Archive: August, 2010
In today's tumultuous media environment, there comes a time when free-agent scribes such as myself are wise to diversify. That time is now.
WHYY, the public media service in Philadelphia (more traditionally known as Public Broadcasting), has lured me - so, beginning Monday, this blog will move there, under a new name. You can even check it out today - at whyy.org/nationalinterest - and list it in Favorites. There's scant furniture in the room yet, but I left a note pinned to the door.
Philly.com has been a great host these past four and a half years. Cranking out a political blog, which requires provocative text five days a week, is a taxing exercise that can't be done without significant in-house support, so I especially want to thank Wendy, Jonathan, Bob, and Tony for watching my back. And while I'm certainly inviting my clamorous community of readers to link the new site every weekday, I'm obviously hoping that you'll also continue to avail yourselves of the extensive philly.com menu.
And even though I'm moving and reinventing the blog, my Sunday Inquirer print column will continue to be posted online at philly.com, and I'll surface in live chats sponsored by the Inquirer editorial board. In fact, a chat is scheduled for Monday. Such are the perks of diversification, and the expanding options for staying in touch. Let's do that.
Before time keeps slipping, slipping, slipping into the future (apologies to the Steve Miller Band), let us collectively bow our heads and mourn the sudden passing of one of Washington's most successful socialists.
That would be former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in Senate history, whose legendary deeds will forever demonstrate the flaw at the core of the GOP's "small government" credo, the chasm separating the party's rhetoric and actions.
The Tuesday night primary results are rich with story lines - a tea-party darling wins the Colorado Republican senatorial nomination, the Georgia GOP gubernatorial race (featuring a candidate championed by Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney, versus a candidate championed by Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee) is a cliffhanger heading for a recount - but I'm partial to the plot in Connecticut. That state's autumn Senate contest promises to be a veritable wellspring of entertainment.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I'll happily stipulate that I have a soft spot for my birth state, where I also spent my first 11 years in the dead-tree news biz. The political climate was quite genteel, the governor was a penny-pincher who owned a bar, moderate Republicans were plentiful, and the biggest fuss in the state capital was the yearly warning from the bottling industry that if the lawmakers ever passed the radical bill mandating the recycling of bottles, Connecticut would surely shed zillions of jobs and sink into a recessionary dark age.
Democrats, road-testing their midterm election message, have been warning lately that the Republicans want to bring back the policies of George W. Bush. But that claim is not accurate, given the fact that the current Republican crowd apparently views George W. Bush as a flaming liberal who was soft on immigration.
In all his years as president, and to his credit, Bush never trashed the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which since 1868 has declared that all babies born on U.S. soil are automatically citizens. He never proposed that the birthright citizenship language be ripped out. He never smeared immigrant women as opportunists who simply wanted to "drop a baby" in America for the supposedly sole purpose of creating an American citizen. He never sought to indulge the denizens of nutcase nation by whipping up fears about so-called hordes of "anchor babies."
August 9, August 9...I knew that something big happened on this date, but what? Was I referencing the A bomb we dropped on Nagasaki on this date in '45? Or the Charles Manson gang's murder of Sharon Tate on August 9 in '69? Or the fact that Jerry Garcia departed this world for that Dark Star in the sky on August 9 in '95?
And then I remembered. I conjured the image of somebody wiggling his fingers in the semblance of a victory salute at the door of a chopper on the White House lawn, seconds before he flew off into exile and disgrace. That indeed was 36 years ago today, on the first and only occasion when a president quit his job.
It was inevitable that the historic federal court ruling in favor of gay marriage - detailed here yesterday - would infuriate cultural conservatives. The attacks began scant minutes after Judge Vaughn Walker released his decision, and, while some were merely hilarious (thrice-married Newt Gingrich championing the sanctity of opposite-sex marriage), one particularly fatuous argument has taken hold among the dimmest denizens of the right:
The ruling is a travesty of justice because Walker himself is reportedly gay - and because he's gay, he should've removed himself from the case!
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).
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.