03/06/2015 archive

Bub Buy

Anything but Euros that is.

While I don’t think the temporary plan negotiated last week between Greece and its creditors is necessarily the sellout that some do, I do think the most desirable state of affairs for Europe is for the Euro experiment to collapse.

I would hope that both Spain and Italy, and better yet France, should tell the Germans to pound sand, eat their losses (which will destroy German banks, but since they’re responsible for this mess I feel no sympathy at all) and return to their own national currencies and fiscal policies.

Will this hurt in the short run?  Sure, but the Troika program of austerity at any cost guarantees nothing but perpetual misery and hopeless degradation without relief ever, not 10 years from now or 30 or 50.  How long are you willing to sell your people into debt slavery?  How long do you think before they rise and cast off their shackles?

SYRIZA represents probably the last attempt to address this theft at the ballot.  If it fails the next actions will be far more revolutionary and destabilising in that 1789 kind of way.

Capital Control May Become Necessary in Greece

Damn straight and high time for it too.  What’s the matter with a little capital control unless you’re a thief looking to escape with your loot?

Reform Within the Euro-Zone is a Delusion for Greece

Merkel and Schäuble should be worried about that.  It’s German Banks that are going to get a buzzcut instead of a trim.

Time for Greece to plan its exodus from the euro

By Darrell Delamaide, Market Watch

Mar 6, 2015 3:00 a.m. ET

Germany – as well as the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund – made it amply clear in the initial round of negotiations that they have no intention of being reasonable in the way Tsipras and Varoufakis believe they should.

It was always a fairly delusional assumption that German leaders would suddenly see the light and embrace an enlightened Keynesian solution to the economic and social crisis in Greece. Berlin and Brussels remain pitiless and more convinced than ever of the rightness of their destructive neoliberal policies.

The only way Greece can regain its sovereignty – which is essentially what Tsipras’s Syriza party pledged to voters in its rise to power – is to reclaim its sovereign rights, and especially control of its currency and banking system.

The consequences of defaulting on the country’s debt would be dramatic, but relatively short-lived compared to the guaranteed long-term misery of the EU austerity program.

Tsipras faces considerable pressure from his own party to follow through on the election pledge to roll back austerity, even if it means abandoning his commitment to stay in the euro.

A Syriza member of Parliament argued this week that the only way Greece can beat austerity is to break free from the euro and urged his party to face up to this reality.

“The most vital step is to realize that the strategy of hoping to achieve radical change within the institutional framework of the common currency has come to an end,” Costas Lapavitsas, a professor of economics and longtime proponent of leaving the euro, wrote in an op-ed in the Guardian.

“The strategy has given us electoral success by promising to release the Greek people from austerity without having to endure a major falling-out with the eurozone,” Lapavitsas wrote. “Unfortunately, events have shown beyond doubt that this is impossible, and it is time that we acknowledged reality.”

Without a genuine plan to leave the euro and the will to execute it, the Greek government will have no more leverage in the next round of negotiations than it did in the first.

Not that even this threat would budge the Germans. German leaders might then fret and delay further, but they are more likely to just show the Greeks the door.

It’s anyone’s guess what the consequences of a Greek exit would be for the markets or what kind of political backlash there would be in other eurozone members. Opinions range across the spectrum from indifference to turmoil in markets, and from chastened obedience to outright rebellion in other peripheral countries.

But a Greek departure from the euro would create a precedent that could lead to considerable political pressure in Spain or Italy. Perhaps that prospect would prod the Germans into some moderation of austerity policies.

But none of this will happen unless Greece is actually ready to leave the euro. Germany is leaving Tsipras and company virtually no choice on that score.

Rahm Under Pressure

Other titles suggest themselves, but I’m trying to work not Blue.

Rahm Snaps at Mental-Health Advocates: ‘You’re Gonna Respect Me!’

by Justin Glawe, Daily Beast


They say old Rahm Emanuel came out last night-or maybe it was the real one hiding in plain sight all the time: a sneering, aggressive pol who went “nose-to-nose” with a mental-health advocate demanding, “You’re gonna respect me!”

The alleged exchange took place off-camera between Chicago’s mayor and Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle, a member of Mental Health Movement, a group that has been fighting the mayor over the closure of six mental health clinics across the city. Behind a door that separated the mayor from a roomful of constituents at a campaign stop in the Wicker Park neighborhood, Ginsberg-Jaeckle says, he got Rahmbo’d.

Debbie Delgado, another member of the group, interrupted Emanuel, prompting the behind-closed-doors altercation.

“She told of losing her son to gun violence,” Ginsberg-Jaeckle wrote. “She told [Emanuel] how her other son was holding him as he died. She told about how the city’s Northwest Mental Health Clinic in Logan Square saved their lives, helped her and her son deal with the PTSD and depression. Then she asked why he took that clinic away from her.”

Rahm said he would speak with the pair, and Ginsberg-Jaeckle said they then left the room for a private conversation. That’s when Emanuel allegedly shouted: “You’re gonna respect me!”

(Emanuel spokesperson Chloe) Rasmas said that, because the event was for Rahm’s re-election campaign, now in run-off mode, the mayor’s office wouldn’t comment on what happened behind closed doors. Apparently there is an official distinction to be made between Mayor Rahm and Candidate Rahm.

Emanuel’s temper is notorious. In 1992, he was Bill Clinton’s chief fundraiser. After Bubba won the White House, it’s said that Rahm went DeNiro in The Untouchables on the people who had opposed them. “Dead!” Rahm screamed while plunging a steak knife into a table. ”Nat Landow! Dead! Cliff Jackson! Dead! Bill Schaefer! Dead!” Rahm’s rage-fueled drive later propelled him to a seat in Congress and the position of White House chief of staff under President Obama.

The toughest political fight of Rahmbo’s career though is winning a second term as mayor. Emanuel is facing an April run-off against Jesus “Chuy” Garcia after the failing to secure more than 50 percent of the vote in last month’s Democratic primary.. Among the contentious issues consuming Chicago politics are the mayor’s decision to close several public schools, install controversial red-light cameras, fail to stamp out gun violence and, for some like Ginsberg-Jaeckle, closing of six mental-health clinics.

For years Ginsberg-Jaeckle, Debbie Delgado and other members of the group have been trying to meet with Rahm. First, to convince him not to close the six mental health clinics that were eventually shut down. Then it was to re-open the clinics, which provide services Ginsberg-Jaeckle and Delgado say are badly needed in neighborhoods plagued by violence and poverty. The closures created enemies for the mayor, the members of Mental Health Movement among them.

“I found it to be inappropriate,” said Ronda Locke of Rahm’s response. Locke, a former city council candidate, snapped a photo during the exchange. In her campaign for first ward alderwoman, Locke advocated for keeping the clinics open, but said she attended the meeting Wednesday night only as a resident of the area.

“I thought, initially, he handled it very well,” Locke said of the interruption prompted by Ginsberg-Jaeckle and Delgado. “But as (Rahm) was leaving the room, he said something to the effect of ‘Please excuse my special guests.’

It’s unclear if Rahm was making a play on the word special, or was just being a smart-ass, Locke said. Either way he came off smarmy.

Locke speculated that Rahm’s attempt to put on a smooth public face was the result of a new, more cuddly, campaign strategy. But it just didn’t work very well Wednesday night. And it doesn’t really matter how nice the mayor is in public if, behind closed doors, he’s screaming at people and getting in their faces.

What are you, you thin skinned bastard?  Mr. Mayor 1%?  F@#king Retarded?

(h/t Atrios)

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

New York Times Editorial Board: The President’s Weak Privacy Proposal

President Obama has said that the country needs a strong privacy law so consumers can protect personal information from advertisers, Internet firms, employers and other businesses. But the country is not going to get it from Mr. Obama. The bill his administration recently offered will do little to help individuals while giving companies great leeway in determining how they collect, use and share personal data.

Americans are increasingly worried about their privacy. About 91 percent of those surveyed by the Pew Research Center last year said they felt people had lost control of how personal information is collected and used by companies. Mr. Obama has been aware of those concerns for some time. In 2012, he called for a privacy bill of rights that included lots of admirable ideas. He said individuals should have the right to “reasonable limits” on the collection of personal data by businesses, and that people should be able to see and correct information that companies have collected about them.

The draft bill (pdf) released by the White House on Friday only vaguely reflects those ideas and is riddled with loopholes. It seems tailored to benefit Internet firms like Google and Facebook and little-known data brokers like Acxiom that have amassed detailed profiles of individuals. For good reason, many privacy groups and some Democratic lawmakers have criticized the draft.

Paul Krugman: Pepperoni Turns Partisan

If you want to know what a political party really stands for, follow the money. Pundits and the public are often deceived; remember when George W. Bush was a moderate, and Chris Christie a reasonable guy who could reach out to Democrats? Major donors, however, generally have a very good idea of what they are buying, so tracking their spending tells you a lot.

So what do contributions in the last election cycle say? The Democrats are, not too surprisingly, the party of Big Labor (or what’s left of it) and Big Law: unions and lawyers are the most pro-Democratic major interest groups. Republicans are the party of Big Energy and Big Food: they dominate contributions from extractive industries and agribusiness. And they are, in particular, the party of Big Pizza.

No, really. A recent Bloomberg report noted that major pizza companies have become intensely, aggressively partisan. Pizza Hut gives a remarkable 99 percent of its money to Republicans. Other industry players serve Democrats a somewhat larger slice of the pie (sorry, couldn’t help myself), but, over all, the politics of pizza these days resemble those of, say, coal or tobacco. And pizza partisanship tells you a lot about what is happening to American politics as a whole.

Robert Reich: Will the Democratic Nominee for 2016 Take on the Moneyed Interests?

It’s seed time for the 2016 presidential elections, when candidates try to figure out what they stand for and will run on.

One thing seems reasonably clear. The Democratic nominee for President, whoever she may be, will campaign on reviving the American middle class. [..]

The Democratic nominee will just as surely call for easing the burdens on working parents through paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave, childcare, elder-care, a higher minimum wage, and perhaps also tax incentives for companies that share some of their profits with their employees.

All this is fine, but it won’t accomplish what’s really needed.

The big unknown is whether the Democratic nominee will also take on the moneyed interests — the large Wall Street banks, big corporations, and richest Americans — which have been responsible for the largest upward redistribution of income and wealth in modern American history.

Eric T. Schneiderman: 50 Years After Selma, The Fight for Voting Rights Continues

On March 7, 1965, more than 600 civil rights demonstrators attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. It was the first day of a planned 54-mile march to the state capitol in Montgomery to protest discriminatory voting restrictions against African Americans. [..]

Fifty years later, leaders from across the country are returning to Selma to mark one of the major milestones in our nation’s civil rights movement. Yet the sad reality is that — despite the considerable progress made in the last five decades — we are still fighting to ensure voting rights for every American.

According to the Brennan Center, 22 states have enacted some form of voter restriction since 2011. Around the country, states are enacting burdensome voter identification laws that disproportionately impact minority, elderly and student voters and scaling back early voting opportunities.

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship: Netanyahu Speaks, Money Talks

Everything you need to know about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress Tuesday was the presence in the visitor’s gallery of one man — Sheldon Adelson.

The gambling tycoon is the Godfather of the Republican Right. The party’s presidential hopefuls line up to kiss his assets, scraping and bowing for his blessing, which when granted is bestowed with his signed checks. Data from both the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics and the Center for Public Integrity show that in the 2012 election cycle, Adelson and his wife Miriam (whose purse achieved metaphoric glory Tuesday when it fell from the gallery and hit a Democratic congressman) contributed $150 million to the GOP and its friends, including $93 million to such plutocracy-friendly super PACs as Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, the Congressional Leadership Fund, the Republican Jewish Coalition Victory Fund, Winning Our Future (the pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC) and Restore Our Future (the pro-Mitt Romney super PAC). [..]

But Sheldon Adelson was not only sitting in the House gallery on Tuesday because of the strings he pulls here in the United States. He is also the Daddy Warbucks of Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu is yet another of his beneficiaries — not to mention an ideological soulmate. Although campaign finance reform laws are much more strict in Israel than here in the United States, Adelson’s wealth has bought him what the historian and journalist Gershom Gorenberg calls “uniquely pernicious” influence.

Jared Bernstein: February Jobs Report: First Impressions

In yet another installment of the solid jobs reports we seen in recent months, February’s payrolls were up by 295,000 and the unemployment rate ticked from 5.7% to 5.5%, the lowest it has been since mid-2008, according to this morning’s job market update from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Still, while there’s no doubt the labor market is improving, and doing so at a faster clip than in recent years, there are still missing ingredients suggesting that the US job market is not as close to full employment — a truly tight matchup between jobs and job-seekers — as the low jobless rate suggests.

The good news is clearly the pace at which employers are adding jobs on net. Because the monthly data jump about a bit, what you want to do is smooth out some of the monthly bips and bops by averaging payroll gains over the short, medium, and longer term, as I do in the monthly jobs day smoother, shown below.

The Breakfast Club (The Sun Is Below The Yard Arm Somewhere)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Alamo falls to Mexican forces; Michelangelo born; Walter Cronkite retires.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Good Question: Iran’s Foreign Minister suggests the US should ask itself why it continues to create extremists that it later fights. Someone should tell him that to the US that’s a benefit, not a bug.

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III, Some Assembly Required

On This Day In History March 6

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

March 6 is the 65th day of the year (66th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 300 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1857, the US Supreme Court hands down its decision on Sanford v. Dred Scott, a case that intensified national divisions over the issue of slavery.

Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857), was a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that people of African descent imported into the United States and held as slaves (or their descendants, whether or not they were slaves) were not protected by the Constitution and could never be U.S. citizens. The court also held that the U.S. Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in federal territories and that, because slaves were not citizens, they could not sue in court. Furthermore, the Court ruled that slaves, as chattels or private property, could not be taken away from their owners without due process. The Supreme Court’s decision was written by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney.

Although the Supreme Court has never overruled the Dred Scott case, the Court stated in the Slaughter-House Cases of 1873 that at least one part of it had already been overruled by the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868:

   The first observation we have to make on this clause is, that it puts at rest both the questions which we stated to have been the subject of differences of opinion. It declares that persons may be citizens of the United States without regard to their citizenship of a particular State, and it overturns the Dred Scott decision by making all persons born within the United States and subject to its jurisdiction citizens of the United States.

The Decision

The Supreme Court ruling was handed down on March 6, 1857, just two days after Buchanan’s inauguration. Chief Justice Taney delivered the opinion of the Court, with each of the concurring and dissenting Justices filing separate opinions. In total, six Justices agreed with the ruling; Samuel Nelson concurred with the ruling but not its reasoning, and Benjamin R. Curtis and John McLean dissented. The court misspelled Sanford’s name in the decision.

Opinion of the Court

The Court first had to decide whether it had jurisdiction. Article III, Section 2, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution provides that “the judicial Power shall extend… to Controversies… between Citizens of different States….” The Court held that Scott was not a “citizen of a state” within the meaning of the United States Constitution, as that term was understood at the time the Constitution was adopted, and therefore not able to bring suit in federal court. Furthermore, whether a person is a citizen of a state, for Article III purposes, was a question to be decided by the federal courts irrespective of any state’s definition of “citizen” under its own law.

Thus, whether Missouri recognized Scott as a citizen was irrelevant. Taney summed up,

   Consequently, no State, since the adoption of the Constitution, can by naturalizing an alien invest him with the rights and privileges secured to a citizen of a State under the Federal Government, although, so far as the State alone was concerned, he would undoubtedly be entitled to the rights of a citizen, and clothed with all the rights and immunities which the Constitution and laws of the State attached to that character.

This meant that

   no State can, by any act or law of its own, passed since the adoption of the Constitution, introduce a new member into the political community created by the Constitution of the United States.

The only relevant question, therefore, was whether, at the time the Constitution was ratified, Scott could have been considered a citizen of any state within the meaning of Article III. According to the Court, the authors of the Constitution had viewed all blacks as

   beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.

The Court also presented a parade of horribles argument as to the feared results of granting Mr. Scott’s petition:

   It would give to persons of the negro race, …the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, …the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.

Scott was not a citizen of Missouri, and the federal courts therefore lacked jurisdiction to hear the dispute.

Despite the conclusion that the Court lacked jurisdiction, however, it went on to hold (in what Republicans would label its “obiter dictum”) that Scott was not a free man, even though he had resided for a time in Minnesota (then called the Wisconsin Territory). The Court held that the provisions of the Missouri Compromise declaring it to be free territory were beyond Congress’s power to enact. The Court rested its decision on the grounds that Congress’s power to acquire territories and create governments within those territories was limited. They held that the Fifth Amendment barred any law that would deprive a slaveholder of his property, such as his slaves, because he had brought them into a free territory. The Court went on to state – although the issue was not before the Court – that the territorial legislatures had no power to ban slavery. The ruling also asserted that neither slaves “nor their descendants, were embraced in any of the other provisions of the Constitution” that protected non-citizens.

This was only the second time in United States history that the Supreme Court had found an act of Congress to be unconstitutional. (The first time was 54 years earlier in Marbury v. Madison).

The Daily/Nightly Show (Lobachevsky)

It’s a good thing last night was funny because tonight we’re going to be talking about Ferguson and that’s not very funny at all.


In the category of bad news I spoke too soon about, as it turns out Sam Bee will not be staying with The Daily Show and will instead be joining her husband Jason Jones at TBS.

Variety reports that Comedy Central is looking for a new host in their 30s with a distinct take on culture, news and politics.  They mention Amy Schumer or Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer of Broad City as being candidates.

Censoring Doctors

Next Week’s Guests-

Gerald Posner will be on to talk about God’s Bankers, the history of the Vatican Bank.  He has a rather checkered past having been involved in several plagiarism scandals and a law suit by Harper Lee over the publication rights of To Kill A Mocking Bird.  Since Lee has been in the news recently and Miami Babylon (one of the allegedly plagiarized works) has been optioned for TV it’s possible those subjects will come up, but knowing Jon I somehow doubt it.

Viacheslav Fetisov’s web exclusive extended interview and the real news below.

Bonus Video