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Manic Monday Markup 1/7/2013…

…And the World:

We begin today in Israel where it still looks like incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will win another term amidst the chaos on the Israeli Center-Left, but that could change.  However, former Foreign Minister and Hatunah Party Leader Tzipi Livni and Labor Party leader Shelly Yachimovich agree, in principle, to campaign as a bloc after railing to form a single party as such.  However, Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid, has said both Livni and Yachimovich should join Netanyahu’s government in order to keep it from being too right-wing.  Latest polls show right-wing parties, if not Netanyahu’s Likud-Beiteinu party alone, will win a majority on the January 22 election, but Labor’s Yachimovich may be closing the gap and nearly a third of voters remain undecided.

After a rocky and less than publicly supportive first half to its term, the coalition government between Conservative Party Leader and Prime Minister David Cameron and Liberal-Democrats Leader Nick Clegg has been renewed.  In their mid-term manifesto, they promise to focus on a variety of measures like childcare, and possibly, although not directly stated, their poor approval ratings, too.  Under new rules, the Parliament must live out its full five year turn unless the government loses a vote of no confidence.

The alleged assailants in a gang-rape case that has torn India apart were arraigned this week in a hearing closed to the press and amid tight security.  The incident, in which a woman was raped and killed and her male companion badly beaten, has drawn attention to women’s rights in the world’s largest democracy.

The Feds:

President Barack Obama will nominate former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to replace Leon Panetta as head of the Defense Department.  The nomination is encountering opposition from Republicans over Hagel’s positions on Israel (among other items)  and his 1998 comments about a gay ambassador nominee.  Republicans contend that he is anti-Israel, but Jewish Democrats dismiss that concern.  Even Israel seems nonplussed by the nomination, a high-ranking source in Jerusalem tells the Times of Israel.  Obama will also nominate John Brennan, his anti-terrorism czar, to be CIA Director.

The Log Cabin Republicans, an organization for gay Republicans, also opposes the nomination, but their former policy director and founder of a another Gay GOP group, GOProud, has apparently broken with the Log Cabin on the gay issues.  Glenn Greenwald, a commentator at the Guardian for national security issues and himself gay, takes down almost all of the arguments against Hagel’s confirmation, including those coming from the left and gay groups.  Barney Frank, also approves.

Greg Sargent flags some evasive answers from Speaker John Boehner over the impending debt ceiling fight.  Could that be a loser for the GOP?  If so Senate Minority Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell has not seemed to have gotten that memo, and apparently ignored some fact-checking done on-air by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

New Jersey will decide this November whether to reelect Republican Chris Christie, whose approval ratings have soared since Super Storm Sandy.  This has led several Democrats to beg off a campaign.  However, what seems to be troubling Democrats most is not that Dems are not running, but that they cannot decide whether they will run.  Others want Dems to coalesce around the only declared Dem, Barabara Buono.  Time is of the essence as New Jersey, wedged between the New York and Philadelphia media markets, is one of the most expensive states in which to campaign.

The State of Things:

Since announcing his interest in an interim appointment to fill John Kerry’s seat, former Representative Barney Frank has received praise from all around including the Boston Globe’s Joan Vennochi and Senator Elizabeth Warren.  However, the Globe’s Glen Johnson reports (behind paywall) on some consternation with Frank’s appointment coming from some top Dems and Ed Markey, thus far the only official candidate in the special election that will be set after Kerry’s confirmation.

David Bernstein updates us on Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s campaign coffers, which appear bare.  That could mean something or it could not.  Also in Boston politics, Stephen Murphy, an at-large councilor, won another term as City Council president despite a rule on term limits, but that appears to be due to loopholes in the term limits, according to Dorchester Reporter‘s New Editor, Gintautus Dumcius.

Transportation funding will be a hot ticket this year at the legislature, but action will be delayed…for now, according to WAMC Paul Tuthill.

City Slickers:

The Springfield City Council formally selected at-large Councilor Jimmy Ferrera at a brief, if crowded meeting this morning.  The Republican has details and we will have a report, shortly, too.  However, critical facts, Ferrera was appointed on a 10-2 vote.  Ward 2 Councilor Mike Fenton and Ward 7 Councilor Tim Allen abstained.  At-large Councilor Tim Rooke did not show up.  At-large Councilor Kateri Walsh, who had abstained during the December caucus that informally picked Ferrera, and councilors absent from the caucus also voted for Ferrera.

Over the weekend the Republican also reported on the School Committee Vice-Chair, that body’s top spot.  The mayor serves as the Committee’s chair.  Peter Murphy is expected to receive the vice-chairmanship.

Scott Lively, a controversial minister based in Springfield went to court today to answer a lawsuit over his involvement in anti-gay legislation in Uganda.

Twitter Chatter:

Hagel’s nomination to lead the Defense Department is seen as being a fight with Republicans firing off missives against their one-time colleague.  Some of it seems groundless and motivated entirely by his affiliation with Barack Obama, with whom Hagel became close during their brief time in the Senate together.  Some of the accusations smack of the attacks launched at UN Ambassador Susan Rice, who pulled out of the running for Secretary of State.  Mother Jones’s David Corn took to Twitter today to mock Republican opposition to Hagel, by saying the former Senator once went on Sunday shows and used Republican talking points.  This is a direct reference to the prime reason Republicans opposed Rice.  For this wry mingling of GOP oppositional absurdities, we award Corn this week’s tweet prize.