Archive for October, 2014

MA Races, Only 1 Toss-Up

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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Crime? Disease? Terrorism? Deny

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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Marriage Battle Continues, Victory Seems Inevitable

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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The Crap of Craps, MA Casinos

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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GLAD exec talks SCOTUS and SSM

A huge surprise to many of us was the SCOTUS not hearing five states’ request to uphold their bans on same-sex marriage, following federal court rulings. That likely means anther six that area appealing from a different federal district will hear the same. That would add 11 more states with marriage equality, for a total of 30, a.k.a. 60% of the U.S.

To help us keep our grounding in the fast shifting sand, we’ve asked the legal director and interim executive director of GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocated & Defenders) to join us. Gary Buseck has been with GLAD for over three decades. he was deep into the Utah appeal this time.

We’ll ask about the short-, mid- and long-range implications of the Supreme Court inaction, as well as the rapid evolution of marriage equality here. The anti-equality sorts have shown they won’t back off on gay rights, marriage rights, even women’s right to choose. We’ll see what Buseck figures is coming.

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