Thursday, July 06, 2006

Thursday Hot Shots

Hot Shot-NYS Gay Marriage Ruling
I was disappointed but not surprised by the New York State Court of Appeal's appalling 4-2 ruling that upheld a state law that banned same-sex marriage. (Click here for the .pdfs of the rulings.) I am not familiar with the New York State constitution, and if it has an equal protection clause, I would have thought this would have been applicable. But I think I've also realized that while popular sentiment is increasingly moving in the direction of increasing civil equality under the law, the majority of state legislators and officials are still neither progressive nor courageous enough, and so the New York high court's suggestion of a legislative response is not likely for some time. Even when state legislatures are ready, as in the case of California, a supposedly pro-gay Republican governor like Arnold Schwarzenegger will still do the wrong thing and veto the bill. (It was even less of a surprise that Georgia's Supreme Court overturned a lower court's ruling and reinstated the state ban against same-sex marriage.) The highest courts in New Jersey, California and Washington State are all examining the issue, and I could foresee New Jersey or California's chief jurists deciding on the side of equality, though I'm not getting my hopes up.

Update: In the current issue of The Nation, Richard Kim reads the texts of the rulings carefully and wittily characterizes the bizarre anti-gay logic contained in Justice Robert Smith's assertions on the need for different-sex parentage for children. The legislature may deem different-sex marriage an abiding interest because, Kim notes that Smith asserts, "Heterosexual New Yorkers are reckless, irresponsible sluts who breed without regard. Gays, however, must dutifully and deliberately pursue adoption, artificial insemination or "other technological marvels" and are thus more likely to raise kids in stable families. Consequently, gays don't need the "inducement" of marriage. Voila!"

Hot Shot-Mexican President Election
The Mexican presidential election has turned out to be more like the 2000 US debacle than recent elections in other Latin American countries (cf. Chile, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Bolivia, etc.). As of today, the right-wing candidate of the National Action Party (PAN), Felipe Calderón, is declaring victory and is being declared the victor by US and Mexican media, while the left-leaning Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD) candidate and former Mexico City mayor, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is demanding a vote-by-vote recount and also threatening to take his party's protests to the streets on Saturday. As the US and Mexican media have made clear with their relentless shilling, the wealthy former government minister Calderón is the choice of Mexico's business sector and ruling classes; his PAN predecessor Vicente Fox Quesada made history by breaking the corrupt Institutional Revolutionary Party's (PRI) decades-long lock on the presidency, but Fox's conservative, frequently neoliberal policies, while helping to swell Mexico's billionaire ranks and expand a small middle class, have not provided jobs for millions of poor Mexicans, especially in rural areas, which has led to the recent waves of migration to the US. Calderón would very likely continue Fox's policies, to Mexico's and the US's detriment. López Obrador, on the other hand, proposed a series of measures aimed at expanding the social welfare net for poor Mexicans, including increasing pensions for the elderly, building more schools, and expanding medical care, with a strong dose of populism and socialist-tinged rhetoric. López Obrador was leading in the polls for much of this year, until Calderón launched a successful advertising campaign to brand Lopéz Obrador as the worst thing possible for the Mexican financial markets, and worse yet, a potential Hugo Chávez. At same time, López Obrador's staff effectively alleged that Calderón was involved in several financial and nepotistic scandals, tarnishing the PAN candidate's reputation. ChoicePoint, the US firm that played a role in striking Black voters from the voting rolls in Florida and which also had access to voting lists in Venezuela's election to recall Chávez (which failed), appears to have also been involved somehow in Mexico. The final vote totals have not been certified, and as of yesterday, there were allegations that voting boxes and tallies had been found in dumps in Mexico City and in Talapa, the capital of one of Mexico's most populous states, Veracruz. Something tells me they weren't votes for Calderón....

Hot Shot-Nagrom Monceaux's Portraits
The Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery, in Washington, DC, has recently acquired the complete "First Ladies" series of paintings created by a friend of mine, the artist, author and leatherman Nagrom Monceaux. The National Portrait Gallery reopened last week after extensive renovation, and Nagrom's beautiful paintings, which are represent a fusion of the African-American and American folk tradition filtered through Nagrom's personal vision, are now on display.

Hot Shot-Gil Scott-Heron Sentenced
Gil Scott-Heron, the multitalented artist and author of the political anthem "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" was sentenced to a 2-4 year term by the New York State Supreme Court in Queens for violating a plea deal on a drug charge. I'd heard a few years ago that Scott-Heron, only 56, was still struggling with drug problems, but little else about him until this awful news.

Hot Shot-World CUpdate
Les vieux Bleus of France sent Portugal's team back to its corner of Europe with a 1-0 win on a successful penalty kick by once-retired star Zinédine Zidane in the second FIFA World Cup 2006 semifinal game. The French team did not look impressive, and its play grew dangerously raggedy by the end of the match, but the Blues had just enough to hold off the theatrical red-and-green squad to return to the championship match, for the second time in 8 years. This time they'll face Italy's confident and speedy side. France's players should rest up because they'll need every ounce of endurance and skill to keep Italy out their net; if they can, they'll have their second Rimet trophy in less than a decade.

Random Photo

New York wackiness on display, on Sixth Avenue near 9th Street

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