Saturday, July 10, 2004

Another honest mistake? Yeah. Sure. 

Let’s take a look at the Florida felon list. According to official figures, the minority population of Florida is about 11% Black and 8% Hispanic. The felon list contains 48,000 names. If the felon list matched the proportions of the population at large we would expect it to contain 5300 Blacks and 3500 Hispanics. But we all know that’s not the case. For reasons that are endlessly arguable and not relevant here, minorities are far more likely to get criminal records than Whites. Let’s triple the proportions of minorities to 17,000 Blacks and 10,500 Hispanics. We should expect the numbers on the felon list to be on this order of magnitude. Right?

Of nearly 48,000 Florida residents on the felon list, only 61 are Hispanic. By contrast, more than 22,000 are African-American.

Let’s go back to the calculator. The actual numbers are 45% Black and 0.0013% Hispanic.
In a presidential-election battleground state that decided the 2000 race by giving George W. Bush a margin of only 537 votes, the effect could be significant: black voters are overwhelmingly Democratic, while Hispanics in Florida tend to vote Republican.

Elections officials of Florida's Republican administration denied any partisan motive in use of the method they adopted, and noted that it had been approved as part of a settlement of a civil rights lawsuit.

"This was absolutely unintentional," said Nicole de Lara, spokeswoman for the Florida secretary of state, Glenda E. Hood, an appointee of Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's brother…


The method uses race as one of several factors in determining whether a felon has registered to vote. If a voter's first name, last name and date of birth are the same as those of a convicted felon but the race is different, the name is not put on the list for potential purging.

But the database of felons has only five variables for race: white, black, Asian, Indian and unknown. And a voter registered as Hispanic whose name and birth date matched a felon's would be left off the purge list unless his race was listed as unknown.


The exclusion of Hispanics from the purge list explains some of the wide discrepancy in party affiliation of voters on the felon list, which bears the names of 28,025 Democrats and just 9,521 Republicans, with most of the rest unaffiliated.

Just to be clear, even if we assume the list is accurate (and we know it is not), the method they used disenfranchised all of the Democratic leaning felons but allowed something on the order of 10,000 Republican leaning felons to keep the vote. Or to put it another way, Democrats are three times as likely to be disenfranchised in Florida than are Republicans. The facts that the Republican president’s brother is the Republican governor, and that their force-of-nature mother was very upset that the governor was not able to deliver a clear victory for is brother last time are just coincidences that should not be considered when trying to figure out how this mess happened.

How exactly are we supposed to deal with something like this? I mean after we after we breathe into a paper bag for a while and chant, “I am not a conspiracy nut” in order to lower our blood pressure and pulse. At what point do good will and open mindedness on our part become gullibility and plain stupidity?

Friday, July 09, 2004

Disappointed: My Democratic Convention Press Credentials Have Been Rescinded 

I was ready to tell you the good news-- that I would be going to Boston to officially cover the convention as a blogger. I had received a letter of confirmation from the Convention officials and was beginning to make travel plans. Unfortunately, there were a number of bloggers who had been offered credentials who had to be cut because the officials had accepted more bloggers than they could accommodate. Thus, they acted as quickly as possible to notify people of their error.

So I will not be one of the first-ever batch of bloggers to cover a National Convention.

Am I disappointed?

You bet.

Am I happy to have been considered as a fitting candidate?

Most certainly.

As it stands, I'll be watching the Convention from here in my lovely city of Syracuse and commenting from my easy-chair. (The next best thing to being there.) I have blogging-acquaintances who will be there to provide great insight and am very excited to see them getting recognition as the exciting new brand of journalists they are.

You can read all about the Convention bloggers at Daily Kos and PressThink.

Monday, July 05, 2004

What freedom means to me 

On the Fourth of July we are supposed to pause and reflect on the amazing gift of liberty that we possess. We should ask ourselves, “What does freedom mean to me?” Then we should write to our newspapers and say, “Well, for starters, not this.”
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A couple from Texas was taken out of a speech given by President Bush in West Virginia Sunday.

Police placed Nicole and Jeffery Rank of Corpus Christi in restraints after they entered the event with a ticket and then removed their clothes to reveal anti-Bush T-shirts, according to the acting director of the Capitol police in Charleston.

He said the two were asked to go out to the designated protest area, but refused.


As police rushed her out, Nicole Rank shouted that they were told they couldn't be there because they were wearing anti-Bush shirts.

Police say the two were issued citations for trespassing and released.

Oblivious to the irony involved, Bush proceeded to give lip service the values of the day.
"On this Fourth of July, we confirm our love of freedom," Bush said. "But we also understand that freedom is not America's gift to the world; freedom is the Almighty God's gift to each man and woman in this world.

"And by serving that ideal, by never forgetting the values and the principles that have made this country so strong 228 years after our founding, we will bring hope to others and, at the same time, make America more secure," the president said, to loud applause.

If people won't throw him out for being a bad president, will they throw him out for being an embarassing one?