans die each year because they don’t have health insurance. I suppose theirs are “sob stories,” too.
I don’t want a hit-piece. I want answers. Why does our wonderful profit-driven system of medicine kill 18,000 Americans each year? Why do we pay far more for our health system than any other country, but have some of the lowest life expectancies and highest infant mortality rates in the Western world? Would you discredit the work of your late colleague Peter Jennings who, while suffering with lung cancer, did an excellent report titled “Breakdown: America’s Health Insurance Crisis”?
I hope you have answers, but I am not optimistic. I pray that you will never have to go through what we went through - if you did, you wouldn’t be so quick to cheerlead the system we were victimized by.
John Stossel interviewed five advocates of free-market approaches to health care but only one advocate of increased government-mandated health coverage. The five free-market advocates were interviewed on air for a total of 6 minutes, 24 seconds, while the lone advocate of a public health system, filmmaker Michael Moore, was interviewed on air for a total of 1:40.
They have more here.
Back in August Stossel looked at Why the U.S. Ranks Low on WHO’s Health-Care Study.
Stossel links to a 215 page study and he takes one aspect out of the study to ridicule. Life expectancy is one factor to look at but clearly it is not the only factor that the WHO and other studies consider. Stossel should realize this if he bothered to read these studies. And as he bashes the WHO, he offers no evidence in return for his suggestion that the US health care system is not as inefficient as others claim.
But you say he did acknowledge that we could do better. OK - and his policy is what? Getting rid of insurance? The mind boggles.
Ron Chusid at Liberal Values has a good bit more.
Atlanta’s Scott: one of the “most corrupt”
CREW released its third annual report on the most corrupt members of Congress entitled Beyond DeLay: The 22 Most Corrupt Members of Congress (and two to watch). Atlanta Democrat David Scott was among them.
Citing news reports and Scott’s campaign-finance records, CREW said Scott’s family advertising business, Dayn-Mark, failed to pay $154,000 in payroll taxes on time and $4,600 in local and state taxes since 1998. Scott also was late in paying $23,200 in property taxes on his home.
CREW questioned campaign payments to members of Scott’s family that the FEC records indicate were reimbursements for office supplies and other items. The group also cited a former Scott aide’s claim that Scott used House office staff for campaign work.
“It has become abundantly clear that many public officials believe that the rules don’t apply to them,” CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a statement.
Michael Andel, Scott’s spokesman, called the report “ridiculous” and “untruthful.”
“It’s unfortunate that they didn’t come in an talk to us before they did their little report, because there are a lot of inaccuracies here.” Andel said. Incidents cited in the report are either false or have already been addressed, including the full payment of Scott’s back taxes, Andel said.
The damaging information on which stories about Scott’s campaign finances were based was distributed by Republicans looking to weaken Scott in next year’s election, he said.
Scott has said the late payments were due to his wife’s failure to pay them on time. Alfredia Scott accepted that responsibility in an earlier interview.
Depressing. I have to wonder if Republican defeats haven’t made Democratic politics a dead-end career path in Georgia that’s not attracting the best and brightest we have to offer. In Colorado a gang of four banded together to identify and support bright aspiring Democrats.
I sure wish that could happen here.
More Free Speech Follies
Fox explains censoring Emmy comments:
When a federal appeals court ruled last summer that broadcast networks were not responsible for censoring “fleeting expletives” uttered on television, Fox hailed it as a victory for viewers, saying they could decide themselves “what is appropriate viewing for their home.”
But when some performers and award winners blurted out expletives on Sunday night on Fox’s broadcast of the 59th Primetime Emmys Ã¢â‚¬” including one that came during antiwar comments - Fox censors hit the delete button, leaving viewers with confusing seconds of dead air and wondering whether the censorship was of language or of political views. Fox said it was only language.
Off the record a Fox executive said the network believed that the “fleeting expletives” ruling did not take away its responsibility to keep objectionable language off broadcast television. Howard Kurtz said said yesterday, “Fox was censoring the news.” Here’s Sally uncensored
Even more entertaining is Kathy Griffin who said in her speech (the night before), “A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. Suck it, Jesus. This award is my God now.”
*Sigh* Oh, how the outrage now flows from the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue and other annointed keepers of “the faith”. How dare someone use slurs to defame so many people’s personal choice of self-expression! (Remember how loudly Donohue and other Christian leaders leaped to defend John Edwards when Ann Coulter was calling him “faggot”? Oh, right, they didn’t.)
Weren’t these the same people who cried “censorship” and derided the capitulation to Muslim fanatics when US newspapers wouldn’t reprint Danish cartoons deemed offensive to Muhammad?
Russ goes on at some length to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the Christianists are wrong; we’re not a Christian Nation. Unfortunately, the folks who need convincing won’t be reading. And if they did, they’d be unconvinced.
Me, I find that most of us believe the First Amendment means “I get to say what I want to say… but you have gone too far!” Meanwhile, the folks who own the megaphones that drown you and me out have bought and paid for their free speech. They really do get to say, “I get to say what I want to say. You don’t.”
I still aspire to the Sunsteinian notion that the First Amendment right to say whatever I want to say is rooted in the small ‘d’ democratic desire for a polity informed through exposure to a multiplicity of viewpoints.
We need to move toward that “multiplicity of viewpoints” standard - and just slightly away from the “I get to say what I want to say” standard - to take just some of those megaphones away from the few de facto censors who own them.
SEE ALSO: Joe Gandelman’s “They hated her, they really, really hated her” roundup.
The kid thought that in America there was free speech
He asked a combative question. And went on and on. So six officers wrestled him to the ground, tasered him, and put him in jail.
Call me humorless but the anchors’ need to make it a joke is pathetic. The police are investigating. Want to guess what they’ll find?
To the cop haters: I have no doubt the cops were going exactly by the book, the problem isnt them, its the book! they were doing their job and looked just as confused as this kid (This isn’t something that they deal with often).
Another camera with a different angle and the question.
RELATED: Just last year The Student Press Law Center and the Future of the First Amendment found that 45% of students think the First Amendment goes too far.
Monday, September 17, 2007
The NYTimes is freed!
A friend writes - all too generously - “as you predicted.” Expect lots of crowing from the blogosphere. And lots of bloggers quoting the Times’ columnists.
The story is timestamped in my reader at 9:38. And again as most emailed at 10:22.
The New York Times will stop charging for access to parts of its Web site, effective at midnight tonight.
The move comes two years to the day after The Times began the subscription program, TimesSelect, which has charged $49.95 a year, or $7.95 a month, for online access to the work of its columnists and to the newspaper’s archives. TimesSelect has been free to print subscribers to The Times and to some students and educators.
In addition to opening the entire site to all readers, The Times will also make available its archives from 1987 to the present without charge, as well as those from 1851 to 1922, which are in the public domain. There will be charges for some material from the period 1923 to 1986, and some will be free. [...]
What changed, The Times said, was that many more readers started coming to the site from search engines and links on other sites instead of coming directly to NYtimes.com. These indirect readers, unable to get access to articles behind the pay wall and less likely to pay subscription fees than the more loyal direct users, were seen as opportunities for more page views and increased advertising revenue.
Now what about the crosswords?
LATER - Jeff Jarvis weighs in:
It was a cynical act doomed from the start. With it goes any hope of charging for content online. Content is now and forever free. [...]
The bottom line is that the staff of the Times online did the best it could with TimesSelect, creating the richest service they could and probably garnering the largest paying clientÃƒÂ¨le possible - but still, it was a bad idea from the start. It turned out to be one expensive experiment, one bad investment.
But now everyone else in the content business can learn from the Times’ mistake. Rupert Murdoch has publicly toyed with the idea of taking down the pay wall around the Wall Street Journal online; I’d bet the odds of that just increased.
Zimbra is so damn cool
On my day without email (don’t ask) Yahoo! buys Zimbra:
If you’re a student at Georgia Tech or an employee at Digg or Mozilla.org, you know just how excellent your email and group calendaring experience is. That’s because it’s powered by Zimbra, creator of an innovative Ajax-based mail client that integrates email, contacts, shared calendar, search and VoIP into an incredibly cool browser-based interface. So cool that we’ve just entered an agreement to acquire Zimbra for $350 million. [...]
A global leader in email and collaboration software and its services are aimed at universities, businesses, and ISPs worldwide...Zimbra, named after a nonsensical Talking Heads song, made its debut at the 2005 Web 2.0 conference, leaving TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington saying: “Zimbra is so damn cool and full of Ajax awesomeness…” Here’s what Zimbra co-founder and CEO Satish Dharmaraj had to say about Zimbra’s raison d’etre in their October 2005 launch press release:
“Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ e-mail is brokenÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ From overflowing inboxes to the nuisance of organizing correspondence, to the cost of managing storage, viruses, availability, retention and legal discovery and compliance, dealing with corporate e-mail has become a nightmare. Zimbra’s server and application innovations solve these problems for both end-users and administrators.”
Zimbra offers incredible technology.
Om says it’s email done right:
I would go out on a limb and say that it combines the best of both Microsoft Outlook and Google’s GMail! Plus, Zimbra has this “search and save search feature” that is very much like Apple Mail’s smart mailboxes. (This save search feature also helps the company over come the inherent problem of filing everything away in folders. The conversation view of Zimbra is what really really rocks: it puts everything in context, I can tag it accordingly, for my own use later.
If Outlook is a NFL linebacker, then Zimbra is almost like a quarterback, thinking, and always wondering about the next play.
Kara Swisher, left “cranky and bored” after not being briefed, broke the acquisition story based on leaks. TechCrunch broke the price of $350 million and Liz Gannes confirmed it. It looks like a 10X exit on VC investment of $30m and is being widely regarded as a bold, smart move by Yahoo! This acquisition tops the $300 million price Yahoo! paid for ad network BlueLithium earlier this month. Yahoo! is in the midst of a 100 day reorganizing campaign, what better way to do it than drop a few hundred million dollars? You have to wonder if there will be mass layoffs at the end of 100 days of news like this. [...]
Yahoo! already offers a variety of enterprise services, including enterprise IM and search, but has deemphasized enterprise offerings for the past several years in favor of online media and to some degree, advertising. It will be very interesting to see what the company does with Zimbra. I say better late than never when it comes to hip new software. If staff from the excellent Yahoo! Mail team gets moved over to work on Zimbra, things could really heat up.
The Clinton plan opens the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program to everybody, ensuring that anyone can access the same menu of regulated private options that federal employees get.
The plan also creates a new public option, modeled off (but distinct from) Medicare. That’s a big deal: The public insurer offers full coverage and is open to all Americans without restriction. Public insurance is what I feared her plan would avoid, and instead, she embraced it wholeheartedly.
[Various other good points, including an individual mandate, community rating for insurance companies, subsidies for low-income consumers, and limitations on employer tax deductions for healthcare.]
So the policy is very, very sound. The rhetoric is interesting too, being entirely about “choice.” It’s called the “American Health Choices Plan.” The first section, on the opening of FEHBP and the creation of a new public insurer, is titled, “Providing a Choice of Insurance Plans.” The first bullet point assures readers that every American will be able to keep their current coverage if they so desire. Etc, etc.
I agree with Ezra: although the three leading Democratic presidential candidates have proposed healthcare plans that are similar in a lot of ways, Hillary’s strikes me as not just substantively as good as any of them (and better in some ways), but also the politically savviest and most practical of the lot. Given her experience in 1994 (she knows what won’t work) combined with the legislative canniness she seems to have developed in the Senate (she know what will work), that’s not too surprising.
In any case, it’s a good plan. Edwards and Obama are going to have a very hard time making criticisms that stick. Obama, in particular, suffers because his plan is, if anything, a bit less ambitious than Hillary’s even though he’s supposed to be the candidate with fresh new ideas. For now, anyway, I think Hillary has outflanked him.
A Purple South reminder
Note in particular the battleground of the South. There are the strong “red” or Republican patches running through such areas as northern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia; the Georgia and north Florida coast; and southeast Kentucky.
But even more striking are the deep shades of blue, such as most of Arkansas and Tennessee; a belt slashing through the piedmont of Georgia, South Carolin and North Carolina (the South’s fastest-growing area); and Appalachian counties in the Virginias.
The concentrations of red in the South are on par with the swaths of scarlet one sees in the Midwest/Plains (Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma) and the upper West.
It’s amazing to see so many blogs in the Democratic Party camp writing off the South in an attempt to position themselves as “realistic,” when the reality of fierce party competition in the South couldn’t be more clear.
A year ago I read Mo Fiorina’s Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America. He’s still speaking to me when he observes that “The simple truth is that there is no Culture War in the United States.”
As a nation we remain closely divided, not deeply divided. Schaller notwithstanding, that observation most emphatically includes the South.
Black and White and Dems all over
Tom Schaller, of Whistling Past Dixie fame, says the Dems should not bother with white male voters, and with that says the Dems should ignore the South, win with the West and the East and then ultimately the South will see the error of its ways and come around to the Democratic position.
The thing I just don’t get about that abandon the South philosophy is that the South has seen an influx of African Americans and has some of the wealthiest, healthiest black communities in the country. So, if the Dems ignore the South, aren’t they ignoring that key constituency?
Democrats are able to neutralize their white male voter problem with votes from African-Americans—even though the latter group is only about one-third the size of the former. While Galston was right in 2000 about the “more than offsets” effect of white male votes relative to black votes, by 2004 the share of all votes cast by white men had shrunk by 3 percent while the share cast by African-American voters has increased by 2 percent; today, the black vote fully compensates for the Democrats’ deficit among white men.
So how about this Tom Schaller, rather than writing off the Southern White Male why not focus on empowering African American people in the South and moving their issues front and center nationwide?
Dreaming of a Marshall Plan for Georgia transportation
Jim Maran, president of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce writing in the AJC, says that with road use in Georgia up more than 40 percent while road capacity has increased less than 2 percent it’s time for a Marshall Plan for the state’s outmoded transportation infrastructure:
No more of this “either/or” mind-set. Let’s think “both/and” when discussing urban vs. rural needs as well as roads vs. transit.
Well, that’s swell. But the reality he sees is that we have the fourth-lowest infrastructure investment in the country and that the transportation improvement plan was cut $7.7 billion (510 projects) and the Atlanta Regional Commission long-term plan was cut $5.5 billion. Still, in true Chamber of Commerce fashion, he has the gall to say that “our state elected officials take this crisis seriously.”
What planet is he living on?
The state’s joint study committee on transportation funding and the Get Georgia Moving Coalition are the beginnings, he says, of a “perfect storm” that will draw the billions of new dollars we need towards new transportation infrastructure.
He’s dreaming! Yes, that storm’s coming. And we’re sunk.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Fred Kaplan War Stories: Lost Voices
Seven noncommissioned officers of the 82nd Airborne Division wrote an op-ed in the Aug. 19 New York Times, calling the prospect of victory “far-fetched” and appraisals of progress “surreal.” Two of them died in Iraq on Monday. A third was shot in the head during a firefight before the op-ed piece was published.
[The two who died, Staff Sgt. Yance T. Gray, 26, and Sgt. Omar Mora, 28,] were inveterate readers of history, and they relished talking about books on civil wars and insurgencies-and how those histories related to the war that they were fighting-for hours after returning from a patrol.
In other words, these were precisely the sorts of soldiers that Gen. Petraeus is trying to groom for a new U.S. Army attuned to the requirements of 21st-century warfare: soldiers who fight valiantly and think strategically.
It would have been interesting had some congressman or senator asked Petraeus what he thought of these aspiring acolytes’ observations. After Petraeus cited claims of improvements in the Iraqi army’s performance, some legislator should have recited the seven NCOs’ description of the “Janus-faced” Iraqi security forces who are trained by U.S. personnel by day and help insurgents plant bombs that maim those same American soldiers by night. [...]
When the op-ed appeared three weeks ago, I wrote a column predicting that it would make an impact, that some would invoke it as “a set of boots-on-the-ground rebuttal points” to the “lofty claims” in the then-forthcoming Petraeus report. It is galling that so many pundits and legislators touted a Times op-ed by two Brookings scholars who spent eight days in Iraq and came away persuaded that the war might be won-but paid virtually no attention to the far more unusual, even unprecedented, op-ed by seven active-duty soldiers still based in Iraq, some on their second or third tour of duty, who dared to step forth and argue otherwise.
I’m not saying that, because the NCOs are grunts, they’re right-or that, because Petraeus is a commanding general, he’s wrong. I’m just saying it would have been good to have that dialogue. It would be good to have soldiers who think in these terms rising through the ranks. My guess is that Petraeus wouldn’t disagree. The question is how many more smart, brave soldiers we’ll lose while the rest of the nation sidesteps the debate.
Acapella ain’t what it used to be
Report: Most Georgia police have no eyewitness guidelines
Not exactly surprising, the findings will be presented at a legislative hearing tomorrow at the state Capitol in Atlanta:
Hundreds of law enforcement agencies in Georgia have no specific guidelines governing the collection of eyewitness evidence, according to a preliminary report from the Georgia Innocence Project.
Eighty-three percent of the 296 police agencies surveyed by the group reported no written rules on the handling of eyewitness identification, the group found. [...]
The Georgia Innocence Project, which was involved in the cases of three of the men cleared in Georgia, has been pushing for uniformity and higher standards for the ID process. The group argues that witnesses are not intentionally fabricating information but that human memory is fallible.
The group compiled its report after sending open records requests to 500 law enforcement agencies throughout Georgia. Of those, 130 failed to respond. The group has analyzed 296 of the responses received so far. [...]
Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, an Atlanta Democrat, fought to pass an eyewitness ID bill last year. But opposition by prosecutors brought the measure to a standstill.
Prosecutors have also been key to the funding cuts for pubic defenders. Last year pay was cut for lawyers who represent indigents facing capital charges and then in May 41 full-time jobs - 12 percent of the work force - were eliminated.
Last week several human rights organizations demanded the state increase spending for public defenders. Maggie reminds us “the prosecution spends money, too. For every defense expert, there’s probably another prosecution expert. It goes both ways.”
Georgia’s refusal to adequately fund the defense of capital cases is not an isolated incident. In fact, numerous studies have reported the same failure in the vast majority of death penalty states.
The problem is particularly acute in “the death belt,” which includes Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Missouri, and now (once again) Georgia, among others.
Inadequate funding means inadequate legal representation and unfair trials. The climbing number of exonerations of innocent people makes it painfully clear that substandard representation is unacceptable.
Jim Marshall (D-GA): still not liberal
Through the last three election cycles the unsuccessful Republican strategy to defeat Macon Bush Dog Jim Marshall (for those who don’t click, I’m steamed by the stupid liberal targeting of Marshall) has consistently been to paint him as a liberal out of step with his conservative Republican district.
So it should not be surprising to find that the National Republican Congressional Committee is trying to associate the guy with the full page MoveOn.org ad in the NYTimes referring to Gen. David Petraeus as “General Betray Us.” The NRCC is calling on Marshall to give back a campaign donation from MoveOn.org.
What is surprising - and pleasantly so - is to find that MoveOn actually contributed to Marshall!
Well it turns out that contribution came in 2000. That’s before Sept. 11, before the Iraq war and before Marshall got elected to Congress.
“Will Jim Marshall, who has benefited in the past from over $3,000 in campaign cash from MoveOn.org, do more than pay lip service to the group’s despicable behavior and give up the money MoveOn gave him?” the NRCC’s news release asks.[...]
Marshall’s press secretary, Doug Moore, was more than happy to point out a television interview Marshall gave shortly after Petraeus’ report on Iraq this week.
“(It was) not at all a fair characterization of the character of Dave Petraeus,” Marshall said.
Marshall also said Iraqis should look forward to the day when they can take out newspaper ads that amount to “a vicious attack against a commanding general ... without fear of physical reprisal.”
As for the substance of Petraeus’ report, Moore said Marshall found it “spot on.”
Ken Spain, press secretary for the NRCC, said the group stands behind its news release. He said Marshall should give back the money and speak out against Democrats who are jumping on Petraeus and calling his report to Congress less-than-accurate.
Here’s how Marshall’s likely opponent reacted:
[R]etired Air Force Maj. Gen. Rick Goddard, who is campaigning to be the Republican nominee to face Marshall in the 8th Congressional District, put out a statement about Petraeus’ report earlier this week.
An excerpt: “I found it utterly disgusting for Moveon.org to question General Petraeus’ patriotism when he has spent the last 40 years of his life defending this nation. Moveon.org may not support this war, but to call General Petraeus a traitor is cowardice and un-American.”
However, Petraeus, 54, has not spent the last 40 years of his life defending this nation. Forty years ago, in 1967, the general was still in high school in upstate New York. He graduated from West Point in 1974.
By the way, there’s been no word lately from former Congressman Mac Collins, who said he’s considering another run against Marshall and would face Goddard in the primary.
My 2Ã‚Â¢ on the ad is that I am not willing to be held captive to the Right Wing construction that using such language about Petraeus is by implication going after the brave men and women he commands, but I do agree with James Joyner that it’s not the level of discourse I favor.
Wish this could happen in Georgia
There’s got to be some liberals with big money up there in Alpharetta. I sure wish they’d put it to work. And use Colorado as a model...
On Friday The Denver Post reprinted an excerpt from Chapter 9, “Move Over, Christian Coalition: The New Political Kingmakers,” of Richistan: A Journey Through The American Wealth Boom And The Lives of The New Rich, by Robert Frank:
The group began with a lunch. Al Yates, the retired president of Colorado State University and one of the state’s most powerful and distinguished African Americans, sat down in the spring of 2003 with his friend Ken Salazar, then the state’s attorney general . The two had grown increasingly frustrated with the state’s leadership. Colorado’s education system was faltering. Its health-care system was a mess. Job growth had slowed following the technology and telecom bust of 2001 and 2002. The Republicans in the legislature and governor’s office were spending much of their time waging an ideological crusade against the Left, introducing bills targeting liberal college professors and pushing legislation banning the discussion of homosexuality in the classroom. They also backed a resolution to support a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
Salazar and Yates wanted change. They knew they couldn’t rely on the existing political establishment, so they decided to try to create a political movement of their own.
They started holding informal meetings with leading Democratic thinkers and businesspeople. The group didn’t talk about specific policies, but rallied around broad values associated with “progressive politics” - social justice, fairness and creating greater opportunity for even the poorest Coloradans. Rutt Bridges was one of the first members. Also onboard was Pat Stryker, a low-profile mom who is worth an estimated $1.4 billion from her stake in her family’s medical-supply company, Stryker Corp.
In early 2004, Yates called Tim Gill, a tall, lanky computer geek who made more than $400 million during the tech boom. Gill had devoted millions to antidiscrimination measures for gays and lesbians around the country, so when the Denver legislature started becoming a hotbed of antigay legislation, Gill vowed revenge. “My philosophy during the 2004 election cycle was ‘punish the wicked,’ “ he says, sitting in his art-deco mansion across from the Denver Country Club. “I wanted to stop all the antigay bills from going through.”
The group had one unifying goal: ousting the Republicans.
Aside from funding ads, the group recruited Democrats to run for office. Being a Democrat in the Colorado legislature had become a dead-end career path, since their bills were often quashed by the Republicans. The Gang of Four scouted for bright, aspiring Democrats and helped fund their campaigns. They also funded negative ad campaigns against up-and-coming conservatives, to stop them before they became powerful.
“Marilyn Musgrave started on the school board,” Gill says. “She would have been so much cheaper to nuke when she was on the school board or even when she was in the legislature. We need to be vigilant and find politicians who are bad and stop them when it’s cheap rather than allowing them to get into an expensive position.” [...]
[P]ollsters and Republicans say the Gang of Four was largely responsible for the 2004 upset.
“They all came together and they had a profound effect,” said Floyd Ciruli, a Denver-based independent pollster. “But for them, the Democrats wouldn’t have won.”
Whether or not we on the left are noticing (the gang of four is too conservative and conventional to be lauded by the netroots), those on the Right are. Here’s The Family Research Council commenting on the same article (scroll down).
Saturday, September 15, 2007
The presidential: smears and unprecedented spending
"A very savvy friend” of Digby’s, “a political player of many years, has put together a memo for various interested parties about the lay of the political landscape.” Interesting reading. A couple quotes I find interesting:
Hillary Clinton is the most centrist of the major Democratic candidates for the nomination while the broader electorate views her as the most liberal. This is not surprising as this has been the right wing campaign against her since 1992. If she is the nominee, the Republicans will plan their whole effort to make her the issue and to drive up her “unfavorables,” already in the high 40s. Of course they have already thrown the kitchen sink at her so who knows how much further opinion can be driven against her. Certainly she is far more unpopular in red geography that no Democrat would carry anyway. What a white guy in Georgia thinks about her really doesn’t matter. Democrats in red and purple geography though are concerned about the down ballot effect if she pulls out all the haters. The key question remains whether she can dampen negative perceptions through her performance. She managed that in upstate New York in her Senate race. There is little time for that type of retail politics in the Presidential. It is naive though to think there will not be a further smear of Bill Clinton’s private life. Kathleen Willey already has her book ready, and Wolf Blitzer, likely, has the interview already booked.
I was in New York in June. I was struck by the liberals bashing Hillary and, in Westchester, the gossipy personal smears that wreaked of lingering resentment for her big-footing into their well-planned Senate race. If Hillary is president, Nita will be none the worse for wear.
Hillary’s built an unprecedented war-chest, but it looks like even that won’t be enough:
Thanks to the Bush Supreme Court, corporations are now free to give unlimited money right up to Election Day on persuasion ads. Several magic words cannot be used. As a general rule, major corporations do not like Democrats controlling the White House and the Congress. So imagine one industry group, the insurers and drug companies under the GOPs current Medicare drug benefit and privatization schemes. The 10-year estimate from all of us transfering to these industries is in the hundreds of billions of dollars. So if they spend 1% to maintain this cash flow, it amounts to a rounding error. Halliburton and the rest of the war profiteers certainly have a vested interest in the GOPs theory of war without end. The oil and coal industries have similarly large stakes. So one should expect a great deal of independent spending during the year knocking down the Democratic nominee and it will be difficult to trace the origin of much of the money until later. Some spending will be done by make believe trade associations, others by newly created 527s.
Across the Universe
I wanna see it…
All you need is 60’s love
From its first moments, when a solitary dreamer on a beach turns to the camera and sings, unaccompanied, the opening lines of the Beatles’ song “Girl,” Julie Taymor’s ‘60s musical fantasia, “Across the Universe,” reveals its intention to use the Beatles’ catalog to tell two stories at once, one personal, the other generational. That young man, Jude (Jim Sturgess), is a cheeky Liverpool dockworker with a twinkle in his eye. He quickly emerges as a winsome vocal composite of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, with a personality to match.
From here the movie only gets better. Somewhere around its midpoint, “Across the Universe” captured my heart, and I realized that falling in love with a movie is like falling in love with another person. Imperfections, however glaring, become endearing quirks once you’ve tumbled.
That surrender is the kind of commitment that Ms. Taymor, a true believer in the magic of art, asks of an audience. And as the movie intensifies, and she brings in a fantastic array of puppets, masks and synergistic effects, you may find yourself in a heightened emotional state, even as you realize that what you’re seeing is unadulterated white, middle-class baby boomer nostalgia.
Here’s a no-fail equation: Take one Julie Taymor (the creative genius behind Broadway’s “The Lion King,” the visionary director of “Frida” and “Titus"), add the music of the Beatles and come up with: something great, right?
Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Oh, how very wrong. “Across the Universe,” in which Taymor shoehorns, contorts and otherwise bullies some of the Fab Four’s greatest hits into a vapid Hollywood musical, is the kind of project that must have looked great on paper. Which is where it should have stayed, the more conveniently to be scrunched into a ball and unceremoniously placed into the circular file.
Jena 6: LA appeals court overturns Mychal Bell conviction
Bell had been convicted on the charge of aggravated-battery. The state’s 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal said that the 17-year-old should not have been tried as an adult. Five other black youngsters who, with Bell, make up the “Jena 6” still face charges. WaPo:
The youngsters were accused of kicking and punching a fellow student at Jena High School. The victim, Justin Barker, was knocked out and received a black eye but suffered no permanent injuries.
[LaSalle Parish District Attorney J. Reed] Walters first charged the attackers with attempted second-degree murder. He reduced the charges against five of the defendants as the case drew national attention.
Racial tension rose in Jena after white students hung three nooses in a tree at the school. Black parents wanted the students expelled, but the superintendent of schools opted to suspend them for three days.
In subsequent weeks, an arsonist torched a wing of the school, and racial fighting roiled the town. Only the black high school students were arrested and charged in the fights. Walters vowed to try them as adults.
Rice and Bean
That’s Condi and Randi. Michelangelo Signorile:
Yesterday on the show I had an interesting conversation with Washington Post diplomatic correspondent Glenn Kessler, whose new book is The Confidante: Condoleezza Rice and the Creation of the Bush Legacy.
There have long been questions about Rice’s sexual orientation and her personal life in general. As Kessler notes, “She has built a wall of privacy around her that is never breached.” But Kessler had access to Rice’s closest friends and to Rice herself, and he reveals some eyebrow-raising information that hasn’t been out there before.
In the book and on the show, Kessler described how Rice’s “closest male friend” is openly gay, a man by the name of Coit D. Blacker, a Stanford professor (Rice served as the provost as Stanford in the late 1990s for six years) and a Democrat who served in the Clinton administration. Blacker, whose partner is also mentioned, advised Al Gore’s campaign in 2000, while his close friend Rice served as a chief confidante for a president who has tried to make gays into second class citizens in the U.S. Constitution. But wait, it gets better.
Rice’s “closest female friend” is a woman named Randy Bean (pictured here), who is unmarried and whose sexual orientation is not stated. She is described as a “liberal progressive;” she’s a documentary filmmaker who works at Standford University and once worked for Bill Moyers. She and Rice and Blacker (again, who has a partner) are discussed as a “second family,” a term Bean uses, also saying that, “on friends, [Rice] goes narrow and deep.”
According to newly revealed information in the book (which Kessler found through real estate records), the two women, Rice and Bean (yes, hilarious), own a home together and have a line of credit together. The way Bean explains this in the book, is that she had some medical bills that drained her financially years ago, and Rice and Blacker helped her out by buying the house with Bean. But over time Blacker sold his share of the house to Rice and Bean, and then Rice would later get the line of credit with Bean to do some renovations on the home. Kessler, when pressed, said he did not know if this meant there was something more to the relationship between the women beyond a friendship.
Friday, September 14, 2007
The economic value of Fair Use
We’ve known for a while that fair use has allowed entire new industries and companies to grow, and to bring beneficial new services and innovative devices to consumers. Now, an interesting new study released yesterday by the Computer and Communications Industry Association (of which Google is a member) attempts to quantify the contribution of industries relying on fair use to the economy.
The study—which I encourage you to check out—concludes that the “fair use economy” in 2006 accounted for $4.6 trillion in revenues (roughly one-sixth of total U.S. gross domestic product), employed more than 17 million people, and supported a payroll of $1.2 trillion (approximately one out of every eight workers in the US). It also generated $194 billion in exports and significant productivity growth. Using a methodology similar to a previous World Intellectual Property Organization guide, the results of the study demonstrate that fair use is an important economic driver in the digital age.
Copyright law involves a delicate balance, and here in the U.S. fair use is an important part of that equation. This study suggests that it’s also an important part of the U.S. economy.