Remember the days when Fox News mocked John Kerry for being too French? When we were supposed to boycott France? That was so last decade! Now that France's high court has overturned a measure raising taxes on the wealthiest, Fox News wants us to take a lesson from them. Just pay no attention to the fact that France was proposing a tax rate of 75% on its highest earners, much higher than anything being proposed here.
Guest host Juliet Huddy announced on Fox & Friends this morning that President Obama "may want to look across the pond for some guidance." Never mind that France's measure was overturned on a technicality. Fox News producers called this a "defeat for socialism" in its banner on the lower third.
As the three cheered the results for those French "job creators," host Dave Briggs offered a suggestion for Americans: "Perhaps there's a lesson learned here."
Who knows, maybe Fox will be raving about Marco Rubio's or Jeb Bush's "Je ne sais pas quoi" in a few years!
ATHENS — Greek voters on Sunday gave a narrow victory in parliamentary elections to a party that had supported a bailout for the country’s failed economy. The vote was widely seen as a last chance for Greece to remain in the euro zone, and the results had an early rallying effect on world markets.
Greece’s choice was also welcomed by the finance ministers of the euro zone countries, who in a statement on Sunday night in Brussels said the outcome of the vote “should allow for the formation of a government that will carry the support of the electorate to bring Greece back on a path of sustainable growth.”
While the election afforded Greece a brief respite from a rapid downward spiral, it is not likely to prevent a showdown between the next government and the country’s so-called troika of foreign creditors — the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund — over the terms of a bailout agreement. Even the most pro-Europe of Greece’s political parties, the conservative New Democracy, which came in first, has said that a less austere agreement is crucial to a country where the unemployment rate is 22 percent and the prospect of social unrest is rising.
PARIS — President François Hollande’s Socialists and their allies won an absolute majority in runoff parliamentary elections on Sunday, strengthening the hand of Mr. Hollande both at home and in Europe, where he is pressing for less austerity and more growth in the face of a deepening recession.
He will travel to the Group of 20 summit meeting in Mexico on Monday with his authority reinforced as a spokesman for the European left and a proponent for economic stimulus and job creation.
Mr. Hollande will also be able to keep a Socialist government and pass legislation with little difficulty, without having to rely on the far left, which is more antagonistic to the European Union. Nor will he need to rely on the support of the Greens.
According to projections from partial vote counts, the Socialists’ parliamentary bloc obtained 296 to 321 seats — considerably more than the 289 needed for a majority in the National Assembly. The Greens are expected to win 20 seats, and the far left is likely to take 10.
Europe is at a crossroads now, and you can rest assured that the Powers That Be will be trying to influence the new leadership in whatever friendly way they can to change their minds about austerity - and in some not-so-friendly ways as well. The reality is, governments usually do what the IMF and the World Bank "persuade" them to do. The persuading has probably already begun:
Socialist Francois Hollande defeated conservative incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy today to become France's next president, heralding a change in how Europe tackles its debt crisis and how France flexes its military and diplomatic muscle around the world.
Exuberant, diverse crowds filled the Place de la Bastille, the iconic plaza of the French Revolution, to fete Hollande's victory, waving French, European and labor union flags and climbing its central column. Leftists are overjoyed to have one of their own in power for the first time since Socialist Francois Mitterrand was president from 1981 to 1995.
"Austerity can no longer be inevitable!" Hollande declared in his victory speech Sunday night after a surprising campaign that saw him transform from an unremarkable, mild figure to an increasingly statesmanlike one.
Sarkozy is the latest victim of a wave of voter anger at government spending cuts around Europe that have tossed out governments and leaders over the past couple of years.
[...] Hollande inherits an economy that's a driver of the European Union but is deep in debt. He wants more government stimulus, and more government spending in general, despite concerns in the markets that France needs to urgently trim its huge debt.
While some market players have worried about a Hollande presidency, Jeffrey Bergstrand, professor of finance at the University of Notre Dame, said it's a good thing that Hollande will push for more spending throughout Europe to stimulate the economy.
Europe is "going into a really serious and poor situation," Bergstrand said. Hollande "is going to become the speaker for those countries that want to do something about economic growth."
Meanwhile, the situation in Greece after yesterday's election is much more volatile as long as they remain chained to the euro. The country is dependent on loans from the European Union and the IMF just to survive, and they will release those funds only if Greece continues to beggar her own people:
In a surprise result, Greece's Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza, which seeks to annul the austerity program, saw its share of the vote more than triple, to 16.2% of the vote and 50 seats—making it the second-largest party in parliament, the ministry projections showed.
Greece's Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza, saw its share of the vote more than triple to 15.5%-18.5%-making it the second-largest party in parliament, exit polls showed. Alkman Granitsas reports from Athens.
It is perhaps not a coincidence that the austerity shock troops have imposed their will on most of the Western world, steadily driving down wages, shredding safety nets and producing a growing, more permanent class of the working poor. But let's look at the bright side — once people are desperate enough, we're competitive with the Third World!
Europe’s long-running euro crisis may be cooling. But the economic distress it has left in its wake is pushing a rising tide of workers into precarious straits in France and across the European Union. Today, hundreds of thousands of people are living in campgrounds, vehicles and cheap hotel rooms. Millions more are sharing space with relatives, unable to afford the basic costs of living.
These people are the extreme edge of Europe’s working poor: a growing slice of the population that is slipping through Europe’s long-vaunted social safety net. Many, particularly the young, are trapped in low-paying or temporary jobs that are replacing permanent ones destroyed in Europe’s economic downturn.
Now, economists, European officials and social watchdog groups are warning that the situation is set to worsen. As European governments respond to the crisis by pushing for deep spending cuts to close budget gaps and greater flexibility in their work forces, “the population of working poor will explode,” said Jean-Paul Fitoussi, an economics professor at L’Institut d’Études Politiques in Paris.
To most Europeans, and especially the French, it seems this should not be happening. With generous minimum wage laws and the world’s strongest welfare systems, Europeans are accustomed to thinking they are more protected from a phenomenon they associate with the United States and other laissez-faire economies.
But the European welfare state, designed to ensure that those without jobs are provided with a basic income, access to health care and subsidized housing, is proving ill-prepared to deal with the steady increase in working people who do not make enough to get by.
The trend is most alarming in hard-hit countries like Greece and Spain, but it is rising even in more prosperous nations like France and Germany.
As CBS reported, in Dayton this weekend an Army mother asked Governor Romney what he could do to speed her daughter back from Afghanistan. Romney, who has opposed President Obama's timeline for drawing down troops there, responded by blasting the Commander-in-Chief (around the 2:00 minute mark above):
[Mrs. Chura said] "There is no mission here. We have no definition of a mission."
Romney jumped on Chura's complaint and attacked Obama on the war. "If your daughter is not familiar with the mission that she's on, how in the world can the commander in chief sleep at night, knowing that we have soldiers in harm's way that don't know exactly, precisely, what it is that they're doing there?" he asked.
How in the world can Mitt Romney sleep at night, when during his first run for President he declared that Osama Bin Laden wasn't that important?
In a May 2007 diatribe conflating all Muslims into a single unified global threat, there was one Muslim he wasn't too worried about:
"But I don't want to buy into the Democratic pitch, that this is all about one person, Osama bin Laden. Because after we get him, there's going to be another and another. This is about Shia and Sunni. This is about Hezbollah and Hamas and al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. This is the worldwide jihadist effort to try and cause the collapse of all moderate Islamic governments and replace them with a caliphate."
Even regarding that "one person, Osama Bin Laden," Romney struggled. After insisting in May 2007 that "It's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person," Romney reversed course just three days later and declared of Bin Laden, "He's going to pay, and he will die."
He did, thanks to President Obama and no thanks to Mitt Romney.
How can Mitt Romney sleep at night, when he opposed the American strikes in Pakistan that killed Bin Laden and most of his lieutenants?
Repeatedly in 2007 and 2008, then candidate Barack Obama promised to unilaterally launch strikes against Bin Laden and other high-value targets in Pakistan and ramp up the U.S. effort in the under-resourced effort across the border in Afghanistan. In July 2008, Senator Obama pledged, "we must make it clear that if Pakistan cannot or will not act, we will take out high-level terrorist targets like bin Laden if we have them in our sights."
We're this close to a global financial meltdown, and how have the Powers That Be decided to handle it? Some bold, decisive action like breaking up the banks and forcing investors to take their losses? Don't be silly. They're going to extend and pretend, just like we did here in the United States -- and look how well that worked out!
PARIS — PARIS — Europe’s debt crisis hit another milestone on Sunday when the French and Belgian governments agreed to nationalize Dexia, Belgium’s biggest bank, infusing it with billions in taxpayer money after it became the first casualty of the Greek sovereign debt crisis.
The move came as Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France acknowledged that Europe’s banks still needed billions of euros more to cushion against a possible Greek default. In meetings Sunday in Berlin, they announced that they would have a “comprehensive solution” by the time leaders of the G-20 group of nations meets in early November in Cannes, France.
“We are determined to do what is necessary to guarantee the recapitalization of our banks,” Mrs. Merkel said.
But they declined to provide any specifics on how it would work, or how much money they would commit, which could unnerve investors who hoped to see the governments take more decisive action.
The bankers haven't learned any lessons, because they know Big Government will always bail them out. As long as they know that, why should they stop?
The presumption of innocence until proven guilty is, or at least was once, a cornerstone of American law, and one that the French government has been rather quick to remind us of after the arrest of IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in New York on charges of sexual assault and rape. Which is somewhat ironic, given the inquisitorial nature of France’s Napoleonic Code.
But the presumption of innocence or guilt doesn’t seem to count for much in the courts of public opinion, however, and accusations and conspiracy theories are running rampant on both sides of the Atlantic. In France, where Mr Strauss-Kahn has long been a popular figure and would have been a serious challenger for the presidency in next year’s elections, the CSA opinion poll has indicated that 57% of those polled believe the charges against him are part of an elaborate plot to discredit him. Fully 70 percent of Socialist sympathizers agreed with that view, even though most French media have dismissed conspiracy theories. Some French journalists, who have described Mr Strauss-Kahn as ‘a charmer of women’ with a ‘taste for the fairer sex’, ‘unresistant to feminine attractions’ and his repeated harassment of women as being just a ‘romantic quirk,’ have chosen to dismiss the allegation of rape on the grounds that the woman is ‘très peu séduisant.’ Not very tempting. Mr Strauss-Kahn himself, perhaps rather unwisely, tweeted that ‘the lawyers were surprised at the appearance of the arrival of a very unattractive young woman’.
Nor is support for him confined to France; in the States, his attorneys are doing what attorneys usually do when defending a high-flying client charged with a heinous crime – blaming the victim. Sorry – ‘alleged’ victim. Mr Strauss-Kahn’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, told the press that the forensic evidence ‘will not be consistent with a forcible encounter’, inferring that the maid consented to performing oral sex on Mr Strauss-Kahn. Mr Brafman’s conjecture is further bolstered by Mr Strauss-Kahn’s longtime friend, French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, as well the conservative former speechwriter for Nixon and Ford, Ben Stein, both of whom have questioned how it would be possible for such a ‘short old fat man’ to forcibly rape a young hotel maid, a description rather less flattering than those employed by the French. And just about as apposite. Short old fat men can’t be rapists, apparently, and unattractive women are never their victims.
But according to Mr Stein, Mr Strauss-Kahn’s only ‘crime’ is being rich. ‘(T)his is a case about the hatred of the have-nots for the haves, and that’s what it’s all about. A man pays $3,000 a night for a hotel room? He’s got to be guilty of something. Bring out the guillotine.’ And the maid? She’s not Lara Logan, blue-eyed and blond, a respected professional journalist whose sexual assault in Egypt shocked the world. She’s black. Poor. An immigrant. A cleaner in a hotel. A single mother. A Muslim. Oh, and apparently, she’s ugly. One of those have-nots who hates the haves, the sort of people who are ‘complete lunatics’ who have stolen money, medication, even airline tickets from Mr Stein. She has to be guilty of something, naturally. Bring out the noose.
In news you may not have heard, the French have been protesting a bill to raise the retirement age in France from 60 to 62. And by protesting, I don't mean just showing up for one day. French President Sarkozy has struck back:
Clashes have broken out outside a major oil refinery in France after riot police moved in to clear strikers who blockaded the terminal for 10 days.
Two people were hurt outside the Grandpuits refinery east of Paris, one of 12 facilities affected by strikes.
President Nicolas Sarkozy ordered the authorities to lift the blockade earlier this week after thousands of petrol stations across France ran dry.
The Senate will vote later on the pension reform that sparked the action.
Ministers said the bill would clear its last major hurdle in a matter of hours, after the Senate was asked to halt debate on hundreds of opposition amendments and hold a single vote on all of them.
Changes to the retirement and pension age could become law next week, once they pass the committee stage and a final vote is held in both houses of parliament.
Notice something here: the protesters are doing economically damaging things. They aren't just showing up in the mall, waving some flags, making some speeches and wandering off.
Notice also, that Sarkozy is still going to pass his bill.
The key point will be whether the opposition keeps up the pressure. AFTER the bill passes, they must continue rolling strikes and occupations until the elite gives in.
RULE #1 Of Post-Modern Elite Thinking: Elites think in terms of costs. If the cost of something is less than the benefit of doing it, assuming the return is also high enough they will almost certainly do it.
And though our "immigration crisis" is a side effect of NAFTA locking Mexico's economy into foreign exploitation, Hillary's only account of the 1993 debate over the trade agreement is that it contained charts and stuff.Would Senator Obama like to weigh in on that? Nope? Um…okay.
Finally, Emily of KABOBfest reminds us that protecting human rights might be just a bit more important than strict adherence to certain laws. The rights of real people supersede imaginary borders? Crazy concept, I know.
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