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Monday, April 30, 2012

France v. Germany, take III


Hollande's 'Growth Bloc' spells end of German hegemony in Europe

For two years Germany has had its way in Europe, treating historic nations much as Bismarck treated Bavaria – sovereign only in name.


5:32PM BST 29 Apr 2012

The French-led counter-attack and rumblings of revolt through every branch of the EU institutions last week have brought this aberrant phase of the eurozone crisis to an abrupt end.
"It’s not for Germany to decide for the rest of Europe," said François Hollande, soon to be French leader, unless he trips horribly next week. Strong words even for the hustings.
"If I am elected president, there will be a change in Europe's construction. We’re not just any country: we can change the situation," he said.
European allies are flocking to his cause from left and right, he claims. Not even Austria supports Germany’s austerity drive any longer.
This then is the birth of a Euroland growth bloc with well over 200m people and a commanding majority vote in the European Council, a defining moment in this saga. Mario Draghi at the European Central Bank is quickly bending to the new political dispensation with calls for a "Growth Compact". The Commission - liberated at last - is finding ways to "extend deadlines" on fiscal targets.

The French-led counter-attack and rumblings of revolt through every branch of the EU institutions last week have brought this aberrant phase of the eurozone crisis to an abrupt end.
"It’s not for Germany to decide for the rest of Europe," said François Hollande, soon to be French leader, unless he trips horribly next week. Strong words even for the hustings.
"If I am elected president, there will be a change in Europe's construction. We’re not just any country: we can change the situation," he said.
European allies are flocking to his cause from left and right, he claims. Not even Austria supports Germany’s austerity drive any longer.
This then is the birth of a Euroland growth bloc with well over 200m people and a commanding majority vote in the European Council, a defining moment in this saga. Mario Draghi at the European Central Bank is quickly bending to the new political dispensation with calls for a "Growth Compact". The Commission - liberated at last - is finding ways to "extend deadlines" on fiscal targets.
Mr Hollande plans an EU-wide call for renegotiation of Europe’s punitive pact on his first day in the Elysée. For this he was instantly rebuked by Angela Merkel. Pacta Sunt Servanda. "The treaty cannot be renegotiated," she said, forgetting the Kohl maxim that every German chancellor must bow three times before the Tricoleur.
The unratified treaty can of course be renegotiated, or disappear into the dustbin where such reactionary rubbish belongs. Mrs Merkel cannot push it through the Bundestag in any case without the Social Democrats, who are warming to Mr Hollande.
Mrs Merkel will have to relearn the forgotten art of compromise. Unable to dictate terms, she may struggle to deflect the ruinous implications of monetary union onto other EMU countries for much longer.
It is worth remembering that German taxpayers have not yet bailed out anybody, whatever they may believe. Berlin has rejected all forms of debt pooling, Eurobonds, or fiscal transfers, understandably since full budgetary union would violate Germany’s constitution and eviscerate their democracy.
Chancellor Merkel has agreed only to a "Stability Union", with greater power to police debtor states. The rescues for Greece, Ireland, and Portugal are loan packages at stiff interest, not grants.
I heard an official from the chamber of industry and trade (DIHK) say with disarming candour that the euro has put Germany in an almost perfect position, even if the single currency was thrust upon a reluctant German nation in the first place - and even if 56pc would prefer a return to the D-Mark now. "Imagine how strong the D-mark would be today and how much higher interest rates would be if we weren’t in the euro."
This is true. It is also a surreal state of affairs. Germany cannot ride a perpetual trade surplus with Club Med without blowing up the system (which must balance), nor can it hope to escape the inflationary revenge of such a policy mix on its own internal economy. The advantage is a short-term illusion, a trap.
It is remarkable that Berlin has met so little resistance until now in driving through a fiscal treaty that puts all the burden of resolving EMU imbalances on the weaker states, and that almost no country wants; or in enforcing its lethal doctrine of "expansionary fiscal contraction" on economies trapped in debt-deflation; or in toppling elected leaders in Greece and Italy; or in imposing bondholder haircuts in Greece against warnings from the ECB - warnings soon realised as contagion engulfed Ireland, and now threatens to engulf Spain too, with Italy yoked in tandem, and France yoked in turn through trade and debt exposure.
This catalogue of misjudgement was possible only because Nicolas Sarkozy went along at every stage rather than deploy France’s swing power in the EU system to call a halt. He sacrificed all for the illusion of Franco-German parity.
Let me be clear, fiscal tightening is necessary, but not beyond the therapeutic dose of 1pc of GDP in net cuts each year, not combined with a shrinking money supply and a collapse in loan demand, and not imposed before southern Europe reaches "escape velocity".
The EU’s policy mix ignores a century of economic history and science. The result is an entirely avoidable slide into a double-dip slump across half of Europe, a depression of choice so to speak. As the Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said over the weekend, Spain is now in a crisis of "huge proportions".
Premier Mariano Rajoy had hoped to repeat the turn-around 'milagro’ of the mid-1990s when Spain came back from the dead to meet the entry terms for EMU, that cruelly Pyrrhic achievement. But it was a booming world then. The peseta had just been devalued, and nobody was questioning the solvency of EU sovereign states. Mr Rajoy must by now see the error of that comparison. Unemployment has risen by 400,000 to 24.4pc since he took office before Christmas.
Note that Standard & Poor’s did not cite lack of fiscal rigour when it cut Spain’s credit rating two notches to BBB+ last week. It blamed "economic contraction", fragile banks, and the incoherence of EU policies. Will Mr Rajoy really grind his country into collapse with two more years of fiscal squeeze when rating agencies say it will not help anyway?
Neil Mellor from BNY Mellon said the latest blows are pushing Spain "toward a point of no return". We will find out next at Thursday’s auction whether Spanish banks can absorb much more of their own country’s debt. If not, the crisis will quicken since almost nobody else is buying.
It is obvious what must be done. The contraction policies must be halted immediately. Nominal GDP growth must be restored to its trend line by monetary means. The ECB must be given treaty powers to act as a genuine lender of last resort, able to intervene with sufficient force to take all risk of sovereign default off the table in Spain and Italy.
The Latin Bloc might politely tell Berlin: acquiesce in the new landscape, or expect Latin Europe to take matters into its own hands and bring about the fiscal, monetary, and exchange conditions needed to safeguard its societies - entailing a very nasty shock for German banks and exporters.
No such showdown is about to happen of course. Mr Hollande is an Enarque at heart, easily bidable. He may be fobbed off with a bigger role for the European Investment Bank. Italy's Mario Monti is a true-believer in the European Project. He wants "targeted investments" to lift short-term demand, not revolution. The EU elites will try to muddle through. If policy is loosened enough, they may just succeed.
Yet the mood has at least changed. The faintly Petaniste era of Merkozy is over. "There will be no more talk of a virtuous North and a sinner South. There will be a Europe of countries with their history and character, each with their strengths and weaknesses," said Hollande ally Arnaud Montebourg.
As for Germany, we will find out what its pro-European rhetoric means when it no longer calls the shots. Or put another way, the epicentre of Europe's political crisis may soon be Germany itself.

50 comments:

  1. I'm sure the original architects of the Euro looked at Mississippi, and Massachusetts, and thought: "if they can share a currency, so can Germany, and Greece."

    Bzzzt. Wrong.

    That analogy was too superficial by a couple of magnitudes. Thus lies their problem. A common currency between two distinct, dissimilar nations is an economic idiocy. It won't, and in the long run, can't, work. They've got themselves into a hell of a mess, and they won't get out of it any time soon.

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  2. I feel like this should be a movie - with a title like "Against All Odds," or something.

    Personal Income, and Spending Up Again

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  3. Auto Sales are helping. New Vehicle Mileage is now up to 24.1 MPG. (It was 20.2 just a few years ago.)

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  4. (Reuters) - U.S. hospitals are ripping out wall-mounted toilets and replacing them with floor models to better support obese patients. The Federal Transit Administration wants buses to be tested for the impact of heavier riders on steering and braking. Cars are burning nearly a billion gallons of gasoline more a year than if passengers weighed what they did in 1960.

    The nation's rising rate of obesity has been well-chronicled. But businesses, governments and individuals are only now coming to grips with the costs of those extra pounds, many of which are even greater than believed only a few years ago: The additional medical spending due to obesity is double previous estimates and exceeds even those of smoking, a new study shows.

    Link

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  5. The first step is to say: It is not OK.

    Medical insurance and airline tickets should be priced by the pound. Talk about excess baggage.

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  6. .


    Recently, Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, testified before the House Budget Committee on the growth of the 10-largest “means tested” federal programs that serve people who qualify by various definitions of poverty. Here’s what Haskins reported: From 1980 to 2011, annual spending on these programs grew from $126 billion to $626 billion (all figures in inflation-adjusted “2011 dollars”); dividing this by the number of people below the government poverty line, spending went from $4,300 per poor person in 1980 to $13,000 in 2011. In 1962, spending per person in poverty was $516...




    The larger lesson is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, American politics have not become insensitive to the “the people.” In many ways, just the opposite is true. Politicians are too responsive to popular will. The real Washington is in the business of pleasing as many people as possible for as long as possible. There are now vast constituencies dependent on the largesse of the federal government. This is the main cause of huge “structural” budget deficits, meaning that they aren’t simply a hangover from the Great Recession.

    There are many sophisticated theories today about why politics have become so polarized and immobilized. Ideologues have captured both parties, it’s said; primary challenges by right- and left-wing zealots doom centrists; cable television and the Internet favor simplistic, highly partisan rhetoric and argument. Political divisions are accentuated; consensus becomes harder. There’s something to these theories, but they also subtly misrepresent and excuse our present paralysis.

    More promises were made than can be kept without raising taxes, which — for the most part — were also subject to bipartisan promises against increases. Almost everyone agrees that massive budget deficits pose a long-term economic threat, though no can be precise about how or when the threat might emerge. A central question about our political system is whether, after decades of making more promises to more groups, it can withdraw some promises to minimize the threat...



    Can Washington Change


    The obvious lesson is that once the government gives someone something it's almost impossible for them to take it away.


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    1. Except for the poor farmers.


      b

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    2. "the Internet favor simplistic, highly partisan rhetoric and argument."

      b

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    3. Doesn't apply here of course.

      b

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    4. And programs for the poor pale beside middle-class transfers. The giants here are Social Security at $725 billion in 2011 and Medicare at $560 billion. Combine all this spending -- programs for the poor, Social Security and Medicare — and the total is nearly $2.1 trillion. That was about 60 percent of 2011 non-interest federal spending of $3.4 trillion.

      Another way of parsing the numbers:

      The largest "middle class transfer" programs of SS and Medicare spending is $1.3 trillion or 38% of "non-interest federal spending."

      The remaining programs for the poor are 22% of "non-interest federal spending."

      For comparison, the interest on the 2011 debt is $450 billion, which introduces the subject of unfunded military engagements and bank bailouts.

      SS can be adjusted to correlate with modern demographic trend lines. I predict this will happen relatively soon (in Beltway years.)

      The biggest "entitlement" problem is - and has been for the last decade - health care. One need not posit an overly generous federal government in need of a paradigm shift.

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    5. .

      The biggest "entitlement" problem is - and has been for the last decade - health care. One need not posit an overly generous federal government in need of a paradigm shift.


      I disagree.

      It is true that the author is trying to repudiate the myth of a one sided government trying to stick it to the little guy and that he ignores those programs and policies that favor the rich and influential.

      But there is a larger point some appear to miss, the trend, a trend that has been there for decades. Whether it is pell grants or food stamps or the Bush tax cuts or the Bush drug benefits under medicare, the government continues to give people (regardless of economic class) more than it can afford to.

      You can argue about politics and priorities and the allocations of resources but, bottom line, I would argue that we do in fact have to posit an overly generous federal government in need of a paradigm shift.

      Unfortunately, my point stands. Once the government gives someone something it's almost impossible for them to take it away.

      Nature of the beast.

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    6. Whether it is pell grants or food stamps or the Bush tax cuts or the Bush drug benefits under medicare, the government continues to give people (regardless of economic class) more than it can afford to.

      This country was affording it fine until around 2005 or so when the ME wars, Medicare Prescription Plan Part D, and the 2008 market collapse destabilized the balance. Historically, federal revenues hovered around 18% GDP while expenditures varied between 18% and 22% GDP. Now revenues are at 15% GDP with expenditures at 24% GDP. The accounting is out of historical balance, not due to government over-promising its constituents, but due to government over-commiting to foreign engagements and failing to monitor the Wall St "money lenders."

      Table (link)



      That is the Nature of the Beast.

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    7. .

      A cogent argument and, based on historical trends, one hard to argue with; but as you would likely expected, I still will.

      To discuss this in full would probably take all day; therefore, I will merely list a few dot points in rebuttal to your argument. You can pick which you disagree with and we can discuss them or we can get into the entire list. This is my understanding of your argument: the government has not overcommitted to its constituents in the past. The current problems are created by aberrations; war, lack of regulatory oversight, and Medicare Part D. (Since you said ‘its constituents’, I assume you mean all constituents so I will not restrict my case to ‘guns or butter’ or any specific allocation of resources arguments but instead stick with the broad subject of overcommitting.)

      First, on the general topic of overcommitting resources:
      I have stated that the current paradigm involves a government that over-promises and over-spends. You argue that in the past we have done just fine and will again do fine as soon as we return to the historical trend line.

      My response is based on three issues; past spending trends, a response to your argument on aberrations, and future projections.

      Spending trends (past 30 years):

      There was a four year period under Clinton where we ran surpluses but they resulted from the cost benefits of ending the Cold War, the dot-com boom, and a reduction in some of the benefits you’ve indicated we could afford. Other than that, starting with Reagan, we went from tax and spend to borrow and spend in this country. That trend blossomed under Bush and continues to be expanded under Obama.

      Examples could take pages, but as one example from the article I posted you will note that despite ‘welfare reform’ in the 1990’s the largest means tested poverty programs have increased 400% in real terms over the past 30 years. Military expenditures have doubled, this despite the fact that the Cold War ended in 1989 and we have for some time been in the process of building a ‘leaner/meaner’ military. If we continue through all budget items, the list of what I would consider over-promising would grow quite large. However, to avoid an argument about the past, I will merely grant you that we handled everything on our plate until 2005. The reason I listed the examples above is to point out the trend and because of your contention that when we get back to historical trend lines we will be ok.

      (continued below)

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    8. .

      (continued from previous post)

      Current Situation:

      You argue our current situation results from aberrations; wars, lack of financial regulatory control, and Medicare part D with the implication being that once we are past these we will be back on track and can resume our past course without fear. I guess I am unconvinced.

      It’s true the Iraq war is winding down and Afghanistan is on a course to do the same, but military costs are still budgeted to be about 20% of the budget, over $700 billion. Mandatory cuts due to the failure of the supercommittee to reach a compromise, will result in the military getting annual cuts of about $60 billion but then so will the other programs you indicate we can afford.

      Of course, all of this is speculative until it actually happens. The CBO re-calibration of Obamacare costs is a recent example. And given the current political gridlock in DC, the partisan positions, and the elections, it is hard to predict what will happen this year, much less 30 years down the road.

      As for financial regulatory control, you seem to forget the lessons of the past. It seems like every 10 years or so we run into a financial crisis, the S&L fiasco, the Japanese property bubble, the dot-com bubble, the sub-prime bubble, the Asian currency crisis, defaults in Latin America and Russia, etc. True, 2008 was the mother of all financial crises but what makes you think we have learned anything from it. You have yourself pointed out the risk floating around the world due to derivatives. Dodd-Frank is a joke and the GOP is doing everything in their power to emasculate even those meek provisions. Some of the banks involved in the bailouts are back running their business in exactly the same way as before the crisis. Too big to fail? Many of them are bigger than ever.

      Medicare Part D? You prove my point. Part D was a benefit we couldn’t afford. It was promised but not funded. And it is not going away. In fact, under Obamacare it is getting more generous with the elimination of the donut-hole.

      Going Forward:

      You project a return to a historical trend line that to my mind is impossible to achieve without major cuts in what you have indicated are programs and benefits we ought to be able to afford. I think you are ignoring a number of macro factors:

      • The trend. I’ve given some examples of us over-promising. You can add Medicare Part D to the list.
      • Projections. Your historical trend line is based on GDP growth of 3-3.5%. Going forward, from a few years hence we can expect the GDP growth rate to be reduced to about 2.5%. (Two key factors generating GDP are work force size and productivity.)
      • Work Force Size. Historically, the average unemployment rate is 4-5%. We are now at 8% and due to various factors associated with the recent recession, many are predicting that our new normal will be 7%. This is in addition to the number of Boomers leaving the workforce. Whereas, immigration is an offset we can usually count on, current immigration is flat and, with the expanding of developing countries’ economies, is hard to predict. The Boomer pig won’t be through the snake until 1932.
      • Productivity. Productivity is also hard to predict. It ran at 1.5% from 1970 – 1995 and jumped to 2.5% from 1995-2007. The latter number was helped by the IT spurt that really started in the 90’s. However, a good portion of the latest gains were tied to companies dumping workers.
      • Transition to a Service Economy…… Well this is already way too long.

      (continued below)

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    9. .

      Let me summarize.

      1. The US has many constituencies (the poor, the middle class, agriculture, the military, etc.) and in my opinion has been, for decades, over-promising these various constituencies.

      2. And despite what can be coped with in the short run, this over-promising and over-spending will catch up with you eventually and you will need to change the paradigm.

      3. At some point based on changing assumptions, you have to stop assuming that you can return to historical trend lines without a major paradigm shift.

      We can get into taxes, but that would take forever. Doing away with the Bush tax cuts would help mitigate the problems; however, they would not eliminate them. At some point, we have to stop the short term thinking and quit promising everything to everyone.

      .

      .


      (continued from previous post above)

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  7. .

    Experts Believe Iran Conflict Is Less Likely

    After a winter of alarm over the possibility that a military conflict over the Iranian nuclear program might be imminent, American officials and outside analysts now believe that the chances of war in the near future have significantly decreased.

    They cite a series of factors that, for now, argue against a conflict. The threat of tighter economic sanctions has prompted the Iranians to try more flexible tactics in their dealings with the United States and other powers, while the revival of direct negotiations has tempered the most inflammatory talk on all sides.

    A growing divide in Israel between political leaders and military and intelligence officials over the wisdom of attacking Iran has begun to surface. And the White House appears determined to prevent any confrontation that could disrupt world oil markets in an election year...


    Everything is Coming up Roses

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    1. what is OccupationMon Apr 30, 03:35:00 PM EDT

      dont bet on it...

      a long hot summer is ahead and Iran is still on a war path...

      like it or not.

      Delete
    2. I don't agree with the article either.


      Just posted it.

      b

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  8. .

    One major outcome of the Arab Spring is the return of medievalism. Medievalism in this context is the return of tribal, religious and sectarian political formations and other political forms to replace the nation-state order and its institutions.


    The US seems to be happy with medievalism. Obama’s failure vis-à-vis the Syrian crisis should be understood as a display of American contentment with the new medievalism in the Middle East. Of course, the “tacit” (!) US support of Maliki, the leader of the Iraqi Shiites, is the other brilliant example. And, most ironically, Israel has almost been transformed from a modern state into a kind of “Jewish tribe” in its foreign policy by various radicals like Avigdor Lieberman.

    Return of medievalism in Middle East

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  9. .

    Four Shocks That Could Change China

    In the past four months, the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) has experienced four shocks that could materially affect, if not eventually end, its “leading role” in Chinese society.

    First, on December 13 of last year, a mob of villagers forced out local party leaders and the police and took control of the town of Wukan. Enraged by illegal land grabs and police brutality, the villagers installed their own representatives after gaining concessions from national authorities. The Wukan uprising is symbolic of the two hundred thousand mass protests reported for 2010...



    Two hundred thousand mass protests in 2010?


    Four Shocks

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  10. This may make rufus's blood boil. Seems the evidence suggests peak oil is more myth than anything:

    "Our world’s not coasting on empty after all

    Published 40 years ago, the Club of Rome’s cataclysmic environmental bestseller The Limits to Growth heralded the imminent end of human progress. Written by five Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists, the book asserted – with relentlessly Malthusian logic – that the world was heading toward global economic collapse. For many people, the assertion made sense. For many people, it still does. An ever-rising world population must inexorably deplete the world’s finite resources. Doesn’t it?

    In a retrospective analysis, U.S. economist Charles Kenny, senior fellow with the Washington-based Center for Global Development, says the world isn’t coasting on empty. Quite the contrary, he says. “The biggest concern isn’t that the planet is running out of resources – it’s having too many for the planet’s own good.”

    ..."

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/commentary/neil-reynolds/our-worlds-not-coasting-on-empty-after-all/article2416024/

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  11. Blood boiling? Why. If they can look at the fact that the world is producing the same amount of oil it was in 2005 (despite a more than doubling of prices,) and conclude that we're "just a'swimmin'" in oil, why should I get all riled up? Just bein' an old ignorant country bumpkin, and all.

    You, however, should get tired, eventually, of having your intelligence insulted. Or, maybe not.

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  12. Replies
    1. "The book’s most alarming prediction, of course, dealt with oil – which, it said, would be irretrievably depleted by 2022 – a mere decade from now – at the latest. Yet, “the World Energy Council reports that global proven recoverable reserves of natural gas liquids and crude oil amounted to 1.2 trillion barrels in 2010,” Mr. Kenny says. “That’s enough to last another 38 years at current usage. Add in shale oil, and that’s an additional 4.8 trillion barrels, or a century and a half’s worth of supply at present usage rates. Tar sands, including some huge Canadian deposits, add perhaps six trillion barrels more.”"

      God forbid you should ever test your assumptions.

      Delete
    2. I've been reading such silliness for the last five years, Ash. Oil is either $120.00/bbl, or it isn't. It will either be higher next year, or it won't.

      BTW, nat gas is up 20% since my first call a couple of weeks ago. Or perhaps you haven't noticed.

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    3. Peak Oil has to do with "Flow Rate," not Reserves.

      And, you couldn't get 4.8 Trillion Barrels out of all the shale in the world if you fracked it with a nuclear bomb.

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    4. a century and a half’s worth of supply at present usage rates

      Always a dead give-away. Under any scenario, except Armageddon, power demand will double at a minimum (including energy required for next generation of fossil fuel extraction technologies). At a minimum. That cuts the estimate to 75 years. Coupled with skepticism of the 5 trillion barrels (??) and you're back to a more realistic timeline of 30-40 years.

      Delete
  13. Replies
    1. There are no finer than the Swedish Polis.

      (except they are afraid to go into the moslem areas)

      b

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  14. Chavez is getting religion. Back to Cuba for more treatment, is pictured kissing cross.

    I would too if I had to go to Cuba.

    b

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  15. .



    It's always tough to predict what will happen 10 years from now, much less 20 or 30.

    And assumptions can be a little misleading. For instance, many pundits say the reduction is gasoline usage in the US is due to the high price of gas. But is that the only reason?

    There have been big improvements in the efficiency (i.e. quantity) of raw materials used in many products. Likewise, the auto companies fleet mileage has risen substantially in the past ten years. And consumer attitudes are changing.

    I saw details of young people’s driving habits and how they are changing. The following link talks about one study. The study I saw had some more detail. It mentioned that whereas around 70% of teenagers used to get drivers licenses by age 17, now that is down to 50%. As I recall, in the 18-24 year old bracket, it went from about 95% to 83%. The PIRG study below speaks to some of the reasons.

    href="http://dc.streetsblog.org/2012/04/05/u-s-pirg-report-young-americans-dump-cars-for-bikes-buses/

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  16. Linky no worky for me.

    But the reason must be, the new cars are so small they are not sex friendly.

    b

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    1. .

      Bob, tried to put up the link but couldn't. See I didn't pull everything off.

      Ignore href=" . [link] http://dc.streetsblog.org/2012/04/05/u-s-pirg-report-young-americans-dump-cars-for-bikes-buses/


      You could be right about the car size. Or, it could be they are engaging in 'virtual' sex. I haven't kept up on how 'smart' these phones are these days.

      My cell phone is at least 10 years old.

      .

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    2. Virtual sex is the best kind.


      No pregnancies.

      b

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  17. Spain has joined seven other euro-zone economies in recession, according to data released Monday, providing further evidence that austerity policies are failing to regenerate confidence in the region's economies and heightening pressure on the government as the country braces for a week of antiausterity protests.

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  18. According to the Obama campaign, the video will be played at President Obama's first campaign rallies on Saturday.

    Republicans are attempting to co-opt the slogan on social media, with RNC Press Secretary Kirsten Kukowski sending out nine bullet points, including: "Under Obama's budget, Americans can look #FORWARD to $1.9 trillion in higher taxes."

    Referencing the Fox slogan "Fair and Balanced," MSNBC Morning Joe anchor Joe Scarborough quipped this morning: "So is Mitt Romney's slogan going to be 'Balanced'? ... They're taking MSNBC's slogan."

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  19. Our commie commander in chief has chosen the word "Forward!" as the new campaign slogan.

    Comrades!

    article is here -

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/inside-politics/2012/apr/30/new-obama-slogan-has-long-ties-marxism-socialism/

    No pasaran!

    Nosotros topas sique avanzando sin perder una palma de torreno!

    bob

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    Replies
    1. More on sloganeering at this site -

      http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2012/04/obamas_new_slogan.html

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    2. Nice pictures of slogans at this site -

      http://legalinsurrection.com/2011/09/obamas-speech-to-a-joint-session-of-bumper-stickers/

      There's one in there that says, if you look closely,

      Park your soul with us-SRU

      and then some telephone number out of state

      b

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  20. Weakened though it may be, al-Qa'ida will not fade from the headlines. This is partly because headline writers have got used to its existence as a universal bogeyman.

    ...

    US counter-terrorism and intelligence officers say that al-Qa'ida could never again carry out an onslaught as devastating as 9/11. They may well be right.

    On the other hand, the very length of time it took for the US to find Bin Laden and his family, though they had been living in the same house for years, may show that their own level of competence, in contrast to their numbers and budgets, has not improved much since the World Trade Centre was destroyed.

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  21. It’s not clear whether lack of a presidential assassination in the years since 1963 is the result of luck, the excellence of the Service, or the ineptitude of would-be assassins. Whatever the reason, we should be thankful —political violence is an attack not only on politicians but on democracy itself.

    In Kennedy’s case, by the time the public found out about the early-morning carousing, it was too late.

    The quote is attributed to Casey Stengel that it wasn’t sex that hurt his baseball players, it was staying up all night looking for it. For the Secret Service, the stakes are even higher than they were for the Mets or the Yankees.

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  22. On this day in 1803, the U.S. bought the Louisiana Territory from France for about $15 million.

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    Replies
    1. Napoleon couldn't defend it, and needed the money.

      b

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  23. Contrast and compare -

    “While contemplating how the killing of bin Laden reflects on the president, consider the way he emphasized his own role in the hazardous mission accomplished by SEAL Team 6:

    “‘I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority . . . even as I continued our broader effort. . . . Then, after years of painstaking work by my intelligence community I was briefed . . . I met repeatedly with my national security team . . . And finally last week I determined that I had enough intelligence to take action. . . . Today, at my direction . . .’

    “The man from whom President Obama has sought incessantly to distance himself, George W. Bush, also had occasion during his presidency to announce to the nation a triumph of intelligence: the capture of Saddam Hussein. He called that success ‘a tribute to our men and women now serving in Iraq.’ He attributed it to “the superb work of intelligence analysts who found the dictator’s footprints in a vast country. The operation was carried out with skill and precision by a brave fighting force. Our servicemen and women and our coalition allies have faced many dangers. . . . Their work continues, and so do the risks.’…

    “He did mention himself at the end: ‘Today, on behalf of the nation, I thank the members of our Armed Forces and I congratulate them.’”


    from Hot Air

    b

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  24. Amid the banking industry's relentless belt-tightening, even Bank of America Corp.'s moneymakers aren't safe.

    The Charlotte, N.C., company is planning about 2,000 staff cuts in its investment banking, commercial banking and non-U.S. wealth-management units, said people familiar with the situation.

    ReplyDelete
  25. the Norwegian
    Wrestler


    Ole, the Norwegian wrestler, and a huge Russian were set to square off for theOlympic Gold Medal.

    Before the final match, the Norwegian wrestling coach came to Ole and said,"Now, don't forget all the research we've done on this Russian. He's never lost a match because of this 'pretzel' hold he has. Whatever you do, do notlet him get you in that hold! If he does, you're finished."

    Ole nodded in acknowledgment.

    As the match started, Ole and the Russian circled each other several times,looking for an opening.
    All of a sudden, the Russian lunged forward, grabbing Ole and wrapped him up in the dreaded pretzel hold.

    A sigh of disappointment arose from the crowd, and the coach buried his facein his hands.

    Suddenly, there was a scream, then a cheer from the crowd. The coach raisedhis eyes just in time to watch the Russian go flying up in the air. His back hit the mat with a thud, and Ole collapsed on top of him making the pinand winning the match.

    The crowd went crazy. The coach was astounded.

    When he got his wrestler alone, he asked, "How did you ever get out of thathold? No one has ever done it before!"

    Ole answered, "Vell, I vas ready to give up ven he got me in dat hold, butat da last moment, I opened my eyes and saw dis pair of nuts dangling right in front of my face. I had nuthin' to lose, so vid my last ounce of strength Istretched out my neck and bit dose babies just as hard as I could."

    The trainer exclaimed, "So that's what finished him off!"

    "Vel, not really," said Ole. "You'd be amazed how strong you get ven youbite your own nuts!"

    ReplyDelete
  26. Did you [fill in the blank]?

    What blank? I don't see no blank.

    That's Bush's blank.

    Forward!

    Balanced!

    Would you like your blanks mashed, hashed, fried, baked, pureed, stewed or burnt to a crisp?

    Metaphorically, I blanked.



    Nope.

    ReplyDelete