"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Sunday, March 31, 2013

DOMA, Prop 8 -- Heads Up

Best, most thorough summary and analysis of the two trials I've seen, by Russ Manley at Blue Truck, Red State, Part I and Part II

They Love the Gays -- They Really Do

Couple of interesting things this morning on how the right is trying to worm out from under the "anti-gay" label. First, from Josh Marshall:

One of the folks we’re talking about just asked me on Twitter, in so many words, What happened to free speech? Now if you don’t agree with gay marriage you’re in trouble? Obviously we all have free speech. But what people usually want with free speech is the ability to speak their mind and not have people think worse of them for it. And on gay rights if not quite yet on full marriage equality, these folks sense they may be losing that right.

It's called the free marketplace of ideas: you put your ideas out there, and they either sink or swim. Sometimes they swim for awhile before they start to sink. What's new and exciting in this is the idea that if people criticize your ideas, you're being persecuted.

A nice footnote on this one comes via Pink News:
The former Archbishop cited a ComRes Poll released yesterday, which revealed two thirds of Christians now believe they are a “persecuted minority”. The poll was commissioned by the Coalition for Marriage, the group that Lord Carey helped to launch to campaign against marriage equality.

He acknowledged that while “few in the UK are actually persecuted”, he felt that David Cameron had “done more than any other recent political leader to feed these anxieties”.

Like the United States, an overwhelming majority of those in England profess Christianity in some form. But they feel persecuted. I think Marshall has the right take on it:

Or, to put it more bluntly, they say they’re losing their right to calls gays gross and weird.

And from Think Progress, this one:

Conservatives have long claimed that they’re somehow the victim of persecution when they’re called bigots for opposing same-sex marriage, like when Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said at CPAC, “Just because I believe states should have the right to define marriage in a traditional way does not make me a bigot.” But conservatives are adding a novel layer to this trite argument, claiming they actually very much support gay people.

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, who recently said that gay couples can never achieve the same intimacy as straight couples, opened Tuesday’s anti-gay Marriage March rally on the National Mall with the following plea:

CORDILEONE: I want to begin with a word to those who disagree with us on this issue and may be watching us right now: we love you, we are your neighbors, and we want to be your friends, and we want you to be happy.

Please understand that we don’t hate you, and that we are not motivated by animus or bigotry; it is not our intention to offend anyone, and if we have, I apologize; please try to listen to us fairly, and calmly, and try to understand us and our position, as we will try to do the same for you.

His Church is the one who claims that we are "intrinsically morally disordered." And Cordileone himself said that
Two men and two women can certainly have a close loving committed emotional relationship, but they can never ever join as one flesh in the unique way a husband and wife do. [...]

But he really loves us poor, intrinsically disordered beings with our second-rate relationships. (And have you noticed how with "Christians," it always comes back to sex?) Read the whole article -- it's pretty illuminating in the contrast between what they say for general consumption and what they preach to the choir.

They just don't get it, do they?

Ah, yes -- the world leader

But not in Internet/cable. We pay much more than they do in Europe, and get so much less.

I've been thinking again about getting a cell phone, and all the plans are the same. First off, it's insane that you have to sign a contract for phone service. It's insane that your carrier can lock your phone so you can't switch to another provider -- after you've bought the phone. (And it's illegal to unlock it. Guess who owns what. Legislators should just come with price tags.) I lose Internet service about every other week. And it's not particularly fast. I don't do cable TV -- I stream videos, but even then, if it's a busy night, the streaming sucks. So we get barely adequate service.

This video was via Chris Ryan at AmericaBlog. According to him, a basic TV and Internet package in Europe is about $36. I haven't seen anything here for less than $50.

Oh, and that "oligopoly"? It's not just in wireless services. It's in everything.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

DOMA, Prop 8, and All That Jazz (Updated)

No, I haven't been posting breathlessly on the latest developments in the Supreme Court marriage cases. Everyone else has, so I haven't needed to. Besides, I'm caught in a vast sea of inertia right now -- cabin fever, mostly. At any rate, my guesses on outcomes:

Prop 8: The Court will punt on standing. If the Proponents have no Article III standing, and that seems to be the direction the Court is headed, the district court decision stands. Marriages begin in California in June. Limited, but Judge Walker's opinion, if not precedential, is still good support for future cases. It's also broader than the 9th Circuit's opinion, which is better.

DOMA: DOMA is dead. It looks as though there are at least five votes against it right now, and I wouldn't be surprised for at least one more to appear. DOMA is vulnerable both on Equal Protection grounds (the four liberal justices seem to be coming down on this one) and states' rights (which seems to be Kennedy's obsession). I was sort of surprised at the emphasis the justices placed on the administration's failure to defend it in court while still enforcing it. That's just weird: as I've always understood it, the executive is required to enforce the law. That's what it does. It is not, however, required to defend a law it believes is unconstitutional, and doing so does not mark a departure from practice for the Obama administration. Presidents have been declining to defend laws since Reagan, at least, and it's never caused a ripple. (Update: Here's a short post from the Volokh Conspiracy with some history on that. It goes back much farther than I thought.)

One interesting thing: the reactions from the right have been, as you might expect, full of doom and gloom, up to and including the end of civilization as we know it. (Seriously -- that one's from Tony Perkins, as quoted at Joe.My.God.) And we've got "social engineering," courtesy of Mat Staver, also via JMG. (As though every major civil rights decision did not involve "social engineering" -- no to mention integration of the armed forces.) Polygamy and incest, from none other than Bill Donohue of the seemingly one-man Catholic League. Interestingly enough, they're all preaching to the choir -- all those quotes are from publications directed to the "faithful." I've not seen anything from these people in the major news outlets, which leads me to believe that no one's asking them for an opinion. That in itself is interesting.

Another facet of this: have you noticed the spate of politicians coming out in favor of same-sex marriage over the past week or so? Starting with Rob Portman, which is significant enough (conservative Republican from Ohio), but a whole new group of Democratic senators are now on board, and a few others as well. (Delicious: NY State Sen. "Reverend" Ruben Diaz' son has issued a public statement supporting SSM. He's the borough president of the Bronx.)

Lots of coverage and good analysis at SCOTUSblog, including transcripts and audio of the arguments. And Ari Ezra Waldman has done his usual clear, concise analysis at Towleroad, both on Prop 8 (here and here) and on DOMA (here and here).

And that's all I'm going to say about it for now.

There's apparently no "Marriage Watch" video from AFER this week, but there's lots of commentary on the Prop 8 case at their YouTube channel.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Somebody Likes to Dance

I couldn't resist posting this:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Marriage News Watch

with Matt Baume:

You Can Always Count on Bill Maher

There was so much stupidity in the news this morning I almost gave up, but then I ran across this:

At least someone is using his brains.

What Are They Thinking?

Silly question -- we're talking about the banksters and the IMF in the eurozone. They're not thinking at all, or if they are, it's about how to save their own asses, and to hell with everyone else. Two posts on this from Hullabaloo, first from David Atkins:

Cypriots reacted with shock that turned to panic on Saturday after a 10% one-off levy on savings was forced on them as part of an extraordinary 10bn euro (£8.7bn) bailout agreed in Brussels.

People rushed to banks and queued at cash machines that refused to release cash as resentment quickly set in. The savers, half of whom are thought to be non-resident Russians, will raise almost €6bn thanks to a deal reached by European partners and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He's quoting this, but I don't know who from -- no link provided. Atkins' own comment echoes my own feelings on this:

This policy of directly punishing the middle class and poor for the sins of the banking establishment by simply stealing their money is a new and striking development. How creating a run on banks is supposed to help the Cypriot economy out of recession is anybody's guess.

So the economic gurus figure that the way to solve the problem they created is to screw the victims. Again. And what did they think people were going to do once the news got out? Sit there and say, "Oh, take some more of my money."?

Digby has a follow-up in which she quotes Felix Salmon extensively. It's hard to excerpt, so read the whole thing, but the headline is a good summary:
"A last-resort desperation move, born of an unholy combination of procrastination, blackmail, and sleep-deprived gamesmanship"

These are the people who are supposed to be fixing things, and they just keep making it work.

Friday, March 15, 2013

All Fathers Should Be Like This One

I don't think I need to comment on this:

Sorry for the size on this -- Blogger has decided that I don't need to edit images. Here's a transcript, via Towleroad:


I overheard your phone conversation with Mike last night about your plans to come out to me. The only thing I need you to plan is to bring home OJ and bread after class. We are out, like you now.

I’ve known you were gay since you were six, I’ve loved you since you were born.

- Dad

P.S. Your mom and I think you and Mike make a cute couple.

I mean, what more needs to be said?

They Can't Help Themselves

Tone-deaf, to say the least (AP, via NOM Exposed):

"You're looking at what is the best course society wide to get you the optimal result in the widest variety of cases. That often is not open to people in individual cases. Certainly adoption in families headed, like Chief [Justice] Roberts' family is, by a heterosexual couple, is by far the second-best option," said John Eastman, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage. Eastman also teaches law at Chapman University law school in Orange, Calif.

I'm sure Eastman meant it to be a positive comment, but the way it's being interpreted (at least in the gay blogosphere) is anything but -- the take is that the's slamming adoptive families. Positive or not, I wonder how the Chief Justice would react to being called "second best."

Read the AP story -- it's very interesting.

What it takes (Updated)

is knowing someone gay. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has had a change of heart on same-sex marriage:

Update: Here's an op ed by Portman in the Columbus Dispatch. There is one bit I take exeption to:
The process of citizens persuading fellow citizens is how consensus is built and enduring change is forged. That’s why I believe change should come about through the democratic process in the states. Judicial intervention from Washington would circumvent that process as it’s moving in the direction of recognizing marriage for same-sex couples. An expansive court ruling would run the risk of deepening divisions rather than resolving them.
Um, no, Senator -- people do not get to vote on my civil rights. That's one reason we have the federal judiciary -- to protect those rights from the "whim of the people." (See Romer v. Evans on that score.) I'm perfectly happy to have the courts upholding the right of everyone to marry the person of their choice. That way, if someone doesn't like it, they have to rewrite the Constitution, and as we've seen, it's not that easy. Not even for marriage. There's a fair amount of irony in the piece, if you know anything of Portman's record (consistently anti-gay). I'm sure it's unintentional.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

You Mean There's More Than One?

Of Higgs bosons, that is. But they've found one:

Physicists announced Thursday they believe they have discovered the subatomic particle predicted nearly a half-century ago, which will go a long way toward explaining what gives electrons and all matter in the universe size and shape.

The elusive particle, called a Higgs boson, was predicted in 1964 to help fill in our understanding of the creation of the universe, which many theorize occurred in a massive explosion known as the Big Bang. The particle was named for Peter Higgs, one of the physicists who proposed its existence, but it later became popularly known as the "God particle."

Here's the part that stopped me:

"The preliminary results with the full 2012 data set are magnificent and to me it is clear that we are dealing with a Higgs boson, though we still have a long way to go to know what kind of Higgs boson it is," said Joe Incandela, a physicist who heads one of the two main teams at CERN, each involving several thousand scientists.

"What kind of Higgs boson it is." Now there's some fine-tuning.

This is sort of mind-blowing, in a good sort of way -- as I always say, the more we learn about the universe, the more fascinating it becomes.

Strangely enough, I can't seem to find a picture of it.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

It's March, 2013

And we've already started hearing about the 2016 presidential election.

Don't these people have anything better to do with their time?

I mean, besides giving Paul Ryan a tongue bath.

As of Today

Catch up, link dump.

Colorado's civil unions bill has passed both chambers of the legislature and now goes to Gov. John Hickenlooper, who has said he will sign. The vote in the House was rather lopsided -- 39-26.

The Minnesota marriage equality bill has sailed through committee hearings in both chambers, and is now ready for floor votes.

Illinois GOP party chairman Pat Brady has survived an attempt by James Oberweis to oust him for his support of the Marriage Fairness Etc. Act -- the special meeting Oberweis called for that purpose has been cancelled. Looks like Oberweis didn't have the votes. I honestly don't think that was ever going to happen -- the GOP fringe doesn't have a lot of traction here, and Oberweis seems to make a lot of noise and not deliver. And on same-sex marriage in particular, it's not that there's overwhelming support, but there's not overwhelming opposition, either. Remember, Peter LaBarbera couldn't get enough signatures on an advisory referendum petition to even file the damned thing.

PolicyMic says there are twelve states that will legalize marriage by the end of next year. Here's their layout. (Cancel that -- follow the link for the table. Blogger has decided to be an asshole and won't let me put in the image at a decent size.)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Marriage Watch with Matt Baume

Today's edition:

Did I Say "Hit Job"? (Update, Update II)

It turns out the much-touted Regnerus study was intended as a political tool from the very beginning. From American Independent:
The conservative funders who bankrolled a flawed and widely cited academic study that's critical of gay marriage choreographed its release in time to influence “major decisions of the Supreme Court,” documents show.

The documents, recently obtained through public-records requests by The American Independent and published in collaboration with The Huffington Post, show that the Witherspoon Institute recruited a professor from a major university to carry out a study that was designed to manipulate public policy. In communicating with donors about the research project, Witherspoon’s president clearly expected results unfavorable to the gay-marriage movement.

It gets worse. Read the whole article.

Based on the timing, the fact that it was fast-tracked for publication (James Wright's claim that he had no idea of the political angle is disingenuous, at best), the active involvement of a member of Witherspoon's staff in the data analysis (and that Regnerus lied about that), it was obviously meant as a political move. It's nice to have the evidence.

It's also worth noting that an amicus brief filed by the American Psychological Association, among others, thoroughly debunks the study.

Via Joe.My.God.

Here's the report, with thanks to StraightGrandmother via J.M.G.

Update II: Here's a discussion of the history of the project, as revealed by the documents, by Philip Cohen. (With thanks to StraightGrandmother yet again.)

Friday, March 08, 2013

Father Is Older Than We Thought

A discovery that moves our ancestry back just a little bit -- like 200,000 years. From New Scientist:

Michael Hammer, a geneticist at the University of Arizona in Tucson, heard about Perry's unusual Y chromosome and did some further testing. His team's research revealed something extraordinary: Perry did not descend from the genetic Adam. In fact, his Y chromosome was so distinct that his male lineage probably separated from all others about 338,000 years ago.

"The Y-chromosome tree is much older than we thought," says Chris Tyler-Smith at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, UK, who was not involved in the study. He says further work will be needed to confirm exactly how much older.

Here's the abstract to the published study at The American Journal of Human Genetics:
We report the discovery of an African American Y chromosome that carries the ancestral state of all SNPs that defined the basal portion of the Y chromosome phylogenetic tree. We sequenced ∼240 kb of this chromosome to identify private, derived mutations on this lineage, which we named A00. We then estimated the time to the most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) for the Y tree as 338 thousand years ago (kya) (95% confidence interval = 237–581 kya). Remarkably, this exceeds current estimates of the mtDNA TMRCA, as well as those of the age of the oldest anatomically modern human fossils. The extremely ancient age combined with the rarity of the A00 lineage, which we also find at very low frequency in central Africa, point to the importance of considering more complex models for the origin of Y chromosome diversity. These models include ancient population structure and the possibility of archaic introgression of Y chromosomes into anatomically modern humans. The A00 lineage was discovered in a large database of consumer samples of African Americans and has not been identified in traditional hunter-gatherer populations from sub-Saharan Africa. This underscores how the stochastic nature of the genealogical process can affect inference from a single locus and warrants caution during the interpretation of the geographic location of divergent branches of the Y chromosome phylogenetic tree for the elucidation of human origins.

Via Jonathan Turley.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Best Take

on the Orson Scott Card/Superman controversy that I've seen so far, from Alyssa Rosenberg at ThinkProgress. The designated artist, Chris Sprouse, has withdrawn for what seem to be intelligent reasons:

“It took a lot of thought to come to this conclusion, but I’ve decided to step back as the artist on this story,” Sprouse said in a statement released Tuesday. “The media surrounding this story reached the point where it took away from the actual work, and that’s something I wasn’t comfortable with."

Emphasis on "took away from the actual work." He's right on the nose with that one. Rosenberg's comment:

This strikes me as one of the best possible outcomes we could have hoped for in this case. I know a lot of people would have liked to see Card summarily dismissed, but that seems like a decision that could have made him a martyr for people who don’t actually understand how First Amendment rights function, and might have limited the incident to a one-off, requiring more organizing the next time a comics company hired Card to write a title. What Sprouse’s decision does is illustrate something more useful: a shift in the market that suggests Card isn’t a good choice to work with because his active work to ban equal marriage rights and to recriminalize homosexuality make it impossible for his work to stand alone as fiction.

I'm in agreement with Rosenberg's stance: I have no patience with those who were calling for DC to "fire" Card -- I mean, he was signed for two issues, FTLOP. "Fire" him? But Rosenberg picked up on the key point in Sprouse's statement, which I haven't seen from any other commentator (even me!): there's too much baggage for the story to be stand alone. People will be coming into this loaded for bear, and that's not what DC is after, I think. DC has been a little slow to pick up on the cultural shift regarding gay rights, but maybe they'll figure it out eventually.

Talk About Out of Left Field

Michigan may be No. 10 in the same-sex marriage sweepstakes.

Two Detroit-area nurses filed a lawsuit to try to overturn restrictions on adoption by same-sex partners. But at the judge's invitation, the case took an extraordinary turn and now will test the legality of a 2004 constitutional amendment that stipulates Michigan only recognizes marriages between a man and a woman.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman will hear arguments in the case Thursday at a Detroit law school, although he hasn't indicated when he'll make a ruling. If he concludes the amendment violates the U.S. Constitution, gay-marriage supporters say same-sex couples would immediately be allowed to wed and adopt children.

State officials, however, predict "potential legal chaos" if the judge throws out the gay marriage ban.

It's interesting that it's the judge who suggested challenging the marriage ban. It's also interesting that the judge is a Reagan appointee. (Although the political party of those on the bench hasn't seemed to have made much difference in these cases.)

The "potential legal chaos" argument is funny -- as in, that's all you can come up with? Seems to me it would clean up a lot of issues in Michigan's family laws. And the best the state can come up with is the same tired old arguments that have failed in every case so far:

In a court filing, the Michigan attorney general's office said there's no "fundamental right to same-sex marriage."

"Michigan's marriage amendment bears a reasonable relation to legitimate state interests," the state said. "Michigan supports natural procreation and recognizes that children benefit from being raised by parents of each sex who can then serve as role models of the sexes both individually and together in matrimony. Plaintiffs fail to allege facts showing there is no rational basis for these legitimate state interests."

Yeah, sure. None of those "interests" has anything to do with excluding same-sex couples from marriage. It would be refreshing if one of these briefs had some contact with reality, instead of being based on someone's personal prejudices.

Name Two of the Valar

This is pretty interesting. I'm probably going to go see Oz the Great and Powerful tomorrow, and James Franco is someone who's crept onto my radar. Stick around for the end.

Via AmericaBlog.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Marriage News Watch

I think I'm going to start posting these on Fridays (or Mondays, or whenever they come out) -- a nice, concise summary of the state of marriage equality.

Besides, Matt Baume is adorable.

And Now for Something Completely Different

My favorite song from String Sisters Live.

The whole concert is on YouTube.

Grab Bag

I find myself leaving comments on other blogs lately more than I'm posting here, so I thought I'd include links to a few of those stories that elicted a response, even if I didn't always post it.

From Pink News: Spain: Conservative ministers distance themselves from colleague’s anti-gay ‘survival of species’ argument

I always wonder just how this is supposed to happen -- with nearly 7 billion of us on this planet, how are we supposed to go extinct if the government recognizes my (alas, at this point only hypothetical) marriage?

From Towleroad: San Francisco 49er Chris Culliver Visits The Trevor Project as Follow-Up to Apology for Anti-Gay Remarks

I lit into the commenters on this one -- there were a couple who just don't want to accept what is obviously a sincere apology and attempt to do better. Question posed to them: What has happened to you in your life that you're convinced everyone is lying to you?

From Good As You: NOM's Roback Morse repeats belief that gays are to be chaste, live non-sexual lives

I don't know what Jennifer Roback Morse is a doctor of, but I certainly hope its not psychology. Another shill for the Catholic Church.

From Pam's House Blend, a post by Alvin McEwen: Robert Jeffress – tone-deaf homophobe for Jesus?

I couldn't watch more than 47 seconds of the video -- it took him 20 seconds to lie about gays and pedophilia. He's a disgusting person, but there are some good comments.

From Joe.My.God: Take THAT, Lech Walesa

You may have seen a story about Lech Walesa's bigoted remarks about gays and transgenders. The Polish parliament made what I think is an appropriate response. I didn't comment -- it's hardly necessary.

That should be enough for today.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Key Quote

I've noticed a lot of people bitching and moaning that the Administration's brief in support of the Respondents in the Prop 8 trial didn't call for repealing all anti-marriage laws and amendments. I just ran across this in a transcript of his press conference yesterday that states why:

Q And given the fact that you do hold that position about gay marriage, I wonder if you thought about just -- once you made the decision to weigh in, why not just argue that marriage is a right that should be available to all people of this country?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, that's an argument that I’ve made personally. The Solicitor General in his institutional role going before the Supreme Court is obliged to answer the specific question before them. And the specific question presented before the Court right now is whether Prop 8 and the California law is unconstitutional.

And what we’ve done is we’ve put forward a basic principle, which is -- which applies to all equal protection cases. Whenever a particular group is being discriminated against, the Court asks the question, what’s the rationale for this -- and it better be a good reason. And if you don't have a good reason, we’re going to strike it down.

And what we’ve said is, is that same-sex couples are a group, a class that deserves heightened scrutiny, that the Supreme Court needs to ask the state why it’s doing it. And if the state doesn't have a good reason, it should be struck down. That's the core principle as applied to this case.

Now, the Court may decide that if it doesn't apply in this case, it probably can't apply in any case. There’s no good reason for it. If I were on the Court, that would probably be the view that I’d put forward. But I’m not a judge, I’m the President. So the basic principle, though, is let’s treat everybody fairly and let’s treat everybody equally. And I think that the brief that's been presented accurately reflects our views.

Any questions? Anyone?

Via C&L.

Digby also has some thoughts on Obama's evolution, with a link to this analysis by bmaz at Emptywheel. Bmaz is another who called for total repeal, now, but he also cites a quote from Ted Boutrous, an attorney for Respondents, that lays out what I think is the Administration's thinking:

Their arguments from start to finish would apply to other states,” he said. “The argument of the day (against same-sex marriage) is the responsible pro-creation argument. The United States takes it apart piece by piece. It’s those same types of arguments that are used in other jurisdictions to justify the exclusion of gays and lesbians from marriage.

Once again: Any questions?

Friday, March 01, 2013

I was thinking of doing this myself

But fortunately, the office of the City Attorney of San Fransico beat me to it. A list of all the briefs filed in support of the Respondents (that's the good guys) in Hollingsworth v. Perry, with links to PDFs.

Phew. That was a close call.

The "Eight State Solution"

Everyone seems to be focusing on that, from the Administration's Prop 8 brief. What they're missing, I think, is two-fold: the Fourteenth Amendment argument lays a strong foundation for finding all those 30-odd marriage amendments and state DOMAs unconstitutional, even if the Administration isn't calling for that specifically. (And it can't really -- given its position on states' rights in its DOMA brief, and Obama's stated position that he'd rather leave it to the states, that would be ludicrous.) If the Court accepts that argument, it leaves all those laws and amendments even more vulnerable to challenge than they already are.

What's really important is the call for heightened scrutiny of anti-gay laws in general, which is what the scrutiny argument boils down to. If the Court decides that gays as a class fall under the criteria for heightened scrutiny -- and not only the Administration's brief, but AFER's as well, make a very strong argument for that, as do the filings in U.S. v. Windsor -- those state anti-marriage amendments are toast.

Remember, this is Obama we're dealing with. He's a strategic thinker, not a tactician, and doesn't lay all his cards out. He's setting up a game-plan while maintaining his states' rights stance on marriage. I really wish he wouldn't do that, but he does.

Michelle in 2016!

She's got my vote.

She said she was astounded by the buzz about cutting her hair to add bangs, which she unveiled on her birthday, just before inauguration weekend.

Asked if she was surprised that the bangs made the news, Mrs. Obama said: "I was, I have to say. I'm like, 'it's a haircut.'"