Category: Europe

Seriously, Greece?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Greeks electing Syriza, a hard left-wing party that promised to walk back austerity. Since then, the Greek situation has gotten far worse. They negotiated some slight concessions, but most of Europe — including the other PIIGS — held fast. And Greek tax collection have collapsed as most Greeks assumed, with Syriza in power, that the days of having to pay their bills were over. It hasn’t even been two months and the coalition is already floundering.

Now they’re having a conniption fit:

Greece will unleash a “wave of millions of economic migrants” and jihadists on Europe unless the eurozone backs down on austerity demands, the country’s defence and foreign ministers have threatened.

The threat comes as Greece struggles to convince the eurozone and International Monetery Fund to continue payments on a £172billion bailout of Greek finances.

Without the funding, Greece will go bust later this month forcing the recession-ravaged and highly indebted country out of the EU’s single currency.

Greece’s border with Turkey is the EU’s frontline against illegal immigration and European measures to stop extremists travelling to and from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) bases in Syria and Iraq.

Panos Kammenos, the Greek defence minister, warned that if the eurozone allowed Greece to go bust it would give EU travel papers to illegal immigrants crossing its borders or to the 10,000 currently held in detention centres.

They’re now trying to walk back those comments so this may just be frustrated rhetoric. But I stand by what I wrote six weeks ago:

Fuck Greece. They’ve gotten tens of billions of dollars in help and their response is to whine and cry because they can no longer live high on the hog on a fraudulent system paid for by other countries. Don’t let them leave the Euro; kick them the hell out. Let inflation and default ruin their economy. Maybe then they’ll figure out that you can’t run a country on bullshit.

You can’t run it on threats either.

(Via Tyler Cown, who has been calling Syriza the Not Very Serious People. We may have to elevate that to the Not Very Sane People.)

New School Russia is Old School Russia

We got another startling reminder of exactly who we’re dealing with this weekend when a Russian opposition leader was brutally gunned down just meters from the Kremlin. Russia is seeing some protests. What they really need is a rebellion.

I suppose we can’t say for sure that Putin is behind this. But it is odd, isn’t it, how his enemies keep dying under mysterious circumstances.

There’s not much we can do about Putin at the moment. But based on his success in the Ukraine, he is clearly starting to look North. And the countries he is looking at our NATO members.

This could get very ugly very fast.

Beware Greeks Breaking Bonds

Just recently, I read Michael Lewis’s Boomerang, which includes a long essay on the economic problems of Greece. It’s difficult to describe Greece’s economy without the words “holy fucking shit, dude, are you serious?” but I’ll try.

For years, the Greek budgets were a fraud. The EU rules required them to keep their deficits below 3% of GDP. But massive amounts of the Greek economy are underground. Their system encourage abuse and fraud so that very few people pay taxes and no one thinks they should pay taxes. Government spending figures were made up so that they could comply with EU budget requirements. Their government is large and pays salaries much higher than any other country. And they can retire at age 50 and draw huge pensions. They also have a fertility rate of 1.3, so it’s not like a baby boom is going to sustain this massive wave of retirees.

When you know the details, you realize just how necessary the recent austerity was. Greece was in so much debt and their budget was so out of control, they had to make drastic changes. This wasn’t some evil imposition by imperialistic Germans; this was math.

Well, the Greeks voted today for an anti-austerity party:

Exit polls suggest a historic victory for the anti-austerity Syriza party in Greece’s general election.

The polls indicate that Syriza took between 36% and 38% of the total vote, with the ruling New Democracy party a distant second with 26%-28%.

It is unclear whether Syriza has enough votes to govern the country alone.

Syriza’s Alexis Tsipras has pledged to renegotiate Greece’s debt arrangement with international creditors.

He has also vowed to reverse many of the austerity measures adopted by Greece since a series of bailouts began in 2010.

The result is being closely watched outside Greece, where it is believed a Syriza victory could encourage radical leftist parties across Europe.

The exit polls suggested Syriza had won between 148 and 154 parliamentary seats. They need 151 seats for an outright majority.

(Aside: there are a lot of liberals who think we should have a parliamentary system in this country, mainly because they don’t like Obama being opposed on legislation. This election is a good demonstration of why I don’t like parliamentary systems. Syriza is going to take over Greece based on a third of the vote. The parliamentary system encourages radical minorities to take the wheel of government and spin it madly. I’ll take our gridlock, thank you.)

Fuck Greece. They’ve gotten tens of billions of dollars in help and their response is to whine and cry because they can no longer live high on the hog on a fraudulent system paid for by other countries. Don’t let them leave the Euro; kick them the hell out. Let inflation and default ruin their economy. Maybe then they’ll figure out that you can’t run a country on bullshit.

Maybe other people will too.

Frosting on a turd still means you are getting a turd

Seven years of the left being in charge have devastated support for the stupid shit they believe in and do in the US, so with people turning away from them in droves, the left’s now banking on rewarding millions of criminals that jumped our borders with residency or citizenship and numerous other tax payer paid for perks. Of course, this plan is not playing well with any of the traditional democrat support groups whom correctly diagnose that it will not just cripple their economic opportunity, but make the piece of the pie available for the freeloaders much smaller. Though times, but have no fear, because because Obama has a plan to buy votes yet again. Here is the first line of the article:

President Barack Obama’s proposal for free community college tuition is either a game changer or an empty promise. It just depends who you ask.

Me, based on all the other promises these idiots have made, will go with the later: it is a heaping pile of bullshit masquerading as gourmet food. Free college is idiotic and will solve nothing. College used to be a way for those with more than the average skillset to show they met a certain bar for employment in careers that required more than just intelligence, dedication, hard work, and ingenuity. The ugly truth is that not everybody is college worthy, and we should admit so instead of pretending otherwise. The left decided that the problem to their economy bursting policies and agenda was to make everyone get a college degree, regardless if they had the aptitude, skills, or actually needed it to do what they could find as prospective employment. In the process they have completely diluted the value of a college degree and education. And they did it while dumbing down primary education to the point that too many college applicants ended up woefully unprepared and unqualified for what came next.

With the economy going south and a rigged systems letting people with no chance of completing a college degree of any worth still indebt themselves to in the end fail, the left’s solution is to make the productive pay for this burden. This is the way it used to be in Europe. I said “used to be”, because that’s no longer the case. The days of spending 6-10 years at a university studying crap that would not lead to any kind of gainful employment are over. Students now have to graduate in allotted times and they have to pay for most of their education. More importantly, they have quotas for each type of college degree. You can’t have 50K history students if there are 5K jobs waiting for them. The funny thing that bears mentioning however, is that their tax burden, which was implemented for things like free healthcare and free education, neither of which is anything resembling free anymore, remains the same. Who would have thunk it huh? All that money now goes to pay for people that sit on their ass and can’t work, a whole lot of them with 10 year college degrees in worthless fields of studies, and for a political and bureaucratic monster that adds little or no value.

So back to Obama’s free community college plan. Many people see the emperor with no clothes’ plan for what it is – nothing but a desperate attempt by democrats to both help out one of their biggest donor groups keep their house of cards from facing the reality of the times and keep the wheels on the indoctrination train – and of course, as soon as that was pointed out, the accusations, desperate and veiled tried to make it about race.

Frankly I believe that less people going to college and government getting out of the racket of subsidizing the indoctrination centers and paying off one of the democratic party’s biggest donor blocks would do wonders to improve the higher education racket. The best move they could make is to hold colleges and universities accountable for the loans incurred by the students. Students that fail out should automatically have colleges become financially liable for at least half of what they now owe in student loans. Those that graduate with degrees that only let them find employment asking people if they would like fires with that should similarly have recourse against the school that charged them an arm and a leg for what amounts to a worthless degree. Of course, something like this would spell the end of so many of the left’s specialized grievance rackets passed off as education these days. It would however help those that somehow show they are better prepared and qualified to attend college.

Spare the American tax payer of another bad and costly mistake. Tell Obama to stick to golfing and talking about how racist everyone that disagrees with him is.

Frack the Russians

It is well known that, during the Cold War, the Soviet Union quietly funneled money to Western peace movements. It funded people who opposed nuclear weapons and wanted unilateral disarmament of the West. It funded people who opposed strategic nuclear weapons in central Europe. It funded parts of the anti-war movement.

To be clear, most of the people involved in these movements had no affiliation with the Soviet Union or knew of Soviet involvement. They were “useful idiots”. But many in the leadership knew. And, to be clear, Soviet funding did not make these movements illegitimate, per se. You could oppose Vietnam and nuclear weapons and not be a Communist stooge. But the Soviet Union had and pursued an interest in certain factions within Western politics that overlapped with their own interests.

Nothing changes, does it?

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen recently announced that the Russian intelligence service was covertly funding European environmental NGOs to support their campaign against fracking. The former Danish Prime Minister stated that he had “met allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organizations – environmental organizations working against shale gas – to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas.”

The accusations do not seem too far-fetched. Russia is very keen on dissuading Europe from exploiting its shale reserves. Disregardful of their own massive fracking projects in Siberia, Vladimir Putin uses environmental arguments to push an EU-wide fracking ban. In a similar fashion, he tries to discourage the US from exporting of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to Europe. This is an option some European politicians such as Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague suggested as a way to reduce European energy dependency from Russia. It is currently on the table in the negotiations on the trade agreement between the European Union and the United States (TTIP).

Right now, much of Europe is dependent on Putin’s oiligarchy for their energy. Fracking is not only a threat to that but a threat to all of Putin’s imperial ambitions. Wide-scale fracking would deliver a huge blow to the Russian economy. So naturally he opposes it. Naturally, as former KGB, he’s willing to fund anti-fracking groups. And I suspect that, like the Peace movement, some within the anti-fracking leadership are aware of this and more than willing to take his money.

Fracking opponents will, of course, claim that Putin’s money doesn’t matter; fracking is so awful that they have to oppose it. They will, of course, claim that what they want is a world that runs on renewables, with neither fracking nor Putin having a role. But that’s living in fantasy world. Even under the most optimistic assumptions, Europe will not be able to provide more than a fraction of their power through renewables within the next few decades. And with nuclear now on the wane, that means they will need tons and tons of fossil fuels.

So it really is a matter of picking the lesser of two evils. In fracking, you have some legitimate environmental concerns (most of which have been addressed or are being addressed). But you have a less carbon-intensive source of energy and companies that are accountable to Western nations. Russian oil not only props up a bloodthirsty tyrant, it supports one of the dirtiest polluters on the planet. As bad as fracking may or may not be, Russian oil is far worse for the planet, for Eastern Europe and for global security.

Fracking opponents will tell you that fracking is being pushed by “dirty money” from natural gas interests. But, good Lord, is there any money dirtier than Vladimir Putin’s?

What progressivism – Social Justice, in a nut shell – always ends up being.

Venezuela is the latest example of what progressivism works out to be in a nutshell. Chavez, another idiot that gained power passing himself off as a man of the people, and buying votes by promising to rob his country’s producers in the name of some fabricated and idiotic social construct, has ruined what once was a growing and thriving economy. Sure Venezuela had problems and poverty before Chavez, but things are far, far worse, today. Case in point, the death of the goose that laid Venezuela’s golden eggs:

As weird as it seems, President Nicolás Maduro’s government plans to start importing crude oil for the first time in order to blend it with Venezuela’s own crude and keep the country’s overall production from falling further, the Reuters news agency reported last week, citing an internal document from Venezuela’s state-owned PDVSA oil company.

It turns out that Venezuela’s own production of light crudes has plummeted since the late President Hugo Chávez took office in 1999, and the country desperately needs light crudes to blend with its Orinoco Basin extra heavy crude oils. Without such a blend, the Orinoco Basin’s extra heavy crude is too dense to be transported through pipelines to Venezuelan ports and exported abroad.

Venezuela’s oil production, which accounts for 95 percent of the country’s export earnings, should be used in world classrooms as a textbook case of what happens when a populist government starts distributing a country’s wealth in cash subsidies, without investing in maintenance and innovation. Much like happened with Cuba’s once flourishing sugar industry, Venezuela’s Chávez-inspired populism has destroyed the goose that laid the golden eggs.

In 1999, when Chávez took office, PDVSA had 51,000 employees and produced 63 barrels of crude a day per employee. Fifteen years later, PDVSA had 140,000 employees, and produced 20 barrels of crude a day per employee, according to an Aug. 14 report by the France Press news agency.

Venezuela’s net oil exports have plummeted from 3.1 million barrels a day in 1997 to 1.7 million barrels a day in 2013, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates.

Curious to find out how a country with the world’s largest oil reserves can end up importing oil, I called Evanán Romero, a former Venezuelan vice minister of energy and former PDVSA director, who now works as an oil industry consultant.

Romero told me that the Venezuelan government desperately needs to speed up oil exports to get cash, because the government is bankrupt. Inflation has surpassed an annual rate of 60 percent, and Venezuela will be Latin America’s country with the lowest economic growth this year, according to World Bank estimates.

But to speed up oil exports, Venezuela needs to blend its heavy crudes from the Orinoco Basin with lighter imported crudes, because Venezuela is no longer producing enough light crudes of its own. Production of light crudes has fallen because of lack of investments, abandonment of exploration of light crude areas, and the nationalization of companies that used to help produce light crudes.

Venezuela has asked foreign companies that operate in the Orinoco Basin to invest in “upgrading” facilities that help make heavy-crude exportable, but the companies did not want to take that risk because they fear expropriations, or because they don’t think it’s a good investment as long as they are only allowed a minority ownership under government rules.

Collectivists always expect everyone else to sacrifice, and yet, they claim and believe they have the right to take the fruit of other people’s labor, no matter what the consequences of that theft, because they mean well. When others decide not to bend over and grab their ankles every time the progressives come a knocking, they get pissed and accuse them of being greedy. But the truth is nobody causes more harm, destruction, misery, and human indignity than your pretend do-gooder progressive as they steal from those that produce under the pretense of redressing some evil or injustice.

Humanity is heading for another dark age as the labors of the collectivists destroy centuries of progress by their betters. Everywhere that progressives have taken hold, things have gone, are going, or will go bad. The more open the thievery, the quicker the downfall. The Soviet Union and its satellite states imploded in a short 7 decades because they went to one extreme to push their corrupted version of paradise on earth. The last bastions of this idiotic belief are Cuba and North Korea, the Chinese long ago abandoning anything other than the tyranny of progressivist rulership – something that amounts to nothing more than another aristocracy lording it over the serfs, sometimes under the heel of a single madman that bathes in the blood of those he plunges into his contrived misery – in order to maintain power. They are all doomed, including the Chinese, because that system simply destroys man and man’s dignity.

New upstarts like Venezuela show us that those that do it without the usual bloody revolution and the millions of deaths, still lead the unfortunate idiots they have fooled down the same road. Progressivism’s promise of social justice always, without fail, produces misery and indignity. It matters little that they can, in the beginning and for some time, pretend or show that their actions have made things look better: in the end though, their actions produce the same outcome, be it in a short span of time, or over long decades. They destroy everything they touch, and the vital system that produces wealth collapses, leaving everyone living in misery and under the heels of a tyrannical master or oligarchy that thinks more of the same is what is needed to fix the very problem of their making.

Have no doubt that the shit done by the Western democracies is heading the same way. Obama’s reign in the US and his expedited efforts at the destruction of a once great nation, as well as and what’s going on in Europe, should leave no one any doubt that there is any way to salvage the situation if the progressives and their ways are allowed to continue. You can not steal from others – especially when you accuse them of having because they steal – to make things right. Greed and envy are not good emotions to base a philosophy that claims to want to right wrongs on, but that’s progressivism in a nut shell. In the end it only serves to replace whatever group one claims is engaged in some injustice with one person or another group that is doing fare worse evil.

It is time to tell these people to take a long hike off a short pier.

Toward a European War

Over the last week, Russia has been slowly dropping the pretense and invading the Ukraine with active troops, tanks and artillery pieces. Many of these soldiers, as with the earlier incursion into the crimea, are pretending to be rebels, which is technically a war crime.

As has been pointed out, the Ukraine is not the limit of Putin’s ambitions. He has claimed that he will rescue all ethnic Russians who are “threatened” which means the baltic states and Poland could be on their target list.

The West is finally responding. The plan is to deploy troops to the new NATO bases in Eastern Europe as well as to provide military aide to the Ukraine. I would suggest that reviving missile defense would be another good step.

This sets up the potential for a wider war. But it’s something we are obligated to do under the NATO treaty. We’ll just have to hope that the prospect of tangling with an actual military force is enough to give Putin some pause.

Still Crazy After All These Years

My post is about that crazy Uncle Ron Paul, but this morning I watched Obama’s tap dance in the Rose Garden, where he talked about accountability wrt the downed airline and mentioned the troubling news that the black boxes were absconded and hustled back to Russia. He wondered out loud what they had to hide. Naturally one has to snicker at any mention of accountablility, and as for hiding something, let’s see, 2 black boxes vs. “less than 20″ hard drives wiped clean, hiding something, indeed.

I know there were several Paul bots that frequented this site, I was never one of them. And although it is still early, Rahn Paul will no doubt make a run for the top job in 2016. One has to wonder (and pray) that this apple falls real far from the tree.

But the old guy escaped his rest home just long enough to chastise the media over their coverage on the downed airline;

Former Congressman Ron Paul defended the Russian government on Sunday and slammed Western leaders for spreading “propaganda” after a Malaysian Airlines plane was allegedly shot down by Kremlin-backed separatists in Ukraine.

“Western politicians and media joined together to gain the maximum propaganda value from the disaster. It had to be Russia; it had to be Putin, they said,” the former presidential candidate wrote. “While western media outlets rush to repeat government propaganda on the event, there are a few things they will not report.”

You knew somewhere in there he was going to fall back on the old tried and true and blame America;

One of those unreported things, Paul claimed in his weekly “Texas Straight Talk” column, was the United States’ own responsibility for destabilizing the region.

Full disclaimer, no, I did not read his dopey column, but the Ukrainian people clearly wanted Yanukovych out has subsequently issued arrest warrants against him for mass murder. I would tell Obama to pay attention and heed what happens to a leader that zigs when the folks want him to zag, but there are too many out there that like the status quo, like their free stuff, so he remains nonplussed.

Samantha Powers did a great job (I know, where did that come from?) the other day at the UN, encapsulating what we know so far and where the real blame should be placed. You can see it here.

I get a kick out of all the talk about this signalling the end of Putin, and how he will be made to pay. There will be nothing left at the crash site that will tie Russia or the separatists in on this. Europe (or the US for that matter) does not have the will to push this beyond the “moral outrage” stage. Putin is popular with the folks and has the natural resources to back up any bluster. I see nothing coming of this.

Progressives and their money…

I have always held the belief that today’s modern left is simply a modern day version of the old and corrupt aristocratic members of the feudal or guild systems of the middle ages – entities that closely guarded access to the benefits that membership provided, while lording it over everyone – and amounts to nothing but a protection racket for the connected. The progressive oligarchy smartened up however, knowing that simply doing business as usual, basically maintaining and growing its power and wealth, as was done on the olden days was not going to work. So instead of risking the mob turning on them, they shifted gears, pretending to help the less fortunate, while keeping business as usual. Don’t take my word for it.

Under Black Jesus, the super-rich have accumulated wealth at a pace that would have the progressives, both in politics and in the media (yeah, I know they are practically all progressive retards there), howling mad if the WH was occupied by a guy with an (R) next to their name. This has coincided with policy shifts that have drastically grown the handout class. More people than ever are now on some form of public assistance, primarily because the economy has been castrated and employment, especially full time high paying jobs in the private sector have all but dried up, and that number only looks to grow larger. Between the insane money borrowing & printing policies that are driving up our debt at an insane pace that makes anything that came before look tame, causing drastic inflation that we keep getting told is not happening by our political masters while the dollar’s power dwindles, and the anti-business vote buying schemes and scams like Obamacare, I remain surprised at the strength of our private sector’s ability to weather this storm.

But while these progressive policies are helping the ultra-rich get richer and keep power, by expanding the “Vote for a living” class membership, the real power behind America’s exceptionalism and economic success, the middle class, is getting destroyed. Of course, the truth is that all leftists systems end like this. Look at communism for the proof. From the old USSR, Cuba, and North Korea, as examples of abject failures, to more successful entities like China, the fact is that these progressive systems are based on a 2 class system. The first is the obvious oligarchy that runs the place and has all the power and wealth. They don’t have to won it directly, but people know better. Then you have the serfs: the rest of the schnooks that are fed a constant line of populist and anti-capitalism line bullshit, do all the work – when you can get them to work for the peanuts they get paid while struggling to get basic necessities – and reap none of the rewards, unless you think a reeducation camp, a gulag, or a bullet to the head is a reward.

Socialism is not much better. Look at Venezuela or any of those Arab oil states. Sure, our resident libs love to tell us about Israel, New Zealand, or Europe, but the truth is they are doing nothing more than the progressives in the 70s and 80s did in the US writ places like New York State, Michigan, Illinois, and California. Back then the progs told us all how their policies were directly responsible for the economic growth and success these places experienced, and even if there was a nugget of truth to it, today every one of these states or fiefdoms is facing hard times and bankruptcy. Most European socialist states are unraveling as well. That’s because this shit doesn’t work. You can’t keep borrowing and pushing the responsibility to pay the debt on others, all so you can prop up a system that pretends to do what it does to help people, but rarely does anything of the sort. Collectivism doesn’t work. And there is no room for a middle class in any of these progressive systems.

So why this long rant? Well, the whole thing is a setup for another obvious instance of the left’s double standards. What else do you call the revelation that people that advocate wealth redistribution policies but then work hard to avoid them for themselves ?

Bill and Hillary Clinton have long supported an estate tax to prevent the U.S. from being dominated by inherited wealth. That doesn’t mean they want to pay it.

To reduce the tax pinch, the Clintons are using financial planning strategies befitting the top 1 percent of U.S. households in wealth. These moves, common among multimillionaires, will help shield some of their estate from the tax that now tops out at 40 percent of assets upon death.

The Clintons created residence trusts in 2010 and shifted ownership of their New York house into them in 2011, according to federal financial disclosures and local property records.

Among the tax advantages of such trusts is that any appreciation in the house’s value can happen outside their taxable estate. The move could save the Clintons hundreds of thousands of dollars in estate taxes, said David Scott Sloan, a partner at Holland & Knight LLP in Boston.

“The goal is really be thoughtful and try to build up the nontaxable estate, and that’s really what this is,” Sloan said. “You’re creating things that are going to be on the nontaxable side of the balance sheet when they die.”

The Clintons’ finances are receiving attention as Hillary Clinton tours the country promoting her book, “Hard Choices.” She said in an interview on ABC television that the couple was “dead broke” and in debt when they left the White House in early 2001. After being criticized for her comments, she told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that she understood the financial struggles of Americans

Look, I am not denying anyone the right to try and keep as much of their income as possible. But if you ever had perfect examples of the progressive movement’s bad guys, your stereotypical robber barons, it’s the Clintons. They have made a ton of money out of being politically powerful and connected, and have done so while decrying that very practice. It’s the same hypocritical shit that allows someone like Michael Moore to get stinking rich making idiotic and pedantic bullshit they pass off a serious documentary reporting, but amount to nothing more than ranting against the very system that allows him to rake in the cash. It’s despicable.

One set of rules for thee, and another for the progressive oligarchy. Now I can understand their motivations. What I don’t understand is how the people that lap up the class warfare cock these oligarchs use to maintain their grip on power and their exclusive clubs don’t see through it. At least the other such two tiered systems didn’t make any bones about the motivation of the people in power like any of the collectivist systems the progressive movement so love does.

And You Thought You Had Problems

This is why I stopped at just being a millionaire, being a billionaire has it’s own set of headaches;

A Swiss court has ordered a Russian billionaire to pay more than $4.5 billion to his ex-wife in what could become the biggest divorce settlement in history.

In papers delivered Monday to both parties, the Geneva Tribunal of First Instance said Dmitry Rybolovlev, an owner of the French soccer club AS Monaco, must pay 4,020,555,987.80 Swiss francs ($4,509,375,184.80) to ex-wife Elena Rybolovleva of Geneva. Both are aged 47.

What I don’t get is that this guy is Russian, why didn’t he just have her whacked?

It’s hard to feel sorry for any billionaire, but when you are accomplished (ill gotten gains or otherwise) it hurts to give your ex wife half, of anything.

What do you think the attorney’s fees for this case will be?

Till death (how ever that comes about) do us part, bad planning, Dmitry.