SEMI PARTISAN SUMMARY

CULTURE

Slate magazine thinks that fastidious chefs are doing it wrong and that everyone needs to relax when it comes to worrying about the perfect oven temperature to cook their masterpieces – because the perfect oven temperature is a myth. Apparently some people pay people to “calibrate” their ovens every year, a waste of money given the fact that ovens heat above the set temperature and allow it to cool below before reheating, and the fact that different parts of the oven will maintain different temperatures to the area with the thermostat. This is a total vindication of my “make it up as you go along, don’t measure things and see what happens” philosophy of cooking.

Neil Armstrong is recovering well from heart surgery according to a report from NPR. Armstrong, the first man on the moon, now aged 82, recently had heart bypass surgery according to his wife. Neil Armstrong is an outspoken opponent of recent cutbacks to the NASA budget, recently telling Congress: “For a country that has invested so much for so long to achieve a leadership position in space exploration and exploitation, this condition is viewed by many as lamentably embarrassing and unacceptable”.

PoliticalOmnivore writes a smart review of David Frum’s first novel, “Patriots”, which I am currently also reading. Frum, a leading American and Canadian conservative intellectual, and former Bush administration official, has written an excellent novel which provides an insider’s glimpse into the seedy underside of Washington D.C., and the way that recent political trends (the Tea Party etc.) are influencing the behaviour of the thousands of political operatives working in D.C., serving the powers that be. I will be publishing my own review of “Patriots” on this blog in the coming days.

Another piece from Slate, scolding us for admiring the physiques of the female Olympic beach volleyball competitors, rather than their athletic skills. Justin Peters, the author, makes a fair point, though I think he goes a little too far in referring to Boris Johnson as an “asshole couch dweller”.

The astronauts currently aboard the International Space Station have a unique perspective on the London 2012 Olympic Games, writes astronaut Joe Acaba on his NASA blog. He writes: “I think watching the Olympics reminds us that we share one planet and that we can respect one another no matter what our differences, yet at the same time we can be proud of who we are and what we represent”.

A moving memorial from The Economist to recent failed missions to Mars, against the background of the recent success of NASA’s Curiosity rover in landing successfully on the surface of the red planet.

 

BRITISH POLITICS

The same left-wing blogs who so viscerally oppose the idea of unpaid internships, or the government’s welfare-to-work plans for unpaid work experience in exchange for benefits, are apparently posting recruitment advertisements for people to work as interns in a “voluntary” capacity. Blogger Guido Fawkes calls them out for their blatant hypocrisy.

<< Nothing else worthwhile to report on British politics. The Olympics eclipses everything… >>

 

AMERICAN POLITICS

A rare voice of sense in today’s Republican party, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md) has spoken out against the hysteria and apocalyptic language being used by some of his GOP colleagues as the budget “sequester” – the compulsory draconian spending cuts designed to kick into effect if the two parties could not agree a comprehensive spending deal – comes closer to becoming a reality. Appealing to the better nature of lawmakers, Bartlett says: “We need to stop with all the superlatives about the thing and be rational about it and involve the American people on it. It’s their country. It’s their kids that will have to fight the next war. They have a right to be involved, don’t they?” Hear, hear.

The Economist ponders the difference between “buying a little social justice with your coffee and buying a little Christian traditionalism with your chicken”. Their conclusion: “… the best arena for moral disagreement is not the marketplace, but our intellectual and democratic institutions. We hash out our disagreements, as best we can, in public deliberation. The outcome of this deliberation becomes input to official policymaking, which in turn determines the rules of the game for business.”

Tim Stanley, writing in The Telegraph, cries a river for Mitt Romney over the recent harsh campaign ads that the Obama campaign has unleashed upon the Republican nominee-in-waiting. Pulling the partisan blinkers firmly into position over his eyes, he conveniently skips any mention of Republican “death panel” talk, or GOP intransigence on striking a bipartisan deal on the budget and deficit reduction. According to Dr. Stanley, “… we can also detect a strategy for winning that runs counter to liberal faith in his powerful personality. In short: hope and change are out; divide to win is in.”

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SEMI PARTISAN SUMMARY

CULTURE

Pamela Haag, writing at Slate, has had enough of the “mommy” prefix being applied to everything from jeans to porn to jobs to blogs. In an interesting piece, she goes on to argue that the effect of these mommy-isms is to diminish the work or activities outside motherhood that women engage in.

The Economist ponders the recent death of author Gore Vidal and laments that it marks the passing of an age when politics was less…dumbed down. Recalling Vidal’s famous televised altercation with William F. Buckley Jr., they note: “It is hard to imagine men like Vidal and Buckley, two snobbish East Coast intellectuals with lockjaw patrician accents, being invited onto prime-time television now to opine on the hot-button issues of the day. Vidal’s death earlier this week, at age 86, marks not only the loss of a provocative novelist and political thinker, but also the demise of a brand of public discourse. It seems there is no longer a place for the erudite and witty public intellectual in America. Instead of learned allusions to classical literature, public figures, including the president of the United States, are now expected to drop their G’s and speak knowledgeably about the cast of The Jersey Shore”. Indeed.

 

BRITISH POLITICS

NPR gazes at Britain from across the pond and raises an eyebrow at the marked uptick in explicit British patriotism that has been observed in this jubilee and Olympic year. I think that they do British national pride a disservice saying things such as: “Never before have British sports fans sung the national anthem, or flourished their (proliferating) red-white-and-blue Union flags, with such gusto. Never before have British commentators yelled so loudly at the slightest sign that their one of their countryfolk may secure a medal”. After all, national pride can be expressed in many ways, not all of which require flying a massive flag above a car dealership. But nonetheless, they do have a point. NPR go on to ponder the likely impact of this new-found patriotic expression on the forthcoming Scottish independence referendum.

A really interesting article by Damian McBride, detailing the first 24 hours of the 2007 foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Surrey, and the then newly-appointed Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s reaction to it. Lord knows I am no fan of Gordon Brown’s – given a few seconds of silence in any social gathering I am liable to launch into my anti GB diatribe – but I must admit that he did have his good qualities (earnestness, attention to detail) as well as the bad. McBride notes: “At the end of those 24 hours, even before we were clear how serious the outbreak was, there was no question – whether you were a government official, a political journalist or a punter watching the TV – that the PM was in control of this crisis and was personally directing every aspect of how it would be dealt with.” This article humanises Brown, and reminds me that no matter my stark disagreements with him on policy, he worked very hard – albeit egotistically and misguidedly – in service to the country.

 

AMERICAN POLITICS

Washington “elites” are more out of touch than ever with the rest of the country, and far more tolerant of persistent mass unemployment, argues Jonathan Chait, writing in New York Magazine. For those like him, Chait writes, the great recession “…is more akin to a famine in Africa. For millions and millions of Americans, the economic crisis is the worst event of their lives. They have lost jobs, homes, health insurance, opportunities for their children, seen their skills deteriorate, and lost their sense of self-worth. But from the perspective of those in a position to alleviate their suffering, the crisis is merely a sad and distant tragedy.”

Place your bets now. Mitt Romney is beginning to meet with and “audition” the various Republican contenders to take the Vice Presidential spot on his ticket. Some options are more palatable than others, but whether Romney picks a “boring”, safe candidate or takes a risk with an unconventional bold choice will say a lot about how confident his campaign is of victory, or conversely how worried they are about their prospects and are looking for another game-changer.

Charles Krauthammer was obviously watching a different foreign trip than the one the rest of us witnessed as Romney embarked on his overseas tour. Using his Washington Post column to declare the trip an unbridled success, Krauthammer has convinced himself that Romney’s undercutting of the official US position on Jerusalem and criticism of Palestinian culture were somehow smart diplomacy. Others might argue that these actions were contrary to his earlier promises (and standard convention) to avoid criticising US policy while a presidential candidate on foreign soil, and that regardless of ones views on the Middle East peace process, it might be a good idea to avoid enraging one of the two sides before you have even won election.

SEMI PARTISAN SUMMARY

Twitter Logo

CULTURE

Free speech continues to be squashed in Britain as a teenage Twitter user is arrested for sending mean-spirited and hurtful tweets to British driver Tom Daley. In a wonderful piece of journalism, the BBC neglect to tell us the precise wording of the tweets in question, saying only that “the 18-year-old received a message telling him he had let down his father”. Unhelpful, BBC. They go on to report: “A 17-year-old boy was arrested at a guest house in the Weymouth area on suspicion of malicious communications”. Apparently this is a crime in Britain, now. It goes without saying that mocking an Olympic athlete and making insulting reference to his late father is reprehensible and in very bad taste; equally it should go without saying that it should not lead to arrest, criminal charges or incarceration

Email may be king for most of us these days, but in Japan the humble fax machine is still alive and well, and in frequent use, both in the workplace and at home. This is partly attributable to the aging population – with one in five Japanese being over 65 years of age, many of these older citizens are more comfortable with the familiar fax technology. Also a factor is the perceived impersonality of the email as a medium for communicating with valued clients, or sending time-critical messages.

An extremely valuable Stradivarius violin was left on a train in Switzerland by an absent-minded musician. This makes me feel slightly better about losing my bank card last month.

At the conclusion of his Beethoven symphony cycle with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra at the BBC Proms, Daniel Barenboim gave a moving impromptu speech thanking the audience and the organisers for the opportunity. In his remarks, he said: “Our gratitude to the BBC who gave us this wonderful, unique opportunity to be here and play all the Beethoven symphonies – and in every concert one, and sometimes two, works by Pierre Boulez – and have all that televised. Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you, we travel a lot, there is no country in the world that would do that for music and for culture”. Barenboim is not my favourite musician in the world, but the work that he is doing here is priceless.

Following the sad death of author Gore Vidal at age 86, The Guardian has assembled a selection of 26 of his most memorable quotes. My personal favourite: “I never miss a chance to have sex or appear on television”. Or perhaps: “There is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise”.

 

BRITISH POLITICS

The BBC reports that many disabled people feel that media coverage about benefit cheats has worsened attitudes toward them. The article states: “When asked what could be contributing to such hostility, 87% singled out people claiming disability benefits to which they are not entitled. And 84% highlighted negative media coverage about benefit cheats”. Based on these numbers, you might be forgiven for thinking that the thing that would make the most improvement for genuine claimants would then be to crack down harder on illegitimate claimants. But apparently 84% trumps 87%, and what we actually have to do is have the government tone down its rhetoric about fraudulent claims, and have the media stop reporting about it. Who knew?

The Labour Party was forced to apologise and disassociate itself from comments made by supporters, eagerly anticipating the death of the former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. The Telegraph reports: “Last night, Louise Mensch, the backbench Conservative MP, called on Labour to respond after being sent a message by a follower who claimed to have worked for the Party inviting her to a party following Lady Thatcher’s death”. Labour responded, saying “Language like this has no place on politics or civilised society. No one should be wanting to celebrate the death of anyone.”

 

AMERICAN POLITICS

We have it all wrong, according to Rush Limbaugh. Mitt Romney’s overseas trip to the United Kingdom, Israel and Poland was actually not a complete disaster. We just think that it was because the US press pool travelling with Romney are deliberately harassing him (by this, I think he means asking him questions at press conferences) and trying to trick him into making mistakes. Like Sarah Palin’s famous “gotcha questions”. Says Limbaugh: “They’re trying to create gaffes. They’re working on behalf of Barack Obama. They are attempting to carry forth the meme that Romney’s foreign trip is a disaster, that it’s one gaffe after another. They’re trying to do this in the mainstream. And the fact of the matter is Romney is having a home run of a trip”. Well, that’s good, then. Insulting your best ally on day 1, fawning to appease the views of one particular Israeli party (despite promising not to create new foreign policy as a candidate travelling abroad) and being rebuffed by the Polish Solidarity movement are all good things, in Limbaugh’s world view. Of course, if you want to make the argument that these things don’t matter because the only important thing is the perception of the trip back home, as Romney’s aides are trying to do, it might help if the candidate actually spoke with the US press pool that are travelling with him.

Tim Stanley, writing in his Daily Telegraph column, comes late to the Chick-fil-A party but essentially agrees with the view taken by Andrew Sullivan, Glenn Greenwald, many others and myself, that attempts by local politicians to bully Chick-fil-A by withholding permits to open new outlets as punishment for the views of their executives is unseemly, unwise and unconstitutional. He does close with a good point though, aimed at Rahm Emanuel: “Someone should explain to Rahm Emanuel that gay rights was supposed to be about guaranteeing privacy, abolishing legal discrimination and defending the dignity of the individual against the prejudice of the mob. It wasn’t supposed to be about creating a new standard of acceptable opinion and enforcing it with the muscle of the state. Liberalism without a profound respect for difference is just fascism by another name.”

Mark Oppenheimer, writing in The Nation, has an interesting profile of Canadian/American conservative thinker and former Bush Administration aide, David Frum. I’m quite an admirer of Frum’s (though we would disagree strongly on some issues), particularly since he penned the famous “Waterloo” piece criticising the Republican tactics opposing US healthcare reform, which got him fired from one of the jobs that he held at the time. This long-form piece looks in some depth at the evolution in Frum’s thinking, showing the areas where he has moved (gay marriage, tax policy) and those where he has definitely not moved (foreign policy). In an interesting aside, the author characterises David Frum’s new position thus: “Frum has found a new synthesis, according to which a moderate welfare state stabilizes the United States so that it can remain internationally strong. A little liberalism at home helps keep us neoconservative abroad.”

 

MISCELLANEOUS

What happens when an electricity grid failure knocks out power for half the population of one of the most populous nations in the world? Well, apparently, the story gets buried deep down at the bottom of the BBC News homepage. I did not know that it was possible for a technical fault or excessive consumption to cause such a widespread failure, but given that it is, I hope that the British and American governments are taking suitable precautions to guard against a similar failure, perhaps caused by malicious intent rather than technical fault.

In another bold signal of intent, China has announced plans to land an unmanned probe on the surface of the moon next year, as part of their wider project to land a man on the moon at an unspecified time. China has already achieved significant milestones in terms of human spaceflight, recently including their first spacewalks, first manual docking manoeuvre and first female astronaut.

SEMI-PARTISAN SUMMARY

CULTURE

Amanda Marcotte, writing at Slate magazine, makes a compelling case for movie scriptwriters and directors to show more condom use in their movies. She makes a fair point: “In the world of movies and TV, people seem to be having sex all the time, but they almost never talk about or are shown using contraception. Since so much of movie sex serves the plot, you get encounters that are much more spontaneous than they would be in real life, without any pause in the action to wrap it up. Young viewers could easily get the sense that the norm is to hop right in bed with someone without ever worrying about unintended pregnancy.” And it’s true – if realism is your aim (and admittedly this is not always the case), pretending that people hop into bed with each other without going through that awkward “fumbling in the bedside cabinet drawer” moment is a misrepresentation, and one that can be easily (and, if done well, humorously) corrected.

Jim Henson Studios, creator of The Muppets, is boycotting Chick-fil-A over that company’s president’s condemnation of gay marriage. In a stern rebuke, their statement reads: “The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors”.

Proco Moreno, Alderman of Chicago’s 1st Ward, joined in the anti Chick-fil-A backlash, stating that he would block the restaurant chain’s attempts to open their second Chicago outlet in his district because of the aforementioned statement issued by their CEO. His statement is somewhat over-the top – “If you are discriminating against a segment of the community, I don’t want you in the 1st Ward” – it is hard to see how any discrimination is taking place, as the restaurant does not check the sexual orientation of its customers upon entry, or have any policies in place that discriminate against one or another. But the fact remains that needlessly coming out in favour of a regressive social policy position that has no direct impact on your business or bottom line, can cost you money.

Getting in on the act, The Onion reports on Chick-fil-A’s new homophobic sandwich. Reports The Onion: “In a press conference to reporters, company representatives said the homophobic new sandwich will include the national fast food chain’s trademark fried chicken filet wrapped in a piece of specially-smoked No Homo ham that would be topped with a slice of Swiss cheese and lathered in a creamy new Thousand Island-based Fag Punching sauce”.

 

BRITISH POLITICS

The UK economy shrank by another 0.7% according to the latest figures released today. Iain Martin, writing in The Telegraph, thinks that George Osborne has six months to turn things around. I would guess that this estimate sounds about right, but I am not optimistic that Osborne will do anything differently, given his obstinate refusal to implement the needed supply-side reforms, and his obsession with trying to score cheap political points from Ed Balls, a diversion which should be beneath him.

The Guardian’s foremost education journalist twists herself in knots trying to explain why she is against private schools, and yet is sending her daughter to a private school. She takes a whole article, and many unnecessary words to explain what I can say in just three – she’s a hypocrite. She says: “I remember reading about Diane Abbott’s decision to send her son to the £10,000-a-year City of London school. She said she was a mother first and a politician second, a point that resonated strongly with me.” Precisely. She’s happy to inflict her left-wing social engineering on other people to make them conform to her ideal worldview (uniform standards, uniform people, uniform outcomes), but as soon as her own interests come in to play, she takes the conservative position.

 

AMERICAN POLITICS

Oh noes. The house of cards built by Grover Norquist has started to come crashing down as more and more elected officials repudiate his “tax pledge”. Whether you think the current tax burden in America is sustainable or not, I think most reasonable people can agree that Norquist’s pledge is overly restrictive on lawmakers, preventing them from closing unwarranted and discriminatory tax loopholes on the grounds that doing so would constitute a “tax increase”. Norquist, and his advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform, are one of several significant hurdles standing in the way of a fundamental simplification of the existing byzantine tax code. We should all cheer its demise, and hope that similar obstacles from the American left fall by the wayside too, in the name of meaningful, lasting reform.

It is hard to disagree with this piece from Marbury, discussing the old-fashioned political art of persuasion, and the relative aptitudes of Obama and Clinton at using it. Through the lense of the Northern Irish “Good Friday” peace accord, Marbury looks at the way that President Clinton was able to flatter, cajole and reassure the key parties so that they reached a point where a deal could be signed, and how this skill is currently lacking in the Obama administration. Money quote: “Obama likes the big set-piece speech. But every policy he has backed, from the stimulus to healthcare, has declined in popularity the more speeches he made about it. His speeches explain things very well, very precisely. But they don’t change minds. This, it turns out, was the big hole in Obama’s campaign rhetoric of unification, of bringing red and blue together. He spoke about it eloquently, but he was never going to be the president who put it into action. Obama is a preacher, not a persuader. He’s terrific if you already agree with him, but doesn’t have much impact on those who don’t.”

Jacob Weisberg, writing in Slate magazine, effectively deconstructs the Romney campaign’s attempts to smear President Obama with the “Chicago machine politician” label. Says Weisberg: “Of course, Romney isn’t interested in this kind of nuance. ‘Chicago-style politics’ is mainly just a way for him to call Obama corrupt without coming out and saying so”.

SEMI-PARTISAN SUMMARY

CULTURE

In an interesting piece from Slate Magazine, Hanna Rosin delves into the deeper meaning behind the fact that the men strived to protect the women as the horror of the Aurora Colorado shooting unfolded. In an interesting and poignant article, noting the various ways that traditional “manhood” is being eroded by economic and social forces, she concludes: “Throwing your body in front of your girlfriend when people all around you are getting shot is an instinct that’s basic, and deeper. It’s the same reason these Batman and Spider-Man franchises endure: Because whatever else is fading away, women still seem to want their superhero, and men still seem to want to be him.”

Through the prism of astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s memoirs and a recent Soyuz rocket launch, Atlantic magazine takes an interesting look at the intertwining of human spaceflight endeavours (perhaps the pinnacle of our scientific accomplishment) with religion and the sacred world. As well as the obvious example of Aldrin taking communion while on the surface of the moon, the author also considers other examples: “here is a priest, outfitted in the finery of a centuries-old church, shaking holy water over the engines, invoking God’s protection for a journey to near-earth orbit. That these two spheres of human creation co-exist is remarkable. That they interact, space agencies courting the sanction of Russian Orthodox Christianity, is strange”. A long article, but well worth a read.

Mike Huckabee thinks that Chick-fil-A’s decision to come out in opposition to gay marriage equality is just super, and is proposing that Americans make this Wednesday “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” in recognition of their “principled” (some might say irrelevant, because a corporation is harmed by gay marriage even less than a heterosexual human being) stance.

NPR reports in depth on the Vatican’s decision to send a crack team of Bishops to oversee the Leadership Conference of Women Religious – an organisation representing the majority of nuns in the United States – due to concerns that they are promoting “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith”. Sister Pat Farrell, whose interview forms the basis of this article, sees things rather differently, and while she says that the LCWR will do its utmost to engage with the Vatican in good faith, there may be some elements of the mandate with which they cannot comply. Money quote from Sister Pat: “The question is, ‘Can you be Catholic and have a questioning mind?’ That’s what we’re asking … I think one of our deepest hopes is that in the way we manage the balancing beam in the position we’re in, if we can make any headways in helping to create a safe and respectful environment where church leaders along with rank-and-file members can raise questions openly and search for truth freely, with very complex and swiftly changing issues in our day, that would be our hope. But the climate is not there. And this mandate coming from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith putting us in a position of being under the control of certain bishops, that is not a dialogue. If anything, it appears to be shutting down dialogue.”

A British couple holidaying in British Columbia caught a big fish. A really, really big fish. A really, really, really really big fish. The creature weighs nearly half a metric tonne, is 4 metres long and is estimated to be at least 100 years old. Makes for some good bragging rights back at the local pub when they go home…

 

BRITISH POLITICS

Minister of the Bleeding Obvious states the bleeding obvious in this story from The Telegraph. Treasury minister David Gauke informs us that it is “morally wrong” to pay tradesmen (plumbers, builders, electricians etc.) with cash in hand, as this makes it easier for them to evade VAT or income tax. Aside from the fact that every cabinet member from Cameron on downwards needs to quit the moral preaching (why can’t you just say “illegal” or “wrong”?), his basic point is right. Until he goes on to say: “Getting a discount with your plumber by paying cash in hand is something that is a big cost to the Revenue and means others have to pay more in tax”. Seriously, Mr. Gauke? You expect us to believe that the black economy makes our taxes higher? You would tax us just as much as you already do even if you could get your hands on this missing slice of revenue, you would just find new ways to fritter it away on pointless, undeserving goals. So let’s not pretend that the cash-in-hand job that your local plumber does on the sly is the one thing standing between us and an actual competitive tax code. You must think we’re all really dumb.

The Commons Culture Committee has reported that they believe the UK’s current gambling laws are outdated and have not kept pace sufficiently with technological innovations such as online gaming. Overall, this appears to be a liberalisation of the market, which is good news. However, the proposed bill has been somewhat watered down in an attempt to assuage the concerns of detractors who worry about potential negative externalities.

It’s starting to get real. The BBC reports that the Crown Prosecution Service has decided to charge eight individuals with a total of 19 charges relating to the “phone hacking scandal”. Included in those facing charges are Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson. So now the Long-Winded Leveson will not be the only thing keeping this dull story in the news. Hooray.

 

AMERICAN POLITICS

Inspired by the movie “Legally Blonde”, 22-year-old US State Senate candidate Mindy Meyer has blinged up her website with a lot of bright pink, bad MIDI sound files and other bells and whistles. If you ever wanted to know what you would get if you crossed a political website with MySpace at the peak of its popularity, here is your answer. She would clearly make a great state senator, because according to her homepage, she is against corruption. Says Meyer: “This is how politics has to change. There is always corruption, but I have the intention to follow my values and ensure that none of what happens in my district is corrupt.” Well, that’s sorted, then.

Commentary magazine takes a hatchet to President Obama’s reputation for being a brilliant orator. Alana Goodman calls Obama out for his recent speech in Roanoke, Virginia, not because of his “you didn’t make that” line but for dull, flat words and delivery when he goes off the autocue. She takes the line where Obama says “There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires” as a particularly egregious example of pedestrian speech-giving. She concludes: “For the past four years, liberals have tried to sell us on the idea that Obama is one of the greatest speakers of all time. Now they’re complaining that conservatives are taking his words literally and not cutting him enough slack. Which one is it?”.

In an excellent, frank op-ed in the New York Times, David Blankenhorn charts his evolution from opposing to supporting the idea of gay marriage. Though disappointed that society no longer thinks of marriage primarily in terms of providing the optimal environment in which to raise children, but instead as an official sanctioning of private relationships, he concedes that given this is how marriage is now viewed by most, the best thing to do is to try to strengthen the institution under its new definition, by welcoming committed gay and lesbian couples into the fold. He eventually comes to the conclusion: “So my intention is to try something new. Instead of fighting gay marriage, I’d like to help build new coalitions bringing together gays who want to strengthen marriage with straight people who want to do the same”.

A good long-form article from The Daily Beast explaining some of the underlying factors and influences behind the GOP’s sinister anti-Muslim hysteria. I thought I had heard pretty much everything when it comes to crazy quotes uttered by Republican lawmakers and “intellectuals” on this topic, but this article introduced me to a few more sad examples.