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Manic Monday Markup 7/9/2012…

…And the World:

The first elections in Libya since the end of Colonel Qaddafi’s rule have thus far indicated a surprising result.  While official totals are not expected for several days, early results suggest that the liberal/secular coalition party is likely to win a plurality and maybe a majority.  This would mark the first time since the Arab Spring began wherein a non-Islamist party has won following the fall of the previous dictatorship.  Both Tunisia and Egypt elected Islamist parties (although the latter’s election results were later annulled), but Libya has bucked the trend in favor of Mahmoud Jibril’s coalition.  Jibril, the former transitional Prime Minister, never demonized Islamists in the campaign and has called for Islamic law to be the primary, but hardly the only inspiration for the country’s laws.

In Europe, finance ministers are trying to get interest rates for Spain and Italy under wraps.  Despite rather dramatic moves made over the last few weeks, Spain and Italy’s rates on their sovereign debt remain too high and threaten not only the European economy, but the political futures of the likes of Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti.

Finally, in Great Britain, a tight vote is expected on the fate of Lord Reform.  The House of Lords in Great Britain is not elected as the House of Commons is.  It remains relatively weak in comparison to the Commons, but the existence of an appointed, often lifetime tenured legislative body remains an arcane oddity among Western democracies.  Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, at the urging of his Liberal Democrat coalition parties supports a change to an 80% elected House of Lords.  However, enough Conservative party members have threatened to vote no on the measure to kill the measure with the help of the Opposition Labour party.  However, the whole process may be a farce to save the meaning of the coalition in the eyes of some.  In any case, if it fails it will be the first major Commons defeat for the coalition.

The Feds:

President Barack Obama came out today to push for a one-year extension of the Bush tax cuts for those making under $250,000 a year.  In an election year argument about tax fairness, the President rightly notes that such an extension would cut taxes for 98% percent of taxpayers and leave the other 2% to the fate of this election.  Ostensibly, if Obama wins, the wealth languish under Bill Clinton era tax rates (all of 4% above the current rates).  If he loses, the rich will win more respite from taxes.  Point worth making!  Don’t believe the argument small businesses suffer if tax cuts go away on those making more than $250K.  Small businesses are almost always taxed through the individuals that own them and only on their profits.  What small business do you know of that clears a quarter of a million in PROFIT a year?  Law firms do not count.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney despite a fabulous fundraising month is facing withering criticism, rightly earned, for his offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands and his refusal to release his tax returns to explain why his finances are so exotic.  Of course, the evidence is also suggesting that the attacks on Mitt’s foreign monies and whatnot are hurting our former governor in the swing states.  All of it suggests whether voters can take seriously Romney’s biggest claim (“I can fix the economy”) when he cannot even be clear on his finances.

A rather ignominious end to a career in Congress.  Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter, who made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination, resigned Friday after a fiasco that knocked him off the ballot for reelection.  McCotter failed to turn in enough signatures to be put on the ballot and shortly thereafter abandoned a write-in option.   His decision to resign appears to stem, in addition to the above nuttiness, to a decision to start penning a TV sitcom, rather than work for his Constituents, after ending his Presidential bid.  Of course, left holding the bag is the State of Michigan, which now needs to decide when or if a special election must be held for McCotter’s old seat and then under what district lines.

The State of Things:

Scott Brown ran as the candidate promising the kill health care.  Instead, his election made it more likely.  Now he’s trying to do it again, but Elizabeth Warren is not letting him.  The Democratic nominee went on offense on the topic in an Op-Ed in the Metro West Daily News.  At the same time a coalition of unions, health care advocates, community activists and constituents took their message to Brown’s campaign headquarters yesterday urging Brown to drop his opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

Warren’s latest once-more record-breaking numbers drop:  $8.67 million.

Finally, David Bernstein had a piece last week about the incoming onslaught of right-wing baloney that will descend onto Massachusetts as the senate race heats up.  In fact, only days after the piece was published, Bernstein was faced with right-wing retaliation that did not even address the issues he discussed in the original article.  Enter the right-wing cacophony.

As for the other Senator, John Kerry, he’s got a new interview in Forbes.

City Slickers:

Last week a federal judge upheld Springfield’s foreclosure ordinances passed last year.  We have a story on this, which is heavier on the legal analysis of the outcome.  If you would like a less self-promotional link, the Reminder also has a story as does the Valley Advocate.  Both stories also note that the groups that backed the ordinances are stepping up pressure on Mayor Domenic Sarno to actually begin enforcing them.

Elsewhere the Springfield Intruder’s Bill Dusty worries aloud that the fifteen versus ten dollar increase in the trash fee portends broader misbehavior on the part of city finances.  While we support the financial transfers to keep library services as close to the status quo as possible, Dusty’s worries are not necessarily misplaced.  However, it assumes the mayor will actually give up the funding (he has not as of yet).  Furthermore, although the increase is ostensibly intended for the libraries, the higher trash fee could just as easily be thought of as a means to cut the general fund’s subsidy to trash operations.  The higher the subsidy, the more it cuts into other city services.

Twitter Chatter:

Of all the moments in the Sun that seemed brightest in recent political memory, none comes to mind more than Marco Rubio, the junior Senator from Florida.  However, it seems as thought that moment is over, at least for now.  This week we recognize Buzz Feed’s Andrew Kaczynsky who tweeted out the Amazon selling status for Rubio’s new memoir, #322.  The result is not terribly impressive and matches Rubio’s fall from possible Vice-Presidential nominee grace.  Ever since President Barack Obama announced his decision to let the children of illegal immigrants stay if they are in school, Rubio’s raison d’etre, appealing to Hispanics, has evaporated.  Of course, one may wonder if that would have worked anyway.  His book is doing well on the New York Times bestseller’s list, but if the level of interest on Amazon is any sign, Rubio’s book may soon be headed to the bargain basket.  Maybe Rubio will have to be a Senator and do something with the jobs for a few more years before trying to take the country by storm.  For tweeting this fact, but also describing the fate of Rubio writ small, Kaczynski wins this week’s tweet prize.