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Number of posts: 38,531
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The Supreme Court just handed down a 5-4 decision striking the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act. According to Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion for the Court, “he federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”
Shortly thereafter, the Court also handed down a 5-4 decision holding that supporters of California’s anti-gay Proposition 8 did not have legal standing to appeal District Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision striking the marriage ban. The likely impact of this decision is that Walker’s injunction against Prop 8 will allow California to perform same-sex marriages once again — or at least that California’s top elected officials will be able to read Walker’s opinion this way — although there is some uncertainty whether Walker actually has the power to enjoin an entire state. For this reason, the status of Prop 8 is, for the moment, unclear.
Posted by cal04 | Wed Jun 26, 2013, 10:43 AM (6 replies)
This was a terrific and historic speech, by far the best address on climate by any president ever.
I applaud the new measures announced by President Barack Obama this afternoon to help solve the climate crisis – particularly the decision to limit global warming pollution from existing as well as new power plants.
Following the important pledges he made in both his inaugural address and State of the Union speech earlier this year, and the historic gains in renewable energy and fuel efficiency that the President delivered in his first term, the policy changes he announced today represent important steps forward in the battle to halt catastrophic climate disruption. Most importantly, President Obama has directed the Environmental Protection Agency to establish regulations on the amount of global warming pollution existing fossil fuel plants can pour into our atmosphere.
This action – if followed by skillful and thorough execution of the plan – has the potential to fundamentally alter the course of our nation’s energy infrastructure development and help to promote a sustainable future. On the international front, this action will bolster U.S. credibility and moral authority in negotiations with other countries.
After the country’s hottest year on record, the record melting of the arctic ice cap and disruption of the Northern Hemisphere jet stream and storm track, a crippling drought and hundreds of billions of dollars worth of damage from climate-related extreme weather events over just the past two years, we are already paying the price of carbon pollution. It is clear that bold and comprehensive action is needed now.
President Obama’s proposals are in keeping with the current political reality; inaction and denial have consumed Congress. But the climate crisis requires a new political reality: one marked by a willingness to accept solutions commensurate with the challenge.
I hope the president will make this challenge a centerpiece of his leadership in his remaining three and a half years in office. The hard truth is that the maximum that now seems politically feasible still falls short of the minimum necessary to actually solve the climate crisis. Continued and constant use of the bully pulpit, determined follow-through on the steps announced today, and additional steps in the months ahead can change the political reality and build a bipartisan consensus for the broader changes that are needed urgently.
As President Obama said today, history will judge the present generation by our success or failure in meeting and surmounting this existential challenge.
So I urge the nation to follow President Obama’s lead and take the positive steps he announced today, but to keep fighting. We’ve got a lot more work to do.
Posted by cal04 | Tue Jun 25, 2013, 02:53 PM (63 replies)
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy on Tuesday pledged quick action on restoring voting rights protections after the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the landmark law.
"I intend to take immediate action to ensure that we will have a strong and reconstituted Voting Rights Act that protects against racial discrimination in voting," Leahy said.
The Vermont Democrat said the Supreme Court had "struck down the core of the most successful piece of civil rights legislation in this nation's history." But it was not yet clear what specific legislation Leahy might try to advance or whether he would win the support of Republicans.
Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On Supreme Court Decision Shelby County v. Holder
Schumer on the decision
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) issued a strongly worded statement in reaction to the Supreme Court's Tuesday decision striking down a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, decrying the ruling as a "back door way to gut the Voting Rights Act."
"As long as Republicans have a majority in the House and Democrats don't have 60 votes in the Senate, there will be no preclearance," he said in the statement. "It is confounding that after decades of progress on voting rights, which have become part of the American fabric, the Supreme Court would tear it asunder.”
Posted by cal04 | Tue Jun 25, 2013, 12:27 PM (6 replies)
President Barack Obama said Tuesday that while he's "deeply disappointed" with the Supreme Court's decision to gut the historic Voting Rights Act, but vowed that the ruling will not "represent the end of our efforts to end voting discrimination."
"I am deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision today. For nearly 50 years, the Voting Rights Act – enacted and repeatedly renewed by wide bipartisan majorities in Congress – has helped secure the right to vote for millions of Americans," Obama said in a statement. "Today’s decision invalidating one of its core provisions upsets decades of well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair, especially in places where voting discrimination has been historically prevalent."
With Chief Justice John Roberts writing for the majority, the court struck down a centerpiece of the landmark 1965 law applied to determine which states and localities — all with a history of racial discrimination — must first clear any changes to their voting laws with the Justice Department or a federal court.
"As a nation, we’ve made a great deal of progress towards guaranteeing every American the right to vote. But, as the Supreme Court recognized, voting discrimination still exists," Obama continued in the statement. "And while today’s decision is a setback, it doesn’t represent the end of our efforts to end voting discrimination. I am calling on Congress to pass legislation to ensure every American has equal access to the polls. My Administration will continue to do everything in its power to ensure a fair and equal voting process."
Statement by the President on the Supreme Court Ruling on Shelby County v. Holder
I am deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision today. For nearly 50 years, the Voting Rights Act – enacted and repeatedly renewed by wide bipartisan majorities in Congress – has helped secure the right to vote for millions of Americans. Today’s decision invalidating one of its core provisions upsets decades of well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair, especially in places where voting discrimination has been historically prevalent.
As a nation, we’ve made a great deal of progress towards guaranteeing every American the right to vote. But, as the Supreme Court recognized, voting discrimination still exists. And while today’s decision is a setback, it doesn’t represent the end of our efforts to end voting discrimination. I am calling on Congress to pass legislation to ensure every American has equal access to the polls. My Administration will continue to do everything in its power to ensure a fair and equal voting process.
Posted by cal04 | Tue Jun 25, 2013, 12:11 PM (25 replies)
Vice President Joe Biden played the role of closer for Democrats in Massachusetts, becoming the latest in a long list of party leaders who have trekked to the Bay State ahead of Tuesday’s special election to fill the seat vacated by now-Secretary of State John Kerry.
President Obama has campaigned here in recent weeks, as have first lady Michelle Obama and a bevy of other high-profile Democratic leaders. Biden aimed to put an exclamation point on the effort Saturday, when he stumped for the Democratic nominee, Rep. Ed Markey, and urged labor leaders not to take victory for granted.
“There’s no reason why this guy shouldn't walk to victory,” Biden said of Markey, telling activists to “please go out and knock on that extra door.”
“Don’t put yourself in the position, at 10 o’clock next Tuesday night, saying ‘God, if I had just done that extra block,'” said the vice president.
Posted by cal04 | Sat Jun 22, 2013, 09:53 PM (3 replies)
Former Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore on Wednesday night leveled some rare and harsh criticism at the Obama administration, attacking its reported collection of phone records for millions of Americans.
The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald reported Wednesday evening that the National Security Agency has used a secret court order issued in April to collect the records of all phone calls made on the Verizon network.
Gore took to Twitter to call the monitoring “obscenely outrageous.”
Al Gore @algore
In digital era, privacy must be a priority. Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?
Posted by cal04 | Wed Jun 5, 2013, 11:21 PM (146 replies)
The Affordable Care Act, a k a Obamacare, goes fully into effect at the beginning of next year, and predictions of disaster are being heard far and wide. There will be an administrative “train wreck,” we’re told; consumers will face a terrible shock. Republicans, one hears, are already counting on the law’s troubles to give them a big electoral advantage.
No doubt there will be problems, as there are with any large new government initiative, and in this case, we have the added complication that many Republican governors and legislators are doing all they can to sabotage reform. Yet important new evidence — especially from California, the law’s most important test case — suggests that the real Obamacare shock will be one of unexpected success
Still, here’s what it seems is about to happen: millions of Americans will suddenly gain health coverage, and millions more will feel much more secure knowing that such coverage is available if they lose their jobs or suffer other misfortunes. Only a relative handful of people will be hurt at all. And as contrasts emerge between the experience of states like California that are making the most of the new policy and that of states like Texas whose politicians are doing their best to undermine it, the sheer meanspiritedness of the Obamacare opponents will become ever more obvious.
So yes, it does look as if there’s an Obamacare shock coming: the shock of learning that a public program designed to help a lot of people can, strange to say, end up helping a lot of people — especially when government officials actually try to make it work.
Posted by cal04 | Mon May 27, 2013, 05:02 AM (12 replies)
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Tuesday accused Republicans of hypocrisy for being outraged that the IRS targeted conservative groups, pointing out that GOP lawmakers didn't appear bothered when the agency targeted liberal groups during the Bush administration.
"What the IRS did of course is inexcusable. But this is not the first time we've seen this," Reid told reporters. "It wasn't long ago that the IRS inappropriately targeted the NAACP, Greenpeace and a California church that was really progressive called the All Saints Church in Pasadena, California.
"It was interesting," he said. "At that time, we didn't hear a single Republican grandstand the issue then. Where was their outrage when groups on the other side of the political spectrum were under attack?"
When the IRS targeted liberals http://www.salon.com/2013/05/14/when_the_irs_targeted_liberals/singleton
Under George W. Bush, it went after the NAACP, Greenpeace and even a liberal church
Posted by cal04 | Tue May 14, 2013, 03:02 PM (16 replies)
“Frankly, had I been in the job at the time, I think my decisions would have been just as theirs were,” said Gates, now the chancellor of the College of William and Mary.
“We don’t have a ready force standing by in the Middle East, and so getting somebody there in a timely way would have been very difficult, if not impossible.” he explained.
Suggestions that we could have flown a fighter jet over the attackers to “scare them with the noise or something,” Gates said, ignored the “number of surface to air missiles that have disappeared from Qaddafi’s arsenals.”
Another suggestion posed by some critics of the administration, to, as Gates said, “send some small number of special forces or other troops in without knowing what the environment is, without knowing what the threat is, without having any intelligence in terms of what is actually going on on the ground, would have been very dangerous.”
“It’s sort of a cartoonish impression of military capabilities and military forces,” he said. “The one thing that our forces are noted for is planning and preparation before we send people in harm’s way, and there just wasn’t time to do that.”
Posted by cal04 | Sun May 12, 2013, 11:59 AM (22 replies)
Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) tore into Fox News’ Chris Wallace and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) for obsessing over the talking points U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice used when talking to the media in the days following the attack in Benghazi, Libya rather than focusing on identifying the perpetrators of the killings. “I think the desire of the Republicans to create a scandal here has really undermined any ability to have a credible look at what actually happened,” Smith said during an appearance on Fox News Sunday alongside Rogers.
While acknowledging that the administration’s initial assessment of Bengazi did not reflect what officials later learned about the incident, Smith criticized Fox for suggesting that that Rice’s remarks on five Sunday news shows presented a definitive picture of the events of Sep. 11, 2012.
“(The administration) didn’t reach conclusions the way you just presented that was that by the Sunday afterwards that the administration said here is what happened, here is our conclusion,” Smith explained. “But the president never said, no terrorism, no Al Qaeda. There was a dispute about how soon to lead to specific conclusions that now is being made into Watergate and Iran-Contra.” Watch it:
Wallace responded to Smith pointing out that intelligence officials changed Rice’s talking points at least 12 times, taking out references to prior attacks and specific terrorist groups. “We’re talking about talking points,” Smith reminded the host. “There was no question this was a it terrorist attack. They didn’t deny it. I would much rather get into investigation of the groups that threatened the U.S., figure out how they are, and how to stop them instead of debating how one memo was put together in the immediate days after the attack.”
Posted by cal04 | Sun May 12, 2013, 10:13 AM (0 replies)