“When you don’t win an argument on the merits, change the subject. That seems to be the favorite tactic of groups opposed to marriage equality for same-sex couples.”
So begins an op-ed piece, “Lose the ruling, attack the judge,” in Friday’s Los Angeles Times. The column was written by Jon W. Davidson, the legal director of Lambda Legal, the organization that brought the federal lawsuit attacking California’s Proposition 8, so it comes as no surprise that it supports U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision to rule the proposition unconstitutional.
But note where Davidson chooses to begin his timeline, rather like picking up a book and starting with chapter two. I recall there being an election some time ago, one in which a majority of California voters — for the second time — made known their preference to define marriage as it has been understood for thousands of years.
I propose an alternative opening for the column, one that more accurately reflects the sequence of events: “When you don’t win the argument at the ballot box, as indeed advocates for homosexual marriage have failed to win in even a single instance in the 31 times they’ve tried, take the campaign to the more accommodating venue of the courtroom. There, a lone judge, blessed with finely attuned senses denied to both his predecessors and the ignorant proles of the voting public, can discover a constitutional right that mysteriously remained undetected through all our nation’s history. That seems to be the favorite tactic of groups advocating for same-sex marriage.”
Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky are recovering from epic floods that left 29 dead, 5 missing, and billions in damage. In some places the water rose several feet in less than an hour, leaving people little or no time to escape or to save their possessions.
In Nashville, the Cumberland River crested at 12 feet over flood stage:
The recovery will be hard as residents face toxic conditions from stagnant water, debris, and sewage.
A 7.0 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Japan and an 8.8 magnitude quake off the Chilean coast sparked tsunami warnings in both nations, although the Japanese warning appears to have been rescinded. There is no tsunami warning for Alaska or the West Coast of the United States as a result of the earthquake in Chile [UPDATE BY PATTERICO: there is now a warning for the West Coast], but there may be an impact in Hawaii.
The Massachusetts’ election and the Haitian earthquake have dominated the news and blogs, but there are other stories including one that affects many California readers — Los Angeles rain:
“Street flooding was reported across the region, including in Burbank, the Bixby Knolls section of Long Beach, areas south of Long Beach Airport, as well as Sunland and San Pedro.
The storm ripped part of the roof off an industrial building in Paramount and flooded the southbound 710 Freeway around Alondra Boulevard. Flooding was also reported on the 710 near Willow Street in Long Beach. [Updated at 6:35 p.m.: The California Highway Patrol said the 405 Freeway south is flooded in Long Beach at Spring Street and that traffic was being diverted.]
Other freeways reported less serious flooding, producing a grim evening commute.”
The man in charge of America’s military relief efforts in Haiti, Lt.Gen. P.K. Keen, commented on how many people have died as a result of the Haitian earthquake:
“As the numbers of dead and injured in Haiti continue to climb, Lt. General P.K. Keen, the man charge of military relief efforts there says, “we are going to have to be prepared for the worst”. When I asked General Keen about death toll estimates ranging between 150,000 and 200,000 people, Keen said, “I think the international community is looking at those figures, and I think that’s a start point.”
TV evangelist Pat Robertson has a flair for saying controversial things: He once suggested that Ariel Sharon’s stroke was divine punishment for “dividing God’s land” and giving away Gaza to the Palestinians. He also wondered if America’s abortion rate could have provoked Hurricane Katrina and the terrorist attacks on the United States. And now, following the earthquake in Haiti, Robertson has once again suggested a disaster might be due to more than bad luck:
“The Haitians “were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever,” Robertson said on his broadcast Wednesday. “And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.’ True story. And so, the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal.’”
Native Haitians defeated French colonists in 1804 and declared independence.
“You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other.”
“Dazed survivors wandered past dead bodies in rubble-strewn streets Wednesday, crying for loved ones, and rescuers desperately searched collapsed buildings as fear rose that the death toll from Haiti’s devastating earthquake could reach into the tens of thousands.”
Even Haiti’s President has been left homeless but his immediate concern is that more people will be left hurt, homeless, or sick:
“Speaking from the streets of Port-au-Prince, a visibly shaken Haitian President René Préval told reporters Wednesday afternoon “it’s too early” to guess at the number of earthquake casualties in his country.
Asked what he now considered the biggest risk to his country, Préval said: “that the buildings will continue to collapse . . . and for an epidemic.”
While an unknown number of people remain trapped in the rubble, there are growing fears regarding lawlessness and street violence:
“As darkness fell Wednesday, Mario Anderson, Haitian national chief of police, grew concerned. He said many officers had been injured and maintaining security in the chaos may become a challenge: “We have many prisoners who are on the streets – it’s about 1,000; some have been in prison a long time.”
The number of homeless wandering the streets is growing, too, he said. “The situation is bad,” he told CNN.”
The International Red Cross estimates at least a third of Haiti’s nine million people will need aid.