An open letter to NYC Mayor de Blasio

Dear Jackass,

Now that your secret emails have become public, we’ve learned how much you hate the media. Apparently you never read Robert Townsend’s Up the Organization (1970), especially the part where he warns not to put anything in writing that you don’t want to come out later.

In response, you headed over to Room 9 to throw a hissy fit. In true Trumpian fashion, you didn’t apologize, you doubled down and flung further attacks on all three of the city’s newspapers.

You could have said, “As Mayor, you take a lot of heat. It’s part of the job and every Mayor has to deal with it. But sometimes it gets under your skin, so you vent to friends and associates. Afterwards, you go back to your job of doing the best you can for the citizens of this great city.”

That would have been my advice, But what do I know? I’m just a blogger here in the Transbaikal. I suggest that the next time the yak dung hits the fan and you’re thinking of holding a presser, you first consult with Mrs. Presser.


Jerome Biteman, Editor

What’s wrong with Alice Goffman’s book on crime?

Since her book “On the Run” was published, the author has achieved a measure of fame that is rare​ for a young sociologist, but ​she now faces criticism over her facts and methods.

Alice Goffman’s book about low-income black men and their interactions with the police, On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City, was published last year to glowing reviews. Now the shit is hitting the fan.

Here are some things to consider:

  1. The Oprah Syndrome. Oprah frequently fell in love with supposedly non-fiction books which struck a responsive chord with her, only to find later that they were just made up. There is little doubt that some of the early encomia for Goffman’s work were by people who fell victim to the Oprah Syndrome.
  2. Schadenfreude. Now that Goffman has been built up, our jealousy is satisfied by tearing her down. If it weren’t for Schadenfreude, we here at would have nothing to live for.
  3. Steven Lubet, a law professor at Northwestern University, has raised the question of whether Goffman technically committed a crime during her six years of hanging with the black underclass of Philadelphia. For this, Lubet got himself prominently mentioned in the New York Times, which is more than than can be said for the ink-stained wretches here in the BiteCastle.
  4. Goffman wrote that she learned from Philadelphia police officers that officers visiting hospitals regularly run the names of patients and visitors through criminal databases, arresting those with outstanding warrants. Law professor James Forman has queried public defenders and civil rights lawyers in Philadelphia and found no one who could confirm Goffman’s account. This at least raises a serious question about the accuracy of Goffman’s reporting.
  5. The Times says that “some sociologists counter that ethnography is concerned not just with facts but with people’s perceptions of those facts, which powerfully shape their behavior and experience.” Sure, but if Goffman reports her subjects’ perceptions as if they were facts not perceptions, she’s engaging in polemics, hagiography, homiletics . . . or fiction.
  6. While we’re at it, the Times refers to “some sociologists” without naming which ones. Cute maneuver, there. By proximity, they imply that they’re referring to Philip Cohen, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland. But maybe not. Maybe they just pulled “some sociologists” out of their ass.
  7. Lastly, the Times attributes to ethnographer Victor Rios the opinion that Goffman’s focus on “outrageous criminal exploits” gives a distorted picture. But the Times only quotes three words out of Rios’ mouth: “outrageous criminal exploits.” They made up the rest.

Since everyone turns to the Bitemaster for guidance on how to think about such Important Issues, here’s our take:

  • Alice Goffman has written one hell of an interesting book.
  • There are some questions about its reliability.
  • As usual, the Times muddies the waters.
  • Other than that, you’re on your own, kiddies.

Source: Alice Goffman’s Heralded Book on Crime Is Disputed

Prosecute Torturers and their Bosses

In a blistering editorial published in the Monday edition of the New York Times, the editorial page editors are calling upon the Justice Department to open an investigation into the torture practices committed during the administration of President George W. Bush with an eye towards prosecuting those who “committed torture and other serious crimes,” along with former Vice President Dick Cheney and other major administration officials.

The Bitemaster has reservations about whether such a prosecution would be a good idea, but gives the Old Gray Lady credit for having the guts to propose it.

via New York Times calls for Cheney, Bush officials to be investigated and prosecuted for torture.

The Bitemaster is nostalgic for Spitzer

Attorneys general are now the object of aggressive pursuit by lobbyists and lawyers who use campaign contributions, personal appeals at lavish corporate-sponsored conferences and other means to push them to drop investigations, change policies, negotiate favorable settlements or pressure federal regulators, an investigation by The New York Times has found.

Sure, Spitzer couldn’t keep it in his pants and was an incompetent governor to boot, but he was a hell of an attorney general and I miss him.

via Lobbyists, Bearing Gifts, Pursue Attorneys General –

NB: I really don’t like the Gray Lady, but sometimes she kicks ass.