Archive for April, 2015

SCOTUS Poised to Creep to Equality

Simple enough and it should be a nine-to-zip decision affirming marriage equality. However, the right-leaning, idealogue Supreme Court will most likely be a five-to-four vote.

Last week’s arguments and a flood of amicus briefs was not a battle of equals on either of the two flavors on the table — 1) should homosexual couples have the right nationwide to marry and 2) if not, must all states recognize legal same-sex marriages performed in other states and nations? Of course if the Court finds 1, then 2 is moot. Decisions should appear in mid- to late June.

The yes-to-equality side had the legal arguments down, as well as logic and compassion. The no side really didn’t have anything. They dealt in extra-legal humbug, cliché and vague forecasts of doom. Yet the three most conservative, really reactionary, justices took several of the most absurd claims from the no side seriously, judging by their questions and comments. Fortunately, the lefties at the banc burnished away the smutch.

I expect a yes-to-equality decision.

Of course, that won’t stop the plug nasties. My word, they are still trying to undermine a woman’s right to choose four decades later. Expect attempted tricks at the state level to prevent having to recognize such marriages (comity anyone?). Expect local pols to pander to anti-gay sorts by proposing all manner of unnecessary, redundant alleged protections to protect the clergy from the horror of being asked to solemnize a gay wedding. Yes yes, they already have such protections nationwide in statute and case law, but that won’t stop the dummies from dumbing down. Oh, and expect too more prophesies of ministers being thrown in jail and churches litigated to penury. Again, they are overly protected, those things haven’t happened and won’t, but that won’t stop the anti-gay liars and slanderers.

Take a moment to chuckle at the Chicken-Little predictions of doom following Massachusetts starting same-sex marriage. The poor, bemused anti-gay sorts have been reduced to muttering, “None of that happened yet. Just you wait!”

icon for podpress  Gay Marriage Before SCOTUS [26:43m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Hillary in Warren’s Gravity Field Podcast

The listing and the shuffling of Presidential candidates are great theater. We all figured Republicans to dance and change stage positions. Far more fascinating has been the quick and deep Elizabeth Warren-ization of Democrat hers-to-lose nominee Hillary Clinton.

Elizabeth WarrenPardon the parochialism, but Sen. Warren is hot stuff…and he’s ours in Massachusetts. Well, my favorite ex-hick became a Harvard Law professor (likewise her non-hick husband) and wealthy. Yet, she emerged as a major voice for the new populism. She’s even more outspoken than Sen. Bernie Sanders.(I-VT).

Having had to tell supporters, worshipers and the media that she definitely won’t run for POTUS, Warren is still in the race — as the touchstone for liberals, progressives, and well, sensible folk.

I hit on how Hillary as cannibalized Warren’s policy, to good effect. After all, it’s her one chance to sway lefties and indies who have been indifferent at best to her candidacy.. Meanwhile, poor Republicans run hither and yon putting on the various costumes of different troupes of right-wingers.

Meanwhile, Hillary portrays herself as a middle-class and aspiring middle-class champion. She wants to appeal to the independents and lefties who will swing this election. She needs to be Warren-like. In that vein, we’ll see even more tweaks, such as naming Garry Gensler as her campaign CFO. Sure he has a Goldman Sach background, but he also was key in creating Warren’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He has pinko cred.

I’m betting Hillary can’t fully kick the Trans-Pacific Partnership as Warren does. After all, her hubby and herself as Secretary of State were a full-throated TPP claque. I’m betting she’ll lobby for changes in the proposal and emerge claiming victory as an excuse to support it.

Look for more Warren-izing of the Clinton campaign.

icon for podpress  Hillary in Warren's Gravity Field [19:26m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


The Terrorist Verdict and the T Report

Two big developments this week will show the nature of Boston and Massachusetts. Now convicted terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will shortly be sentenced to life without parole or death. For something completely different, newish Gov. Charlie Baker got his Special Panel report on how to fix mass transit in MA.

MA law has forbidden executions for over 60 years. Polling shows only a quarter to a third of citizens would ever consider the death penalty. Yet the 12 jurors are starting the penalty phase for the Boston Maraton bomber and if unanimous, they could condemn him to death at some distant federal facility out of state.

I discussed the likelihood of the sentence options.

For that something different, the rushed task force to define the T’s problems and present remedies almost met it deadline to product Back on Track: An action Plan to Transform the MBTA. Click the link for a 49-page Power Point PDF file.

The panel listed under the weight of the former exec of NY’s MTA and a Harvard prof who writes books on the likes of privatizing mass transit. While there are insightful and useful judgments, it falls short in many ways, such as any vision at all of what the MBTA should do and be. It does, however, manage to whitewash Baker’s role in creating the T’s troubles in a previous MA administration.

I talk about what I see as good and bad in the report.

Among my punchlines is that the huge hole in the report was a lack of vision — the august panel seemed to have no sense of where the T should head. Yeah, yeah, a 5 or 20-year plan, but the assumption clearly is that we want the same T, just more cost effective. Triple, “No!” on that.

Instead, there are achievable visions of a T that is too good not to take. You leave your car at home or in a station lot because the T is fast, inexpensive, clean, frequent and reliable. You know, like most of Europe’s as well as the West Coast BART and such. To get to the future with far fewer noisy, dangerous, polluting, congestion-making cars, you need to define that destination and design the system that gets us there.

icon for podpress  The T and The Terrorist [26:56m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download