Monday, September 12, 2011

Manic Monday Markup 9/12/11...

...And the World:

Israel's political and diplomatic situation has continued to deteriorate coming to a head with the attack on the Israeli embassy in Cairo.  Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab country's with normal diplomatic relations with Israel.  The attack was both a black eye for Egypt in the post-Mubarak world, but also a sign of Israel's relative international weakness following a break with Turkey, formerly among Israel's most important allies. (Turkey is not an Arab country).  Ultimately, Egypt remains committed to upholding its international obligations to foreign missions, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had to run to President Barack Obama for help.  The US's contacts with the Egyptian military, which was partly responsible for the somewhat orderly protester-inspired coup that removed Mubarak from power, ended up being key to restoring order near the Israeli embassy.

Meanwhile, Israel's own foreign minister is accused of considering actually backing Turkish terrorists in retaliation the two countries' diplomatic deterioration.  Avigdor Leiberman, the head of a right-wing party in Israel and the country's foreign ministers has been known for combative language and a generally uncompromising stance that, has contrary to its intentions, frequently diminished Israel's power and respect.  The original claims came in response to Turkey's expulsion of the Israeli ambassador after Israel refused to apologize for a raid on a boat that killed nine Turks.  The terrorist group in question, the Kurdistan Workers Party, is recognized as such by the State Department (listed under Kongra-Gel).  The Israeli government appeared to walk back some of the earlier idea of supporting the terrorist group, but faces more embarrassment ahead of a Palestinian bid for recognition at the UN.  Much of the European Union favors non-state status (full recognition is out of the question given the Obama administration's firm threat of a veto in the Security Council) and that vote in the General Assembly will only further erode Israel's international position.

Separately, Israel, a nation with promise, ingenuity and a rich history, should not be in its current position.  The Arab Spring issued the Jewish state a challenge, as did the protests of its own citizens, but instead of rising to the occasion, its own leaders like politicians of any country have taken the more expedient path to the detriment of all Israelis.  Whether Netanyahu wants to be a modern-day Begin, is not known, but rather than take the political risks necessary to strengthen his country, he appears to have retreated to the relative safety of his country's right-wing, whose policies cannot save the country.  While both parties in the United States are accused of not standing up to Israel, often failing to speak honestly to Israel, the real change has to come within.  Until its population and electorate install a government with the will and desire to confront its problems intelligently and thoughtfully, rather than viscerally and fearfully, security will only ever be defined by how much military hardware the small nation owns.

The Feds:

Of course, yesterday America and the world commemorated the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and remembered the heroes of that day, including the passengers on Untied Flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, Penna.

President Obama rolled out his jobs plan last week to a joint session of Congress in fairly clear and consistent language.  The phase or something like it, "Pass this bill" was repeated 17 times.  Today, the president formally sent legislation to Congress (technically a Democratic ally of the President would need to submit it, but whatever).  The legislation would likely be most effective in its extension of the payroll tax holiday, plans to rehired laid off teachers, police and firefighters, and school infrastructure repairs.  All could be immediately placed into economy.  Other proposals may have more marginal or longer term effects.  Republicans are trying to play non-opposition opposition with House Speaker John Boehner promising swift scoring by the CBO.  The president plans to take his jobs bill on the road hitting key states like Ohio and Colorado.

The State of Things:

Senator John Kerry, a member of the so-called Super Committee charged with cutting the nation's debt, has announced he will eschew fund raising and lobbyists while serving on the committee.  Kerry told the Boston Globe that he did not want to be leveraged by special interests during his work on the committee.  The super committee has until November to come up with a plan or triggers to cut spending will be pulled.  Obama called on the Super Committee to add the cost of his jobs plan to their mandate.

Massachusetts' moves to expand casino gambling could quickly be blunted by the commonwealth's neighbors mirroring the Bay State's actions.  State tourism officials tout Massachusetts' ability to outdo neighbors in tourism generally, but if casinos spring up around New England, the net benefit to the Bay State will be reduced.

City Slickers:

Mayoral candidates face off tonight and tomorrow.  WMassP&I is committed to covering one or both of the events.  Watch #spfldpoli on twitter for updates from debates and...

...The Springfield City Council meeting tonight.  Highlights of the meeting include a new fund transfer from the mayor of stabilization reserves to general fund to restore nearly all of the cuts the Council made in June.  In a finance committee meeting Friday, heads of city department laid out a parade of horribles caused by the largest cut made from "Other than Personnel Services" that touched nearly all departments.  Irony of ironies, the same department heads that councilors accused of not explaining impact of cuts on their budgets earlier this year called for earlier budget process looking to fiscal year 2013 budget.

Twitter Chatter:

Twitter claws its way into Springfield politics.  City Council President and mayoral aspirant Jose Tosado has a campaign twitter account @ElectJoseTosado.  Meanwhile, a parody account of Mayor Domenic Sarno @nomoresarno also made its appearance.  The parody account appears to link to anti-sarno stories with some light humor.  However it is no @MayorEmanuel, a parody account started after Rahm Emanuel, Obama's former Chief of Staff, and mocked Emanuel's run for mayor of Chicago.  After Emanuel won, the user identified himself and the mayor-elect donated to the user's favored charity a Chicago literacy program.

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