Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Alan Greenspan: Feted for Failure Continually & Waking Up In Wisconsin? (Is "People Power" Finally On Guard?) "Punks" Teach U.S. About Freedom

**[Although there's no prize in this announcement I want to mention that my 15,500th hit came from Wilsonville, Oregon. Thanks for reading, friends!]**

Before I begin today's essay I want to comment on something funny . . . odd . . . even humorous (almost) about something I previously reported on that I read last night about the CIA spy who was outed for killing two Pakistanis whom he said were robbing him and, thus, deserved the death penalty. No, it's really not funny. Makes me remember back to when Leon Panetta, CIA Director, in June of 2010 (when Petraeus was brought in to take charge of the Afghanistan failure and replace McChrystal, who had been too outspoken about the reality of that war for the comfort of those on top), said there were only around 50, maybe a little more, Taliban left (and so wouldn't take but a couple of trillion dollars more in war effort). It also makes me homesick for the world I grew up in when leaders with integrity decried the unnecessary spending of taxpayer funds and the venality of the military-industrial complex (h/t President Eisenhower). (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Raymond Davis Had Taliban Links


American official Raymond Davis, arrested for double murder, had "close links" with Taliban and was "instrumental" in recruiting youths for it, the Pakistani media claimed today, close on the heels of reports in the US that he was a CIA agent tracking movements of terror groups like the LeT.

The "close ties" of 37-year-old Davis, arrested in Lahore on January 27 for killing two men he claimed were trying to rob him, with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan came out during investigations, 'The Express Tribune' reported quoting an unnamed senior official of Punjab Police.

"Davis was instrumental in recruiting young people from Punjab for the Taliban to fuel the bloody insurgency (in Pakistan)," the official said.The report came a day after The New York Times, citing US government officials, said that Davis "was part of a covert, CIA-led team of operatives conducting surveillance on militant groups deep inside the country."

Among the groups that Davis was keeping an eye on was the banned Lashker-e-Taiba, which carried out the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, the New York Times said.

So, it's good to have those facts, isn't it? I'm sure this country's leaders will get right on the trail and clean up this nest of self-serving criminals who are either benefitting from the prolongation of this decades-long unwinnable conflict or just using it to hone the skills of thugs needed in other secretive nationalistic endeavors. On a subject closer to home (and one that strikes deeply in my heart every day, which is undoubtedly financially tied to the waging of so-called "unwinnable" wars), I keep being asked the following question in one form or another:

"If the job situation is still as bad as you say, Suzan, why do we hear from the MSM without pause that the Recession is OVER and everyone who wants a job has been able to get one although they are not very good jobs?" (Yes, the unemployment rate is still high and will be for a while, but it's because no one wants to really work hard for a living - and thus we still need all those foreigners here who are happy to take those jobs that are beneath us.)

My answer? Because the MSM are only pretending everything's back to normal now for the Faux Snoozers whose audience doesn't pay attention to anything else. (After all, it never was a Recession for the snooze "workers.")

So, it seems only proper to beg the question: Why are we letting them get away with this? Well, first you dumb down the education system. Then, you get rid of the good jobs. Finally, the jobs you are willing to leave in the country require the full-life attention of your work populace who have little time or energy left over every day to pursue political action against unfair treatment.

Another visage that continues to present its/his n/pasty face to the masses over and over again in the MSM (although I would swear he should be dead by now) is Alan Greenspan, who is always being asked to share his wisdom about any (and every) thing that affects our economic well being. Anywhere.

And can anyone guess what's the impetus for its continual resurfacing among the so-called educated classes? After all, he's an old failure to boot. Dean Baker knows the answers to those questions (and I think Greenspan's the lead criminal in this complicated story - although maybe David Rockefeller, et al., should also be mentioned). See what you think.

Alan Greenspan: Feted for Failure February 15, 2011

The Guardian/UK

© Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

Alan Greenspan was at the wheel, apparently asleep, when the US economy drove off a cliff. Why on earth is he still lionised? by Dean Baker The Brookings Institution stands alongside Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, among the nation's elite intellectual institutions. This is why it so striking that it chose to invite former Federal Reserve board chairman Alan Greenspan to give the keynote address at a forum on reforming the home mortgage finance system last week.

It would be difficult to imagine a more disastrous failure than Alan Greenspan.

Tens of millions of people are unemployed, under-employed, or have given up looking for work altogether, as a direct result of Greenspan's ineptitude. Millions of families are facing the lost of their homes.

More than one quarter of mortgage holders are underwater with their mortgages.

The huge baby boom cohorts saw most of their life's savings disappear when the collapse of the bubble destroyed their home equity. They are now approaching retirement with almost nothing to rely upon other than their social security.

This is the direct result of Alan Greenspan's incompetence as Fed chair.

He either did not recognise the $8 trillion housing bubble or somehow did not think it was a big deal.

This was a monumental misjudgment. The housing bubble was really hard to miss for anyone who can read a chart and knows arithmetic.

For 100 years, nationwide house prices had just tracked the overall rate of inflation. Suddenly, in the mid 90s, coinciding with the stock bubble, house prices began to substantially outpace the overall rate of inflation.

By 2002, house prices had already risen by more than 30 percentage points in excess of the overall rate of inflation. At the peak of the bubble in 2006, the inflation in house prices had exceeded the overall rate of inflation by more than 70 percentage points, creating that $8tn bubble in housing wealth.

There was no remotely plausible explanation for this, based on the fundamentals of either the demand or supply side of the housing market. Population growth and household formation were much slower during the bubble years than in prior decades. Income growth had been healthy in the late 90s, but went in reverse in the 2000s. On the supply side, the country was building homes at near record rates, so supply constraints obviously could not explain the runup in prices.

Anyone looking for an explanation would also have to explain why rents were going nowhere. The fact that the vacancy rate had already hit a record high as early as 2002 should have been another really big bright warning sign that housing was in an unsustainable bubble.

If it was impossible for competent economists to miss this assessment, it should also have been impossible for them to think it could deflate harmlessly. The bubbles in residential and non-residential construction led to enormous overbuilding in both sectors. The "wealth effect" associated with the $8 trillion transient housing bubble was generating close to $500bn in annual consumption.

This meant that the combined drop in construction and consumption demand from the collapse of the bubble was almost certain going to be in excess of $1 trillion.

Did Greenspan think he had something in his bag of tricks as Federal Reserve board chairman that would allow him to quickly replace more than $1 trillion in annual demand?

Absent some new source of demand (which has not appeared), it was inevitable that the collapse of the bubble would lead to a prolonged period of high unemployment.

This was all 100% predictable; but Greenspan did not predict it – because he was not doing his job.

Incredibly, in spite of this disastrous performance as Fed chairman, Alan Greenspan is still being feted in elite circles. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the people who sit in these elite circles openly celebrated Greenspan as he drove the economy off a cliff.

He was declared the "Maestro" by one of the country's top reporters. At the annual meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the leading lights of the economics profession debated whether he was the greatest central banker of all time, as he prepared to leave his post.

In other words, Greenspan may have ruined the lives of tens of millions of people and cost the lives of tens of thousands (yes, people die because of inept economic policy: they kill themselves, they don't get healthcare that they need, and they die from alcoholism and despair), but he does not bear the blame alone.

Most of the people who hold top positions in policy and academic circles share blame for disaster – refusing to do the simple analysis that would have allowed them to see this disaster coming.

The pain and suffering caused by Alan Greenspan's incompetence vastly exceeds the harm that our worst enemies could even dream of inflicting on the United States. Yet, apparently, he can always count on a position of honour at the Brookings Institution.

Heckuva job, Alan!

(Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). He is the author of The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer ( and the more recently published Plunder and Blunder: The Rise and Fall of The Bubble Economy. He also has a blog, "Beat the Press," where he discusses the media's coverage of economic issues. more Dean Baker

My buddy Tom over at Who Hijacked Our Country has a few words for us on the current Wisconsin Surprise.
Wisconsin Wails? Is the Country Waking Up Finally? When these pro-middle class demonstrations started in Madison WI last week, who would’ve guessed they’d have even more momentum a week later? For a country with such a microscopic attention span, this is phenomenal.

Try as they might, the Kochtopus and its useful idiots haven’t been able to brainwash the public. At least not yet. According to the newest Gallup/USA Today poll, 61% of Americans oppose the idea of wiping out the collective bargaining rights of state employees.

Wisconsin’s Governor Mubarak Walker hasn’t budged, but two other Republican governors have backed off from their own plans to squelch unions: Florida Governor Rick Scott and Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana.

These protests have made Madison look like it’s the 1960s and the Vietnam War is still raging. And to help bring together the ‘60s and the present, members of Rage Against The Machine and the MC5 performed a free concert.

Country Joe, where are you?

And now, equal time for the Oligarchy:Koch Industries/Tim Phillips/Americans For Prosperity have unleashed a new commercial to get the inbreds all fired up. The video is no longer available at the linked article. Darn it.

And you’ll love the latest shitspew from Rick Santorum:“They are acting like their drug is being taken away from them . . . . What these folks are in Washington is no better than a drug dealer. They give you a subtle narcotic to make you feel better as you do worse.”

Gee, I wonder why he got defeated four years ago.

David Michael Green is not at all forgiving of ignorants and fools. Yeah, as if anyone is who is paying attention (emphasis marks and some editing inserted - Ed.).

Insignificant, backwater, third world banana republics like Tunisia and Egypt pioneering the way for the greatest superpower and richest country on the planet.

That’s not supposed to happen.

I mean, we pay for a military that costs as much as every other one in the world, combined, even though it can’t win endless wars against insignificant, backwater, third world banana republics. They can’t say that about their militaries! We’ve got annual deficits that are bigger than their entire economies.

The size of our economy is half-again bigger than the number two in the world (with one-fourth the population), and we’ve managed to produce a health care system that ranks 39th globally.

Who else can claim that badge of honor?

No doubt that ranking partially explains why our life expectancy figures are lower than just about every country in the developed world.

Our education system, once the envy of the world, is crumbling, along with the size of our college enrollments.

Ditto our infrastructure, much of which hasn’t been maintained in decades.

Who can touch that?

We have the highest polarization of wealth in the entire developed world, and more than any country in the Arab world too. Sweet!

Another cool thing is our incarceration rate. It’s 743 per hundred thousand people. The next highest country has less than half that figure. Our use of torture and rendition and the remote-controlled aerial bombings of civilians has earned us the scorn and hatred of the world, while our political leaders, unmatched in their capacity for hypocrisy and buffoonery, have made us a laughingstock that few puffy-chested, medal-covered third world dictators can match. You got Mugabe? We got Palin. You got Charles Taylor? We got George W. Bush, in a democracy no less.

So, with a record like that, who in the world are these punky backwater countries to teach high and mighty America anything about anything?!?!

Darned if it hasn’t happened, though. I mean, you can say it’s a coincidence if you want, and you may even be right. But I can’t help thinking that the people of Wisconsin have been inspired by the people of Egypt. Who were themselves inspired by the people of Tunisia. Both of whom have inspired the people of Bahrain, Jordan, Iran, Libya, Yemen, Iraq and beyond.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin seems to be inspiring Americans in other states finally to fight back.

It would seem that people power is in the air in early 2011, and that it’s quite contagious.

Whatever is the explanation for the Cheesehead version of Tahrir Square, it is unbelievably welcome, and just barely in time.

It’s crucial to understand what the regressive initiative that our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin are right now fighting is really all about, and how that fits into the context of our era. This is just the latest, and nearly the last, in a succession of efforts in America over the last three decades to move money from the hands of non-elites to those of oligarchs.

Make no mistake, that program constitutes essentially the sum total of American politics at its core over the last generation. All else is a sideshow or, more likely and more ominously, an intentional diversion, just as a skilled magician is careful to give your eye something else to focus on as he moves the ball from under the cup.

That money-shifting effort has been relentless, and it has been fantastically successful. We have witnessed the greatest transfer of wealth in human history over this period of time.

More astonishing, here in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, is that it went the wrong way – from ordinary folk who need the money to wealthy elites, many of whom actually couldn’t even find ways to spend those enormous quantities flooding their accounts if they wanted to.

Most astonishing of all is that this happened in a functioning democracy, where the votes of rip-offees vastly outnumber the votes of rip-offers. If anyone you meet ever doubts the capacity of human stupidity, tell them this tale. It’s an amazing story. It’s also the most significant single fact of American politics in our time. And we don’t even talk about it.

That’s because of the stunning success of the thieves in executing their heist. As oft-noted, the perfect crime is one that is not even detected. Welcome to America.

You gotta hand it to these guys. They have been smart, thorough, ruthless, tenacious, patient and ruthless. Did I mention ruthless? They have attacked New Deal America – the set of policies that created a vast middle class for the first time and dramatically improved people’s quality of life en masse – in every way possible, and have managed to beat it into near submission.

They’ve been very clever about it, too. They fabricated think tanks whose product at any other time would have seemed absurdly laughable. They created a whole new media for themselves, and intimidated the parts they didn’t outright own.

They dumbed down education, making sure that any knowledge of history or civics or – god forbid – comparative politics was eliminated from the curriculum, thus producing nice, docile worker bees who know just enough to do their ill-paid jobs, but not enough to even know that they’re ill-paid.

They allied with regressive forces like religious institutions, the military and the Republican Party. Then they bought the Democrats too, not least of which including Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, whose economic policies are fundamentally indistinguishable from the GOP’s.

They infiltrated the courts with corporate hacks so corrupt that they steal elections and sit on cases even when they’ve received contributions from litigants in the matter.

They smashed labor unions at every opportunity. They drove the country deep into debt with the express purpose of making it then seem that any further social spending was no longer sustainable.

They tore down even the thin veneer of campaign finance reform from the prior era. They shredded the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and have bullied any opponents with thuggish acts of verbal and other forms of personal assault.

They made voting more difficult, wrongly purged masses of voters from the rolls, and used rigged machines to steal elections. They have poisoned the minds of Americans with diversionary bogeymen ranging from Saddam Hussein to marrying gays to the War on Christmas.

Come on David (I adore this guy), tell us how you really feel.

Cause I'm there, brother. _________________

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