Manic Monday Markup 9/17/12…

…And the World:

Unrest in the Islamic world continues over a trailer for an anti-Islamic movie.  The New York Times reports how the Arab street sees the issue as a matter of respect, while simultaneously failing to understand how broad American free speech is.  The violence and size of protests have varied from country to country, but the leader of Hezbollah, in a rare public appearance, praised the protests and warned of greater repercussions.  As a side note, the Times also had a piece on the slain ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to American airwaves to press President Barack Obama to draw “red lines” on Iran’s nuclear program.  However, to some in Israel, it was seen as damage control.  Netanyahu is said to favor a Mitt Romney presidency, but his rather blunt demands of Obama last week led to criticism at home, including accusations that he was meddling with an American election.  The press and the country’s own Intelligence Minister has rejected Netanyahu’s various claims and demands.

The Feds:

It is a mistake and false to say that this election is a runaway from President Obama.  However, it does not take a genius to think that Romney is not gaining ground.  That is a problem if you are also behind.  The result?  Finger pointing and jumping ship.  Politico has a lengthy piece about Romney’s chief strategist, Stuart Stevens, which lays a great deal of blame at his feet…and Romney’s.  It discusses among, other things, Romney’s speech and the inclusion of Clint Eastwood in the convention.  Meanwhile, Mitt Romney’s campaign plans to push the reset button (again) on the campaign and offer new ideas for voters to consider…psych!

Oh and Mitt Romney apparently thinks all of the people that are sure to vote for his opponent see themselves as “victims.”  Oh, but it gets better.  Romney essentially admits to writing off that nearly half of the country.  Mother Jones, who obtained the tapes from a Romney fundraiser, has not disclosed its source.

While the Connecticut US Senate Race and the 5th Congressional race are grabbing the most headlines, the Hartford Courant’s Politics blog takes a look at a particular State Senate race.  Edith Prague, a retiring State Senator, had a lengthy career and a reputation as a liberal icon in Hartford.  Norwich State Representative Christopher Coutu, the Republican seeking the seat could not be like her any less.  As just one example, he calls global climate change, “pseudo-science.”  This rather in-depth piece for a down-ballot race discusses, Prague, her legacy, Coutu and his Democratic opponent, Catherine Osten, a Sprague First Selectman.

Finally, you may remember that we mentioned Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland during the Democrats convention.  He is considered a top contender for the 2016 Democratic nomination for president.  Well guess where he went recently?  Iowa, home of the eponymous Presidential Caucuses.

The State of Things:

After getting buffeted by complaints about how her campaign has been run, Democratic Nominee for the United States Senate Elizabeth Warren got some good news.  Reversing a string of polls where she trailed incumbent, Republican Scott Brown, Warren was found to be ahead in two polls.  One, by the Western New England University and the Springfield Republican showed her ahead six points and Public Policy Polling found her ahead by two.  Both suggested that her improvement was due to solidifying Democratic support following the Democratic convention and a desire by a majority of voters in both polls to see a Democratic senate in January.  It is hard to know if there was an impact due to Warren’s latest ad, which has been praised, since it came out in the middle of both polls sampling window.

Pittsfield has established a charter review commission to look at the 80 year-old charter of Berkshire County’s largest city.  City officials hope the Review Commission will have its recommendations for the city by next fall.

And today is the one year anniversary of the Occupy movement.  While it began with such promise a year ago (initially and unwillingly eluding attention for days), today there is no where near the energy, in Boston as least.  The Globe has a story on the continuing commitment of a much small group of members while the Phoenix catches up with some Occupiers a year later.

City Slickers:

The Republican reports on the state’s closing of a purchase of several miles of track from CSX.  The deal included the state’s investment in raising bridges (like on Roosevelt Avenue) along the route to allow more double-stack trains.  The article implies that state ownership could lead to better rail service between Springfield and Boston. The sale’s primary goal is improved commuter service between Worcester and Boston.

Paul Tuthill reports on the formation of an anti-casino campaign committee in Springfield.  The report notes that the committee has formally filed with the State Office of Campaign and Political Finance, which will allow it raise money and then spend money when the referendum on allowing a casino in Springfield reaches voters.

Twitter Chatter:

Republicans were, at one time, known for their organization.  People fell into line and masterful displays of showmanship and campaigning won them elections.  Mitt Romney, despite being an on-paper perfect heir to that legacy is destroying what is left of that.  Realistically, the convention was the last chance that Team Romney had to reset the campaign.  They did not, and while it was too late anyway, they again promised a change and delivered none.  We award today’s tweet prize to Ben Labolt, National Press Secretary for Barack Obama’s reelection campaign.  Drawing in the latest farce from Romney’s campaign about a change in the campaign, from vapid meaningless talking points to more repetition of the said vapidity, LaBolt nails this latest nonsense from the campaign.  And to boot, he includes a key rejoinder for his boss’s side, that Romney’s 5 point plan is disastrous for ordinary people.

LaBolt also gets recognition for a tweet on the release of Romney’s comments “denigrating” nearly half of Americans.  He notes that it is interesting that Romney’s campaign and not the candidate himself is responding.  Interesting, indeed. Is it because Romney’s found a position he truly believes in?


Manic Monday Markup 9/10/12…

…And the World:

We begin in Hong Kong where pro-Beijing politicians appear to have outmaneuvered pro-Democracy parties to retain a majority in the administrative region’s assembly.  However, Pro-democracy parties have retained the necessary 1/3 minority that allows them to stymie reforms that could unravel the territory’s freedoms.  The source of the problems appears to be Hong Kong’s complicated voting system that redistributes seats to winning parties.

The President of the African nation of Angola, Jose Eduardo dos Santos and his party appear poised to win another term despite lower voter turnout than in 2008.  Meanwhile, across the continent the incumbent president of war-torn Somalia appears to have lost.  The country’s interim parliament chose Hassan Shiekh Mohamud instead.

Meanwhile, an agreement to end the bloody mine strike in South Africa appears to have failed.  A renegade union, which has accused the principal union of selling out in the past, derailed an agreement to end a strike at a mine that has become a flashpoint in the nation’s politics.  Workers appeared to have refused to go back to work, which was a pre-condition for more talks.  Last week, miners charged with the deaths of their colleagues were released after an outcry over the African National Congress led government’s decision to charge them using Apartheid-era laws.  The ANC is facing criticism for its handling of the crisis among other big issues, prompting President Jacob Zuma to go on the defensive while the lead opposition party, Democratic Alliance, goes on offense, particularly on youth unemployment.

The Feds:

The conventions are over and the real Presidential campaign begins.  Perhaps the most striking thing is that despite an unimpressive jobs report the day after President Obama accepted the nomination, Obama got a convention boost whereas Mitt Romney did not appear to get one.  But don’t panic, Mitt Romney’s pollster says, without supplying any data.

Rhode Island holds its primary tomorrow making it, along with New Hampshire, one of the last states in the country to do so before the general election.

Also tomorrow, the eleventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon.  Pictures from the Boston Globe.

State of Things:

Last week the Democratic primary shook out the results for several offices.  We have a round-up, but if you would like town-by-town results for the election we recommend the Boston Globe’s breakdown.

Meanwhile, in honor of the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, US Senate ads will go dark for both Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren.

And the Valley Advocate has an article about the favorable numbers for this November’s Medical Marijuana ballot initiative in Massachusetts.

City Slickers:

The Springfield City Council delayed a vote on establishing a citywide vote for approval of a casino.  By all accounts the measure is likely to pass, however, the leader Council sponsor, Ward 7 Councilor Tim Allen deferred to requests from other councilors to have a public hearing first.

Tomorrow, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is going to meet with Springfield officials to straighten out the possible conflict of interest the city’s consultant, a Chicago law firm, may have.

Twitter Chatter:

Neil Newhouse, Mitt Romney’s lead pollster said the data favors his boss.  How?  Newhouse doesn’t say.  This prompted derision across the left’s photosphere.  Among them was David Axelrod is one of President Barack Obama’s lead strategists for his reelection campaign.  Axelrod, who advised Obama’s first campaign as well as Governor Deval Patrick’s campaigns, wins this week’s tweet prize for pointing out the obvious, unbelievable claims of a campaign.  Axelrod doesn’t just point out that absurdity, but he also artfully implies the degree of panic the Romney campaign must be in if it has to rely on fact-less claims to reassure people.  Then again, facts have never been Romney’s friend anyway.


Tardy Tuesday Takedown 9/4/12…

…And the World:

We begin today in South Africa where the country remains rocked by violence that grew out a miners strike.  The New York Times has a piece about the slow pace of reform in South Africa following the end of Apartheid.  Indeed, a former union official now sits on the board of the British mining company that owns the affected mine.  The incident has also exposed tensions between the mainstream union movement and a radical movement that had spurred on the strike.  Meanwhile, the miners were released after authorities tried to prosecute them for the deaths of their colleagues who died when police opened fire on the strikers.  Now the focus is shifting toward the police.  Meanwhile, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has also come out against the treatment of the miners by the state.

In Britain a cabinet reshuffles comes as Parliament braces for another session.  The coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Dems suffered major before the summer recess.  Among the shuffled is Jeremy Hunt, the former Culture Secretary and now the Health Secretary.  He had been criticized for his role in New International’s attempted acquisition of British broadcaster BSkyB.  The Cabinet reshuffle has been described by the Guardian as a hard shift to the right, which suggests Prime Minister David Cameron, who also leads the Conservatives, is intent on governing without the Liberal Democrats as much as possible.  The Liberal Democrats didn’t lose everything, though.  They got some domestic posts on the hope it could help the party’s standings in the next election.

The Feds:

It is hard to know whether Mitt Romney outright false claims that President Barack Obama eliminated work requirements for welfare will have an impact.  However, the Romney campaign may be backing away from it for now at least.  One reason, Daily Kos and the Maddow Blog speculate, is this piece from an insider-the-beltway journalist who calls the claims race-baiting.  In fact, President Obama approved a waiver for states to experiment with new ways to fulfill the work requirements ON THE CONDITION that it gets more people into work.  Needless, the say, Republicans could force a vote on the subject.

Elsewhere, the media may be catching onto Paul Ryan’s total disconnect with fact.  Certainly Runners’s World is on the ball, which caught a lie about Ryan‘s claims about marathon running.  In itself, Ryan’s amazing marathon run would be little more than embellishment, but Paul Krugman totally takes down Ryan and his total disconnect from facts and links him another makeup marathon milestone.

Meanwhile in Charlotte, N.C., the Democrats take center stage as they prepare to re-nominate Obama for president.  However, there are hints about who may be thinking ahead to 2016.  Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who is term-limited in 2014, is among the potential candidates in four years.

Meanwhile Cory Booker, also a Democratic rising star, got a prominent role at the convention after being in the political doghouse earlier this year.

And a bit of North Carolina politics.  As top state Dems like Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx and Governor Beverly Perdue take the stage, the Democrats won a major victory at the State Election Board which voted to approve more voting hours in counties across the State.  If Democrats get more Republican apostates like this joining them, Obama may very well carry this state again.

The State of Things:

In an underreported story due to the Republican National Convention, Scott Brown actually lost an endorsement he touted as recently as last week when a Lowell boxer who inspired the move, The Fighter, learned the truth.  Which truth?  Scott Brown’s anti-union, anti-marriage equality stance.  Mickey Ward, the boxer, is staying neutral.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Warren is preparing to step up to the national stage tomorrow in an address to the Democratic Convention tomorrow night.  In the lead-up a media blitz and a spot in Doonesbury.  Also helping is Governor Deval Patrick, who takes the fight to Brown.

The Republican makes its picks for various offices, including Clerk of Courts and Governor’s Council as well as the Hampden Senate District and the 1st Congressional District.  The Republican backed Cong. Richard Neal as did the Berkshire Eagle.  Maureen Turner at the Valley Advocate backs Bill Shein.

Ted Kennedy is given a fitting tribute at the Democratic National Convention:

City Slickers:

Paul Tuthill reports that tornado rebuilding efforts continue in Springfield.  The work appears to be undertaken to some degeree with the help of volunteers

Questions continue over the City of Springfield’s choice of consultant to help them through the Casino Selection Process.

Twitter Chatter:

Harry Reid is not known to be a charismatic icon.  However, at tonight’s convention, he apparently led loose a little bit…but not that much…but a lot for him.  Today we award the week’s tweet prize to David Dayen, a reporter for Fire Dog Lake, a progressive news site.  His tweet, which concisely summed up Harry’s Reid’s delivery with an artful use of irony, wins this week’s tweet prize for injecting a little levity into the heavy dose of convention coverer age we have all experienced this week and last.