April 17, 2015 archive

Not Just Grape Leaves, Feta Cheese, and Olives

Yanis Varoufakis and Joseph Stiglitz

Greece: Default or Grexit?

by Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism

Posted on April 17, 2015

A critical issue to keep in mind is that a default does not bring Greece relief. The prospect of a Grexit (remember, it’s rational for Greek depositors to prepare for the worst) means an acceleration of the ongoing bank run. The imposition of capital controls would further fray nerves domestically, given that polls show majority opposition to leaving the Eurozone. Ongoing cash hoarding plus uncertainty will further weaken the already very sick Greek economy. That will hit tax receipts. If Greece has to resort to issuing TANs or other government scrip to pay workers and pensioners, that will likely further damage confidence. Thus Greece will remain in the Troika’s sweatbox.

Thus even with its intention of remaining in the Eurozone, Syriza may be forced to contemplated a Grexit as it struggles to finance its budget after its primary surplus has vanished. Of course, that assumes that the government remains popular after it imposes capital controls and starts issuing funny money. But if it does, a Grexit is not impossible, since the creditors’ continued unwillingness to fund a defiant Greece will make it harder and harder for the government to meet commitments that it has defined as red lines, such as paying pensions and spending on humanitarian relief.

Thus even if a Grexit is probably not an immediate result of a Greek default, that does not necessarily mean that Greece remains in the Eurozone. Even though the costs of an exit are extremely high, the costs of staying in are set to increase.

Debating Hillary

The silly season starts earlier and lasts longer with each cycle, to the point that it is now one big blur. Trying to make a choice which candidate to support for just the nomination is going to be tough this time. On the Republican side there is a bus load of right wing extremists while the Democrats appear to have the “inevitable” Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Republican platform is still stuck on what Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) called “stupid” from social and economic issues to foreign policy. The Democrats may differ with them on social issues, however, on economic and foreign policy their actions speak louder than their words.

So where does that leave the large Democratic left? Thank FSM there is time to ask questions and maybe get some satisfactory answers. But sadly, that may not be too easy considering the quality and tenor of the mainstream news media. Take for example the media obsession with Secretary Clinton’s announcement of her candidacy, her trip by van to Iowa and her stop at a local Chipotle. So far there hasn’t been any substantive discussion about the issues that are most important to the vast majority of America. Except that there has been; it’s just been hard to find.

Fortunately, we have journalists like Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman to provide a panel and a serious debate about Hillary Clinton and the issues.

Debate: Hillary Clinton Sounds Populist Tone, But Are Progressives Ready to Back Her in 2016?

Former secretary of state, senator and first lady Hillary Clinton has formally entered the 2016 race for the White House in a second bid to become the first woman U.S. president. We host a roundtable discussion with four guests: Joe Conason, editor-in-chief of The National Memo, co-editor of The Investigative Fund, and author of “The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton”; Michelle Goldberg, senior contributing writer at The Nation; longtime journalist Robert Scheer, editor of Truthdig.com and author of many books; and Kshama Sawant, a Socialist city councilmember in Seattle and member of Socialist Alternative, a nationwide organization of social and economic justice activists.

Full transcript can be read here

I have to agree with Charles Pierce at Esquire Politics that Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is hardly an example of a progressive but this is what will be heard for the next 19 months.


The Breakfast Club (May The Force Be With You)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Cuban exiles invade Bay of Pigs; Three astronauts of Apollo 13 land safely in pacific ocean; Benjamin Franklin dies at age 84; JP Morgan born in Connecticut; Ford rolls out the Mustang convertible.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

Benjamin Franklin

On This Day In History April 17

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

April 17 is the 107th day of the year (108th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 258 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1961, The Bay of Pigs invasion begins when a CIA-financed and -trained group of Cuban refugees lands in Cuba and attempts to topple the communist government of Fidel Castro. The attack was an utter failure.

Fidel Castro had been a concern to U.S. policymakers since he seized power in Cuba with a revolution in January 1959. Castro’s attacks on U.S. companies and interests in Cuba, his inflammatory anti-American rhetoric, and Cuba’s movement toward a closer relationship with the Soviet Union led U.S. officials to conclude that the Cuban leader was a threat to U.S. interests in the Western Hemisphere. In March 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the CIA to train and arm a force of Cuban exiles for an armed attack on Cuba. John F. Kennedy inherited this program when he became president in 1961.

Political Background

On March 17, 1960, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved a document prepared by the 5412 Committee (also known as the ‘Special Group’), at a meeting of the US National Security Council (NSC). The stated first objective of the plan began as follows:


   1. Objective: The purpose of the program outlined herein is to bring about the replacement of the Castro regime with one more devoted to the true interests of the Cuban people and more acceptable to the U.S. in such a manner to avoid any appearance of U.S. intervention.

The outline plan (code-named Operation Pluto) was organized by CIA Deputy Director for Plans Richard Mervin Bissell, Jr., under CIA Director Allen Dulles. Having experience in actions such as the 1954 Guatemalan coup d’etat, Dulles was confident that the CIA was capable of overthrowing the Cuban government as led by prime minister Fidel Castro since February 1959. The first detailed CIA plan proposed a ship-borne invasion at the old colonial city of Trinidad, Cuba, about 270 km (170 mi) south-east of Havana, at the foothills of the Escambray Mountains in Sancti Spiritus province. Trinidad had good port facilities, it was closer to many existing counter-revolutionary activities, it had an easily defensible beachhead, and it offered an escape route into the Escambray Mountains. When that plan was rejected by the State Department, the CIA went on to propose an alternative plan. On April 4, 1961, President Kennedy then approved the Bay of Pigs plan (also known as Operation Zapata), because it had an airfield that would not need to be extended to handle bomber operations, it was further away from large groups of civilians than the Trinidad plan, and it was less “noisy” militarily, which would make any future denial of direct US involvement more plausible. The invasion landing area was changed to beaches bordering the Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs) in Las Villas Province, 150 km south-east of Havana, and east of the Zapata peninsula. The landings were to take place at Playa Giron (code-named Blue Beach), Playa Larga (code-named Red Beach), and Caleta Buena Inlet (code-named Green Beach).

In March 1961, the CIA helped Cuban exiles in Miami to create the Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC), chaired by Jose Miro Cardona, former Prime Minister of Cuba in January 1959. Cardona became the de facto leader-in-waiting of the intended post-invasion Cuban government.

Bay of Pigs: The Invasion

The first part of the plan was to destroy Castro’s tiny air force, making it impossible for his military to resist the invaders. On April 15, 1961, a group of Cuban exiles took off from Nicaragua in a squadron of American B-26 bombers, painted to look like stolen Cuban planes, and conducted a strike against Cuban airfields. However, it turned out that Castro and his advisers knew about the raid and had moved his planes out of harm’s way. Frustrated, Kennedy began to suspect that the plan the CIA had promised would be “both clandestine and successful” might in fact be “too large to be clandestine and too small to be successful.”

But it was too late to apply the brakes. On April 17, the Cuban exile brigade began its invasion at an isolated spot on the island’s southern shore known as the Bay of Pigs. Almost immediately, the invasion was a disaster. The CIA had wanted to keep it a secret for as long as possible, but a radio station on the beach (which the agency’s reconnaissance team had failed to spot) broadcast every detail of the operation to listeners across Cuba. Unexpected coral reefs sank some of the exiles’ ships as they pulled into shore. Backup paratroopers landed in the wrong place. Before long, Castro’s troops had pinned the invaders on the beach, and the exiles surrendered after less than a day of fighting; 114 were killed and over 1,100 were taken prisoner.

Bay of Pigs: The Aftermath

According to many historians, the CIA and the Cuban exile brigade believed that President Kennedy would eventually allow the American military to intervene in Cuba on their behalf. However, the president was resolute: As much as he did not want to “abandon Cuba to the communists,” he said, he would not start a fight that might end in World War III. His efforts to overthrow Castro never flagged-in November 1961, he approved Operation Mongoose, an espionage and sabotage campaign-but never went so far as to provoke an outright war. In 1962, the Cuban missile crisis inflamed American-Cuban-Soviet tensions even further.

Fidel Castro is still Cuba’s symbolic leader today, although his younger brother Raul (1931-) has taken over the presidency and serves as commander in chief of the armed forces.

The Daily/Nightly Show (Completely True)

Just Call It ‘Office Supplies’

It’s a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he’s got and all he’s ever gonna have.

Yeah, well, I guess they had it coming.

We all got it coming, kid.

Tonightly we’ll be talking about things that are completely true with Neil Degrasse Tyson, Robin Thede, and Mike Cannon.


Sympathy For The Devil

Next week’s guests-

Eric Greitens is whoring Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life, he’s the kind of person centrist types drool over.  Former JSOC in charge of an anti-al Qaeda unit, Duke grad, Rhodes and Truman scholar, Piled High and Deep in Political Science (yeah, right, the only social science more sketchy than Economics); he worked for W as a Katrina relief co-ordinator (heck of a job) and is running for office in Missouri as a…

Wait for it…


Way to go Jon.  What a great guest.  Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

Billy Crystal’s web exclusive extended video and the real news below.