…And the World:
Markets may have shrugged off the news, but world leaders are breathing a sigh of relief after yesterday’s Greek elections in which pro-bailout parties secured a majority of seats in Parliament. New Democracy, which joined the then-majority party PASOK to agree to the bailout, took the most seats followed by Syriza led by up and comer Alexis Tsipiras. PASOK’s third place finish would hand New Democracy and its leader Antonis Samaras, the majority. However, Samaras still needs to form the coalition with PASOK in a country where coalition governments are rare and usually weak. Moreover, while Tsipiras has promised to settle into a role as leader of the opposition, Samaras is under intense pressure to include as many other parties as possible. Of course, none of this means immediate relief for Greece’s tortured economy and society.
On the other side of Europe, France voted in its second round of Parliamentary elections. French President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party and its allies took the majority of seats in Parliament thus assuring his policies can much more easily get through.
On a last European note, the Guardian has a profile of Jon Cruddas who is steering Labour’s policy and trying to save the party from itself.
Meanwhile Egypt’s fragile new Democracy has already been put to the test. While the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi appears to have won the presidential election, it came only days after the Egyptian Supreme Court dissolved Parliament. The move was seen as little more than a coup against a democratically elected legislature, albeit one filled with Islamists. The Army, who was thought to be behind the court decision, also seemed poised to tighten power ahead of the presidential election. With Morsi’s likely success, however, they appear to be looking toward conciliation.
Burmese democratic activist and leader of the Opposition in the Burmese Parliament, Aung San Suu Kyi formally accepted her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize over the weekend in Oslo. She was under house arrest when she won the prize twenty-one years ago, but after Burma’s recent, albeit hesitant steps toward a more open society Aung San Suu Kyi has been free to travel to Europe for the first time in years and accept her prize and give her Nobel lecture.
President Barack Obama’s announcement to end deportations of young undocumented immigrants has left the Right in the lurch and earned the President more support from the Hispanic community. Under the president’s plan, the Department of Homeland Security would essentially give lowest enforcement priority to illegal immigration for young people who were brought to this country as children who meet certain qualifications. They could then remain in the country to pursue school, a job or service in the military. It is not a path to citizenship, which the president supports. However, it essentially cut the legs out from under Florida Senator Marco Rubio who proposed something similar, albeit with explicit blockades to citizenship. Rubio, whose political “rise” illustrates wonderfully possibly how some people, especially Republcians, naively lump all Hispanics together monolithically, has withdrawn his plan, which had yet to be put into legislation.
With a possible adverse ruling from the Supreme Court on the President’s health care law, many are wondering what Democrats will do. With misunderstanding about the law itself at about as high a level as ever, one Democrat is striking the right offensive balance. Former North Dakota Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp appears to be in competitive race to succeed Democratic senator Kent Conrad, which makes it all the more fascinating that she is going on offense on health care in a state where President Obama heavily underperforms her in recent polling. Heitkamp, a breast cancer survivor, admits that the law is not perfect without retreating on its core principles. The tough, effective message she delivers promises to never “go back to those days” when kids could get denied health care coverage.
Closer to home, Congressman Jim McGovern, who picked up substantial rural territory from John Olver’s old district during redistricting, is proposing substantial revisions to the nation’s farm bill. He is calling on rewriting the bill to better respond to the needs of different farming communities across the country. Calling for “Fifty State Farm Policy,” says the current policy is geared to massive agra-business in the Midwest and West. McGovern is especially concerned about Republican attempts to eviscerate the Food Stamp program, which is part of the Farm bill, also.
The State of Things:
After weeks of pressure to agree to more debates and criticism for failing to negotiate, Senator Scott Brown has thrown the people a bone. He has accepted the debate invitation extended by Sen. Edward Kennedy’s widow, Victoria Reggie*. Yes, that is an asterisk. Brown wants Reggie to stay out of the election and wants local media asking the questions, not Tom Brokaw. Brokaw would, under Brown’s terms, be allowed to moderate. The latter demand seems like window dressing. He wants to draw attention to this being Massachusetts’s race and not a national one. If this race gets nationalized, it hurts Brown because it ties him more closely to Romney. Keeping Reggie out of the campaign, seem fair, but it too is a political move. Brown has tried to wrap himself around Reggie to legitimize himself as Kennedy’s successor. If she’s not endorsing Warren, she can’t dispute Brown’s self-coronation as the heir to her husband’s legacy. Brown also, reportedly, does not want MSNBC to participate. The reasons there, though silly are obvious.
In Holyoke, the City Council is still debating Mayor Alex Morse’s new arts director position. Presently it is stuck in committee, but it could find its way out if 10 members of the full Council vote to extract it. The position, which is paid, would develop and promote an arts district in downtown Holyoke. However, it comes as the Holyoke School Department faces a huge deficit prompting to say now is not the time.
Last week, mayor Domenic Sarno unveiled his budget for the 2013 fiscal year. Twelve layoffs were part of the budget as well as 96 eliminations of vacant positions. Take your pick on where to read up on the downer of a fiscal document, the Republican, WAMC’s Paul Tuthill, or from us. Note last week’s Take My Council, Please, too.
The Reminder reports that adjustments to the city’s residency ordinance are still being discussed. Ward 2 Councilor Mike Fenton and Ward 7 Councilor Tim Allen are still determined to rewrite the law to strengthen its provisions and make it more workable. The city’s human resources department has also released its survey of city employee’s residency. Just under 60% were recorded as residents of the city and that is just from the departments that got responses from employees.
The City Council will consider some more financial transactions and is expected to take final action on several revenue measures this evening. Those revenues are assumed in Mayor Sarno’s budget and a failure to pass them will leave the budget out of balance.
He gets to bring his truck on stage. #scottbrowndebatedemands
— Adam Smith (@asmith83) June 18, 2012
Scott Brown will only debate if the press will stop asking him questions #scottbrowndebatedemands
— mckennamiller (@McKennaMiller) June 18, 2012
Hash tags thread together like ideas on Twitter. The Boston Phoenix’s David Bernstein is famous/infamous for them. In light of Scott Brown’s debate demands, we get a fun hash tag, leading to a small, but so far pretty good mocking of the senator. Jess McIntosh, McKenna Miller and Adam Smith of Texts from Hillary Clinton fame share this week’s tweet prize, but really stand in for the stream of other wisecracking tweet. McIntosh’s tweet weaves together Mitt Romney’s dirty secret (he speaks French) into this debate of debates. Miller’s tweet goes to the heart of Brown’s current problem with running for reelection being asked question by those that expect answers. Finally, Smith mocks Brown’s well-known regular truck-driving shtick with a demand that it appear on stage, possibly because it is his only argument for reelection (and a bad one at that). They represent countless other tweets with this hash tag, and in doing so for these sharp, needling tweets that hit Brown on a number of fronts, including his new mockable demand for debate demands, we award McIntosh, McKenna and Smith this week’s tweet prize.
This hash tag is still going as we speak. Do check it out.