Friday, March 1, 2013

Master of Hidden Agendas Has Hissy Fit (Why Again?), Ben Bernanke (Hippie?), and The Dark Gates of Sequestration Mordor (Gov't. By Gimmick)

Bob Woodward is an associate editor of the Washington Post. (Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

Remember the guy who served as the main mystifier of what really happened when the CIA broke into the Democratic Party's offices at the Watergate?

Yeah. It was a looooooooooonnnnnggg time ago.


He's baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaccccckkkkk!

(Oh come on. He never went away. He's been spinning his surreal imaginary yarns for 40 years now (and been well paid for it).)

Think about it. What would the image of America, Ruler of the World and Most Feared War Power be without his long-term targeted "reporting?" What an American success story!

At least we don't have to be bewildered by the nonexistent deep-throated guy stalking damp garages anymore.

Woodward Strikes a Blow for War

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

01 March 13

Doesn't anyone in Washington tell the truth about anything?
hen a veteran Navy intelligence analyst gets his knickers in a loud public twist over the number of U.S. nuclear-strike capable aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, one might first enjoy the spectacle – and then wonder, why such carryings-on?

When the veteran Navy intelligence analyst turns out to be Bob Woodward with a national audience from his platform at the Washington Post, questioning suspect motives becomes mandatory for any serious observer.
That quickly became a fleeting non-issue for most of what passes for the American journalistic intelligentsia, as twitter-heads of all persuasions were promptly distracted by the shiny objects of threats, alleged and imaginary, from the White House (gasp!).
The news behind this empty media kabuki was reported on February 6, when NBC ran with this false headline: "Navy to pull aircraft carrier from Persian Gulf over budget worries." The text quickly revealed that the Navy wasn't pulling an aircraft carrier from the Persian Gulf, it was simply not sending a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, under a two-carrier policy ordered by Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2010.
. . . Not content with assurances that the U.S. would "maintain a robust presence" in the Persian Gulf region, the Post's Woodward had a delayed but volcanic reaction to the U.S. reducing its ability to obliterate the region to a mere three or four times over, calling it "madness."
On the MSNBC show "Morning Joe," February 27, Woodward accused President Obama of exhibiting "a kind of madness I haven't seen in a long time" for having only one aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. Since the two-carrier policy dates from 2010, Woodward implies he hasn't seen that kind of madness for almost three years, although he doesn't say that.
. . . "Under the Constitution, the President is commander-in-chief and employs the force. And so we now have the President going out because of this piece of paper and this agreement. 'I can't do what I need to do to protect the country.'
"That's a kind of madness that I haven't seen in a long time."
What About This Isn't War-Mongering?
Now THAT's a kind of madness. Unfortunately it's a familiar kind of madness seen all too often.
"Protect the country" from what? Fulminating about Iraq? Saddam Hussein? Secret war in Nicaragua, perhaps? Is there a pattern here?
No wonder Joe Scarborough immediately changed the subject.
But if Woodward's outburst isn't war-mongering against Iran, what is it? Early Alzheimer's is a possibility, I suppose, or early morning wobbliness. Not likely, not from Woodward, not from a master of hidden agendas hiding other agendas.
If it matters, why wasn't Woodward on the case when the Navy announced the non-deployment decision three weeks earlier?
Why did he wait till President Obama referred to it in a speech in Norfolk, Virginia, on February 26, when he said, "The threat of these cuts has forced the Navy to cancel the deployment [of the aircraft carrier]." Now others are spinning the non-deployment as the President's "decision," based on no evidence.
Is anybody telling the truth here? Doesn't look like it.
Is anyone taking the aircraft carrier decision back to its essentials? Apparently not.
The first question is why does the United States need any aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf? To spare more distraction, let's concede that a credible argument can be made for the projection of American power everywhere we want to stick it.
The next question is why does the United States need TWO aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, where the last time any country attacked another was when the U.S. attacked Iraq.

. . . The 2012 deployment came just before scheduled talks with Iran about nuclear issues.

The current non-deployment came just before scheduled seven-nation talks with Iran about nuclear issues.

Is the Obama administration threatening a peaceful approach? No wonder Woodward is losing it.

Read it all here.

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Friday, March 01, 2013

Paul Krugman: Ben Bernanke, Hippie

Will Ben Bernanke help to end "the elite obsession with deficits"?:

Ben Bernanke, Hippie, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: We’re just a few weeks away from a milestone...: the start of the Iraq war. What I remember from that time is the utter impenetrability of the elite prowar consensus. If you tried to point out that the Bush administration was obviously cooking up a bogus case for war..., that the risks and likely costs of war were huge; well, you were dismissed as ignorant and irresponsible. ...

And,... remarkably, a very similar story has played out over the past three years, this time about economic policy. Back then, all the important people decided that an unrelated war was an appropriate response to a terrorist attack; three years ago, they all decided that fiscal austerity was the appropriate response to an economic crisis caused by runaway bankers, with the supposedly imminent danger from budget deficits playing the role once played by Saddam’s alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Now, as then, this consensus has seemed impenetrable to counterarguments, no matter how well grounded in evidence. And now, as then, leaders of the consensus continue to be regarded as credible even though they’ve been wrong about everything..., while critics of the consensus are regarded as foolish hippies even though all their predictions — about interest rates, about inflation, about the dire effects of austerity — have come true.

So here’s my question: Will it make any difference that Ben Bernanke has now joined the ranks of the hippies?

Earlier this week, Mr. Bernanke ... spoke more clearly and forcefully on fiscal policy than ever before... First of all, he pointed out that the budget picture just isn’t very scary... He then argued that given the state of the economy, we’re currently spending too little, not too much... Finally, he suggested that austerity in a depressed economy may well be self-defeating...

Regular readers may find these propositions familiar, since they’re pretty much what I and other progressive economists have been saying all along. But we’re irresponsible hippies. Is Ben Bernanke? (Well, he has a beard.)

The point is not that Mr. Bernanke is an unimpeachable source of wisdom..., the point is that Mr. Bernanke’s apostasy may help undermine the argument from authority — nobody who matters disagrees! — that has made the elite obsession with deficits so hard to dislodge.

And an end to deficit obsession can’t come a moment too soon. ... A misguided elite consensus has led us into an economic quagmire, and it’s time for us to get out.

Posted by Mark Thoma
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Charles Pierce, Esquire

"It is flatly bizarre to watch Congress at work one day before we all pass through the dark gates into Sequestration Mordor."


In the Senate, the Republicans affect the persona of embattled truth-tellers at the mercy of a unyielding majority. In the House, the Democrats affect the persona of the embattled staff of a more opulent than usual environment. Everyone is pretending that they never saw this coming, that nobody could have imagined that things would come to this terrible pass. They all deplore the results of sequestration, but they all also continue to pretend that it was a good idea to start with, and that is their capital mistake.

Whatever happens tomorrow, the utter failure of sequestration to do what it is designed to do is of a piece with the previous failures of the Gang Of Six, the Gang Of 12, and the king of all revered utter failures, Simpson-Bowles, which still has most of official Washington feeding Vaal at every turn in service to a commission that couldn't even muster a majority of its own membership, Whatever happens tomorrow, the utter failure of sequestration to do what it was supposed to do - namely, to be so utterly horrifying that it would force a deal - should bring an end to government by gimmick.

Government by gimmick is a dodge. Government by gimmick is a way for politicians to protect their status as politicians without actually doing the jobs they were elected to do. Government by gimmick depends vitally on the fundamental Beltway anti-democratic heresy - that the system as designed is inadequate to present circumstances and that the only way out of this is to go put together the proper group of bipartisan Very Important People to apply common sense to the problem.

It was government by gimmick - the Tower Commission - that probably bought Ronald Reagan out of the Iran-Contra scandal because the gathering of wise men determined from the start that holding the president responsible by constitutional means would scare the children and disturb the horses.

This is the principle that was applied to the useless Gang Of 14 solution to the "problem" of judicial filibusters.

And, ever since the American people elected a Congress full of right-wing chew toys in 2010, government-by-gimmick has been the way the American economy has been directed, and now all the duct tape is failing, and the balsa's cracking, and the whole thing is coming apart, and the people in charge are spending long hours talking about how they couldn't have foreseen any of this.

. . . Of course, sequestration failed. It never had a chance to succeed. It never should have succeeded. It never had a serious purpose. It was a goad, and not a particularly terrifying one. It was created to provide a stage for posturing. It always was an angry puppet show, and the angry puppets are now at center stage. If it does nothing else but kill off government-by-gimmick, or eliminate "bipartisanship" as a goal in and of itself, it may turn out to have done some good.

Read it.

And weep.

As the domestic programs are slashed to the bone and the military dodges any cuts at all.

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