Saturday, March 31, 2012

Yep; We're Boned. Any Questions?

More Enlightened Self-Interest

Some men see things as they are and ask, "Why?"
I see the same stuff and say, "Yeah, yeah; whatever:

Bender Bender Bender / Bender Bender Bender...

-- Bender

Viva Cut-Rate Europa

The march of Austerity continues in The Europa, as the rightist government in Spain announced a new budget -- one day after an estimated one million people across the country protested against exactly such an event.
"We are taking extraordinary measures because the situation is extraordinary," the budget minister, Cristóbal Montoro, said before announcing €27bn (£22.5bn) in spending cuts and tax rises.

Markets and fellow eurozone members increasingly fear that Spain – whose economy is twice the size of that of Greece, Ireland and Portugal put together – could be the biggest threat to their future.

"Spain is going to stop being a problem, especially for the Spanish people, but also for the European Union," finance minister Luis de Guindos said as he prepared to explain the austerity measures to concerned eurozone ministers who were meeting in Copenhagen.
How is "Spain is going to stop being a problem, especially for the Spanish people", when its government is forcing everyone who isn't already rich to lower their standards of living? Ah... Excuse me? "Spain is going to stop being a problem, especially for the Spanish people". What exactly the fuck does that mean?

And isn't this really one of the central questions about the global economic crisis: Why are the people and institutions not responsible for it being made to pay to "fix" it, while financial institutions, which are responsible, and the wealthy are not made to pay to fix it??
[Montoro] insisted that, with Spanish unemployment at 23% and climbing, he had tried to avoid hurting the economy's chances of recovery. But economists have warned the deficit-cutting measures ... will take two percentage points of GDP off growth, pushing the country into the second part of a double-dip recession.
Yet, for Little Angela and Nicky, and Davey "Friend Of News Corp" Cameron, and so many other EU politicians, the only way to stop the pain of Europe's people is to beat them more savagely.
[Spanish c]ivil servants, whose salaries were cut by 5% in 2010, were among the biggest losers: Their wages were frozen again this year.
MEHR: ... and The Paper of Record tells us:
Europe’s long-running euro crisis may be cooling. But the economic distress ... is pushing a rising tide of workers into precarious straits in France and across the European Union. Today, hundreds of thousands of people are living in campgrounds, vehicles and cheap hotel rooms. Millions more are sharing space with relatives, unable to afford the basic costs of living... a growing slice of the population that is slipping through Europe’s long-vaunted social safety net... trapped in low-paying or temporary jobs that are replacing permanent ones destroyed in Europe’s economic downturn.

Now, economists, European officials and social watchdog groups are warning that the situation is set to worsen. As European governments respond to the crisis by pushing for deep spending cuts to close budget gaps and greater flexibility in their work forces, “the population of working poor will explode,” said Jean-Paul Fitoussi, an economics professor at L’Institut d’Études Politiques in Paris...
Any questions?

Get Ready

Watching the presentation of the Administration's defense of the Affordable Care Act (dubbed "Obamacare" by the Thugs) this past week, many legal reporters made the observation, one way or another, that the Act was already history -- it's all over but the celebratory Texas duck hunt of "Fat Tony" Scalia and 'Dick' Cheney, whose new heart is allegedly as black as his old one.

The arguments all seemed to center around how much the ACA would be declared unconstitutional -- in toto, or just the individual mandate. Which would, if thrown out, effectively gut the Act anyway.

And, the Supreme Court is packed, 5-4, with right-wing morons.

On that glorious day, when persons who have no idea what it's like to live in Everyday America hand down their decision, we can expect to hear about 'blistering retorts' in the Minority Opinions, but so what?

Only incidentally is this about constitutional interpretation or legal scholarship. It's a crowning moment of glory, a time of triumph for the Right, because they can sabotage or steal something from an unassailable position -- as in Bush v. Gore -- because kicking the ACA to the curb will be one more step down the road towards completely reversing the social safety nets of Roosevelt's New Deal.

Fat Tony, in his typically repugnant and didactic manner, will probably write the Majority Opinion and take yet another opportunity to lecture America about Things, since he considers the rest of humanity to wallow far below his towering intellect.

It will be Tony's, and Clarence's, opportunity to bellow Va Fan Kulo to America. It will be the chance for Roberts, Alito, and Kennedy to join them in saying The Law Is Made By Those With The Power To Do So, and as Tubby Tony scrapes his fingers beneath his chin at us, crows We Win, Liberals; So Fuck You. I'll be happy to be proven wrong, but don't think it's in the cards.

Unfortunately for everyone else, that kind of ideologically-driven decision will end up tarnishing even further the legitimacy of the structure of law in the minds of ordinary American citizens -- after Bush v. Gore, and then Citizens United, people understood that Money Talks, and that principle is now openly enshrined into law. With every decision that favors the few with money and influence, the spirit of the Constitution and the people who crafted and debated it -- the same Framers which people like Fat Tony hotly claim to emulate -- is diminished.

We like to believe Justice cannot be purchased. We like to claim that the principle underlying America's 'Big-D' Democracy is the rule of law -- impartial, fair; applying equally to all, regardless of our position in society or on an economic scale. And every decision made by an ideologically skewed, partisan Supreme Court, turning our beliefs in the Law on its head, gives another piece of our birthright away.

But, so what? The Scalia Court doesn't really care what you think. Get back to work and keep your whining mouths shut, and remember to take your caps off when Your Betters speak to you.

MEHR: The New York Times reports this morning:
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if the officials have no reason to suspect the presence of contraband.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, joined by the court’s conservative wing, wrote that courts are in no position to second-guess the judgments of correctional officials...

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for the four dissenters, said strip-searches were “a serious affront to human dignity and to individual privacy” and should be used only when there was good reason to do so.
Things look bad enough without having to look closer at 'em.
-- Bender

Any questions?

Countdown To Super Special Fun Continues

One dog's opinion, but I still have the feeling Iran will be hit by Israeli airstrikes in the next six to eight weeks. And after that, things will be All Different.

In addition to everything else that's happened so far, the state of Azerbaijan has granted Israel access to several of its airports. They're only of use for launching strikes on Iranian targets.

Further UN-sponsored talks are scheduled with the Iranian government about it's nuclear development on April 23rd. As the UN says, the Iranians have used sessions like this to do nothing but delay, obfuscate, and buy more time.

It's certainly possible that the airport arrangements are long-term, forward-looking -- or, that Israel's obtaining rights to use them is one more indication to the Iranian Mullahs and Revolutionary Guard how serious the Israelis are; as if anyone had to tell them. But perhaps someone does. Azerbaijan is generally upwind of any potential Iranian targets that involve its nuclear industry.

And, part of the contingency planning for any operation is weather. The dark-of-the-moon period over the next eight weeks is April 21 to 23, and May 19 to 21, with north to northwesterly winds. The United States has or will have the majority of our aircraft carriers in the vicinity of the Persian Gulf during these times.

Not that this means anything; there's a tremendous amount of feinting and saber-rattling going on via leaks in national press and military assets moving around the Gulf. Think about the events we can't see, of cabinets and advisors talking with heads of state, of military planners going over operational orders, diplomats and intelligence types having hushed conversations in out-of-the-way places.

They're trying to avert disaster, ensure the security of their nations, or prepare for what some of them see as inevitable. In the end, the most visible parts of all this -- ships and armed men facing off against each other -- is the more important, because this is about brinksmanship. Diplomacy may represent reason, but at base the Iranians and Israelis want their opposites to blink... and that means getting closer and closer to the Fabled Edge; which isn't about reason, but fear and rage and pride.

In any event, if airstrikes occur, we (that is, us; the American Guy and Gal in the Street) won't like what comes afterwards. Some people may be strongly tempted to protest if America gets involved, which we likely would be compelled to. Russia and China also have an interest in anything that happens to Iran, since it will literally take place on their doorsteps -- and while we might be able to deal with the Russians (the Mittster's recent comments aside) frankly, the Chinese don't like us that much anyway.

Well... it will be interesting, as any slow-motion train wreck is; you can't look away. Deeply saddening, it is already.

Any questions?


The Rethug primaries continue. They're the equivalent to that episode of Futurama ("Mobius Dick"; Season 6), where the Good Ship Planet Express goes into the Bermuda Tetrahedron, braving the Tickle-Me-Elmo's Fire, and on into a wormhole after a giant, off-white, Killer Space Whale.

Inside the black hole, time runs sideways; Fry says "Poop!" forever, and America is treated to an uncountably infinite number of rude-talking robots in a circular Conga line, singing Bender Bender Bender / Bender Bender Bender... (Which finally explains that ham-and-cheese version of the RFK quote at the top of this post.)

Well, watching the GOP Race To The Bottom™ is pretty much like that, but the writing isn't as good. It has a majority of the Republican Party slowing transforming into Mittwissers (sic; sorry, folks; and for you Deutsch-Englisch bilingual types -- I couldn't resist).

Little Ricky has tried valiantly to turn Rethugs everywhere into the Party Of No Sexytime and Prayer For All, and Ron Paul tells reporters to shut up when asked why he's bothering to appear and talk about UN black helicopters and why Vince Foster didn't know enough and so had to die. Or some damn thing or other. (I'd like to hear more about the giant, UN-trained radioactive scorpion in his basement.)

Meanwhile, Randyman is somewhere being tubby, but no one cares. So long as nothing happens (like bombing Iran, for example) to deep-six the so-called recovery -- which will eventually be deep-sixed by the Attack Of The Giant European Austerity -- President Obama will probably be re-elected in time to bail out Goldman-Saks-Squid a third time.

Or, not. Cynicism is running high in this country. It's an open question whether it matters that The Mittster, Obama, or A Large Rock is elected to the Presidency in November. And in that cynicism is a distrust of a central, Federal government, an apathetic resignation to living in a Russian-style 'Republic' dominated by Oligarchs and corporate power.

And, I suppose enough people haven't yet realized that this distrust and apathy is exactly what the Rethugs want the ordinary citizen to feel.

"Yep; we're boned!" And that's 30 for this edition.

Any questions?

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