Saturday, October 15, 2011

What Mattered This Week?

Odd week -- there was sure a lot of news going on, day to day, but I'm not sure what really stuck with me that mattered. For example, we had a GOP debate and more churn in the polling, but I don't think anything really changed that matters this week: it's still a Romney/Perry race, and Perry still isn't doing anything to help himself, and there are still a bunch of other candidates around soaking up a lot of attention.

I'm also not sure that the final (for now anyway) demise of the Obama jobs plan in the Senate was really something that mattered, at least not to where we've been on that for a while. Last week was when Occupy Wall Street and the associated protests jumped to national attention; nothing much changed there, either, that I know of. I suppose Congress finally managed to deal with the trade agreements, so that's something.

The CLASS Act died. Again, something important, but something that's been in the cards for a while.

I see in the news just now the administration is confirming (admitting? promising?) that they're not going to keep any troops in Iraq next year. I've been saying for a while that politically, the range that they've been talking about didn't seem very important to me, but I know if the latest news is confirmed a lot of people will be pleased (and, I think, surprised; it's worth going back and looking at what some people predicted).

Is the prisoner swap in Israel important? I'm not sure.

The one thing that clearly matters is the European economic situation; I guess it was more or less a good week there, no?

OK, that's what I have: what do you think mattered this week?


  1. Regarding the prisoner swap, here's a guess: Abbas, worried that the ongoing West Bank settlement process will eventually make any peace agreement meaningless and also worried about the implications of the Arab Spring for an aging generation of ineffective leaders, sought to jump-start negotiations by detouring to the United Nations to show he still had alternatives. Going to the UN, in and of itself, isn't going to change the situation on the ground. It doesn't make much sense except as an effort to get Netanyahu's attention and maybe to modify Fatah's bargaining leverage by expanding the negotiating forum. The move appeared to be very popular among Palestinians. Netanyahu, not taking the bait, countered by cutting a one-time deal with Hamas, releasing over a thousand Palestinians for one Israeli. I think the prisoner swap is less understandable in its own terms than as a measure to steal Abbas's thunder, undermine Fatah's position vis-a-vis Hamas, and disrupt the UN move toward negotiations. Whether that is going to redound to Israel's benefit in the long run is questionable.

  2. I forgot to mention that Fatah has also been trying to forge a coalition with Hamas. The idea was to establish a government of technocrats unaffiliated with either movement but collectively endorsed by both. I assume this was also being done with Netanyahu in mind, to establish a united front for a stronger negotiating position. It wasn't going very well, in part owing to Hamas grievances about their treatment in the hands of the Palestinian police. Netanyahu insisted that he would never negotiate with any government that had ties to Hamas and yet negotiated the prisoner swap with Hamas directly. By handing Hamas a victory, Netanyahu may be hoping to upend this potential coalition as well. The ideas would be not so much to strengthen Hamas as to keep the two at each other's throats, allowing Netanyahu to continue to insist that he has no one to negotiate with. This, of course, requires that everyone else forget how close Olmert and Abbas came to an agreement in 2008. Netanyahu has steadfastly refused to use that near-deal as a starting point for negotiations.

  3. Well, the Left gave a merciful coup de grace to Obama's Porkulus II. That's significant. They kept him from the embarassment of having it rejected on a straight up vote, so they at least gave him a blindfold, which was charitable. But the era of Obama appears to be over, and he's now a bystander. A campaigning bystander, 13 months before the election, which is equally noteworthy if you check.

    Tax Cheat Timmy Geithner's announcement that the IMF would be funded to support the Euro bailouts is significant. This has deep foundational implications for us. Watch the UK on this one. If the grumbling starts there, it'll have meaning for us here.

  4. I think the Herman Cain jumping to the top of the Republican polls is telling about the Republican electorate. They are looking for someone that is much better at exhibiting their anger and their clarity about what the challenges are (high taxes, regulation, clarity in and of itself). Ironically Cain's rise is probably good for Romney since it hurts his more serious rivals.

    Romney otherwise had a great week with a great debate performance and an endorsement by one of the most if not the most popular (in Republican circles) non-tea party governors in the country with Christie.

    Finally, that the Occupy Wall Street folks are keeping at it and generating some enthusiasm means something and at the very least that the Wall Street folks can's so easily take the money and run. This might have some implications for the potential efforts to roll back the Dodd-Frank law.


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