We took the week off last week other than the Take Down...late as it is, but packed!
...And the World:
It's a political tussle Down Under as the former Prime Minister and leader of the ruling Labor Party tried to throw his successor on the barbie. Kevin Rudd, who led Labor to victory in 2007, was deposed and replaced by Julia Gillard in 2010, who became Australia's first woman Prime Minister. Labor lost the majority in the snap elections following Gillard's coup, but retained power with the help of the Green Party. Gillard made a deal with the Greens to push a carbon tax, which is unpopular (although misunderstood). Rudd, who challenged Gillard's leadership in part due to her low poll numbers, was trounced in the leadership elections held today. Ironically, the political drama may have done as much as policy to harm Labor and Gillard's numbers. Although he pledged full support to Gillard to allow Labor to govern, there are grave concerns the row could weaken the party over the next year as it prepares for the 2013 elections. Others say Liberals' New Coalition Party and its leader, Tony Abbott, should be worried. In the meantime, Gillard will need to reshuffle her cabinet to replace among others, Rudd, who was Foreign Minister until this month and likely hopes for calm within her party for now.
Germany approves the Greek bailout, a critical step to calming the continent's tempestuous credit markets. However, it may have exacted a political cost on German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The Guardian takes a look at the political career of Vladimir Putin who is expected to win Sunday's election. From his decision to run again for President to the largest protests to rock post-Soviet Russia, the article describes the sense that Putin may be in the twilight of his political career despite another term as Russia's president.
If you are reading this, it is probably already Primary Day in Arizona and Michigan for Republicans. While Arizona is not thought to be competitive as Mitt Romney had invested heavily in the state and before the Santorum
surge momentum, Michigan, Romney's home state suddenly became endangered. Polls have fluctuated between our former governor and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and either one could win tomorrow's primary. NPR has reports from both the Romney and Santorum campaigns on the last day of the race in Michigan.
As Maryland joined the ranks of states enabling Marriage Equality, although not before 2013, New Hampshire may be poised to roll back its historic establishment of equal rights for gays and lesbians. Republicans in the State House have more than enough votes to pass the measure, but they must overcome a veto by Democratic Governor John Lynch who signed the bill establishing marriage equality. They may succeed, but other efforts undertaken by the hard-right legislature have failed to overcome Lynch's veto. Polls in the Granite State support gay marriage and complicating matters further is the 9th Circuits move to invalidate California's gay marriage ban. That ruling stated that there must be a compelling state interest to reinstate a gay marriage ban (as opposed to keeping in place an existing one). That case is likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court.
Darrell Issa, who convened the all-men panel on
women's health "religious liberty" admitted that his made-for-TV whupping of the president was not his best performance. Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Malony had Issa at "Where are the Women?"
The State of Things:
Really? Former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy, the son of Senator Edward M. Kennedy asked Scott Brown to stop invoking his father in ads defending Brown's position on the Blunt Amendment. The Blunt Amendment, you will remember, would allow any employer or insurance the right to deny ANY medical care in an employee health care plan for ANY reason of moral conscience. Moral conscience is not defined. Brown essentially told Kennedy that he knows what the late senator would do. The admonition from Patrick Kennedy came after a pair of dueling Ed-Op, one from Brown and one from his likely Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren. Hint! Brown has either published a dictionary with an alternate definition of the words involved or he's lying. Adrian Walker goes further and calls it "sleazy."
Brown's team also unearthed a 1997 bill filed by Edward Kennedy in the Senate and Patrick Kennedy in the House that Brown claims proves his point on Kennedy's position. Alas, this is not true. The 1997 legislation Brown referenced a bill that outlined patience rights to information from their insurer. Rob Rizzuto at the Springfield Republican, talks to a Kennedy staffers and experts to deconstruct Brown's argument, revealing it to be another effort to dissemble on the issue. Key quote, the bill was "an info-enhancing, not an access-denying, provision."
By any measure, Brown must be trying to raise money out of state from conservative circles over this. The politics in Massachusetts are simply not that good for Brown. The evidence? Stephen Lynch, among the state's most socially conservative Congressmen, backs President Barack Obama's compromise after criticizing the original rule. Lynch represents deeply blue-collar areas of Boston and the city's southern suburbs.
A bit of non-Western Mass non-birth control news. Youth in politics! Alex Pratt, a Senior at Littleton High School, is running for the School Committee. Pratt is well known to the Massachusetts online activist left for his work on behalf of bullied students and has been active in his school's student government. Pratt wants to use his experience as a student in the system to maintain quality education despite financial pressures. Recognition of Pratt's candidacy may seem random, but it is incredibly critical that young people become more involved in politics. Pratt has a deep history in politics already, but perhaps more like may get more involved in their own community and provide more of the much-need perspective of younger citizens. Locally, young politicians include Springfield Ward 2 Councilor Mike Fenton, 25, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, 23 and Longmeadow School Committeeman Michael Clark, 22.
Deliberations are underway in the trial of former Springfield Police Officer Jeffrey Asher. Asher is accused of police brutality against Melvin Jones III. The case burst onto the scene after a video of the alleged attack was posted to Youtube and remains a flashpoint in police-minority relations in the city.
A home rule petition long sought by at-large Counilor Tim Rooke could yield million in revenue for the city. The law, if signed by the governor would allow the city to use equipment it owns to capture the license plates of excise tax delinquents and impound offending car to force payment.
Today we take this late-night tweet from the New York Times Fivethirtyeight blog, curated by Nate Silver for a quick slice of the situation in the polls in Michigan. The purpose of highlighting this tweet is to emphasize several things. First of all, it points out the closeness of this race which should have been a giveaway to one-time native son Mitt Romney. It also show how concisely a tweet can sum up the story of Romney's imploding inevitability. Whether Mitt Romney wins tomorrow or not, in a way it is sort of ironic that a man who slayed dragons like Rick Perry and used his SuperPAC's millions to crush Newt Gingrich, could be cowed by somebody like Rick Santorum who a year ago nobody would have fathomed had a chance. All in 140 characters...or less!