Category Archives: Politics

Eurozone Whistles Past its Biggest Threat, by Don Quijones

The Italian financial system is in deep trouble and will crash without a large infusion of funds, undoubtedly from Europe’s beleaguered taxpayers. From Don Quijones at wolfstreet.com:

 

Italy’s Multi-Headed Hydra Predicament.

For the last three years, the political establishment in Italy and beyond have had a field day attacking, ridiculing, and vilifying Beppe Grillo’s 5-star movement. Europe’s media have tarred him with the brush of populism. In 2013 The Economist labelled him a clown on its front cover. Yet his party still leads the polls. And that lead is growing.

A new Ipsos poll in Corriere della Sera newspaper has put Beppe Grillo’s 5-Star Movement on 32.3% – its highest ever reading. It placed 5.5 points ahead of the governing PD, on 26.8%, after the PD dropped more than three percentage points in a month, as former prime minister Matteo Renzi battles to reassert his authority following a walkout by a left-wing faction.

Internal political battles are nothing new in Italy. The country enjoys a hard-earned reputation for political instability and paralysis, having seen 63 governments come and go since 1945. The problem this time around is that internal weakness and strife in Italy’s traditional center-left and center-right parties could end up gifting the next election to a party that refuses to play by the book.

If it wins the next elections, which could be brought forward to as early as June this year, 5-Star Movement has pledged to hold a referendum of its own — albeit a non-binding one — on Italy’s membership of the euro. As polls have shown, there is much broader public apathy toward the single currency than in just about any other euro zone nation. Grillo’s plan could also receive the backing of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi who is determined to pull off a political comeback and is talking of restoring the Italian Lira.

As Reuters reports, such a scenario could spook financial markets “wary of both the 5-Star’s euroskepticism and the threat of prolonged political instability in Italy,” which boasts a public debt burden of over €2 trillion (133% of GDP). In any normal situation that would be a problem. But Italy is not in a normal situation; it is on the cusp of a potentially very large financial crisis that, if mishandled, could bring down Europe’s entire financial system.

To continue reading: Eurozone Whistles Past its Biggest Threat

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He Said That? 3/22/17

From G.K. Chesterton, (1874–1936), British writer whose prolific and diverse output included works of philosophy, ontology, poetry, play writing, journalism, public lecturing and debating, literary and art criticism, biography, Christian apologetics, and fiction, including fantasy and detective fiction, Illustrated London News (6 April 1918):

When a politician is in opposition he is an expert on the means to some end; and when he is in office he is an expert on the obstacles to it.

Remarkably prescient, coming as it did 99 years before Republicans’ effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Who Is Going To Save The Democrat Party? Chelsea! by Kurt Schlichter

Kurt Schlichter brings just the right amounts of venom and sardonic humor to this analysis of Chelsea Clinton’s political prospect. From Schlichter on a guest post at theburningplatform.com:

Can you feel the pulse-pounding sense of excitement that’s sweeping the nation in the wake of the sudden rise to media prominence of superwoke everywoman Chelsea Clinton?

I sure can, but then I’m a conservative Republican. I totally support the Democrats making Chelsea the face of their party.

Please, please, please make her the face of your party.

Let’s be clear – Chelsea is not an embodiment of malignant evil, as is her harpy mother. I am aware of acts of great kindness she has personally performed; she does not appear to be a morally bankrupt monster like her parents. Nor do I blame her for supporting her mother or Bill. But Chelsea is a doctrinaire limo liberal who is utterly clueless about her privilege – she is one of the rare cases where the use of that term is neither teeth-gratingly stupid or a lie designed to seize unearned moral authority. And she buys into the moral vacuum that is progressivism’s received wisdom – from going all-in on the global warming scam to seeing all the SJW –isms and –phobias behind every opponents’ views to embracing the Planned Parenthood baby-killing racket. She should be left to live her life in peace without harassment, but so should we – which means Chelsea must never hold anything like a position of power.

Still, you can see the push to make her a thing; someone’s clearly hired a PR professional to inflate this obnoxious trial balloon. She gets a non-story story in The Hill nearly every day, like “Chelsea Clinton Fuels Speculation of Political Run” (Don’t follow the link – the site has one of those stupid auto-plays; if Chelsea’s platform consisted solely of ritually disemboweling anyone putting an auto-play ad on a website I’d write her a check today).

To continue reading: Who Is Going To Save The Democrat Party? Chelsea!

Full Speed Ahead for Murphy’s Law, by James Howard Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler asks if the United States will continue to be a nation. The answer is not as clear cut as most people assume. From Kunstler at kunstler.com:

You might not know it, given all the ambient noise of the moment, but beyond the torments of news and propaganda there is still something called the nation. It’s more than just a political compact. Until not long ago it was also a culture, an agreed-upon set of values, practices, and customs that amounted to an identity: I’m an American. If you canvassed the crowd in Yankee Stadium one summer afternoon in 1947, I imagine each person would answer that way rather than saying I’m a wounded war veteran, I’m a WASP, I’m an oppressed housewife, I’m a negro, I’m Italian, I’m a Jew, I’m a union member, I’m a communist, I’m queer, I’m a rape victim….

These days, the hardships of history are shattering the nation and our response politically has been to take refuge in a matrix of rackets. Most of these rackets are economic, because it’s the essence of racketeering to extract the greatest benefit possible from the object of your racket at the least cost to the racketeer. In plain English, it’s an organized way of getting something for nothing. The identity politics of our time is another form of racketeering — extracting current maximum benefits on claims of mistreatment, often bygone, specious, or only imagined.

And so one of the truly existential questions of the moment is whether we’ll continue to be a nation, even geographically, and a lot of sentient observers aren’t too sure. Apparently we’re not too sure we even want to be. This is why the campaign slogan of Hillary Clinton, “Stronger Together,” rang so false when the Democratic Party worked so diligently in 2016 to construct separate identity fortifications and then declared culture war on the dwindling majority outside the ramparts. And you’re surprised that Donald Trump won the election?

To continue reading: Full Speed Ahead for Murphy’s Law

 

Obamacare Repeal or Obamacare 2.0? by Ron Paul

Ron Paul is not enthusiastic about the Republicans’ proposed replacement of Obamacare. From Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

This Thursday, the House of Representatives will vote on a Republican bill that supposedly repeals Obamacare. However, the bill retains Obamacare’s most destructive features.

That is not to say this legislation is entirely without merit. For example, the bill expands the amount individuals can contribute to a health savings account (HSA). HSAs allow individuals to save money tax-free to pay for routine medical expenses. By restoring individuals’ control over healthcare dollars, HSAs remove the distortions introduced in the healthcare market by government policies encouraging over-reliance on third-party payers.

The legislation also contains other positive tax changes, such a provision allowing individuals to use healthcare tax credits to purchase a “catastrophic-only” insurance policy. Ideally, health insurance should only cover major or catastrophic health events. No one expects their auto insurance to cover routine oil changes, so why should they expect health insurance to cover routine checkups?

Unfortunately the bill’s positive aspects are more than outweighed by its failure to repeal Obamacare’s regulations and price controls. Like all price controls, Obamacare distorts the signals that a freely functioning marketplace sends to consumers and producers, thus guaranteeing chaos in the marketplace. The result of this chaos is higher prices, reduced supply, and lowered quality.

Two particularly insidious Obamacare regulations are guaranteed issue and community ratings. As the name suggests, guaranteed issue forces health insurance companies to issue a health insurance policy to anyone who applies for coverage. Community ratings forces health insurance companies to charge an obese couch potato and a physically-fit jogger similar premiums. This forces the jogger to subsidize the couch potato’s unhealthy lifestyle.

To continue reading: Obamacare Repeal or Obamacare 2.0?

Moral Superiority’s Blank Check, by Robert Ringer

The great thing about moral superiority is that you don’t have to pay attention to your moral inferiors. In fact, they should be glad you let them live on the same planet as their betters. From Robert Ringer at lewrockwell.com:

The most dangerous mindset known to mankind is moral superiority, and it’s been on display, particularly by the Radical Left, since time immemorial. There are many harmful consequences to moral superiority, but the most dangerous one is a predisposition to violence. Whether it’s Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, or college-snowflake protestors, the Radical Left revels in violence.

It’s amazing to me that so many people seem completely baffled by the fact that the Radical Left — including the media, politicians, Hollywood, and various species of tree-hugging freaks — do not have the maturity or self-control to resist acting like spoiled children, vulgar troglodytes, and garden-variety maniacs.

Whether it’s illiterate foul language being spewed out by garbage receptacles such as Whoopi and Rosie, the unctuous self-righteousness that comes from limousine liberals like George Clooney and Barbara Streisand, or the absurdities that flow from the mouths of mass fake-news manufacturers like CNN, NBC, MSNBC, CBS, and ABC, these people never back down, they never apologize, and they never show the slightest interest in considering the opinions of those who extol the virtues of freedom — no matter how foolish they look to normal human beings.

Nor do they get embarrassed when they repeatedly end up with egg on their face. Rachel Maddow was the latest Radical Left casualty the other night when she teased her audience into believing that she had the Trump smoking gun after getting her hands on two pages of his 2005 tax return (that a felony apparently occurred apparently was irrelevant to the MMS), only to end up boosting his stock by telling her audience that he actually paid more in taxes that year than, among others, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Comrade Bernie, and (how embarrassing) NBC’s parent company Comcast.

To continue reading: Moral Superiority’s Blank Check

Doug Casey on “The Diamond Age”, by Doug Casey

Science fiction writer Neal Stephenson envisions a future of dissolution, devolution, and decentralization. From Doug Casey at caseyresearch.com:

Science fiction has always offered both a more accurate and more timely look at the future than any think tank. For one thing, a good book is the product of a genius, not a committee of suits trying to reach a consensus. And a format of fiction allows one to speculate in ways that a “serious person” can’t do in nonfiction.

Every educated person should have read the classics by Jules Verne, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C Clarke, among others. Add Neal Stephenson to that list. I’ve been a fan of Stephenson’s novel The Diamond Age since it was published in 1995. I strongly recommend you read the book.

There are many themes in Diamond Age, which refers to a near-term future (I’ll guess around 2050) when nanotechnology has transformed much of life. Although not nearly as radically as I believe will actually be the case. (See my essays on the future here and here.)

But one theme in the book is quite a breakthrough, and spot-on. It posits the creation of “phyles” as the major form of social and political organization. The word comes from the same root as phylum, from the Greek, meaning “tribe” or “clan”. But I think it’s also a pun on the word “filial”, with its connotations of family.

The book posits, I believe correctly, that in the near future most nation states will have broken down. Many will have ceased to exist. It’s quite logical, because they’re a dysfunctional way for people to organize. And it’s happening right before our eyes. None of the countries in the Mid-East, Africa, or Central Asia have any coherence. They’re just the result of some ruler’s military prowess, or some politicians drawing lines on a distant map. Nation states themselves have really only been around since the 17th century. Before that, people weren’t loyal to a country; they were loyal to a chief, a king or an emperor.

To continue reading: Doug Casey on “The Diamond Age”