Monday, December 30, 2013

There is no accounting for GOP delusion

Unfortunately for the collective intelligence of the nation, few schools teach current-events classes, a minority of homes get daily papers, and families don't discuss the world at dinner anymore. Yet in the last few days, a wonderful teachable example presented itself in many guises. If you want to point young folk to some defining differences between lefties and righties, there's Benghazi.

First a thoroughly researched dissertation analyzing the events leading to, during and after the attack there appeared in the New York Times, by David D. Kirkpatrick. In itself, it was neither left-wing nor right-wing. He set out the facts, got the best commentary, added some boffo multi-media for clarity, and named names. He pointed to ignorance and bungling by State Department officials and employees, recalcitrant blunders by Congress, and murderous malice by the perpetrators. He also laid bare the inane, irrational and jaundiced lies, paranoia and calumnies by those in Congress, right-wing media and conservative organizations.

To your youth who might want to know what other lessons should come from such information, you would have to first say that this is first a great opportunity for the adults involved to be, well, adult — admit their blunders, say what they've learned, and perhaps apologize to those they have defamed and those they have misled.

They could look to Hillary Clinton to see how it's done. She was Secretary of State at the time of the attack. When the initial follow-up reports came out, she took personal responsibility and did it specifically. She could have placed much more blame on Congress for slashing embassy security funding and denying requests for more protection. Instead, she identified State Department errors and set policies and practices in place to prevent them.

In contrast, numerous Republicans and a few Dems in Congress openly lied about the events, slandering both Clinton and President Obama. That continues even after the NYT report.

Not even Fox (if you pardon the exprssion) News cannot outdo today's Washington Times abrogation of responsibility here. You can read winger deceit and puerile immorality at its worse in NY Times’ whitewash of Benghazi attack aids Hillary Clinton in 2016.

They are not about to admit that over a year of paranoia and outright lies have been completely exposed. They are not going to apologize for manufacturing Al Qaeda involvement and denying the component of that perceived-to-be-anti-Muslim video.

Instead, they portray Kirkpatrick's evenhanded assessment and blaming as a devious ploy to bolster Clinton's chances as a 2016 Presidential candidate. Pathetic is one word. Cowardly is another. Immature is another. Irresponsible is another.

The real current-events and civics lesson is that far too often, the left wingers are the liars and bullies. Don't believe them.

As comedian and sometimes philosopher Lenny Bruce said so well, "There is only 'what is' and that's it. 'What should be' is a dirty lie."

Left wingers have been lying to us non-stop, shamelessly and now unrepentantly. Evidence is not evidence to them. Proof is not proof. Believe that they say at the peril to your brain and morals.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Utah Clerks, Gov. Pouting

There seems to be a lot of chest thumping and petulance in Utah. The Christian Science Monitor has a nice piece of analysis of the disbelief, denial and disobedience following the federal court declaration mandating marriage equality...and the refusal of the judge to stay same-sex marriages.

While over 1000 gay couples have married there, clerks in some counties refuse to issue licenses. The state AG told them they risked contempt of federal court. The Governor said he's had the AG appeal to the full 10th District Circuit Court and will go to the Supremes if that fails. [Here's betting the SCOTUS wouldn't take it and if it did, do the same as it did with the appeal of the California post-Prop 8 case.]

In his 53-page ruling, District Judge Robert J. Shelby was very specific about how Utah's ban was unconstitutional. Then in rejecting a plea for a temporary order blocking implementation, he made it plain the arguments the state used were all in the original trial and findings. Nothing to see. Nothing to do. Move on.

Utah pols seemed determined to be real asses about it though.

Check and maybe Mate: In an update, the 10th Circuit Court did not wait until its Tuesday session next week. It quashed the request for a stay. The ruling is here. It denies both a stay pending appeal and a temporary stay, writing that the request did not meet the criteria — (1) the likelihood of success on appeal; (2) the threat of irreparable harm if the stay is not granted; (3) the absence of harm to opposing parties if the stay is granted; and (4) any risk of harm to the public interest.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Utah for Marriage? Sure, Why Not?

The hits keep coming, like companies shoving big financial news in after the week's market close, or everyone trying to end the calendar year with some oomph. Now Utah has to obey its nondiscrimination laws and regs by permitting same-sex marriage.

With New Mexico earlier, that's a third of the states (and DC) allowing marriage equality. It's closing in on 40% of the population. The wingers who said a couple of years ago that the SSM battle had been won by the pro-equality forces were smack on.

The anti-gay forces have been funneled down to two sad stances:

  • Calls for plebiscites, figuring the regressive, oppressive types will be able to rally at the polls
  • Reliance on their panicked, anti-American democracy state one-man/one-woman reactionary laws and amendments

Would the Supremes had said, "Give it up," when they recently had the chance to lead and be rational. The SCOTUS has simply dragged out the inevitable, humane, and rational.

Yeah to New Mexico and to Utah. Welcome to the world of compassion and reason.

Saturday Updates: The governor is fairly soiling his trousers in anger and promises some kind of action. The federal court there denied a state request for an immediate stay, and marriages proceeded. The well-reasoned 53-page judgment is here.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Land of (Equal) Enchantment

OK, we knew it was overdue. Today, New Mexico's high court made it official. The state will widely allow same-sex marriage.

It had been a nether world, or rather a neither world. Its statutes neither forbade nor allowed marriage equality. Meanwhile, various country clerks had taken it on themselves to be American. That is in contrast to the old Soviet Union's cliché of whatever is not allowed if forbidden, ours was whatever is not forbidden is allowed.

Regardless, unlike the many states that panicked when first Hawaii's court noted that its non-discrimination laws implied homosexual couples could marry, then New Hampshire enacted civil unions, and wham, pow, Massachusetts started enabling gay marriage, New Mexico sat and watched. There were no paranoid constitutional amendments nor no homophobic legislation. It waited.

In that sense, it was easier for NM. It didn't have to undo humiliating evidence of hate and stupidity. Good on them.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Warden Watson Passes

Again, my fantasy got ahead of the obvious. Joel Watson died on October 1st. He must have been really bothered to miss the huge Boston mayoral election.

We had worked together as peers for years at the industrial sanitizer scented dining room of the Woodbourne Apartments in Boston's Jamaica Plain. For each election, that became the shared polling place of Ward 19, Precincts 7 and 12. Joel was warden of 7 and I of 12.

He was a dedicated pinko and a solid Dem functionary, on the party's state committee for many years and such. The punchline there was that everyone in the political river knew, respected and liked Joel.

I can mention one aspect that does not appear in the obit linked above. He got along well with and managed difficult people. That's not a small deal in the elections biz. For those who have never managed inspectors and clerks, be aware it is both a talent and proof of temperament and breeding. Joel placated the irate, he soothed the indignant, and he made the average feel extraordinary. He had a good soul and humility beyond his superior essence.

I am sorry Joe passed.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Political Circus Restart

OK, it's really nothing in contrast to the recent, yet prolonged Boston municipal election season. They're back though, the pols that is.

I confess up front that I've missed it in the past month. I'll go for all five Dem gubernatorial candidates, as well as the GOP on as guests on Left Ahead. I'm unsure on Charlie Baker; donkeys are happy to talk with anyone, but elephants seem timid, particularly when our show's name has "left" in it. Dems seem to have more of the courage gene and willing go on hostile right-wing radio.

The house meet-and-greet mini-events are underway for next year's election. Last evening was sort of a mandatory hustings one — two would-be governors, in Jamaica Plain, at Doyle's backroom. It's a must stop. The other three will do the same thing in the same place in two weeks.

It's a fairly small room that fills for these. If you can't do these on a Wednesday evening, you can check the JP Progressives site for the videos of these one-hour-per-pol thingummies.

I apologize for the snaps. The lighting is God awful and I didn't disrupt with flash.

In some bizarre media meme, our commonwealth's treasurer/receiver general gets the "boring" bill. I've never found that true. He wasn't last night and clearly against AG Martha Coakley he was the star of the evening. Plus he always has handsome ties.

You can judge his presentation yourself by checking out any of his several appearances with us on Left Ahead.

Both candidates did well enough. It was nothing like a debate. One exited the arena before the other entered.

My takeaway was primarily that Grossman is already in finely tuned campaign mode. I think Coakley needs a better speech writer(s).

For a couple of examples;

  • Grossman spoke to a primary thrust as being addressing societal inequalities. He said his administration would try to leave no one behind. Instead of stopping with that predictable crowd pleaser, he made it memorable by saying that wasn't just rhetoric. "You can't put rhetoric on the dinner table, cut it up and feed it to your family."
  • Likewise, in responding to the importance of arts in education, he promised to find the funding and make it part of schools again. He didn't dribble off with that. Rather he said, "If we teach children to pick up a flute or paintbrush, they're much less likely to pick up a gun or syringe."

He's smart, both in general and in marketing himself. I bet he ups everyone's game in this race.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hawaiian Anti-Gay Death Twitch

Sure, we knew they'd try. As threatened/promised, anti-marriage-equality sorts ran back to Hawaiian courts to try to block implementation of same-sex marriage after it became law yesterday. No dice, guys.

The AG had already said that the amendment passed in 1998 gave the legislature the power to define marriage. They did just that and came down for marriage equality.

Now the likely last word came from Circuit Court Judge Karl Sakamoto. He refused to issue a temporary restraining order. Instead, he plainly remarked, "After all the legal complexity of the court's analysis, the court will conclude that same-sex marriage in Hawaii is legal," SS marriages are set to start December 2nd. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hawaii Done Deal

Moments ago, Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed same-sex marriage into law in Honolulu.

Sure, sure, the anti-forces — anti-gay/anti-equality — will make a stab at getting a court to stay the Dec. 2nd start date of marriages. Just as certain, there must be plug nasties ready to start a drive for a new constitutional amendment with the sole intent of reversing it. I don't see either of those happening.

Much more likely, the anti-LGBT sorts will be reduced has they have here in MA. They'll be a dwindling party of bitter types, fewer each month, each year. As the state sees the lies about disaster that heard a decade ago, people will know (almost to a one) that SSM helps many, harms no one, and is, as the Hawaiians call it, pono.

We can hope for a quick healing of the hearts and a resetting of the minds of those who would harm, hinder and hurt homosexuals.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hawaii = 16 = marriage

Hawaii passed same-sex marriage today, making it the 16th of 50 states and DC. Gov. Neil Abercrombie has been eager to sign and should this evening.

We saw the same hackneyed, even bigoted, emotional and personal-religion based rants by legislators and 1000+ who testified to the Senate and 5000+ before the House (much overlap). Many were opposed to equal marriage rights. They used identical whines, non-intellectual arguments, and even threats of election retribution as we heard here in MA.

Same-sex marriage starts Monday, December 2nd.

The good guys prevailed. The law is pono — righteous.

Post-vote update: Listening to many hours of testimony and speechifying by voters and legislators, I was moderately surprised. The anti-equality arguments were replays of those a decade ago here in MA. So many of the anti-SSM voter made it plain that because people heard their emotional pleas, somehow that should mean agreement. Not so in MA nor in HI.

Update update: The Star Advertiser got around to a full recap.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

What Were We Thinking? Hawaiian Version

Marriage-equality legislation staggers along in Honolulu. Yesterday, after many (I think 29) amendment attempts, the House approved the bill, 30 to 19. Next it goes back to the Senate, who had previously voted for it...without these amendments.

The Senate should take it up Tuesday and will almost certainly make it law. Gov. Neil Abercrombie has pens screaming for him to use them and he's ready.

The few amendments that did pass are mostly silly, with one exception. The process in Hawaii mirrored the Connecticut debates and compromises five years ago.

The troublesome change is a fair capitulation to anti-gay clerical types and church pols. It gives loosely religious-institution groups the right to continue discriminating. Even in their for-profit activities, like facility rental, that are open to the public, they can use the we-don't-like-homosexuals trump card. This in effect alters the state public-accommodation laws to allow this.

The other amendments are benign and redundant. The gist is a triple-pinky-swear for clerics. The bill already let them say no to officiating at same-sex weddings. They can play the faith card at will. The amendment specifies that no one can bring any charges or lawsuits if this happens.

Watching hours of testimony before the House committees was stunningly familiar. The queue of several thousand who spoke in opposition did so too predictably. The gist of most was that their personal religious feelings should determine public policy. To the endearing credit of the moderator legislators, they did not ridicule or even point out the illegality and irrationality of those two-minute anti-gay tirades and whines.

Yet in the version tossed back to the Senate, the influence of the haters ("Don't dare call us haters!," they say) and bigots ("I am not a bigot," they say.) is obvious. As it was in CT and elsewhere, when the concessions that moderately impinge on gay rights in order to deliver some equality become part of the law, the anti-gay nasties appear largely placated.

I assume serious control issues here. They had called for defeat of the bill; no. They wanted to go back to the start and do another task force to delay everything for a year or more; no. They wanted every business operator to be able to discriminate as churches still can. In amendment after amendment, they did all they could to weaken the bill; with these few sops as exceptions, no.

Now their death twitch will be a lawsuit to overturn the law as soon as it gets the governor's sig. They simply cannot tolerate democracy. It's every procedure and trick in the book when they don't get to harm and hamper homosexuals. They'll eventually go away wailing. Who knows, they may try what they did here in MA, a ballot initiative and court challenge. Unfortunately for them, Hawaii only allows initiatives on constitutional amendments.

The anti-equality sorts thought they had done that with the vote to give the legislature the right to define and specify who could marry. Well, now that actually happened. They don't like that either.

Raised as a Christian, I remain confused when any religious types, particularly Christians contort to hurt people. They'll very selective go to Leviticus in the Old Testament and Torah to find scripture that supports their bigotry, while ignoring much scripture that would lead them to support equality. Particularly for Christians, they have a whole New Testament and a Messiah who preach against what they are about.

I am pretty sure in a few years and certainly within 10 or 20 that Hawaiians will be proud of their inclusive equality, almost to a person. That's happened elsewhere, as here in MA. When they come to and ask, "What were we thinking?," don't ridicule them. Just be glad they arrived at the right place.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Hawaii Anti-Gay Types Play the Game

Astonishing still how the anti-gay folk would harm, hamper and hinder homosexuals. As we saw a decade ago here, we now hear and see in Hawaii. With the special session to consider same-sex marriage in full, tedious hearings, debate and readings, the same shtick is on stage.

Those who don't like gay folk (or much stronger than don't like) go through the same scripted skits. Those include:

  • Catch-22 logic — SSM mandated by courts fails due to activist judges, passed by legislature is not representative democracy rather somehow unfair, passed by plebiscite requires a second or third public vote, approved by multiple ways circularly turns back to court appeal
  • Personal religious views trump all — ignoring state and federal constitutional and case law, anti-gay sorts say their feelings overrule rights of homosexual couples
  • Time-out — despite years of discussions, hearings and trials, they claim there is not need to pass this law without restarting the whole process
  • 1st Amendment paranoia — forget contradictory history proof and history in 15 US states, Canada and numerous European and Scandinavian nations, enabling SSM will absolutely force clerics to conduct SS weddings, force teachers to describe and condone gay sex acts, that parents rights will be crushed and blah blah

There are numerous other lunacies, but they are along the same lines.

One would think that Hawaiian legislators and voters would have at least a passing knowledge of SS info on the net, in papers and on TV over the two decades. Every one of their objections are total jive. In countries and states that have enabled marriage equality, no one is harmed and many are helped. Even the total disingenuous lies about the mad-dad (David Parker) case are so blatantly false that only the willfully ignorant would begin to accept them.

Yet. it has come to this again and again and again. The anti-gay folk know they are dishonest and dishonorable. They simply don't care.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Aloha. Who's pono here?

Hot times in Honolulu, as the legislature is finishing passing marriage equality in a lengthy, highly contentious special session. Tomorrow morning, the House is certain to hand off its moderately amended version to the Senate, which already passed its. The latter will almost surely pass it. Gov. Neil Abercrombie has his pen ready.

There are both reasons and excuses for anti-gay sentiment there. This process stains our fantasies of the loving, peaceful paradise way out there. Several of the print and broadcast media show heavy anti-SSM bias. Moreover, the anti types made much bigger displays in demonstrations and in testifying before both Senate and House committees.

As the very conservative and obviously anti-SSM Hawaii Free Press tabulated it:
The unofficial count found that of 10,749 unique pieces of written testimony submitted to the House, 8,556 (80%) were in opposition and 2,193 (20%) were in support. Of 1,032 oral testifiers, 895 (87%) opposed the measure and 137 (13%) supported it.
Both pro- and anti-equality types often used Hawaiian terms. One particularly pointed and poignant here was pono. That is right or righteous. Numerous pro-testifiers said equality was pono, and some on the other side claimed their religion trumped such civil rights, that rejecting the bill was pono.

What we saw and heard there is very familiar to folk here in MA and elsewhere on the mainland. That included:
  • Non-stop calls for a plebiscite on these rights
  • Vast majority of those testifying citing personal religious feelings
  • A few threats that (blah, blah) anyone who supported this would lose in the next election
In addition, as we see in one of the tweaks to the bill, there an extra, a racial component. The original SB 1 allowed for married homosexual couples where one is considered by blood (that word figures frequently in Hawaiian laws and programs) to be Hawaiian, they can claim Hawaiian ancestry for a child they adopt or conceive.

That was too much for some of those who testified. I recall vividly one young woman at the point of tears decrying the unfairness were a child with no Hawaiian blood to get access to government education and other benefits provided to descendants of the original people, pre-contact. Sure, that's pure racism, but consider how the native Hawaiians were subjugated, their monarchy replaced and on an on. Pride of genetics is a big deal there. I had heard that years ago from friends who grew up in Hawaii.

The bill itself started out straightforward enough. It slightly revised the main marriage statute to broaden it for same-sex couples. It did have the exemptions the legislators knew clerics, church politicians, and the most serious laypeople have needed elsewhere. That would be such as no penalty for legal solemnizers who refuse to officiate at SS weddings, and no penalty for religious institutions that refuse to allow SS weddings or receptions in their religious buildings.

Among the red herrings dragged around on the issue are the baseless contention that ministers and priests will either be forced to perform SS marriages (or face fine or jail or both) and that when this passes, all textbooks will have to include and teach homosexuality in the most positive light. Those and similar ones are sacks of crap, but ones some religious loons can't put down.

Instead in this process, they had most of their craziest demands shot down, while winning a few. For example,  they also got the effective date pushed out three weeks.

More substantially, non-profit wording came out of the religious institution exemption. In Hawaii as in MA other most places, public-accommodations laws and regulations do not allow discrimination by a religious organization when they run both a church and say a rental hall open to the public. Now in the form that this law is most likely to pass, religiously affiliated groups can pull their church card and discriminate willy nilly.

What the anti-folk did not get here was the same right for ordinary citizens running small businesses. Think bakers who weep at the idea of decorating queer wedding cakes. Lackaday.

So, Hawaii's version will be a little weaker than ours and most of the other 14 states'. Still, this is a big step.

A huge lesson learned here and elsewhere is that once SS marriages begin, people see that there is nothing but good coming from this slight expansion of equality. Sure, the most dedicated anti-gay types continue to fume or fulminate, but the vast majority go on. They become or return to being, as the local expression goes, hau‘oli — happy.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Boston Pol Moms to the Rescue

For the preliminary, it was mayoral candidate Rob Consalvo's mom on the line. Today for the final, it's the tearjerker from Marty Walsh's maternal unit.

Rob's mother was much less emotional, and considerably more sincere. In fairness though, she got me from a phone bank and Mary Walsh's letter clearly came via a campaign flack.

I kind of know Rob's parents. I am the warden at their polling place. So when I answered the phone and heard, "This is Rob Consalvo's mom," she was in context. It was the vote-for-my-son pitch, but it was more comfortable. We live in the same neighborhood, I know her casually and her son pretty well. She even ended up saying, "He's a nice kid," and immediately correcting herself to, "I shouldn't say that. He's a grown man. He's a nice man." It was a jolly call and I ended up endorsing him for the preliminary, all things considered.

For the final two in this mayoral go though, John Connolly gently uses his family too. His wife and kids are in pix on his campaign site. She features in an ad for him. These though are just homey appearances. The Mary Walsh letter is melodramatic, plucking on every heartstring.

I'll paste the text below so you can roll the rich aroma of it. As a fair introvert myself, I have to revel in the heavy-handed piece. Whoever wrote this has no shame.

The whole letter text is:

Dear Neighbor, 

I am writing to you to ask you to consider voting for my son, Martin l. Walsh, 
for Mayor of the City of Boston. I am, of course, so proud of Martin -as I have 
been his entire life. 

The worst day of my life was when Martin, at age seven, was diagnosed with a 
deadly form of cancer. But at the same time, I knew he had the determination 
to beat it. That determination is what now makes him such a wonderful 
advocate for seniors and people in need of help. 

He has never given up on anything. He will work and work and work unril 
the job is done. That's what he was like as a construction worker, as a state 
legislator, and even as a seven-year-old cancer patient who did whatever he 
needed to do to help the doctors make him better. 

Martin is the kind of guy who cares deeply for the welfare of others. He was 
always looking out for my husband and me, my son ]ohn, and for our 
neighbors. And he's been helping those in need his entire life. 

Personally since my husband passed away, Martin has done everyrhing in his 
power to help me to stay in the house he was raised in. Clearly, he understands 
how important it is for me to maintain my independence. He appreciates 
that, physically, I am not what I once was and intuitively provides the 
support I need particularly as it relates to my staying at home. 

Simply put, Martin has the vision and values that would be so good for our 
city -to ensure that everyone has an opportunity for a better life. I ask you 
to support my son's candidacy, as I have no doubt that you will be as proud of 
him as Mayor as I will be. 

A1l the best, 

Mary Walsh 

Ya got your kid with cancer. Ya got your loyal son caring for the decrepit mom. Ya got the widow.

For all the journos who've been looking for differentiation between the two candidates, here's a big one. Unlike the present and previous mayors, a Walsh administration might well be a TMI one, heavy on the emotion and revelatory details. I suppose we could adapt.

Recently, Meg Connolly finally appeared to have had enough of the kid-with-cancer card. She didn't note that the type young Marty got almost always responds excellently to chemo, as his did, and unlike his mother's "a deadly form of cancer" description. Meg revealed to a reporter that she had had cancer and they beat it together with her doctors. She still doesn't make it a pity point, despite being the mother of three wee ones. It's a different mindset.

Read the putative Walsh-mom letter and see that, first, it's not credible that she wrote it. Second, that's a computer font and not her signature (small point, but why not get real at the bottom?). Third, was the worst day of her life, a life of a long-term married that included the death of her husband, a cancer diagnosis with a good prognosis? Fourth, why should we extrapolate that doing the expected son's duty of keeping his mom perking to proof that he "has the vision and values that would be so good for our city..."? The letter appealed only to raw emotion.

Of course, that last question is rhetorical. The letter clearly was written by some political functionary.

An underlying theme is that Marty Walsh wants us to believe. He wants us to believe he is sincere, honest and transparent. Other than that background, this kind of cheap hyper-emotional gimmick would not be unusual. Candidates use their family members are props and puppets all the time.

Truth be told, I found the call from Rob Consalvo's mom, the real human being, much more convincing than the voice-over in Mary Walsh's name.

Walsh could well win this thing, but if so, he'll come in slimier than he has to.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Aloha Equality, 20 Years Late

Yes, yes, Hawaii should have been the first state in our nation to legalize same-sex marriage. Now they are finally finishing the equality task. Obvious has not been simple.

In 1991, the state Supreme Court ruled in Baehr v. Lewin that denying same-sex couples marriage was unconstitutional discrimination. Well, they weren't ready to pioneer. The case bounced through appeals while the anti-gay forces gathered in a panic and led to a one-man/one-woman amendment forbidding equality in 1998.

Eventually, they got to a civil-unions law but no farther. Until this the past two weeks...

As I write this, 5,181 locals have signed up for their two minutes each to testify, in all senses of the term, before a House committee considering whether to concur with the Senate. The latter body has already passed SB 1 in special session to legalize SSM by 20 to 4. The tally in the House is that there will be enough votes to pass it. Progressive Gov. Neil Abercrombie has his pen ready. In fact, it was his call for the special session.

Baseless Fears

The basis of the Senate version was the bill never acted on during the regular session, its draft is here. Those accustomed to the per-state fights will recognize the skeleton. The actual change to law is plain — homosexual couples will have the same access to marriage as different-sex ones. Then there is the placating overlay, iterating in excruciating detail that:
  • solemnizers (a.k.a. marriage officiants) don't have to perform SS weddings if they don't want to
  • religious organizations don't have to permit same-sex weddings in their facilities if they don't want to
Such protections, already on top of US and Hawaiian constitutional religious protections are never, ever enough for the anti-gay sorts. Without any reason or proof whatsoever, they go on and on about how they are just positive that permitting SSM in their state will force their ministers to consecrate queer marriages. That is a a really tiresome rap and one the Senate in its 1-minute speaker slots and now the House in its 2-minute ones heard repeatedly.

Having spent parts of my life in West Virginia and South Carolina, the stupid and bigoted talk coming out of Oahu in the last few days is not what I associate with the island paradise, rather rural backwoods hicks. It's the same old dreck we heard here in MA a decade ago. Hawaiians have fair less excuse though, being able to look at many states with successful SSM implementations, all where religious freedoms are more than observed and only good accrues to the citizens.

The wrinkle comes with its mandatory irony as well. The anti-forces are of course screaming, "Let the people vote!" That's the call when either representative democracy (a.k.a., the legislature) and the courts mandate equality. Suddenly, the nasties demand a plebiscite on other folks' civil rights. Honk. Wrong.

Special Rights

The other part of the humor is that they want special rights (what they falsely accuse homosexual couples of wanting). In this case, they are calling for amendments to the bill to legalize discrimination that is presently against the law in Hawaii. Specifically, they want a conscience clause exempting any private, for-profit, business of public accommodation. That would be if you run say a bakery or photography biz or rent your hall to the public, you'd get the religious exemption if you don't like them homos. It's like suddenly making every business into a church and making every for-profit side business of a church into a religious institution.

Of course that would be a Pyrrhic victory if passed. If you want to be a for-profit biz, you have to obey federal and state public-accommodation statutes and regulations, including non-discrimination ones. A challenge would wipe those away pretty quickly if the House was dumb enough to include them and the Senate acquiesced to the blackmail just to pass the larger bill.

However, the anti-gay types are not going to get their plebiscite and if they can delay passage by a few days by loading BS amendments onto the bill, they'll fee smug and briefly righteous.

Back in the capitol in Honolulu, the House committee has amazing patience. Why they would listen to the iterative, repetitive snippets pro and con SSM almost eludes me. I have to keep in mind that they are letting the nasties vent and rant. Loading this vitriol upfront is a great prophylaxis. Both chambers have also been open-minded in letting the dumbest of their legislators carry on.

As it is, the several thousand testifiers could go on until Tuesday or even Friday. This is truly from MacBeth — sound and fury signifying nothing. Yet, the drama plays on and on, hour upon hour and day upon day.

In the end, apparently, Hawaii will finally manifest its two-decade-old promise of marriage equality to match its constitution, and now to bring up the wagon of states embracing SSM. They are not quite what Le Tour riders call la lantern rouge, the slowest rider, in an allusion to the red lantern hung on the back of a train caboose. They sure have lost their shot at leading though.

Pic note: Thanks to Jeff Polston's site for the lantern image.

Dirty Money in City of Dirty Water

Alas, to the many of us who see Citizens United as anti-democracy institutionalized, the battle to buy the Boston mayoralty is wrenching. John Connolly's hidden supporters are not all that clean, but Marty Walsh's stick to high heaven.

Apparently the Globe nudged its reporters awake when the excellent piece by David Bernstein appeared. They mirrored his coverage.

Walsh's folk are in a ham-fisted, buy-the-election mode. In these last few days, that will surely inspire Connolly's stealth supporters to try to play catch-up, try to match the ad blitz.

Neither candidates' hands-off PAC folk will reveal donors until January, although the candidates have weakly asked pretty please that they do.While election laws and regulations prevent candidates from communicating directly with these donor  groups, Connolly at least had gotten his previously to stop spending on his behalf, in a one-sided display of morality.

We know a little from early disclosures. Connolly's outside money seems related to pro-charter-schools groups and Walsh's to big labor unions, notably the AFL-CIO. Unequally, as both guys want more charter schools here, Connolly's backers seem much more benign, almost to the point of disinterest.

More disturbing is the extrapolation to a Walsh administration, which seems increasingly likely. Union members, reportedly largely from outside Boston, have been ordered to canvass for him here and supposedly will get people to the polls. Coupled with, as Bernstein put it, the election being "for sale," Mayor Walsh does not inspire confidence in an independent city hall.

The vast majority of Bostonians, including me, are pro-union. More so, we like to think our pols are not bought by special interests. Assuming big union money buys his way into office, Walsh would likely be a creature of his benefactors.

....sticks mightily.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tuesday Will Be Huge: Endorsements

Smearing the ovals is always important and even more so November 5, 2013. Obviously for Bostonians, choosing a new Mayor will likely set the new tone and agenda for 12, maybe even 20, years.

The City Council composition will change more than it has in memory. Going beyond the strong-Mayor/weak-Council cliché, we need only look at how much the Council has done beyond its statutory budget-approval power. We expect and demand much more than replacing toppled stop signs from the crew of 13.

This time, with four Councilors not running for reelection because they ran exclusively for Mayor, the change will be dramatic. I confess that I regret that Arroyo, Consalvo, Ross, and Connolly will be gone. Each has been active and brought his own visions and schemes.

I sometimes make light of their grandiloquent claims of being legislators. The archaic MA Home Rule system means that all municipalities here, even the biggest one, have to beg the commonwealth for any changes in governance and any plan to raise revenue. Yet if you look through the résumés on the Councilor pages at, you can see what each has accomplished. It's impressive and a good reason to consider Councilor votes carefully.

Only one district Councilor (Frank Baker in D3) is unopposed. The other incumbents should win reelection easily...except for do-nothing Bill Linehan (D2). There, Suzanne Lee, who almost unseated him two years ago and lost by only 97 votes, has a great chance of winning.

I'm not in that district and maybe shouldn't comment. She's a great progressive with a solid platform. Were I in D2, I'd vote for her.

Where I can vote is in my D5, for at-large Councilors and for Mayor.

  • District 5 Council. My preferred candidate, Mimi Turchinetz, just missed the runoff. Neither remaining, Tim McCarthy or Jean-Claude Sanon, excites me. Rob Consalvo was great on both constituent services and implementing improvements. I can't see either of the two coming to his level. However, McCarthy at least has done the services job for the Mayor for years. So he has the slight edge here. 
  • At-Large Council. You can pick up to four out of eight running. Two existing ones definitely need to return. Steve Murphy is the one all Councilors turn to with the can-we-afford-that questions. He knows money. Plus, he's been a worthy Council President for the past three years, keeping everyone on track and making sure the key discussions and votes happen. Ayanna Pressley is a strong social activist, particularly on issues for women and girls, including violence. Then I urge turning to, if you pardon that overworked term, new blood. Michell Wu has specific planks for jobs, education and safety and good credentials already. and Jeff Ross is a youngish lawyer with big social visions, oh, and he's comfortable saying he'd be the first openly gay Councilor. He'd be a good addition to help keep the Council acting for the right reasons as well as toward the right goals. We can't have too much of that. 

The Big One

Mayor. I wish I had the perfect candidate, someone I could get as excited about as Elizabeth Warren for US Senate. At least along with my research, stump-speech visits, and forum and debate attending and watching, I had the benefit of talking with both Marty Walsh and John Connolly at Left Ahead. In fact, I held off until the recent chats to make a final decision. Both are liberal-to-progressive sorts with good positions on nearly everything. Either should be a good Mayor.

Neither is a great orator (although Connolly has an edge in public speaking) nor a charismatic presence. Of course, our beloved Mayor Thomas Michael Menino was not and is not, not when running for D5 Council nor for Mayor. He both won again and again and again, and has done a fine job.

I ended up deciding to go with John Connolly for several key factors. Emotionally, I have been appalled at the calumnies against him, even at lefty joints I frequent, like BlueMassGroup. Five or six folk who post diaries or comments there have pounded him for months, with often false and even paranoid slanders. For example, he has long said and written that he was a former teacher for serving as such two years at a Jesuit middle school in NYC and the one year at a charter school back here. The anti-Connolly types repeated the lies that he claimed to be a career teacher and was thus a fraud. Instead, he said that those three years made such an impression that he has worked to improve schools for all and eagerly took on the arduous duties of the Council's education committee for four years. They, and amusingly enough those who comment on the Boston Herald site, also love the loony rap about his surely, absolutely (but without any evidence) brief career at Ropes & Gray as proof of something nefarious and terrible. In fact, his two-plus years there had him as a junior, a newbie, who really didn't get connected to big shots and others the slanderers irrationally hold that somehow must have happened. They have him as a 15-year "corporate lawyer," as a mark of shame. Both the time and duties are false. Also, his irresponsible accusers take him to task for "privilege," as in attending private prep school in Boston (even though Walsh did too), having graduated from Harvard and getting a BC law degree. By any local standards, all those things are traditionally virtues and suggest competence and smarts. Trying to twist them into insults is beyond silly.

Finally for Walsh, I really only have one serious problem with him and he hasn't been at all helpful here. He's had a life as a union leader, getting into it as naturally via his father as Connolly did via his Secretary of the Commonwealth dad. He's made many hundreds of thousands from union pol positions. I have been a union member and support unions strongly. However, Walsh's trust-me attitude sucks. He has tried repeatedly to get Beacon Hill to pass legislation that would mandate arbitration rulings on municipalities, as in taking away budget approval power from the Boston City Council. His response to questions about this, as in the recent Boston Police Patrolmen's award was to trust him. Trust him that the contracts would never get to an arbiter. Trust him that he'd be so on top of union issues that he'd work out a deal before a crisis. I can't do that. I've seen and known far too many politicians for far too long to accept just trust me. (I think of the POTUS an his spying and drones crap. I don't trust him on either.)

It is not a begrudging endorsement of Connolly. I ate their platforms repeatedly in the many ways they served them to me. Connolly has the edge on vision and path to his goals.

The Picks

  • Mayor John R. Connolly
  • At-LargeStephen J. Murphy, Ayanna S. Pressley, Michelle Wu, Jeffrey Michael Ross
  • D5 CouncilTimothy P. McCarthy

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Peepers and Leapers in Boston Mayor's Race

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves.
        —Cassius in Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene II

Some peep. Some leap.

Local pols waited until the bet was not such a long shot, but a cluster have endorsed Marty Walsh for Mayor of Boston. Those have been City Councilors Tito Jackson and Felix Arroyo, State Reps Gloria Fox, Russell Holmes, Carlos Henriquez, Liz Malia and Dan Cullinane, State Senators Linda Dorcena Forry and Sonia Chang-Diaz and US Rep. Mike Capuano, and former mayoral preliminary also-rans John Barros and Charlotte Golar Richie.

That's the game, you might say, as Walsh's campaign has. Yet, perhaps as telling is who remain the peepers.

Sure enough, the Mayor here is a relative Colossus, at least in this burg and the Eastern third of the commonwealth. Also, under the past three in that office — White, Flynn and Menino, the power there has solidified and expanded even beyond the city charter. The peepers have reasons to, as the Greeks used to put it, kick not against the goads.

There are some likely surmises about the state and federal level endorsers, and the city ones separately. Certainly the State Reps and Senators are likely to have some doings with the new mayor. They may even want favors for their constituents that Walsh or Connolly could command or heavily influence. On the other hand, their reelection and advancement do not not depend on our City Hall. That's more so with Capuano. He's insulated from our Mayor's not-all-that-super powers. He's pumped the hand and slapped the back of another strong union advocate...not a sin in his district, not at all.

The two who didn't make the mayoral final and Arroyo have taken a bit of a gamble.Sure, they'd like to be behind the winner. There might be a solid, even cabinet-level job in it if they pick the right guy. For Golar Richie in particular, that has been her career — walking under Gov. Patrick and Mayor Menino figurative legs as important functionary. For his part, Arroyo is still very popular (just not as much as he had figured) and has a real record of achievement in Council. Jackson likewise remains beloved. He more than survived taking the still warm seat when Councilor Chuck Turner was sent to a WV prison. He fabulous attitude and solid Council performance insulate him. Barros, who knows? He has a confidence, even arrogance, that suggests he'll bull his way into a good position even if it's not in City Hall.

Beyond them, most local pols are sitting this out. They have the disadvantage of no prohibitive favorite. Connolly had a narrow lead going into the preliminary, according to numerous polls, but Walsh topped the ticket, albeit by only 18.47% to 17.22% of the total out of the 12 candidates. It was still a win for both of them, a little more so for Walsh. I'm sure he'd be delighted to finish with 1.25% more of the vote than Connolly on Nov. 5th.

A few respected influencers have said up front that they are sitting this one out. Councilor Ayanna Pressley is likely most notable. She has a big base, including in the various Latino and black neighborhoods and subneighborhoods. She's in the at-large reelection campaign and has remained uncommitted. For someone who surely has higher office in her future, and in her mind, that is savvy.

One might expect Council President Steve Murphy to speak up. One would expect vainly. Murphy has been President for three terms. It's probably someone else's turn, but he nevertheless is also wise not to kick against either the Connolly or Walsh goad, lest he make an enemy of the new Mayor.

Supposedly Menino has been nudging donors and political influencers, very quietly, to support Connolly. He seems to be legacy driven and part of that appears to be holding to his promise to stay (at least publicly) neutral.

Barring the unlikely Halloween-week shocker that suddenly makes one candidate or the other the certain winner, I don't expect any meaningful new endorsements. Walsh filled his dance card and Connolly did not.

Similarly but to probably less effectiveness, Connolly has been more personable, smarter and rational during the televised debates. Neither guy is a Bill Clinton-level orator, but Connolly has skunked Walsh in the first two. Fortunately for him, viewers levels have been low, particularly for the first one, which was up against a Red Sox-Tigers championship game.

There's one more, next Tuesday. Even if the Series goes beyond four games, there won't be one that evening. While it is only a week before the final election, there's no reason to suppose a large number of the 19% who say they are undecided will watch. The rest of us probably have immutable decisions.

Who Do You Trust?

When I was a kid, Johnny Carson was the host of a TV program Who Do You Trust? Therein, a hubby would have to decide upon hearing a question category whether he'd gamble on his wife's answer or trust his own.

Here and now, we have to consider which of these two progressive sorts we believe. Again, in Walsh's favor, the televised debates are not popular. A knock against him is that as a long-term, highly paid union official, he would give away the coffers in contract deals. His comeback is that he knows how to negotiate after decades of doing it, therefore he can tell union reps what is and isn't possible, and they'll be reasonable. His efforts as a legislator to make contract arbitration binding on municipalities by law undercut that contention seriously.

The knock on Connolly is vague and two-elbowed. He says incessantly that he taught school for three years between graduating and entering law school, seminal years that informed his public concerns and policy. Stressing that and his Councilor experience, he underplays a few years as a junior (non-senior/non-partner) at two big law firms and a founding partner in a much smaller one. Critics and cynics say without evidence that he claims to be a career teacher and that there just has to be something terribly damning in the list of clients he represented. He does not discuss the clients, claiming to protect confidentiality.

One more time, it's good for Walsh that the debates don't earn many eyes. He comes across as evasive addressing any thorny question. So, for him, it comes down to do the few viewers believe he'd be able to stifle decades of pro-union experience, as he very strongly swears he would?

Likewise, for Connolly, does his easy manner and frequent grin lead you to trust him or make you think that you don't know what it is, but he must be hiding something?

Muddy Sprint

Two weeks to go and we know a few things. One is that the two campaigns and their outside supporters will certainly pay for mailed and broadcast ads. Experience so far suggest that both campaigns and Connolly's supporters will keep their messages positive and focused on their candidate and his views. Alas, if very recent evidence holds, Walsh's outsiders will remain dirty and get nastier. I am pretty sure that will turn off more voters than it brings to their guy.

Both candidates are convinced that the ground game will make the difference. They both have enough money for ads and both have solid political organizations to get out the vote. I'm with them in thinking that neither the debates nor the endorsements will settle this.

If you haven't gotten enough of the race and the duo, you can catch their chats with me on Left Ahead.

I really love this stuff and am going to miss it.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Boston Mayor Final, Thing 1, Thing 2

Here in Boston, we're loving choosing a new mayor after 20 years of a good, beloved one. As much as some locals like to brag about how dirty and nasty local politics are, the relatively polite preliminary and final, dealing mostly with concepts and issues, has been refreshing. We could get used to this.

Following a dozen candidates for mayor and interviewing many of them was like a real job, and confusing. I even ended up in an uncharacteristically personal live reasoning about whom to vote for in the preliminary. That was far more revealing and extroverted than I typically am. That was raise-the-glass stuff, the origin of symposium.

We ended up with two solid progressives for the final on November 5th. Either would make a good or maybe very good mayor. That's fabulous to have such a choice.

Over at Left Ahead, I chatted with the finalists, Marty Walsh and John Connolly. As a disclaimer, Walsh is only a casual acquaintance. Connolly is what Stephen Colbert refers to as "a friend of the show," having been on LA numerous times.

Below are players for the interviews. Walsh is on top and a half hour. Connolly was today's. He was between events and gave me 17 minutes, starting at 8:30 minutes in.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Boston Pol Pitches Keep Coming

What are we politics addicts to do on November 6th? Careering from one event to another has been the norm for many months. This morning it was a cluster event, slightly modified. 
The informal Harry S Truman Society here has long held a meal and then an election-eve rally. For this year's municipal, they combined it at the West Roxbury Pub, under the aegis of City Councilor Matt (everyone's favorite ginger) O'Malley. Ostensibly, everyone running for the final was to show up and nearly all did. 
Seven of the eight at-large Councilor candidates appeared and spoke. Martin Keogh's dad died a couple of days ago, Matt noted. Neither of the mayoral finalists did (probably a boneheaded decision considering 150 or or so hardcore voters in the pub). One of the two District 5 Councilor candidates (Rob Consalvo replacement), Tim McCarthy, was there, Jean Claude Sanon was not. One candidate for next year's gubernatorial race showed.
This was a tasting menu of pols. Each person got up to three minutes, under the eye of a timer, one who actually enforced the sked. So we got truncated stump speeches. Oh, and the tables were heaped with lit.
Pix notes: Click a thumbnail for a larger view. If it opens in the same window, use your browser’s back button or command to return.I apologize for the grainy images. The lighting was bad and I brought my lesser camera. The pic below of Steve Murphy is not from the even because I didn't get even a remotely OK shot. 
License note: All pix are Creative Commons-Attribution. Do what you want with them. Just give Mike Ball credit once.

Ever sincere, O'Malley got into his goals and accomplishments before asking for reelection as District 6 Councilor. Millennium Park (we all call it Mt. Menino) will get more jock fields and be "the premier destination for athletes" and Billings Field will get a tot lot. His office did over 600 constituent services cases. He was at his best though blending humility with all that, as "the former skinny red head kid who used to bag your groceries (and who) gets to be your voice in City Hall."

Joe Avellone is running for governor in 2014. He's an oddity in our political world, as surgeon, Naval Reservist, and health company founder and CEO. He said the #1 issue here is jobs, which he promises to create in every region. His was a teaser speech and he promises much more over the next year.
He's back. Former Councilor and a candidate for mayor last time, Michael Flaherty pitched his experience at the job. He said he'd be ready to jump right back in as at-large Councilor. He spoke of education and wants a year 13 of school to prime BPS grads for college. As it is, he said, if they don't get into an exam school, they're lucky to qualify for a community college. He also wants treatment on demand for both kids and adults. Finally, he went with the tangible; "my hope is that we'll have snow melters," instead of "touching each snowflake five time."  He looked good, sounded confident and competent. 

Annisssa Essaibi-George was one of the two sports-oriented candidates for at-large Councilor. While she is a BPS teacher, mom of kids in schools, and a knitting-shop owner, she used most of her minutes to talk about her kids' hockey and other sports. She did say her election would let her "sit at the big-kids' table" to help better the school system. 
Michelle Wu said exactly the right thing to me. She brought up my rambling and uncharacteristic Left Ahead podcast in which I figured out my endorsements for the preliminary in real time. She apparently listened to the half hour. She was both candid and smart, also sweet, commenting about her parents immigrating from Taiwan for better lives for their children and her mother developing and coping with mental issues. She tied it all back into how government has a role in such crises and how she became the de facto BPS parent for her younger sisters. She is a real package and reinforced my endorsement. 

Luis Valerio won the handout award; his was the fanciest and most heavily coated. English is very obviously not his first language and his presentation here and what I have seen on TV suffer. He stressed adult ed, like using schools in evenings to advance adults, like Brookline and Newton do. He says he'll be "the voice of the parents of West Roxbury residents in City Hall."
Jeff Ross made passing mention that he'd be the first openly gay Councilor. He spoke of progressive goals — uplifting Boston's impoverished, universal pre-K, early childhood evaluation to ensure equal opportunity, and leveraging the city's money with banks that lend locally. 

If I could hand out awards, Ayanna Pressley would get the Best Speaker. She was burning and reminded me of my Southern roots. She spoke powerfully of transcending neighborhoods and the benefits of diversity of thought on Council. "I champion these issues not only out of moral imperative but because they have economic effects," she said. She noted she had "led the charge" on issues like violence against women," adding that "an oracle didn't whisper that in my ear. You did." Great stuff.
My neighbor and friend Steve Murphy was his charming and casual self. He's president of the Council and the guy who understands money and budgets like no one else. He did mention his work on PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) that will bring in $50 million extra from non-profits by 2018. His main thrust though was the great working relationship the Council and Mayor have had. The city is strong "because we have worked together and partnered," he said. 

Jack Kelly, also for at-large Council, seems still in his mind to be captain of the Matignon High hockey team. That was 14 years ago, but he riled the locals talking about how his team beat CM a few times. I suspect he turned off far more local parochial-grads than he interested. 
This is not the first time I saw Tim McCarthy in action. He was on his game for this and is likely the new District 5 Councilor to be. This time he was positively literary in his eloquence. He spoke of what you'd see if you looked out your front door. If you were happy with the mundane issues (safety, services and such), "that's what keeps people here." Then, if we have happy, dedicated residents, "the bigger things we can address." He's done constituent services for the Mayor for a long time and seems more than ready to replace Consalvo.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Joisey Justice, Marriage Edition

Looks like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has hitched his wagon to a manure truck. We all figure he'll go for the 2016 GOP POTUS nomination, but he keeps returning to the anti-gay stance. That's not likely to wow his wingers and sure as hell won't cut it with the larger electorate.

With NJ courts mandating marriage equality, he has insisted repeatedly that each level through the state supreme court rule on at least a stay of the beginning of intertwined love. Lose. Lose. Lose. Today, the highest court there said no stay, and went on to chide him that if he continues in such lunacy with a full and formal appeal to lower courts' rulings that he's not likely to prevail.

So it's a huge honking L on the big guy's head.

What calculus brings a supposedly smart fellow to figure that if he only bucks national opinion, if he only turns bigot when the nation has gone the other way, that he'll benefit.

Go figure, Chris. Dumb.

Saturday update: New-elected Sen. Corey Booker is ready to perform marriages again. In his authority as Newark mayor, he had refused to do that until his state had marriage equality. It does and he will officiate gay and straight ones.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Maybe Mayors Nudge It Out

The Sox won tonight 1 to 0, which was about the score for the first of four John Connolly v. Marty Walsh debates. The latter needs to up his game.

The vid will surely be up by tomorrow on WBZ and the Globe. If you track it down, you won't be rewarded with the best hour spent.

Neither candidate is charismatic and both are out of practice in one-on-one debates, but Connolly tromped all over Walsh. John was occasionally smarmy and Walsh too often dour.

On the plus side, neither was catty or dishonest. Neither slandered the other and the digs were subtle enough to pass without pissing off anyone. There was no class warfare and neither ridiculed the other for his upbringing.

Connolly was clearly the more comfortable. This probably related more to their personalities. Walsh is super sincere and does not exhibit the compassion those who know him speak of constantly. Instead, he seemed hesitant and on numerous questions when given the last chance for a brief rebuttal said to just move on. He didn't play the game this time. Maybe he'll do better in the next three debates.

Interestingly enough, Connolly was quick to refer to his three years teaching school. That could well have been an opening for a nastier opponent. On various websites, pro-teachers-union and other comment leavers deride Connolly's two years in an NYC Jesuit school, working only for room, board, and a $200-a-month stipend, then a year in a non-district charter school in Boston has not really teaching. That's loony, partisan talk, but one easy flank of attack, one that would be hard to argue succinctly.

To his credit, Walsh did not take that low road.

Connolly in contrast was snarkier a few times. Walsh left this opening much as Connolly's teacher gambit with referring several times to this or that piece of legislation he voted in favor of (not that he sponsored), as though a vote gave his full credit for any benefit. On his turns, Connolly said that Beacon Hill failed Boston in this way or that, as a minor slap.

The only big assault came twice when Connolly drew attention to Walsh's amendments to bills that would make public-sector union contract arbitration binding on municipalities. He was able to claim that this might could Boston $200 million by taking the right of the City Council to vote down bad arbitration awards. Lackaday, Walsh let those pass, saying weakly and without comment that this wasn't really what his amendments meant. Instead, he had a spongy promise that the contract would never get to arbitration under his mayoralty. Harrumph.

Moreover, Connolly was not shy about race and culture. Even though Walsh recently got endorsements of three preliminary opponents — two African-American and one Latino — Connolly was savvy enough to cite several instances where he co-sponsored what Councilors call legislation with a leading black figure, Councilor Ayanna Pressley. If you came in ignorant, you'd have left figuring Connolly was in with the black voters.

A fair criticism of Connolly's platform has been that it was shorter on details than Walsh's. Tonight, Walsh should have taken that directly to Connolly, being very specific and identifying vagueness in the latter's planks.

The good news for Bostonians is that these are two progressive sorts. They have a great deal of goals in common. Either would be a worthy successor to Tom Menino.

For the voters who watched the debate instead of hanging in to make sure the Sox went up 2-1 over the Tigers, they saw an insipid and unsure Walsh against an occasionally smug Connolly.

So 25% of debates done and done. This was Connolly's night. We have to ask first how important these clashes will be and second whether Walsh's team will point him in the right direction.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Marty Walsh Talks Boston Final

Maybe in the larger world Boston stuff is small beer. Around here though, folk can't stop talking Red Sox and even more, the race for the first new Mayor in 20 years. Left Ahead's net-radio/podcast show is doing its part.

Yesterday, one of the two finalists in next month's final election was on the show. Martin J. (Marty) Walsh spoke about the race for half an hour. Click the arrow below to hear his show. Go to the Left Ahead site for a recap and useful links.

Next week, John Connolly comes on Left Ahead, Tuesday, October 15, at 2:30 PM Eastern.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Screamin' at the Demons

Our duty includes loudly and iteratively calling BS on those whose propaganda includes absolving Congressional Republicans for this shutdown. Friends, coworkers, relatives...all..who make the error of raising the shutdown and even pending debt-ceiling/default conversation, need to have their heads aligned properly. Do that for yourself, for them, and for the nation.

I have my own rant about this. It's only 18 minutes, a relative bargain over the usual 30 to 40-minute Left Ahead podcast. There can be no quarter. Click below to hear my rant.

Decades ago, my wife worked for the sixth-and-seventh grade Scholastic weekly newspaper, NewsTime. The staff had to running jibes at upper management's fake equivalence. One was that no matter what the trend was, you'd avoid analyzing the underpinnings with the suffix On The Move. For example, for The Longest Walk, the heads were Indians on the Move.

The other was more invasive and pervasive. Writers and editors were never to take a position. The fantasy was that there were exactly two sides to any story. The yin-yang trope was such that if you said this is one side's position, you had to immediately give as much space and weight to a differing view. You then never, ever took a side or made a conclusion.

This is not a middle-school, amoral, unthinking issue. The House GOP have goofed up democracy, the economy and their constitutional duties hugely. There is no pretense of both sides deserving equal blame. I ranted already about this. See above.

Please do the same.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Savvy Survey of Boston Elections

Predicting "a fierce, epic battle," Mary Anne Marsh joined in delighted anticipation of our mayoral final. The principal at the Dewey Square Group was one of four pundits at last night's Ford Hall Forum. She said the race now will be between big business against big labor – John Connolly v. Marty Walsh.

The whole 90-minute event will appear, supposedly soon, on the Forum's YouTube channel as well as Comcast on demand. The others commenting were Larry DiCara, partner at Nixon Peabody, ex-City Councilor, one-time mayoral candidate and keen political observer; John Nucci, a Suffolk VP and holder of numerous elected offices; and Globe columnist Joan Vennochi.

We were rocked into a political stupor by the gentility of the dozen candidates leading up to the preliminary this week. Nucci agreed that was suddenly over, just beginning with the sniping with Connolly asking to ban outside money and Walsh replying that "This is a great second act in John’s ongoing piece of political theater. This is what corporate lawyers do."

I had to chuckle, first at the abruptness and low tone of the comment. Second, it may not be the brightest tack to come down on a lawyer with a Harvard bachelor's. Those may be tainted in Walsh-land, but they are credible credentials to many local voters. They are also two things Walsh is not and he drew keen attention to them.

Despite what we've gotten used to recently, "These are two candidates who love to slug it out," said Nucci (pic right with Marsh). Also, despite my hope this would not be nasty, class-based fighting, several on stage said it was likely to be. Marsh predicted that Connolly would try to defuse allegations that he was a bag man for corporations, using his education message. Likewise, Walsh will try to mute suggestions that he is a unions pawn by touting his middle-class roots and emphasis.

They mused on who didn't get into the final and why. As always, DiCara had the background and numbers — he loves to analyze and calculate. Despite expectations that Boston's shift to a majority-minority city, that isn't fully in electoral effect. He noted that like previous generations when the young and non-citizen Italians and Irish couldn't vote and didn't impact elections, the many Latinos are similar today. The Census may show many more immigrants of color, but they can't vote...yet.

So, Charlotte Golar Richie either did superbly coming in third or totally blew it with a vague, late-starting, uninspiring, message-less campaign, depending on your view. Vennochi's only swell saying of the night was that the candidate was unable to craft a message beyond her "only slogan (being) I am woman. Hear me roar." DiCara (pic left) said she didn't give her supporters "a great reason to vote for her." Nucci suggested that if Richie had organized efficiently with GOTV efforts, "she'd be running for mayor today."

DiCara broke down the preliminary voting patterns. He noted that about one third of registered voters are residents of color, but they did not and will not vote monolithically. Moreover, in a low turnout day, it was the traditional voters who showed, the older, white ones. The young, the black and the Latino did not. He figured that more voters will go to polls in November but not an appreciably greater percentage of the young and those of color. When the choice comes down to two white progressives, there isn't even an identity incentive.

For why two Irish-American men are in the final, Marsh had the incisive view. "They've been preparing for years." It's not enough to use identity politics or even to want to be mayor deeply. "You can't jump into a race at the last minute...You earn your opportunity."

Thursday, September 26, 2013

In Hawaii, Aloha Ipo (Maybe)

It could be "Hello, lover," on the shiny beaches if the special legislative session in Hawaii finally seals the deal.

Our Pacific paradise was was early (1996) with a court decision that forbidding same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. As became the pattern in the rest of the U.S., winger and anti-gay panic kicked in quickly. The court put its decision on hold and within two years, the now familiar one-man/one-woman constitutional amendment passed. [Subsequently, public opinion went from 70% for the amendment to about 54% for SSM and 37% opposed.]

As the public noted civil unions and gay marriage working well in other states, the panic subsided. By 2010, both houses of the legislature passed a civil unions bill, but the conservative, Republican governor vetoed it.

The next year, with a new, Dem, progressive governor (Neil Abercrombie), the bill returned, passed and became law.

Now, he is pushing for the real thing. Over the objections of Roman Catholic and some Protestant clerical pols, he wants a special session just to do that. His marriage bill goes straight to the artificial scare tactics of the anti people. In excruciating detail, it iterates and reiterates what state law already covers. No one empowered to solemnize marriages will be compelled to perform same-sex ones nor suffer any criminal or civil penalty for declining. Moreover, churches and religious institutions won't have to rent or give use of their religious facilities to same-sex couples for weddings or receptions.

It doesn't say, but federal and state law also comes into play here. Where a real or nominally religious organization operates its facilities for-profit and rents to the public, they have to obey anti-discrimination rules. They have a choice of making as much money as they can from all comers or limiting their facilities to just their religious types.

We can be pretty sure that the fruitbats who have claimed without any basis and perhaps even with full knowledge of dishonesty that churches and clerics will be forced to sanction gay marriages will not ease off. Just because the new version of the law gives them all the exemptions they could ask for, that's not really what it's about.

It's like that inane set of claims (like marriage being only for making children) this is really just about being able to arbitrarily hurt, hamper and harm homosexuals. It appears as though Gov. Abercrombie has no patience for that.