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Manic Monday Markup 4/23/2012…

…And the World:

France votes!  Yesterday French voters went to the polls in the first round of voting for that country’s presidential election.  Socialist Party Candidate Francois Hollande took the top spot beating out incumbent President Nicholas Sarkozy.  Both will advance to the next round of voting due in two weeks time.  That Hollande and Sarkozy would advance were less of a surprise than the fact that Marine Le Pen head of the hard-right Front National Party took nearly a fifth of the vote, the party’s best showing ever.  However Le Pen’s father did advance to the second round of voting in 2002, albeit with a lower vote total.  Sarkozy, whose popularity has suffered under a bad economy, and Hollande, whose platform has failed to offer French voters much of an alternative, may gain votes that went to Le Pen or other parties in the coming weeks.  However, voter discontent and the risk of abstentions among voters could roil the normal right-left dynamic.  Were Hollande to win, he would be the first Socialist President of France since Francois Mitterrand was president in the 1980’s.

Over the weekend, International Monetary Fund Director Christine Legarde praised the Fund’s successful effort to secure a $400 billion bailout fund to be used as a firewall against further Eurozone troubles.  The Fund exceeded its goal slightly after several developing economies, particularly the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India & China) coughed up extra funds.  However, the Fund’s success did little to placate markets, which belched losses today amid Eurozone concerns and worries that political outcomes in France and the Netherlands, where the minority government just resigned, could upend Europe’s debt crisis further.

Today Burmese Peace Activist and Member of Parliament-elect Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League of Democracy were to take their seats.  However a row has developed over the oath members must take to “safeguard” the Constitution.  Suu Kyi and the NLD is prepared to swear to “respect” the constitution, but do not wish to “safeguard” it as they view it as fundamentally flawed and in need of amending.

The Feds:

The trial of one-time Presidential candidate and current disgrace John Edwards is set to begin soon.  Edwards, a former US Senator from North Carolina was John Kerry’s running mate in 2004, but launched his own bid for the White House in 2008.  He is alleged to have used campaign funds, some illegally raised, to pay off his mistress with whom he had a child.  While Edwards’ Presidential ambitions were swallowed by the Clinton-Obama race well before these allegations became public, the affair and the elaborate scheme to undermine campaign finance laws destroyed his reputation.  His wife, who died in the last year due to cancer left him and Edwards was later indicted in 2011.  Although the prosecution’s case may serve to undermine the late Mrs. Edwards’ reputation, too.

The Boston Globe is reporting that Mitt Romney may be a liar even about being the target of a “vast left-wing conspiracy.”  Alright, in this case calling Mitt Romney a liar may be an unsupported claim (a first), but it does serve to show that if true, Mitt Romney cannot claim his sinking approval rating with women, Hispanics, gays, the poor, etc, etc is not do to the media pounding him into a pulp.  Even when presented in a positive light by the media, Romney’s the one punching himself in the face.

Connecticut is poised to become the seventeenth state to legalize medical marijuana.  The bill passed a key committee and is on its way to the floor of the state House of Representatives.  The bill enjoys fairly significant bipartisan support and Governor Dan Malloy is expected to the sign the bill if it reaches his desk.  Still, the Connecticut General Assembly’s rules and procedures could scuttle the bill if it is not voted on by May 9, the drop-dead date for passage of legislation this session.

The State of Things:

Elizabeth Warren has a new ad, featured here.  In political terms this ad is a twofer.  It serves as further introduction to voters, but also stakes a position on the impending increase in student loan interests rates, which will double this July unless Congress acts.  Also on the Elizabeth Warren front, WBUR has tracked down her former students, including some that disagree with her politics and guess what?  Elitist is the last word they would use to describe her.  They love her regardless of political perspective.

Cheap shot of the day (no pun intended, or is it?).  Scott Brown says he has not had any alcohol since January 1st and will not imbibe until after the election.  Except Brown went on the campaign trail with the Boston Herald’s Hillary Chabot to taste…beer?  That was around the time he also suggested she try some sample too and said “We’re gonna have her dancing in the back of the truck.”  That’s the Herald’s quote from Brown.  Um, yeah!

Comprehensive tax reform?  Yes, but not in Washington in Boston.  WWLP says the Legislature’s Revenue Committee and the Executive Office of Administration and Finance are looking at ways to clean out the state’s myriad tax breaks and benefits to streamline the tax code.  If they can do it in a way that creates more revenue to help out localities, they may be on to something.

Boston may have some of the most expensive urban real estate in the country, but it has some of the most poorly maintained.  Whether it is apartments for the city’s preeminent universities or housing for poor and immigrant populations, many city landlords rely in large part on the ignorance of all these groups.   Slumlords extract the maximum amount possible, whether under Section 8 or from the well-healed parents of students and offer substandard conditions in return.  After numerous incidents over the last year or two, the city is engaging in a public campaign to inform tenants of their rights.

And Longmeadow schedules an election for a vacant seat on the Board of Selectman.

City Slickers:

If turning off the television at city bards caused an uproar, turning off the tap at the city’s watering holes is sure to raise a riot.  Mayor Domenic Sarno has proposed all liquor service in the city cease at 1 instead of 2 am.  The proposal has been met with fierce opposition from bar owners who point out that the city will likely be the biggest loser as businesses flees to neighboring communities.  Meanwhile, the idea that an earlier closing time would quell violence in the city is based on somewhere around zero evidence.  Unlike the late-night entertainment ordinance, the mayor cannot unilaterally impose this policy.  The License Commission must vote on it although it is appointed by the mayor.

The Springfield City Council will take up in committee the mayor’s proposals to raise the trash fee to relieve the city’s burden of covering the cost of waste disposal not covered by the current fee.

Twitter Chatter:

Marriage equality may not be a huge issue during this campaign season, especially if President Barack Obama does not endorse before the election.  However, there is a court case before the First Circuit Court of Appeals and an Ed-Op in Bay Windows last week blasting Scott Brown’s otherwise vapid support for gay rights.  North Carolina will be voting very soon on whether to deny ANY meaningful rights to gay and lesbian couples regardless of the term of the union.  Still it does beg the question what has been the harm to our society.  Anybody?  For having an answer that cuts right through the arguments of opponents of marriage equality, Young Massachusetts Dems Board Member and prolific tweeter Rob Cohen wins the week’s tweet prize.

Twitter Chatter:

Marriage equality may not be a huge issue during this campaign season, especially if President Barack Obama does not endorse before the election.  However, there is a court case before the First Circuit Court of Appeals and an Ed-Op in Bay Windows last week blasting Scott Brown’s otherwise vapid support for gay rights.  North Carolina will be voting very soon on whether to deny ANY meaningful rights to gay and lesbian couples regardless of the term of the union.  Still it does beg the question what has been the harm to our society.  Anybody?  For having an answer that cuts right through the arguments of opponents of marriage equality, Young Massachusetts Dems Board Member and prolific tweeter Rob Cohen wins the week’s tweet prize.

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