Thursday, June 27, 2013

SAR #13178

Letting a thousand flowers bloom only really works if you then cut down the flowers that turn out to be really ugly.” Matthew Yglesias

Hopetemism: Obama's Climate Change speech was... well, a speech. It had some good stuff (bashing coal and climate skeptics) some bad (fracking, nukes, XL pipeline) no surprises and a whole lot left out: blood, sweat and tears - or in this case, a rapid reduction in fossil fuel use no matter what the fuel, a rapid and far-reaching reduction in energy use and waste, and turning the country away from the automobile-based mistake we have become. Most of all, it was a speech. Expect the Republicans to snipe at every Executive action and to prevent every step requiring congressional approval. Expect lots more talk and pretty much no action. Most of all, expect 4ºC to 6ºC by 2100, the disappearance of Arctic Ice and a fair melt on Greenland, higher seas and more sever weather. And Republican obstructionism, did I mention the Republican obstructionism?  And Big Coal's deep pockets?

Entrails: Russia is evacuating the last of its personnel from Damascus, out of concern for their safety. From which we infer...

Mixed Bag: GDP was revised, downward of course, from 2.4% annualized to 1.8%, mostly because consumers - 78% of whom don't have enough savings to make it through a medical emergency or a job loss - didn't go far enough in debt and didn't get a raise and many of them didn't get a job. The stock market, gleeful at the bad news which means the free money frenzy will continue, went up, of course. And existing house prices were reportedly up 11.6% y/y, even though existing wages are not. In fact, wages continue to fall (in real terms) at a frightening pace.

Blame The Victim: The Egyptian government blames the country's ongoing fuel shortage (and food shortage and so on) on the people, who want to drive their cars (and eat, and so on). Oh, ditto for jobs and civil rights and such.

Now Playing: Are we watching a remake of The Terminal, with Edward Snowden in the Tom Hanks role, or some version of Edward and Goliath with Ecuador as The Mouse that Roared. It is sad that the spotlight is on Snowden, and not the assault on law and order (not to mention privacy) perpetrated for a decade or more by No Such Agency. To the question “How many Americans does the NSA spy on?” the only possible answer is to ask “How many Americans are there?” The whole shebang suggests that while the US government spends tens of billions of dollars to intercept nearly all communications (along with its junior partner, the UK), it still can't figure out much. Greatly wasted dollars, thank goodness.

Ah, There's The Rub: Are you annoyed at how right Paul Krugman has been?

Skunk, Stripes: It turns out that Mario Draghi, currently head of the ECB (in which role he lead the charge on Greece for its fudging its debt reports) and formerly director of the Bank of Italy and before that a senior member of Goldman Sachs, cooked Italy's books far more drastically than the folks in Athens had. When will we stop being disgusted at the venality and essential immorality of damn near everyone above the mail clerk in any and all financial organizations?

Typecast: According to the IMF, "fiscal consolidation has typically had significant distributional effects by raising inequality, decreasing wage income shares and increasing long-term unemployment." By golly, and they were trying so hard to raise up the poor...

Confusion: The Supreme's knocked down the silly Defense of Marriage Act (Yeah, Supremes!) but gutted the Voting Rights Act (Boo, Supremes!). Now we will be treated to a decades-long pointless rear-guard action on same-sex marriage by the Rs (look for the same tactics that have been spent in beating back abortion rights) and a rapid descent into all sorts of voter suppression tactics, starting in Texas – also by the usual suspects. The Supreme Court does not so much decide things as stir them up.

Fairness Doctrine: I still don't see the excitement over the IRS at least pretending to investigate the charitable nature of organizations claiming tax exemptions. Why are the Republicans so upset that at least a few government employees were doing their job?

All Ye Need Know: Former self-portrait artist Anthony Weiner is leading all other Democratic candidates in the race to become mayor of NYC. Or not.

The Parting Shot:



Anthony said...

I can't help thinking both the Voting Rights Act and DOMA decisions are politically disastrous for the Republicans. Both undermine their ability to wrap themselves around a new generation at a time when the "Reagan Revolution" clearly has stopped reproducing itself. A lot has changed since the 1890s, when voting suppression "worked." Now I think it's more likely to give minority voters a strong reason to improve their turnout and vote against Republicans. Can you think of any issue which has historically organized minority populations more effectively than voting? The marriage issue is another debacle. If the court had legalized same-sex marriage in 50 states, it would have been wonderful for the millions of Americans who deserve that right, but it also would have removed an increasingly heavy albatross from around the Republicans' necks. They could have done their schtick pretending they were the victims and then gone on. But now an increasingly costly -- and, as you say, pointless -- battle is going to alienate them from a generation of voters that considers the whole issue their parents' obsession more than their own. It's fascinating how cultural issues have turned a corner and now actively harm the party that long ballyhooed them. All in all, a bad week for the R's.

Charles Kingsley Michaelson, III said...

You are probably correct - but today's Republicans (those in office) appear to have little if any concern for the future of their party, nor for the 'will of the people'. As long as they remain ideologically pure (and thus determinedly on the wrong side of most things) they will - god bless gerrymandering - get re-nominated and thus re-elected and continue to be horse's asses. But they'll be in office, obstructing, obstructing, obstructing and proud of it.