Manic Monday Markup 7/7/14…

…And the World:

We begin today in Israel, where the death of three Israeli teens continues to rock the situation there. Following the teens’ death, for which Israel has blamed Hamas, a Palestinian was brutally murdered in an attack Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called “abhorrent.” Six Israelis have been arrested for that crime and Haaretz reports three have confessed. Meanwhile the political landscape has been rocked as well.

The Los Angeles Times report on Netanyahu’s response noted that Bibi is resisting a broad offensive into Gaza in response to rocket fire from there. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s party is splitting from its marriage with Netanyahu’s Likud. Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog says the prime minister’s governing coalition is on the edge of collapse and some of its members should bail to form a center-left government.

In Ukraine, the army there is making gains on separatists after President Petro Poroshenko ended the unsuccessful ceasefire. The government seized a key town over the weekend.

Iraq fails to name a Parliamentary speaker or form a government, complicating its political crisis further.

In Africa potpourri: Egypt’s new president regrets that journalists were tried for at all, possibly laying the groundwork for a pardon.As many as 60 women and girls may have escaped from the Nigeria-based Boko Haram extremist group, although hundred more remain captured.

Is ex-French President Nicolas Sarkozy the target of a vast left-wing conspiracy?

The Feds:

From a strictly procedural standpoint, it may be too soon to tell, but the Supreme Court’s decision to order lower courts to revisit ostensibly distinguishable birth control cases casts doubt on the limits of its Hobby Lobby decision.

In case you missed it, John Boehner had an Op-Ed about his “lawsuit” against President Obama’s relatively few executive actions. That he need explanation betrays how much of a reach it is. The White House Counsel is not worried and some Dems are happy.

Ever wondered how press flacking works? Jon Lender at The Hartford Courant breaks down one such example in Connecticut with Gov. Dan Malloy’s Communications Director Andrew Doba.

The Washington Post says the NSA’s data collection programs sweeps in and retains more info than the agency claims.

The New York Times profiles Domenic Recchia, the Democratic opponent to Republican US Rep. Michael Grimm who faces federal charges for fraud.

Students are getting in on the suit challenging North Carolina’s new, onerous voter screening laws.

The State of Things:

Boston, often touted as a  paradigm of success for residency ordinances for city employees, has a problem. Their residency ordinance does not work very well, although officials are looking to do better. This blog is agnostic about residency, but remember this.

In better news, “Mahty” announced the city’s new Fire Commissioner. Mayor Marty Walsh has tapped Joseph Finn, the city’s longest serving chief to the top job at the Fire Department of New England’s largest city.

With Eric Suher’s surrender of a liquor license to Northampton authorities, Mary Serreze describes the jockeying for one of the city’s coveted pouring permits. This substantially lowers the financial barriers for would-be mixologist entrepreneurs who can obtain the license for much less from the city directly than it would buying an existing license directly from the previous holder.

Gov. Deval Patrick is in Springfield to sign a gas leak bill intended to protect the commonwealth’s natural gas infrastructure following reports on their condition and the 2011 explosion in the city.

Our report on the campaign of Ludlow School Committee member Chip Harrington, whose brand at home may be granting him the liberty to grind out progress elsewhere in the district.

In local personnel: Holyoke inks new three contract with Police Chief and Westside hires a new City Solicitor.

The Fourth Estatements:

Dave Weigel at points out the eighth, ninth, tenth, er, umpteenth time the media has declared some event or another “Obama’s Katrina.” Even Hurricane Katrina was not, in itself, Bush’s Katrina, but one in a series of catastrophic setbacks for George the Younger in 2005. None are of Obama’s problems are of the same scale as Katrina, but the media just can’t help themselves.

WGBH is one of the homes of the Muzzle Awards this year. The public official awards are written by Northeastern Journalism professor and blogger Dan Kennedy.

City Slickers:

The head of the Springfield Business Improvement District lays out the groups three-year plan ahead of expected impacts from I-91 construction and the impact of a casino, if built.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno was asked to write the opposition summary to the casino-repeal legislation. He was flattered, but declined.

Reconstruction of a major intersection in East Forest Park to begin today.

Twitter Chatter:

Sometimes it seems like the Beltway Media gets caught in its own feedback loop so bad that some on the left AND the right of opinion-based media go into a total facepalm. Among the more tired tropes about the Obama presidency are declarations of the president’s latest Katrina. It gets embarrassing at times and serves to show how often times journalism is the problem. Obligatory note of self-awareness: we endorsed the president for reelection and fully stand by that decision. But when even the center-right is exasperated, maybe it is time for the phrase’s retirement.  Today we award the tweet prize to Justin Green of the Washington Examiner, who’s humorous, but somewhat spot-on dig at the latest overuse of “Obama’s Katrina” shows how ridiculous it has become.


Manic Monday Markup 6/30/14…

The Feds:

We begin today in Washington, where the United States Supreme Court issued narrow, but highly charged rulings on contraception and the fate of public employee unions. In the Harris v. Quinn case, the Court questioned long-standing precedent that allows state prohibition against union free riders, but did not overrule that precedent. Specifically, what the Court called partial state employees, which it deemed personal care attendants are, could not be compelled to pay dues to the unions bargaining on their behalf. It appears to queue up a case that could strike down such laws for public employees entirely. In the meantime, it undermines the bargaining power of the employees in the Harris case.

Meanwhile, in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby the Court also ruled that a closely held corporation could deny contraception coverage to its employees through health insurance plans. The ruling was not based on the constitution, however, but rather the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, limiting its application only to the federal government. The ju-jitsu Samuel Alito employed here was called out by Ruth Bader Ginsburg who authored the dissent. The ruling could imperil progress on LGBT rights, too, despite Anthony Kennedy’s concurrence. The rulings come at a time of apparently low confidence in the Court.

…And the World:

In the territory held by ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the jihadist organization, empowered by the disaffected Sunni minority of Iraq have declared an “Islamic State” and caliphate to which it calls on all Muslims to recognize. Meanwhile, Russia is selling jets to Iraq.

Following last week’s guilty verdict for Andy Coulson, the former New of the World editor and communications director for Prime Minister David Cameron faces a retrial for the remaining charges. Meanwhile, the Murdoch empire tries to put the scandal behind it.

Israeli media is reporting that the three Israeli teens kidnapped in the West Bank have been found dead. The Israeli army confirms.

The Feds (cont’d):

Paul Waldman writing at the Plum Line says the Hobby Lobby case show it is time to ditch the employer based health insurance system.

Elizabeth Warren was in Kentucky to campaign for Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat running against Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Globe is calling it a test of Democrats’ efforts to apply Warren’s populism and message to the South.

A New York court has ruled that towns may ban fracking within their borders.

President Obama is expected nominate former Proctor and Gamble CEO Robert McDonald as Veterans Affairs Secretary.

The State of Things:

North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright says his city is broke and that a Proposition 2 ½ override will be needed to keep the city solvent and/or avoid major cuts. The city’s finances were exasperated by the closure of North Adams Regional Medical Center. Alcombright compared his city to Detroit, but the Department of Revenue, which oversees municipal finances says they will not permit Bay State localities to go bankrupt.

Massachusetts House and Senate leaders have reached a deal on the budget. The vote is expected on the very eve of the new fiscal year.

The Republican tallies up the legal bills Ludlow Rep. Thomas Petrolati has racked up since the probation scandal blew up in 2010. The final number is $200 grand. Good background on his career and a bit on the scandal too.

Antiabortion activists rallied on the Boston Common following last week’s Supreme Court decision striking the commonwealth’s buffer zone law for abortion providers.

The Fourth Estatements:

The Reminder’s Mike Dobbs opines on the negative impact of the purchase of WGGB, both an ABC & a FOX affiliate, by Meredith Corporation, which owns the city’s CBS affiliate, WSHM.

City Slickers:

MassMutual is creating an investment fund for entrepreneurs in the city.

Former Springfield Police Officer Jeffrey Asher will have one more chance to overturn his conviction for assault as his appeal goes up to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

More progress, it seems, after the gas explosion in Downtown Springfield.

Twitter Chatter:

The decisions today from the Supreme Court, though narrow, are incredibly disappointing. In part because they are strained readings of law that appear to suit a specific purpose. Elena Kagan, in her dissent in the Harris case, rightly noted failures on the part of Alito to follow the Supreme Court’s own precedent on striking down precedent. However, there is another dimension to this that is worth exploring and one tweet gets that right. Today we award the tweet prize to Connecticut’s junior US Senator Chris Murphy. As Republicans accuse President Obama of power grabs, Murphy rightly turns the same on the very Supreme Court that Republicans say backs them up. Murphy rightly notes that the cases today and the Voting Rights Act cases are, in effect, power grabs from Congress and the state legislatures. It is true that the judiciary’s role is to guard against overreach, but to do so they must follow their own rules. In the cases decided today and Murphy cites, the Court’s legal reasoning seems to depart from both legalities and reason the Court itself used to hold dear.


Manic Monday Markup 6/23/14…

…And the World:

We begin today in Iraq, where US Secertary of State John Kerry is calling for Iraq to unite to defeat ISIS, which has overrun much of the north and west of the country. The New York Times reports that efforts to have the Iraqi army repel the surging forces are unlikely to succeed even as President Obama sends military advisers to train and counsel the army. Kerry also said ISIS’ pace could prompt the US government to act before Baghdad gets its act together. Iran opposes US action, of course.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, the last of Syria’s declared chemical weapons have been removed—asterisk. Egypt jails al-Jazeera journalists despite international outcry. And the Times of Israel wonders if the military operations in response to the kidnapping of  three Israeli teens is hurting the Palestinian Authority more than Hamas, whom Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blames.

Big turnout in Hong Kong election.

The Polish Foreign Minister, Radoslaw Sikorski was caught saying some less than flattering things to say about British Prime Minister David Cameron, namely the Euroskepticism Cameron has been peddling. Sikorski does not have many nice things to say about the US either.

Ceasefire talks are poised begin in Eastern Ukraine, but Russian President Vladimir Putin is sending mixed signals.

 The Feds:

The flood of children trying to cross the border, mistakenly believing they would qualify as DREAMers, has led the administration to send a surge of immigration staff to the border to humanely address the situation. Of course Texas GOP are grandstanding. As always Greg Sargent does a good job highlighting the GOP’s true conundrum.

Tomorrow Mississippi will decide whether to keep longtime Senator Thad Cochran as their Republican nominee or turf him for Chris McDaniel. Oh, and remember how McDaniel supporters were arrested, now we are even with a Cochran staffer now in the slammer.

Former Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz almost came out of retirement to run for a Bristol state senate seat. Instead a former Chris Murphy staffer will run for it.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti reaches into San Francisco for a new transportation czar.

The long-awaited opening of the Washington Metro’s newest line has at long last been scheduled. Visit consumerist paradise Tyson’s Corner on your next trip to DC via Metro starting July 26!

The State of Things:

The Massachusetts legislature is poised to pass a bill that will tighten the disclosure requirements for SuperPACs and other independent spenders during election. It will also double the contribution limit…starting next year.

For those of our readers living under a rock on Friday, Eric Lesser has been cleared by the State Ballot Law Commission to be on the Ballot.

Shira Schoenberg catches up with the gubernatorial also-rans that failed to clear the Democrats Convention in Worcester a week ago Saturday.

David Bernstein warns the underdogs, Bay Staters are not paying attention during the summer so beware.

The Fourth Estatements:

Maureen Turner, the inimitable often political scribe at the Valley Advocate will be leaving the alternative weekly for position as the Communications Coordinatioor at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst. WMassP&I wishes Maureen the very best and thanks her deeply for her contribution to the Valley’s conversation while at the Advocate. An impressive record of the Pioneer Valley exists because of the great work she has done there.

City Slickers:

Mayor Domenic Sarno renews his call to end refugee placements in Springfield. The Boston Globe smacks Sarno around for his position. Ron Chimelis defends him.

Catch up on the open House races in Springfield this election cycle including the races to fill Cheryl Coakley-Rivera and Sean Curran’s seats

Two more union contracts have been added to the agenda of the Springfield City Council’s hearings meeting tonight. The rest of tonight’s meeting is just permits.

The Springfield Roman Catholic Diocese gets a new bishop.

Twitter Chatter:

There simply was not enough time to do the subject justice, but conveniently, the angst of the primary in Mississippi juxtaposed against the better feelings the GOP has for November was compressed into a tweet. Today we award the tweet prize to Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionnee who aptly captures how this battle for the GOP’s soul in the Magnolia State show its deeper problems.