Supreme Court Wait Continues For Same-Sex Couples

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Marriage equality proponent Kat McGuckin of Oaklyn, New Jersey, holds a gay marriage pride flag while standing in front of the Supreme Court, Nov. 30, 2012.

WASHINGTON — After a weekend of waiting, the Supreme Court issued no word Monday morning on the status of several cases involving same-sex couples’ marriage rights. The justices are scheduled to reconsider the cases at their next conference, Dec. 7.

No new cases were granted in an order list issued on Monday morning, including the cases challenging the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8. None of the cases’ petitions were denied by the court either, meaning they remain before the justices.

The justices had been slated to consider 10 petitions on Nov. 30 asking the court to review various cases challenging DOMA, Proposition 8, and an Arizona law that would rescind domestic partner benefits to state employees. Although it is possible the cases were considered at that conference, the dockets for the petitions were updated Monday morning to state that the justices will consider them at their Dec. 7 conference.

The justices could continue to consider the petitions beyond the Dec. 7 conference; however, that would mean a delay of nearly a month for any likely decision on them, as the next conference after that is not scheduled to take place until the new year, on Jan. 4.

3. The Proposition 8 Case Supreme Court Docket:

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“Veep” Creator Isn’t Paying Too Much Attention To Joe Biden

Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Vice President Joe Biden. Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson. Via

WASHINGTON — It’s no wonder that in Washington, D.C., a place where political (and self-) obsession is the norm, HBO’s show Veep is a hit. The series, which follows fictional Vice President Selina Meyers (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and her staff, is so true to life, its creator Armando Iannucci said people in D.C. are constantly telling him which characters they identify with. And when Louis-Dreyfus went to visit the real Vice President Joe Biden, a staffer introduced himself as “the Dan of the office” — meaning Dan Egan, Meyer’s overly ambitious deputy communications director.

“Everyone here knows a Jonah,” Iannucci said in an interview with BuzzFeed, referencing Jonah Ryan, the annoying White House liaison who can tell you every time the president has so much as looked at him. “Gradually over a number of years, a picture built up of the type of people who are around senior political figures. You get to meet a certain type of chief of staff and communications director. It’s not just what they say, it’s how they say it.”

Biden has even said he’s a fan of the show, but Iannucci says he doesn’t pay much attention to the VP’s real-life (and often mockable) antics. Instead, he says he’s fascinated by how people use the office and why in Washington, nothing seems to get done.

Iannucci is also responsible for the successful British show The Thick of It — a satire of British government. BuzzFeed sat down for an interview with Iannucci in Washington on Wednesday to chat about the difference between British and U.S politics, dysfunction on Capitol Hill, and what he’s reading to keep up with the news. Below is a condensed and edited transcript of our conversation.

How much inspiration do you get from the current events, and dysfunction, in Washington?

Armando Iannucci: We wrote the series and recorded it some time ago, and it’s sort of strangely mirroring what’s going on. So we’ve got debt discussions, and breakdowns, and shutdowns, and now we’re absorbed with a spy scandal. I’m a bit of a political geek anyway, so you tend to write how you think the rhythms of an administration will go. They’ll make mistakes in the first year, gain some ground in the second year, and start enacting legislation in the third year, run for reelection, get reelected, and it starts to go south. Any president’s second term ends up being quite messy. It never goes quite according to plan. So that’s what I had in my head anyway, and the reality is really mirroring that.

Does having Joe Biden as the real vice president make what you do easier?

AI: It helps having him be out there because it helps remind people of the office. There was the old-fashioned view of the vice president that they didn’t do much — like the [Walter] Mondales or the [Dan] Quayles — and actually that role has changed a lot. Al Gore was so close to Clinton; Dick Cheney was very powerful. What’s funny about that office is it’s entirely dependent on how close you are to the president, because the president decides what your role will be. If you get on with the president, that’s great; if you fall out with the president, power can go away.

We’re not out to say this is a particular historic figure like Joe Biden, so I’m not monitoring his moves. What does intrigue me is what kind of day he has — so I look at his diary, his daily engagement. Some days it can be a whole list of things, other days it just says “meeting with advisors,” which sort of suggests sitting in a room watching the television.

What’s interesting about him is he’s been using his Senate experience to keep the channels open between the White House and Congress. Selina does that quite well, but the rug is pulled out from under her by the president. We wanted to show in the second season she has a bit more clout and power and influence. I remember reading about the previous debt-ceiling crisis and Biden had been tasked by Obama to head up a group, and they’d been having endless meetings — and yet the deal that was done was eventually between the president and the speaker. So all that dull, tedious work Biden had done was suddenly gone. Obama said, I have a better idea, so forget it.

Armando Iannucci Stephen Chernin / Reuters

What do you read to keep up with what’s happening in D.C.?

AI: I read Playbook and have all the apps for the Hill and Politico and Washington Post. When I’m in the U.S., I get The New York Times every day. I watch a lot of Fox and just try and listen and see what people are talking about. I also do a lot of reading — not just contemporary stuff, but stuff from the ’60s onward. I like reading about Lyndon Johnson because he was such a powerful figure in the Senate, and then he was sitting in the office waiting for the call and then became the most powerful guy in the world.

Sometimes if there’s a big issue where there’s lot of support, like immigration or gun control, just watching the dynamic play out in the House or Senate: Should we try and get a huge majority to force the House to pass it, or are we going to water it down so much that no one likes it? So rather than read everything, I tend to pick a topic and watch them in great detail.

Veep cast members Julia Louis-Dreyfus (center), Reid Scott (from left), Sufe Bradshaw, Matt Walsh, Timothy C. Simons, Tony Hale, Gary Cole, and Anna Chlumsky. Lacey Terrell/Courtesy HBO / MCT

Your show, The Thick of It, was about British politics. Does Britain or the U.S. have politicians easier to mock?

AI: They are so different: In Britain we can interrogate our prime minister more aggressively, and the media is much more combative in the U.K. It’s a terrible life being a politician in the U.K. I’m amazed by the number of political comebacks in the U.S. — Mark Sanford is a congressman now, Anthony Weiner is running for mayor.

People might be out of office, but they still can have power in D.C. at think tanks or lobbying groups. It’s the same 500 people who still talk to each other. In the U.K., where you are out of power, you are out of power. You have five minutes in the sun and then you are done. You don’t come back.

What do you really think about D.C.?

AI: It reminds me a lot of L.A., and any one industry town is going to be like that. Hollywood is like, “Have you seen today’s Variety? Have you seen the figures?” It reminds me a lot of that. When we were filming In the Loop, which is based in D.C., I said to the British actors, just think back to the first time you went to L.A. and how everyone was so happy to see you and all the meetings you had, and then you went home and you weren’t sure anyone listened to what you had to say.

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This Anti-Gay Tweet That Went Viral Is Actually Fake

1. At 8:13 a.m. — hours before the oral arguments in the Supreme Court’s Proposition 8 case began — this tweet attributed to a Rep. Jack Kimble, a Republican from California’s 54th district, was sent.

5. The only problem is Jack Kimble isn’t really a Congressman. And there aren’t even 54 districts in California. There are only 53.

6. And it’s fooled people before, like this Washington Post reporter in 2010.

7. Jack Kimble is actually a parody account with a website hosted on blogspot.

10. Now you know!

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Children’s Letters To President Obama Urging Gun Control

Susan Walsh / AP

President Obama high-fives 8-year-old letter writer Grant Fitz.

2. Taejah, 10, Georgia

3. Julia, 11, Washington

4. Grant, 8, Maryland

Susan Walsh / AP

President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, left, hugs eight-year-old letter writer Grant Fritz during a news conference on proposals to reduce gun violence, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in the South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washington.

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Obama Gets Mad, Again

Charles Dharapak, File / AP

WASHINGTON — Angry Obama was back at the mics Monday.

Just weeks after a frustrated President Obama stepped to a lectern and insisted he still has “the juice” to get legislation through Congress, a forceful President Obama met the press to try to shut down two stories that threaten to derail his second-term agenda.

Obama is known for not showing a lot of emotion publicly, but lately he’s been much more expressive as he tries to corral a polarized Congress into acting the way he wants. On Monday, he was forceful in his condemnation of reported IRS targeting of conservative groups with extra scrutiny and angry over Republican attacks on his administration’s handling of Benghazi.

Congress is currently obsessed with both stories, and political operatives are already lining up to talk about how they’ll influence the 2014 midterm election and Obama’s political power.

At a joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron where he took only two questions, Obama tried to shut the door on both the IRS and Benghazi stories with passionate answers. The Benghazi accusations offend him deeply, Obama said — and the IRS allegations make him sick.

Obama said he first learned of the IRS story Friday in news reports, the way the rest of the country learned of it. After both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill demanded a full accounting of the IRS’ actions, Obama said he too was deeply concerned.

“I’m not going to comment on [the IRS inspector general’s] findings prematurely, but I can tell you that if you’ve got the IRS operating in anything less than a neutral and non-partisan way, then that is outrageous. It is contrary to our traditions, and people have to be held accountable, and it’s got to be fixed,” he said. “So we’ll wait and see what exactly all the details and the facts are. But I’ve got no patience with it, I will not tolerate it, and we will make sure we find out exactly what happened with this.”

Obama’s IRS answer probably won’t satisfy Republicans demanding a public apology from the president and insisting the story indicates Obama’s White House is run like Nixon’s. But the president put himself on the same page with elected officials of all political stripes Monday who demanded to know more about what happened at the IRS and the firing of those responsible for any malfeasance.

On Benghazi, the president was much more partisan, condemning Republicans for, he said, trying to score political points off the deaths of U.S. diplomats at the American compound in the Libyan city last year.

“The whole issue of talking points, frankly, has been a sideshow. Immediately after this event happened, we were clear who exactly carried it out, how it had occurred, what the motivations were … nobody understood exactly what was taking place during the course of those first few days,” Obama said.

“There’s no there there,” Obama added, speaking of the talking points.

Clearly frustrated by the ongoing Benghazi push in Congress, Obama said Republicans are trying to damage him rather than investigate the deaths of American diplomatic workers.

“The whole thing defies logic, and the fact that this keeps on getting churned out frankly has a lot to do with political motivations,” he said. He referred to Republican attacks on Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice as well as other members of the president’s national security team. Republicans have “used it for fundraising and, frankly, if anybody out there wants to actually focus on how we make sure something like this doesn’t happen again, I am happy to get their advice.”

“We dishonor [diplomats willing to serve in dangerous roles] when we turn things like this into a political circus,” Obama added.

Obama’s Benghazi answers aren’t likely to calm Republican nerves, either, but the president hopes that by showing a little emotion he can quiet down some of the noise on Benghazi and the IRS threatening to drown out the rest of his agenda.

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Free Advice For The Next 9/11 DC Biker Ride

Dear Bikers who participated in the 2 Million Biker ride into Washington DC on September 11th, I hope you had a good time! Just a few thoughts from a resident if you decide to do this again:

1. Know if the “Muslims rally” you’re riding against is really just 23 sad 9/11 Truthers.

Probably not worth protesting:

Not that protesting Muslims is a good idea anyway.

After all, Muslims love their country too, and many of them have died in it’s service.

2. Bring more shiny hand-made mobile memorials. Very nice.

Via Benny Johnson/ BuzzFeed

They are swell.

3. Less ‘Free Pork.’

Via Benny Johnson/ BuzzFeed

No one really wants to eat mystery meat out of the back of your truck and some people might see it as needlessly offensive to the “Million Muslim March.”

Less Muslim “pork” jokes altogether.


Most people will think you are needlessly making fun of someone else’s religion and it will give your group a bad name.


4. More patriotic themed motorcycles please.

5. Less Confederate flags.

Via Benny Johnson/ BuzzFeed

If you want 9/11 to be about remembrance and national unity and all that.

6. More Constitution tattoos.

Via Benny Johnson/ BuzzFeed

7. Less making out in front of the White House and a Prius. It kind of hurts your message.

Via Benny Johnson/ BuzzFeed

8. More hair longer than your wifes.

Via Benny Johnson/ BuzzFeed

9. More bright neon purple bikes.

Benny Johnson/ BuzzFeed

10. Please remember, we all have to get to work in the morning.

11. More intimidating, artistic photos in front of DC monuments.

12. Make an official hashtag. I helps the messaging.

13. Memes can be fun and effective to make a lighthearted point.


Just do not go overboard. The internet will make fun of you.


14. More selfies while riding.

Sara Carter / Via

15. Everyone must ride with a “My other toy has a dick!” sticker.

Benny Johnson/ BuzzFeed

But seriously, enough with the confederate flags.

16. “No!” (stomps feet)

Via Benny Johnson/ BuzzFeed

See ya next year!

17. And please, please knock this bro over next time.

Benny Johnson/ BuzzFeed

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Charles Koch Might Be An Elaborate Stephen Colbert Character

1. Just look at them!

2. Too Andy Kaufmanesque? Let’s try a less weird theory…

3. Perhaps Colbert is just Koch’s long lost son.

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How The CIA Is Kind Of Like A Psychic

From the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, here’s a chart that measures the life expectancy in every country on the planet. Spoiler alert: The U.S. doesn’t do so well. In fact, citizens of Greece, Spain, Japan, Italy, Canada, and 45 other countries live longer than Americans. It’s kind of like the World Cup, but way more depressing.

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Obama, Following Bush, Issues Signing Statement On Detainee Measure

Pool photo by Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images via Abaca Press / MCT

WASHINGTON — President Obama issued a lengthy statement along with his signing of the National Defense Authorization Act, noting that several provisions, including provisions limiting the transfer of detainees in Parwan, Afghanistan and from Guantanamo, “raise constitutional concerns.”

As to both, Obama stated that “my Administration will implement them in a manner that avoids the constitutional conflict.” The statement also asserts that the implementation of other provisions, which Obama stated could interfere with his ability to “conduct diplomacy” and “manage and direct executive branch officials,” will be consistent with and not interfere with his authority.

The use of signing statements, as they are called, was criticized as having the potential to “undermine the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers,” as a panel of the American Bar Association concluded under President George W. Bush, but Obama has continued the practice.

The first specific section Obama mentioned in the signing statement was the military “conscience” provision that bars punishing soldiers and military chaplains for their beliefs. The provision is similar to one advanced by backers of the former ban on open gay and lesbian service, and was added by the House and eventually approved, in compromise language, by Congress.

Of that provision, which purports to require the military to accommodate the beliefs of servicemembers and chaplains regarding their “moral principles or religious beliefs” and prohibit the use of such beliefs as the basis for any “adverse personnel action,” Obama stated:

Section 533 is an unnecessary and ill-advised provision, as the military already appropriately protects the freedom of conscience of chaplains and service members. The Secretary of Defense will ensure that the implementing regulations do not permit or condone discriminatory actions that compromise good order and discipline or otherwise violate military codes of conduct. My Administration remains fully committed to continuing the successful implementation of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and to protecting the rights of gay and lesbian service members; Section 533 will not alter that.

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Conservatives’ New Attack On Immigration Bill: It Costs Too Much

Demonstrators calling for immigration reform march to the Minnesota State Capitol. Jim Mone / AP

WASHINGTON — With the Senate set to begin marking up bipartisan immigration reform legislation, conservatives rolled out a new analysis — and a new message: They charge that a “pathway to citizenship” will cost some $6.3 trillion over the next five decades.

The report, conducted by the Heritage Foundation, is the opening salvo in what is expected to be a politically brutal fight over the coming weeks between different factions of the Republican Party.

The study includes costs associated with local, state and federal benefits like social security and health care benefits that families headed by non-high school graduates would receive. It does not take into account any costs or savings associated with the legislation’s broader reforms to the immigration system and border security — or the economic or tax benefits advocates for the bill hope will come with legalizing a vast gray economy.

The Judiciary Committee will begin formal work on the bipartisan “Gang of Eight“‘s bill this week, a process that is expected to take several weeks.

Although at this point it appears all but certain that the bill will have at least 60 votes when the full Senate takes it up, supporters want to run up the score as much as possible to put pressure on House Republicans to back the bill.

But that could be difficult if conservatives can make claims that the bill will result in a surge in federal spending.

The bipartisan bill, which is being championed on the right by Sen. Marco Rubio, is “like Obamcare, which created numerous new federal programs … [and it] also violates the rule of law that makes our nation a beacon of freedom for people around the world, and its unfair to immigrants who want to come here the right way,” Heritage President Jim DeMint said during a press conference Monday.

“Amnesty will only make the problem worse in the future,” he added, arguing that, “Taxpayers, including immigrants who’ve come here legally, will be saddled with 63 trillion in costs over the next 50 years.”

“No matter how you slice it, amnesty will add a tremendous amount of pressure on America’s already strained public purse,” said the study’s author Robert Rector, Heritage’s senior research fellow in domestic policy studies.

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