Monday, March 25, 2013

Last Call: Claire McCaskill Hits A Home Run

Claire McCaskill has gracefully and thoughtfully decided to support gay marriage.  We knew this time had to come, and it's finally here.  Let the GOP clown car stop, and the idiots unload.  The pendulum is swinging.  The sun of logic has broken through the clouds of stupidity.  Grab your bag of cliches and metaphors and pick one, the important thing is that change is coming.  And it's about damned time.

I have come to the conclusion that our government should not limit the right to marry based on who you love. While churches should never be required to conduct marriages outside of their religious beliefs, neither should the government tell people who they have a right to marry.
My views on this subject have changed over time, but as many of my gay and lesbian friends, colleagues and staff embrace long term committed relationships, I find myself unable to look them in the eye without honestly confronting this uncomfortable inequality. Supporting marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples is simply the right thing to do for our country, a country founded on the principals of liberty and equality.
That says it all.  It isn't complicated, and the people who have a reputation for intelligence can no longer fake a logic train that promotes discrimination.  It's that simple.  In a country where beliefs and freedom are respected, a shrieking clan of self-righteous nutjobs cannot make us forget that people can make personal choices.  Their bigotry is our legacy of shame, but I truly believe we have reached the tipping point where accountability trumps trendiness.

She doesn't just advocate justice for the LGBT population, however.  She points out that churches shouldn't have to act outside of their beliefs, while she also acknowledges that government should not regulate lawful personal decisions.  She reminds us that liberty and equality should be our default for all citizens, and that it is hard to look our gay friends in the eye while doing anything less than championing for their equality.   Her message holds up because it is truly about respect, for all sides and all people.  It never had to be an either / or solution.

That isn't to say it will be a smooth road, but we can see the progress.  On a larger scale, it seems reason is taking hold and common sense is returning to the land.  The Tea Party leftovers are ridiculed as they should have been all along, and people who want to appear rational are separating themselves from the GOP core values as fast as they can.  Meanwhile, those who frankly waited too long to speak are at least refusing to make their error worse.  Voices that were silent or dodging for way too long are finally coming out in support of freedom and choice.

Better late than never.  Well done, madam.

We've Been Here Before

House GOP intel chairman Mike Rogers of Michigan is one of the many House Republicans still in office after voting to put us in Iraq after assurances of weapons of mass destruction just waiting to be used by a vile dictator.  Now he wants to put us in Syria for the same reason.

You're an idiot and a fool if you believe him.

There's mounting evidence that over the last two years the Assad regime has used "at least a small quantity" of chemical weapons against rebel forces in Syria's raging civil war, House Intelligence Committee chair Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said today on "Face the Nation," adding that the time is now for U.S. intervention.

Amid debate over an alleged chemical weapons attack out of Syria last week, President Obama during a visit to Israel doubled down on his claim that such an attack would be considered a "game changer" for his administration, but qualified that it's important to find out "precisely whether or not this red line was crossed" before making a decision that could lead to an act of war.

"I think that it is abundantly clear that that red line has been crossed," Rogers said. "There is mounting evidence that it is probable that the Assad regime has used at least a small quantity of chemical weapons during the course of this conflict." 

Sure, just like Saddam is going to nuke the Kurds and has mobile weapons labs driving around the desert.  Why is anyone taking this guy seriously, or at least expressing that "Gosh Congressman Rogers, after the Iraq debacle that you voted for, shouldn't the bar for US troops on the ground in Syria be much higher than this?"

Rogers said Mr. Obama "can do this in a way that doesn't lure the United States into a big, boots-on-the-ground conflict." Intervention, he said, "doesn't mean 101st Airborne Division and ships; it means small groups with special capabilities reengaging the opposition, so we can vet them, train them, equip them so they can be an effective fighting force."

"The president went to the Middle East and said, 'This is a hard decision: If I go in, it might be wrong, if I don't go in it might be wrong,'" Rogers said. "Indecision, in this case, is dangerous."

This is true (as Libya proved) but the point still stands.  I still thought Libya was a bad idea, but we got in, got out, and cleaned up after Qaddafi and we were done with it once it happened.  We need an imminent reason to intervene militarily in Syria and even then I damn sure don't see a coalition of folks lining up like there was in Libya, and I'm guessing there's a reason why.

That imminent reason sure is hell not going to be legitimate coming from Mike Rogers.

Operation Cypriot Slip, Part 4

As I alluded to in this morning's StupidiNews, Cyprus got a last minute bailout deal from the ECB, but the cost is pretty steep.

The agreement came hours before a deadline to avert a collapse of the banking system in fraught negotiations between President Nicos Anastasiades and heads of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Swiftly endorsed by euro zone finance ministers, the plan will spare the Mediterranean island a financial meltdown by winding down the largely state-owned Popular Bank of Cyprus, also known as Laiki, and shifting deposits below 100,000 euros to the Bank of Cyprus to create a "good bank".

Deposits above 100,000 euros in both banks, which are not guaranteed under EU law, will be frozen and used to resolve Laiki's debts and recapitalize Bank of Cyprus through a deposit/equity conversion.

The raid on uninsured Laiki depositors is expected to raise 4.2 billion euros, Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijssebloem said.

Laiki will effectively be shuttered, with thousands of job losses. Officials said senior bondholders in Laiki would be wiped out and those in Bank of Cyprus would have to make a contribution.

So, goodbye to the island's number 2 bank, and at least a 30% haircut through "unwinding" of Laiki on big Russian whale accounts, a clever maneuver that's not exactly a tax...oh yeah, and the loss of maybe half a percent of the nation's total jobs.  We'll see who signs off on the deal in the rest of Europe, because this deal is being done as a "bank restructuring" which the Cypriot parliament has already approved, they can't vote on this and sink it again.  Now, the rest of the EU however does have to sign off, and that's expected to happen.  After all, they're not going to burn over this, just Cyprus and Russia.

The Russians, I expect, will arrive for their payback quite soon.  Meanwhile, expect Cyprus to slip into a full-blown depression, as the Offshore Money Laundering industry was the island's major industry.  With that dead, yearly GDP contraction in the double digits isn't out of the question.  Big time depression coming here.  The real losers are the Cypriots themselves, who I expect will be in the riot stage before the end of the year, if not the end of spring.

Gotta love austerity.  In the end, the little people always pay.


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