Clifford Longley writes in the Guardian that in issuing the edict by the Vatican's Congregation of the Doctrine of faith, the RCC is picking a fight they can't win. He compares it to Christianity picking a fight with Darwinism in the latter century (and losing, miserably).
Anna Quindlen pulls together some odd memes to make some points that I agree with in her column in Newsweek titled: Outside the Bright Lines.

She starts off by reviewing Jenny Boylan's book wherein the author recounts her experience as a MTF transgender (emphasis mine):

Tolerance is the rice pudding of modern behavior; it tastes sweeter than bigotry, but no one would confuse it with a parfait. What Boylan’s book represents is something deeper and more important than tolerance. The way in which people insisted on valuing her on the basis of who she was and not their confusion about what she had done represents the best of human behavior.

Doing that is hard. The old bright lines used to make things so simple. White was different from black. Male was different from female. Straight was better than gay. Gay was bad. So was sex, unless it had been sanctified by Alencon lace and a catering hall. Sanctified by God, some would say, or “natural moral law,” which is what the Vatican cited in its statement last week against gay marriage, the theological version of “because I said so.”

The God who suggested we love one another seemed strangely absent from all this. Look at the bright lines in the new movie “The Magdalene Sisters.” It’s a devastating drama based on the true story of unmarried Roman Catholic girls who got pregnant and were essentially imprisoned in Irish laundries called the Magdalene Asylums, sent there by their own parents for no crime other than sexuality. Who cares about compassion when you can have never-darken-my-doorstep certainty?


Maureen Dowd scores some good points before she gets fluffy on us in her column in the New York Times titled: Butch, Butch Bush!:
"Last time I checked, we had separation of church and state, so I don't know why the president is talking about sin, or why he is implying that gays who want to make a permanent commitment in a world full of divorce and loneliness are sinners.

If we follow Mr. Bush's logic, shouldn't we have a one-strike-and-you're-out constitutional amendment: no marriage for gays, but no second marriage for straights who prove they're not up to it?"

I think she got the annoyance/insult sense of Bush's words just right. He thinks he's being magnanimous. He comes across as patronizing and insulting.

Of course, my friends say that his words weren't meant for us. They were meant as a sop to the political right-wing/conservative christian factions of the GOP. We'll see. If this amendment thing gets any traction, every queer in the country needs to be prepared to go to the barricades. I won't idly stand by while the equivalent of slave compromise gets written into the Constitution.


More than any other issue, the never-say-die efforts of liberals to normalize homosexuality have galvanized grassroots support for the political campaigns of the evangelical renewal.

so say the authors of an article in Christianity Today Magazine: "The High-Octane Fuel of Gay Activism"

This is a difficult article for me to read because the authors couch the struggle in stark terms of "us vs. them", liberals vs. evangelicals. I consider myself an evangelical who has had to dig a bit more on the issue of sexual orientation. The authors posit that the "normalization" of homosexuality (which I consider "normal" already; same-gender attraction has existed in the human condition for all of recorded history and exists "naturally" in the non-human animal kingdom as well) is the fuel that is driving the vitality of the confessing movement. If this is true, it bothers me a bit that the thing that drives the various expressions of this movement is not so much the desire for a closer walk with God; to know Him better; to have His life manifest in our lives (and through us, in society) but rather to strive *against* a group of people, a minority, who are struggling for acceptance in society in general and for full participation in the life of the church in specific. And they thing that is being disagreed over is how and towards whom we express *love* and the implications of that expression in terms of building healthy, stable, long-term committed relationships and how we create and build our families. What a crazy issue for Christians to be divided over.

I think that this is no different than the church splits that occured in the mid 19th century over the issue of slavery. Some churches took the high moral ground and others used scripture to support theologies of owning slaves and the social and cultural context status quo.


I read and hear mostly about the mounting body count independent of the context of *what* we're getting for it. This article in the Washington Post gets into some detail about how the troops are executing the ongoing war for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi's and tracking down the guys that are still trying to hold onto power.


20 Lies About the War explains the stuff that was foisted on the "not very thinking" general public.


Richard Goldstein writes in The Village Voice "The Queer Issue" about the popular conception of The Gay Predator and speaks to something that I think explains to a great extent why heterosexual men hate -- sometimes virulently so -- gay men. It has to do with almost instinctive fear of rape.
Because its victims must contend with fearsome threats to their sexual identity, male-on-male rape may be the most secret sex crime, though it's more common than meets the eye, especially if you include the epidemic of sexual assaults in prison. Few of the perps are homosexual; most would be quite willing to rape women if they could get their hands on them. Male rape, like all rape, is a crime of power, and its unconscious ambition is to enforce the sexual order. As gender traitors who already seem degraded, gay men are far more likely to be violated than to violate.

But in the straight imagination, a different image applies. Here, the terror of being raped (and the temptation that comes with it) is projected onto the homosexual, presumably lusting for straight-male tail. Every homo is imagined as a potential predator, and any display of gay aggression is likely to be seen, at least implicitly, in this light. Generations of us have been marked by the need to play the servile faggot in order to reassure straights that we pose no threat. We are taught from our first wet dream that it's dangerous even to imagine striking out against "real men," and the culture re-enforces this taboo by churning out endless images of what happens to queers who violate it."

That also explains why, at the first glimmers of sexual awakening at the onset of adolescence, those of us who realized with astonishment that we didn't share the same attractions as most of our same-gender peers instinctively knew the way to the closet. We sussed that something as innocent as commenting on another guy's attractive frame (which would have drawn no more than nodding assents if directed at a gal) would be viewed with hostility and likely result in a violent reaction.
Richard Kaye writes in The Village Voice "The Queer Issue" (it's June, it's Pride, natch) how historians are hard at work "outing" historical figures. Among them, one of the more recent, interesting cases is that of President Abraham Lincoln.

"The most contentious of recent outings involves Abraham Lincoln, who had a relationship with a 24-year-old merchant named Joshua Speed when the 28-year-old Lincoln was living as a bachelor in Springfield, Illinois. The rumor mill on the Lincoln-Speed case has been smoldering for years, beginning with Carl Sandburg's 1926 observation that their relationship held a "streak of lavender and spots soft as May violets." Scholars have long noted the intense bond between the two men, who lived together for four years and—once again, the controversy thrives on sleeping habits in cold climates—may have shared the same bed.

The intensity of Lincoln's feelings for Speed is evident in Lincoln's depression after the younger man sold his store to return to his native Kentucky, an event that may have persuaded Lincoln to break off his engagement with Mary Todd. ("I am now the most miserable man living," Lincoln wrote. "To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better.")

There are two books in the works about the Lincoln-Speed case, one co-authored by former Kinsey researcher C.A. Tripp, another by Larry Kramer, whose forthcoming The American People will draw on hitherto unseen writings by Speed, some of which reportedly were found in the floorboards of the building he shared with Lincoln. Kramer has been wary about revealing the contents, but he did read passages from it at a 1999 gay studies conference at the University of Wisconsin. A local paper reprinted some of Kramer's more titillating quotes: "He often kisses me when I tease him, often to shut me up. . . . He would grab me up by his long arms and hug and hug." Describing his friend as "Linc," Speed described the future 16th president as a man who could not get enough huggin' and kissin'.


Warren St. John writes in the New York Times (though I read the article in The Chronicle) about a new marketing category: the metrosexual which describes men who are "just gay enough" or "flaming heterosexuals". In other words, they are fashion concious, buy hair care and skin products and are str8 as an arrow. This is where "Joe American" is going and, interestingly, he is being led there by gay men.


Frank Rich writes in the New York Times about The Gay Kiss on the Tony's Award shoe that is just the tip of the iceberg of the increasing acceptance of things gay in America. Obviously, Broadway isn't representative of middle America (and, let's face it, gay men and show tunes are inseparable), but it's a harbinger of the way that the culture is going. Rich does a pretty good job surveying the cultural, political, legal and social landscape of things gay at the moment. A highly recommended read.


Andrew Sullivan writes in the New Republic as to why the sex act most commonly associated with gay men, i.e. sodomy, is considered "wrong". He provides a useful capsule history of sodomy (historically, it isn't what you might think it is) and how proscriptions against it came to be encapsulated in law. He then goes on to explain how it relates to the recognition in law of marriage relationships and the import of the "Lawrence & Garner vs. Texas" case that went before the Supreme Court in March, the outcome of which will be announced Thursday, June 26 according to HRC and Lambda Legal.


And this is printed in a newspaper *friendly* to the US and the current administration. What, one wonders, is the actual situation on the ground?


Timothy Garton Ash writes in the New Statesman about The Real Europe and American Culture's hand in it. He refers to Elf, i.e., English as Lingua Franca (American English being the most part of it).

"... what is the most influential think-piece written about Europe over the past year? The one by Robert Kagan, an American neoconservative, endlessly quoted in all European capitals. So it's not just that our fast food, films, fashion and language are American. Even our debates about Europe itself are American-led.

As a result, there are two characteristic figures in Europe today: the deeply Europeanised anti-European and the deeply Americanised anti-American. We have all met him, the pinstriped Tory Eurosceptic who has a house in Tuscany, is an expert on French wines and knows a great deal more about Wagner operas than Chancellor Gerhard Schroder does. (This last may, admittedly, not be saying a great deal.) We have all met her, the ageing German anti-American peace campaigner, whose inspirations are Woodstock, Joan Baez and not the German Martin Luther but the American Martin Luther King. Except that each in turn would protest: "I'm not anti-European, I'm just against the Brussels Eurocratic vision of a federal superstate", and "I'm not anti-American, I'm just against the inhuman, warlike policies of that Texan cowboy in the White House."

This distinction is sustainable - up to a point...."
In the Guardian, Eric Hobsbawn comments on America's imperial delusion.

An Excerpt:
"...the US, like revolutionary France and revolutionary Russia, is a great power based on a universalist revolution - and therefore on the belief that the rest of the world should follow its example, or even that it should help liberate the rest of the world. Few things are more dangerous than empires pursuing their own interest in the belief that they are doing humanity a favour."


Another reason to vote for the opposition party next election. The current party doesn't want to face economic facts. SOMEBODY needs to before we run the bloody country into bankruptcy.


I wonder how soon we'll be able to buy tree-grown burgers at McDonalds. It would be the ultimate veggie burger.


And so, with all the flakey reasons given for going into Iraq, the *strongest* reason (related to our national self-interest) was the issue of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a certifiable looney. Our vaunted intelligence resources must not be as good as we thought as, according to the Washington Post, Frustrated, U.S. Arms Team to Leave Iraq .


Norah Vincent of the LA Times explains why conservatives are being disengenous in defending Bennett's gambling as a victimless act. The reason? Because that's a libertarian conception. Conservatives don't rationalize the goodness or badness of an act based on who it harms; they evaluate based on criteria rooted in religious precepts. Otherwise why would conservatives be opposed to decriminalizing sodomy between consenting adults?
Some very interestingly developed arguments about how the GLBT community ought to be going about establishing civil rights in this book: "Love The Sin" reviewed by Michael Bronski in the Boston Phoenix.

Essentially, trying to establish civil rights via right to privacy and equal protection leaves us with the right to identity but not the right to public behavior. The authors' thesis is that a better approach is via right to practice religion since it's dual pronged strategy: right to *practice* who we are and broadening the scope of what constitutes "morally acceptable" as a theological basis for law. The fundies have too much influence. It's time for the rest of us Christians to have our say and be *listened* to.
What's so amazing about this review on Cornerstone in Orlando is that the author is a gay man who has been openly hostile towards religion.
This is a likely candidate technology for *finally* being able to have e-books, e-mags, e-newspapers because it's thin, lightweight, bendable and low on power usage: E Ink says it's close on e-book prototype.


Dear God in heaven. Patriot Raid


Norwegian students do a funny Prank. I thought it was cute. And the security guard *let* them. What a guy!
As we find out things like this: Russia spied on Blair for Saddam and this: Recently Imported French Luxury Goods Found, are interesting. I have a feeling that Russia AND France didn't want us to go into Iraq because of the embarrassing things we would find. This stuff ought to be trumpeted everywhere.


Another nail in the coffin of my registration as a Republican. These people are *driving* me to the Democratic party.

Republicans Want Terror Law Made Permanent


We are not doing ourselves any favors in the Arab world when we don't take extra special care towards one of the primary media mouthpieces to that world as evidenced by this attack on Al Jazeera's facilities in Bagdad. Some things you don't shoot at except with a camera (meaning, every tank commander in the area should have been *briefed* that under no circumstances should that place have been targeted.

But there is strang cognitive dissonance on Al Jazeera's english coverage. The article linked above is *so* different in tone than the article that open proclaims that the Iraqi government has fallen and that American soldiers are being greeted in Bagdad by celebrating Iraqi's proffering babies and flowers.


This article describing how a scientific study has shown that the Middle Ages were warmer than today brought to mind something that Wil McCarthy wrote quite some time ago. The evidence backs up McCarthy's assertions.

I guess it *does* take a rocket scientist...


Thomas Friedman in a New York Times Op-Ed describes the nuances of reaction in the Arab world to the war in Iraq. I hope somebody with some stroke in the administration is reading him.


Camille Paglia presents her view on the upcoming war in Irag in this interview in Salon. I'm not the superstitious type but a lot of people in the world are and her following observation caught my attention:

As we speak, I have a terrible sense of foreboding, because last weekend a stunning omen occurred in this country. Anyone who thinks symbolically had to be shocked by the explosion of the Columbia shuttle, disintegrating in the air and strewing its parts and human remains over Texas -- the president's home state! So many times in antiquity, the emperors of Persia or other proud empires went to the oracles to ask for advice about going to war. Roman generals summoned soothsayers to read the entrails before a battle. If there was ever a sign for a president and his administration to rethink what they're doing, this was it. I mean, no sooner had Bush announced that the war was "weeks, not months" away and gone off for a peaceful weekend at Camp David than this catastrophe occurred in the skies over Texas.

From the point of view of the Muslim streets, surely it looks like the hand of Allah has intervened, as with the attack on the World Trade Center. No one in the Western world would have believed that those mighty towers could fall within an hour and a half -- two of the proudest constructions in American history. And neither would anyone have predicted this eerie coincidence -- that the president's own state would become the burial ground for the Columbia mission.

Including one small town where the debris fell called Palestine, Texas.

Yes, exactly! What weird irony with an Israeli astronaut onboard who had bombed Iraq 20 years ago. To me this dreadful accident is a graphic illustration of the limitations of modern technology -- of the smallest detail that can go wrong and end up thwarting the most fail-safe plan. So I think that history will look back on this as a key moment. Kings throughout history have been shaken by signals like this from beyond: Think twice about what you're doing. If a Roman general tripped on the threshold before a battle, he'd call it off.


The world weighs in on Powell's performance at the UN: did he make a convincing case? American papers say yes (mostly); other papers lean towards no.

The Independent has a lead article entitled "An impressive show; but Mr Powell failed to make the case for a war on Iraq".

Pravda takes a short but clearly skeptical view.

The Guardian sits on the fence, the author not convinced that we should go to war but not convinced that we shouldn't, either.

The New York Times says that Powell may not have produced the smoking gun "but ... left little question that Mr. Hussein had tried hard to conceal one."

Slate states baldly that Powell Delivered the Goods on Saddam.

The London Daily Telegraph sides with the American administration and chides the Europeans for not offering any viable alternative.

The Washington Post calls the evidence Irrefutable.

The Globe and Mail feels that Powell presented a strong case.

Arab News states that "most commentators who saw the speech remained unconvinced that there was need for a war against Iraq: and quotes Norman Solomon, co-author of the the book "Target Iraq" in support of that view.


Jane Leeve's "Daphne Moon" on Frazier is one of my favorite characters and Jane is one of my favorite actresses. Her feigned northern England accent is a trip (she's originally from Sussex as is described in this article in The Telegraph. My very favorite phrase that she says:

"I don't know why ..."


Another commentator, Cathy Young, weighs in on the decriminalization of sodomy in this article in Reason. She takes conservatives to task for being hypocritical in that :

"Conservatives have long said that they want to get the government off our backs. If that's a principled stance, they should certainly want to get it out of our beds."


Anna Quindlen writes in Newsweek's "Last Word" about Getting Rid of the Sex Police. She presents a cogent argument as to why the state needs to get out of the bedroom based on privacy and equal protection provisions of the Constitution. Of course, some have written typically ignorant responses basing their tired arguments on religion. This kind of double standard annoys me: these people aren't openly advocating laws persecuting non-Christian practices of Bhuddists or Muslims ... why do they think that they can continue to enshrine in law their bigotry towards persons who experience same-gender attraction or who don't don't happen to align with their interpretation of scripture? I can understand proscribing murder; it is one of the ten commandments. But there is no proscription in the 10 commandments against same-gender physical intimacy. There IS a proscription for bearing false witness against one's neighbor. These guys need to stop lying about me and people like me.