aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, October 27, 2007
A model of juvenile justice
The NYTimes says Missouri has turned its juvenile justice system into a nationally recognized model of how to deal effectively with troubled children:
Missouri has abandoned mass kiddie prisons in favor of small community-based centers that stress therapy, not punishment. When possible, young people are kept near their homes so their parents can participate in rehabilitation that includes extensive family therapy. It is the first stable, caring environment many of these young people have ever known. Case managers typically handle 15 to 20 children. In other state systems, the caseloads can get much higher.
The oversight does not end with the young person’s release. The case managers follow their charges closely for many months and often help with job placement, therapy referrals, school issues and drug or alcohol treatment. After completing the program, officials say, only about 10 percent of their detainees are recommitted to the system by the juvenile courts.
A law-and-order state, Missouri was working against its own nature when it embarked on this project about 25 years ago. But with favorable data piling up, and thousands of young lives saved, the state is now showing the way out of the juvenile justice crisis.
Again Georgians, it’s time we get out and advocate change for our outdated and inadequate juvenile justice system. If you’re in Gainesville, Augusta, Griffin or Milledgeville, there’s a town hall meeting coming soon to your town (scroll down). Go and speak up!
Court decision freeing Genarlow: scarier than Halloween
The pithy Senate President pro tem Eric Johnson on the court decision freeing Genarlow:
Senate President pro tem Eric Johnson (R-Savannah) condemned the ruling, saying that, by a single vote, the court opened the prison door for the release of “hundreds of sexual predators.”
Georgians, he said, “may cheer the release of Genarlow Wilson, but they should be scared to death of what that means for their own safety and the safety of their children. This is scarier than Halloween.”
He’s been singing that same song for a very long time.
BTW, I’ve been reading Johnson’s claim that 1,100 sex offenders could be freed to suggest that there are 1,100 kids in jail for sex offenses in Georgia. Thankfully, that is way, way wrong:
According to the Department of Corrections, as of this summer, 58 of 1,322 inmates imprisoned for aggravated child molestation were 18 years or younger at the time they were sentenced.
Johnson’s just been using the baseless notion that to free a kid opens up the prison gates for all sex offenders as a scare tactic to keep Genarlow locked up. I’d still like to know more about Johnson and McDade and the distribution of that sex tape.
Genarlows free, others remain. Change the law!
Many young people are trapped on the state sex offender registry for nonviolent and consensual sex acts as teens.
The registry is a prison sentence in its own right, fencing even low-risk offenders off from most of society. Georgia law bars offenders from living or loitering within 1,000 feet of schools, day care centers, parks, rec centers or skating rinks. Last year, the General Assembly added churches, swimming pools and school bus stops to the list, and, for the first time, placed limits on where offenders could work. Now, sex offenders can’t hold jobs near schools, child care centers or churches. [...]
Those sweeping limits have stranded other young offenders with virtually no place to go. Also convicted at age 17 of having oral sex with a 15 -year-old, Jeffery York, 23, of Polk County has resorted to sleeping in a camper van in the woods to comply with the registry. When she was 17, Wendy Whitaker, 28, of Harlem had oral sex with a teen about to turn 16; her sodomy conviction landed her on the registry and forced her and her husband to move twice already.
Now that the Supreme Court has issued a common-sense ruling that sex between teens is not the equivalent of adults preying on children, it’s the Legislature’s turn to act on reason. Lawmakers must amend the sex offender registry law so that it distinguishes between two immature high school kids hooking up at a party to a pedophile molesting the toddler next door.
Agreed. Most kids don’t belong on the registry at all. But while we’re calling on the legislature to change laws, let’s not stop at the registry.
[The Georgia Supreme Court] found Genarlow Wilson’s 10 year sentence to be “cruel and unusual punishment” for the crime of which he was convicted. However, I’m not sure this majority opinion is that sound or has any precedential value whatsoever.
Specifically, I’m not sure that its distinguishment of Widner [pdf] is appropriate. The Court says that the main reason Widner is distinguishable (in Widner, the defendant was 18 and the “victim” was a few days shy of 14) is because the legislative change that altered the punishment for Genarlow did not do so for Widner.
What troubles me about this is that the Court seems to take its cues on the “evolving standard of decency” from legislative acts… The court is essentially saying that a 10 year sentence for consensual oral sex between a 17 year old and a 15 year old is “cruel and unusual”, but it is okay if the actors are 18 and 14, because the legislature didn’t want to change that.
Age-span provisions are clearly lacking. William Saleten writing in Slate says it’s time to abandon the myth of the “age of consent.” He articulates the notion of a graduated age-span provision that takes into account differences in the age of physical, cognitive and emotional maturity. It’s the beginnings of a logical scheme for regulating teen sex:
I’d draw the object line at 12, the cognitive line at 16, and the self-regulatory line at 25. I’d lock up anyone who went after a 5-year-old. I’d come down hard on a 38-year-old who married a 15-year-old. And if I ran a college, I’d discipline professors for sleeping with freshmen. When you’re 35, “she’s legal” isn’t good enough.
What I wouldn’t do is slap a mandatory sentence on a 17-year-old, even if his nominal girlfriend were 12. I know the idea of sex at that age is hard to stomach. I wish our sexual, cognitive, and emotional maturation converged in a magic moment we could call the age of consent. But they don’t.
Georgians, it’s time we get out and advocate change in our outdated and inadequate juvenile justice system. If you’re in Gainesville, Augusta, Griffin or Milledgeville, there’s a town hall meeting coming soon to your town (scroll down). Go and speak up!
RELATED: On sex offender registries: do they work? (hint: no!)
The Advocate: How did this happen? Was Mr. McClurkin vetted?
Senator Obama: Obviously, not vetted to the extent that people were aware of his attitudes with respect to gay and lesbians, LGBT issues—at least not vetted as well as I would have liked to see.
Having said that, we viewed this simply as an opportunity to have a gospel concert as part of our overall outreach, and since he was singing at a concert along with a number of other artists, as opposed to being a spokesperson for us, probably it didn’t undergo the same kind of vet that someone who was serving as a surrogate for me might have.
Some black gay activists I’ve spoken to say this doesn’t make them question Obama the senator, but it does make them question the campaign—do they really understand the nuances of these issues, are they really sitting down and talking with gay folks, because it seems like this decision came purely through the lens of faith?
Look, these kinds of issues are going to crop up inevitably through the course of campaigns. It’s important to recognize that these are issues that every Democratic candidate who has African-American ministers as supporters may have to confront. It just so happened that it popped up on the screen in this particular instance. But I assure you, I am not the only candidate who’s got a black minister or a white minister who’s supporting them prominently who subscribes to similar views.
Part of the reason that we have had a faith outreach in our campaigns is precisely because I don’t think the LGBT community or the Democratic Party is served by being hermetically sealed from the faith community and not in dialogue with a substantial portion of the electorate, even though we may disagree with them.
Part of what I have done in my campaign and in my career is be willing to go to churches and talk to ministers and tell them exactly what I think. And go straight at some of these issues of homophobia that exist in the church in a way that no other candidate has done. I believe that’s important. We can try to pretend these issues don’t exist and then be surprised when a gay marriage amendment pops up and is surprisingly successful in a state. I think the better strategy is to take it head on and we’ve got to show up. These people of faith may be operating in part out of unfamiliarity, or they may be insular in terms of how they’re viewing LGBT issues, they may not understand how what they say may be hurtful, and the only way for us to be able to communicate that is to show up.
I know you’re in a difficult position here trying to balance these two constituencies—but by keeping McClurkin on the tour, didn’t you essentially choose your Christian constituency over your gay constituency?
No, I profoundly disagree with that. This is not a situation where I have backed off my positions one iota. You’re talking to somebody who talked about gay Americans in his convention speech in 2004, who talked about them in his announcement speech for the president of the United States, who talks about gay Americans almost constantly in his stump speeches. If there’s somebody out there who’s been more consistent in including LGBT Americans in his or her vision of what America should be, then I would be interested in knowing who that person is. [READ ON]
Ok. Good. I’m largely persuaded.
LATER from Open Left:
So, by Obama’s own admission, the campaign made a vetting mistake with McClurkin, and then got caught between two groups who wanted different outcomes. Claiming after the fact that this means the Obama campaign is some great big tent where people of all stripes come together and forge new alliances ignores that this only became an issue because of a mistake. The Obama campaign might indeed be such a big tent, but the Obama campaign did not intentionally invite McClurkin to sing in order to have a coalition building conversation between the GLBT community and more stridently homophobic members the African-American clergy
Paul Newman exits
At The Moderate Voice today, Robert Stein looks at the friendship of Paul Newman and Robert Redford:
“Certain friendships,” Robert Redford once said about Paul Newman, “are too good and too strong to talk about.” This month, Redford broke his silence to say that the final movie they planned to make together was not to be:
“It’s not happening, sadly. Paul and I were planning to do a film version of Bill Bryson’s wonderful book ‘A Walk In The Woods.’
“I got the rights to the movie four years ago, and we couldn’t decide if we were too old to do it. Then we decided, ‘Let’s go for it.’
“But time passed, and Paul’s been getting old fast. I think things deteriorated for him. Finally, two months ago he called and said, ‘I gotta retire.’ The picture was written and everything. It breaks my heart.Ã¢â‚¬Â�
In the summer of 1970 I was a ticket taker at The Harrisburg Drive-In Theater. There I watched Newman and Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid twice a night for the duration of its two-week run. We’re all getting older.
[L]ast spring, the 82-year-old Newman told an interviewer, “I’m not able to work at the level I would want to. You start to lose your memory, you start to lose your confidence, you start to lose your invention. So I think that’s pretty much a closed book for me.”
Redford at 71 has a new picture coming out next month, “Lions for Lambs,” which he directed and plays a leading role in. More polemical than his previous work, Redford hopes the movie will encourage young people “to take command of their voice” in American politics.
Over long careers, Newman and Redford personified an alternative American manhood to the full-throttle macho of John Wayne and the young Clint Eastwood–a more complex mix of strength, wit and sensitivity. (Newman turned down “Dirty Harry.” )
Off-screen, they lived away from Hollywood–Newman in Connecticut, Redford in Utah–lives of social responsibility rather than movie-star celebrity. [...]
In the early 1980s, our mutual friend A. E. Hotchner wrote about their light-hearted efforts to bottle and sell Newman’s salad dressing. Since then, a line of Newman’s Own products has earned $200 million for charity.
Meanwhile, Redford was creating a mecca for independent film makers in Sundance, Utah and giving their work recognition and commercial opportunities.
As Newman exits from the public stage and Redford keeps working for the public good, those repeated showings of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” on TV are reminders of how much actors can accomplish in what we call real life.
Friday, October 26, 2007
I want my TomTom! (One XL)
David Brooks bought a car with a G.P.S. and now he’s gone all batty:
I have relinquished control over my decisions to the universal mind. I have fused with the knowledge of the cybersphere, and entered the bliss of a higher metaphysic. As John Steinbeck nearly wrote, a fella ain’t got a mind of his own, just a little piece of the big mind - one mind that belongs to everybody. Then it don’t matter, Ma. I’ll be everywhere, around in the dark. Wherever there is a network, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a TiVo machine making a sitcom recommendation based on past preferences, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a Times reader selecting articles based on the most e-mailed list, I’ll be there. I’ll be in the way Amazon links purchasing Dostoyevsky to purchasing garden furniture. And when memes are spreading, and humiliation videos are shared on Facebook - I’ll be there, too.
I am one with the external mind. Om.
I still want a TomTom, but now a flat panel one with a battery so I can detach it from the windshield and walk around with it.
Doug are you listening?
Location, location, location was never like this before.
IN MEMORIUM: With GPS in the car the Kim family would have been spared its horrible tragedy. It’s a safety feature that will be standard on all cars sooner than we think.
Court orders Wilson freed
The Georgia Supreme Court on Friday ordered the release of Genarlow Wilson, the Douglas County teenager who has been serving a controversial 10-year sentence for consensual oral sex.
The court’s 4-3 decision upholds a Monroe County judge’s ruling that the sentence constituted cruel and unusual punishment under both the Georgia and U.S. constitutions.
The majority opinion said the sentence appeared to be “grossly disproportionate” to the teenager’s crime and noted that it was out of step with current law.
Wilson was expected to be released Friday afternoon from Al Burruss Correctional Training Facility in Monroe County, where he has been held since late 2005, according to his lawyer.
All too long in coming, his attorney B.J. Bernstein says, “Genarlow is going to be committed to talking and working with young people to spread the message that he made a mistake that night and doesn’t want it to happen to anyone else.”
Police state chrnoicles
Terrorist watch list growing uncontrollably, soon to be at 1 million. Are you on it yet? [...]
Miami reporter arrested for standing on public sidewalk. Apparently, the Miami PD have been talking to the NYPD.
It’s a provocative reporter stunt, but still… what country are we living in?
Migraine sufferers share their stories
Judith Warner has a post at the NYTimes Domestic Disturbances on migraines. She’s been trying to follow the advice of “Heal Your Headache,” by the Johns Hopkins University neurologist David Buchholz:
In Dr. Buchholz’s view, chronic migraine sufferers like me - I average around seven to twelve headaches a month - are, very often, victims of their own past treatment successes. Triptans, the new-ish class of drugs that bind to serotonin receptors and can work wonders when taken early in migraine attacks, cause rebound headaches, he says, if you take them more than two days a month. So do over-the-counter painkillers and stronger stuff like codeine and oxycodone.
Step 1 in his plan, then, involves removing such “quick fix” drugs from your life. Step 2 is about recognizing your migraine “triggers” and removing the ones - like certain foods, alcohol and caffeine - that you can do something about. (As opposed to the ones - like changes in barometric pressure, work deadlines and mothers-in-law - that you can’t do anything about.) Step 3 is daily preventive medicine - but the idea, in Buchholz’s book, is that if you do well enough at Steps 1 and 2, you might not have to go to Step 3.
I have been down that road. In comments I wrote:
My Greenwich Village doctor agreed with Dr. Buchholz’s theory but took it one step further, he believes migraines are a habit. Break the habit - do whatever it takes to go 6 months or more without one - and then quit all drugs and you will be headache free.
I liked the theory but it didn’t work for me. I tried everything, including Topamax. We never made the 6 months.
I left my Upper East Side doctor before him because we would sit in his office overlooking Central Park and talk about his latest book and his golf tours, not my headaches. A renowned expert in the field, he did nothing more for me than charge and arm and a leg for the same old prescription.
I respond well to the classic Imitrex (100 mg tablet), the only Triptan my insurance will cover. I take it at onset and the headache leaves. I just went through a period of reducing treatment out of a concern that I was stuck in a rebound cycle. I gave up on that. I treat myself at the slightest hint of a headache.
I do believe that my Village doctor was right in some way. My headaches may be a habit, and I have a pavlovian pain response. At even the suggestion of a headache I crumble. But until there is the research that Mary Jo hopes for, I will take my Triptan treatment.
And my take away from the comments of all the migraine sufferers here is, whatever works for you, do it!
If you suffer too, the comments on her post are a cornucopia of headache strategies.
LATER: When I posted my comment, there were 14. Now there are 179 and comments are closed. Mine’s not among them. I’m left to wonder why I didn’t make it through the moderator?
Where’d this come from? Flackattack last night:
From the tip line:
Genarlow Wilson will breathe free air tomorrow.
GeniusRocket.com the top user-generated advertising website on the internet that was founded by former members of the Dean internet team, announced their “Genius Rocket Primary” today, calling on the user-generated political video community to submit positive advertisements for any of the declared presidential candidates and a chance to win up to $17,000 total ($1,000) per add.
Here’s how the GeniusRocket Primary works:
Round One: Upload your submission(s) by Friday, November 30th and ask your friends and family to vote on your submission. Spreading the word makes a difference—the number of votes and your overall rating from the community is taken into consideration by our judging panel when determining finalists for Round Two.
Round Two: Primary Voting takes place in early December. During Primary Voting, we’ll ask members of the community to vote for the best ad for each candidate from among the finalists.
The choice of the GeniusRocket community will determine the final winners. (This is a democracy, after all.)
Significantly, they want positive ads. Do it!
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Obama’s hopeless mess
Yesterday Obama added a gay pastor to his South Carolina gospel tour. He’s white:
This move is sure to piss off almost everybody, except HRC, who apparently brokered the deal. Obama won’t win any new black votes by getting a white gay guy to speak at a black event. Especially when there are plenty of black straight people, black gay people, families of black gay people, and friends of black gay people who could have been chosen to speak.
I have been following the reaction in the black gay community, and many but not all of the commenters are outraged by the decision. It was bad enough that McClurkin was invited in the first place, but it only adds insult to injury to ignore the longstanding concerns of the black gay community by not talking to people in the black gay community themselves. And if someone had to be invited, why not invite someone in the black gay community? Or why not invite a black mother of a gay or lesbian child? Or a local black pastor who supports the full inclusion of gays and lesbians?
Today the Obama campaign released an open letter from supporters from the African American religious community and the gay community:
First, Pastor McClurkin believes and has stated things about sexual orientation that are deeply hurtful and offensive to many Americans, most especially to gay Americans. This cannot and should not be denied.
At the same time, a great many African Americans share Pastor McClurkin’s beliefs. This also cannot be ignored.
John Aravosis responds, Keep digging, Senator:
I simply don’t believe that Obama would have the same reaction, be just as welcoming, if we were talking about racists or anti-Semites. He wouldn’t say that we’re all one big tent. He would kick the racist or the anti-Semite to the curb. Not to mention, “the big tent” concept traditionally means people who have differing political views, even differing political loyalties (Republican and Democrat). I’ve never heard a politician invoke the big tent to mean racists and their victims. This is new. And it’s terribly unnerving.
It’s probably about time for the candidate to speak; and for a campaign shakeup.
RELATED: We had to know this was coming; perhaps McClurkin isn’t so “ex-gay” after all.
Poor Sonny Perdue. Pushed out of the news cycle by California wildfires. I’m in the Katrina in slow motion camp; decidedly unimpressed with anything I’m hearing from Georgia government.
Just like the folks in South Georgia:
Gov. Sonny Perdue’s temper tantrums against the Army Corps of Engineers, the state of Florida and anyone else associated with not giving into his demands continued through the weekend, with meetings at Lake Lanier and declaring northern Georgia a disaster area Saturday to further enforce what everyone else has long known - Atlanta is a greedy, poorly designed behomoth of a city incapable of hearing the word “no” and dealing with it.
The wasteful ways of Atlantans continued through the past decade of severe drought in the state. The water restrictions meant little to them “up there” as they had plenty of water at the time, while rural Georgia and farmers were watching their crops burn in their fields, listening as Atlanta politicians who apparently do think their food originates in a grocery store passed policies designed to prevent them from accessing the water literally beneath their feet.
These same politicians can’t bring themselves to tell their greedy constituents complaining about the low flows in their toilets this week that perhaps if they didn’t have six bathrooms, it might ease the situation a bit. That watering your lawn isn’t as important as watering crops. Or that their greedy overbuilding has taxed their supplies of natural resources beyond their capabilities.
However, all of that requires a degree of common sense and we’ve seen precious little of it from any politician in this state this year. So South Georgia, watch out. What Atlanta wants, Atlanta gets, and right now, they want our water. If our legislative delegation wakes up, perhaps they can have the state agree to at least let us keep what falls from the sky, even while they suck our ground, and our pockets, dry.
Here come the Georgia-Florida-Alabama water wars!
Teachers need Fair Use training
Here's how bad it is: not a single teacher interviewed for a recent study on copyright reported receiving any training on fair use.
Copyright confusion is running rampant in American schools, and not just among the students. The teachers don't know what the hell is going on, either, and media literacy is now being "compromised by unnecessary copyright restrictions and lack of understanding about copyright law."
That's the conclusion of a new report from the Center for Social Media at American University. Researchers wanted to know if confusion over using copyrighted material in the classroom was affecting teachers' attempts to train students to be critical of media. The answer was an unequivocal "yes." [...]
Researchers found that teachers may not understand the law (or may understand it to be unduly restrictive), but that they deal with their confusion in three different ways. Teachers can “see no evil” by refusing to even educate themselves about copyright, on the thinking that it can’t be wrong if they don’t know it’s wrong. Others simply “close the door” and do whatever they want within the classroom, while a third group attempts to “hyper-comply” with the law (or what they perceive the law to be).
The biggest one for me is #4, as everything I’ve read suggested the DA mishandled the situation and inflamed passions. I was previously aware of 1, 2, 3, 8, 10 & 11.
So far it has not fundamentally changed my take. The media behaves the way the media behaves - the blogosphere, too - and eye-witness testimony is known to be prone to errors. We’re not ever going to know the whole truth.
I’ll say more later.
Bush is the biggest spender since LBJ
George W. Bush, despite all his recent bravado about being an apostle of small government and budget-slashing, is the biggest spending president since Lyndon B. Johnson. In fact, he’s arguably an even bigger spender than LBJ. [...]
Take almost any yardstick and Bush generally exceeds the spending of his predecessors.
When adjusted for inflation, discretionary spending - or budget items that Congress and the president can control, including defense and domestic programs, but not entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare - shot up at an average annual rate of 5.3 percent during Bush’s first six years, Slivinski calculates.
That tops the 4.6 percent annual rate Johnson logged during his 1963-69 presidency. By these standards, Ronald Reagan was a tightwad; discretionary spending grew by only 1.9 percent a year on his watch.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Microsoft + Facebook = Social Advertising
Microsoft invests $240 million in Facebook, beating out Google to buy a 1.6% stake:
The deal is rooted in an online-advertising boom that has turned Facebook into the newest Internet darling. In recent years, advertisers large and small that once focused their spending on television, newspapers and other traditional media have started shifting their spending to a host of Web sites. Google has built its fortunes on that shift and others including Microsoft are rushing in.
Facebook presents a big opportunity for online advertising, in part because it collects detailed information about its users—such as their hobbies, favorite music, location, age, and gender—that can be used to place highly targeted ads.
I think no one in the mainstream press has truly grokked what Facebook has a shot at doing - Adsense driven not by search queries, but by personal profile. It could be a major, major new platform, if we, as a culture, take to it. It’s not a given, but it’s a very compelling vision.
Young (Southern) Democrats
Veracifier has an interview with Natalie Davis, professor of political science at Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama, about us blue dots in really red states. She was asked about Democratic Student Organizations:
Davis: I think if you drove through Birmingham today, you’d find very few “W” stickers and many “BLUE DOTS”. It’s pretty dramatic. I think there is a slight increase in the number of Democrats on campus. On the Birmingham-Southern College campus, The College Democrats seem to be alive and well. This group has been active for a number of years. Presidential campaigns always bring out students, so this will go on for another year at least. If I were guessing, I’d say that the campus is 60-40 Republicans to Democrats; a few years ago, I would have put the ratio at 70-30. The war in Iraq accounts for much of the change.
I’d guess that’s true here too.
The Gender Genie
Inspired by an article and a test in The New York Times Magazine, the Gender Genie uses a simplified version of an algorithm developed by Moshe Koppel, Bar-Ilan University in Israel, and Shlomo Argamon, Illinois Institute of Technology, to predict the gender of an author. Read more at BookBlog, The New York Times, and The Guardian.
Georgia loves its Republicans
According to a new survey by Strategic Vision, a Republican-oriented firm in Atlanta:
Do you approve or disapprove of Governor Sonny Perdue’s overall job performance?
Approve - 57%
Disapprove - 32%
Undecided - 11%
Do you approve or disapprove of Senator Saxby Chambliss’ overall job performance?
Approve - 52%
Disapprove - 36%
Undecided - 12%
Do you approve or disapprove of Senator Johnny Isakson’s overall job performance?
Approve - 57%
Disapprove - 33%
Undecided - 10%
This video explores the changes in the way we find, store, create, critique, and share information. This video was created as a conversation starter, and works especially well when brainstorming with people about the near future and the skills needed in order to harness, evaluate, and create information effectively.
Via Merlin Mann, “Still, for thinking, capture, and live collaboration, paper is one of the best friends you’ll ever have. And as long as we use it properly, it’s going to continue to enhance the creation of all downstream media. Even the shiny, embeddable, Web 2.0 kind.”
On phony sanctimony and faux outrage
Digby on The Art Of The Hissy Fit:
I first noticed the right’s successful use of phony sanctimony and faux outrage back in the 90’s when well-known conservative players like Gingrich and Livingston pretended to be offended at the president’s extramarital affair and were repeatedly and tiresomely “upset” about fund raising practices they all practiced themselves. The idea of these powerful and corrupt adulterers being personally upset by white house coffees and naughty sexual behavior was laughable. But they did it, oh how they did it, and it often succeeded in changing the dialog and tittilating the media into a frenzy of breathless tabloid coverage. [...]
The political cost to progressives and liberals for their inability to properly deal with this tactic is greater than they realize. Just as Newt Gingrich was not truly offended by Bill Clinton’s behavior (which mirrored his own) neither were conservative congressmen and Rush Limbaugh truly upset by the Move On ad --- and everyone knew it, which was the point. It is a potent demonstration of pure power to force others to insincerely condemn or apologize for something, particularly when the person who is forcing it is also insincerely outraged. For a political party that suffers from a reputation for weakness, it is extremely damaging to be so publicly cowed over and over again. It separates them from their most ardent supporters and makes them appear guilty and unprincipled to the public at large.
Ritual defamation and humiliation are designed to make the group feel contempt for the victim and over time it’s extremely hard to resist feeling it when the victims fail to stand up for themselves.
There is the possibility that the Republicans will overplay this particular gambit. Their exposure over the past few years for incompetence, immorality and corruption, both personal and institutional, makes them extremely imperfect messengers for sanctimony, faux or otherwise. But they are still effectively wielding the flag, (or at least the Democratic congress is allowing them to) and until liberals and progressives find a way to thwart this successful tactic, it will continue. At this point the conservatives have little else.
NOTE: I’ve noticed that in the past few months folks have started referring to Digby as a woman. Over the years I have quoted Digby innumerable times and have been careful not to assign gender. When did it become clear that she was a woman? A simple search turned up this speech at Take Back America 2007 conference in June.
Donors in diapers
Elrick Williams’s toddler niece Carlyn may be one of the youngest contributors to this year’s presidential campaign. The 2-year-old gave $2,300 to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).
So did her sister and brother, Imara, 13, and Ishmael, 9, and her cousins Chan and Alexis, both 13. Altogether, according to newly released campaign finance reports, the extended family of Williams, a wealthy Chicago financier, handed over nearly a dozen checks in March for the maximum allowed under federal law to Obama. [...]
Asked about the Williams family giving, Obama spokesman Bill Burton said, “As a policy, we don’t take donations from anyone under the age of 15.” After being asked by The Post about the matter, he said the children’s donations will be returned.
When Congress tried to limit contributions, our money-as-speech Supreme Court struck it down as a violation of the constitutional rights of minors:
With that ruling in mind, the Federal Election Commission wrote new regulations two years ago that tried to balance what it considered a legitimate desire among some children to make political contributions against the possibility that parents would seek to pad their donations by funneling money through children.
The regulations established a three-step test to determine whether a contribution is acceptable: It must be made with the child’s money, the parent cannot reimburse the child for making the donation and the contribution has to be knowing and voluntary.
I figure Hillary’s mighty machine must be vulnerable on this point too. Still:
This is the second time in two months that the Obama campaign has returned contributions from young children. The first involved donations from Maryland developer Aris Mardirossian’s two children, Matthew, 8, and Karis, 7; each contributed $2,300 to Obama’s primary campaign and $2,300 more for a possible general-election contest.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Obama McClurkin round-up
Obama’s got a big ex-gay problem. Says he:
I have clearly stated my belief that gays and lesbians are our brothers and sisters and should be provided the respect, dignity, and rights of all other citizens. I have consistently spoken directly to African-American religious leaders about the need to overcome the homophobia that persists in some parts of our community so that we can confront issues like HIV/AIDS and broaden the reach of equal rights in this country.
I strongly believe that African Americans and the LGBT community must stand together in the fight for equal rights. And so I strongly disagree with Reverend McClurkin’s views and will continue to fight for these rights as President of the United States to ensure that America is a country that spreads tolerance instead of division.
Holly’s got every link you could want:
Does Barack Obama want to portray himself as either P.C. or consistent? He appears to have got himself into a situation where he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.
Let this be a lesson to campaign staffers everywhere: Google is your friend. Before lining up guests to be associated with a campaign, check to see if they’re crazy.
Post Script: Ideally, McClurkin would just do the honorable thing, do Obama a favor, and step aside. If the campaign could push him in that direction, it’d be a good idea.
Let’s let teachers teach and children learn
Two distressing stories caught my attention this morning. One is an AP story from Texas about a teacher who has been placed on leave and is facing possible criminal charges because of a book from a reading list. The book, Child of God, is by Cormac McCarthy and involves a killer who rapes his victims after death. The teacher could be charged with distributing harmful material to a minor. (Because the content of that book is obviously much worse than what you see on tv crime procedurals every day.)
The local story involves East Coweta High School, just outside Atlanta, where the school paper was impounded after two articles ran. The first is satire and titled “Another Modest Proposal”. It’s a spin-off of the original modest proposal except this time instead of eating children, it advocates outlawing charity and getting rid of the portion of the population with the lowest IQ. It’s funny and well-reasoned and the kid does a good job of trying not to sound like a kid.
The second seems to me to be anything but controversial. It’s a scathing critique of an upcoming school pageant which grades girls solely on beauty. No talent competition. No current affairs questions. Just who’s prettiest. And this is a school competition. The author points out all the negative effects of this kind of pageant and that it has no redemptive value.
I have to say, I’m tired of teachers getting in trouble for teaching and students getting in trouble for learning. Makes home school sound tempting, eh?
As it happens I have a liberal colleague here who’s homeschooling for that very reason.