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News Bits

February 26th, 2004

Been a while since I’ve done this. A few short comments on items in the news:

Although Bush will certainly milk the process for all it’s worth, the Gay Marriage amendment to the constitution appears to have already died a deserving death. The Democratic Underground is of course biased, but they have a list of 34 Senators who are on the record as being opposed to the amendment, which is enough to kill the whole business right there. Those are all solid stands, according to the Senators’ own offices or in statements made to the press. Sure, some could switch, but the list does not include Senators who have not taken an official stand, and may well land on the opposition side of the fence. It seems pretty much locked up, considering everything. From here, it is a dead certainty that whatever Bush does to push the bill is purely for partisan political purposes, no doubt remains on that.

Of note: there are eight Republicans in that list of 34: Chafee, Collins, Hagel, Lugar, McCain, Snowe, Campbell and Alexander. When already, this early in the game, one-sixth of all Republican Senators have taken a stance against the proposal, you know that there is something wrong with it. Probably most take a principled stance, though it may not be beyond imagining that a few see a very likely downside to Bush’s attack strategy.

The Vatican is against the “zero tolerance” policy against child molestation now practiced by the American Bishops. The reason: they are afraid that priests charged with child molestation might be innocent of the charge. However, the zero-tolerance policy does not remove priests simply because somebody makes a claim; there must be a “credible” allegation of sexual misconduct. Not a conviction, but presumably if there is a strong reason to believe something untoward happened, then the priests may be removed from church work, and if the evidence is strong enough, removed from the priesthood. There is no telling how these rather unspecific terms will be handled; it is still a very new policy.

This may turn out to be unfair for some priests, but considering the church’s history, the position of great responsibility involved, and the likelihood of unthinkable harm to so many children that could result from a lesser policy, it is not hard to see this as a quite necessary evil, if it is an evil at all.

And although the Vatican might have its reasons, it is still rather depressing that they have taken this public tone; to this day, they still are rather unapologetic, and in the eyes of many, without much sympathy at all for the victims of their willing negligence in the matter. We should be concerned for the priests, but more concerned for the children in their charge.

Mike Luckovich came out with this rather appropriate editorial cartoon a few days ago:

“Osama bin Laden will probably be captured or killed one day, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Thursday, but he added he had no idea when.” (source)

Well, it’s good to know they’re on the ball. At least now they’ve started concentrating on bin Laden again, though it took massive failures in Iraq to spin them in that direction. Maybe if the Neocons had less control over Bush and instead of invading Iraq we spent a tenth as much to find Osama, then perhaps we would have caught him by now and would have much less of a budget deficit to boot. But then, the Republicans would not have been able to gain a few seats in Congress. Yeah, that was worth all the trouble.

Rosie O’Donnell has made a media event of the fact that she will be one of those getting married in San Francisco. Usually, I’d say more power to her, but I don’t think she’s doing the movement much good. I don’t think the movement really lacks a voice, and it smacks a bit too much of self-aggrandizement. Besides, I haven’t had much respect for her since she hogged media attention during the Million Mom March and said that we don’t need 20,000 gun laws, we need 40,000. It just went to show that she didn’t understand what she was talking about. The 20,000 laws were an artifact of the NRA, in that it successfully stopped legislation at the federal and state level, so individual communities were forced to make their own gun control laws. However, this created the ‘patchwork quilt’ of gun laws, which leaves gaping holes which render the entire system useless. We don’t need 20,000 laws, and certainly not 40,000; we need one gun control law, comprehensive, at the federal level.

That aside, Rosie does not exactly come across as a likable figure in the public arena most times. When there is already perhaps so much publicity that even moderates are being pushed away from the table, a loud, abrasive voice may not be the most helpful addition.

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