Browse By

Manic Monday Markup 4/8/13…

…And the World:

We begin today in the United Kingdom where word has come that former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has died at the age of 87.  The nation’s first (and only) female premier and its longest serving of the twentieth century transformed politics and the nation itself during a tenure that ran from 1979 to 1990.  In the end she was ousted not by electoral defeat, but by a leadership coup.  Thatcher had a profound impact across the world, from which tributes and remembrances are pouring in.

At the beginning of her tenure, Thatcher’s zeal to dismantle the welfare state, pare back unions, privatize state businesses and cut spending and taxes left her with dismal approval ratings.  However, after she decided to defend the Falkland Islands against an Argentine invasion, her popularity soared, and remains high on the Islands apparently.  Still her tenure would go on to be marked by an unbending nature that was memorialized in her “U-Turn” remark.  Conservatives, including the party leader and current PM David Cameron have showered praise on Thatcher, some calling her the greatest peacetime leader of the country.  Others, like Cameron’s rival, the Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband acknowledged her making history, political success and her passion, while acknowledging the stark ideological differences.  Indeed, it is not hard to find controversy in her record.  This split assures Thatcher’s legacy is not settled and will remain debated for decades to come.

As the world tries to ratchet back North Korea’s latest tantrum, the United States has changed tactics choosing instead “strategic patience” rather than actions that could escalate the situation.  That does not mean “counter provocation” planning is not underway.  Meanwhile, on the border itself, North Korea announced it would withdraw its workers from the jointly operated Kaesong industrial complex.  Workers and supplies from South Korea had been blocked from entering by the North since last week.

The Feds:

Gun Control is the spotlight once again amid fresh hopes for a deal, and growing opposition and support among Republicans to even having the debate on the Senate floor.  Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul, all Republicans, promise to stop even consideration of a gun bill, something others like Senator John McCain oppose.  Meanwhile, President Obama will be south of the border in Connecticut to push for gun reforms after the Nutmeg State just passed its tough new post-Newtown gun legislation last week.  This is all set against the background, which The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent lays out well, of Republican opposition to all reform, which includes a belief that the public doesn’t know background checks are not already universally required.  Meanwhile, out in Colorado, opponents of that state’s new gun laws are considering their options, including recalls.

In a related vein, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is making fresh noises about more filibuster reform, possibly mid-session.  Greg Sargent is skeptical, but Steve Benen, who seems to agree, says be on the alert for certain signs of seriousness.

Last week, New York’s political establishment was rocked by not one, but two scandals that led to arrests, one of which involved the mayor’s race.  This week, the attention has turned back to the non-corrupt mayoral campaign activities in the City.  Over the weekend, The Times reported on left-leaning efforts to scuttle Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s bid to become the city’s leader after cozying up to Bloomberg too much and nearly killing a paid sick leave bill.

The State of Things:

In Boston today the Legislature is expected to consider the “compromise” that Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo forged on transportation issues.  The deal woefully under-funds the commonwealth’s transportation needs and does nothing to bolster educations and restore the painful cuts to local aid exacted on municipalities for five years now.  Governor Deval Patrick has promised to veto the measure and it is unknown if DeLeo and Murray could both muster the votes to overrule it, although House leaders say they do.

Congressman Stephen Lynch was in Western Mass over the weekend for a campaign swing that included stops in Chicopee, Northampton, and Springfield.  In Springfield he apparently got the support of at-large Councilors Kateri Walsh and Bud Williams.  State Rep. Cheryl Coakely-Rivera was also on-hand, having announced her support for Lynch earlier on in the campaign.  Lynch and Congressman Ed Markey next debate is tonight.

A few weeks old, but worth noting.  After giving up his School Committee seat from Ward 1, Adam Lamontange has announced a bid for Chicopee City Council, specifically its Ward 1 seat.  Lamontange, one of the region’s few prominent young Republicans (although city races are nonpartisan) made the announcement on Facebook according to The Reminder.

City Slickers:

Despite tight budgets, including a possible 10 percent cut across city departments, Springfield is apparently poised to hire 22 police officers to fill vacancies.  The Republican’s Pete Goonan reports that the police academy for the new recruits was made possible because vacancies from retirements far exceeded expectations for the year.  Transfer of funds within the Police budget are on the Council’s agenda tonight to allow the academy to go forward.

Maureen Turner at the Valley Advocate says former at-large Councilor Jose Tosado may be eying a return to the City Council.

Twitter Chatter:

The death of Margaret Thatcher has reverberated across the world and in Britain.  While her international reputation was arguably less divisive than it was in Britain, it was still far from perfect.  In Britain, it is considerably more fraught with controversy.  With her death, came calls from the left to keep her Thatcher-bashing to a minimum rather than demonize the dead.  On some level, this is not wrong and Labour Leader Ed Miliband appears to take that route.  Today we award the tweet prize to The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald for finding fault with this as it effectively censors debate about the negative aspects of a public figures life.  If a public figure is deified we may lose sight of their sins or even their the fact that they legacy is largely a dark one.  Private individuals may be worthy of “don’t speak ill of the dead,” but public figures…not so much.  His longer column, linked above, notes how this played out for Ronald Reagan.  There may be a difference between not slamming the dead the day that they died, which Miliband appeared to avoid, but Greenwald’s point is critical.  We cannot give the dead a pass if their legacies and their followers endure.