“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, March 05, 2012

Spain says: “NEIN" to the Germans

Spain's sovereign thunderclap and the end of Merkel's Europe

The Spanish rebellion has begun, sooner and more dramatically than I expected.
As many readers will already have seen, Premier Mariano Rajoy has refused point blank to comply with the austerity demands of the European Commission and the European Council (hijacked by Merkozy).

Taking what he called a "sovereign decision", he simply announced that he intends to ignore the EU deficit target of 4.4pc of GDP for this year, setting his own target of 5.8pc instead (down from 8.5pc in 2011).

In the twenty years or so that I have been following EU affairs closely, I cannot remember such a bold and open act of defiance by any state. Usually such matters are fudged. Countries stretch the line, but do not actually cross it.

With condign symbolism, Mr Rajoy dropped his bombshell in Brussels after the EU summit, without first notifying the commission or fellow EU leaders. Indeed, he seemed to relish the fact that he was tearing up the rule book and disavowing the whole EU machinery of budgetary control.

He is surely right to seize the initiative. Spain’s economy will contract by 1.7pc this year under his modified plans and unemployment will reach 24pc (or 29pc under the 1990s method of counting). To compound this with manic fiscal tightening – and no offsetting devaluation – is intellectually indefensible.

There comes a point when a democracy can no longer sacrifice its citizens to please reactionary ideologues determined to impose 1930s scorched-earth policies. Ya basta.
What is striking is the wave of support for Mr Rajoy from the Spanish commentariat.
This one from Pablo Sebastián left me speechless.

My loose translation:

"Spain isn’t any old country that will allow itself to be humiliated by the German Chancellor.”

"The behaviour of the European Commission towards Spain over recent days has been infamous and exceeds their treaty powers… these Eurocrats think they are the owners and masters of Spain.”

"Spain and other nations in the EU are sick and tired of Chancellor Merkel’s meddling and Germany’s usurpation – with the help of Sarkozy’s France and their pretended "executive presidency" that does not in fact exist in EU treaties.”

"Rajoy must not retreat one inch. The stakes are high and the country is in no mood to suffer humiliations from a Chancellor who is amassing all the savings of Europe and won’t listen to anybody, as if she were the absolute ruler of the Union. Merkel and the Commission should think hard before putting their hand into the sovereignty of this country – or any other – because it will be burned.”

This then is the fermenting mood in the fiercely proud and ancient nation of Spain in Year III of depression, probably the worst depression the country has seen since the 1640s – or have I missed a worse one?

As for the "Fiscal Compact", it is rendered a dead letter by Spanish actions.
Gracias a Dios. If the text were enforced, the consequences would be ruinous. It enshrines Hooverism in EU law, and imposes contractionary policies without the consent of future parliaments – including any future Bundestag. Indeed, it probably violates the German constitution.

But it won’t be enforced in any meaningful sense because the political realities of the EU are already intruding, and will intrude further. A president François Hollande of France will rip it up.
The Latin Bloc is awakening.


  1. A common currency, shared by separate, unique Nations, is an economic idiocy.

    No drunken, half-Cherokee hillbilly could come up with a scheme so bizarre, and incomprehensible.

  2. Hey if your are half-Cherokee, don’t discount the possibility that you are quarter-French.

  3. Wife’s Diary:

    Tonight, I thought my husband was acting weird. We had made plans to meet at a nice restaurant for dinner. I was shopping with my friends all day long, so I thought he was upset at the fact that I was a bit late, but he made no comment on it.
    Conversation wasn't flowing, so I suggested that we go somewhere quiet so we could talk. He agreed, but he didn't say much. I asked him what was wrong. He said, 'Nothing.' I asked him if it was my fault that he was upset. He said he wasn't upset, that it had nothing to do with me, and not to worry about it.

    On the way home, I told him that I loved him. He smiled slightly, and kept driving. I can't explain his behavior I don't know why he didn't say, 'I love you, too.
    ' When we got home, I felt as if I had lost him completely, as if he wanted nothing to do with me anymore. He just sat there quietly, and watched TV. He continued to seem distant and absent.
    Finally, with silence all around us, I decided to go to bed. About 15 minutes later, he came to bed. But I still felt that he was distracted, and his thoughts were somewhere else. He fell asleep; I cried. I don't know what to do. I'm almost sure that his thoughts are with someone else. My life is a disaster.

    Husband's Diary: A four putt; who the fuck four putts?

  4. A whole lifetime of experience in one joke. :)

    That's Great.

  5. Probably more like 1/8th.

    I always thought my paternal grandmother was full Cherokee, but my older brother informed me she was only one half.

    French? I doubt it. Her family came over from N. Georgia, I believe. Not many Frenchmen over there. More likely Irish, or English.

  6. Dances With Shadows is Mr. Excitement to live with!

  7. Dances With Shadows is Mr. Excitement to live with!


    Rufus II said...

    Tom Ridge may not know the whole story. Maybe we have a deal with Iran; "we don't delist the MEK, and you don't go in and kill'em all."

    Fri Mar 02, 08:44:00 AM EST

    Maybe Santa Claus will come on
    July 4 this year.

    I predict Fireworks will ensue.

  9. AKA,

    Obama appologist and supporter.

  10. If we have such a deal, Doug, I'm sure it was "cut" during the Bush regime.

  11. Limbaugh evaded the draft four times but was unsuccessful evading four marriages, three of which have ended. I listened to him but for the last seven years find him tedious. This is at least as stupid as the stunt Don Imus pulled.

    "At AOL one of our core values is that we act with integrity," the company wrote in a post on their corporate Facebook page. "We have monitored the unfolding events and have determined that Mr. Limbaugh's comments are not in line with our values. As a result we have made the decision to suspend advertising on The Rush Limbaugh Radio show."

    Other sponsors dropping spots from Limbaugh's show include mattress companies like Sleep Number and The Sleep Train, and companies that assist small businesses like Citrix, LegalZoom and QuickenLoans.

    One company, Carbonite, a data backup service, said feedback from customers led to the decision to remove advertising from Limbaugh's show. The company's CEO said Limbaugh's apology Saturday wasn't enough to put his company's ads back on the air.

    "No one with daughters the age of Sandra Fluke, and I have two, could possibly abide the insult and abuse heaped upon this courageous and well-intentioned young lady," Carbonite CEO David Friend said. "Mr. Limbaugh, with his highly personal attacks on Miss Fluke, overstepped any reasonable bounds of decency. Even though Mr. Limbaugh has now issued an apology, we have nonetheless decided to withdraw our advertising from his show. We hope that our action, along with the other advertisers who have already withdrawn their ads, will ultimately contribute to a more civilized public discourse."

    In his apology Saturday, Limbaugh admitted his "choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir."

    He added, "I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices."

    Appearing on the ABC program "The View" Monday, Fluke said Limbaugh's apology was issued under pressure from advertisers.

  12. .

    ...This is at least as stupid as the stunt Don Imus pulled.

    I find Limbaugh's comment worse than Imus' (not to make any excuses for Imus). To me, the Imus comment was a poor attempt at humor. It was stupid, though, given his prominance.

    I've also seen the video of Limbaugh. There was no attempt at humor there. He was trying to make a point albeit in his usual blundering way. It was stupid for the same reason as the Imus comment but on a different level.

    I also used to listen to Limbaugh when I was young and foolish. Not sure it was him who changed or me but I suspect it was him. It used to be funny when he would expound on how great he was; lately, he seems to have come to believe his own bull. As you said, he is quite tedious.

    At least, Imus had an entertaining show, not PC, but it wasn't meant to be.


  13. China has witnessed a spate of often violent protests in recent years over the seizure of farmland by local officials, who typically offer villagers token compensation, and then sell it on to property developers at market prices. The issue came to the fore last year when residents of the southern village of Wukan staged a revolt over an alleged land grab, forcing local authorities to sack village officials, freeze a property development, and hold fresh elections.

    One of the leaders of the Wukan rebellion was elected as village head over the weekend in a democratic vote—a remarkable turnaround that some analysts believe represents a potential new approach to social unrest.


    "Slower growth and slightly higher inflation is the new normal" for China, said Arthur Kroeber, managing director of GK Dragonomics, a Beijing economic consulting firm.

  14. Though Romney’s millions put him at a disadvantage, there’s a way out. “He needs to embrace his personal history and then joke about it,” says political scientist Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia.

    JFK was adept at this. When his father’s role in financing his campaign became an issue, he quoted his father as saying he’d be willing to buy the election, “but I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide.”

    Too bad Romney isn’t as witty as he is wealthy.

  15. The independent Russian elections watchdog Golos said today that incomplete reports from its observers of individual polling station counts contradicted the official vote count, indicating that Putin hovered perilously close to the 50-per cent mark needed for a first-round victory.

    "It's one pixel away from a second round," said Golos' Roman Udot.

    Putin's win was assured as he faced a weak slate of Kremlin-approved candidates and many across the vast country still see him as a guarantor of stability and the defender of a strong Russia against a hostile world, an image he has carefully cultivated during 12 years in power. He has denounced his foes as Western stooges working to weaken Russia.

  16. On this day in 1770, the Boston Massacre occurred.

  17. So Florida, Florida was the prize. Did Obama succeed?

    Would the alte kockers of West Palm and Boca return to the fold, tipping that giant swing state once more in the Democratic fold? It’s too early to tell, but I am not optimistic for the Republicans.


    Of course, if the Los Angeles Times were to release the Khalidi tape, it might be another matter. But as we all know, that publication has long ago forsworn even a modicum of journalistic responsibility, let alone mere curiosity.

    Seeing Obama Live

  18. This is why you can't run that pipeline right across the Sandhills, where the Ogalalla Aquifer comes right up to the surface:

    Sunken tar sinks to bottom

    As the lighter chemicals evaporated into the surrounding area, the bitumen portion began to sink to the bottom and become mixed with river sediments. Conventional clean-up equipment such as skimmers and oil booms proved useless in recovering the large amounts of submerged oil that now covers an area of river bottom estimated to be approximately 200 acres.

    "This was the first time the EPA or anyone has done a submerged cleanup of this magnitude," Ralph Dollhopf, the EPA Incident Commander for the Kalamazoo spill told the local media.

    "I would never have expected... that we would have spent two or three times longer working on the submerged oil than surface oil. I don't think anyone at the EPA anticipated that, I don't think anyone at the state level anticipated that, I don't think anyone in industry anticipated that."

    In the absence of any previous experience in dealing with spilled Alberta bitumen, the EPA had to "write the book" on figuring out how to recover large amounts of oil that doesn't float.

    A Bitumin Spill

  19. Some hard facts on China today …

    China has 19% of the world’s population, but consumes
    ... 53% of the world's cement
    ... 48% of the world's iron ore
    ... 47% of the world's coal

  20. Washington State fact #21:

    Washington has been host to the World’s Fair twice: 1962 in Seattle and 1974 in Spokane.

  21. According to Deuce's ol' buddy, Ambrosia (in an article, yesterday, in the Telegraph,) China is expected to put 125 Million more Cars on the road between now, and 2016.

    If they do that during a period of declining Domestic Oil Production, the pressure on the world's oil export market is going to be phenomenal.

  22. Dear Lord,
    I pray for Wisdom to understand my man; Love to forgive him; and Patience for his moods. Because, Lord, if I pray for Strength, I'll beat him to death.


  23. Lest Apple's parabolic rise suggest otherwise, the stock's typical weekly gain is nowhere near 2.9%. Had it kept that pace over the past decade, Apple would be worth some $29 trillion today, or around double all U.S. stocks—well beyond even the most-delusional Wall Street thesis.


    And when does the selling opportunity arise? Aside from the original iPhone, the average one-week performance after all iPhones or iPads actually went on sale was negative-3.5%.

    If history is any guide, maintaining Apple's pace of appreciation will be next to impossible. Anticipating a rare bout of weakness in its share price may not be.

  24. "We will be very nervous. Landing on another planet is not a walk in the park.

    It's very challenging and there have been mixed successes and failures in the past," said Charles Elachi, director of Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where the probe was designed and built.


    Asked whether Curiosity could finally answer the question about whether there was life on Mars, Dr Elachi replied: "Yeah, it could happen, if it's there."

    Mars Landing

  25. Just watched Netanyahu's speech.

    Sure looks like they'll be taking action soon.

  26. Hell's coming to breakfast Sam.

  27. An Iranian with Nuclear arms?

    That would be a game changer...

    Obama has all but told Israel he will do nothing, lead from behind that is.

    He used interesting dull words. He seemed to pat himself on the back a bunch and how if only the world could just see how genius he was...

  28. What did Rove say to Bush?

    'There's nothing like a good war to guarantee re-election.'

    Something like that.

  29. .

    'There's nothing like a good war to guarantee re-election.'

    When's the last time we had a good war?