Tuesday, May 20, 2008

You know the preacher likes the cold
A brief history of the courts and the religious right on gay marriage

From your blogstress's fellow traveler, In These Times columnist Hans Johnson, comes this informative analysis of California Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage last week in the nation's most populous state. Here's a taste:

Sixty years ago, against a steep and contrary bent of public opinion, the same court upheld the right of a Mexican American woman, Andrea Perez, to marry her African-American sweetheart, Sylvester Davis, in Los Angeles. It took two decades for the U.S. Supreme Court to finally follow California’s lead and nix all such bans on interracial marriages.

In the current marriage case, Carlos Moreno, the court’s sole Latino justice, and two others joined the ruling by George, an appointee of former Republican governor Pete Wilson. George became the court’s chief justice the very month (May 1996) that fellow Californian Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee to the U.S. Supreme Court, confounded religious conservatives by striking down an antigay amendment to the Colorado constitution. The measure aimed to obliterate and forever outlaw any protection in any area of life against antigay bias, no matter how severe. Kennedy countered with simple declarative grace that even a majority of voters cannot make gay people "strangers to the law."
CLICK HERE TO READ "CALIFORNIA RULES" AT IN THESE TIMES.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

We are programmed to receive...

Indeed the time did arrive, mes amis, for your blogstress to offer an adult-type comment on yesterday's decision by the California Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage. Adult-type meaning an expression of opinion that goes beyond your Webwench's native suspicion of marriage as a desirable state.

And so, your ecrivaine dares to posit, at The Guardian's lively opinion site, Comment is Free, that when the "gay marriage" decision becomes an issue in the presidential campaign, it will likely hurt John McCain more than it will the Democratic nominee.

CLICK HERE TO READ "MARRIAGE, CALIFORNIA STYLE" AT COMMENT IS FREE

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Free to submit to the ties that bind

Having been married once, your blogstress has never been one to beat the gay-marriage drum so loudly. While she understands that there are no equal rights for queer folk until we are free to marry within our own gender frames, it is an issue with such improbable personal ramifications for your Webwench that she has scarely ever worked up a dewy glow over it. Marriage is marriage, with all the attendant dynamics, and once was enough for your ecrivaine. She simply doesn't see where being married to a woman would be much of an improvement on that shopworn theme.

That said, today's decision from the California Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage is a mind-blower. It's good stuff on the rights front. Gonna be evil in the presidential election.

My solution? Keep the state out of the marriage biz altogether. Marriage is the business of the churches.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bloch party

The plot thickens in the strange tale of the paleo-Catholic, gay-baiting, Rove-hating Bush administration nemesis and appointee, Scott Bloch, who heads the Office of Special Counsel. We recently learned from the Associated Press (AP) that shortly after the departure of Karl Rove from the White House, a task force for an investigation launched by Bloch stood poised to request documents from the Justice Department, only to have Bloch shut down the probe.

The investigation was focused on the possible political use of federal prosecutors to smear Don Siegelman, the Democratic governor of Alabama, in a way that would prevent his re-election. It is suspected that Rove was involved.

I have long suspected that another investigation led by Bloch's office that looked at the use of government personnel by Rove's office in conducting political operations in the 2006 elections on behalf of the Republican Party was the thing that caused Rove to resign. But perhaps that was just the beginning. Even with Rove gone, the probe into the Siegelman matter may have led even beyond Rove.

Either way, Bloch, no saint himself, seems to have been unequal to his self-appointed task of exacting revenge on Turd Blossom.

Yesterday, Rove refused to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on his role in the Siegelman affair, offering only to answer questions in writing.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Raid on Office of Special Counsel: it's about the upcoming elections

Crowded out of news coverage by the election and the tragedy in Burma is the curious case of Scott Bloch, who heads the Bush administration's Office of Special Counsel. Anybody who doubts the penchant for vindictiveness exercised by Club Bush -- or the long reach of departed Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove -- should view the case of Bloch as a cautionary tale.

Bloch started off as what appeared to be a team player, using his office to terrorize gay people who worked in government -- especially those career attorneys who worked in his office. But when Bloch's antics began to chalk up bad publicity, he was asked to resign, and refused. Then he set about finding his pound of flesh -- in none other than Turd Blossom (as Rove is affectionately called by the president). As your blogstress wrote last year at The American Prospect Online:

Bloch's inquiry lifted the lid on what many of us, dismissed as too partisan to be heeded, had already known: that under Rove's tutelage, every federal agency that could be politicized had been. Bloch uncovered a PowerPoint presentation delivered by Rove aide J. Scott Jennings to employees of the General Services Administration that "listed Democrats the White House has targeted for defeat in 2008," according to a letter sent on July 17 to White House Political Affairs Director Sara Taylor by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Now Bloch is reaping all he has sown, resulting in an F.B.I. raid on his office on Tuesday. According to the Washington Post:
Agents fanned out yesterday morning in the agency's building on M Street, where they sequestered Office of Special Counsel chief Scott J. Bloch for questioning, served grand-jury subpoenas on 17 employees and shut down access to computer networks in a search lasting more than five hours.
The matter being investigated? Bloch's politicization of his office.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Hillary supporter alleges Indiana shenanigans

Tom McDermott, the white mayor of Hammond, Indiana, used his star turn on CNN last night to accuse Rudy Clay, the black mayor of Gary, Indiana, of something that smells "corrupt" in the slow pace of election returns coming out of that urban center in last night's presidential primary. The accusation came just around midnight, central daylight time, when the Indiana race, quite surprisingly, remained too close to call.

McDermott is a Hillary Clinton supporter, and Clay, a Barack Obama supporter.

Still awaiting transcript; will post tonight. (Your blogstress will be travelling much of the day.)

UPDATE: Here's the transcript. Excerpt below.

MCDERMOTT: I'm not going to pick on where I'm from. I'm proud to be from Lake County. And there is hanky-panky in politics all across the state of Indiana, all across the United States.

I'm not going to dig into Lake County's past. But I can tell you that this is -- it looks improper, what's happening. I'm not saying anything improper is happening, but it looks improper, and that's the problem I have is we don't need this kind of negative exposure in Lake County, Indiana. And I know that there are good people working on the county election board. I know Mayor Clay very well. He's an outspoken Obama supporter. I'm an outspoken Clinton supporter.

Release the numbers, Mayor Clay, because this is ridiculous. It's midnight.

BLITZER: Mayor Clay, are you still with us?

CLAY: I'm still here.

BLITZER: Good. Do you want to respond to what Mayor McDermott of Hammond said?

CLAY: First of all, we have some of the best people working in Lake County, Indiana, in our elections department that you have anywhere in the world. Not only that, we have Democrats and Republicans counting these ballots here. There is no hanky-panky going on here in Lake County, Indiana.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Canary in a data mine?

Harold Ickes is known as Hillary Clinton's arm-twister, the guy who's leaning on uncommitted superdelegates to move his candidate's way. Ickes is also the force behind a for-profit data aggregating firm, Catalist, mentioned in a recent TAP piece by Holly Yeager. Catalist provided the data used by Women Voices Women Vote (WVWV), the non-profit group behind troubling robo-calls received by North Carolina voters in the run-up to tomorrow today's primary. (Both the Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns are also using Catalist data to target voters.) The WVWV calls are under suspicion as possible voter suppression tactics and, just days ahead of the North Carolina presidential primary, may have targeted registered African-American voters in that state. (Read Dana Goldstein's TAPPED post here.)

Critics contend that the WVWV calls to voters already registered to vote in the primary -- and the general election -- were seemingly designed to cause confusion, since those receiving the calls were told by a recorded male voice, self-identified on the recording as Lamont Williams, that they would be receiving registration packets in the mail, and that after recipients had filled them out, they could vote and make their voices heard. WVWF claims as its mission an increased voter turnout of single women. (WVWV President Page Gardner answers critics here.)

"We update the files on a schedule we provide to our clients at the start of each year," explained Catalist spokesperson Amy Weiss. "There is always some lag in the data -- and this year the number of new registrants as a result of the exciting primaries is adding names at historic rates." Weiss commented via e-mail.

Women Voices Women Votes spokesperson Sarah Johnson e-mailed, "WVWV and Catalist spend an enormous amount of resources and effort to ensure the lists are of the highest quality." The lists are cross-checked, Johnson said, for maritial status, and against U.S. Postal Service records for change of addresses. The robo-calls did not identify Women's Voices Women Vote as the source of the calls, in apparent violation of state law.

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