I read the Nation every other year or so, so I’m grateful for the reader who pointed out to me their latest endeavor. In a desperate attempt to make the magazine lose less money, they’ve launched a proposal for Nation readers to donate their tax rebate checks to the magazine! Hold on a minute. Isn’t that just a little bit hypocritical? Last time I checked, the Nation never saw a tax it didn’t like, and never saw a government program (except for Defense) that it didn’t want to see expanded. So shouldn’t the Nation endorse sending the checks back to Uncle Sam? This is especially true for those trust-fund socialists who still keep the mag afloat. Couldn’t all this be better spent by the government, endowing, say, an Alger Hiss Peace Studies Department at NYU or something? Or have these old lefties finally seen the capitalist light?

IS POST-FEMINIST ANOTHER TERM FOR SNOB?: “Look at Bill Clinton’s mother, as opposed to George W’s mother. Is your mother a barfly who gets used by men? Or is your mother a strong woman who demanded respect for her ideas and always received it?” – Barbara Olson, out-doing Roger Ebert in trash-bashing, in the Daily Telegraph.

SPINNING THE POPE: Typically shrewd piece by Will Saletan in Slate, dissecting the Pope’s recent statement on embryo stem-cell research. The Pope’s statement seemed (to me at least) completely self-explanatory, but Will has great fun pointing out the ludicrous extent to which some hacks and spinners distorted it for their own ends. My favorite: Mort Kondracke’s view that the Pope’s statement “looks like a change of position on the part of the church.” I guess I’m grateful he didn’t rank it on a scale of one to ten.

THE NEW YORK TIMES VERSUS GAY MARRIAGE: No, you weren’t hallucinating. The paper that has, to its immense credit, pioneered gay equality in its editorials and inclusion of gay issues in its general coverage, won’t allow gay married couples to announce their unions in the Times’ Weddings announcement pages. And this despite the fact that the weddings section on Sunday is published in the gayest section of the paper – the Sunday Styles section. The New York Observer reports on a correspondence between one half of a gay couple planning to marry this August 30 in Vermont and the paper. Bottom-line: gay couples, even those married under a law that the Times itself endorsed, are personae non gratae in the Times’ pages. As a Times spokesman put it, “the editors have concluded that the civil unions in Vermont fall short of equivalency to marriage in significant respects, and our wedding pages are still confined to marriages.” Would it be too much to ask of the Times’ editors what exactly those “significant respects” are? The law in Vermont states that civil unions will have exactly the same legal rights and responsibilities as heterosexual marriages. Does the Times concur with the Wall Street Journal that gay marriage isn’t as good as the straight version?