Sunday, June 26, 2011

On the Air Again With Tim Corrimal and Friends – Episode 173

So, first off, apologies for not posting follow up comments on last week’s episode of The Tim Corrimal Show. After we recorded it I had certain family obligations (something to do with Father’s Day, or something …) and so I could not get a post up on a timely basis.

Nonetheless, today’s show is now posted and it was a great one, indeed. (I suppose I should add: If I do say so myself.) Anyway, Tim and I were joined by Joe Santorsa, one of our all time favorite guests (@Marnus3 on Twitter), and the wonderful blogger and political cartoonist Reicko Eoh (@HelloPolitics2U on Twitter) of HellOPolitics.

At the outset, the panel spent considerable time discussing an issue of growing concern to Tim and me: The increasing levels of animosity on Twitter and elsewhere in the “blogosphere,” especially among our fellow liberals. If Twitter is an accurate gauge of the left’s current temperament, we seem to be locked into two armed camps: Those who more or less hate Pres. Obama and will carp endlessly over every decision he makes, every statement he issues, every disappointment that the legislative process produces; and those who will brook no criticism of Pres. Obama whatsoever, who relentlessly attack anyone who questions the President, and who insist that any critic must be in the pocket of the GOP. I’ve literally seen my fellow liberals accuse other liberals of being paid stooges – I’m not kidding – paid stooges for the political opposition. Really?

As I said on the show, much of this stems from our elevation of personalities over issues. It’s not enough for the President’s liberal critics to express their opinions and engage in honest debate. Instead, they call anyone who tends to support the President an “O-bot,” a mindless cultist who’s blindly loyal to “Dear Leader.” Note that these same liberal critics know only too well that we often used the term “Dear Leader,” sarcastically, to refer to George W. Bush – it’s an intentional slight both to the President’s liberal supporters (we’re just as bad as the neocons!) and to the President himself (he’s no different than Bush! – a favorite, if intellectually dishonest, hyper-liberal saw). But at the same time, there are Obama supporters who treat any criticism of the President as though it were a willful attempt to undermine his reelection. For these folks, any disagreement with the President is greeted with: You just want Mitt Romney to win! Oh, please. I have little patience with the small number of liberals who say Obama = Bush; but the vast majority of Pres. Obama’s liberal critics just want their voices to be heard.

Then, too, those of us who tend to be more supportive of the President need to let go of all the pent up animosity we have for certain Obama critics – specifically, Jane Hamsher, Glenn Greenwald, and, increasingly, Lt. Dan Choi, who’s been one of the President’s harshest critics on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and marriage equality. I’ll be honest: I tend to avoid folks like that because their criticism is too often laced with nastiness. But each of them – Hamsher, Greenwald, Choi – is only one person. They’re expressing their own individual opinions. Yes, it would be nice if they would tone down the rhetoric (and, frankly, try a bit harder to cleave to actual facts); but they’re just individuals, people. Their opinions, right or wrong, aren’t going to kill anybody. If you don’t agree with them, you can attempt to engage them in good faith, or you can ignore them. But don’t get caught up in the cult of personality. It does no good.

Okay, enough about that. I sense I’m preaching to the choir anyway.

So, in addition to the Twitter-rage issue, Tim was kind enough to introduce a new segment on the show, “Dave’s Legal Corner,” in which I attempt, hopefully successfully, to dissect important legal issues of the day. This week I focused on the marriage equality bill enacted by the State of New York on Friday, including a brief discussion of the amendments that appeared to attract the final few votes needed for passage. The purpose of the amendments was to clarify that religious and certain non-profit organizations were not bound by the act, are not required to marry same-sex couples, and cannot be held liable for discrimination in the event they do not extend benefits to married same-sex couples under state law. The amendments also included a non-severability clause:

§ 5-A. This act is to be construed as a whole, and all parts of it are to be read and construed together. If any part of this act shall be adjudged by any court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, the remainder of this act shall be invalidated. Nothing herein shall be construed to affect the parties’ right to appeal the matter.

Note that this non-severability clause provides additional protections for religious and non-profit organizations, in that if anyone were to sue over the provisions that protect those organizations from claims of discrimination, if those protections fall the statute as a whole falls. It’s like mutual assured destruction: If you successfully eliminate the protections religious groups and non-profits enjoy under the act, you lose marriage equality – so there’s no incentive to challenge the built in protections for religious and non-profit organizations.

Finally, I also discussed the role of the President and the federal government in the marriage equality debate, summarizing the points I made in yesterday’s post on the issue. If you’re interested, I recommend reading the whole post for further clarification; and I also recommend this piece by Matt Yglesias on Think Progress addressing the very different legislative realities faced by Gov. Cuomo in New York and by Pres. Obama in Washington.

So, anyway, give the show a listen. We really enjoy recording the show each week and we hope you enjoy it too.

© 2011 David P. von Ebers. All rights reserved.

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