Homo homini rodentius est

Gay Marriage RIP

gay wedding cake topperIt’s starting to look a lot like the ERA all over again. [Last month’s ruling] by the New York State Court of Appeals denying constitutional status to same-sex marriage was a bellwether for the contentious issue. In a ruling that surely will stand as an apotheosis of muddled thinking the court majority, taking their lead from conservative opponents of liberalized marriage laws, held that there were rational grounds for excluding gays and lesbians from marriage because marriage, defined in New York law as a relation between men and women, aims to promote the welfare of children in nuclear families headed by heterosexuals (yes, it’s circular reasoning…). Chief Judge Judith Kaye, in an eloquent and impassioned dissent, handily demolished the shallow arguments of the majority — not incidentally, indicating where the next court challenge may arise: children of gay couples, now relegated to second class status — but the die was cast. The issue now goes to the legislature, where the Republican majority in the state senate will mothball it.

In a matter of days following the New York decision, court decisions in Tennessee allowed a constitutional amendment onto the November ballot and in Nebraska upheld their constitutional prohibition on same-sex marriage. At this point, according to the Washington Post, fully 44 states have instituted laws or amendments to prevent same-sex marriage. Perhaps most significantly, in the only state to legalize same-sex marriage, Massachusetts, a proposed law to be voted on in November would define marriage along the lines of New York law — a relation between men and women — neutralizing the court decision which legalized same-sex marriage there. Things aren’t looking good for gay marriage advocates.

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Journalist, do no harm

Religious DoctorsThere’s a [prominent boxed story] on the front page of the Washington Post today entitled, “A Medical Crisis of Conscience”, by Rob Stein. The subtitle of the main story is “Faith Drives Some To Refuse Patients Medication or Care” and states that an increasing number of healthcare providers are refusing to offer certain controversial services, such as abortion drugs, because it conflicts with their moral and religious beliefs. The tone of the article is a little overheated, suggesting that doctors have not previously shied away from patients or situations that they found objectionable and, through careful omission of detail, makes the reader think the problem is more general in its effects than it probably is.

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The End of Cowboy Diplomacy?

Time End of Cowboy DiplomacyTime magazine’s cover story this week, [The End of Cowboy Diplomacy] is notable for two things: the hilariously snarky cover illustration, that suggests someone can’t fill his Texas-sized hat, and the poor quality of the analysis they provide about recent apparent shifts in US foreign policy.

The gist of the article is that Condi Rice has effected a palace coup and effectively replaced the bellicose unilateralism of the past 5 years with a more realistic and moderate diplomatic approach. They tick off the places in the world where the US is hamstrung by our inability to leverage influence because of our over-committment in Iraq and Afghanistan: North Korea, Iran, Sudan, China, Palestine, and use recent moderate utterences from the president about working with allies as proof that there has been a sea change in approach. Oh, and of course there are the unnamed “presidential advisors” who remark that even Dick Cheney has come around to the virtues of RealPolitik (invoking Kissinger!).

What they fail to report on is the status of the Cheney-Rumsfeld alliance — still firmly in place at the White House and DOD, or — most amazingly — Karl Rove and the fact that this is a mid-term election year in which Republicans are in real danger of losing their lock on Congress. Might the recent moderation in tone be directed more toward a domestic audience than the world, designed to reassure disgruntled voters about their priorities? If so, it seems to be working in the offices of Time. Maybe they should wait until after the Republicans retain control of Congress (if they do) to see if there has been a real shift in policy approach.

In an [earlier piece] on Rice’s influence, written last August, Time engages in similar wishful thinking about the moderating influence she will have on the president’s policies — but in that article were at least careful to point out the challenge she faced in the past from Cheney and the ideologues. One wonders, a year later, at the evidence of her influence on the most vexing challenge that underpins all others for US foreign policy: unilateralism in Iraq. I don’t see a diplomatically-engineered multi-national effort there, no pan-Arab alliance to rebuild Iraq and contain Iran. If it ain’t happened in an election year — it ain’t happening.

Short bites

One red paperclip = One house
Follow up on the guy I wrote about [here], who was trying to trade up from a paperclip to a house. He did it! Quite an accomplishment, but the strangest part of all may be his [interaction] with Corbin Bernsen. Could any interaction with Corbin Bernsen not be strange?

Cat Under The Hat
I’ve known plenty of guys who had pussy on the brain, but [this explains] more than we ever dreamed. Really bizarre science.

Stephen Hawking is depressed…
That’s the only possible explanation for his posting the question How can the human race survive the next hundred years? on [Yahoo Answers]. Almost 20,000 responses include, “It can’t” and my favorite: “It does not need to do anything. The human race has lived for thoasands [sic] of years already and has survired [sic…] things from the ice age, to plaques [as in dental plaque? Sic], wars, and other acts of wickness [you guessed it, sic] caused by the human race.” Thanks for sharing! I prefer to think about this [Hawking-related question].

One Father’s Story
Revenge and [redemption] in Iraq. Very moving.

Gawker deathwatch?

Gawker logoActing just like a real media company, Gawker Media waited for the start of a long holiday weekend to announce a big shake up: they are dropping two of their sites, Sploid and Screenhead and have axed Gawker editor Jesse Oxfeld. Hoping I suppose that the news would cool somewhat while New York media hounds were moisturizing their leathery hides on the beaches of Fire Island and the Hamptons, it still managed to get picked up by [The New York Times] and [The Huffington Post] (where Arianna may have taken [special pleasure] at the news). Denton explains on [his blog] that they’re “battening down” in an uncertain advertising climate. But online advertising is booming. Curious…

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