Friday, March 22, 2013

Last Call

Dinosaur Steve comes through in the end with a veto of the unconstitutionally stupid KY House Bill 289, the "Religious Freedom Act" but there are enough Blue Dogs (and in Frankfort, all the Dems are Blue Dogs) to most likely override the veto and make us the laughingstock of the nation again.

Gov. Steve Beshear vetoed a controversial religious-freedom bill Friday afternoon, saying the measure was well intended but would spark costly taxpayer-funded court cases and bring an array of unintended consequences.

"I have significant concerns that this bill will cause serious unintentional consequences that could threaten public safety, health care and individuals' civil rights," Beshear said in a statement. "As written, the bill will undoubtedly lead to costly litigation."

House Bill 279 would allow someone with "sincerely held" religious beliefs to disregard state laws "unless the government proves by clear and convincing evidence that it has a compelling governmental interest in infringing" the person's religious freedom. Gay rights and human rights groups have said the bill could be used to challenge local anti-discrimination laws that protect gays and lesbians in Lexington, Louisville, Covington and Vicco. 

"My religious beliefs are that (non-white people/LGBT people/non-Christians/women) are cursed by God, and I refuse to serve them.  It's now up to the Commonwealth to prove with clear and convincing evidence that they can infringe on my right to be a racist bigot."

Sure, this law won't cause lawsuits or anything.  I wonder how long this lasts if you replace the category up there with "white men".  Odds are we're going to find out really soon.

The sponsor of House Bill 279, Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, said he thinks he'll have the 51 votes required to override the veto if House leaders decide to take a vote. Damron said Beshear, a Democrat, did not ask him or Democratic House leaders to refrain from trying to override the bill during a conversation of more than an hour Friday in the governor's Capitol office.

In a written statement, Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said, "The Senate is prepared to override the veto of HB 279 if and when the Speaker moves to do so. As a House bill, that chamber must act on the bill first."

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said in a statement that Democratic leaders "will be discussing what action to take with our caucus."

The House passed the bill earlier this month with only seven dissenting votes. The Republican-led Senate passed it 29-6.

Lawmakers return to Frankfort on Monday for the final two days of the legislative session. Damron said there will be enough time to override the veto by midnight Tuesday.

So yeah, unless House Speaker Stumbo can talk the Blue Dogs down, Kentucky's about to become the land of 4.4 million theocracies.  Still, I'd love to see some atheists start refusing to serve anyone with religious beliefs.

In fact, I think that needs to happen...

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A Little Perspective Music, Please

To recap, the House has passed the Senate 2013 Continuing Resolution.  The Senate CR bill makes the sequestration cuts permanent and makes several pro-gun NRA policy riders permanent.   Every Dem but two and both Independents voted for the CR (with the exception of New Jersey's Frank Lautenberg, who didn't vote and Jon Tester's no vote) along with several Republicans.  You want to know what the Republicans were getting in exchange for Reid's gun control bill even getting a vote?  Now you know.  That price came up front for the GOP, and they'll probably find a way to kill Reid's bill anyway.  Even if it does move through, it faces the House.

This means that Liz Warren, Tammy Baldwin, Bernie Sanders, Tom Harkin, Al Franken, all these bastions of progressive purity, voted for this in order to prevent a government shutdown next week, knowing that the gun control bill is in serious trouble and the GOP now has no real reason to negotiate in good faith.  It's the price of doing America's business, right?

Keep that in mind when President Obama signs the bill Congress gives him into law.  That sausage making machine is a pretty awful process to watch, ya know.  Tester and Lautenberg aren't exactly the bluest of blue, either, if you're planning on holding them up as more liberal than Liz Warren or anything.

And yes, this is me going after the usual suspects.  Nobody is pure in Congress.  They all play the game.  There are times when it doesn't matter how liberal the Dems are if you don't have the number of votes needed to win.  This is the result.  If you think the answer is the throw the impure Dems out and not the real bad guy Republicans, this result will continue to be permanent, too.

Operation Cypriot Slip, Part 2

Cyprus is now on the clock again.  The country's parliament called the ECB out and totally shot down the deposit levy scheme.  The ECB responded with a "Monday or else" deadline that could lead to Cyprus being the first country to economically flunk out of the Eurozone, not to mention you know, trigger a new European debt crisis and collapse.

In a sign it was at least preparing for the worst, the Cypriot government sought powers on Thursday to impose capital controls to stem a flood of funds leaving the island if there is no deal before banks reopen following this week's shutdown.

Parliament will reconvene later on Friday to debate a raft of government crisis measures after lawmakers adjourned a late-Thursday sitting saying they needed more time for consultation.

Even those measures looked likely to fall short of a promised "Plan B" to raise the 5.8 billion euros demanded by the EU in return for a 10 billion euro lifeline from the EU and IMF.

The European Central Bank said it would cut off liquidity to Cypriot banks without a deal, and a senior EU official told Reuters the bloc was ready to see the island banished from the euro to contain damage to the wider European economy.

The problem is confidence.  If Cyprus burns, then the current PIIGS on the barbecue spit, Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain, are looking like they'll be next.   Paul Krugman sums it up:

What can be done? First off, Cypriot banks cannot honor their debts, which unfortunately overwhelmingly take the form of deposits. So a default on deposits is inevitable.

As I now understand it, the initial screwup was a joint error of the Europeans and the Cypriots. Europe didn’t want an explicit bank resolution, which would among other things have given clear seniority to small insured deposits; instead, it wanted this essentially fictitious tax scheme. Meanwhile, the Cypriot government still has the illusion that its banking model can survive, and wanted to limit the hit to the big overseas depositors. Hence the debacle of the small-deposit tax.

In the end this probably comes, in some version, to what it should have been from the start — a big haircut on deposits over 100,000.

That's going to A) piss off the Russians and B) turn into a truly ugly week in Europe starting Monday, regardless of what happens now.   But with TV screens across Europe soon to be filling with bank runs and riots, I'm betting more than a few people start getting really nervous and moving their money out of other banks in Europe too.  That could get really nasty and quickly.

We'll see.  So far the ECB has been able to stomp out the fires when they pop up, but each round gets more and more costly.  If Cyprus is the bridge too far, then hold on to your seats.


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