Friday, 14 May 2010

THE EURO: GOING, GOING......

Ken Berwitz

Mel Allen, the late, great New York Yankees announcer, had a classic home run call.  When one of the Bronx bombers - maybe Mickey Mantle or Roger Maris or Yogi Berra, blasted one, he'd tell us by saying "that ball is going, going.....it is gone!"**

They sure could use Mr. Allen in Europe right now. 

Excerpted from an article in today's London Daily Guardian:

Share prices have dropped across Europe and the euro has slid to an 18-month low against the dollar on fears that the eurozone bailout of Greece will fail and reports that French president Nicolas Sarkozy threatened to pull his country out of the single currency altogether to force Germany to agree to the rescue plan.

The panic selling has been stoked by news that Spain's underlying inflation rate turned negative in April for the first time on record, adding to fears that the country is facing a cash crunch.

By lunchtime the FTSE 100 index was down almost 100 points with indices across Europe in negative territory. Frankfurt's DAX index was down more than 1%, Paris's CAC-40 index down 2.6% and the IBEX 35 in Madrid down 4%. The ASE in Athens was down more than 3.0%. The euro, meanwhile, dropped down to $1.2432, having been trading early in the day 0.3% higher against the US currency.

Earlier in the day, the National Statistics Institute in Madrid said core consumer prices, which exclude energy and fresh food, fell 0.1% from a year earlier, after rising 0.2% in March. Spain is in danger of missing the government's target of a 1.8% increase in GDP in 2011 which would have a knock-on effect on its plans to reduce its deficit, which stood at 11.2% of GDP last year.

The markets were initially unsettled by news that the French president had threatened to pull France out of the eurozone. The startling threat was made at a Brussels summit of EU leaders last Friday, at which the deal to bail out Greece was agreed, according to a report in El Pas newspaper quoting Spanish Prime Minister Jos Luis Rodrguez Zapatero.

Zapatero revealed details of the French threat at a closed-doors meeting of leaders from his Spanish Socialist Party on Wednesday.

Is the euro over?  Maybe yes and maybe no.  But its prospects seem more than a little bleak. 

My wife's cousin Laura, once removed (now completely removed, since she's been gone about 35 years) used to have an expression for situations like this.  She'd say "it has one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel".  

They didn't know it at the time, of course;  but Laura and Mel were describing the euro, and the European Union, just about perfectly.

========================================================================

**Apropos of nothing relating to the euro or the European union.......

I miss Mel Allen every time I hear current Yankee announce Michael Kay's horribly contrived call of "See ya", and radio announcer John Sterling's "it is high, it is far, it is.......caught at the wall" (oh, didn't I mention that he often starts that call on fly-outs instead of home runs? 

Between that, his annoying habit of barely calling the balls and strikes while telling some story that I don't want to hear, his habit of repeating the same thing over and over and over again and his "the Yankee's win!  Thu-u-u-u-uuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhh YANKEES WIN!" at the end of successful games, he is almost impossible to listen to.


ARIZONA'S NEW CACTUS PLANT

Ken Berwitz

I  saw this about five minutes ago.  I'm still laughing.

 

Arizona plants cactus on the border with California 


ERIC HOLDER'S RACIST JUSTICE DEPARTMENT

Ken Berwitz

Here, in its entirety, is today's Washington Times editorial, which details how Attorney General eric holder has turned our justice department into a racist institution:

EDITORIAL: Black Panthers but no white rights

Civil Rights Commission keeps heat on Justice

 (By THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Let's avoid all the mealy-mouthed euphemisms: In the now-infamous New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.'s Justice Department stands accused of being dishonest, racist, political hacks. The department's responses to those charges have been so weak that they may as well have pleaded nolo contendere. A hearing today by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights provides the department one more chance to adequately explain itself. Right now, no adequate explanation seems to exist.

It was one year ago tomorrow that department officials overrode the advice of career attorneys, and of the department's own appellate division, by dropping three of four charges in the Black Panther case and seeking an extremely limited injunction in the fourth. The case involved voluminous testimony that two Black Panthers - dressed in paramilitary garb while one brandished a nightstick - stood within arm's length of a Philadelphia polling place while repeatedly using racial epithets and threats.

At an April 23 hearing held by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, witnesses agreed that both Black Panthers acted in concert, shoulder to shoulder, that they used verbal threats against black Republicans and against whites they called "white devils" and "crackers." Two witnesses specifically said they saw would-be voters turn around and leave the area without voting after seeing these forms of intimidation. Former Acting Associate Attorney General Gregory G. Katsas testified that, "on its face, the complaint appears to involve a straightforward and overwhelmingly strong case of voter intimidation which [ordinarily] would have raised neither policy sensitivities nor the possibility of conflicting positions within [the department]." His conclusion: "The alleged conduct appears egregious and intentional."

Finally, Mr. Katsas said decisions by the department to reverse legal positions and drop such prosecutions are "extremely rare - and for good reason: They inevitably undermine [the department's] credibility with the courts, and they inevitably raise suspicion that [the department's] litigating position may be influenced by political considerations."

Christopher Coates, the multiple award-winning career attorney who oversaw the case before the Obama-Holder team exiled him to the hinterlands, made clear in a going-away speech just what he thought the Obama administration's political considerations are. As reported (in close paraphrase) by the Heritage Foundation's Hans von Spakovsky at National Review Online, Mr. Coates suggested the agenda is "to enforce the provisions of the Voting Rights Act only for the protection of certain racial or ethnic minorities" and "to turn a blind eye whenever incidents arise that indicate that minority persons have acted improperly in voting matters."

In short, white voters have no civil rights.

Neither Mr. Coates nor his former colleagues who brought the case can tell their stories in public because the Justice Department, in violation of federal law, ordered them not to comply with the subpoenas of the Civil Rights Commission. This comes after the department falsely claimed that none of its political appointees had a role in the decision to drop the case, and then spent a full year stonewalling information requests from the commission, Congress and the press.

Mr. Holder's civil rights division chief, Thomas E. Perez, is set to testify at today's commission hearing. Whether he'll come clean, though, is very much in doubt.

eric holder is a national disgrace.  Every day he is Attorney General is a day we are diminished as a country.

Fire him now.


CHRIS CHRISTIE AND HIS "CONFRONTATIONAL TONE"

Ken Berwitz

Chris Christie is the Governor of New Jersey.  He is the man who beat the hugely rich Jon Corzine, who essentially bought his way into the senate and then into the governor's mansion.

Please click here - and see what you think of Mr. Christie's response to a reporter who challenges his "confrontational tone". 

All I ask is that you listen to his answer.  Then consider whether you would like this kind of governor for your state

free` NJ has a Governor they can be proud of, for a change. When Schwarzenegger was elected I really thought California was going to be saved from the liberals. Unfortunately I was wrong, I hope NJ fairs better than we did. (05/14/10)

Zeke .... Outstanding ! ! .... Glad I voted for him ....... didja note that the YouTube counter is stuck on "323 views" .... (05/14/10)


LOS ANGELES AND THE BOYCOTT OF ARIZONA

Ken Berwitz

Here, as of 12:10PM Eastern Time, are the results of an online poll run by the Los Angeles Times, regarding the city council's resolution to boycott the state of Arizona over its new immigration laws.

Make of it what you will.

 

Was the L.A. City Council right to pass a boycott of Arizona? (Results)

Yes. Arizona needs to feel the consequences of enacting a bad law.                          

527 votes

2%

Yes, though the boycott should be more of a symbolic gesture than an official measure.

86 votes

1%

No, but only because doing so is probably illegal and not in L.A.'s interest.

996 votes

4%

No. The city should mind its own business.

20,528 votes

93%

BOBW MAKE IT 2 (05/14/10)

free` Thanks for the heads up about that poll, now there is one more NO vote. (05/14/10)


YUGO CHAVEZ TO HIS (AND VENEZUELA'S) LOGICAL CONCLUSION

Ken Berwitz

So how is yugo chavez doing these days? (I spell chavez'sfirst name "yugo", because of how similar his performance is to that godawful car).

Excerpted from an article by Jaime Daremblum of weeklystandard.com.  The bold print is mine:

Recent weeks have brought more depressing economic news from Venezuela, where populist leader Hugo Chvez seems intent on destroying not only democracy but also the last remaining vestiges of private enterprise.

On April 21, the Latin Business Chronicle predicted that Venezuela would post the worlds highest inflation rate in 2010, ahead of even the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.

On May 5, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean reported that foreign direct investment (FDI) in Venezuela dropped from $349 million in 2008 to negative $3.1 billion last year, mainly as a result of nationalizations. In other words, the Bolivarian Republic experienced a net FDI outflow of $3.1 billion in 2009.

On May 7, the Venezuelan central bank released data showing that consumer prices rose by 5.2 percent from March to April. As Bloomberg News noted, this represented the largest monthly increase since 2003. Meanwhile, the annual inflation rate hit nearly 32 percent.

On May 11, the Chvez-controlled National Assembly introduced legislation designed to clamp down on currency trading and strengthen the bolvar, Venezuelas national monetary unit. This is a very negative measure for the Venezuelan economy, Barclays Capital economist Alejandro Grisanti told Dow Jones. It will increase the pressure on prices and will deepen the contraction of the economy. In January, Chvez devalued the bolvar in order to facilitate greater social spending. Since then, the currency has plummeted, making Venezuelas already dire inflation problem even worse.

 

 The Bolivarian Republic is gradually crumbling, and Chvez seems intent on speeding up the process. According to International Monetary Fund projections, Venezuela is the only major Latin American country that will experience an economic contraction in 2010. Inflation has reached staggering levels: As Bancaribe economist Adrian Aguirre told Bloomberg News after Venezuelas central bank unveiled the April price data, The fact that food prices rose by more than 11 percent is something weve never seen in the last decade. Venezuelan importers are also grumbling about the new two-tiered exchange-rate regime, which was implemented as part of the devaluation back in January. The higher rate (4.3 bolvares per dollar) applies to non-essential imported goods. But the Associated Press reports that the government has not distributed enough dollars at the official rate to satisfy demand, forcing close to half of Venezuelas importers to buy much more expensive greenbacks on the black market.

Astute observers knew that Venezuela was in dire straits without reading this article.  The tipoff was that our wonderful "neutral" media stopped doing stories about the country.  No more smiling images of chavez with Danny Glover and Sean Penn. 

Now, what is going to happen?  chavez is virtually invulnerable to losing an election, given his sordid history of stuffing ballot boxes.  So will it be revolution?  An assassination?  Some other ending?

I don't know the answer.  But I do know that Venezuela, which has tasted success as a democracy and which should be a rich country given its huge oil resources, is swirling down the crapper.  And the people - certainly the producing class - can't be very happy about it.

I wonder how long before this problem resolves.  Maybe not long at all.

Zeke .... ..... Not to Worry ! ! .... .... ..... Mr. Chavez - 'the Yugo Kid' ... ... has eminent qualifications to become .. .. Obama's Economy Czar. ... .... ya can't argue with experience and results. (05/14/10)


ELENA KAGAN'S THESIS: COMMENTS ON SOCIALISM

Ken Berwitz

The following was written by Elena Kagan, President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court, as part of her thesis at Princeton University.  I pulled it from this article, written a year ago:

Keep in mind that it was written almost 30 years ago, and Ms. Kagan certainly may have changed her views since then.  But, having read this, I think I would like her to tell us whether and how those views have changed:

"In our own times, a coherent socialist movement is nowhere to be found in the United States. Americans are more likely to speak of a golden past than of a golden future, of capitalism's glories than of socialism's greatness. Conformity overrides dissent; the desire to conserve has overwhelmed the urge to alter. Such a state of affairs cries out for explanation. Why, in a society by no means perfect, has a radical party never attained the status of a major political force? Why, in particular, did the socialist movement never become an alternative to the nation's established parties?"(pp. 127)

"Through its own internal feuding, then, the SP exhausted itself forever and further reduced labor radicalism in New York to the position of marginality and insignificance from which it has never recovered. The story is a sad but also a chastening one for those who, more than half a century after socialism's decline, still wish to change America. Radicals have often succumbed to the devastating bane of sectarianism; it is easier, after all, to fight one's fellows than it is to battle an entrenched and powerful foe. Yet if the history of Local New York shows anything, it is that American radicals cannot afford to become their own worst enemies. In unity lies their only hope." (pp. 129-130)

We have no record of Ms. Kagan's performance as a lawyer to review since, until being made Solicitor General less than a year ago, she had never acted as a courtroom lawyer, never argued a case.

We have no record of Ms. Kagan's performance as a judge to review, since she has never been a judge.

We have no "paper trail" of Ms. Kagan's because she has written virtually nothing that we can look at.

But we do have this.  And we also have her steadfast determination to keep the US military from Harvard University.  And we do have her comments that the first amendment's freedom of speech and the second amendment's right to bear arms are open to interpretation and change. 

Based on what?  I guess we're supposed to find out after confirmation.

Y'know.....maybe she isn't such a good pick for the Supreme Court.....


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