Daily news and comments on the situation in post Saddam Iraq by an Iraqi dentist living in Texas
Freddie Starr’s new father-in-law accuses him of tearing their family apart after the comedian didn't invite him to their wedding
Freddie Starr ate my hamster!
Sooo, what...the statue had two strikes against it? It is of a woman who was a singer? A woman who sang in public, no less?*sigh*Talk about regressive.
A feature of post-revolution Egypt has been surge in attacks against women, apparently with the aim of keeping them out of the public sphere. That said, can this really be explained by the increasing power of Islamists? I don't think so. Look at how the previous Western-backed secular regime treated women. Their record was shameful and included subjecting female revolutionaries to virginity tests - essentially state-sanctioned sexual assaults. Principally the problem is patriarchy, not Islamism, although clearly Islamists of various stripes are not without significant fault. There's a lot of blame to go around.
I don't see any signs that anybody's taken credit for the vandalism. Are we just assuming that it's fundies, or is there something more to go on?
Anyone else feel like we are living in a shooting gallery?
Neil DeGrasse Tyson used just those words in an interview yesterday. We're in a ‘shooting gallery’ he says. He also says fully half of the rocks of the size that crossed over Russia were never even noticed before, but better communications, better ‘eyes on the sky’ and just more people to notice, and we'll be hearing of more of them going forward.(I was lucky enough to see one of those in person once. Smaller, higher up, considerably less impressive than the video I've seen from Russia, but ‘light up the landscape’ size nonetheless; complete with fireball and contrail, explosions and fragments and more explosions; impressive as hell in person.)
That's what I was thinking when I saw that picture from Russia, that it would have been pretty amazing to see in person. Minus the injuries from broken glass, of course.They say that a lot of them fall in the oceans.
Pete,Just as a follow up to our discussion on gay marriage, and specifically one of the court cases cited in your article, I wanted to leave a link to an article about a situation here in one of our school districts. I don't mean to pick on you, I just want you to understand why I am concerned about the ramifications of the attitudes people have in our school system and beyond.
March 1 - Sequestration begins...tick, tick, ticke...
Sure, double post, delete one, and I choose the one with the typo to keep! *sigh*:)
I find the Republicans' attempts to blame the coming ‘sequestration’ on Obama to be amusing to say the least. One can find any number of editorials by Republicans of high political standing which pronounce the sequestration to be an entirely necessary evil. (This one is by John Boehner, no less.) And yet they're simultaneously trying to blame it on Obama, who's campaigning against it on an almost daily basis. And that's just not workin’ out for ‘em. Obama's general public popularity it actually rising. And yet, they can't seem to understand how and why this absurd position they've backed themselves into isn't being accepted as sane outside of their Glenn Hannibaugh listening ‘base’.
And, for those who want something other than American politics to contemplate; odd tidbits from the news: "The New Zealand Medical Journal published… findings Friday in a 3,000-word essay by the five researchers from Denmark and Britain, reported Agence France-Presse. "The study…claimed that women's farts smell worse than men's" New York Daily NewsAnd, the State of Mississippi has finally outlawed slavery.
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The president has repeatedly called for even more tax revenue, but the American people don't support trading spending cuts for higher taxes. They understand that the tax debate is now closed.Really? And what polls has he been reading? Last I heard most Americans favored a mix of both spending cuts and higher tax revenue. Here we go again. Washington passing the buck and we pay the price.
"Last I heard most Americans favored a mix of both spending cuts and higher tax revenue."Yeah, last polls out on the subject show it at 76% favor both spending cuts and more tax revenues. Only 19% favored spending cuts alone. Boehner is just making up stuff outta whole cloth; he's livin’ inside the Republican, faerie tale fantasy land. "Washington passing the buck and we pay the price."Could be worse. The Republicans were once threatening to go to the mattresses over the ‘debt-ceiling’. That would have been a disaster, a catastrophy. If the financiers, ‘The Masters of the Universe’ as they fancy themselves, came face to face with the prospect of the United States government willingly defaulting on its financial obligations then the whole international financial and credit system would very likely completely freeze up. We're talkin’ world-wide financial panic and nobody to fix it. The second Great Depression, full-on, world-wide, within 48 hours, and no way to undo it.The Republicans were threatening to go there again, having first made the threat back in 2011 (which is how they got the sequester in the first place; Obama offered them the sequester as a replacement hostage, one worth much less, but he somehow got ‘em to take the swap anyway).And, now the ‘debt-ceiling’ hostage comes back up again, technically in mid-May (although the Obama administration has finagled things to the point they can probably hold that crisis off until early August).I believe that Obama's decided to just have the fight now, that the Obama administration picked this fight on purpose, or, maybe better said that they picked this as the proper place to have the fight.The economists are saying that the sequester will probably kill off the so-far anemic recovery we're working on, and maybe drop us back into a mild recession (depending on how long it goes on), but that's a much better outcome than the full-on world-wide depression that the Republicans were threatening to unleash by a U.S. government default.I believe Obama has decided to fight the final battle before the debt-ceiling comes up again. Win or lose, he's going to have the deciding battle fought before that comes ‘round again. He's drawn them in here, and he's gonna fight it out here, until one side or the other loses so dramatically as to leave no doubt who lost, leave no room for the Republican faerie tale machine to play it down as just another temporary setback, another matter of them just not getting their message out correctly, something they figure they can fix by shouting louder while doing it all over again. He's figurin’ to break ‘em on this one, before the doomsday scenario with the debt-ceiling comes up again.That's what I think.I wish him luck on that; it'll be worth it if it works.
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JG: "Principally the problem is patriarchy, not Islamism, although clearly Islamists of various stripes are not without significant fault. There's a lot of blame to go around."That'd be the politically correct answer from left leaning cultural relativists. I'm well aquainted with that one. Your problem is it's kind difficult to deny the last decades' Islamisation of Egypt and its impact on the freedoms of women. Here's a little something just for you JG:http://frontpagemag.com/2010/jamie-glazov/how-the-veil-conquered-cairo-university/But I guess in the end it's all about patriarchy, right? It's of no significance from where those "patriarchs" get their ideas, right?
Lee: "The Republicans were once threatening to go to the mattresses over the ‘debt-ceiling’. That would have been a disaster, a catastrophy. If the financiers, ‘The Masters of the Universe’ as they fancy themselves, came face to face with the prospect of the United States government willingly defaulting on its financial obligations then the whole international financial and credit system would very likely completely freeze up. We're talkin’ world-wide financial panic and nobody to fix it. The second Great Depression, full-on, world-wide, within 48 hours, and no way to undo it."That seems like a likely scenario if the US were to actually default on its obligations. There's no way to do that just "a little bit" and thyen backtrack. You can't drive a train at full speed a little bit off a cliff and then reverse before the damage is too bad.But I have asked before: are they really serious about these threats? Surely they can't be, not most of them. The Republicans must have their paymasters also, wealthy people and corporations who would be terrified of that scenario. Surely most of it must be bluster and scare tactics, no?
"But I have asked before: are they really serious about these threats?"Yes, quite. "Surely they can't be, not most of them."Enough of them are were serious about it, probably most of them, ‘most’ as in more than half of ‘em. It was a real threat, one to be taken seriously. "The Republicans must have their paymasters also, wealthy people and corporations who would be terrified of that scenario."This is true. The Wall Street wing of the Republican Party knows better, but they're not running the party anymore. Note that Mitt Romney, the poster boy for the socially moderate, high-finance, big money wing of the party was obliged to run as a ‘severe conservative’, to quote Romney himself. Even the usually sane but loyal Republicans who used to post here, Bridget from Texas and Rhuslancia were arguing that it wouldn't be a ‘real’ default because it would have been voluntary, and since it wouldn't be a ‘real’ default then the credit markets would forgive it, so it was gonna be okay.
The credit markets actually did forgive it. And I actually held onto all of my Treasury obligations.
85 billion in spending "cuts" is barely enough to offset the 60 billion in brand new spending proposed for Hurricane Sandy. Pfft. Pshaw.We are absolutely in no danger of defaulting on our debt. The measly $85 billion won't even result in our defaulting on our "obligations", it will just infinitesimally reduce them. It may be the beginning of the Republicans forcing Obama into to Grand Bargain to which he has thus far merely given lip service. On the other hand, it may just be another small step in the agonizing process of ratcheting down the spending spree that Obama/Reid/Pelosi embarked on in 2008. Either way....we have got to stop spending seeing as how Obama signed on to starving the beast for the foreseeable future when he made permanent the vast majority of the Bush tax cuts.Glad you called me back, Lee? :)
"Glad you called me back, Lee?"I didn't figure it as such.More to the point: Marcus and I were discussing the likely impact of blowing through the ‘debt-ceiling’. (And whether or not the tea-bagger wing of the Republican Party was actually crazy enough to force that. Could they possibly be serious ‘bout that?) You seem to be confusing that subject with the $85 Bn annual impact of the sequester. So, I'd have to say your 'answer’ to the ‘call’ was pretty much non-responsive. And I can't say it had any discernible effect on my emotional state.
Since you misrepresented what I argued about the debt ceiling, I pretty much ignored it. As did the credit markets at the time. Looks like the Republicans may put a stop to the administration's fear mongering dog and pony show. The NYT is reporting that they are preparing legislation to let the President decide what gets cut. That's hilarious.
"Since you misrepresented what I argued about the debt ceiling…"I recalled your argument in favor of voluntarily leaping into that disaster incorrectly somehow? ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ "The NYT is reporting that they are preparing legislation to let the President decide what gets cut."I saw that. Probably won't pass the Republican House. Probably won't even get a Republican majority in the Senate. They're not likely to give Obama room to lay the cuts more heavily on red states and Republican favored programs.A rather more real impediment is that it's quite possibly an unconstitutional abandonment of congressional budgetary powers. Very much like the line-item veto was found to be unconstitutional. ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯Oh, and as long as we're hopping back and forth on related subjects… Some time back I opined that the chances of a government shutdown when the extant ‘continuing resolution’ expired and all authority to commit to new expenditures expired with it (or, at least, authority for those expenditures defined as ‘non-critical’), those chances I figured at about 70% for a shut-down. This is scheduled for 27 March, four weeks and a day from now.Since then the parties have almost fully engaged on the sequester battle. They're gonna have it out right there. The maneuvers to date have me reconsidering the odds of a shut-down. I figure it at 50/50 right now, and dropping day-by-day, as the parties seem to be digging in to the current fight. I now figure it likely the sequester fight will go on past 27 March, and meantime a new, short-term ‘continuing resolution’ will pass with the ‘as-sequestered’ numbers.
Confession to poor editing, mia culpa: "A rather more real impediment is that it's quite probably an unconstitutional abandonment of congressional budgetary powers."
Oh, yeah, and the posts from Bridget just above bring my attention back to a point I've made in the past and which deserves some repeating in the context of the current budget battles.Republicans would like for people to believe that Republicans want to cut government spending. As a general rule, they do not.Republicans want to cut taxes. Republicans want to force the Democrats to cut spending. Republicans do not want to cut spending themselves.
I never argued that it wouldnt be a real default because it was voluntary. I argued that we wouldn't default at all. The administration sturm und drang then was about as convincing as the dog and pony show they're putting on now.But no, I don't think the Republicans will repeat this time. I don't think they'll have to. I think they'll be calling Obama's bluff on the Grand Bargain. They'll give short term extensions until they get one. Hope so, anyway.I think the flexibility legislation just might pass the House. It'll be up to the Senate Democrats to stop it. Much hilarity will ensue.
Lee: "This is true. The Wall Street wing of the Republican Party knows better, but they're not running the party anymore. Note that Mitt Romney, the poster boy for the socially moderate, high-finance, big money wing of the party was obliged to run as a ‘severe conservative’, to quote Romney himself."Yes but campaining is one thing, actual policy is another. Especially Mitt didn't strike me as the kind who would be above saying one thing and doing something else entirely. If he had won that is, which he didn't.I get that there's a major shism in US party politics and that it's a very infected political climate. And I get that the Republicans have quite a few spoilsports in their ranks now who would oppose Obama no matter what. But don't they also have some sane conservatives who would not be part of intentionally bringing about disaster just because they can't have it their own way at the moment? I would like to think so, but I confess I don't really know, or rather I don't know at all. I think it's difficult to claim to have a finger on the pulse of domestic US politics from abroad, even if I do read several US and international news outlets. It seems to me I get to understand things after the facts are in but cannot really anticipate them in advance. You probably have to be "on the ground" to have that level of insight.So, to get a clear answer to my previous question: you think it's a real possibility that the tea-party wing of the Republican party could pull the rest of the party into a set of actions that could actually mean the USA defaulting on its debts/financial oblications? Is that correct?I hope that's not the case because that would be a disaster for the entire world economy. And I don't think it would serve the US well in the long run in any scenario I can imagine. And I know what would happen in Sweden - a market crash (that'd hit savings and future pensions and strangle domestic consumption), a severe slump in our so important exports market and rapidly rising unemployment. Possibly it could trigger that overdue housing crash also and then we'd be in the shit for real.
"I never argued that it wouldnt be a real default because it was voluntary. I argued that we wouldn't default at all."I'll leave it to you to explain how that works, or not, as the spirit moves you. "I think they'll be calling Obama's bluff on the Grand Bargain."My guess is that your definition of a ‘Grand Bargain’ does not include any further tax increases (defined as an increase in gross revenue to the feds). "They'll give short term extensions until they get one. Hope so, anyway."This would seem to have you hoping for continued ‘uncertainty’ for the financial markets going forward. At least until you get a ‘Grand Bargain’ that doesn't include any new tax increases. "I think the flexibility legislation just might pass the House."The caveat ‘might’ is pretty flexible. Lot of things might happen. Personally, I don't see Boehner even bringing it to a vote in the House unless it's already been voted down in the Senate. If it's certain to go nowhere he may grandstand a little with it, but only if it's already proven to be dead in the Senate.
"But don't they also have some sane conservatives who would not be part of intentionally bringing about disaster just because they can't have it their own way at the moment?"Yes, of course there's ‘some sane conservatives’ etc. But they're not running the show. They're the ones in the leadership positions (mostly anyway); Boehner, for instance, is not one of the crazy tea-baggers. But, as we've seen just recently when the Republican House caucus shot down Boehner's ‘Plan B’ during the ‘fiscal cliff’ fight, the majority of Republicans in the House won't actually follow his lead. He does not have control of his crazies; the ‘sane conservatives’ don't have the numbers within the Republican cohort to control the outcomes there. "you think it's a real possibility that the tea-party wing of the Republican party could pull the rest of the party into a set of actions that could actually mean the USA defaulting on its debts/financial oblications? Is that correct?"Yes, that is quite correct. I beleive that was and is a very real threat. I believe they were dead serious about not extending the debt-ceiling back in 2011, and they were just barely bribed out of it. I believe they could quite easily dig in their heels and go there again. (I further believe that some Republicans (specifically including Bridget by the way) by a little bit of the same sort of magical thinking that redefined waterboarding to be ‘not torture’ because they said so, and that redefined substantial legal fines and long probationary periods for illegal immigrants as ‘amnesty’ are also willing to insist that hitting the debt-ceiling will not result in a default on our ‘debts/financial obligations’ because they're willing to re-define it as not leading to a default. She may quibble with my characterization of it as not being a ‘real’ default, but that's pretty much where I think she's going with her defense of her position should she ever actually explain her position, which I'm not holding my breath for.)
"…the feds are stockpiling bullets in case of civil unrest…" Sarah Palin
Lee: "Yes, of course there's ‘some sane conservatives’ etc. But they're not running the show. They're the ones in the leadership positions (mostly anyway); Boehner, for instance, is not one of the crazy tea-baggers. But, as we've seen just recently when the Republican House caucus shot down Boehner's ‘Plan B’ during the ‘fiscal cliff’ fight, the majority of Republicans in the House won't actually follow his lead."OK, I had hoped that most of them would be more responsible in the face of something as serious as a possible default*, but the way you put it I guess that's not the case.But then couldn't Boehner and the ones he can rally actually end up either throwing down their votes or even vote with the Democrats if the only alternative is default on the national debt? Is it in any scenario feasible that they might, very reluctantly of course, support the Dems if they see it as the lesser of two evils? Or would the political price be too steep? Or are there other obstacles to doing so?*Do they realise that they are toying with the status of the almighty Dollar as the worlds primary reserve currency? Do they realise that the only reason the US can sustain levels of debts, especially foreign debt, as high as they stand is because of that status?
"But then couldn't Boehner and the ones he can rally actually end up either throwing down their votes or even vote with the Democrats if the only alternative is default on the national debt?"I don''t think you quite get the import of what Bridget was studiously avoiding making explicit just above: "I argued that we wouldn't default at all." Bridget @ 9:48 AMShe wasn't saying that they weren't serious about slamming to a full stop at the ‘debt-ceiling’; she wasn't saying that they would not do that. She believes they can get away with it. She has convinced herself that this would not trigger a default. (A bit of funk with the definitions there. And don't be tellin’ me that she can't possibly believe that; she does believe that. Or, at least, she's said she does, back when they were threatening to not extend the debt ceiling last time.) And she's one of the usually sane ones. This sort of magical thinking is rampant on the right.Let that sink in for a little while, try to get your head around the import of them holding on to that fantasy; then I'll work on whatever questions you might still have.
OK, I had hoped that most of them would be more responsible in the face of something as serious as a possible default*, but the way you put it I guess that's not the case.Unfortunately, Marcus, I think your average American does not understand the ramifications of a default. Despite the ruination of many people's own credit rating due to defaulting on their mortgages. Many of them have never even heard of "sequestration" either, or have any idea of how that may affect them.Or, like Bridget, they simply believe it will not happen. But don't they also have some sane conservatives who would not be part of intentionally bringing about disaster just because they can't have it their own way at the moment?Yes. And they are alive and well and living in Michelle Bachmann's district. Which is why she won by such a narrow margin in the last election. I think she and many of her supporters were sure she would win by a landslide. Nope. Sadly, there weren't enough who had woken up to the danger of some of her ideas to have flipped that election.
Tell ya what… Let's circle this problem again. Let's leave Bridget entirely out of it, let her just fade away, and we'll just do this as an exercise in the abstract…The general theory by which Republicans deny that a default is a default is they restrict their definition of a ‘default’ to mean that only a failure to pay persons holding negotiable paper. If the person is not holding negotiable paper then not paying them when their payments are due and demanded is defined as ‘not a default’.So, landlords from whom the feds rent office space, contracting parties due progress payments, social security recipients, hospitals due money for taking care of Medicare patients, etc., and all the like can all be stiffed and, by the new Republican defintion, there is still been no government default on its debts so long as folks holding negotiable paper haven't yet missed an on-time payment of interest due. Never mind how many other debts get not paid.They also assume that our government will somehow discover a previously unknown authority for not paying its bills as they come due, even if there is money on hand to pay them, so that the government may prefer other bills not yet due instead (interest payments coming up later in the month for instance).They then additionally assume (rather irrationally) that since annual tax revenues are currently sufficient to pay the interest on the outstanding negotiable paper, then it follows that monthly tax income to the feds will be steady enough and sufficient enough to make those payments as they come due, there will never be a shortfall on that, and, further, that our government's negotiable paper creditors will continue to be confident enough in their continued payments to keep rolling over the principal of the loans and just take their interest payments, and so there will never be a real default.Voila! Magically, problem solved.
"you think it's a real possibility that the tea-party wing of the Republican party could pull the rest of the party into a set of actions that could actually mean the USA defaulting on its debts/financial oblications? Is that correct?"Personally, I think the tea party has lost quite a bit of steam. Right now it appears to be simple stubbern intransigience in both parties. Right now people I am talking to believe there will be a deal. If that doesn't happen and our economy tanks, either due to sequestration, debt default, or a government shutdown, you are going to see some very very angry people.
"Right now people I am talking to believe there will be a deal."Not by Friday; probably not before the 27th (the ‘continuing resolution), if then. That's my thinking.
If the person is not holding negotiable paper then not paying them when their payments are due and demanded is defined as ‘not a default’.I'm glad I filed my tax return early then. I've already gotten my refund. :)
Any delays in issuing tax refunds between now and May/June or so will be the result of delays in processing the returns, which delays will be the result of the sequester limiting manpower. It won't be until the debt-ceiling is approaching (officially in mid-May) that refunds are at risk for lack of available funds to pay them.
Lee: "She wasn't saying that they weren't serious about slamming to a full stop at the ‘debt-ceiling’; she wasn't saying that they would not do that. She believes they can get away with it. She has convinced herself that this would not trigger a default. (A bit of funk with the definitions there. And don't be tellin’ me that she can't possibly believe that; she does believe that. Or, at least, she's said she does, back when they were threatening to not extend the debt ceiling last time.) And she's one of the usually sane ones. This sort of magical thinking is rampant on the right."But I have to tell/ask you: they can't possibly believe that! Not really. They might be pretending to believe that so that the threat of going down that road is still seen as a bargaining chip, but surely they cannot believe it for real? Surely they can't have gotten to the positions they hold being that ignorant? And if they are, then surely they must have advisors, facilitators or sponsors that know better who would restrain them at the last minute of the chickenrace? Or?
It won't be until the debt-ceiling is approaching (officially in mid-May) that refunds are at risk for lack of available funds to pay them.Mid-May? Usually it is the people who owe who extend filing beyond the deadline, so this fight will not affect too many people then.
Still waiting for JG to come along and explain how when it comes to the lack of freedoms for women in Egypt "Principally the problem is patriarchy, not Islamism", as he claimed - word for word. He needs to explain how the freedoms for women have been gradually curtailed year after year for several decades due to a rise of patriarchy and where that patriarchism came from since in his opinion it is unrelated to the documented rise in islamism. If the rise in islamism is not the cause JG needs to explain the underlying reasons for the rice of the so called patriarchy in Egypt, that restricts freedoms of women. JG?
rise, not rice. Of course.
"But I have to tell/ask you: they can't possibly believe that! Not really."I might have thought the same thing once. However, I read the posts by Bridget first time the debt-ceiling came around (back in 2011, before Obama catagorically refused to negotiate on the subject when it came back up early this year), and I had generally considered Bridget to be one of the sane ones (up ‘til then anyway).And, ya gotta figure Obama didn't offer them the sequester as substitute hostage because he thought they were bluffing back in 2011.Now, I figured that, when their passions cooled a little bit and the Republican/teabagger ‘fever’ broke, then their money guys from Wall Street would take ‘em aside and explain to ‘em that they were talkin’ nonsense. Just ‘cause that faerie tale plays well on FOX and on the Glenn Hannibaugh radio network doesn't make it real. I suspect Obama figured the same thing; the grown ups and the bankers would manage to herd those clowns into a room somewhere and explain to ‘em how the cow eats the cabbage.Unfortunately, as we have seen since the elections, their ‘fever’ did not break. Even Obama's unprecedented re-election didn't seem to sink in with them (no way he should have won re-election with the economy in the shape it's in; that's unheard of; but they were simply not an acceptable alternative) But, no, they haven't gotten over the fever.That brings us to a question I avoided answering last time; probably time to work that back in right ‘bout here: "But then couldn't Boehner and the ones he can rally actually end up either throwing down their votes or even vote with the Democrats if the only alternative is default on the national debt?" Marcus @ 11:10 AM, supraAnswer is, ‘yes’. That's one fairly likely outcome. It'll only take 16-17 Republicans in the House out of the 232 of ‘em to throw in with the Democrats. But, here's the rub…Boehner would almost certainly be ejected by his caucus from his position as Speaker of the House. That only takes a simple majority vote. (And, between the true-believer crazies, and the willingly self-delusional fools who've manage to convince themselves that somehow a ‘little’ default isn't gonna blow up the world, he's dead meat if he allows that vote to come up.)In the Senate, Republican Leader McConnell and his next #1 guy, John Cornyn, are both up for election in 2014, and both looking at getting primaried already by guys well to their right, and they're both scared shitless they'll not make it out of their own Republican primaries.Now, here's the good news. I think Obama's got a back-up plan in case that happens. I don't think he threw down over no negotiations on the debt-ceiling, no more, never again, without having a back-up plan in case they got brave enough to make themselves believe he was bluffing.
Post Script: I left out a point. The tenuous position of the current Republican leadership means that they have every incentive to run as close to the edge of that cliff as they can manage to run. They could very easily miscalculate their footing and take us all over that edge by an unfortuante miscalculation. Boehner's already been slapped down and publicly embarrassed by his troops a couple of time just since the last elections when they balked at following him after he'd staked out a position of compromise. He could easy make the same mistake once again, miscalculate his control over his guys and take us all over the edge.
Post Post Script:And, McConnell miscalculated on one just here lately, and wound up having to lead a filibuster of a bill he'd proposed himself. They could easy screw up and overplay their hands here.
And now, stepping away from the debt-ceiling discussion, back to the sequester…The Republican effort to lay some ‘discretion’ on Obama and try to make him look responsible for the spending cuts that are to come failed by a vote of 38 in favor to 62 against; 9 Republicans voting against the Republican bill.The Democrat's bill to enact some spending cuts (about half of what the sequester will inflict) along with passage of the ‘Buffet Bill’ establishing a minimum 30% tax on income amounts over $1 million was filibustered by the Republicans and so it never got a vote.Fight's on; battleground is set. Now come the full-tilt public relations wars.
@ Lynnette,I think I've been noticing a trend amongst Republicans these last couple of weeks, maybe a month now. The gist of it has them playing a sort of plaintiff, ‘Obama's being mean to us’ Peggy Nonan hits on it here in the Wall Street Journal. (Given the things they've said about Obama over the last four years, and the things they've accused him of, I find this more than moderately amusing, but that's not my point.)Quaere then: Is it just me, or have you noticed this too?
So how about it JG, any thoughts or elaborations on how the diminishing freedoms of women in Egypt are not primarilly caused by the rising islamist tide there? Please enlighten us.
Here is a timeline that hints at the consequences of the sequester. I say "hints" because paper is not quite the same as real life..
Quaere then: Is it just me, or have you noticed this too?I think this is part of the effort they are making to put the blame on Obama for the consequences of the sequester. What they don't seem to realize is that most Americans seem to be very tired of the blame game. Anyone who plays it too strongly may find they don't like the reaction they get.
I find that filibuster of the Senate bill to be curious though. I don't recall just when the Senate took to blocking tax bills by filibuster, but was completely unnecessary, entirely gratuitous. Boehner's got the votes in the House to kill any propose tax increases. It never would have cleared the House; guaranteed it would have died right there.So, now we've got all 43 Republican senators on record as having filibustered a bill that would have put off the sequester, and 13 of them are up for re-election in 2014. I think voter memories of this fight will still be fresh enough in 2014. In a swing state it might hurt ‘em. It might help ‘em in safe states, but, pretty much by definition, they don't need help in safe states. ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯Another sequester ‘timeline’ type of explication here. ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ "Anyone who plays [the blame game] too strongly may find they don't like the reaction they get."Yeah, the PR wars are gonna be tricky to fight. But that's where it's gonna get fought now.
Re: American politicsI mentioned before that I judged the chances of a government shutdown here soon to be dropping precipitously (this is in regard to the ‘continuing resolution’ which expires on 27 March). As we go into this weekend, Obama has indicated that he's not going to try to use that coming deadline to reverse the sequester that just took effect. Politico.com. This greatly simplifies the process of getting another continuing resolution (I don't see any chance they're going to pass a new budget real soon; they'll just tweak the current one and we'll continue on using the spending limits in the current budget ‘as sequestered’). So, one more budget fight has been very likely avoided. And, as Obama and the House Republicans are both all in on the sequester fight, and as there'll be an ongoing PR campaign by both sides now, the chances that the Republicans will try to complicate that issue by demanding even more cuts come the ‘debt-ceiling’ deadline seems to me to be much diminished. I think Obama has successfully maneuvered them away from trying to use that as an additional hostage. (Theyll be kept busy ‘nuff watchin’ the hostage they already got.)However, the base issues have not been settled. Republicans still want to ‘starve the beast’, all spending cuts and no new tax revenues; Obama and the Democrats still want both some spending cuts and some new tax revenues. And, I think they'll end up fighting that battle out largely in the process of working on a new budget for 2014.The gist of this? It would seem to me that we're gonna be scaling back on the practice of lurching from one manufactured crisis to the next, at least for awhile. Both sides will be settling in for a longer-term fight, the goal of which is control of the House of Representatives in the 2014 elections is my guess. The Republicans are bitchin’ as it is about Obama being out in the countryside, ‘campaigning’ against them. I reckon they better get used to that.To that end I expect Obama to swing back to doing more talking about other matters where the Republicans' positions are equally unpopular. Immigration and gun control seem likely prospects. Obama may even manage to start talking about global warming again.
Correction, an ‘expansion’ of my prior remarks, as the politicians sometimes put it. "And, I think they'll end up fighting that battle out largely in the process of working on a new budget for 2014."Add to that some work on revising the federal tax code.The conventional wisdom among Washington pundits is that comprehensive tax reform is probably dead for now, but I don't agree. I think the Democrats will still push for it. Don't know if they'll get it done, but I expect they'll try for it.
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Lee: "To that end I expect Obama to swing back to doing more talking about other matters where the Republicans' positions are equally unpopular. Immigration and gun control seem likely prospects."What's the popular opinion on those two matters?
There's a strong majority favoring stricter gun control. Even a majority of Republican voters favor an assault weapons ban (and a ban on high capacity magazines, of course). Universal background checks for new gun purchases, even a permanent federal registry of new gun transactions gets almost a 90% across the board approval rating. Republicans in congress who can actually vote on it are another matter entirely. It's gonna be hard to get anything past them.The most likely candidates for passage are a universal background check (but with the federal government forbidden to retain any records of the transaction or even of having made the background check once it's been completed). And, maybe, a federal law forbidding ‘straw purchases’, which is one where a felon or a known head case gets somebody else to purchase the gun for them on the record, and then give it to them without any records of the giving it over (also includes organized criminal efforts to purchase guns in low regulation states and get them to felons and crazies in high regulation jurisdictions).A comprehensive immigration deal is strongly favored by the citizen majority, but it's gonna be hard to get past the Republicans in congress as well. (At some point one of the wing-nuts on the right will holler ‘amnesty’ and the whole thing'll probably lock up again.) The Republican leadership really wants to put this one behind them, but they're not in control of the party anymore.
Republicans still want to ‘starve the beast’, all spending cuts and no new tax revenues; Obama and the Democrats still want both some spending cuts and some new tax revenues.Yup. And that is the message that has been received by the American people loud and clear. So, now we have this "sequester" which showcases spending cuts of a very dubious variety. Do the Republicans really think they won't get the lions share of the blame? Never mind that they have been screaming entitlement reform. It is these cuts spelled out in the sequester they have chosen to let go forward. And it is these cuts they will be judged on. Wait for it...
"It is these cuts spelled out in the sequester they have chosen to let go forward. And it is these cuts they will be judged on. Wait for it..."The Republicans are workin’ it hard to remind people that it was Jack Lew (now Treasury Secretary) who first mentioned the word ‘sequester’ (the Republicans didn't know what to call it, but Jack Lew was around last time they did one of these when Clinton and Newt Gingrich shut down the government, and he remembered the word). They're workin’ hard to make it out to be all Obama's fault; and, of course, he's doin’ the same thing back. The ‘blame game’ you were mentioning earlier is gonna proceed apace for at least a few months now.(If I were in charge of Democratic strategy I'd at least consider asking for another ‘continuing resolution’ that lasted maybe four months (late June) or maybe six months (late August) so's to be able to revisit the sequester after the full effects are felt by the public. There are some risks there, and several ramifications to consider fully, but I'd be thinkin’ ‘bout it. I don't think Obama will decide to go for that though; he's gotten the opposition off of the idea that the ‘debt-ceiling’ is a good place to fight, and I don't think he'll want to risk that coming up again. He tends towards caution, and the Republicans might actually be willing to go there again if he gives them too many chances to think ‘bout it. So, we're probably over what Bridget called ‘short term’ reprieves from financial gridlocks back when she was hoping for more of them in the future, at least we're probably over them for awhile now.)
Meanwhile back in Egypt...what have they been getting up to?Hmmm...Seems everyone is doing the Harlem Shake. (Gotta say that the dog looks very confused.)Personally I thought this one pretty funny.Where is that Zeyad? He should have been on top of this trend. :)
Must say I'm mightily tired of the HS phenomenon already ... but if anyone still cares, here's one closer to (current) home for Zeyad...San Antonio Sea World
I may have been premature in judging our politically manufactured fiscal crises to be over for the rest of the year. In spite of Boehner's earlier indications that he'd submit another ‘continuing resolution’ at the current (post sequester) spending levels, it appears that the House Republicans are going to try to add $7 Bn or so back in for defense spending when the current CR runs out (on the 27th of this month). The Democrats will object if defense spending gets a bump back up, but domestic spending doesn't. They'll not want to go along. Obama might find it acceptable, but the liberal wing of the Democratic Party will have a fit.They may yet work this out, I'd heard word of quiet negotiations for some adjustments already. But for the House Republicans to just unilaterally decid to change the rules, after Boehner and Obama both went public with statements that they weren't looking for a fight over the continuing resolution…That's just lookin’ for a fight for the sake of having a fight. Depending on how committed to fighting they happen to be, they just might get one after all.
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Must say I'm mightily tired of the HS phenomenon already...lol! Well, I don't know about the whole phenomenon, but after watching a few the music gets a little old.Like all fads, it will come and go. But it's an interesting way of protest. Not your usual run of the mill demonstration. :)
White, all I see is white. As far as the eye can see. Still snowing. Will it never stop?
They may yet work this out, I'd heard word of quiet negotiations for some adjustments already.I should hope so. Either that or remain the laughingstock of legislative history. But for the House Republicans to just unilaterally decid to change the rules, after Boehner and Obama both went public with statements that they weren't looking for a fight over the continuing resolution…Doesn't surprise me. They'll try for what they can get. Foolish and possibly detrimental to their careers. Norquist isn't the only one who keeps tabs.
Well, conventional wisdom is that Obama's shooting for a Democratic congress, Senate and House, come 2014. That's gonna be a tough row to hoe. House Democratic candidates took a million and a half more votes than House Republican candidates this last time and yet the Republicans still hold a 17 seat majority in the House. Their ‘gerrymandering’ coming out of the 2010 census was that successful. The CW is that Obama's now working to get a congress he can work with for his last two years, but I'm skeptical of his ability to pull that one off.I'm more or less resigned to political trench warfare, and nothing much getting done these last years of Obama's presidency.However, given the mess we'd be in had Romney won, and had he managed to coattail in a Senate majority with him, I'm content to know that Romney will not be presiding over a re-write of our tax code. That danger was there, and it was a grim thought indeed.For now, Obama seems to have led the Republicans away from any serious threat to call a debt-ceiling crisis down on all our heads, and I'm calling that a win and good ‘nuff, and resigning myself to the Republicans functioning as an obstructionist bloc in all ways open to them for the near future.
"White, all I see is white. As far as the eye can see. Still snowing. Will it never stop?"Ahh, that continental climate! Makes me realise the benefits of living in a country with no point more than 50 miles from the sea. Has been perfect spring weather here ... cool sunny days, no rain worth speaking of since early Feb (unusually), a few frosts but not too many, temps nosing into double digits. Within a week the grass will shoot up, trees will bud, and the 9,000 Greenland white-fronted geese overwintering in the local wetland will take raucously to the air and head north west.
...resigning myself to the Republicans functioning as an obstructionist bloc in all ways open to them for the near future.A sad statement. The American peoople time and again have seemed to choose not to vote straight party tickets. They have chosen to keep a balance. Yet it seems to actually get anything accomplished we need one party controlling both the Executive branch and Legislative branch of government. It just goes to show that the American voter is a born optimist and American politicians are woefully obtuse.
Has been perfect spring weather here ...lol! Sure, sure, rub it in. Wait though, there is hope for us here. They are talking 40's F for the weekend. Ahh, I see melting in our future... :)
Me and my big mouth. Today was proper spring weather ... dull, grey fog down on the hills, incessant drizzling rain, sun seemed to disappear two hours earlier than it was supposed to. Even the crows looked depressed, and the small songbirds never made an appearance. A day to hunker down with hot tea and science books.
"The American peoople time and again have seemed to choose not to vote straight party tickets. They have chosen to keep a balance."It's not quite that simple (although, admittedly, I don't recall that I've ever voted a ‘straight party ticket’ myself.) This last round, 2012, Obama won; the Senate went for the Democrats (they picked up two seats). And, although it doesn't get a lot of press, the Democrats running for the House of Representatives garnered 1½ million more votes nationwide than did the Republicans they were running against (and they picked up eight seats). Nevertheless, the Republicans won more individual House races.It's sort of like when the electoral college returns a victory for the guy who lost the popular vote for President. It not only can happen; it has happened, four times in our history. (Last time it happened was when Bush Jr. lost the popular vote to Al Gore, but got the electoral college majority by winning Florida in the Supreme Court.) In the case of the House of Representatives, the culprit the Democrats pin the blame on is the drawing of the congressional district borderlines. The Republicans had a good year in 2010, and they were in charge of the state governments in the majority of the ‘swing states’. They got to draw the lines for the states' congressional districts after the 2010 census, and they built themselves an advantage going forward by careful and clever ‘re-districting’. (This is not to say the Democrats wouldn't have done the same damn thing if they'd had the chance.)As in presidential elections, this anomalous result can only happen in reasonably close elections, but it happens more often than people think. Obama won by five million votes; the House races were closer, only a million point five vote advantage for the Democrats overall.In any case; any way ya slice it, more people voted for Democrats for seats in the House of Representatives than voted for Republicans, but the Republican won more seats anyway. It happens that way sometimes.
Oh, and, by the way… The Republicans did tinker with defense spending and the House has approved a new continuing resolution that adds about $7 Bn back in to defense spending (also softens the blow for the veterens' programs). The Democrats have decided to go with the flow, and they're working on additions for what they consider critical domestic programs. They've got a little over two weeks to work on it and send it back to the House with their revisions.(The process appears to not change the sequester numbers, but instead changes the dates on which the counting is supposed to begin and end--we've only got nine months left in the calendar year--seven months left in the fiscal year. The revisions mostly involve spreading the first year sequester cuts out over a full twelve months rather than making them all in the next seven months left in this fiscal year. This means the Republicans can pretend the dollar numbers didn't change, although the cuts are only about half as severe this year as they were intended to be. Not all domestic programs will get included. The Democrats don't want to push their luck with this one. They're apparently more cautious toward the prospect of a gridlock and a government shut-down than are the Republicans.)
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A day to hunker down with hot tea and science books.Speaking of which, there looks to be an interesting article on CNN, "Is Our Galaxy a Cannibal". For some reason I haven't been able to access it yet. I'll keep trying. Might have something to do with black holes.How is the telescope coming, Pete?
They got to draw the lines for the states' congressional districts after the 2010 census, and they built themselves an advantage going forward by careful and clever ‘re-districting’.Hmmm...imagine that and still having your candidate almost lose. Although it appears that Michalle Bachmann doesn't even live in the newly redrawn district. Interesting.The Democrats have decided to go with the flow, and they're working on additions for what they consider critical domestic programs.I wonder if that includes those White House tours that the President cut out. That's been getting a lot of air time. I'd cut out all those unneccesary paintings of lower level officials myself. I mean, seriously, does anyone know who they all are, anyway?
typo above: "Michalle" should be "Michelle"Btw, what's up with the stock market lately? It's going through the roof. Not that I'm complaining or anything, but I wonder if it can last.
"Is Our Galaxy a Cannibal"#=I can see how that would be topical in Minnesota in the snow. :)Galactic cannibalism doesn't usually refer to black holes, but to stripping stars from other galaxies in tidal interactions. The text books (or at least news articles) usually tell you the Milky Way's closest galactic neighbour is the Andromeda Galaxy, another spiral galaxy a couple of times larger than ours. But we've got two dwarf satellite galaxies, the Large and Small Magellanic clouds. They seem to have been stripped of most of their material, possibly from previous interactions with the Milky Way. Such interactions tend to slingshot some stars out of the galaxy and we do indeed see some hypervelocity stars that seem to be moving faster than the galaxy's escape velocity. In the future we'll see how we fare when we pick on someone our own size -- Andromeda is heading for a showdown with us.
"Btw, what's up with the stock market lately? It's going through the roof. Not that I'm complaining or anything, but I wonder if it can last."I suspect a lot of people will get burned when it doesn't last. It's basically the result of money printing by governments. At the first hint that loose monetary policies might not be continued, it will all end. Of course, that might not be any time soon, given the accepted wisdom that economies would be struggling even more than they are without monetary easing. It's a bit of a dilemma -- the economy tanks without it, but it almost guarantees the creation of asset bubbles. Basically, this is just the replacement for your housing bubble. One monster has given birth to the next one.
"It's basically the result of money printing by governments."More proximately, it's the result of persistently depressed interest rates.
"The Market Speaks"Paul Krugman in the NYT on why bonds are down and stocks are up.
Interesting article on climate change.
"Is Our Galaxy a Cannibal"#=I can see how that would be topical in Minnesota in the snow. :)lol! I thought you'd see the connection. They seem to have been stripped of most of their material, possibly from previous interactions with the Milky Way.So is that to be our fate when we and Andromeda meet? It kind of makes climate change seem tame.
Good article, Lee.What the markets are clearly saying, however, is that the fears and prejudices that have dominated Washington discussion for years are entirely misguided. And they’re also telling us that the people who have been feeding those fears and peddling those prejudices don’t have a clue about how the economy actually works.Why doesn't this surprise me? Well, between Andromeda, climate change, and the people in Washington, I am thinking we are in for some kind of hurt. *sigh*
American Catholics now favor allowing same-sex marriage by a ratio of 54% versus 38% against. Quinnipiac Polling Presumably this will run counter to their new Pope's thinkin’ on the matter.
"Good article, Lee."No it isn't. Krugman, like Lee, is a shill and an apologist for Obama's policies. Read the article again -- notice how much time is spends railing at his own detractors instead of providing facts (a bit like the resident troll actually). The funniest thing is he admits that this giant pile of money is not finding its way into a proper jobs-led economic recovery. The stock market is a case of cheap money with nowhere else to go looking for a return. Like the housing bubble, there'll be shills like Krugman claiming it's supported by fundamentals, until it all comes asunder and they suddenly change their tune.
"So is that to be our fate when we and Andromeda meet? It kind of makes climate change seem tame."Not necessarily. It's hard to say what happens when two comparably sized galaxies collide. Current theories suggest that they form elliptical galaxies, which have much more random stellar orbits than spirals with their more uniform rotation.Collisions between galaxies of very different sizes seem to have a different result -- starburst galaxies with enormous rates of new bright star production.Search on youtube for "galaxy merger" -- there are some nice simulations, e.g. here and here
"Krugman, like Lee, is a shill and an apologist for Obama's policies."Rather more of an ad hominem argument you're engaged in there than anything ‘fact’ based it would seem. Nevertheless, given the forum and the intended audience, I'd say Krugman's presentation of his conclusions rather than his base evidence for those conclusion was and is entirely appropriate. "The funniest thing is he admits that this giant pile of money is not finding its way into a proper jobs-led economic recovery."Which would seem to clearly indicate that he's not shilling and acting as apologist for ‘Obama's policies’ as you alleged juste one sentence earlier. Your argument contradicts itself, fairly blatantly. You probably need to work on that, see if you can maybe come up with something coherent, at least internally consistent, instead of the politically inspired econo-babble you're giving us here. "Like the housing bubble, there'll be shills like Krugman claiming it's supported by fundamentals, until it all comes asunder and they suddenly change their tune."I didn't read Krugman's piece as in any way resembling a claim that the current high stock prices are ‘supported by fundamentals’. I don't think anybody giving it a fair reading could come to that conclusion, nor to any conclusion even remotely in that neighborhood. Rather, he clearly indicates that he thinks things are somewhat out of balance.I must conclude that you've let your political leanings color your judgment here. I don't see any other conclusion is available.
Pete,Those were very beautiful simulations. I felt as if I were watching a "ballet" in space. :)(Judging by the timeline climate change will get us first. ;) )
Lost in the media glare over the sequestration kerfuffle was the publication of the Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement on Keystone XL. Summary of the State Department's musings -- it's fine by us! Obama managed to kick that one to touch until after his re-election, and now I'd say he's glad it's gone largely unnoticed.
Some folks in Congress are trying to cut Obama out of the loop altogether, and not require a presidential permit.
It's gone all Minnesotan round here -- first snow of the winter and freezing temps have arrived in the middle of spring.
Pete: "I suspect a lot of people will get burned when it doesn't last. It's basically the result of money printing by governments. At the first hint that loose monetary policies might not be continued, it will all end."There are still quality stocks with solid earnings that are not that highly valued. Remember that a lot of them have been undervalued with regards to their fundamentals, until recently. But sure, if we get another real crash of some sort quality stocks will plummet along with the rest of them. But it's not certain there will be a "crash", even if a dip will almost certainly come before too long.
Summary of the State Department's musings -- it's fine by us!It's gone all Minnesotan round here -- first snow of the winter and freezing temps have arrived in the middle of spring.*sigh*I think we are very much caught between a rock and a hard place. Will we ultimately be the masters of our own demise?
The delay on the Keystone pipeline has resulted in it being moved out of the ecologically fragile SandHills region. The pipeline company agreed to a different route. I consider that a good deal. There really wasn't any good reason it had to go through there. That change got the Republican governor of Nebraska on board with the pipeline after having earlier opposed it. So, if Obama approves the pipeline, as expected, he won't be the first to have taken the ‘win’ and called it good ‘nuff.(And, according to the NYT they also moved it off of ‘an important aquifer’; presumably the Ogalalla, although I don't recall hearing that before)
"But sure, if we get another real crash of some sort quality stocks will plummet along with the rest of them."That's just it, Marcus. While there is obviously individual movements in the markets every day, the times when there are general large lurches are the times when there are concerns over the end of the QE gravy train (or concerns that QE isn't working).
Just watched a documentary about the increasingly desperate situation in Syria. One thing I've seen nothing on at all is the plight of Iraqis in Syria. During the late 2000s weren't we told that there were a million Iraqi refugees in each of Syria and Jordan. I presume not all of them went home. And if they are caught up in the Syrian situation, I wonder which side of the conflict they are on, since they would have included both Sunnis and Christians.
It sounds like the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is attempting to put an end to the natural gas flaring off. They are starting to fine companies who do that. So hopefully that will encourage companies to retain it. That was always such a waste of resources.
I don't know about Iraqis in Syria, but it sounds like Syrian soldiers taking refuge in Iraq haven't fared well. There were a number killed recently by Al-Qaida in Iraq, who is still alive and well apparently.
Krugman playing the vulgar celebrity again.
From one of the links within Pete's article: Many of the 17 eurozone nations are in the middle of austerity programs that are reducing demand, and prompting households and businesses to defer spending and investment. While policymakers have signaled a willingness to give states more time to bring their budget deficits into line with European Union targets, if the economy continues to deteriorate, there is no sign of a major change in approach. In the longer term, EU leaders are hoping efforts to remove trade barriers with the U.S. could provide a shot in the arm for growth. Both sides said this week they wanted to move quickly to start formal talks on a trans-Atlantic free trade agreement.While Krugman may not be the most diplomatic of people, he may be right. Here we are seeing stepped up construction again and demand for accompanying services and products. Of course with cuts from the sequestration debacle it remains to be seen whether or not this kind of activity will continue. We may or may not be able to help pull Europe out of the mire by increasing our imports.Btw, Pete, the did a piece on 60 Minutes about the "ghost" cities in China. Very, very scary. You got to think something has to give eventually.
"the" should be "they"
"While Krugman may not be the most diplomatic of people, he may be right."I don't think that's particularly relevant to Petes just now. He seems to have objections to Krugman mostly on non-economic grounds.And, just by the way, the new Pope is indeed on record as being opposed to same-sex marriage, which was apparently legalized in Argentina over his express objection. (And, for some reason, his handlers made him stand on a box when they brought him out for his first public viewing yesterday. I thought that odd.)
And, for some reason, his handlers made him stand on a box when they brought him out for his first public viewing yesterday.Maybe to try to give everyone a better chance to see him?
"Btw, Pete, the[y] did a piece on 60 Minutes about the "ghost" cities in China. Very, very scary. You got to think something has to give eventually."I think so. They have other problems too -- serious demographic problems stemming from the one child policy, overwhelming levels of corruption in public office and in the boardroom, human rights abuses, ecological challenges, and so on. And business isn't so great either. I was interested to see reports of a small domestic manufacturing revival in the States, stuff being re-onshored that had been farmed out to China. Falling wages and a weak currency do have some upside after all. Mind you, all the major currencies are in a race to the bottom to increase their competitiveness.
Interesting new departure for Eurozone bank bailouts. In Cyprus, part of the bailout deal involves a 10% haircut for depositors. It's a poorly kept secret that that the 10% is designed to garnish funds from Russian mafias, who will probably think of it as the cost of doing business with their laundered money. But fairness demands that they haircut little old Cypriot ladies as well as the mafiosi. Will the wider Eurozone see Cyprus as a special case, or as possibly the first among many? It'll be interesting to see how much money leaves Spanish banks next week. Or Irish ones for that matter -- we've already had the government raid people's pension funds, so it's not like they don't have form. Happy St. Patrick's Day!
I saw that about Cyprus! You were the first person I thought of. I don't think it is a done deal yet. Parliament is voting on it Monday. I have little sympathy for Russian mafia depositers but a great deal of sympathy for your average Cyprian. There must be another way to target those who are hiding their ill gotten gains.Apparently it is not without precedent, though. Italy levied a tax in the 1990's. But it was .06%, not the 9.9% or 6.75%, depending on the deposit size, being levied on the Cyprian depositers.
I was interested to see reports of a small domestic manufacturing revival in the States, stuff being re-onshored that had been farmed out to China.With the rising fuel costs it can be more cost effective to manufacture products here rather than in China and ship them back. Anyway, for whatever reason, it's a good thing for our people who are looking for work. :)
A bit of Irish-Mexican-American history on St. Patrick's Day.Happy St. Patrick's Day, Pete.
"Anyway, for whatever reason…"1. Cheap natural gas equates to cheap electricity to run manufacturing plants (along with the cheap natural gas).2. Oil prices are still high; ocean transport (most transport) is still oil based (still high cost) rather than using the cheap natural gas.3. Robotics are leveling the playing field regarding wages. Americans not employed in manufacturing are no more expensive to the company than would be the Chinese employees who're now losing the jobs they took over from higher-wage Americans. (Manufacturing is coming back; jobs--not so much.)
[Lynnette]: "I don't think it is a done deal yet. Parliament is voting on it Monday."I think it was supposed to get done over the weekend, but they don't have the numbers to get it through yet. The Prime Minister is still pleading for politicians to back it, but on the face of it it may fall flat.Pretty stupid to announce it, without having the wherewithal to get it done immediately, I would have said. What are they going to do now? Close the banks for the day on Monday? That could turn it into a full scale panic.However, I'm more concerned for the eurozone. I'm hearing a lot of people here in Ireland pretty spooked by the whole thing. Money that had been put offshore has been coming back into the country over the last 24 months, but now people are worried again. It's not a rational thing, of course, because if the government decides to tax their wealth there will be no escaping, but so much of this is sentiment driven. I would imagine the Spanish are feeling particularly nervy.Will be interesting to see what happens to the euro tomorrow. I don't know if Asian markets are open yet, but it seems to me that euro is already down a percent against the dollar. Personally I think the euro's going to get hammered whether the Cypriot deal goes ahead or not.An acquaintance who works for a hedge fund said he saw lots of trading in Swiss francs the other day before the Cypriot announcement. He's certain it was the Cypriot insiders who had been tipped off about what was coming getting their funds out.
[Lynnette]: "A bit of Irish-Mexican-American history on St. Patrick's Day."I'd heard of the San Patricios before. Interesting. Did you know that an earlier generation of so-called "Scots Irish" fought in the Indian wars in the south eastern US. They were Presbyterians, so not conformist Protestants, but less unwelcome than the Catholics. They were generally very pro-American and made good frontiersmen ... and eventually became one of the most conservative mainline churches.Here's a program for Paddy's Day about trying to speak Irish in Ireland.
Yep. Euro's definitely on the way down vs. the dollar this morning. Pity - I had half an idea a few weeks back to buy a large stack of USD when the euro reached what seemed like an improbable high. Like most such ideas, I didn't get around to it. It's fallen about 8% against USD since.
Apparently Cypriot government decided Saturday that banks would be closed Monday. Now they've extended it to Tuesday too, and perhaps Wednesday.Gazprom, the Russian gas company apparently offered last night to pay entirely for Cyprus's bank restructuring in return for exploration rights in Cyprus and its territorial waters. The offer was rejected. (I'd think they have enough trouble with Russian money being laundered through Cyprus without having the gangsters set up shop there).Asian markets are down 2-3% in morning trade. Euro seems to be holding study in first hour of European trading.
(Manufacturing is coming back; jobs--not so much.)Automation has always been a problem in that regard. Still, I can't help but feel it is better to have some of these businesses operating here.
However, I'm more concerned for the eurozone.Understandably so. This is just the psychological effect that you don't want to elicit. A run on a bank is too reminiscent of the Great Depression.I'm hearing a lot of people here in Ireland pretty spooked by the whole thing. Money that had been put offshore has been coming back into the country over the last 24 months, but now people are worried again.Bringing money back is a good thing. This Cyprus thing just encourages people to find safe havens outside the eurozone. Gazprom, the Russian gas company apparently offered last night to pay entirely for Cyprus's bank restructuring in return for exploration rights in Cyprus and its territorial waters.Talk about sharks smelling blood in the water. Wait...the Chinese may not be far behind.Pity - I had half an idea a few weeks back to buy a large stack of USD when the euro reached what seemed like an improbable high. Like most such ideas, I didn't get around to it.Bruno would probably have called you a fool for investing in dollars. :) But sometimes its still a safe haven.
"I can't help but feel it is better to have some of these businesses operating here."Yeah, sure. I's just pointing out that labor intensive manufacturing is not coming back. We're recovering some of the robotized stuff. Clothing manufacturing, for instance, isn't returning to South Carolina, or anywhere else in the states. It's spreading out across Southeast Asia, looking for even cheaper wages than now extant in China.
"Bruno would probably have called you a fool for investing in dollars. :) But sometimes its still a safe haven."Oh, I wouldn't remotely call it a safe haven :)It's just that in the middle of the global currenvy devaluation race to the bottom, there is still some volatility, especially with Europe continuing to lurch from crisis to crisis.
Ten years tomorrow since the start of the Iraq war. Zeyad -- I hope you are keeping well in spite of everything.
It looks like the Russians are a little ticked off about the proposed levy on their Cyprus bank accounts.
Zeyad -- I hope you are keeping well in spite of everything.Ditto.
Well, there isn't going to be any levy for now -- parliament has rejected it. And protestors have ripped the flag down off the German embassy in Nicosia.The vote happened after European markets closed. I wonder will the markets be as calm tomorrow as they were today.
Bad day of violence in Baghdad :(
...parliament has rejected it. And protestors have ripped the flag down off the German embassy in Nicosia.In the end probably a wise choice. I realize they have to raise money, but they need to find a way so that the poorest are not affected the most. While they may complain the Russian mafia guys aren't going to miss 9%, whereas those with the smallest deposits would feel the impact of a 6.75% levy. And to tell you the truth even if they are merely looking for a tax haven and not hiding ill gotten gains, the Russians don't have my sympathy. They were looking to dodge taxes, so that's the risks you run. Yes, I would feel the same if they were American companies.
Bad day of violence in Baghdad :(I saw that. Someone was trying to make a point. Sad.
Alternative Cyprus bailout? -- Russian naval base in the Med, Russian control of Mediterranean gas fields, projection of Russian military power into North Africa.http://greekemmy.com/2013/03/20/cyprus-is-ready-to-leave-eurozone-if-eurogroup-does-not-accept-their-agreement-with-russia/
Russian interest in the eastern Med is not limited to Cyprus:http://oilprice.com/Geopolitics/International/Be-Careful-Russia-is-Back-to-Stay-in-the-Middle-East.html
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