Mike BallIn homage to Thanksgiving, Mike shifted from the usual politics to food. This was a show about his upbringing, family gardens, Boomer lack of choices, his grandparents, shopping open-air markets, and stocking a pantry and a spice cabinet.

His WV grandparents grew and made the food. He learned by doing from elementary school by cooking for his working mother. He loves all aspects of food, from farming to selecting to preserving to prep to cooking to eating.

There is special emphasis on open-air markets, like Boston’s Haymarket. Walk through once to scope out the choices, quality and prices, then a second time to buy. That lets you plan the week’s menu based on the treasures you have in your bags.

Likewise, he advises stocking your pantry and spice racks well. Your ideal should be to have at hand what you need to work out of your fridge and pantry to make a whole meal.

Otherwise, next week may be a bye. We have lots of guests for our big meal and our ensuing battle of the pies. Then it’s back to politics.

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Marc Solomon mug, from his websiteMarc Solomon is justifiably flogging his newly published Winning Marriage: The Inside Story of how Same-Sex Couples took on the Politicians and Pundits — and Won. He is national campaign director for Freedom to Marry and has been a key player in several rights groups for 13 years.

Eager-Reader Note: You can order his book through his website. Click on the title above to go there.

In fundamentally another stop on his book tour, Solomon came on to answer past, present and future questions about marriage equality in the U.S., as well as describing what’s in WMTISOHSSCTOTPAPAW. We’re not huge on promoting books. That’s for the likes of The Daily Show. However, I think this is one is really timely, very important, and with a strong local angle.

Solomon admits we aren’t quite to full marriage equality yet, but expects it soon. He figures that with or without Chief Justice John Roberts’ vote, the Supreme Court will expand it to the nation, likely this term, by the end of June 2015.

Getting there has not been easy nor linear. Click the player below to hear some of the road blocks and struggles. He recounts the anguish of California’s Prop 8, which stripped legislated equality away, only to have it restored in another initiative. There, then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger “punted” as Solomon put it, after vetoing SSM twice and claiming the courts should decide. In the end though, Schwarzenegger aided the cause by not fighting the result.

Solomon also recalled the struggle to keep marriage equality alive in MA, the first state to legalize it, with the Goodridge decision of our Supreme Judicial Court. Efforts to overturn that pivoted on a ballot initiative that would require only 25% of the combined bicameral legislature to put to a risky vote. Listen in as Solomon describes what worked in MA and later elsewhere. Convincing lawmakers to support equality required gay couples, many with children, to visit their Reps and Senators to simultaneously present themselves and plead the case. That made the difference here and elsewhere.

While that campaign went on, Solomon said the pro-marriage-equality forces often felt the whole world opposed them — leadership in the Vatican, the commonwealth’s Republican party, local pols like Sen. John Kerry, and national ones like Karl Rove. He talks about how their strategy won the day, even with legislators from rural and more conservative urban areas.

Now, Solomon says, the anti- forces have pretty much lost their strength. The Catholic Church has shifted its position, the Mormon Church has backed away, and the professional anti-gay groups have much less support as the nation favors SSM by 60% or more.

For one point, Solomon is much kinder to President Barack Obama than I on the issue. Many political insiders hold that Obama was always pro-SSM but cynically held off saying so before his first election. I am incredulous that he and his wife, both lawyers with him also a former law professor, certainly knew the distinction between religious ritual and civil marriage.Solomon, who was privy to White House thinking, phrases the process leading to Obama’s support for equality differently. Solomon sees a very narrow range where politicians feel comfortable making definitive statement on controversial issues. “It’s simply the way the political process works,” he said.

~Mike

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Evan FalchukAlthough the polls disagreed, Evan Falchuk was spot on when he spoke with Left Ahead in September. He stated firmly that he and running mate Angus Jennings would get 3% or more as Gov./lG candidates this month. They got 3.3%

He came on again to talk about what that 3% threshold means — recognition of his United Independent Party by MA, a big increase in how much they can raise from each donor, and what the next steps are to build on the party status.

UIP Platofrm: The detailed and comprehensive party platform is on its site here.

The instant pundit cliché for Falchuk’s recent run is that he won by losing. That is, as he told us two months ago, it would be a real long shot for him to win the top office, but he was positive of the 3%. That cliché seems to assume the UIP is one and done, much like the pale and frail Green-Rainbow Party.

He and I got down into some gears today, aspects I haven’t heard in other interviews with him. Well, neither of us is shy or tricksy, as Gollum might say. Click the player below to listen in to hear about the likes of:

  • Where did this elaborate platform come from? (A big part of the answer is that a group of 56 “concerned citizens” agreed on the content and specifics.)
  • If front-man Falchuk disappears what happens? (He alleges they are set up for that and have a deep bench of involved members.)
  • Can and will Falchuk keep pouring in personal money to keep the UIP afloat? (No. They’ll refuse superPAC money, but with the new fund-raising rules as an official party, they expect to get plenty to survive.)
  • Can they enroll over 40,000 voters in the UIP to keep the party alive? (That’s a big push already underway now and they fully expect to do that so they don’t have to worry about percentages in future elections.)
  • Can they get candidates to run? (They already have offers from over 20 and are just beginning to recruit. So, yes.)
  • What offices will the UIP be able to and seek to win going forward? (Until the next gubernatorial race, they look to run for legislative offices.)
  • Do Falchuk and Jennings feel like spoilers, Nadar-ish? (No data don’t support that.)

Listen in as Falchuk describes the UIP plans. He also dishes on the cynicism of Dem Martha Coakley and GOP Charlie Baker. Neither would be specific in their planks, in contrast to the UIP platform. He attributes that to their desire to avoid getting called when they alter or reverse positions (maybe in response to donations). He says that’s the real advantage of being specific and sticking to it.

~Mike

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The double feature this week will be United Independent Party founder Evan Falchuk and then Freedom To Marry national campaign director Marc Solomon.

The UIP earned full party status in MA for its 3% of the vote 11/4. Of course, I’ll ask what’s next, when they will field a full slate, and how they convert voters to members. If you can listen to Falchuk live,click here Monday 11/10 at 2:30PM.

The following day, Solomon will discuss his just-published book, Winning Marriage: Thke Instide Story of how Same-Sex Couples Took on the Poloiticians adn Pundits - and Won. He was a key player from the beginning in MA, CA and elsewhere. I’ll have him expand on key events and maybe get an insider’s view of President Obama’s evolution (ahem). If you can listen live, click here Tuesday 11/11 at 2:30 Eastern.

Both shows will be available to hear or download on demand at their URLs, back here at Left Ahead or on our iTunes page.

MA nods GOP

November 5, 2014 | Comments Off

In a rambling recap of yesterday’s election results, Inever even got to the US Rep race and such, only touched on the cabinet-level votes and such. Instead it was Republican Charlie Baker winning the governorship, views on the national trends and a long detour into New Hampshire’s US Senate race (Jeanne Shaheen v. Scott Brown).

I think Baker will remain wishy-washy. He has only recently and after his slim victory promised to reveal a platform and what will pass for a vision (how do you elect a governor without knowing what he’s about?!). He came to office with a very right wing LG, Karyn Polito. She was on four years ago here when she ran for MA treasurer; you can hear her here. I don’t expect her to be a policy maker or to have much impact unless Baker drops dead.

The rest of the cabinet is largely women. Had Coakley won, it would have been a more impressive sweep,with her bringing Kerrigan along as LG. Suzanne Bump won another auditor term, Coakley protege Maura Healey will be AG, and Deb Goldberg treasurer. Otherwise MA voters maintained their foible of not electing women as Gov. (and only very recently one (Elizabeth Warren) as US Senator. That’s a real standout nationwide; it’s a commonwealth neurosis.

I also contend that Democrats failed the nation as they did themselves in losing offices by hiding from President Obama. Had they run on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and highlighted the great jobs and economy numbers under his administration, they would have been seen on the winning team and would have come out winners, instead of ceding the Senate to the GOP. Pretty dumb.

The interactive map of MA by town and county shows were Baker and Coakley prevailed. See it here. She owned the urban areas and Westen liberal section, he where the well-off conservatives count their possession. Thus it has long been left/right here.

~Mike

icon for podpress  MA Elections Recap [31:13m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

No surprise and a surprise.

Next Wednesday (no, not the usual Tuesday) will be a recap of the 2014 election, with emphasis on the Massachusetts subset. The following Tuesday (yes, the regular Tuesday) the guest will be Marc Solomon teeing off his new book Winning Marriage: Thke Instide Story of how Same-Sex Couples Took on the Poloiticians adn Pundits - and Won.

You can wait a day for the bookstores for Marc’s book or pre-order it through links on his website.

Of course, I’ll hit the highlights of how such a vet of the marriage-equality struggle sees how we lagged than jumped so far so fast. I’ll dig for insights as with our President and ask what he sees positive and negative coming up.

If you want to hear alleged wit and wisdom no the election, click here Wednesday, Nov. 5 at 2:30PM Eastern. Likewise, to hear Marc live six days later, click here Tuesday, Nov. 11 at 2:30 Eastern. Both shows will be on-demand afterward at their URLs, back here at Left Ahead or on our iTunes page.

Fill your MA pot with Dems…except maybe the governor. Republicans finally managed to fill in the statewide slate (although certainly not the local offices by far), but their clowns are neither as entertaining nor as engaging.

Mike talked about what’s certain and what’s likely next week. Many offices have solid incumbents who are unopposed or have weak GOP opposition. In the US Senate, Markey will crush Herr and in Mike’s US Rep race, Capuano has zero contest.Incumbent Treasurer Galvin and Auditor Bump will coast against bland opponents. In the AG race, newbie Healey (who has been a regular biggie in Coakley’s office is an order of magnitude stronger than GOP Miller. In the other big open office, Treasurer (incumbent Grossman stepped down to run for governor), Dem Deb Goldberg is way smarter and more accomplished than Republican Heffernan.

Most of the show went to the top race. Maybe the real value-add here was Mike’s judgment about the huge opportunity Coakley blew in last evening’s debate. She has one more chance in the last smile-and-spit content tonight on WCVB at 7PM. Baker opened himself up to ruin big time by retorting to criticism about his brutal Harvard Pilgrim turnaround tactics by asking her if she could have done better. She’d better be ready next time with a big “Yes!” and details.

Of course, next week’s show will be one day late, on Wednesday, Nov. 5, to accommodate for the election. If you can catch it live do so 11/5 at 2:30PM here.

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Comment away on this post if you have thoughts on denial and particularly why we need to do it. I did not get call-in listeners for this show, so comments are the next best.

I took a break from politics to rant a bit and play the lunch-counter psychologist. I spoke a bit about mt experiences living on the NYC block with the Hell’s Angels, but mostly it was about denial.

If a neighbor does something bad, like murder, we say it can’t have happened. We knew him and therefore that isn’t true. Likewise, if there are a series of crimes, it can’t happen here; that’s stuff for other neighborhoods. Like Keene NH’s pumpkin riot, it was likely outside agitators not the sterling locals, right?

However, there’s the other side of it. After 9-11, every turnpike-exit town wanted Homeland Security money, gear and troops. Surely, the terrorists recognized what a wonderful place they inhabited, and therefore, would head there to bomb and kill, eh? Well, no.

This was a pure rant day. I’d love your thoughts.

~Mike

Beyond that, expect an election analysis of both Congress and the MA voting on Wednesday, November 5th at 2:30PM Eastern (a day later than usual to account for the voting). We also expect to have MA gubernatorial candidate for the Dems on again before the election. We’ll shoehorn her in whenever her schedule permits, so check back here for when.

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It’s hard to avoid the word play that GLAD is glad. Today’s Left Ahead show with Gary Buseck was pretty jolly. He is the legal director and interim executive director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders. Looking at the huge, sudden jump from 19 states with marriage equality to 30 or 35, he’d need a lot of be down.

When the SCOTUS declined to hear multiple cases from federal courts asking to uphold their same-sex-marriage bans, in effect the nine ruled that those bans were unconstitutional, that marriages should proceed. Yes, here and there an attorney general or governor makes a display of pretending to appeal or fight, but it’s kicking against the goads as the ancient Greek used to say.

GLAD was directly involved in the recent Utah case and in numerous others to expand or defend equality elsewhere. Buseck admits to being surprised that the Supreme Court refused to hear any of the cases and that the non-action was without dissent.

We spoke the unresolved federal districts, the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 11th. While those who have weighed in have all upheld federal court rulings against bans, if one district has a different finding (in this case overturning decisions on the unconstitutionality of such state laws or amendments), that would trigger a SCOTUS case to settle the difference. Buseck was unsure if any of those district courts would swim against this judicial tide.

Instead, he spoke at length at how the SCOTUS itself was loath to break ground on huge issues. Rather, they tend to follow the nation and its legal trends. He noted that the high judiciary has neither the power of the purse nor that of an army. So, it goes with persuasion and reliance on settled case law. With same-sex marriage, the preponderance of law is now solidly on the side of equality.

However, he did note the wild card of SCOTUS composition. With a five-to-four majority favoring equality, the potential retirement of 1, 2 or 3 of those justices, coupled with a GOP-lead government could make a dramatic difference in current trends. Of course, he’d like the SCOTUS to settle this before that is an issue or possibility.

Listen is as we warily speak to the certainty of continued opposition and obstruction in the face of inevitability of nationwide marriage equality. He referenced recent mention (by Prop 8 leader Frank Schubert at the Value Voters Summit) of looking for a partial-birth-abortion moment. The hope of the anti-gay sorts would be that they could identify an analog to turn the public against the obviously positive same-sex marriages.

Buseck agreed that even if all 50 states and the District have marriage equality, with or without a SCOTUS decision, some forces will not give up. They have not with a woman’s right to choose, contraception, gay rights and much more. However, as we approach 35 or maybe soon 39 equality states, reversing the gains becomes very difficult. Moreover, where there is wide comity and states respect marriages conducted elsewhere, such reversal becomes almost impossible.

Buseck did note in passing that a U.S. Constitutional Amendment could do that. However, with a requirement that three-fourths of the states approve it, and the vast majority of states permitting SSM, that is virtually impossible.

More likely, however, he sees increasing efforts at carve-out requests, based on religious, conscience grounds. He noted that the courts have to date not tested the sincerity of such beliefs where they granted exemptions. Those can be spectacular like Hobby Lobby or down to service businesses that are not related to religious institutions. Buseck sees how those requesting exemptions are easily go too far and encroach on settled anti-discrimination and public accommodation law. Yet, he expects many such requests.

We spoke of states’ rights. He traced the history of how domestic relations, including marriage was traditionally left to sates, following the ideas in the 10th Amendment, which reserves powers not specifically granted the federal government to the states. Yet in numerous instances, where state powers run afoul of the national constitution, states must bow. This happened recently in the Windsor case overturning the heart of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Listen as Buseck muses of what the most recent inaction of the SCOTUS might mean. Many thought Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was “ready to roll’ on marriage equality. Yet when the high court did not take any cases, it appeared that as there is no disagreement in the circuits, there is no rush. Buseck thought the real message may be a signal to the circuits to think long and hard before upholding any of the cases asking for support for marriage bans.

Buseck said that these cases really aren’t all that hard. He said it was difficult for the MA Supreme Judicial Court 11 years ago. Thus, they fretted and eventually ruled for equality, but gave the legislature six months to do something, anything to take the cup from their lips. However, now the issues are fairy settled. Do you want to treat some citizens as a separate class? The answer so far, circuit to circuit has been, no.

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In a reprise of part of my MA ballot-question show, I hit casinos again. This was Ryan’s request but apparently he couldn’t get away to call in. Lackaday.

Regardless, I went at casinos again and specifically this time. Adding them to the MA economic mix would mean subtracting wealth and real growth here — a victory of fantasy over fact.

I spoke of how badly casinos perform in various U.S. areas. Each region had hoped against reason for the successful aspects of Las Vegas without the crushing economic and criminal downsides.

Our elected officials and the gambling (euphemistically gaming) commission members knew the right way to research, get bids for and regulate casinos. I describe where and how that works. They spit on those and rushed into the muck we face now in Everett and likely Springfield. I have nothing good to say about the efforts or results.

Honestly, it will be great of voters overturn the casino OK on Nov. 4th. If they do and either Dem. Martha Coakley or Republican Charlie Baker wins and tries to ram through a Springfield casino regardless, the legislature absolutely has to smack him or her down.

I say yes on 3.

~Mike

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