aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, January 21, 2006
An abortion-rights war on abortion
Earlier this year, for a post on Hillary Clinton and abortion that I never wrote, I went back to an April 1989 Washington Monthly cover story by Jason DeParle, Beyond the Legal Right: Why liberals and feminists don’t like to talk about the morality of abortion. That article had an impact on me, for I read it as a liberal willing to question the morality of abortion.
I was then and I am still pro-abortion. But I see the moral question and I like the formulation of legal and rare.
Today, on the 33rd anniversary of Roe, William Saletan’s call on the abortion-rights movement to declare a war on abortion articulates the argument I’ve been looking for:
The problem with using restrictions to reduce the number of abortions isn’t that the restrictions are judgmental. It’s that they’re crude. They leap too easily from judgment to legislation and criminalization. They drag police officers, prosecutors and politicians into personal tragedies. Most people don’t want such intrusion. But you lose them up front by refusing to concede that there’s anything wrong with abortion. You have to offer them anti-abortion results (fewer abortions) without anti-abortion laws.
The pro-choice path to those results is simple. Help every woman when she doesn’t want an abortion: before she’s pregnant. That means abstinence for those who can practice it, and contraception for everybody else. Nearly half of the unintended pregnancies in this country result in abortions, and at least half of our unintended pregnancies are attributable to women who didn’t use contraception. The pregnancy rate among these women astronomically exceeds the pregnancy rate among women who use contraception. The No. 1 threat to the unborn isn’t the unchurched. It’s the unprotected.
Solutions are already on the table. Give more money to Title X, the federal program that finances family-planning. Expand health insurance and access to morning-after pills. Educate teenagers about sex, birth control and abstinence. Many of these ideas are in the Prevention First Act, which Democrats ritually file and Republicans ritually ignore. Some pro-choice activists would go further, by pushing for more contraceptive diligence in the abortion counseling process, especially on the part of those women who come back for a second abortion. What’s missing is a clear anti-abortion message to unite these proposals.
A year ago, Senator Hillary Clinton marked Roe’s anniversary by reminding family planning advocates that abortion “represents a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women.” Some people in the audience are reported to have gasped or shaken their heads during her speech. Perhaps they thought she had said too much.
The truth is, she didn’t say enough. What we need is an explicit pro-choice war on the abortion rate, coupled with a political message that anyone who stands in the way, yammering about chastity or a “culture of life,” is not just anti-choice, but pro-abortion. If the pro-choice movement won’t lead the way, politicians just might.
ALSO IN THE TIMES: William Baude, a second-year student at Yale Law School, says that if Roe is overturned the ensuing chaos would require the federal government to step in again, “American democracy has rarely resolved moral battles of this scope at the state level.”
The future of media
Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures:
We are witnessing a seismic shift in the distribution of rich media content right now. In the past five years, we have gone from no legitimate marketplace for rich media content to a world where almost all music is available online and where video is moving online very quickly. For the most part, it’s a paid download market. But that isn’t going to last in my opinion. Ad supported business models will take off in the not too distant future and will co-exist with paid downloads. Consumers are going to get the choice, not only of what media they want to consume, when they want to consume it, and where, but also how they are going to pay for it and what they can do with it.
Free content without rules (DRM) is The Future of Media. The business model will be advertising and its coming, quickly. Where we are now is an interim step because nobody is yet willing to make the leap. But someone will soon and they will be rewarded for it with a advertising market that will compare with and possibly beat the size of the paid search market.”
The Broadcast Flag. Again.
Cory Doctorow, ”this time it covers iPods and PSPs, too:”
The Senate has introduced the “Digital Content Protection Act of 2006,” a bill that will create “Broadcast Flags” for all digital radio and television, leading to FCC oversight of all new digital media technologies from iPods and PSPs to TVs and DVD recorders.
Under the DCPA proposal, digital media technologies would be restricted to using technologies that had been certified by the FCC as being not unduly disruptive to entertainment industry business-models. [...]
Hollywood’s crybaby capitalists accuse us of being “communists” with one breath, and in the next, they go begging to Congress to turn the FCC into device czars who keep the market from being disrupted by innovation.
Andy Setos, the Fox executive who invented the Broadcast Flag, once told me that his objective was “a well-mannered marketplace.” The entertainment industry’s version of a planned economy is bad policy.
Send a strong signal to your lawmaker: if you break my TV, radio, and computer, I will campaign tirelessly for anyone who will promise to throw you out of office and undo your deeds.
My kind of political action:
NEW YORK, Jan. 20—Three months before the annual Easter egg roll at the White House, the usually festive event is already taking on a divisive edge because of plans by gay- and lesbian-led families to turn out en masse in hopes of raising their public profile.
The Family Pride Coalition and other organizers envision the April 17 action as a celebration that will earn goodwill and showcase their families engaging in the annual tradition.
“It’s important for our families to be seen participating in all aspects of American life,” said Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of Family Pride. [...]
On conservative chat rooms, some critics of Family Pride suggested the White House could make the egg roll an invitation-only event, as it did in 2003, when attendance was limited to military families. Other critics said conservatives should mobilize to outnumber gay families at the egg roll.
Day 3: Better than a root canal
I asked if the root canal was also going to hurt. The endodontist did not rush to useless reassurances. Instead he said, `I do this all day long, day after day. This is all I do.’ The answer had a profound effect. It was the comfort of quantity. Here was a man who did root canals all day, hundreds, maybe thousands. He was not going to hold my hand. He was going to fix my tooth. Still, I dreaded him. I remembered that I am not brave and that I fear dental work so much I usually prefer the problem to its treatment. There was smoke and noise near my ear. It smelled and sounded bad.
I don’t know how many hernia operations my doctor has done, but it seems that half the people I know have had one. The promised “discomfort” has arrived, but it is nothing more than that. Discomfort. Leavened by Xodol ("Powerful pain relief with dosing flexibility"), a drug I’d never heard of before. I lied and entered the doctor’s domain; I can only hope it was not a non-leaky clickthrough.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients have not been established.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ As with all hydrocodone products, patients known to be hypersensitive to opioids may exhibit cross sensitivity to hydrocodone. At high doses or in sensitive patients, hydrocodone may produce dose-related respiratory depression.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ The administration of narcotics may obscure the diagnosis or clinical course of patients with acute abdominal conditions. Patients should be cautioned that hydrocodone, like all narcotics, may impair the mental and/or physical abilities required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks such as driving a car or operating machinery. [Or posting to a blog.]
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Alcohol and other CNS depressants may produce an additive CNS depression when taken with this combination product and should be avoided. Hydrocodone may be habit-forming. Patients should take this drug only for as long as and in the amounts it is prescribed. [I got 5 days!]
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ The most frequently reported adverse reactions are light-headedness, dizziness, sedation, nausea and vomiting. [Yea to the first 3, nea to the latter 2. Thankfully.]
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Acetaminophen overdose can cause renal tubular necrosis, hypoglycemic coma, and thrombocytopenia may also occur.
Hm. Can’t say I know what that last means but I can tell you it is a very effective drug. Except for blogging. My mind is going, going, going but getting what I’m thinking out and into a blog post is a more difficult challenge. You might think I should just give it a break, but I have to tell you that this is what I consider relaxation; it’s how I unwind. So please bear with me.
Welcome to the neighborhood
Remember the ABC reality series starring six couples - African-American, Hispanic, Korean, tattooed, Wiccan, gay - who competed to win a house in a white Christian Republican neighborhood? Maybe not; it was cancelled before it aired last year:
ABC acted amid protests by the National Fair Housing Alliance, which had expressed concern about a competition in which race, religion and sexual orientation were discussed as factors in the awarding of a house. But two producers of the show, speaking publicly about the cancellation for the first time, say the network was confident it had the legal standing to give away a house as a game-show prize. One, Bill Kennedy, a co-executive producer who helped develop the series with his son, Eric, suggested an alternative explanation. He said that the protests might have been most significant as a diversion that allowed the Walt Disney Company, ABC’s owner, to pre-empt a show that could have interfered with a much bigger enterprise: the courting of evangelical Christian audiences for “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” Disney hoped that the film, widely viewed as a parable of the Resurrection, would be the first in a profitable movie franchise.
In the months and weeks before “Welcome to the Neighborhood” was to have its premiere, as Disney sought to build church support for “Narnia,” four religious groups lifted longtime boycotts of the company that had been largely prompted by Disney’s tolerance of periodic gatherings by gay tourists at its theme parks. Representatives for two of those groups now say that broadcasting “Neighborhood” could have complicated their support for “Narnia.” One, the Southern Baptist Convention, with more than 16 million members, lifted the last of the boycotts against Disney on June 22, a week before ABC announced it was pulling the series.
The problem was the gay couple won the house and intolerant attitudes expressed in the early episodes largely faded away.
[T]he neighbor who was the Wrights’ earliest on-camera antagonist - Jim Stewart, 53, who is heard in an early episode saying, “I would not tolerate a homosexual couple moving into this neighborhood” - has confided to the producers that the series changed him far more than even they were aware.
No one involved in the show, Mr. Stewart said, knew he had a 25-year-old gay son. Only after participating in the series, Mr. Stewart said, was he able to broach his son’s sexuality with him for the first time.
“I’d say to ABC, ‘Start showing this right now,’ “ Mr. Stewart said in an interview at his oak kitchen table. “It has a message that needs to be heard by everyone.”
Gay acceptance at black churches
An uphill battle but a noble one all the same:
ATLANTA, Jan. 20 - About 150 African-American ministers and gay activists from around the country gathered here Friday to begin a two-day conference to combat what they assert is widespread prejudice against gay men and lesbians within black churches.
Though most black Christians are liberal on pocketbook issues, they are social conservatives, speakers at the conference said. Yet getting black churches to accept gay men and lesbians has gained particular urgency over the last two years, participants noted.
The high rate of H.I.V. infection among blacks stems in part, they said, from the unwillingness of black ministers to discuss sexuality… Ministers at the conference and some of their critics at other black churches agreed that getting black churches to embrace openly gay individuals would be a tough fight.
Friday, January 20, 2006
Same-sex marriage in MD
A Baltimore Circuit Court judge today struck down Maryland’s 33-year-old law against same-sex marriage, ruling in favor of 19 gay men and women who contended the prohibition violated the state’s equal rights amendments.
Anticipating that her decision eventually would be appealed to Maryland’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, Judge M. Brooke Murdock stayed action on her ruling pending that appeal.
“After much study and serious reflection, this court holds that Maryland’s statutory prohibition against same-sex marriage cannot withstand this constitutional challenge,” Murdock wrote in her decision. [...]
“There is no apparent compelling state interest in a statutory prohibition of same-sex marriage discriminating, on the basis of sex, against those individuals whose gender is identical to their intended spouses,” Murdock wrote. “Indeed, this court is unable to even find that the prohibition of same-sex marriage rationally relates to a legitimate state interest.”
UPDATE: More from the WaPo.
Copyright as incentive
Copyright is about creating incentives. Incentives are prospective. No matter what even the US Congress does, it will not give Elvis any more incentive to create in 1954. So whatever the length of copyright should be prospectively, we know it can make no sense of incentives to extend the term for work that is already created.
Now I’ve been reading Larry lessig for many years, and I understand that copyright was set up to create incentives.
But I don’t know that the public believes that. I think most are more in line with my friend’s belief that copyright exists “to protect the copyright holder’s property.”
Google and the porno subpoena
SEE ALSO: my later post Egregious is as egregious does: Google as cause cÃƒÂ©lÃƒÂ¨bre.
Reading the headline I was inclined to side with Google. Reading the article changed my mind.
The Justice Department has asked a federal judge to compel Google, the Internet search giant, to turn over records on millions of its users’ search queries as part of the government’s effort to uphold an online pornography law.
Google has been refusing the request since a subpoena was first issued last August, even as three of its competitors agreed to provide information, according to court documents made public this week. Google asserts that the request is unnecessary, overly broad, would be onerous to comply with, would jeopardize its trade secrets and could expose identifying information about its users.
I agree with Google and its supporters that the government most demonstrate the necessity of the request and keep it as narrowly tailored as possible; but i do think the government should be able to use these same tools that marketers and others do:
The government’s move in the Google case, however, is different in its aims. Rather than seeking data on individuals, it says it is trying to establish a profile of Internet use that will help it defend the Child Online Protection Act, a 1998 law that would impose tough criminal penalties on individuals whose Web sites carried material deemed harmful to minors.
Quotes from Google supporters don’t strike me as persuasive:
Danny Sullivan, editor of SearchEngineWatch, an online industry newsletter, questioned the need for a subpoena. “Is this really something the government needs Google to help them with?” he said. [...]
Susan P. Crawford, a professor at the Cardozo School of Law in New York, said she could understand why the companies complied. “There’s this real perception that if you’re not with us you’re against us,” she said. “So the major companies will cooperate with enormously burdensome requests just to avoid future vengeance being wreaked on them” by the Justice Department.
It seems obvious to me that the government must get such info from Google, and I’m not understanding the enormous burden to gather what the government wants - Yahoo!, AOL and Microsft were apparently able to handle the burden.
We want openness in all kinds of areas but not in this? Explain it to me. But in the explanation please also address how we handle a boy with his webcam.
LATER: A friend emailed his disagreement with me, “this combined with all of the Bush teams other creepy tactics is getting me a little paranoid.” I understand. So does Kevin Drum:
[G]iven the fact that the NSA scandal has put everyone on edge over government spying, DOJ sure picked a lousy time to force this issue, didn’t they? Do you think Congress will be (a) more likely or (b) less likely to vote for expansion of the Patriot Act after their constituents start to understand that it’s not just used for terrorism investigations?
Hillary’s upstate success reconsidered
Marisa Katz in the New Republic calls Hillary’s upstate strength in NY a myth:
Although the junior senator from New York hasn’t said anything yet about a return to the White House, a run appears likely. And, in anticipation, her champions are making upstate their best defense against doubts about her “electability"--a term popular with Democratic primary voters last time around. But, before the Hillary-can-do-it-because-she-did-it-upstate narrative gets any more airtime, it’s worth pointing out its fatal flaws. Namely, upstate New York is not that conservative. Clinton hasn’t done all that well here--in fact, she lost the region in 2000 and remains a highly polarizing figure. And, when she has won people over, it’s been through retail politics at a very local level. Ultimately, if she’s going to do well as a presidential candidate, she and her advisers must accept that her Senate campaign doesn’t count as a dress rehearsal. She’s going to have to bring something else to the national stage. [...]
The upstate voters she has won over she courted with retail politics: showing up in small towns, becoming fluent in the most parochial of concerns, and delivering federal dollars. In a region that historically hasn’t seen much of its senators, she has been omnipresent. Zogby says it’s these repeat visits that have done the most to expand her support base. “Presence is so important to upstate voters,” he says. “The psychology is: If you pay attention to us, we’ll give you support.”
But retail politics don’t translate well nationally. “Obviously, you can’t do a listening tour in all twelve zillion counties,” says Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in Poughkeepsie, though he suggests that the same skills are useful during primary season.
I’m not persuaded. Remember, I think we’re closely divided not deeply divided.
I stand by my view that the way for her to win is to, right after re-election as senator, set up an exploratory committee and launch a listening tour that is the exact national replica of the one that won her first senate election. Maybe even start with a swing through the South.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
We are big Scrubs fans. (As it happens they had a patient this week with mystery pain, and doctors uncomfortable dealing with it.) Does anyone know what the story is with network support for the show? This is all I found:
Last May, NBC president Kevin Reilly implied that the delay [of the season premiere] was due to [Zach] Braff’s burgeoning movie career. Braff, who voiced the title character in “Chicken Little,” did spend his hiatus filming the upcoming “The Last Kiss” and “Fast Track.”
“I don’t know how that became the truth,” Braff says. “For the record, ‘Fast Track’ overlapped our ‘Scrubs’ schedule by one week. I didn’t want anyone to think that I was pushing the ‘Scrubs’ schedule back to do a film. I’m excited to go have a movie career one day, but I really realize how lightning-in-a-bottle these types of positive experiences on a TV show are. As the kids say, we felt very dissed. You know we work so hard on this show, and we’re really proud of it. If you go on the Internet, you would see the fans of this show are so die-hard. It was upsetting to us because we believe in the show, and it seems like there was an audience that really believes in this show.”
Let’s hope they hear that audience and Scrubs is kept on the schedule; supportscrubs.com.
Day 1: A cakewalk
Thanks to everyone who called, emailed and commented - you made my day!
Everything went well. The facility was new and nice; the people were great; the procedure was painless. The one critique I continue to have is the amount of information.
Now I’m told I should stay out of work 3 weeks and at the same time that I can drive again tomorrow and lifting my laptop and small dogs is no problem. And that tomorrow is the day when the “discomfort” kicks in.
I want more details. I’ll be calling the doctor tomorrow. And hopefully be back blogging too!
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
How much is known about pain in general? In medicine, obviously, it’s managed all the time, for surgical procedures and terminal illnesses and everything in between. But pain itself seems poorly understood. Why is one of the most common conditions also one of the most elusive?
I think that, in classic medical education, pain has either been overlooked or disliked. It’s the kind of situation that is often very frustrating to doctors. The therapies are not easy or pleasing. Until recently, it did not have its own specialty. In the past, physicians would just write a prescription for a narcotic and hope that the patient found enough relief not to come back and bother them. A lot of the patients in my article, the ones suffering from R.S.D., would have entered a medical purgatory, where they were largely shunned by the medical establishment. More recently, two things have happened. There’s been increased understanding of the biology of pain, and I talk about that in the article. Also, there are very committed physicians who believe that this is an important clinical issue, and they have begun to devote themselves to the care of these patients.
7 a.m. tomorrow
So my simple little hernia operation is at 7 a.m. tomorrow in Macon. Interesting that I got both too much and too little information - only yesterday did I find out that I’ll have to miss at least 2 weeks of work!
I honestly thought I’d go for coffee after and be back at work on Friday. Maybe Monday. Now I gather I won’t even be blogging for a day or so. Maybe more. But after that, with time on my hands, I should get caught up. Books and television and maybe even some video editing…
I’ll see you on the other side.
I really didn’t need this today; from my email:
I will tell you as I have told others. The fact that you have to place your sexuality as a precursor to your title is exactly the problem we have in the world today. Sexuality (whatever you choose) is for your bedroom and it’s door, and should remain there indefinetly. I could care less what you or anyone else wants to do with your private time as I am positive you could care less about what I choose to do in my bedroom. It is absolutely ridiculous that we even have to discuss this topic outside of our private lives.
As for hate and violence, that should have grave consequences no matter what venue it falls in. We do not have to support homosexuallity to be repulsed with bad behavior. Everyone should be free to choose their lifestyle, but on the reverse, we should also be free of all the gory details. It is time we put sexuallity back in the bedroom, and focus on treating people kindly, not titles.
As for your reference to homosexuals in the Bible, have you read the Bible? Homosexuallity is a sin, end of story. Hello! The entire population of Sodom and Gomorrah was anihilated because of homosexuallity. People would like to soften the Bible as we have blurred almost every other truth through politically correctness, but here is an excerpt that might provide clarity. When the adulterer was caught in the act and thrown at the feet of Jesus everyone waited to see Him destroy her. Did He? No He did not, but He most certainly did not say, “Your an adulterer, I love you, go and do as you please.”
Contrarily, He bent down and drew in the sand, then standing He asked if there were any without sin. He then invited the perfect people to cast the first stone. When everyone left to correct their own wrongs He then placed His attention on the woman and explained that she was forgiven and should “go and sin no more.” No one wants to be called a sinner, but we all are. Should we leave the repenting up to the sinner? Absolutely. That is between them and God. Should we make the sin a political agenda? Absolutely NOT!!!!!
Because she has led countless billions and billions of people to the promised land of books, because she preaches self-help and self-sufficiency and not least because she has shown that even a middle-aged person can keep weight off, I must tiptoe up to the amazing Oprah and merely whisper to her that in the case of James Frey, the liar whose memoir turns out to have a good deal of fiction alongside fact, she is not only wrong but deluded. [...]
“A Million Little Pieces” was Oprah’s selection for her book club, literally sending it off bookstore shelves and into the stratosphere: About 2 million sold after her endorsement. Recommending the book was one thing. No one expects Oprah to fact-check every book she urges her audience to read. Sticking by it is quite another matter. Even after the Smoking Gun smoked Frey, Oprah told Larry King that no matter what, the book still retained its “underlying message of redemption.” Instead of getting a magisterial rebuke, Frey had been pardoned.
Bigger bubble ahead
Wired interviews Harry S. Dent:
So here’s the good news: The next five years will bring us the biggest stock-market boom in history. The bad news? The party will end in late 2010, after which we’ll face the worst economic decline since the Great Depression.
Welcome to the world of Harry S. Dent, an economist and demographic researcher whose 1992 book, The Great Boom Ahead, called the stock-market bubble of the late ‘90s when few saw it coming. In his 2004 book, The Next Great Bubble Boom, Dent predicts an even bigger bubble forming over the next few years. That is, before everything crashes down around us.
Losing a legacy
The country lost Dr. King to an assassin’s bullet. But we will lose him a second time unless his heirs find a way to rejuvenate the listless and down-at-the-heels King Center in Atlanta, which was set up to commemorate Dr. King’s legacy while serving as a repository for his papers as well as for other crucial holdings related to civil rights.
Historians have been sounding the alarm for years about the deterioration of the papers, which are housed in a complex that lacks modern preservation services and requires far more upkeep than the King family has thus far been able to provide. The family, which is clearly unable to preserve the King papers for future generations, would do the country an enormous service by not selling them off to private collectors. Instead, the family should ramp up its conservation efforts in collaboration with the National Archives, the Library of Congress or one of the universities that have expressed interest.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Santorum thinks again
November Santorum: “The K Street project is purely to make sure we have qualified applicants for positions that are in town. From my perspective, it’s a good government thing.”
January Santorum: “Well, I don’t know what you mean by Senate liaison to the, quote, ‘K Street Project.’ I’m not aware of any Senate liaison job that I do for the K Street Project.”
Hillary says the House is run like a plantation.
The White House calls Clinton’s attack out of bounds.
John hones the list.
UPDATE: Ann Coulter hypocrite.
Best blonde joke ever
But then, I often don’t get jokes. Even when they are explained to me.
Aerial advertising, satellite style
Monday, January 16, 2006
Reed between the lines II
Ralph in the WaPo today:
[A] torrent of e-mails revealed during the investigation [show] a side of Reed that some former supporters say cannot be reconciled with his professed Christian values.
“After reading the e-mail, it became pretty obvious he was putting money before God,” said Phil Dacosta, a Georgia Christian Coalition member who had initially backed Reed. “We are righteously casting him out.”
Among those e-mails was one from Reed to Abramoff in late 1998: “I need to start humping in corporate accounts! . . . I’m counting on you to help me with some contacts.” Within months, Abramoff hired him to lobby on behalf of the Mississippi Band of Choctaws, who were seeking to prevent competitors from setting up facilities in nearby Alabama.
In 1999, Reed e-mailed Abramoff after submitting a bill for $120,000 and warning that he would need as much as $300,000 more: “We are opening the bomb bays and holding nothing back.”
In 2004, when the casino payments to Reed were disclosed, Reed issued a statement declaring “no direct knowledge of their [Abramoff’s law firm’s] clients or interests.” In 2005, however, Senate investigators released a 1999 e-mail from Abramoff to Reed explicitly citing the client: “It would be really helpful if you could get me invoices [for services performed] as soon as possible so I can get Choctaw to get us checks ASAP.”
One of the most damaging e-mails was sent by Abramoff to partner Michael Scanlon, complaining about Reed’s billing practices and expenditure claims: “He is a bad version of us! No more money for him.”
Foner rejects the now-standard progressive narrative of American history, in which emancipation and Reconstruction mark “the logical fulfillment of a vision originally articulated by the founding fathers.” Indeed, as he says, the original Constitution never mentions the concept of equality, and “limiting the privileges of citizenship to white men had long been intrinsic to the practice of American democracy.” Reconstruction, he continues, was “less a fulfillment of the Revolution’s principles than a radical repudiation of the nation’s actual practice of the previous seven decades.”
American political culture of the 19th century, Foner writes, rested on federalism, limited government, local autonomy and deeply rooted ideas about the superiority of whites to blacks and men to women.