Sunday, February 14, 2016

POSTED: Thursday, August 5, 2010, 11:09 AM

The power and essence of yesterday's historic federal court ruling on gay marriage can be found on page 74 of the decision. Judge Vaughn Walker, in the midst of his meticulous declaration that California's gay marriage ban violated the U.S Constitution's equal-protection and due-process guarantees for all Americans, specifically said this:

"Individuals do not generally choose their sexual orientation. No credible evidence supports a finding that an individual may, through conscious decision, therapeutic intervention, or any other method, change his or her sexual orientation." The judge then backed up his conclusion by citing 12 factual examples drawn from the trial evidence - most notably, scientific and survey findings from a psychology expert, Gregory Herek; and, as the judge dryly noted in his ruling, the foes of gay marriage "did not present testimony to contradict Herek."

Given the fact that Walker's exhaustive ruling will probably wind its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, the passage on page 74 is critically important. The judge basically concluded, based on the scientific evidence presented at his trial, that gays deserve full equal-rights protection under the Constitution - just like any other underdog now recognized by the courts as an "identifiable class," such as minorities (who can't choose their skin color), and women (who can't choose their gender).

POSTED: Wednesday, August 4, 2010, 7:50 AM

Missouri has spoken. Or, to be more precise, Missouri's most ticked off voters have spoken. Last night, in the first-in-the-nation referendum on President Obama's health care law, they signaled a resounding thumbs down. Seventy one percent of voting Missourians supported Proposition C - which decreed that the feds have no business requiring citizens to buy health insurance, and that the state of Missouri should defy the new mandate.

The referendum win will bring forth much triumphant Republican spin - which is ironic, given the much-overlooked fact that the federal mandate concept was originally birthed by the GOP.

POSTED: Tuesday, August 3, 2010, 11:19 AM

And to think that summer used to be a slow season for politics. A quick trilogy:

What a weird switcheroo. Afghanistan, long viewed as the "good" war because it hosted the folks who plotted 9/11, is now an ungodly mess...while Iraq, long viewed as the "bad" war because of George W. Bush's ill-considered invasion and incompetent occupation, is now being touted by Bush's successor as some kind of success story. If only Joseph Heller, master of irony and author of Catch-22, was alive today to weigh in.

POSTED: Monday, August 2, 2010, 8:06 AM

An expanded version of my Sunday print column:

You may not have noticed, but print journalism was triumphant during the last week of July.

I can't believe I just wrote that sentence.

POSTED: Friday, July 30, 2010, 12:59 PM

I'm otherwise occupied today, but I'll return on Monday. In the meantime, I highly recommend this commentary piece from the American Journalism Review website. I couldn't agree more, especially with this wryly understated passage:

"The opportunity to launch brutal assaults from the safety of a computer without attaching a name does wonders for the bravery levels of the angry."

POSTED: Thursday, July 29, 2010, 7:35 AM

This post was updated late in the day.

Today's predominant Washington acronym is WWCD. As in, "What Will Charlie Do?"

POSTED: Wednesday, July 28, 2010, 10:04 AM

In a conference call with reporters the other day, Trevor Potter, a former chairman of the Federal Elections Commission, said that the Senate Republicans should remain true to their convictions concerning a key facet of campaign finance reform. After all,  the proposed DISCLOSE Act would require that special interests reveal the names of the backstage deep-pocket donors who will bankroll the election-season political ads - and it's the Republicans who have long said that they support the credo of full disclosure.

Potter, a Republican who was appointed to the FEC by the first President Bush, said on the phone that the DISCLOSE Act would at least mitigate the worst damage wreaked on the political process by the U.S. Supreme Court's recent horrific decision to permit virtually unlimited special interest spending in federal elections. Under the proposed reform law, he said, at least the public would know "who is doing that spending" - which is better than having a flood of autumn ads sponsored by mysterious front groups with nebulous names, "something like 'Paid for by Americans for a Better Country,' and you have no idea who that is or who actually paid for those ads."

POSTED: Tuesday, July 27, 2010, 11:53 AM

If only Daniel Schorr had remained healthy a little longer, he would've been afforded the opportunity to weigh in on the WikiLeaks/Afghanistan story. And he surely would've relished doing so. To borrow a baseball term, that story was right in his wheelhouse.

Schorr, who died Friday after 93 years on earth and 60 years in journalism, was one of the last links to the pre-Internet golden age of two-fisted broadcasting, which is why he rates a special mention here. During his long career, particularly at CBS News and at National Public Radio, he crafted a well-earned reputation as a combative reporter and analyst who bucked governmental authority in the service of the truth. He ferreted out the real story, often aided by leakers on the inside. He shared his findings with the public, and, most admirably of all, he couldn't have cared less who got ticked off.

About this blog

Cited by the Columbia Journalism Review as one of the nation's top political reporters, and lauded by the ABC News political website as "one of the finest political journalists of his generation," Dick Polman is a national political columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer. He is on the full-time faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, as "writer in residence." Dick has been a frequent guest on C-Span, MSNBC, CNN, NPR and the BBC. He covered the 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004 presidential campaigns.


All commentaries posted before April 18, 2008, can be accessed at

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