Sunday, January 4, 2015

Last Call For Return Of The Greek Fire

Long time readers know of my Greek Fire series of posts running through 2012 involving Athens and how much trouble the Eurozone would be if it defaulted.  Germany managed to get a handle on Greece in late 2012 and stabilized the country for a couple years.

In 2015, with the Greek government now falling apart and snap elections scheduled for three weeks, the prospect of a Greek collapse and exit for the Eurozone is again on the radar.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel came under fire Sunday over a magazine report suggesting she would be prepared to let Greece exit the euro should a far-left party win a snap Greek election.

Der Spiegel news weekly quoted government sources as saying Berlin sees a Greek exit from the eurozone as "almost inevitable" should the radical leftist Syriza party win the vote and abandon Athens' current austerity course.

Both Merkel and her finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble had come to consider that Greece's departure from the single-currency bloc would be "manageable", the magazine said.

The recovery underway in other formerly problem economies such as Ireland and Portugal, the establishment of a permanent eurozone bailout fund and the creation of a banking union had all bolstered Berlin's belief that the contagion from a fresh Greek crisis would be limited, it added.

Greece's parliament was dissolved Wednesday after the assembly failed to agree on a successor to outgoing President Karolos Papoulias in three successive votes.

A snap election has now been called for January 25. Syriza is currently ahead in opinion polls.

German media saw the Spiegel article as an attempt by Merkel and Schaeuble to put pressure on Greeks and Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras, who has vowed to end austerity policies.

Neither Merkel's office nor Schaeuble's finance ministry would confirm or deny the Spiegel report, which drew condemnation from members of both Merkel's conservative CDU party and the Social Democrats (SPD), the junior partners in her coalition government.

Nobody believes Germany is going to let Greece out of the Euro.  Pretending otherwise isn't even fooling the German press, let alone the Greek players.  Should the Syriza party come to power in Greece however, we'll see what happens.  Austerity has not solved the Eurozone problem for anyone, not Spain (25% unemployment, 54% unemployment for people under 25), not Ireland (still stuck with bad banks), and definitely not Britain.

We're right back into 2012 on that side of the pond, and it's going to get nasty soon.

The Huckster Is In

And I get to use The Huckster tag for another two years at least.  Former GOP Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has quit his FOX News show to mull over a run for the Clown Car 2016 ticket.

"I won't make a decision about running until late in the spring of 2015, but the continued chatter has put Fox News into a position that is not fair to them," Huckabee wrote in a letter to supporters Saturday evening released before his show started airing.

"The honorable thing to do at this point is to end my tenure here at Fox so I can openly talk with potential donors and supporters and gauge support," he added....

As Steve M puts it, that places The Huckster in the Jesus Bracket.

I think the GOP would benefit from brackets or division play for 2016. Jesus Division: Huckabee, Carson, Santorum. Establishment Division: Bush, Christie, maybe Romney. Midwest/South Governor Division: Walker, Jindal, maybe Kasich and Pence. Ambitious Fortysomethings Going Through the Motions of Being First-Term Senators So They Can Run for President Division: Cruz, Paul, Rubio. Pick the division champions and then start the playoffs.

That's not going to happen, so the likely survivor of the scrum is going to be whichever top-tier candidate has the fewest similar candidates running in his implicit bracket. It might be Rand Paul -- the Republican financiers seem terrified of his foreign policy ideas, but their response has been to offer money to anyone and everyone who's conventionally neoconservative. (That includes Huckabee, who's a Christian Zionist and has won Sheldon Adelson's Defender of Israel award.) But that means the pro-neocon vote will be split so many different ways that Paul might actually benefit from being out of step.

On the other hand, Jeb Bush might be the guy without competition -- maybe he'll get just enough votes by being out of step on immigration and education (there are still some moderate Republicans, after all) that he'll take the nomination.

Until now, it was looking as if Ben Carson might clear the Jesus field -- the religious right loves him, and he's a fresher face than Santorum -- which could have made him the last guy standing in addition to the front-runner. But Huckabee is so well liked that he and Carson will compete for votes.

Personally, I think this is going to be the nastiest bracket to watch too...or at least the most entertaining.

[UPDATE] On the other hand, Anne Laurie at Balloon Juice reminds us that the second Huckabee does actually run, his campaign instantly runs into a massive problem from 2009:

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee on Tuesday defended his decision to commute the prison sentence years ago of the man who allegedly killed four police officers Sunday near Tacoma, Wash., saying the defendant had received an unfairly harsh sentence because he was young and black.

That "cop killer pardon" is what kept him out of 2012, but in 2016 that represents the end of his political career among the GOP primary ghouls. 

Hood Rats

When it comes to 1) firearms and 2) sweatshirts with hoods on them, guess which one Oklahoma Republicans want to regulate to the point of making illegal?

Oklahoma lawmakers are planning to introduce a bill this February that would make it illegal to wear hooded sweatshirts, or “hoodies,” in public, according to a report from Oklahoma’s Channel 6 News.

Republican Senator Don Barrington will introduce the bill, which would make it a misdemeanor to “wear a mask, hood, or covering” either while committing a crime or in order to intentionally conceal one’s identity. If the bill is passed, offenders would be subject to a fine of $50 to $500, and up to one year in jail. The ban would not affect mask-wearers on Halloween or at masquerade parties, nor would it apply to people who wear head coverings for religious purposes.

The bill’s purpose is seemingly to deter crime. As Channel 6’s report notes, robberies caught on surveillance camera often show the perpetrator wearing a mask or hoodie to cover his or her face. With the bill’s language only prohibiting wearing hoodies while committing a crime or to intentionally hide, supporters say the ban wouldn’t negatively affect people just trying to wear a sweatshirt in day-to-day life.

Others, however, have argued that bans on hoodies — no matter the intention — only serve to exacerbate problems with racial profiling. CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin took on the issue when an Indiana mall banned the garment in March:

“This is about the pretext of being able to stop young African-American males,” she said. “Hoodie is code for ‘thug’ in many places and I think businesses shouldn’t be in the business of telling people what to wear. The Fourteenth Amendment protects us from this.”

We're for small government.  Unless it's for black people, in which case criminalize every aspect of their lives.

Bonus points: under this legislation, who decides if a person is wearing a hoodie to "intentionally conceal" their identity?  Why, the cops, of course.
Related Posts with Thumbnails