Wednesday, September 23, 2009

MacArthur Winners + Ayanbadejo Supports Marriage Equality + MCM 0-2

I was very excited and happy to hear that among this year's recipients of MacArthur Foundation fellowships, commonly know as "Genius" Awards, were three writers whose work I greatly admire and whom I have had the good fortune to meet and hear read over the years: fiction and nonfiction writer extraordinaire Edwidge Danticat, who has played an invaluable role in introducing Haitian and history and culture into American literary discourse; razor-smart, innovative poet Heather McHugh; and my former professor and colleague Deborah Eisenberg, who has perfected her own distinctive long-form version of the fictional short story. (Both Heather and Deborah were writers in residence at the university within the last five years, and Edwidge will be also, I hope, when she's available.) They join an illustrious group this year that also includes mixed-media artist Mark Bradford, painter Rackstraw Downes, and 19 others working at various intersections of the fields in the arts, social and natural sciences, humanities, and public activism. A hearty congratulation to all of these extraordinary people, whose contributions have and will continue to resonate in the world for years to come.
Photo to comePhotoPhoto to come
Danticat, McHugh, Eisenberg (all photos from


Today Bernie sent a link to this Washington Blade story showing that Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (right, LA Times, J. Pat Carter / Associated Press) has publicly and strongly supports marriage equality. According to Amy Cavanaugh's article, not only did Ayanbadejo state in the that same-sex couples should have the same rights to marry as opposite sex ones, noting the folly of Brittany Spears being able to get married in and then annul her marriage in a drunken heartbeat, but he attended the opening of Equality Maryland's new relocated headquarters in Baltimore. Ayanbadejo, a former Canadian Football League player and three-time Pro Bowler for the Chicago Bears, is one of the rare, high-profile, currently active NFLers to come out in favor of marriage equality. Other retired pro athletes, like Charles Barkley, Michael Strahan and Magic Johnson, and a few current players, like free agent and former Raven Will Demps, have also expressed similar support, but the reality remains that pro athletes like these have tended to be silent about or vocally against same-sex marriages. That they are isn't surprising, but I'm sure there are more members of the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and MISL, as well as major pro tennis players, golfers, skiiers, track and field athletes, female and male, who'd be willing to publicly support marriage equality if asked.

That got me thinking--and I rarely have an original thought so I imagine someone is already on this--but I wonder whether the various marriage equality organizations at the state and national levels (and international ones as well) have systematically identified pro athletes who are willing to go on the record in support of their efforts? When I consider that pro sports are a kind of lingua franca of sorts and deeply influential for a large swathe of our society, one element of a targeted effort to help educate and expand people's perspectives might include a series of commercials featuring athletes from major national and international pro sports, such as baseball, football, basketball, like Ayanbadejo? In the current battle to retain Maine's marriage equality law, has No on 1: Protect Maine Equality identified athletes affiliated with teams that might be popular up there--the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, Bruins, and Revolution--or athletes from the state who'd be willing to go on the record and champion equality? I don't think New Jersey's marriage equality folks, Garden State Equality, have done so. It couldn't hurt.


A few ironic blips that haven't yet broken through (I wonder why?) to the wider MCM: first is that the bill the Congress testerically passed on a 345-75 vote to defund ACORN very well may result in barring government funding for...get this...some of the major corporations enmeshed in the military-industrial complex! That's right: Blackwater, Lockheed Martin, Halliburton, and other corporations, and any of their employees, that have been caught "breaking federal or state election laws, lobbying disclosure laws, campaign finance laws or filing fraudulent paperwork with any federal or state agency" could be barred from pigging out on our tax dollars. Talk about poetic justice (forgive the cliché).

Now, you have to wonder whether this was just a Congressional flub or whether some sly member or members wrote the language so broadly that this transparently right-wing attempt at smashing a fly with an anvil--ACORN's main work in the world involves helping poor and working class people across the US--ended up ricocheting and bashing the bill's sponsors' masters as well. It really is brilliant. Given that House Minority Leader John Boehner was one of the chief figures behind it, I chalk it up to pure idiocy. But even a broken clock is...well, you know how that one goes.

Update: Glenn Greenwald speaks with Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) about the potential effects of this crazy new law, which is problematic as 1) the Constitution forbids Congress singling out a single entity without a trial and 2) the president is required to faithfully execute if it's been signed into law, meaning that the defense contractors would have to be defunded.

Another bit of information I hadn't heard until I read one of those messy blogs President Obama felt the need to decry last week: according to The Monkey Page blog, work by a colleague, Andrew Roberts shows that the missile defense system pushed by W that Obama scrapped last week and which has neocons and their MCM allies shrieking was never popular in either of the two countries, Poland or the Czech Republic. Chart

Neither country's parliaments ratified the agreements, which were signed by the right-wing executives of each in conjunction with W, and according to Roberts' study, in the Czech Republic, 2/3rds of the public was against the installation of the radar systems and supported a referendum to certify the agreements. One thing that always struck me was the underlying illogic that these unproved systems, boondoggles really, ought be erected at all, let alone in Poland and the Czech Republic, because it made no sense whatsoever that Iran (as opposed to Russia, still viewed as a huge threat by neocons) would be targeting missiles at these former Eastern bloc countries, or much of Western Europe. Yet throughout the period that these systems were reported on, it seemed no one in the MCM asked even basic questions about this unlikelihood. But still, I haven't seen this reported at all in the MCM. That's 0-2, by my count.

And if I can remember them, there are several more. (HT/Matthew Yglesias)

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