Sunday, May 2, 2010

Greek Fire, Part 14

As expected over the weekend, the bailout of Greece is officially on.
Euro-region ministers agreed to a 110 billion-euro ($146 billion) rescue package for Greece to prevent a default and stop the worst crisis in the currency’s 11-year history from spreading through the rest of the bloc.

The first payment will be made before Greece’s next bond redemption on May 19, said Jean-Claude Juncker after chairing a meeting of euro-region finance ministers in Brussels yesterday. The 16-nation bloc will pay 80 billion euros at a rate of around 5 percent and the International Monetary Fund contributes the rest. Greece agreed to budget measures worth 13 percent of gross domestic product. 
Budget measures.  Is that what they're calling a 13 percent spending cut across the board?  Greece's unions will fight this to the end, but it won't matter.  The real question is what country will have to be bailed out next, Portugal, Italy, Spain or someone else?  But as Tyler Durden points out, all this is doing is kicking the Grecian urn down the road. (How much does a Grecian Urn?  Not a whole hell of a lot!)
In essence Greece will go from having "only" a 133% Debt/GDP ratio to an insane 149% in 2013 before presumably dropping to 144% lower in 2014, still a good 11% higher than currently. Greece just got bailed out so it can get into even more debt! What psychopath of the Keynesian school thinks that this unbelievable trajectory is anything but a complete and utter waste of money? German, and US taxpayers, are merely giving Greece money so it can increase it debtor status with French and a few other European banks. To say that this is a viable solution is something that only those who bow at the altar of Alan Greenspan can do.
In other words,  the odds that Greece will need another Olympian bailout is all but assured.  The question is who will still be left to do it, especially after the other PIGS countries fold?

Scapegoating For Dummies

Digby's piece this afternoon on immigration is a very worthwhile read.
The Republicans did block immigration reform during the Bush years. The question now is whether there is one Republican Senator who will break a filibuster. From what I gather, they have been counting on Huckleberry to convince a couple of Senators to come over with him which is like counting on Ahmadinejad bringing along Hezbollah to recognize Israel's right to exist. It would require an earth shattering change of personal character and strategy on both their parts. It's possible, but probably not the most practical plan. In fact, it's so impractical, you can only assume it is designed to fail.

So, the problem is still Republicans, obviously. But it's also pretty obvious that it's Democrats too. I don't know how many votes they have today for immigration reform in either house, but if this is any indication, they are losing them rather than gaining them. I doubt very seriously that they have 59 in the Senate and who knows what they have in the House. The ground has shifted because of inaction and economic distress and it's very likely that there have been a lot of Democratic defections since the last go. And I'd guess they would have a hard time getting more than a handful of Republicans, even those who desperately need Latino votes. The whole political class is running scared of the angry right, as usual.
So no, I don't have very high hopes for immigration reform either.  If the Democrats played it right the could really get this done, but the fact of the matter is too many of them are scared of being called soft on immigration or un-American or whatever.  Can't have the banksters taking the blame for the economy.  They've been getting pounded on enough and they've made it clear to the Republicans that this stops now, find a new scapegoat.

Right now John Cornyn and his NRSC buddies should be thanking Jan Brewer with flowers and candy.  She's just handed them the keys to the kingdom.
Well sure. This is the way right wing populism always works. The Big Money Boyz screw the little guy and the little guy, feeling impotent, takes it out on the even littler guy, usually an African American or recent immigrant. And then a bunch of politicians exploit it for their own gain. Welcome to America whenever things aren't going well.

Treating anyone who looks like they might be Latino like a criminal isn't going to assuage anyone's fears and frustrations, however. In fact, it's going to make it worse because the entire Hispanic community --- citizens and non-citizens alike --- can no longer trust the authorities and are far less likely to cooperate in investigations, which makes everyone less safe. And because of that one of the sad results of of this whole mess is that it is now going to be open season on Latinos, with the predator types assured that their victims won't feel comfortable going to the police. Everybody loses but the assholes.
That's about the right of it.  Obama's going to get the blame on Lake Palin too, even though the men behind this man-made disaster are the blokes at BP.  The events of the last two weeks are going to weigh heavily on America for years.  The wingers have to realize if they can stick all of this on Obama and the Dems now, they've got clear sailing for 2010, 2012 and beyond.  They really can effectively end his presidency, and over the next couple of weeks you're going to see them try rather mightily.  Obama's been working triple overtime to get out in front of this, but the rest of the Dems are too tired it seems to fight this good fight.

Watch to see if any Dems start throwing Obama under the bus on immigration, Lake Palin, or the NYC car bomb.  I'm honestly surprised it hasn't happened already, especially on the oil spill.  You'd better believe the second that happens, the Village is going to smell blood and go straight for Obama's jugular.

Sunday Funnies: Oil Vey Edition

The Bobblespeaks, they are among us.
Tapper: Hey British Petroleum how’s drilling
and destroying America working out for you?

McKay: not so good actually

Tapper: so what’s your plan for
stopping the spill?

McKay: give us a break - it’s like doing
open-heart surgery in the dark

Tapper: so you need Hawkeye Pierce?

McKay: we need Noah

Tapper: Building a giant ark
seems a bit extreme

McKay: no I mean NOAA

Tapper: Obama recently called BP ‘useless motherfuckers’

McKay: no everyone in the oil industry is rallying around trying to fix this problem

Tapper: oh so even Exxon and Chevron are going
to help stop the spill and clean up the oil?

McKay: no I meant fixing our image problem

Tapper: you ruined a coastline and
thousands of lives just to save a buck

McKay: capitalism baby!

Tapper: you have no idea what you’re
doing do you?

McKay: not fair - no one could have predicted
that an oil platform in the ocean drilling 5,000 feet for oil could spill oil in the water

Tapper: you opposed safety regulations

McKay: safety is our number one priority

Tapper: really?

McKay: well first making money, then drilling
faster and drilling more and exploiting workers
and resources and actually we don’t care about safety at all
Got that right.  Like I saw yesterday, all we need is a massive vinegar tanker spill and it's salad time for everyone.

Things Can Change In A New York Minute, Part 2

Getting some weird information on last night's car bomb dud in Times Square.  The wingers are all over a report from the Long War Journal that a Pakistani Taliban operative is claiming responsibility for the act...
A top Pakistani Taliban commander took credit for yesterday's failed car bomb attack in New York City.

Qari Hussain Mehsud, the top bomb maker for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, said he takes "fully responsibility for the recent attack in the USA." Qari Hussain made the claim on an audiotape accompanied by images that was released on a YouTube website that calls itself the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan News Channel.
...but the NYPD is calling shenanigans on that.
New York City's police commissioner says there's no evidence of a Taliban link to a failed bomb found in an SUV parked in Times Square.

Commissioner Ray Kelly says officers are on their way to a town in Pennsylvania to talk to a man who believes he may have recorded a bombing suspect on his video camera. He says a white man in his 40s was seen taking off his shirt in an alley and putting it in a bag.
This is where things get interesting.  I have no doubt that the Taliban really is claiming credit, but it doesn't mean they did it.  Hopefully the NYPD can find some evidence and some suspects on this.

It really says something that I believe there's an equal chance that this was done by either people who hate our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, or by people who think Obama is the enemy.  If this was a foreign attack by jihadis, well, time for Uncle Sam to roll up his sleeves again.  If this was a domestic terrorist attack...well Uncle Sam still needs to roll them up.

One Less Boob For One More Boob

Via Balloon Juice:
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli apparently isn’t fond of wardrobe malfunctions, even when Virginia’s state seal is involved.

The seal depicts the Roman goddess Virtus, or virtue, wearing a blue tunic draped over one shoulder, her left breast exposed. But on the new lapel pins Cuccinelli recently handed out to his staff, Virtus’ bosom is covered by an armored breastplate.

When the new design came up at a staff meeting, workers in attendance said Cuccinelli joked that it converts a risqué image into a PG one.
Just when you think Republicans can't get any more ignorant, pig-headed and reactionary, they find a way to piss you off even more.   When John Cole says Virginia's nickname should now be "Old Dominionist" he's got a valid point.

Bill Kristol Has To Be A George Soros Plant

Because no conservative can really be this stupid.  Emperor Palpatine on FOX News Sunday:
"Look, it was a bad accident but the fact is I think we get one-third of our domestic oil from the Gulf, from offshore drilling in the Gulf. We need it. We can't cut back on it," said Kristol.

He admitted it was a bad accident, but blamed it on the rig's distance from the coast.

"If we hadn't stopped closer-in drilling after the Santa Barbara accident 40 years ago -- we've had these Congressional restrictions until 2008, for 40 years -- we'd have more drilling closer in which is probably less dangerous, less treacherous than trying to drill 50 miles out from the coast," Kristol explained.

But it's not just drilling closer to shore that Kristol wants. The neoconservative is also calling for onshore drilling in Alaska's ANWR.

"If we want to have some onshore drilling we have this thing called ANWR up in Alaska which is right there. There is no waves, no ocean. It's right there and perfectly easy to drill. A lot of oil there. I'm a drill, baby, drill person," he said.

And just in case there was any doubt about his positions on energy, Kristol also claimed "everyone agrees, including environmentalists" that not building new nuclear power plants was a "wild overreaction" to Three Mile Island.

Your response to the pretty much the worst environmental disaster in American history is "drill more, just closer."  Really?

Dude, just...go home.

Things Can Change In A New York Minute

Needless to say, today's news is all about the car bomb the NYPD located in Times Square last night.
A crude car bomb of propane, gasoline and fireworks was discovered in a smoking Nissan Pathfinder in the heart of Times Square on Saturday evening, prompting the evacuation of thousands of tourists and theatergoers on a warm and busy night. Although the device had apparently started to detonate, there was no explosion, and early on Sunday the authorities were still seeking a suspect and motive.

“We are very lucky,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said at a 2:15 a.m. press conference. “We avoided what could have been a very deadly event.”
Homeland Security is treating this as a failed terrorist attack, and not a very good one if it was using gasoline and fireworks.  Still, I've seen enough Mythbusters to know that gasoline and propane explosions can be deadly if you're close enough, say like, the width of a city street.  The shockwave can kill, and the shockwave when contained in a small space like an SUV cabin becomes even more deadly when it does emerge.  Treating this a s a terrorist attempt is absolutely the right thing to do.
In an interview on CNN's "State of the Union," Napolitano said it was too early to know who was responsible for leaving a vehicle laden with explosives in the symbolic heart of the nation's most populous city.

"We're taking this very seriously," Napolitano said, noting that the New York police, FBI and federal Joint Terrorism Task Force were involved in the investigation. "We're treating it as if it could be a potential terrorist attack."

A T-shirt vendor who noticed smoke coming out of a tinted, dark green sport utility vehicle alerted police to the situation Saturday evening.
I would have flagged down a cop too if I had seen that.  Somebody tried to kill a whole bunch of New Yorkers last night.  They failed, luckily.  Too early to point fingers and assign blame. But this is turning out to be a hell of a weekend for America.
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