Europe’s slow-motion economic collapse continues apace as Eurozone governments and banks continue to wring their hands over what to do to postpone the inevitable Greek default. And now there’s a new wrinkle: Italy, whose level of sovereign indebtedness relative to GDP is second only to that of Greece, has suddenly appeared on investors’ radar screens. If Italy — the second largest economy in the Eurozone — goes the way of Greece, Ireland, and Portugal, there will not be enough money in Europe’s rapidly-dwindling rescue fund (the European Financial Stability Facility or EFSF) to effect a bailout.
The walls are closing in on the eurozone, as options for resolving the European debt crisis are about to narrow dramatically. After many months of drama and handwringing, the sovereign debt bailout express is about to run off the rails, leaving the European central bank, and probably a number of megabanks across Europe, in financial ruins, and most likely spelling the demise of the euro and of the entire eurozone experiment.
In defiance of all logic, the eurozone weathered a week of harrowing instability this past week, with Portugal, Spain, and Italy managing to persuade the bond markets that their sovereign debt is still worth the risk. Portugal was the primary focus of concern in this latest iteration of European economic upheaval, with speculation rife that the Iberian nation would be forced to accept an international bailout along the lines of what Greece and Ireland have already received. The Portuguese government spent the week leading up to last Wednesday’s successful auction of government bonds denying that Portugal needed outside assistance to solve its debt problem, and Wednesday’s results appeared to vindicate those claims.
The topic of the14th Amendment of the United States Constitution is continuing to stir debate in Washington, with those who favor increasing the debt limit at any cost raising the specter of President Obama simply overruling Congress and authorizing the issuance of new debt without the consent of lawmakers. According to this storyline, the president need only invoke Section 4 of the 14th Amendment, which states that “the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law … shall not be questioned.” If Congress refuses to abide by its constitutional obligation to ensure government debts are paid, argue certain of Obama’s supporters, then the president would be justified in simply imposing his will on Congress to ensure that the 14th Amendment’s prohibition of government default is honored.
It’s a sad commentary on the state of affairs in Washington that the only occasions on which the United States Constitution is invoked with any reverence by the political establishment is when it appears to support the expansion of federal power. The topic du jour in the capital is the 14th Amendment, and whether it authorizes President Obama, in effect, to ignore the congressionally-imposed debt ceiling and instruct the Treasury to issue new debt to pay for old. For the record, the 14th Amendment’s Section Four states:
Although William F. Buckley, Jr., died more than three and a half years ago, his spirit clearly lives on in the National Review, the neoconservative political magazine he founded in 1955. The September 19 cover story, “Ron Paul’s Last Crusade,” by Kevin D. Williamson, purports to be an investigative piece about Congressman Ron Paul and his latest run for the presidency, but is instead a snide character assassination of Paul and an all-purpose smear on anyone who shares his convictions, including The John Birch Society.
Ben Shapiro’s bombshell, Primetime Propaganda, an exposé of left-wing propaganda at the movies and on television, is making Hollywood squirm. In a series of interview snippets available on Youtube, Tinseltown movers and shakers openly profess their support for discrimination against conservatives and for using their shows to catechize the public on behalf of the full gamut of liberal conceits.
Some of us remember our first reading of Atlas Shrugged like our first time behind the wheel of a car: intoxicating but inexplicably discomforting in spots. The 1,000-plus pages of Ayn Rand’s magnum opus positively pulse with the sorts of stuff that those of us in the freedom camp embrace: heroic capitalists, a strident anti-collectivist cant, and the unapologetic championing of individual rights.
When newly elected Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) proposed cutting aid to Israel, the howls of protest from all across the bipartisan political spectrum were painfully revealing. Matthew Brooks, executive director for the Republican Jewish Coalition — an organization with several former Bush administration officials on its board of directors — considers cutting the $3 billion a year that the United States gives to Israel to be off limits. “We share Senator Paul’s commitment to restraining the growth of federal spending, but we reject his misguided proposal to end U.S. assistance to our ally Israel,” he said. New York Representative Nita Lowey, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations subcommittee that deals with foreign aid, put it more bluntly: “Using our budget deficit as a reason to abandon Israel is inexcusable.... I call on all those who value the U.S.-Israel relationship to make it clear that our nation will not abandon our ally Israel.”
Sometime in the early summer of 1497, a small caravel, the Matthew, with a crew of 18 men, spied land after weeks of perilous sailing across the dangerous, then-unknown waters of the northwest Atlantic Ocean. Captained by an Italian seaman, John Cabot, whose original name was Giovanni Caboto, the ship had departed Bristol in late May with King Henry VII’s blessing to look for new lands across the ocean. What Cabot and his men saw was a rugged coastline of deep, narrow bays, towering cliffs, and soaring headlands teeming with nesting seabirds — a landscape not unlike many portions of the coastline of Britain and Ireland. Cabot was undoubtedly inspired by the success, only a few years earlier, of fellow Genoese mariner Christopher Columbus, in discovering the islands of the Caribbean. But this was no subtropical paradise peopled with friendly natives; the seas here were rough, cold, and full of icebergs carried south from Greenland. Instead of waving palm trees, the land was forested with fir and spruce, with the more exposed headlands as barren as the Arctic tundra. John Cabot had discovered the eastermost portion of North America, the huge island that soon came to be known as Newfoundland.