Sunday, February 8, 2015

Last Call For Greek Fire: The Endgame Cometh

The final battle for the Greek economy and its future is being staged this week, in one hell of a dangerous game of chicken.

Leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras laid out plans on Sunday to dismantle Greece's "cruel" austerity program, ruling out any extension of its international bailout and setting himself on a collision course with his European partners.

In his first major speech to parliament since storming to power last month, Tsipras rattled off a list of moves to reverse reforms imposed by European and International Monetary Fund lenders: from reinstating pension bonuses and cancelling a property tax to ending mass layoffs and raising the mininum wage back to pre-crisis levels.

Showing little intent to heed warnings from EU partners to stick to commitments in the 240 billion euro bailout, Tsipras said he intended to fully respect campaign pledges to heal the "wounds" of the austerity that was a condition of the money.

Greece would achieve balanced budgets but would no longer produce unrealistic primary budget surpluses, he said, a reference to requirements to be in the black excluding debt repayments.

"The bailout failed," the 40-year-old leader told parliament to applause. "We want to make clear in every direction what we are not negotiating. We are not negotiating our national sovereignty."

Somebody will blink here.  Greece is pretending like its economy isn't in flaming shambles without EU bailout cash, and the EU is pretending like kicking Greece out won't unravel the euro for the rest of the eurozone.

At least one of the two is wrong to the point of catastrophe, if not both.  We'll see here, but with the EU set to meet Tuesday and Greece running on fumes right now, a decision is going to have to come fast to avert a train wreck.

I'm not sure at this point that the wreck can be stopped, either.  Neither is The Kroog:

What we’re looking at here is, in short, a very dangerous confrontation. This isn’t diplomacy as usual; this is a game of chicken, of two trucks loaded with dynamite barreling toward each other on a narrow mountain road, with neither willing to turn aside. And all of this is taking place within the European Union, which is supposed to be — indeed, has been, until now — an institution that promotes productive cooperation.

How did Europe get to this point? And what’s the end game?

Like all too many crises, the new Greek crisis stems, ultimately, from political pandering. It’s the kind of thing that happens when politicians tell voters what they want to hear, make promises that can’t be fulfilled, and then can’t bring themselves to face reality and make the hard choices they’ve been pretending can be avoided.

I am, of course, talking about Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and her colleagues.
It’s true that Greece got itself into trouble through irresponsible borrowing (although this irresponsible borrowing wouldn’t have been possible without equally irresponsible lending). And Greece has paid a terrible price for that irresponsibility. Looking forward, however, how much more can Greece take? Clearly, it can’t pay the debt in full; that’s obvious to anyone who has done the math.

Unfortunately, German politicians have never explained the math to their constituents. Instead, they’ve taken the lazy path: moralizing about the irresponsibility of borrowers, declaring that debts must and will be paid in full, playing into stereotypes about shiftless southern Europeans. And now that the Greek electorate has finally declared that it can take no more, German officials just keep repeating the same old lines.

And of course that can no longer work.  I'm not sure if anything can at this point, but we'll know pretty quickly one way or the other.

The Sum Of All Derp

In an article on the idiocy of the right-wing complaining about Preisdent Obama's comments on the history of religious violence on Earth, Vox's Max Fisher sums up the bigotry of the last six years perfectly:

Many critics have described Obama's assertion that Christians are equivalent to Muslims as insulting to Christians. Whether this is because they believe that Christians are inherently superior or that Muslims are inherently inferior is irrelevant. It is not so different from, say, 1960s white supremacists who called Martin Luther King an anti-white racist for asserting that white and black people are fundamentally the same.

And that's it.  That's where the right has been, dancing in and out of blatant racism for the last six years.  It always comes back to race with America.

The Dean Of College Baskeball Passes

Legendary UNC-Chapel Hill Tarheels men's basketball coach Dean Smith passed away yesterday at 83, and if you grew up in ACC country, especially in North Carolina like I did, Dean Smith was as close to a fixture in sports as you could get.

The school said in a statement Sunday from Smith's family that the Hall of Fame coach died at his home Saturday night. He was with his wife and five children.

"We are grateful for all the thoughts and prayers, and appreciate the continued respect for our privacy as arrangements are made available to the public. Thank you," Smith's family said in the statement.

Smith had health issues in recent years, with the family saying in 2010 he had a condition that was causing him to lose memory.

Smith coached the Tar Heels from 1961 to 1997, going 879-254 and retiring as the winningest coach in college basketball history. North Carolina won NCAA championships in 1982 and 1993 and reached the Final Four 11 times under Smith.

"We lost one of our greatest ambassadors for college basketball for the way in which a program should be run," said current Tar Heels coach Roy Williams, who worked as an assistant under Smith. "We lost a man of the highest integrity who did so many things off the court to help make the world a better place to live in.

"He set the standard for loyalty and concern for every one of his players, not just the games won or lost."

Smith coached Hall of Fame players Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Bob McAdoo and Billy Cunningham, won 13 Atlantic Coast Conference tournament titles and coached the U.S. Olympic team to the gold medal in 1976.
Coach Smith was already a legend by the time I was a kid, winning the NCAA tourney with a team that included Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Matt Doherty, Sam Perkins, and Buzz Peterson, and did it again 11 years later with the 93 squad led by Eric Montross and George Lynch.

So yeah, growing up there in the 90's the Duke/UNC rivalry was real.  Duke won back to back in 91 and 92, UNC won in 93, and North Carolina was the heart of the college basketball universe back then.  I was in high school in Durham at the time and man, it was amazing.

We'll miss you, Dean.

Hurt Feelings All Around

Pathetic Republicans are whining to the NY Times about how Mean Ol' Obama didn't consult them on his budget, one they were never going to pass anyway.  Now they're upset that the president didn't come crawling on his knees and they want the Village to punish him.  You see, it's now Obama's fault for not reaching out that his plan for community college is going to die in Congress, because of course Republicans would have totally been for it if he had just asked them nicely.

Four days before President Obama unveiled a sweeping $60 billion vision of free community college for millions of Americans, his staff reached out to Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, a former education secretary and a Republican authority on the issue.

But even as they invited Mr. Alexander to ride with Mr. Obama aboard Air Force One for the announcement in Knoxville, Tenn., last month, White House aides made it clear that they were informing the senator about the plan, not consulting him. In return, Mr. Alexander was uncompromising: He would not support the president’s big idea.

They let us know what they were planning; they didn’t ask for advice on developing a proposal,” Mr. Alexander said in an interview. “I would have suggested a different approach.

That "different approach" of course would be "and if you want that passed, here's what you're going to have to give up, starting with Obamacare."

Mr. Obama has so far found little traction with Congress on major domestic policy proposals related to child care, paid sick leave, tax policy and higher education. His legislative aides have struggled to find Republicans willing to endorse the legislation. Few Republicans say they have even been approached.

You would think that he would have reached out by now to people like me who have a background on it,” said Representative Bradley Byrne, Republican of Alabama, who served for years as the chancellor of that state’s community college system. “None of that has happened.”

Mr. Byrne said he opposed Mr. Obama’s approach, but was eager to discuss other options. “It’s not like I’m hiding,” he said. “Everyone knows who I am and my background.”

Other Republicans on Capitol Hill say that if Mr. Obama’s aim is to get things done, he will have to abandon many of his domestic policy ideas to focus on areas of mutual interest like trade and a business tax overhaul.

“We think their time is much better spent on things other than the liberal, pie-in-the-sky ideas,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee

So, Republicans are saying that Obama hasn't consulted them, and at the same time, Republicans are saying that he will have to abandon his entire agenda in order to deal with only what Republicans want to do.

This, as it has been for six year now, has been Republican "compromise".  A black president on his knees, in his place, assenting to the GOP agenda.

That's some funny idea of compromise, isn't it?

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