Month: April 2014

A Discussion That Needs to be Had About a Point That Shouldn’t Need to be Made

Not-All-Man to the rescue!

Okay, so here’s the tricky part:

It’s a sharp, damning satire of a familiar kind of bad-faith argument, the one where a male interlocutor redirects a discussion about sexism, misogyny, rape culture, or women’s rights to instead be about how none of that is his fault. And it struck a nerve.

(Zimmerman)

Okay, right. It’s not really all that tricky, is it?

Is it?

Okay, show of hands: Who needs this one explained? Anybody? Anybody?

A’ight, then.

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Zimmerman, Jess. “Not All Men: A Brief History of Every Dude’s Favorite Argument”. Time. April 28, 2014.

Image credit: Detail of cartoon by Matt Lubchansky.

A Question That Seems Somewhat Obvious

Okay, there must be something I’m missing:

Shadows in Gaza

Seven years into an Israeli blockade and ten months into a crippling Egyptian one, Gaza’s economic growth has evaporated and unemployment soared to almost 40 percent by the end of 2013.

Opposition to the Hamas militant group which runs the Gaza Strip has led its neighbors to quarantine the enclave, shutting residents out of the struggling Mideast peace process and leaving them with plenty of parties to blame.

Living on U.N. handouts of rice, flour, canned meat and sunflower oil, with limited access to proper health care or clean water, families like the Mustafas – seemingly permanent refugees from ancestral lands now part of Israel – have no money, no jobs and no hope.

“We’re drowning … We feel like the whole world is on top of us. I turn on the television and I see the lifestyles on there, and I think, God help me leave this place,” said Tareq, 22.

The Mustafas often must pick up and move when rain floods their low-lying home – even on a sunny day, it’s lined with slick, smelly mildew. They stand in the dark, as 12-hour power cuts are now the norm throughout Gaza due to scant fuel.

“There’s no money for university or to get married. There’s not even enough to spend outside the house so we can escape a little. What kind of life is this?” Tareq asks.

Well over half of Gaza residents receive food from the United Nations, and the number is on the rise.

UNRWA, the U.N. Refugee Works Agency devoted to feeding and housing the refugees, told Reuters it was now feeding some 820,000, up by 40,000 in the last year. The U.N.’s World Food Program (WFP) gives food aid to some 180,000 other residents.

(Browning and Al-Mughrabi)

To the one, it seems like an obvious question. To the other, let us set aside the usual rhetoric about who must or is allowed to protect themselves from whom and why. It really does seem like a straightforward question:

What is this supposed to accomplish?

(more…)

Louisiana

Pick your passion, indeed.

The Louisiana House voted 66-27 on Tuesday to keep the state’s unconstitutional sodomy ban under Louisiana’s crimes against nature law.

Louisiana's crappy flag.Yes, really. As Shadee Ashtari explains for Huffington Post, the Pelican State legislature decided that it would be better to maintain the unconstitutional law as a statement of the “values of Louisiana residents”.

The backstory on this one is rather quite incredible. Oh, did we say, incredible. Our apologies, we meant to say the backstory is rather quite stupid.

An undercover East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputy was staking out Manchac Park about 10 a.m. one day this month when a slow-moving sedan pulling into the parking lot caught his attention. The deputy parked alongside the 65-year-old driver and, after denying being a cop, began a casual conversation that was electronically monitored by a backup team nearby.

As the two men moved their chat to a picnic table, the deputy propositioned his target with “some drinks and some fun” back at his place, later inquiring whether the man had any condoms, according to court records. After following the deputy to a nearby apartment, the man was handcuffed and booked into Parish Prison on a single count of attempted crime against nature.

(Mustain)

Right.

So, sending out deputies to proposition homosexual men in order to arrest them?

Welcome to Louisiana.

(more…)

Oklahoma! Where the Wind Comes … Something, Something, er … Whatever

OklahomaThe lede, from Paul Monies of The Oklahoman:

Utility customers who want to install rooftop solar panels or small wind turbines could face extra charges on their bills after legislation passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday.

Go ahead, read that one again. That is to say, if you feel confused, well, yes, you probably did read that correctly.

Sigh.

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Monies, Paul. “Oklahoma House passes solar surcharge bill”. The Oklahoman. April 15, 2014.

Death on Existentialism

Death, existentialEvery now and then, I fall apart.

Oh, wait. Wrong song. Never mind.

Anyway, every now and then we all have our sentimental moments. Just ask Mary Death.

You know, it’s like, Really? Come on, kiddo, you’re not gloomy enough to have Death as a best friend. Try Cosmo and Wanda.

Then again, what are warm fuzzies to the Grim Reaper who is human enough to need them?

Guilty pleasure, maybe? Or is all pleasure guilty when you’re in that line of work?

A Spectacular Tragedy

Uh … right. Okay, so the headline is pretty much consistent right now, and for a reason:

Rapper Andre Johnson severs penis, jumps off building, but survives (CNN)

And the lede about what you would expect, as well:

Andre Johnson story highlightsRapper Andre Johnson severed his penis and jumped from a Los Angeles apartment building early Wednesday, police said.

The nearest thing to useful we might say at this time is that regardless of how Mr. Johnson came to this moment, he certainly has our attention.

Our best wishes to Mr. Johnson, his family, friends, crew, and fans.

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Duke, Alan. “Rapper Andre Johnson severs penis, jumps off building, but survives”. CNN. April 16, 2014.

Really Happening

Detail of image by Pius Utomi Ekpei

Three depressing paragraphs from Zack Beauchamp of Vox:

One of Boko Haram’s central grievances with the “fake Muslims” who currently run their country is Nigeria’s secular education system. The name Boko Haram, translated from Hausa, is often translated as “Western education is forbidden.” But more precisely, it means “Western culture is Islamically forbidden,” underscoring that Boko Haram’s campaign against schooling is only part of its broader crusade against non-Islamic influences on Nigerian society.

So it makes sense that they’d target a girl’s school. Still, why kidnap the girls?

“Their goal is almost certainly to ransom [the girls],” Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation of the Defense of Democracies who follows Boko Haram, told me. “Otherwise, they have chosen a target that will make everybody hate them. Killing [100] schoolgirls would be a huge PR hit even for some of the rougher jihadist groups.”

Apparently, the group is known for this sort of stunt. And, yes, this really is happening.

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Beauchamp, Zack. “A Nigerian terrorist group just kidnapped 100 girls to keep them from going to school”. Vox. April 15, 2014.

Image credit: Detail of image by Pius Utomi Ekpei (AFP/Getty).

The End of the Paperwork

It is accomplished. Mark the date. What started in Utah, in December 2013, with Kitchen v. Herbert, has come to its end.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black has formally ruled that Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states, but he put a hold on his order for the time being.

“Ohio’s marriage recognition is facially unconstitutional and unenforceable under any circumstances,” Black said in a written order he announced verbally 10 days ago.

Alan Johnson’s report for The Columbus Dispatch is charitable, at least compared to the ruling itself.

Order Granting Plaintiffs’ Motion for Declaratory Judgment and Permanent Injunction

On December 23, 2013, this Court ruled in no uncertain terms that:

“Article 15, Section 11, of the Ohio Constitution, and Ohio Revised Code Section 3101.01(C) [Ohio’s “marriage recognition bans”], violate rights secured by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in that same-sex couples married in jurisdictions where same-sex marriage is lawful, who seek to have their out-of-state marriage recognized and accepted as legal in Ohio, are denied their fundamental right to marriage recognition without due process of law; and are denied their fundamental right to equal protection of the laws when Ohio does recognize comparable heterosexual marriages from other jurisdictions, even if obtained to circumvent Ohio law.”

Obergefell v. Wymyslo, 962 F. Supp. 2d 968, 997 (S.D.Ohio 2013).

The Obergefell ruling was constrained by the limited relief requested by the Plaintiffs in that case, but the analysis was nevertheless universal and unmitigated, and it directly compels the Court’s conclusion today. The record before the Court, which includes the judicially-noticed record in Obergefell, is staggeringly devoid of any legitimate justification for the State’s ongoing arbitrary discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and, therefore, Ohio’s marriage recognition bans are facially unconstitutional and unenforceable under any circumstances.1

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1 The Court’s Order today does NOT require Ohio to authorize the performance of same-sex marriage in Ohio. Today’s ruling merely requires Ohio to recognize valid same-sex marriages lawfully performed in states which do authorize such marriages.

In truth, it only goes downhill from there for traditionalist advocates. The ruling is a barely patient, nearly patronizing lecture on just how finished the marriage equality issue is as a matter of law. Indeed, the footnote on page one is almost ironic; at this point, authorizing the performance of same-sex marriages in the state of Ohio is a mere bureaucratic detail, with the only question being just how badly conservatives want to embarrass themselves. No wonder he reiterates the point later in the ruling.

It’s over. It’s been over since December brought a decision in Utah, Kitchen v. Herbert. After today’s ruling, there are no more encores.

Today’s ruling settled the outstanding Full Faith and Credit question. Judge Black wrote (p.37):

Because this Court has found that Ohio’s marriage recognition bans are constitutionally invalid on their face and unenforceable, Defendants no longer have a basis on which to argue that recognizing same-sex marriages on out-of-state adoption decrees violates Ohio public policy, and thus it is unnecessary to reach Plaintiffs’ arguments based on the Full Faith and Credit Clause. However, the Court determines that, as expressed infra in endnote i, Plaintiffs have also demonstrated a compelling basis on which to find, and the Court does so find, that Plaintiffs Vitale and Talmas have a right to full faith and credit for their New York adoption decree here in Ohio. i

And that endnote (pp.41-43), summarized in one quoted sentence:

In the context of judgments, the full faith and credit obligation is exacting, giving nationwide force to a final judgment rendered in a state by a court of competent jurisdiction.

The paperwork really is finished for the judicial branch. Not even Justice Scalia can help the traditionalists. The show ended in December. The house lights just came on. Don’t care where you go, you just can’t stay here.

Everything else is a matter of bureaucratic details and cleaning up the mess.

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Johnson, Alan. “Ohio ordered to recognize legal same-sex marriages from other states”. The Columbus Dispatch. April 14, 2014.

Black, Timothy S. “Order Granting Plaintiffs’ Motion for Declaratory Judgment and Permanent Injunction”. Henry, et al. v. Himes, et al. United States District Court Southern District of Ohio (W.D.). April 14, 2014.

Shelby, Robert J. “Memorandum Decision and Order”. Kitchen, et al. v. Herbert, et al. United States District Court for the District of Utah Central Division. December 20, 2013.

Innovation in the Twenty-First Century

Facebook vocabularyBecause, you know, nobody likes a pedant. But it is one of those things that catches my attention, like the inexplicable popularity of the word transition used as a verb. And so it goes. Facebook has taught me a new one: “decisions” is now a verb.