Sunday, July 12, 2015

Last Call For Greece Getting Das Boot

Zee Germans have decided that Greece not only must give in to eurozone demands, but that they must do so in the most ridiculous and demeaning way possible.  Yes, Greek PM Alexis Tsipras badly miscalculated the EU position on Greece with his referendum.  But German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Parliament President Martin Schulz are basically asking all but asking for Greece to be drawn and quartered for creditors and made and example of. Paul Krugman explains:

Suppose you consider Tsipras an incompetent twerp. Suppose you dearly want to see Syriza out of power. Suppose, even, that you welcome the prospect of pushing those annoying Greeks out of the euro.

Even if all of that is true, this Eurogroup list of demands is madness. The trending hashtag ThisIsACoup is exactly right. This goes beyond harsh into pure vindictiveness, complete destruction of national sovereignty, and no hope of relief. It is, presumably, meant to be an offer Greece can’t accept; but even so, it’s a grotesque betrayal of everything the European project was supposed to stand for.

Can anything pull Europe back from the brink? Word is that Mario Draghi is trying to reintroduce some sanity, that Hollande is finally showing a bit of the pushback against German morality-play economics that he so signally failed to supply in the past. But much of the damage has already been done. Who will ever trust Germany’s good intentions after this?

In a way, the economics have almost become secondary. But still, let’s be clear: what we’ve learned these past couple of weeks is that being a member of the eurozone means that the creditors can destroy your economy if you step out of line. This has no bearing at all on the underlying economics of austerity. It’s as true as ever that imposing harsh austerity without debt relief is a doomed policy no matter how willing the country is to accept suffering. And this in turn means that even a complete Greek capitulation would be a dead end.

Can Greece pull off a successful exit? Will Germany try to block a recovery? (Sorry, but that’s the kind of thing we must now ask.)

The solution to Greece's bad austerity is now crippling austerity that will lead to open revolt.  And at this point, you have to assume that this is what Germany wants.

European leaders gave Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras a straightforward choice on Sunday: disown his principles or quit the euro.

Euro-area leaders presented Tsipras with a laundry list of unfinished business from previous bailouts he’d pilloried in opposition and during six turbulent months in office. They gave him three days to enact their main demands into Greek law in exchange for the third bailout in five years.

No, Germany wants this to blow up so they can toss Greece out and scare Italy, Portugal and Ireland into accepting even more austerity.  Because of course Merkel wants to keep her job, you see. The pitchforks come for her next unless Greece is staked out for the slaughter.

With friends like these, I don't think the European currency is long for this world.

Grump Trump Dumps On Chumps

In an amazingly awful speech in Phoenix Saturday night, Donald Trump went from being a painfully unfunny one-man sideshow on the traveling GOP clown bus to instead becoming an uncomfortably bad reminder of who the Republican party and who the GOP's 50-state Southern Strategy is built around.

Trump’s 70-minute address here, which sounded more like a stream-of-consciousness rant than a presidential-style stump speech, put an exclamation point on his bombastic push since his presidential announcement last month to return immigration to the forefront of the national conversation.

Bush and illegal immigrants were not the only targets of Trump’s scorn: He also criticized Macy’s, NBC, NASCAR, U.S. ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and, several times, the media.

Republican leaders say they believe the celebrity billionaire has virtually no chance of being their nominee, much less of making it to the White House. And, for now at least, his following seems limited to the far right as opposed to the party’s mainstream.

Yet Trump has reignited a heated debate over an issue, immigration, that the GOP had been determined to settle after it hurt Republicans in the most recent presidential election.

Party leaders increasingly fear that Trump could do damage to more viable candidates, such as Bush, who could lose their own footing on immigration. These candidates confront a familiar challenge: During the primary season, they must deal with the anger and anxiety that many on the right feel about illegal immigration. But they must do it in a way that will not damage their appeal to a broader electorate in November 2016.

Republicans are handling Trump delicately for another reason as well: They fear that he could leave the GOP entirely and wage a well-funded third-party campaign, a possibility that Trump has not ruled out.

On the other hand, Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Robert Costa are 100% wrong on one point: being the party of white resentment towards Latinos didn't hurt the GOP one bit in 2014.  Republicans racked up the highest House margin they've had in generations and won control of the Senate.

So pay careful attention to the Republicans trying to run away from Trump's obvious hatred and bigotry.  The Rpeublican base is 100% built on this and has been for years, and the difference is they get out and vote.

This is who they always have been. And the politics of white resentment still wins in America.

Sunday Long Read: Twin Destinies

This week's Sunday Long Read is the story of two pairs of identical twins, mixed up at birth in Bogota, raised as two separate pairs of fraternal twins, and how they discovered each other.

They were two pretty young women in search of pork ribs for a barbecue later that day, a Saturday in the summer of 2013. Janeth Páez suggested that they stop by a grocery store not far from where her friend Laura Vega Garzón lived in northern Bogotá. Janeth’s boyfriend’s cousin, William, a sweet young man with a thick country accent, worked behind the butcher counter there, expertly filleting beef and cutting pigs’ feet that his customers liked to boil with beans. Janeth was sure he would give her and Laura a cut rate on the ribs.

As Laura walked into the grocery store, catching up with Janeth, she was surprised to spot someone she knew. Behind the butcher counter was a colleague from her job at Strycon, an engineering firm. She gave him a big wave. He hardly acknowledged her. ‘‘That’s Jorge!’’ she told Janeth. ‘‘He works in my office.’’ He was a well-­liked 24-year-old who worked a few floors up from her, designing pipes for oil transport, so she was surprised to see him waiting on customers in the shop.

‘‘Oh, no, that’s William,’’ Janeth said. William was a hard worker and rarely left that butcher counter, except to sleep. He definitely did not work at Strycon.

‘‘No, it’s Jorge — I know him,’’ Laura said. But he was not smiling back at her, which was strange. A few minutes later, he came out from behind the counter to say a quick hello, embracing Janeth. Janeth introduced him to Laura as William.

Laura was baffled: Why was Jorge pretending to be someone else? Maybe, she thought, he was embarrassed to be seen moonlighting this way — the bloodied apron, the white cap. Janeth insisted she was mistaken, but Laura was not convinced. It was almost easier for her to believe that Jorge was playacting as someone else, rather than that there could be two people who looked so much alike. It was not just their similar coloring or the high cheekbones. It was their frame, the texture of their hair, the set of their mouth and dozens of other details that Laura could not have readily identified but that she knew all added up to a rare likeness.

The following Monday at Strycon, Laura told Jorge about her funny misunderstanding with his double at the butcher counter. Jorge laughed and told her that he did have a twin, named Carlos, but that they looked nothing like each other.

At that moment, Jorge had before him sufficient evidence to suggest that his life was not what he thought it was, that his family was not what he thought it was. But there is a saying that Carlos, a man of many sayings, sometimes applied to Jorge: ‘‘The blindest man is the one who does not want to see.’’

Having been adopted myself at birth (along with two of my three siblings, who were adopted at ages 4 and 6) this story is fascinating to me.  I've always wondered if I ever had any biological brothers or sisters, and who they are.

A month later, Laura told Janeth that there was an opening in the drafting department at Strycon, and Janeth landed the job. Soon after, she saw Jorge for the first time and immediately understood Laura’s confusion at the butcher counter. The two men had the same soft brown eyes. Same bouncy, feet-­splayed walk. Same bright, flashy smile. She didn’t feel as though she knew Jorge well enough to bring the resemblance up with him, but she did show William a photo of Jorge; William laughed and showed it around the butcher shop but chalked it up to coincidence.

After six months, Janeth left Strycon for another job, but even then, whenever she and her boyfriend ran into William, she wondered if she should have told Jorge about his double. That question tugged at her until finally, on Sept. 9, 2014, a slow day at her new job, Janeth texted Laura an image of William to show Jorge.

Laura went upstairs to piping to get Jorge’s reaction to the photo. Jorge, smiling, took a look at her phone. He swore. ‘‘That’s me!’’ he said. He stared at the image.

William was wearing a yellow Colombian soccer jersey, practically a national uniform on the day of big matches. Jorge often wore one just like it, which made it all the more apparent just how thoroughly the young man in the photo looked like him. A friend was walking by Jorge’s desk, and Jorge flagged him down for a second opinion.

‘‘Tell me what you think of this photo,’’ he told his friend, handing him the phone.

You look fine, the friend said.

‘‘Except it’s not me,’’ Jorge said. He could not stop staring at Laura’s phone.

Jorge gave up on getting any work done. He sat down with Laura in the office kitchen so they could talk. Maybe his father, who was never more than an occasional visitor to their home, had another child he never mentioned. Jorge started flipping through more of William’s Facebook images, now on his own phone. Uneasily, he noted one of William in a butcher’s smock, looking just the way Jorge did on the rare days he had to wear a lab coat. He glanced at a picture of William holding a shot glass, a friend by his side.

Jorge moved to his desktop computer so he could see the images more closely. He clicked once more on the photo of William and the friend holding shot glasses. Now that the image was large, he could examine what he had failed, incredibly, to notice when he looked at the photo on his phone. He leaned in close, his nose practically touching the screen. The man’s hair was slicked up like a rooster’s crown, and the shirt was all wrong. But there was the full lower lip and thick brown hair that Jorge knew well. The buttons on the man’s shirt were straining slightly at the hint of a potbelly, in a way that was intimately familiar. Jorge felt a rush of confusion, and then his stomach dropped. The friend sitting next to his double had a face that Jorge knew better than his own: It was the face of his fraternal twin brother, Carlos.

This is an amazing story, so set some time aside for this one.  It's well worth it.
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