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Bipartisan blues

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The right-wing remaking of the Republican Party continues apace, and Indiana is the next battlefront in this internecine GOP war. That’s where veteran Republican US senator Richard Lugar faces a strong challenge in the May 8 primary from the state’s treasurer, Richard Mourdock, whom Tea Party types are rallying behind.

Boston Globe editorial page editor Peter Canellos suggested in a column yesterday that Democrats and independents in Indiana should take Republican ballots in the state’s open primary and support Lugar, a reliable conservative who has nonetheless shown a willingness to work across the aisle. “If Democrats care about bipartisanship, and are disgusted by the congressional Republicans’ wall of resistance to any policy associated with Obama, they should jump in and save Dick Lugar,” writes Canellos.  (The Democrats have an uncontested primary, with US Rep. Joe Donnelly set to carry the party flag in the November Senate face-off.)

He says he understands the urge among Democrats to gleefully watch incumbents like Lugar squirm -- a hard-right Republican nominee would no doubt make the Indiana seat a more plausible Democratic takeover.  But it’s an impulse he says they should resist for the sake of returning some sanity and reasonableness to the broader body politic.

Norman Ornstein, of the American Enterprise Institute, also suggests there is some hope of bipartisan comity -- and collaboration -- with Republican senators such as Lugar, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and  our own Scott Brown (if he beats Elizabeth Warren).

But expecting loyal Democratic voters to help protect reasonable Republicans from far-right primary insurgents may be taking this bipartisanship thing a bit too far.  After all, parties are all about building their own ranks, and zany extremists like Delaware’s witchcraft-dabbling Christine O’Donnell, for example, who knocked off a very credible Republican in the 2010, help them do that.  

A bigger question at this point might be how effective someone like Lugar can even be in pulling the GOP back from the lurch to the far-right.  

Barney Frank, in an extended interview with New York magazine, offers a fairly unsentimental appraisal of Olympia Snowe, the retiring Maine Republican senator who has been held up as one of the last paragons of moderate Republicanism.  Frank, the veteran liberal Democratic congressman who is himself retiring, was somewhat sympathetic to her plight and to the worry about a primary challenge from the far right.  But he said the current climate has already led Republicans like Snowe to shed much of their moderate bearings. Just before she announced in late February that she was not seeking reelection, Snowe was the focus of a New York Times story describing how she already had moved “considerably to the right,” said Frank. “But it was never far enough.” Asked if she was a helpful centrist to have in Congress, he said, “Decreasingly.”  

                                                                                                                                        --MICHAEL JONAS

BEACON HILL

House Speaker Robert DeLeo sat down with Keller@Large to talk about this week’s upcoming budget debate and repeated his opposition to including any new taxes.  The Lowell Sun, in an editorial, praises the House budget for holding the line on taxes but condemns it for increasing spending.

House Minority Leader Brad Jones wants to mandate itemized cell phone records for public officials, and he wants to make them reachable by public records requests.

The MetroWest Daily News advocates shoring up the Community Preservation Act trust fund.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Patriot Ledger profiles some of the local versions of Harold Stassen, those perennial candidates who keep the small “d” in democratic.

ELECTION 2012

Sen. Scott Brown said during an interview Friday he hasn’t consumed alcohol since New Year’s Day and won’t until after the election because of “a stupid bet,” but he didn’t say whether tasting beers during a day with a Herald reporter qualified as drinking.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney proposes steep cuts in the federal budget everywhere except defense, the AP reports (via the Lowell Sun).

Paul Krugman marvels at the sight of Mitt Romney staging a campaign rally outside an Ohio factory that closed before President Obama took office.

Bill Clinton thinks attacking Romney as a flip-flopper is a bad strategy.

The Romney campaign’s new state-based joint fundraising effort may run afoul of SEC pay to play prohibitions. Frank Rich dives into the new, limitless campaign finance landscape.  Meanwhile, Romney fails the transparency test.

President Obama is pushing to keep interest rates low on federal student loans in a bid to attract the youth vote; Republicans counter this tactic by pointing to high unemployment among young people.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The rising cost of pay TV is prompting many homeowners to go without, the Lowell Sun reports. The New York Times explores why TV viewing overall is down.

San Francisco 49ers are leaving San Francisco for Santa Clara and Silicon Valley, AP reports (via Governing).   

Americans paid $31.6 billion in overdraft fees in 2011, Time reports.
   
One sign of a recovering economy is an increase in the number of summer vacation rentals on Cape Cod and the South Shore.

EDUCATION

Contrary to popular belief, low-income school districts are more likely to designate students to receive special education services than are wealthier districts, according to a report prepared for the state. In a trend that seems to support that finding, Brockton’s special education programs have made the city’s schools the choice of a growing number of families with children with autism.

There is a flurry of construction activity on the state’s public college campuses.

HEALTH CARE

Three Massachusetts Hospitals -- Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River,  St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, and the Lahey Clinic in Burlington -- have been cited by federal officials for refusing treatment for patients in their emergency rooms.  In one case, the patient died en route to another hospital.

Cape pool owners contemplate new federal regulations requiring public and commercial pools to install lifts to assist disabled swimmers.

Obesity rates are down slightly among Massachusetts infants and toddlers.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Massachusetts is not on track to meet the greenhouse gas reduction goals set out in the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act, according to a new MassINC research report.

The Cape Cod Times wants to see testing for contamination in shellfish transported from other bodies of water to boost the region’s own populations.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

An ACLU lawsuit in Lynn challenges the belief that restricting where sex offenders can live will reduce their likelihood to reoffend, the Item reports.

The Fall River home where Lizzie Borden lived out her life after being acquitted of murdering her parents is up for sale. It’s unclear if the owners would whack anything off the $650,000 price tag.

MEDIA

The Beat the Press panel ponders under what circumstances media should “unpublish” stories on the Internet, a growing concern.

TV makes corrections, just not on the air, the New York Times reports.

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