…And the World:
The Arab League, once a den of autocrats and despots has taken its first significant action against one of its own following this year’s Arab Spring. The League has placed sanctions on Syria for its brutal crackdown on its own civilians in an effort to repress voices for reform. Unlike in Libya, however, the country is not divided between rebels and the loyalists. President Bashar al-Assad has promised reform, but haw apparently missed every deadline agreed to for reform, including one agreed to with the Arab League. Most Arab countries supported the move with Iraq and Lebanon being notable exceptions. Both countries have strong ties to Iran, which heavily supports the Assad regime. Thus far Russia has vetoed similar efforts at the United Nations.
Also an election in Morocco over the weekend and another in Egypt for a day or so.
Meanwhile, George Osbourne, Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, is poised to announce a £5 Billion (roughly $7.75 billion at current exchange rates) capital investment program to stave off another recession in Great Britain. The Chancellor, who is essentially the country’s treasury secretary, hopes to minimize damage to the British economy due to the Euro crisis which is expected to hit the UK harder than any other non-Euro country. The proposal would be deficit neutral, but could come from some higher taxes.
With Newt Gingrich the latest anti-Romney on the Republican side of the race somebody other than Rachel Maddow explores the fortune the former House Speaker has made being a former politician. Not quite a lobbyist (although he was something close to that, too), Gingrich had amassed a lucrative “consulting” business complete with sales of political widgets that have made him and his third wife a wealthy couple.
Elsewhere in National Politics, Steve Kornacki at Salon.com breaks down a recent piece from Jonathon Chait on the Left’s disappointment with President Obama. Rather than refute Chait’s premise that the left has nothing to complain about (although it does, but not enough to actually turn against Obama significantly), he contests the notion that Obama and Democratic presidents are the only ones with alleged apostates. Kornacki compares Obama to his conservative/Republican counterpart Ronald Reagon and the other two Democrats who have been president since 1976. Ultimately he refutes Chait’s position that liberals are uniquely prone to dissatisfaction. Hint: Have you met a tea partier?
The State of Things:
The Boston Globe is reporting today that Barney Frank will not be running for reelection. Frank, who is known for his wit and the ying & yang of conservative hate and liberal adoration, has been in Congress since 1981. He faced a brutal reelection campaign in 2010, but had vowed earlier this year to seek another term. The changing face of his district, which had earlier included the big fishing city of New Bedford was among the reasons cited. Newton and Brookline remain in Frank’s district as does a fragment of Fall River, which were all key to Frank’s coalition. However a smattering of more conservative towns were added and existing MA-4 communities like the seemingly purple Taunton, in which Dems have a voter advantage, are represented parly by Republicans. Additional details of his speech and reaction here and the scramble to replace Frank begins.
While Frank has been a fixture of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, we would be remiss to not point out his foibles as well. Frank, who is openly gay, was embroiled in a scandal in the late-eighties after a domestic partner of his misused the relationship for personal gain. A look at this from the Washington Post circa 1989, made possible through the original reporter, now a professor at Boston University.
Some non-Frank news. Efforts to repeal Massachusetts’ Health Care mandate, made possible by a cabal of arch-conservatives and pro-lifers, has failed to garner the necessary signatures. If you are wondering why the Pro-Life movement is behind it, they do not like that the law does cover abortions and, of course, contraception. However, ending the mandate, while making the overall law untenable would do nothing to assure less abortions are performed in Massachusetts or even less performed on the taxpayers nickle.
A special biomass meeting will be held tonight at the Springfield City Council to explore the council’s legal options to stop the plant. The council can pursue an appeal of the Building Commissioner’s permit to the city’s Board of Appeals and, if dissatisfied with that body’s action, can appeal to court.
WMassP&I will be live-tweeting the biomass meeting. Follow #spfldpoli, #SpringfieldMA or #biomass on twitter (if you do not already follow us @wmasspi).
Also on Biomass, Maureen Turner wrote on her blog “On Springfield” about the contributions the Callahan family, owners of Palmer Renewable Energy, have given to Springfield politicians over the years. Most of the top recipients have opposed the council’s revocation of the permit and, as of last week anyway, efforts by the city council to see its revocation stand.
The retirement of somebody like Barney Frank provokes potent responses from across the Twitterverse. From the false right-wing bilge of Ann Coulter to some more tender responses from colleagues. A late entrant in this week’s Twitter Chatter brings us to highlight Congresswomen and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz. While Frank no doubt captured the full gambit of emotions on the right and left, for a career as esteemed as his, however partisan, it is best summed up when respectful and Cong. Wasserman Shultz gets it right.