Austerity Now! The UK's economy grew by 0.8% in the latest quarter, the fastest it has grown in 3 years of grinding austerity. Ah, the smell of napalm in the morning.
Mission Creep: NSA justifies its spying on everyone, everywhere, all the time as necessary to defend the US from terrorist attacks. So, is Angeleka Merkel a terrorist? Or the entire administrative structure of the EU? Or Brazil's Petrobas? Have terrorists infiltrated international trade conferences? For years the NSA has swept up billions of phone calls, emails and private conversations of the leaders of our political allies and the corporate officers of our leading competitors – all in the name of 9/11 and Apple Pie. And business interests.
Neverland: In one of the more asinine 'thought' pieces on oil production and pricing, we are urged to ponder what will happen if oil falls to $70. Right. If the economy tanks to the point oil that goes to those levels we'll have a lot more to worry about than the price of oil.
Tree, Poison Fruit Of? The Feds are now admitting they are using information taken from warrantless wiretaps to develop criminal prosecutions. Neat, use “national security” to troll the airwaves for evidence that they could not get a valid warrant for and about which they would have no idea except for the warrantless 'security' snooping.
Wish Listed: Most Americans who contribute to 401(k)s are running up debts faster than piling up retirement funds - increasing their mortgages, credit card balances and installment loans far more than they are able to put away for their retirement. But the fig-leaf of their 401(k)s makes them feel good, so let them be. They'll suffer soon enough.
Quiz: In which European country were there more bikes sold last year than new cars? All of them except Belgium and Luxembourg.
Fool's Errand: Raising the eligibility age for Medicare will at best not save any money and is most likely to cost the government money. The 65-year old 'youngsters' are far cheaper to care for than older recipients. And most 65-year olds will qualify for Medicaid if denied Medicare. And given Obamacare, the government would undoubtedly be out more money subsidizing private health insurance than putting the same folks on Medicare – which is a remarkably cost-efficient program. The CBO estimates the budget savings from raising the Medicare age to 67 is $2 billion a year – far less than can be made by fining JPMorgan for its transgressions. The usual suspects will keep pushing for the same thing, dismiss the evidence and keep marching to Ayn Rand's drum.
The Definition of 'Is': The US is defending its prerogative of murdering anyone, anywhere, at any time via drone strike as being “necessary and just'. Which would certainly depend on the definitions of those words.
Something Is Very Wrong: “The US economy has left large swaths of people behind. History shows that such periods are ripe for demagogues, and here again, deep pockets buy not only the policy set that protects them, but the “think tanks,” research results, and media presence that foments the polarization that insulates them further.”
Point Of Order: The US deficit is not “spiraling out of control”. If anything, the deficit level is being reduced too quickly and this is slowing our recovery. The deficit has declined steadily since 2009. So we are entering another season of straw men and specious scare tactics as the 1% and their minions sally forth once again to gut Social Security. In the upcoming budget talks, failure is an option; the best one.
Asked & Answered: “Can Republicans Investigate Obamacare Without Making Fools of Themselves?” What would make Obamacare different?
The Parting Shot: