It is the last Manic Monday/Tardy Tuesday of the year people! Yes, we know it is Wednesday, but technical difficulties were, well, a problem. Enjoy
...And the World:
Several weeks ago the decision of Pakistan's president Asif Ali Zardari to seek medical treatment abroad led many to think a coup in the country was already underway. Zardari has since returned, but the fears about a military takeover appear to have not totally faded. Pakistan, which has had several coups before, has a civilian government only officially controls the country's military and foreign policy. Incredible power remains in the Pakistani military and intelligence community, effectively denying Pakistanis a true democracy. Zardari is the widower of the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated four years ago today and gave an impassioned speech on behalf of the democratic process to mark the anniversary.
Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson is apparently going to retire long after Democrats were supposedly assured that no further retirements were in the pipeline. His retirement likely means this seat will be a Republican pickup, but that may have been the case anyway given Nelson's unpopularity in the state and unlikely chances of pulling a Harry Reid. It makes the Democrats' job of holding the Senate that much harder.
President Barack Obama nominated two qualified people to the Federal Reserve, but qualifications are rarely enough for this particular Senate minority.
The Washington Post considers how the wealth gap between Congress and the voters may lead to changes in attitudes among members of Congress. Thought to consider when current Congressman Kelly lays out his case against some programs, it all comes down to what comes out of his pie. No consideration for what others have tried to attain, but could not. Moreover, there's no way to validate or consider his story about people passing on a job before their benefits cut out. Also, worth noting, unemployment is paid by employers (sort of) and he already thinks he is overtaxed. The sort of is that most economists, labor experts and business experts agree that while unemployment taxes are PAID by the employer, they are essentially earned by the employee's labor. In other words, the only reason why the employer pays it is because their worker is productive enough to compensate for the contribution to unemployment on the off chance the job does not pan out and he needs the unemployment later.
The State of Things:
Sears announced it was closing 100-120 stores (which may include some K-Mart stores, which it also owns) after a lackluster holiday season. The company has suffered from unremodeled stores for years and increasingly dis-satisfactory customer service. The reason why this is a state story and not a national one (it is) is the potential impact especially in the Springfield area. There are three Sears in Western Massachusetts, one each in Holyoke, Lanesboro and Springfield. The one in Enfield is also nearby and more important to the Springfield area economy than the Lanesboro one. From a broader economic perspective closure of the Springfield location could be devastating to the Eastfield retail area which is still searching for tenets in the former Circuit City and JC Penny locations.
Scott Brown isn't scared! He says voters will have a clear choice next year between a reformer with a solid record of looking out for the middle class and him.
Springfield held a hearing on the proposal to severely restrict entertainment at establishments that serve alcohol. The only supporters at the day before Christmas Eve hearing was the police, but even their arguments seemed flaky at best. Virtually all other attendees were in opposition.
Reminder! Next Monday is Inauguration Day for Springfield's Mayor and City Council. We'll be there! But you can be too. Love or hate some of the electeds (you know we do), its a simple way to participate and when you hear what politicians have to say you can call them out more easily when they artfully place their feet in their mouths!
No twitter chatter this week. We're thinking about the Valley Tweet of the year. It is a tough task since even we do not read all Springfield area tweets. So PLEASE, email us your suggestions to email@example.com. We'll include the winner in our annual "The Year in Springfield!"