Monday, September 19, 2011

Manic Monday Markup 9/19/11...

...And the World:

On Friday Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to submit to the United Nations Security Council a formal request for full membership of Palestine.  That is the area controlled by the Palestinian Authority, the West Bank, would become a nation in the eyes of the UN.  Full membership would give Palestine the ability to seek redress before International Courts and, in theory, give them a firmer hand in negotiating with Israel.  But full membership is out of the question as the United States has promised to exercise its veto on the Security Council.  If the council bid fails, the Palestinians will likely move to the General Assembly, which can approve lesser-recognitions by a simple majority vote. Israel likes neither option and the United States, while in agreement with Israel, is just as concerned posturing itself in opposition to self-determination of an Arab people.

Meanwhile, the sparks continue to fly in the Knesset, too.  Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni lashed out at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will speak to the UN general assembly this week.  The former Israeli Foreign Minister excoriated the Prime Minister for his "stupidity" that has left Israel isolated and possessing only the United States as a reliable ally.  While Livni and her party, Kadima, are not blameless for failing to secure peace during their reign, it does seem clear that Israel's current leadership have only itself to blame for bringing low a country, like Israel, that is richly deserving of more.  New Israeli elections, the only way out of this mess, are not seen to happen soon unless Netanyahu's coalition disintegrates.

The Feds:

President Barack Obama has drawn a line in the sand saying that he WILL veto a plan produced by the Super Committee on deficit reduction that does not raise revenue, but cuts benefits for the elderly and poor.  “We are not going to have a one-sided deal that hurts the folks who are most vulnerable,” the President said only moments ago.  The president has drawn a stark contrast to Republicans who oppose any revenue increases, although Speaker John Boehner did appear to leave the door open to higher revenues by closing loopholes alone.  While the president's position appears to be one of setting a stronger bargaining position, it could either bear fruit or effectively serve to contrast Obama from his opponents on the campaign trail.  In any event, it is not, as Politico suggests, about cementing the Democratic base, but really winning the middle too, as poll after poll shows the public is with him on this.

Among the presidents proposals to raise revenue was the "Buffet Rule" after billionaire Nebraska financier Warren Buffet.  Buffet noted in a famous New York Times Opinion piece that he pays less in taxes as a percentage of his income than his secretary, in part because much of his income is made in "unearned" income on capital gains.  Essentially the Buffet rule would create a new minimum tax rate for the wealthy ostensibly to prevent the use of tax breaks and/or a reliance on investment income to shield the wealthy from pay a rate equal to--let alone higher than--the average rate paid by most Americans.  Republicans predictably are jumping in front of the rich to protect them calling the whole thing class warfare.  However, it is worth noting here and here that that Republicans have engaged in class warfare themselves against the poor and the middle class for decades.  As Warren Buffet himself said, "there's class warfare alright, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning."  The link is a great read by the way and written by conservative Ben Stein.  Yes that Ben Stein.

The State of Things:

The casino bill moves onto the Senate having passed the House last week.  The lightning speed at which the bill moved through the House will likely be contrasted by a more meandering path through the Senate.  Senate President Therese Murray has promised not to stifle opponents of the gambling bill and allow the process to operate fairly.  While still expected to pass the Senate, this pace may permit more changes that will improve the bill that may involve a more vigorous conference process to reconcile the House & Senate versions of the bill.

Elizabeth Warren joined the race for the United States Senate last week with a whirlwind of press attention both nationally and locally.  At least one of her opponents, Alan Khazei, tried to bait Warren into rejecting PAC money, referring indirectly to the support Warren has received from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and EMILY's list.  Meanwhile Public Policy Polling  tweets suggests Brown's appeal shows signs of wear while Elizabeth Warren takes edge in Democratic primary.

City Slickers:

Tomorrow is preliminary day in Springfield and odds are that one of Mayor Domenic Sarno's challengers will be sorted out.  However, it remains increasingly unclear who that will be.  While Tosado appeared to score a coup with the Springfield Patrolmen union endorsement, there was some consternation by some rank & file police.  However, that squawking could just as easily allies of the mayor or Antonette Pepe trying to deflate Tosado's endorsement.  The Springfield Intruder appears to be taking the position that Sarno's administration has been too corrupt or inept to justify another four years in office.  Among its evidence is the increasing payroll discrepancies that have resulted in no consequences, like termination, for the city's finance director T.J. Plante.

Whatever tomorrow's results it will likely have very low turnout.  Seldom would we so wholeheartedly agree with the Republican, but their admonishment to voters that complaint about their choices for candidates would be well-served to actually show up and vote tomorrow.  Indeed, while doubtful, as Maureen Turner notes today that then-incumbent Springfield Mayor Robert Markel was knocked out of office in a 3-way primary with Charles Ryan and Michael Albano.  Yes, the following January Michael Albano took office as the mayor of Springfield.

In a related item, WMassP&I will not be endorsing any candidate for mayor in the preliminary.  Our reason is simple.  Due to real world scheduling problems, partly of our making, we could not interview all candidates and therefore feel ill-equipped to make an endorsement.  Even an interview we had with Jose Tosado could not be posted due to scheduling crunches unrelated to this blog.  For this, we apologize.

Twitter Chatter:

The above mentioned PPP tweets referred to above include other gems like Romney's crummy approval rating in Massachusetts and that 64% of gay marriage opponents admit it has had no impact on their lives.  Yet still we ask ourselves how much do they care?

The White House staff and by extension Pres. Obama win this week's tweet prize with the roll out of the president's plan to reverse the decades of tax cuts and breaks for the rich that have not yielded job creation.   First up, quoting the President:

Then from earlier today, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer answers the claims that establishing fairness in tax code is itself "class warfare".

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