May 26th, 2009
02:36 PM ET

The Prop 8 decision – and dissent

Program Note: Tune in tonight to hear more on the ruling on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/05/04/samesex.marriage.poll/art.samesex.marriage.gi.jpg caption="A recent poll shows that those who have a gay friend or relative are more likely to support gay marriage."]

Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

The California Supreme Court's 6-1 ruling was 135 pages, but its key rationale that Prop 8 was a "permissible" amendment to California's constitution was summed up in a few lines.

The dissent, summed up in two paragraphs, joined same-sex marriage proponents in arguing that Prop 8 violates the "equal protection" clause of the California constitution and federal civil rights law.

Many believe that the ruling will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, or that there will be another voter referendum on it.

Here are key quotes from the ruling - and the dissent.

From the ruling by Chief Justice George:

In summary, we conclude that Proposition 8 constitutes a permissible constitutional amendment (rather than an impermissible constitutional revision), does not violate the separation of powers doctrine, and is not invalid under the “inalienable rights” theory proffered by the Attorney General. We further conclude that Proposition 8 does not apply retroactively and therefore that the marriages of same-sex couples performed prior to the effective date of Proposition 8 remain valid.

Having determined that none of the constitutional challenges to the adoption of Proposition 8 have merit, we observe that if there is to be a change to the state constitutional rule embodied in that measure, it must “find its expression at the ballot box.”

From the dissent by Justice Moreno:

Proposition 8 represents an unprecedented instance of a majority of voters altering the meaning of the equal protection clause by modifying the California Constitution to require deprivation of a fundamental right on the basis of a suspect classification. The majority’s holding is not just a defeat for same-sex couples, but for any minority group that seeks the protection of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution.

This could not have been the intent of those who devised and enacted the initiative process. In my view, the aim of Proposition 8 and all similar initiative measures that seek to alter the California Constitution to deny a fundamental right to a group that has historically been subject to discrimination on the basis of a suspect classification, violates the essence of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution and fundamentally alters its scope and meaning. Such a change cannot be accomplished through the initiative process by a simple amendment to our Constitution enacted by a bare majority of the voters; it must be accomplished, if at all, by a constitutional revision to modify the equal protection clause to protect some, rather than all, similarly situated persons. I would therefore hold that Proposition 8 is not a lawful amendment of the California Constitution.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Barclay Palmer • Proposition 8
April 28th, 2009
02:42 PM ET

Arlen Specter and our 3 a.m. wake-up call

Program Note: Tune in tonight to for full coverage of the day's events on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

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Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

Is Sen. Arlen Specter finding himself philosophically under the Democratic tent, or at least outside the GOP tent, as he says in his announcement today about his decision to switch parties? Or, after representing the people of Pennsylvania as a Republican senator for 29 years, is he sticking it to the GOP for allowing another tough primary challenge from within the party.. Or, as he trails in a primary race, is he trying to save his Senate career? Or all of that and more...

If Al Franken finally takes the Senate seat in Minnesota, free of court challenges, he and Specter could give the Democrats a filibuster-proof 60 seats in the Senate. That would mark a major political shift for this country... and, perhaps, a 3a.m.-style wake-up call for the no-to-stimulus-leaning GOP.

Then there's that swine flu, now infecting at least 79 people in six countries, including five U.S. states. Different story, right? Yes, but there's a common thread.

The economic stimulus bill had included $780 to fund preparations to fund a pandemic, but moderate GOP senators, including Specter, criticized the provision, mainly saying it wouldn't be the job generator that the stimulus bill was designed to be.


April 20th, 2009
09:30 PM ET

President Obama - weak or strong?

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Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

Some political opponents have said President Obama looked weak, talking and smiling with Venezuelan ruler Hugo Chavez, and before that offering to talk with Cuba, Iran and Syria. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a potential presidential candidate in 2012, says former President Jimmy Carter sent similar signals, and antagonists to the US "got tougher (because) when they sense weakness, they all start pushing ahead."

David Axelrod, special advisor to the President, shot back that critics "misinterpreted what happened... the real message of what happened this past weekend with the Cuban regime's response to the president's decision on remittances, or the overtures from President Chavez, I think, what has happened is that anti-Americanism isn't cool anymore."


April 17th, 2009
11:53 PM ET

Ashton Kutcher beats Malaria

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/TECH/04/17/ashton.cnn.twitter.battle/art.twitter.aplusk.from.jpg caption="Ashton Kutcher's Twitter feed has surpassed CNN's breaking-news feed in the race to 1 million followers."]
Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

Which is bigger news: Kutcher beats CNN on Twitter, or President Obama goes to Mexico?

Ok, that sounds like a reductive and absurd question. But it's not, or not completely anyway, and here's why:

When a movie star and a news network persuade hundreds of thousands of people in less than a week to "follow" them on a hot, newish social networking site, as part of a charity competition – at the same time that the number of eyeballs on cable, network and print news outlets struggle even to hold steady despite millions of dollars in marketing – it says something.

Like what? Like a couple things:

Like a high-powered flashlight, it shows us very clearly where our society is – and is headed. It shows that young, mobile, digital people are THE driving force in business, technology, media and – as the election of President Obama and the size of the anti-tax tea parties on Wednesday showed – politics. No surprise, I know, but what a fast and glaring confirmation. We'd better pay attention.

Another thing: Kutcher's entertaining and bravado-fueled victory over @CNNbrk last night in signing up more than million Twitter "followers" – complete with low-grade, Youtube-distributed camera phone video of Kutcher ranting and goading Larry King while driving (so much for anti-cellphone driving laws) – also gets 11,000 mosquito nets to April 25th's 2nd annual World Malaria Day. Kutcher promised to send 10k mosquito nets if he won, and 1k if he lost. CNN promised the same.

That means thousands of real people will actually be better protected against a disease that infects and weakens more than 500 million people a year, and kills more than a million people. Despite all our advances in medicine, malaria still threatens 40% of the world's population, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Those are stunning numbers, aren't they?

Filed under: 360° Radar • Ashton Kutcher • Barclay Palmer • Larry King • Twitter
April 15th, 2009
08:30 PM ET

Not your grandmother’s tea party

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/15/tea.parties/art.tea.party.boston.cnn.jpg caption=""Tea party" protesters rally on Wednesday in Boston, Massachusetts."]

Barclay Palmer
AC360 Senior Producer

Are the tea party protests today grass roots or astroturf?

Who cares, right? In the Internet age, it seems, there hasn't been a lot of difference.

The more interesting question is - will conservatives organizing them succeed in using President Obama's tools against him? Will they turn out tens of thousands of supporters, and revitalize the movement?

Mr. Obama's campaign for the presidency mobilized voters via email, blogs, videos and no less than 15 social networking sites. Everyone seems to agree that gave him a leg up on Hillary Clinton and the GOP.

Now conservatives are trying some of the same techniques - blogs, videos, a website, not to mention conservative radio shows - and say they have organized more than 300 "tea party protests" across the country, demonstrating against taxes and regulation. "TEA" stands for "Taxed Enough Already.

What's your take - are conservatives succeeding with these digital campaign techniques, and shown they can rally a base frustrated by losses in the last election? And have they caught up to the do Democrats' lead in online recruiting?

March 13th, 2009
08:56 PM ET

The Road to Rescue – could begin with green trucks

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/13/art.mayorvilla1.jpg caption="L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa tells Anderson that electric trucks designed for container transport create more “green” jobs in his city and cut down on pollutants."]
Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

Green trucks could help rescue the economy. That's what L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is telling us - and the Obama Administration.

Villaraigosa wants the government to give $6.8 billion in stimulus money directly to Los Angeles, where the unemployment rate has hit 12% - up from 8% just since October.

What would L.A. do with the money? For starters, it would buy some "green" trucks using alternative fuels, such as electricity and natural gas. The electric trucks are made right in Los Angeles by a company called Balqon. So buying more of them would make L.A run reduce pollution and create jobs at home.

The mayor showed us one of the trucks during an interview with Anderson. And he also showed us the Port of L.A. where some of those trucks would be used. The port handles 44% of all seaborne goods coming to the U.S., Villaraigosa told Anderson. It also generates more than 25% of carcinogens in the area. He wants to make the port greener - cleaner, more efficient, and more competitive with other ports around the world. And he says upgrading it would create a ripple effect of more money and jobs across the country.

February 13th, 2009
11:59 PM ET

The Stimulus Bill, the Plane Crash and us..

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Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

The efforts by President Obama and Congress to rescue the economy have been book-ended by two major, heart-wrenching events that have the power to pull people together. And I'm not talking about House and Senate votes.

I'm talking about plane crashes. One of which, the "Miracle on the Hudson" on Jan. 16, wasn't actually a crash, but a "ditching," but only because of Sully's cool-headed landing skills.

I've covered a number of plane crashes, talked with family members of passengers who've died, and survived, and people in neighborhoods who might've been killed, but instead have been awed by the horror that fell near them. I've talked with pilots and investigators and seen a few things you don't really want to see.

And I've noticed one effect of a plane crash on many people is a pulling together. People often realize for a few hours, or days or years, what it's all about. People open up to others, they talk about their feelings, they think about what's really important to them. Some have told me they see things in a different way, with more heart, a deeper feel for pain and joy, or for other human beings.


January 30th, 2009
12:49 PM ET

Is President Obama winning or losing?

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Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

He courts Republicans, gives them their tax cuts, but they don't vote for his bill, and then they say his plan won't work. And Dems stuff gobs of non-job-creating pork into the bill, give him lip about what they think should be done - standing tall upon their roughly 22% approval rating in the face of the President's 68% approval rating last week.

W. didn't put up with this. It was my way or the highway. He didn't compromise on his bills, and his team told GOPers to get in line, or pay for it later.

So even as his stimulus bill winds its way thru the legislative digestive system, some are saying President Obama looks weak as he plays nice and gets back a bunch of 'tude.


January 12th, 2009
09:02 PM ET

Are the Democrats a team, or a Tower of Babel?

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Barclay Palmer
AC360 Senior Producer

Here we have "No Drama Obama," elected by the biggest majority Dems have seen in oh-so-long, about to take office, focused on hitting the ground running with a bi-partisan plan to fix the worst economic crisis since the Depression.. So why have Congressional Democrats been giving him so much lip? And where's that famously bare-knuckled Rahm Emanuel– still warming up in the heavyweight changing room?

Take Durbin. Nice guy and all that. Against seating Roland Burris in the Senate, before he was for it, before he was against it, and now? Ready to seat him, saying "we want to be fair." One option might have been to avoid fanning the fire at the Burris side show - distracting the nation from the President-elect's efforts - and Durbin's other, perhaps more important job - of figuring out how to get the nation out of this mess? (Good job on camera, though!).

And then there's Diane Feinstein, against Panetta for CIA before she was for Panetta-for-CIA-Diane Feinstein. True, you weren't consulted like you should have been. One option might have been to take it up in private. Does taking a slight public make a public official seem a bigger force, or not? Any case, in turning around and saying she now supports Panetta because he will "speak truth to power,” makes one wonder what the fuss was about. But not for very long.

And then John Kerry and Tom Harkin, who unlike Obama ran unsuccessfully for president, and the not as well known Senators Ron Wyden and Kent Conrad publicly criticized the Obama team's proposal to include tax cuts in the stimulus plan.

Yes, there is often value in airing differences in public. That's democracy, right? Hey, next time you could go straight to the press conference and hold your next meeting in public. We'll even offer a CNN Town Hall forum.

But all the conflicting voices raise a couple questions. Are Congressional Democrats setting themselves up to look like obstructionists again? In focusing on their own immediate concerns, do they risk losing the bigger game? Do they think Bill Clinton's success in moving to the center and winning Republican votes offers a useful object lesson.

For that matter, do they think Obama's effort to present an at least somewhat bi-partisan solution to the economic crisis has value... enough value to compromise? Or maybe the bigger question is this: will the Dems in Congress focus on bigger, more difficult job of fixing the economic crisis, or on the easier, but potentially self-defeating, job of getting their opposing views heard as often as possible on TV?

Under Karl Rove, the GOP was famous for maintaining party discipline, staying on message, and winning with one voice. The Democrats, on the other hand, have been compared to the Tower of Babel.

Perhaps Clyburn offered the telling clue on Friday when he said, "Democrats are going to be Democrats. Don't you expect the Democrats to act like Republicans. We're creative thinkers. We don't believe in group think."

Fine. But can you imagine a quarterback saying that right before winning the Super Bowl?

Filed under: Barack Obama • Barclay Palmer • Economy • Raw Politics
January 5th, 2009
01:17 PM ET

What do Gaza, Burris, Richardson and Franken have in common?

Program Note: Join us tonight as Anderson reports LIVE from Israel. AC360° tonight at 10pm ET.

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Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

For the candidate of change, they're all bringing some quick changes. They're all quickly changing Obama's new world order.

Is Israel getting what it wants from its attacks in Gaza...is Hamas getting what it wants? Is the best we can hope for another TEMPORARY end of violence? Egypt keeping its borders closed, preventing humanitarian aide from getting to suffering and dying "fellow Arabs?"

Obama plans a $300 billion tax cut...some say it's to appease critics on the right. Maybe...But Obama has shown a Bill Clinton-like move to the middle in many more ways than this one.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Barclay Palmer • Bill Richardson • Israel • Palestine
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