Manic Monday Markup 2/25/13…
…And the World:
We begin today in Italy, where election results turmoil reigns. The polls are closed, but exit polls are contradicting early returns. The center-left bloc led by Pier Luigi Bersani was thought to lead in both houses of Parliament, but early returns show former Prime Minister’s Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right block leading in the Italian Senate. The prospect of divided government sent interest rates soaring. Italy has been mired in stagnation and recession for some time now and had looked to the elections as a means to restore stability. Berlusconi was dislodged from the premiership after it became apparent he was unwilling to move Italy in a direction that would reform its economy. Also be sure to check out the Guardian’s live blog of the election.
Following up on an item from last week, a former political prisoner has been named the leader and therefore its candidate for Prime Minister.
The Jerusalem Post is reporting that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formally invited second place winner Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid party into coalition talks. Lapid and Naphtali Bennett, the head of the fairly radical Bayit Yehudi party have reached an agreement on Lapid’s demand and campaign promise that Yeshiva students no longer be excused from Israel’s military conscription laws. The exemption has been a hot-button issue in Israel for years. Netanyahu, while under a court order to find a solution had been iffy on the subject.
Also, Raul Castro says that his next term as President of the island nation will be his last.
The White House has released detailed state by state analysis of what the looming sequester will do if allowed to go into effect on Friday as planned. No solution is in sight. However, the Maddowblog’s Steven Benen flags a tweet from a National Journal reporter that epitomizes the much of the media’s inability or unwillingness to see that only one side in this debate is unreasonable. The Journal’s Josh Kraushaar tries to say a recent bipartisan agreement in Virginia is an example for the White House…but the problem is President Obama is open to compromise and the Republicans, namely in the House are not.
It offends our sensibilities to give him any of our keystrokes, but there is something greatly disturbing about Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s neo-McCarthyism. Greg Sargent at the Washington Post writes about this today in the context of what it means for the GOP’s rebanding efforts. The New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer wrote last week about Cruz’s 2010 claim that there were more Marxists at Harvard La than Republicans when he went there. Apparently he was referring to professors who believe in critical legal studies, but that hardly means they support any violent revolutions or destruction of the American system.
Follow up from last week. Democratic Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz officially intends to challenge Republican Governor Tom Corbett next year.
Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy’s budget was widely panned in the state. While the governor promised no new taxes, the tough budget has left many legislators considering their own revenue measures, including, yes, new taxes.
The State of Things:
Speaking to New England business leaders in Boston, Senator Elizabeth Warren blasted the brinksmanship of Washington’s current governance. Calling the sequester cuts “just plain dumb” she urged a solution that had balance like the kind President Obama put forward. The Republican has compiled the Massachusetts sequester cuts.
In Special Senate Election potpourri: Republcian State Representative Dan Winslow claims that he has well more than the necessary 10,000 signatures to get on the ballot. His likely primary challenger Gabriel Gomez, apparently lobbied Deval Patrick to appoint him to fill John Kerry’s seat. On the Democratic side, both Stephen Lynch and Ed Markey bagged some union endorsements over the past week, but Lynch is clearly the favorite among labor at the moment. Lynch & Markey have also agreed to six debates before the April 30 primary.
Like many of its fellow Bay State communities, Worcester is holding elections this year and preparing its election calendar. Unlike state elections, localities have apparently wide latitude as to when they set the dates to pull papers and run for office. Candidates for the Heart of the Commonwealth’s Council and School Committee will face compressed timelines to get signatures in under the proposed calendar.
The problem with running to the press every chance you get if you are a member of the Springfield City Council is that it becomes difficult to tell whether there is smoke, and therefore fire, and not just dust getting kicked up. Herein lies the problem with at-large Councilor Bud Williams latest complaint about a private property being purchased by the city. The point about losing tax-paying properties is not valid, but can that points significance be diminished if it comes amidst other cries of “wolf.”
Paul Tuthill reports Springfield City Council President Jimmy Ferrera’s School Safety Committee, which was, incidentally, the only significant thing to come out of his speech at his swearing in.
From Washington to 36 Court Street, we see the disappointing fruit of democracy. Even as non-partisan, unelected workers live in doubt and fear about their livelihoods and well-being, the elected branches engage in greater and greater levels of brinksmanship, mediocrity and incompetence. But is it the worst among democracies? Today we award the tweet prize to the Nation’s Editor at Large and Host of MSNBC’s Up, Chris Hayes. In pointing out that Silvio Berlusconi, a man alleged to have had sex with an underage prostitute, is on the ballot, our system has limits. Berlusconi has been able to rise, once against from the dustbin of history because he owns an inordinate share of the Italian media, controlling the message fully to his own needs. While Fox News is basically an arm of the Republican Party, there are degrees of separation and they matter. A wink and a nod is not the same as having your finger on the button and Italy, weathering stagnation and austerity, has suffered for having the latter.
If you ever get super-depressed about American politics just remember: Silvio Berlusconi is on the ballot in Italy.
— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) February 25, 2013