Gay Weddings In Newspapers (Tom Postilio and Mickey Conlon)

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Things have evolved in such a fashion that unless you are older, and been a part of the gay rights movement for justice, it might all seem difficult to appreciate.  That thought crossed my mind when opening the Vows section of today’s New York Times.

Featured today in almost a full-page story were the details of the relationship and story of marriage between Tom Postilio and Mickey Conlon.    That the wedding was grand, or the story funny and touching was not surprising.    That it was printed in the paper also was to be expected.

Well, that last part is what caught me up for a minute.

It was not always that way.

Even the New York Times did not begin to publish reports of same-sex commitment ceremonies and some types of formal registration of gay and lesbian partnerships until 2002.  As I looked at the page I was proud in a way how some younger people might be doing the same but not ponder the uphill fights to have such ordinary happenings occur for gay married couples.

I certainly want the history of the same-sex marriage movement to be known and valued.  It was a series of long fights all over the country.  But I also think it wonderful that for a growing majority in the nation this type of news story is just now common place and eventful only for the notables involved (as in this case) or for perhaps the spectacular nature of the nuptials.

It has been a long time in coming for gay couples to be considered as ‘just another wedding’.   That is a nice place to be.  Finally.

The article concluded in a touching way.

Mr. Feinstein understood fully. He and Mr. Flannery had been together for many years when they were wed, by Judge Judy Sheindlin and Gabriel Ferrer, in 2008. “I didn’t think it was a big deal, and the minute we got up there, it was the biggest deal in my life,” Mr. Feinstein said, adding that weddings can carry a different weight for gay couples. “Terrence and I both felt the nakedness of that, the joy of it, and experienced a level of depth that was a complete surprise.”

After a brief intermission, Mr. Postilio returned, the color back in his face. Smiling, he rejoined Mr. Conlon to a lighthearted chorus of “you’re not sick, you’re just in love,” from Mr. Feinstein. With some words “from the gospel, according to Kander and Ebb,” Ms. Ebersole completed the bond of Tom and Mickey: “How the world can change,” she began in a soft singsong, quoting from “Cabaret.”

“It can change like that, due to one little word — married.
See a palace rise, from a two room-flat, due to one little word — married.
And the old despair that was often there, suddenly ceases to be.
For you wake one day, look around and say, somebody wonderful married me.”

What Is Prison For?

Last week 60 Minutes had a segment on Germany’s prisons.  Punishment is not the goal, but instead creating conditions where the person can again be integrated into society is the goal.

Today a story in The New York Times about the way Saudi Arabia is attempting to deal with jihadists struck me as extremely hopeful.  One will need to see some serious intel on how this works over the years before thinking this is the path to any security from those who have proven to be internally flawed.

The house is designed to give jihadists who behave well a respite from inmate life and help them reconnect with their wives and children, and perhaps even conceive new ones.

That positive reinforcement is emblematic of the Saudi approach to its homegrown jihadists, which would not translate well to the West. Those who have done their misdeeds abroad and have not participated in attacks at home are generally regarded as misled Saudi sons who need to have their thinking corrected so they can return to society as good, obedient subjects.

All inmates get certain benefits, Abu Nawaf said, like a monthly stipend equivalent to $400 for incidentals and the possibility of “temporary release” for family functions. An inmate heading to a relative’s wedding, for example, gets $2,666 so he can give a gift.

Large rooms with couches and tables are provided for family visits, and inmates who are not considered dangerous also receive “special visits” from their spouses in small rooms with pink walls, pink beds, a minibar (no alcohol, of course) and a bathroom.

“Those with four wives get one visit each week,” Abu Nawaf said.

In America I would settle for reduced sentencing for some in exchange for a tough education policy where upon graduation and a clean record during incarceration a plan would be devised for early release.  There is no doubt too many people fill our prisons at a cost that is simply unstainable.  A smart path forward needs to be developed.  But that is not to say Germany should be emulated.

The First Folio Coming To Madison!

It has been a long time since I have used the expression of just being “a boy from Hancock”.    I used the phrase often over the early years of my adulthood when something truly grand occurred that in my wildest dreams could never have been imaged as a kid.  It was used as a way to underscore my path forward in the world.

Covering President Reagan for WDOR from the same risers as that of the national press was such a time.   Over the years I have used the phrase when considering many different personal journeys in my life.  But somewhere along the way so many wonderful events have taken place that not being able to fathom they could ever happen has lessened for me.  We do not forget the past–but instead embrace the present.

But when I read the front page of today’s Wisconsin State Journal being a ‘boy from Hancock’ again flashed in my mind.   I could not believe what was printed on the page. Or that it was happening on the isthmus where we live.

The First Folio, a printed collection of William Shakespeare’s plays that dates back to 1623, is scheduled to arrive in November and will be on display for nearly six weeks at the Chazen Museum of Art.  

Simply WOW!

A nearly 400-year-old collection of William Shakespeare’s plays will be on display right here in Madison, the only stop for it in Wisconsin.  And within walking distance of where James and I live.  This project is to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.  

The First Folio coming to Madison is actually one of 234 known copies worldwide (the discovery of the latest one, on a small Scottish island, was revealed only this week).

When Shakespeare died in 1616, only about half of his plays had been published, and those were in small, one-play editions called quartos. Shakespeare’s friends and fellow actors John Heminge and Henry Condell published 36 of his plays in a larger format, called a folio.

Half of those plays — including “Macbeth,” “Julius Caesar,” “As You Like It,” and 15 others — had never been published before, and likely would have been lost if not for the First Folio. The significance of the book cannot be understated.

The book will be delivered to the museum’s second-floor Garfield galleries by a Folger courier, and displayed in a specially designed glass case. It will lie open to the page bearing Hamlet’s famed “To be or not to be” speech.

Where Are Bernie Sanders’ Tax Returns?

The media scrutiny for Bernie Sanders has lagged far behind that of other candidates .  That is not in dispute.  But since there is now a hard push by the Vermont senator to gain the Democratic Party nomination comes some questions voters need to know about.  Today the newcomer to my party was pressed on Meet The Press about his lack of releasing paperwork concerning his personal taxes.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, you brought up the whole issue with getting money and the speeches to Wall Street. Would you be on higher ground if you released, you have released less about your taxes and tax returns than any other candidate running for president other than Donald Trump. Where are your tax returns, and wouldn’t that put you on a higher ground in calling for Hillary Clinton to say, “Release these speech transcripts”?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

We are going to release, I think we’ve talked about it before. Actually, my wife works on our taxes, we’ve been busy. We are going to get all of our taxes out. Trust me, there is nothing that is going to surprise anybody.

CHUCK TODD:

Are you going to do seven, ten, 15-years’ worth of tax returns? So far you’ve done one.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS:

We will do the best that we can.

Tick-tock.  Tick-tock.  Tick-tock.

Sun Spot Much Larger Than Earth

I just love this type of event.   The better we can view such events means the more questions we have.  The photo posted here is stunning.

The sun’s headlong plunge into solar minimum has been interrupted by the surprise emergence of a big sunspot. Wide enough to swallow Earth with room to spare, AR2529 doubled in size over the weekend. The behemoth is now being photographed by amateur astronomers around the world and closely monitored by NASA spacecraft.

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Confusion Over Convention Delegates Due To Lack Of Civics Education

Once again we are witnessing how the lack of civics education impacts our nation.

The New York Times has a font page story this morning about the delegate selection process.  This matter of how delegates are selected and what role they serve has become a topic of discussion since both parties now have a spirited presidential nominating season underway.

For decades, both major parties have used a somewhat convoluted process for picking their nominees, one that involves ordinary voters in only an indirect way. As Americans flock this year to outsider candidates, the kind most hindered by these rules, they are suddenly waking up to this reality. And their confusion and anger are adding another volatile element to an election being waged over questions of fairness and equality.

Where exactly were all these concerned citizens over the past (pick a number) years when it came to nominations, conventions, delegates, and the process that is undertaken to select a general election candidate?  Where is their sense of history about the grand traditions of volatile conventions and bare-knuckle politics?  It seems as if the the word delegate were just invented instead of having a rich storyline in our country.

Which leads to me a question I ask honestly though there is no way to not make it sound unduly snarky.

Why are there so many Bambi-eyed folks wondering how the system works?

I am not asking for the average American to be as smart as Michael Beschloss but I do expect folks to have a general grasp of the way we nominate a presidential candidate.   While I have often been disheartened with the words and antics of candidates this cycle I must say it is a feeling of bewilderment that overtakes me when considering the lack of knowledge the citizenry has about our political processes.

Though some voters are only now discovering that sometimes their choices amount to little more than a Facebook “like,” party leaders today say the rules are nothing new.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, pointed out that superdelegates have been around “since 1984, the year I graduated high school,” and have never been a decisive factor. Sean Spicer, the chief strategist for the Republican National Committee, said of the rules, “This is a process that has existed since the 1800s,” even though he acknowledged, “It is incumbent on us to explain it.”

The lack of background knowledge about delegates this campaign season is just another topic for a long list of things most Americans are not aware of when it comes to government and politics.  Like many of my readers I am not pleased to learn of news reports that air from time to time about the lack of knowledge too many of our nation’s students have when it comes to some basic subjects.  For decades I have been speaking out for higher standards and better ways to educate our nation about history and civics.  It is the lack of training students correctly in our schools which then produces outcomes that we now witness among adults at election time.

There is no reason to have citizens who can not locate places on a map, name the three branches of government, talk at least in broad terms about how a bill becomes a law, or grasp how we nominate a presidential candidate.  We must do better at every level when teaching history and civics.

What A Donald Trump Presidency Would Look Like On Front Page Of Newspaper

This might be the best newspaper read today!

The Boston Globe published a satirical front page predicting headlines about a Donald Trump presidency.

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