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From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE…

Prop. 8 Judge: the Bigots Whiffed

One of the seemingly reluctant heroes of the modern LGBT rights movement is Judge Vaughn Walker, who presided over the Prop. 8 trial and issued a ruling declaring the odious thing---passed by voters 52-48 in 2008 after being bamboozled by conservatives---unconstitutional. Walker, who was first nominated to the bench by none other than Saint Ronald Reagan, packed his ruling with enough "findings of fact"---i.e. indisputable truths about homosexuality, same-sex relationships, and the Constitution---to choke a horse.

Once Walker issued his ruling, he retired and seemed to vanish from the radar. So it's nice to hear from him again, via the San Jose Mercury News. As I suspected, Walker knew the stakes and didn't mess around:

Former federal district judge Vaughn Walker
Retired federal Judge Vaughn Walker
Over the objections of Proposition 8 backers, Walker ordered a full trial to establish a complete record on the arguments from both sides, aware the higher courts would review whatever he decided. "If you are going to have an issue that deals with a significant constitutional matter, it pays to have some facts that are established the old-fashioned way," he said.

But, to Walker's surprise, after lawyers for same-sex couples put on a parade of witnesses, gay marriage foes put on scant evidence, offering just two witnesses, including one who later came out in favor of same-sex marriage rights. "I did think the proponents of Proposition 8 would put on a case," Walker said.

"It never occurred to me that they would ... ," and his trademark baritone trails off. Walker asks for the correct baseball term for taking a swing and a miss at a pitch and then just shrugs.

Yeah---what would that term be?

The validity of Walker's ruling will be argued in front of the Supreme Court in 34 days (not that we're counting). If they let it stand, same-sex marriages will return to California. For what it's worth, I'm thinking it'll be a 6-3 ruling. Call me a doe-eyed optimist, but I suspect Roberts and Kennedy will stand athwart history and yell "Go!"

By the way, I did a little back-of-my-cocktail-napkin math, and when same-sex "I do's" return to California, it will mean that states containing a total of 80 million Americans will have marriage equality laws on the books. Add in Illinois, which is expected to pass it soon, and you're talking 93 million. I believe there's a term for that: a good start.

Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Cheers and Jeers for Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Note: Cheers and Jeers is now available for the first time as a 42 CD set.  (It takes that many CDs for me to write C&J on them longhand with a sharpie, which is why you should probably stick to reading it online).

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By the Numbers:
Days 'til the Oscars: 4
Days 'til the SXSW Festival in Austin: 12
Price for which the Trump Plaza casino, built in 1984 for $210 million, was sold: $20 million
Number of times an Atlantic City casino has been sold that cheap: 0
(Source: USA Today)
Estimated number of "near-earth" asteroids the size of the one that passed by us Friday: 500,000
(Source: The Portland Press Herald)
Number of the 400 wealthiest Americans who count as a "small business" according to House Republicans' definition: 237
(Source: Harper's Index)
Percent chance that I hope the neoconservative chickenhawks who started the Iraq war will burn in hell: 100%
(Source: My latest column in Highlights for Children)

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Mid-week Rapture Index: 188 (including 5 floods and a persistent Jehovah's Pootie).  Soul Protection Factor 6 lotion is recommended if you’ll be walking amongst the heathen today.

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Puppy Pic of the Day:  Winter camo

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CHEERS to a pair of green shoots.  Couple good moolah-related stories I've been meaning to pass along.  First, the trade gap shrunk in December by 21 percent, and apparently it's expected to shrink all year.  And second, this:

Green shoot, with parts identified
Anatomy of a shoot.
The government recovered $4.2 billion in health care fraud money in 2012, continuing the trend of large investigations that has been breaking records since 2010.

"In the past fiscal year, our relentless pursuit of health care fraud resulted in the disruption of an array of sophisticated fraud schemes and the recovery of more taxpayer dollars than ever before," Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday.  "This report demonstrates our serious commitment to prosecuting health care fraud and safeguarding our world-class health care programs from abuse."

Just thinkin' outside the box here, but what say we try that with the Wall Street banksters?  Oh that's right---what they did was "legal."  I get confused.  

JEERS to previews of coming calamities.  A couple weeks back New England got slammed with a record-breaking monster blizzard, and the joke circulating around the climate-change deniers was, "Where's your global warming now, libtards?!"  We slapped our knees pretty hard over that.  Funny thing, though, and not in a ha-ha way: the blizzard we got happened because of you-guessed-it:

Bill & Michael's car the morning of the 2013 blizzard
This was our car
after the blizzard.
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A warmer atmosphere can hold, and dump, more moisture, snow experts say.  And two soon-to-be-published studies demonstrate how there can be more giant blizzards yet less snow overall each year.  Projections are that that's likely to continue with man-made global warming.

Consider: The United States has been walloped by twice as many of the most extreme snowstorms in the past 50 years than in the previous 60 years, according to an upcoming study on extreme weather by leading federal and university climate scientists.  This also fits with a dramatic upward trend in extreme winter precipitation---both rain and snow---in the Northeastern U.S. charted by the National Climatic Data Center.

This is the kind of calamitous climate story that we're seeing on virtually a daily basis now, and even the deniers are finally starting to realize that global warming is real and pretty fucking awful.  And they'll tell you that they have no one to blame but…well, Barack Obama and the libtards, of course.  And shame on us!

P.S. Speaking of climate change, here's a bit of news about all those JOBS JOBS JOBS the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline pushers promise will be created.  Once it's built, the number of JOBS JOBS JOBS needed to maintain it will be around 20.  Why, I'm starting to not trust those people.

CHEERS to Bucky Bucktooth's very bad day.  On this date in 1872, Silas Noble and J.P. Cooley patented the toothpick-making machine, thus putting the country's entire beaver workforce out of action while President Grant looked the other way.  The bitterness still lingers.

JEERS to return of the zombie vote stealers.  In Pennsylvania, the Republicans' scheme to split up their electoral votes is still kickin' around:

Pennsylvania state outline with counties
Stay vigilent, PA.
State Senate president Dominic Pileggi (R) is pushing a plan to change Pennsylvania’s current winner-take-all allocation of the state’s 20 electoral votes to a system that apportions them proportionally by each candidate’s share of the statewide vote.  Had it gone into effect before the 2012 election, President Obama would have won just 12 electoral votes to Mitt Romney’s 8.  According to a memo Pileggi wrote debuting his new plan, the revamped system “much more accurately reflects the will of the voters in our state.”
Once again, Republicans ride to the rescue of a non-existent damsel not tied to non-existent railroad tracks.  Of course, one wonders how Republicans would react if the roles were reversed.  (Spoiler alert: hissy fit, tears, cries of tyranny, and much eating of comfort food.)  Keep your eye on this, Keystone Staters---the GOP likes to roll out its battering ram without notice.

"CHEERS!" to fixing the worst domestic mistake in American history.  On February 20, 1933, Congress proposed the 21st Amendment, which would repeal the 18th (also known as "that no-good stinkin' prohibition").  Once it was adopted, the booze again flowed free and unfettered.  C&J will be performing a historical reenactment of that moment in our living room around 9 this morning.  Same as we do the other 364 days of the year.

CHEERS to "Sieg Oopsie!"  Did you see where the Tea Party Patriots sent out an email that bashes Karl Rove and Photoshops his head onto Heinrich Himmler's uniform?  Well, let me terminate the suspense:

Karl Rove photoshopped by Teas Party Patriots into Heinrich Himmler's uniform.
The Tea Party claims it was all an innocent mistake.  Someone slipped and accidentally surfed the web to find photos of Himmler and Rove, photoshopped them together into one photo of "Nazi Karl Rove," inserted it into a fundraising email, prepped the mailing list, and hit SEND.  Oops.  Darn banana peel!

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Five years ago in C&J: February 20, 2008

CHEERS to scoring a two-fer.  Olbermann and Matthews have spoken (well, the latter just kinda frothed), and the victories in the Hawaii caucuses and the Wisconsin primary belong to the skinny black guy with the funny name: Kofi Annan.  (Political scientists will be studying that stealth campaign for years.)  Next up, on March 4: showdowns in Texas, Ohio, the Republic of Vermont and Rhode Island.  Oh, and a little speechmaking tip for Senator McCain: when you talk about death and destruction and terror threats on the campaign trail (or anywhere really), it's typically best not to break out into a big grin.  Scares the children.

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And just one more…

President Barack Obama presents former United States Marine Corps pilot, astronaut, and United States Senator John Glenn with a Medal of Freedom, Tuesday, May 29, 2012, during a ceremony at the White House in Washington. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
Obama trying to strangle John Glenn with a Medal
of Freedom, just before he felt Glenn's judo chop.
CHEERS to a pleasant commute.  If I decide to get a tombstone for myself, among the ten thousands achievements carved into it will be: John Glenn (D-OH) was MY senator!  So I couldn't possibly let today go by wiithout giving a shoutout to my home state homey and hero.  Fifty-one years ago today, on February 20, 1962, Glenn took a little trip, which The Atlantic recreates here:
Five minutes and four seconds into the flight of the Friendship 7, as John Glenn prepared to become the first American to orbit Earth, he radioed to NASA, his capsule turned and brought the Earth into sight.  "Oh, that view is tremendous," he said. […] Shortly after reaching orbit, his gave his first description of an earthly phenomenon from orbit.  "This is Friendship Seven," he said, "Can see clear back; a big cloud pattern way back across towards the Cape.  Beautiful sight."
Glenn orbited the world three times aboard Friendship 7 in just under five hours.  A little weed and I can do that aboard LaZBoy 1 in under 30 seconds.

Have a nice Wednesday.  Floor's open...What are you cheering and jeering about today?

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Today's Shameless C&J Testimonial:

“In order to read Cheers and Jeers, you have to strip to your raw, erase all the garbage from your brain, and start over again…um…nothing you’ve learned in your life up til now is in any way going to help prepare you for this."
---Professor Emlyn Hughes
Columbia University

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