Mass Court and Gavin Newsom are Brilliant

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom are brilliant.
They have both conspired to completely alter the debate over gay rights and put the defenders of gay marriage in the driver's seat.

They have changed the facts on the ground.

Up until now, there have been two main times when arguments about gay rights arise: 1) when a legislation granting new rights comes up and 2) when groups attempt to preemptively derail the granting of new rights. In both these cases you oppose people who want change with people who want to defend the status quo and prevent change from ever happening.

That's not the case here. The change has happened already. In the case of Massachusetts, marriage licenses will be issued starting in May, and in SF, 95 marriage licenses were issued today. Gay marriage now is the status quo.

It's one thing when you're arguing about proactively about making gay marriage legal. It's another thing when you are fighting a hypothetical like so many states - including California - with their DOMA-style laws.

It's a vastly different argument when you are trying to take something away and create a discriminatory sitution where none currently exists. All of a sudden, the state should have to prove a politically or legally compelling interest for taking rights away from a group of citizens. It is much easier to argue in favor of gay marriage when it is already a fact on the ground.

That's why the all Mass amendments tanked. That's why Newsom was brilliant in ordering the marriage licenses issued and marriage ceremonies performed today (with courts closed for Lincoln's Birthday, no less).

Any judge will now have to look Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon in the eye and explain why the state sanction for what has been in every respect a glorious and long marriage should revert to being illegal and they should once again be treated as second class citizens.

I hope this will drive public opinion towards neutrality as people realize that the world hasn't ended. In fact most people's worlds won't change much at all and that will go farther towards making gay marriage the great non-event event of 2004.

Oh sure, fundie fire-breathers will huff and puff but they'll get over it. Everybody will get over it and then we can all go about our business with one less divisive issue to waste time arguing over.

Bravo Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court! Bravo Mayor Newsom!

Update: The organizations currently signed on to defend the marriage licenses are the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal and the ACLU. Also, Equality California, LGBT advocates in Sacramento, will do whatever they can to assist while helping Assemblyman Mark Leno pass his Marriage License Non-Discrimination Act. Perhaps donations to one or more of these organizations in Del and Phyllis's names would be a fitting wedding gift.

More Updates: The San Francisco Chronicle just issued this remarkable editorial praising Newsom's move and getting to the nut of the issue:
The hour has arrived to decide whether there is any rationale -- in a nation guided by a constitution assuring "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" -- for government to deprive some Americans from the rights and responsibilities of marriage.

San Francisco should be proud to have provoked this showdown.


Kerry update

At this point it seems the Drudge report on a potential John Kerry intern scandal has no legs. The websites of the major news networks have not listed the story; a Google search of "John Kerry intern" turns up very little; and Andrew Sullivan now seems to think that the Republicans might be behind the smear-job and highlights an email he received from a disenchanted Republican reader: "...if the Republicans really do take us back down the Lewinsky path, this is one vote they will most assuredly be losing in November."

Update: Sullivan suggests we all pipe down until there's a "real story with real facts" that have actual merit.



For Del and Phyllis, A Joyous Day!

History was made at 11:06 a.m. today at San Francisco City Hall when Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon took their wedding vows, becoming the first same-sex couple to be officially married in the United States.

Mabel Teng, the city's assessor-recorder, officiated over the ceremony, inserting the phrase "spouse for life'' in place of "husband'' and "wife.''

The wedding came just two days after Mayor Gavin Newsom announced that he wanted San Francisco to take the lead in granting the same marriage rights to gays and lesbians as are awarded to straight couples, in defiance of state law.

The wonderful details of today's ceremony are here.

We obviously have a hell of a fight in front of us, but for now...the best of wishes to Del and Phyllis on their joyous day.


Hillary Clinton: Tough Guy

From the AP: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has been called many things, a savvy politician, a devoted wife. But Men's Journal magazine is adding one more description to that list: Tough Guy. According to senior editor Tom Foster, it's the first time Men's Journal has put a woman on the list. "I think just looking at what she's been through and what she represents, that sort of stood for itself," Foster said. "Would you mess with her?" (Thanks to my good buddy Gil for the link!)


Kerry Intern Drama? More Sludge from Drudge

2:00pm: None of the major news organizations have jumped on this (at least their websites aren't listing the story). I believe we'll see what sort of legs this has over the next 24 hours. In the mean time, the Left Coaster thinks this is all a bunch of hooey - the first salvo in the Karl Rove seek-and-destroy mission against the eventual Democratic presidential ticket.

Initial post: Things are still preliminary and the major media outlets (except perhaps Fox) have yet to report the story but... Democratic front-runner Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign could be in peril over allegations of infidelity, according to cyber-gossip Matt Drudge. (Again, Matt Drudge. So take it for what it's worth.) "A frantic behind-the-scenes drama is unfolding around Sen. John Kerry and his quest to lockup the Democratic nomination for president," Drudge says.

Earlier this week, according to Drudge, Gen. Wesley Clark told a dozen reporters in an off-the-record conversation, "Kerry will implode over an intern issue … ." Kos has confirmed Clark's comments independent of the Drudge piece, but makes this point: If this story has weight, why would Clark drop out of the race?

Clark formally announced his withdrawal from the Democratic presidential race yesterday. But, Drudge reports that former front-runner Howard Dean sees the "Kerry commotion" as a chance to revive his dying campaign.

The allegation is apparently why Dean "has turned increasingly aggressive against Kerry in recent days, and is the key reason why Dean reversed his decision not to drop out of the race after Wisconsin," top campaign sources told Drudge.

"A serious investigation of the woman and the nature of her relationship with Kerry has been underway at Time magazine, ABC News, the Washington Post and the Associated Press, where the woman in question once worked," Drudge says.

Kos, however, makes a good point. Details are still hazy. "There are also some very hazy details, such as whether this is a "new" affair or stems from his days as an eligible Senate bachelor."

UPDATE: Another puzzling tid bit of information: Clark is going to endorse Kerry this weekend in Wisconsin, according to AP. Editor & Publisher reported, "The Drudge site also declared that General Wesley Clark, in an off-the-record chat with reporters earlier this week, predicted that the Kerry campaign would soon implode due to an 'intern.' It would seem strange, however, if he really believed that, that he would drop out of the race, as he did yesterday."

UPDATE 2: The British media has posted the story.

UPDATE 3: According to Andrew Sullivan, James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal is running with the story.

UPDATE 4: Sullivan also raises some suspicious, paranoid after thoughts. "Were the Clintons behind this? It certainly makes the Kerry candidacy less secure, raises the likelihood of a brokered convention, etc. etc.... Take it away Dick Morris! Here comes Rodham?"

The Clintons behind this? That's WAY out there, Andrew. A brokered convention? Wouldn't count it out.


The Boob at Justice

Yet another example of the hard right turn the Bush administration has taken against America. This is wrong on SO many levels. Pardon me, Johnny...but shouldn't you be focusing on more important matters.


Through the Bush looking glass

An excellent essay this morning from NYT's Maureen Dowd. She cuts right to the chase. Georgie Boy has made quite the mess of domestic and foreign policy. WMDs may be the biggest threat to civilization but my friends, the current U.S. president ranks a close second. Come November, it will be time for him to go.



O'Reilly's Apology

Bill O'Reilly, Fox News' whiney little bitch (WLB), promised on ABC News last year that he would publicly apologize if weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were not found in Iraq. Appearing yesterday on Good Morning America (GMA), WLB admitted he was wrong. (Insert smart-ass comment here.)

"What do you want me to do, go over and kiss the camera?" asked WLB on GMA about WMD.

In 1968 CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite declared the Vietnam Tet Offensive had been a defeat for America. President LBJ remarked, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America."

I couldn't help but wonder: If GWB has lost WLB over WMD, can middle USA be far behind? Just a little food for thought.


Daily News Online

Tom Bragan, of Braganza, and Scott Shields, of DemWatch, have joined forces with other cyber-pundits and started Daily News Online, "a hybrid online magazine/newspaper which provides a mix of news, opinion and investigative journalism on subjects ranging from foreign policy, the environment,and electoral politics to technology, health issues and cultural trends."

They are newly listed to your left in our "Points Best" section and I highly recommend you add DNO to your favorites. It will certainly be one of my first stops for news each morning. So give it a click and take a look around. (I highly recommend Tom Ball's take on the Democrats' disadvantage in the Electoral College. Although Clinton broke the Republicans alleged stronghold on the antiquated body, Democratic candidates certainly have their work cut out for them.)

Good luck to both Toms, Scott, and the rest of the crew at DNO!



Kerry by wide margins in TN, VA; Clark to exit race; Dean way behind

As expected, John Kerry picked up strong primary wins in Tennessee and Virginia Tuesday night, leaving John Edwards and Wesley Clark in the dust. Howard Dean and the rest of the field were trailing far, far behind.

The numbers weren't strong for Clark in a region of the country where he expected to do well. As such, the former general will drop out of the Democratic race Wednesday in Little Rock. Should the Democratic ticket win in November, Clark surely deserves a place at the cabinet table.

As for Howard Dean, Terry Neal says the breadth of Kerry's appeal eliminates him whether he drops out after the Wisconsin contest or not. "With his big win in Virginia tonight, Kerry simultaneously further laid waste to Dean's grand aspirations and obliterated the argument that voters want a fire-breathing, anti-establishment candidate on the ballot against President Bush in November."


Can America afford four more years of this??

The Washington Post is horrified at the Bush administration's lame reaction to news that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf allegedly whitewashed his country's marketing of nuclear weapons technology to rogue dictatorships and sponsors of terrorism.
"The general and his government have been lying for years about the illegal traffic. Now that their cover has been blown by evidence supplied to the United Nations by Libya and Iran, they are attempting to pin all the blame on a single scientist while stonewalling any international investigation. On Wednesday Abdul Qadeer Khan, the chief designer of Pakistan's atomic weapons, confessed on television to selling his work through an international black market and claimed he acted alone -- contradicting his previous implication of Mr. Musharraf and other top generals. Yesterday Mr. Musharraf duly pardoned him, called him a hero and declared that Pakistan would not supply documentation to the International Atomic Energy Agency or admit its investigators.

Such belligerence could be expected from a military ruler. What's hard to believe is the Bush administration's reaction to it. Rather than moving to impose sanctions on Pakistan -- action that might be expected for a government that has been caught providing the technology for nuclear weapons to such countries as Iran, Libya and North Korea -- it has swallowed his coverup and even congratulated him on it."
According to Greg Palast, the BBC reports that the administration deliberately prevented an investigation of Khan in order to protect his money sources. The sources are the Saudis.

This has the potential to be a huge issue in the presidential campaign. Perhaps an ad that brings up the Pakistani mess and finishes with this line - "President Bush: Weak on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Can American really afford four more years of this?"


Fool's Paradise

President Bush highlighted what he called "upswings" in the U.S. economy yesterday at an event in Missouri, a state he narrowly won in 2000. As Paul Krugman and Spinsanity point out, ol' Dubya is living in a Fool's Paradise.

His jobs forecast alone will do him in. No one expects those numbers to be as rosy as Bush is predicting. In the end he'll be sorry. The Democrats will turn this around on him so fast he won't know what hit him.

Update: A Rasmussen poll taken February 6-7 indicates that voters trust John Kerry over George W. Bush when it comes to controlling government spending. Overall Kerry beat Bush on this issue 42%-33%. A deeper look into these numbers must have the White House poltical team sweatin' bullets...21% of conservative voters and 20% of moderates believe Kerry would be better at controlling spending.


Dean's Change of Heart

In an abrupt reversal, Howard Dean said Monday that he would not back out of the Democratic presidential race regardless of what happened in Wisconsin's primary on Feb. 17. "The truth now appears to be that we're going to have to find a way to stay in," Dr. Dean said.

Calling the decision an "obvious contradiction" from his fund-raising e-mail message to supporters last week saying he would be "out of the race" unless he won Wisconsin, Dr. Dean said supporters have urged him to stay in the race for the long haul.

Analysis on Dean's about-face in the Washington Post.

Fellow blogger - and occasional Points West guest blogger - Hoffmania makes some strong points on the potential public relations fall out.
"Whatever the reason, I hope it's a good one, because the immediate ramifications - oh, aren't sitting too well with me. The campaign has been raising contributions since Thursday for Wisconsin...They broke their goal of $700,000 on the first day then challenged supporters to double it by the original Sunday deadline. That day has come and gone, and while they did fall short, they did hit $1,250,000 as of this writing. But this was for a make-or-break situation. Wisconsin or bust. Win or leave town. And now that's changed.

Am I wrong to see this as a PR problem? Does Dean think that this appearance of an about-face can be spun into gold? Maybe to the hardcore backers, but it may not win over an already skeptical electorate. And - guaranteed - it will be grabbed onto and shaken violently in the jaws of the wingnut punditry and media who are hungry for a misstep - ANY misstep - by a high-profile candidate. I'd hate to see this dug up later on as one of those annoying flip-flop memes.

Dean cannot afford to have the press neg out on him again. He must have something up his rolled-up sleeve, because after a year of cheering him on, I'm one Deaniac whose equilibrium is really being tested right now. Talk me into this."
Frankly, I don't see how Dean keeps going past February 17th. If current polling is any indication, Dean is headed for a distant second or third place finish in Wisconsin next week. Granted, the election there is a week away and Dean's advertising may help his numbers.

But, he's put all his focus and financial resources into one state...and we all know how that played out in Iowa. Dean can only go back to his core supporters so many times and ask for money before they begin to realize their guy is toast.



Calpundit Kevin Drum seems to be all over the Bush military service story. He's obtained documents and details that could blow this story wide open. Drum provides an excellent analysis of President Bush's military record (Drum has obtained an untorn version).
"To make a long story short, Bush apparently blew off drills beginning in May 1972, failed to show up for his physical, and was then grounded and transferred to ARF as a disciplinary measure... Bush's record shows three years of service, followed by a fourth year in which he accumulated only a dismal 22 days of active service, followed by no service at all in his fifth and sixth years. This is because ARF duty isn't counted as official duty by the Texas guard.

So Bush may indeed have 'fulfilled his obligation,' as he says, but only because he had essentially been relieved of any further obligation after his transfer to ARF. How about it, Mr. Commander-in-Chief?"
It will be interesting to see if the President is truly a man of his word: Will he keep the promise, made on Meet the Press Sunday, to release his full and complete service record? Keep an eye on this one. It has the potential to be a big issue.



Monday Musings

Meet the Press:
The President's performance on "Meet the Press" is topic A this Monday. Frankly, I don't think Mr. Bush did himself any favors by agreeing to the interview. He seemed aloof and his answers lacked any depth. He was unsure, bumbling, and unprepared. He seemed unwilling to address key points of his domestic and foreign policy, smirking at questions that called those policies into question. As the New York Times editorial page says today, "The only clarity in the President's vision appears to be his own perfect sense of self-justification." More analysis from Josh Marshall, and a scathing critique from Bush fan Andrew Sullivan, who says, "...if this is the level of coherence, grasp of reality, and honesty that is really at work in his understanding of domestic fiscal policy, then we are in even worse trouble than we thought. We have a captain on the fiscal Titanic who thinks he's in the Caribbean." (Mr. Sullivan - you were great on "Real Time with Bill Maher" on Friday. Great show!)

If Dubya's appearance on "MTP" was designed to help sagging approval numbers, then Karl Rove and his political machine struck out. More than likely, Mr. Bush's performance will be the catalyst for another 5 to 10 point drop in that rating over the next few weeks, especially as the Democrats head to their super Tuesday contests in early March.

But worse for the President, as Kevin Drum points out, his conservative base was unimpressed. Even Peggy Noonan was left scratching her head.

And so...commissions are currently meeting regarding intelligence failures and 9/11; a criminal investigation is underway regarding the Valerie Plame affair (Hey Russert - where were questions regarding this?!); the Democrats are using valuable media time to tout John Kerry's front-runner status, along with his foreign policy credentials; the budget fight is about to get ugly; and this week's Time cover story questions the President's credibility.

Going into the spring, George W. Bush seems to be in a world of trouble.

The Democrats:
Democratic leaders, once fearful that their presidential nominee would inherit a demoralized and divided party, said Sunday that Democrats now seemed poised to nominate a candidate who had escaped damage from internal battling and enjoyed broad support from all factions of the party.

With John Kerry's lopsided wins in Michigan, Washington, and Maine over the weekend, the Democratic Party seems ready to put the primary campaigns behind them and stand strong behind the eventual nominee.

Howard's End:
Howard Dean's campaign continues to run on a "must win" stragegy for Wisconsin on February 17. However, current polling there shows the former Vermont governor trailing badly. To top it off the AFSCME withdrew its endorsement, giving the Dean campaign a major body blow going into this Tuesday's contests in Tennessee and Virginia.

Another Deaniac is taking a second look at the other candidates. She posted an excellent essay yesterday, explaining her admiration of Dr. Dean and his campaign, and why she feels she must look at the other candidates before voting in her state's primary on Tuesday.

Tracking polls indicate Kerry will add a couple of Southern states to his "win" column by Wednesday morning.

As I said on January 28th, Dean's quest is all but over.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?