March 24th, 2009

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Go Vermont!

Vermont's Senate votes to legalize same sex marriage. A critical step, far better than any court victory, is the recognition of same sex marriage through the actions of a duly elected state legislature. It is incontrovertible proof that the recognition of marriage as between two consenting adults is moving toward a well recognized social norm and is not the work of a few elitist activist judges foisting it on a hapless people.

Of course those who oppose same sex marriage will minimize such a victory, arguing to the faithful that just because some whacked out hippy-dippy Ben and Jerry's freaks voted for it means nothing. But each such rationalization minimizes the power of the rhetorical argument that same sex marriage is so contrary to what people want that it must be forced on people even in the most liberal states.

I am aware that some consider offensive to lobby state legislatures and people for recognition of what they believe is a fundamental right. We may argue, as a philosophical and moral issue, how fundamental human rights emerge. From a practical perspective, however, I say: there is a difference between how the world should work and how it does work. Is this about results or about feeling good? If the later, I recommend joining the People's Popular Front of Judea. If the former, than better go with what actual makes victories real -- remembering all other oppressed people who occasionally had to prove to skeptical masters that they were even human, let alone worthy of equal rights. If they could do what was necessary to win freedom, so can same sex marriage advocates.

BTW, I should mention I am not opposed to any role for the courts. I think the current lawsuit to overturn the provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that bars federal marriage benefits to same sex couples is a good suit to bring. It is strategic, grounded in existing law well developed in other areas, and advances the goals of the movement in a positive way. Equally important, losing is unlikely to produce a significant set back on either the legal or political fronts.

Hopefully, VT will move quickly to pass and enact a same sex marriage statute. With luck, this will further focus efforts on the legislative front. Time really is on the right side on this one, and a legislative victory will prove both more enduring and more beneficial than a judicial win.
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Does NPR Have A Bigger Audience Than Limbaugh?

NPR passes 20 million listeners.

Limbaugh audience size unclear. Estimates range from 30 million (Pat Buchanan on MSNBC), 20 million (Time magazine, ABC News), 19 million (Fox News), 14 million (CNN), or "14.2 million to about 25 million" (The Washington Post).

This is more impressive for NPR when you consider the number of outlets in a market that carry Limbaugh v. the number that carry NPR. OTOH, the fact that NPR is generally one affiliate per market makes it easier to track total network ratings.

This does not discredit Limbaugh's claim to be the king of talk, as NPR is generally thought of as news programming (although it has a number of individual talk shows).

If radio is really about chasing the winners and giving the public what they want, I would expect to see a flood of "All Things Considered" wannabees popping up.