The 1% could really use a good war about now.
Check's In The Mail: Obama signed the Defense bill, granting himself the power to incarcerate Americans anywhere at any time for any reason for as long as he wants, with no formal charges, no trial, professing that he'll never use that power. Maybe not, but what about the next guy? And why sign the bill if it's that repugnant? Something smells, besides the Constitution rotting away.
Priorities: Frau Merkel says Europe must cooperate more for the euro to succeed. “A common currency can only really be successful if we in Europe cooperate more than we have done." "Cooperate" is a German word meaning "do what I say".
Terminology: Ben is not, repeat not, bailing out Europe. He said he wouldn't and he's a man of his word. And the word is "swaps". He's swapping dollars - which people still want - for euros - which they don't. Why? Because the Fed does not want Congress to see foreign bank debt on its books and a currency swap with the ECB is not technically a loan. If they loan the dollars to European banks, what can Ben do?
Wrong In So Many Ways: George Will is an experienced snake oil salesman who joins others of his ilk to peddle the misleading 'fact' that America is "a net exporter of petroleum products" portends the return to energy abundance. It does not. Parse the lie: "petroleum products". What's a petroleum product? Something made out of petroleum. Like diesel fuel or kerosene or Vaseline. But it is not petroleum as in crude oil. America still imports about 60% of the petroleum it uses. In fact, the more petroleum products it exports, the more petroleum it must import. There must be a word to describe someone that unscrupulously mendacious, but all I can come up with is
Exports! Portugal's prime minister, in an effort to increase the country's exports has urged unemployed Portuguese to emigrate, because there is no future for them at home.
Consuming Passion: Before you swallow a lot of the hopium going around about housing and the economy, ponder these: Adjusted for inflation, US consumer spending has grown only 0.2%, employment looks better because more and more people are leaving the job market, real wages fell 16 cents in the last year, an extension of the (luke warm) government stimulus is unlikely and GDP growth is expected to reach 2% if we're lucky. You feeling lucky?
No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service: Europe's largest independent refiner by capacity, Petroplus Holdings AG, is suspending operations at 15 of its 24 refineries because the banks have frozen its access to credit. As credit gets ever tighter in Europe, the continent's credit-dependent industries will tumble, one by one, into the abyss.
Preydiction: About half of all the low-FICO, high loan-to-value mortgages backed by the FHA at the peak of the housing bubble will default - if they haven't already.
Solutions: In at least 34 states, Republicans have introduced strict photo ID/voter laws, as a way of solving a problem. Not the problem of voter fraud - the Bush Justice Department initiated a five year probe that looked at over 300 million votes cast and found only 83 people to prosecute for voter fraud. No, the problem the GOP is solving is that the 11% of Americans who do not possess a government-issued ID (that's 21 million people) are poor and black and generally vote Democratic. That's the problem they're out to solve.
Begin the Beguine: Announcing that its deficit was 8% of GDP, not 6%, Spain unveiled €8.9 billion in budget cuts and surprise increases in income and property taxes, promising that "This is the beginning of the beginning" and that more reforms and harsher austerity are on their way.
I Remember Mama: Boeing is going to take in another $3.48 billion over the next 7 years, chasing the Reagan chimera called Star Wars. Boeing has taken in $18 billion so far, designing and building a missile shield to protect the US from al-Qaeda. Thanks, Ron.
Porn O'Graph: You get what you pay for.