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Manic Monday Markup 3/4/13…

…And the World:

We begin today in Kenya, where voters are going to the polls six years after bloodshed erupted following the last election.  Kenyans are voting under a new constitution and will pick either Raila Odinga, the current Prime Minister, or Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of the nation’s first president.  Some violence has been reported along the coast near Mombassa as millions turned out to vote.  Complicating matters further, Kenyatta has been charged by the International Criminal Court for orchestrating some of the violence after the 2007 election.  Corruption and graft is a huge problem in Kenya, but on the bright side, free speech is flourishing here.  NPR has a report on how the Kenyan equivalent of the Daily Show has skewered the nation’s politicians…and with puppets!

Across the world in Australia, the nation is moving into election season.  Prime Minister Julia Gillard will stand for another term, but she appears to be facing tough odds against the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott.  She has lost support among women in some quarters of the country, leading her and her Labor government to say that an Abbott premiership will hit Aussies in the pocketbook.

Israeli talks to form a government drag on, but at least it appears that progress has been made.

Finally in Rome, Cardinals are meeting ahead of the conclave to select the next pope.  Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George says that he and his brethren must select a pope unstained by the child sex abuse scandal.  Of course, before cardinals can select a pope, they must agree on when to start the conclave.

The Feds:

Sequestration Nation!  The pain may not be felt for some time, but the deadline has passed.  Lots of good stuff from and linked by Greg Sargent today, but he pays particular attention to pundits that seem insistent on blaming President Obama, a lazy position indeed.  David Gregory, long reviled on the left for splitting the baby in favor of Republicans, came very close to taking apart John Boehner.  But kudos for at least going further than he had before.  And the New York Times looks at the coming end of Virginia’s ride on the federal funds gravy train.

President Obama announced three cabinet picks today.  Gina McCarthy, the newly nominated EPA Administrator, will take over at a time when the climate is in focus.  Ernest Moniz has been tapped to head Energy.  Finally, Silvia Burwell has been picked to lead the Office of Management and Budget.  She would be the agency’s first formal director in over a year since now-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew moved from OMB to be Obama’s chief of staff.  But perhaps more important, The Washington Post reports, Obama is stepping up his picks for and seeking diversity within the federal judiciary, but will that matter?

It’s election season in sunny Los Angeles, and like anywhere else politics in LA ain’t beanbag.  Tomorrow is only the preliminary, provided nobody clears 50% of the vote, which polls suggest nobody will.  The top contenders are Councilman Eric Garcetti, the son of a former District Attorney, and Wendy Gruel, the city comptroller.  Also in the race is a conservative, openly gay talk show host Kevin James, who seems to have quite an uphill climb in this uber-Democratic city.  The top two vote getters will face off in a May primary.  The Los Angeles Times, whose solid coverage of the race is worth a look, endorsed Garcetti.

Buck a trend, Rhode Island could step away from its own Voter ID, or more aptly described voter screening legislation.

The State of Things:

The effort to bring in new revenue to the Commonwealth’s coffers continues.  Governor Deval Patrick released a new tool to show how taxpayers would be affected.  Adding new revenue to the commonwealth is critical to restoring investments in infrastructure, education and critically for cities like Springfield, local aide, which has been slashed by millions.  Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno recently sent a letter to legislators urging an increase to local aide.

More Massachusetts Senate special election potpourri.  Is Stephen Lynch’s position on gays in the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade tenable?  The issue came about after an “email glitch” kept Lynch’s name off of a brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.  Before we are beset by complaints of Lynch-bashing, Lynch has also sponsored repeals of DOMA in Congress.  Boston Magazine looks at how both Lynch and Markey, with links to Globe and Herald stories on the latter, have seemingly changed positions.  Former US Attorney Michael Sullivan will have one-time State Rep and Treasury nominee Karyn Polito chairing his campaign among other Massachusetts Republicans.

Chicopee’s political scene is in the spotlight as mayor Michael Bissonnette announced he will run again this November.  Further down ballot, the School Committee’s Ward 1 member, Adam Lamontagne, 26, will not run again this year.  Masslive’s story implies that his exit from the School Committee may not be his exit from politics, however.  The article goes on to mention other retirements in the city’s elected offices, of which Chicopee has an insane amount.

City Slickers:

Be sure to catch, hours before the meeting, our preview of tonight’s Springfield City Council meeting.

Springfield officials and the Hampden County District Attorney’s office held a gun buyback over the weekend.  By one report, the buyback broke records.

Twitter Chatter:

Today we are going a bit more lighthearted for the Tweet Prize.  With all the sequester in the world, humor can be hard to find, especially in the news.  Enter Twitter.  Today we award the Tweet Prize to Actor/Director Jon Favreau.  Recently, a different Jon Favreau, Obama’s former chief Speechwriter, joined twitter and asked there was room enough for both of them.  Actor/Director Favreau said sure, in fact, even suggested a money-saving alliance!

In other humorous tweet, we find another former Obama speechwriter, Jon Lovett, adding some levity to recent news events.  In particular, he brings in Dennis Rodman’s bizarre visit to North Korea (can anything Rodman does be called bizarre at this point) and speculation that actress Ashley Judd may run for Senate against Mitch McConnell.  Analytically, Lovett’s tweet is unlikely for both Rodman and Judd’s future, although you wouldn’t know that about the latter the way Republicans are acting.