Thursday, September 25, 2008

Links of the Awesome

McCain cancels on Letterman, Letterman tears McCain a new one.

Will someone please tell me how Joel is wrong about this? I've got the sense that there's a really, good succinct counterargument but it's not coming to mind, perhaps because I am very tired and stressed still.

My theory has always been that well-done socialized medicine would feel like Everybody having Kaiser Permanente*. It sounds like I'm pretty optimistic.

I like my SmartCar, but my next car may be an audi.

I thought this was pretty fascinating. I feel prepared for the next person who tells me that immigrants should all just do the paperwork and immigrate legally.

hat tip to Cranky Cindy for the Letterman clip

*If you've never had Kaiser, this requires a bit of explanation. Kaiser runs its own little "health centers" that are basically a cross between an urgent care and a hospital. When you're sick enough to go to the doctor, you go there. You don't typically have the same doctors, though if you really want a specific doctor you can make that happen with effort. You order your eyeglasses from one room and get a pap smear in another room in the same building and grab your medication from the pharmacy on the way out that also sells discount vitamins. It's convenient, reasonably inexpensive and once you get the routine, preventative care is a lot easier to do and you find yourself doing it more often since with a little planning you can take half a day off from work and get your yearly physical and your eyes checked and your birth control prescription all in one morning.

Kaiser is AWESOME at simple things. That said, if you have a condition that is at all weird, or at all complicated, you usually have to fight your way through a fuckton of paperwork and bureaucracy before they will give you the treatment you need, even if your doctors agree that you need it. One of the really wonderful things about theCSO is that he "speaks bureaucrat" and is AMAZING at getting what he wants out of bureaucracies. So I never worried about having Kaiser. But not everyone knows someone with that skill.


Obijuan said...

fight your way through a fuckton of paperwork

Is that a metric fuckton or an imperial fuckton? :-)

re: Joel's post - marriage is not a culturally specific ritual, but a cross-cultural state of relationship. A wedding is a ritual, and each culture has its own variation. You can misappropriate a wedding ritual (and I've seen some doozies), you can't misappropriate a marriage.

Joel Monka said...

I'm not sure that argument is valid, obijuan. If we were talking about Protestants borrowing a Catholic ritual, yes. But a civil marriage is a function of the mainstream culture- a marriage performed by a Justice of the Peace or a judge, for example, or the recognition of common-law marriage absent any ritual. But gays are denied even these forms of common-culture marriage.

Anonymous said...

Again, Joel, you're talking about the wedding and not the marriage. A marriage is what two people create together when they commit to live as a family, and many same-sex couples are already living their marriages -- common law, really.

And many religious communities will perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples whether or not they are legally recognized. So if an ordained clergy-person uses their own faith's wedding ritual for a same-sex couple, recognizing that it may not be legally recognized, how is that appropriation?

The difference is the legal recognition. Same-sex couples are already living marriage, have already celebrated the ritual of a wedding ceremony, and would just like to have the more than 1000 legal benefits of having their marriage recognized by government. Here's a good list of what those benefits are.

I think this is more a question of the law catching up to what is already happening in many people's lives than it is a cultural battle.

PG said...

Yes, gays are denied legally-recognized marriage, and legally-recognized marriage is distinct from any particular wedding ritual. I had two wedding ceremonies (one Hindu, one civil) but have only one marriage license and hopefully will soon receive my one marriage certificate. It makes no sense to say that gay people are somehow "appropriating" marriage as a legal status, because they live under the same laws as the rest of us.

Gay people belong to a variety of cultures -- I'm sure some Hindu gay guy out there wishes he could get mendhi and have his parents wash his boyfriend's feet -- that have a variety of wedding rituals. The idea that my gay family friend is somehow "appropriating" Hindu wedding rituals is ridiculous. His parents were married this way, and they expected him to be married this way. (Except to a woman.) Having been raised with more religious training than I had, he certainly understand the Hindu ritual much better than I do, and no one thinks I engaged in "appropriation."

The idea that gay people are "appropriating" marriage just indicates that the person who holds the idea believes that gays are somehow alien to our society, in the same way that I am admittedly alien to Shinto culture. I can come up with a halfway decent constitutional law rationale for why it's OK not to recognize same-sex marriage, but it's not based in the belief that homosexuals qua homosexuals don't really belong in our society.

Also, I'm really sad for Joel's brother if the only meaning he takes from marriage is that it involves both a penis and a vagina, and allowing two-penis or two-vagina marriages would destroy that meaning.

Anonymous said...

Correction -- "may have already celebrated the ritual...." in the third paragraph

Joel Monka said...

I do want to add that my younger brother isn't a gay-basher- he supports workplace equality, etc., but his religious beliefs make him adamantly opposed to their getting married. He thinks they should have full equality- under contract law instead. His attempts to explain the difference were what reminded me of the cultural misappropriation debate.

PG said...

Also, I find the Reason magazine totals, which emphasize the amount of time it takes to become a *citizen*, to be a bit misleading. Plenty of people immigrate without becoming citizens (my uncle and late aunt didn't seek to become citizens despite having a U.S. born son and living in America for 25 years). The big point with immigration is how long it takes to achieve permanent resident status, at which point you have due process and can't get arbitrarily kicked out of the country.

The 6-10 year wait time for professionals really doesn't comport with my experience at all. I don't know if the wait time has exploded in the last 10 years, but I don't know of anyone (admittedly everyone I know came as a physician, engineer or family member thereof) who had to wait 6 years for a green card. Then again, some of them came initially on a student visa to complete training, and then got a visa that would allow them to work. The Reason diagram doesn't have anything about student or fiance visas. Student visas are so easy that a few years ago, a former Taliban spokesman got one to be a non-degree student at Yale.

Finally, we might have less ridiculous caps on the number of green cards if we didn't have so much illegal immigration to this country. It is very difficult for a politician to advocate for MORE immigration in this environment. Any legislation that made caps realistic (i.e. comported with the demand from American employers) would have to be tied to measures that cut back illegal immigration, whether through punitive measures against illegal immigrants discovered in the U.S., a constitutional amendment rescinding birthright citizenship for the children of immigrants not legally present in the U.S., or a wall/ "friendship ditch" at the border.

Finally, the fact that the line is long rarely is considered, at least by the people standing in that line, to be a good excuse for skipping ahead of it.

PG said...

Joel, I can see how your brother would resent having same-sex marriages performed in his church, because presumably his religion attaches great significance to having one man and one woman in each marriage. Similarly, I wouldn't get married in any faith that requires one to be a believer in order to get married, because then I would be participating in the devaluation of that faith.

That still doesn't explain why your brother doesn't want U.S. law to recognize same-sex marriages (or civil unions that are legally identical to marriage, which a series of contracts is not). The law is not supposed to have religious biases.

Comrade Kevin said...

It is vastly important that government behaves smartly, particularly now. Everyone knows it can behave inefficiently.

This goes both for Obama and socialized medicine.

Joel Monka said...

pg- I keep telling him that, as does my older brother, but he persists in saying that calling their union a marriage distorts and devalues the very word.

Chalicechick said...

Can't tell my brothers anything either.


Joe The Math Guy said...

Hello Joel--Am I correct in supposing that your brother's attitude towards calling a homosexual union a marriage derives significantly from a view that marriage is, at least in part, an inherently religious union?

But then, what does he think of heterosexual atheists getting married? Does calling their union a marriage "distort and devalue" the term too? I don't ask this sarcastically; I can see how a religious person might think so.

Joel Monka said...

Joe, it's not a religion thing but a God thing- following God's design, obeying God's law. Those are actions independent of belief. He was happy to be a part of my wedding- a Pagan couple married by a UU minister to Muslim music. (well, Yusuf Islam) I'm still going to hell for my meliefs, but I'm behaving correctly.

Gays don't behave correctly- but most of the time, it's no skin off his nose. But when they marry, they are making a mockery of God's design, equating their perversions to God's perfection. Formal recognition of that lie is, he feels, tantamount to the state taking sides- and the wrong side at that- in a religious dispute.

PG said...

That's interesting. It sounds like he regards marriage as a primarily religious thing, with the state in a highly secondary position of either approving or disapproving. Between being agnostic and soon-to-be lawyer, I have the opposite view of marriage: the main thing is that it be recognized by the state in order to afford the full set of protections, benefits and responsibilities. God's design doesn't seem integral to questions of estate tax, who is deemed a "related party," alimony, etc. I might have aligned closer to your brother's idea of marriage in colonial America, when marriages were recorded on church registers and not by the state, but it's pretty archaic in modern America. The religious quasi-monopoly on the performance and recognition of marriages diminishes with the separation of church and state.

Also, regarding homosexuality as "not behaving correctly" seems like a rather negative attitude toward homosexuality itself, and not just toward the specific question of same-sex marriage.

Joel Monka said...

Yes, it is a negative attitude, pg. He draws the distinction between tolerance and acceptance. They have the right to be wrong. They are perfectly free to choose a path to Hell. He neither hates nor fears them; he feels only pity for them (and for me, too, as I worship a false god), the way one might feel around someone who has a terminal cancer. This is quite common among fundamentalists.

Anonymous said...

cultural misappropriation is when you take something from another culture and use it without full knowledge of its deeper and culturally embedded meanings. That has nothing to do with gay marriage. Gay or lesbian people were raised in the same culture as the rest of us, with the same hopes and dreams and visions of what weddings and marriage means. the only difference is the sex of the partner. The culture is ours too. It is our native culture as much as it is yours. How can we misappropriate our our own culture?
Why should Fundamentalists be allowed to marry?

Joe The Math Guy said...

Joel wrote:
"Joe, it's not a religion thing but a God thing- following God's design, obeying God's law. Those are actions independent of belief."

But isn't what one regards as God's design and as obeying God's law the essence of one's religion? An atheist would disagree that such things even exist.

Chalicechick said...


I assume God's laws work like any other laws.

All things being equal, I'm sure traffic cops would prefer that you understand why you shouldn't park in a fire lane. Indeed, it would probably be ideal if you had something of a moral objection to doing so.

But ultimately, even if you stand next to the fire lane and cry out that you believe you should be allowed to park anywhere you want and that the very idea that soicety should regulate where we take up space is repugnant to you, the traffic cop doesn't care as long as you don't actually park in the fire lane.


Joe The Math Guy said...

Hi CC...

So, analogously, if I campaign for the rights of God really not going to regard it as a violation of his laws so long as I myself practice only heterosexuality? Most religions that I have had experiences with expect you to take the laws of God more seriously than that; obeying them out of mere convenience is considered hypocrisy. By contrast, you aren't hypocritical if you are annoyed by a fire lane but you don't park there. You are just doing what you have to do to keep your car from getting towed.

Note: for the purposes of this post I am assuming that 1. There is a God; 2. He has laws; 3. "Homosexuality is bad" is among their number. In fact I disagree with all of these. But, I wanted to get inside the head of a religious fundamentalist and think about things the way he would think about them.

Chalicechick said...

You're even assuming God's a "He." The ChaliceRelative would so call you on that.

Anyway, while actively campaigning for the rights of homosexuals would be an unusual choice, some Christians do argue that the Christian God gave us the ability to make choices. Also some Christians are great believers in rendering unto Caesar.

There are many Christians who very much believe that Christianity is God's preferred path, but also believe that people should have the legal right to choose other paths, for example.

Christians may believe that Jesus told us to take care of the poor, but oppose legislation to help the poor as well.

The Christian God doesn't like adultery, but you don't see very many people campaigning to make it illegal.

I'm sure you can come up with lots of cases where Christians DO campaign and vote to legislate morality, I will certianly concede that this happens, but it doesn't happen on all issues and some Christians do it a lot less than others.


PG said...

Adultery already is illegal for military personnel and in most states -- not much need to campaign. People still get court-martialed and prosecuted for it.

There have been questions about whether these laws are constitutional after Lawrence v. Texas, but since Kennedy's opinion specifically says that states can make laws to protect marriage, a law that says married people can't have sex outside the marriage seems very reasonable. (Certainly adultery destroys a lot more marriages than the legalization of same-sex marriage is likely to do.)

The EU, however, disapproves of criminalizing adultery.