Posted by: quiscus | March 2, 2009

March 2, 2009

1.  Leahy Truth commission:

“Leahy is no more interested in the truth than any other politician (with few exceptions). You would think, since his office was a target of the anthrax attacks, he would want to get to bottom of that. He can’t though, if he investigates the anthrax attacks and it finds that the military was behind it. It will only be a short leap to 9-11. I figure he is doing it to placate a fiercely liberal and independent base in VT. Hence, he will stick with edge issues that ire the public far less like torture. I think they press the torture issue so much because it gives the appearance of “protecting rights” when they know full well that it has a defense (war time necessity) and that many people just don’t care that some arab terrorist gets waterboarded. Note that waterboarding is the main method bandied about by the MSM, cause it gives another, i hate to use this term but.. , watered down layer to the issue.”

2.  Perle on neoconservatives:

“At the CIA, for example, few shared Mr. Bush’s ideas, Mr. Perle suggests, and therefore the agency simply sandbagged its commander in chief. It “made egregious intelligence errors and then applied its skill at tweaking and leaking to undermine the president who acted on its advice.”

Mr. Perle’s theory of the “hijacking of foreign policy” can explain events here and there, of course, but it runs counter to some of the most infamous episodes in the selling of the Iraq war. The CIA’s most notorious error — its assertion that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction — was made not because the agency wanted to undermine Mr. Bush, but because, according to author Tim Weiner, it “desperately sought the White House’s attention and approval.” And the most famous leak in the war’s aftermath seems to have been designed to discredit not the administration but one of its critics, the husband of a CIA officer.

3.  How to deal with the North Korean ‘threat’:

Even more important, though, would be to turn the problem of North Korea over to the surrounding states. To the extent that the North threatens anyone, it is South Korea and Japan. China and Russia are unlikely direct targets, but still have good reason to prefer a stable and peaceful Korean peninsula.

Thus, the U.S. should withdraw its 29,000 troops from the ROK, where they are vulnerable to military action by Pyongyang. Then North Korea would be primarily a problem for the ROK, China, Japan, and Russia. And the U.S. need not worry about the latest North Korean gambit.

4.  What a surprise.  The US chooses to work with war criminals:

For eight years, Stanisic was the CIA’s main man in Belgrade. During secret meetings in boats and safe houses along the Sava River, he shared details on the inner workings of the Milosevic regime. He provided information on the locations of NATO hostages, aided CIA operatives in their search for grave sites and helped the agency set up a network of secret bases in Bosnia.

At the same time, Stanisic was setting up death squads for Milosevic that carried out a genocidal campaign, according to prosecutors at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which was established by the U.N. Security Council in 1993 to try those responsible for serious human rights violations in the Balkan wars.

5.  I want Congress out of MY business, too:

“So far, eight states have introduced resolutions declaring state sovereignty under the Ninth and Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, including Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington.

Analysts expect that in addition, another 20 states may see similar measures introduced this year, including Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Nevada, Maine and Pennsylvania.

What we are trying to do is to get the U.S. Congress out of the state’s business,” Oklahoma Republican state Sen. Randy Brogdon told WND.

6.  “Why Did They Get It So Wrong?

Why did they get it so wrong? Why did mainstream economists stick to such faulty models and ignore basic truths about how the economy really works?

Certainly part of it is arrogance and ignorance.

But perhaps it is also because the wealthy make a lot of money in boom times, and in busts – as they understand that busts follow booms and invest appropriately ahead of time. By following the commonly-accepted dogma, the public is none-the-wise, and the elites can make a killing on both the boom and bust.

Mainstream economists have lapped up the theories of Keynes and Friedman as if they were proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. But Keynes and Friedman both conveniently ignored the fact that if the bubble is big enough, the resulting crash will take out the economy (like it is currently doing). Indeed, both Keynes and Friedman were faithful servants of those in power (that may, in fact, be one of the main reasons they were promoted to such an exulted status as the two leading economists of the twentieth century).

And both provided the illusion that problems can easily be fixed, without addressing the real, core problems:

  • Keynesian economics implies that you can keep on blowing endless speculative bubbles so long as the government is willing to “stimulate” the economy when things crash
  • Likewise, Friedman teaches that if you just increase the money supply enough, you can let business go wild and leverage itself into all the speculative bubbles it wants. That’s why – even a couple of years ago – the economic big-wigs said that they had everything figured out, and everyone could go hog wild and the system would still remain stable

The powers-that-be do not like economists who say “Boys, if you don’t slow down, that bubble is going to get too big and pop right in your face”. They don’t want to hear that they can’t make endless money using crazy levels of leverage and 30-to-1 levels of fractional reserve banking, and credit derivatives. And of course, they don’t want to hear that the Federal Reserve is a big part of the problem.

So Keynes and Friedman were elevated to the status of prophets, and those economists asking hard questions – like those in the Austrian school of economics – were ignored and sidelined. Likewise, those pushing voodoo theories justifying the tremendous increase in leverage and in the use of credit derivatives were lionized, while those questioning such nonsense were ridiculed.

7.  “In actuality, what we are dealing with is the most drastic curtailment in public spending in American history, leading to social havoc and the potential impoverishment of millions of people.

The Obama promise largely serves the interests of Wall Street, the defence contractors and the oil conglomerates. In turn, the Bush-Obama bank “bailouts” are leading America into a spiralling public debt crisis. The economic and social dislocations are potentially devastating.

Obama’s budget submitted to Congress on February 26, 2009 envisages outlays for the 2010 fiscal year (commencing October 1st 2009) of $3.94 trillion, an increase of 32 percent. Total government revenues for the 2010 fiscal year,  according to preliminary estimates by the Bureau of Budget, are of the order of $2.381 trillion.

The predicted budget deficit  (according to the president’s speech) is of the order of $1.75 trillion, almost 12 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product.

War and Wall Street

This is a “War Budget”. The austerity measures hit all major federal spending programs with the exception of:  1. Defence and the Middle East War: 2. the Wall Street bank bailout,  3. Interest payments on a staggering public debt.

The budget diverts tax revenues into financing the war. It  legitimizes the fraudulent transfers of tax dollars to the financial elites under the “bank bailouts”.

The pattern of deficit spending is not expansionary. We are not dealing with a Keynesian style deficit, which stimulates investment and consumer demand, leading to an expansion of production and employment. “

8.  More government criminality:

“Paulson and Geithner’s Violation of US Law

Specifically – Title 12, Chapter 16, Sec. 1831o of the US Code collection that Economics Professor and former Senior government regulator during the earlier troubled S & L period William K. Black discussed in his February 23 Huffington Post article titled: “Why Is Geithner Continuing Paulson’s Policy of Violating the Law?”

Well before they’re insolvent or when serious problems are suspected, US law “mandat(es) that the administration place troubled banks….in receivership, appoint competent managers, and restrain senior executive compensation” to prevent bonuses, huge salaries, raises, and undeserved benefits from being paid.

No provision says taxpayers should bail out bankers. Yet Paulson and now Geithner keep doing it, using vast sums kept secret – both in amounts and to whom beyond the handful of big names made public.”

9.  A complete betrayal of the American people:

“Millions of Americans voted for Obama, not because they believed that the war in Iraq was a distraction from the pursuit of broader imperialist goals, but because they regarded the unprovoked invasion and conquest of a sovereign nation as a crime, and opposed the predatory character of American foreign policy as a whole.

Their voices have not the slightest impact on the formulation of policy in the Obama White House. As the events of last week demonstrate, it is the military-intelligence apparatus that calls the shots here. Obama did not make an independent decision as commander-in-chief, but rubber-stamped the course backed by one faction of the military establishment against the other.

Obama did not replace any of the Bush administration’s principal military decision makers when he took office. Instead, he retained Gates, Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Odierno and General David Petraeus, head of the US Central Command and architect of the “surge” in Iraq.

His embrace of militarism was demonstrated in the very fact that Obama chose to give the speech at a Marine base to an audience of uniformed troops, not in a civilian setting or through a televised White House address. The effect was to suggest that in the America of 2009, decisions on war and peace are of concern primarily to the military, with the American people relegated to the role of bystanders.

10.  “The Obama DOJ is now refusing to comply with the Judge’s order, actually arguing to the court that only the President can decide whether classified information can be used in a court proceeding, and that courts have no power to make such decisions.

As Marcy Wheeler documents in detail, the Obama DOJ is now spouting the Cheney/Addington view of government in its purest and most radical expression.

The brief filed by Obama on Friday afternoon (.pdf) has to be read to believed.  It is literally arguing that no court has the power to order that classified documents be used in a judicial proceeding; instead, it is the President — and the President alone — who possesses that decision-making power under Article II, and no court order is binding on the President to the extent it purports to direct that such information be made available for use in a judicial proceeding.

But — after a few symbolic (and potentially important) decrees in the first week, which I praised at the time — the Obama administration’s approach to civil liberties, constitutional protections and the reining in of executive power abuses has been absolutely abysmal.  None of this has anything to do with complaints that he hasn’t yet done enough.  It’s the opposite:  these are all affirmative, even extraordinary, actions undertaken by the Obama DOJ not merely to copy, but in the Al-Haramain case, virtually to surpass, the worst aspects of the Bush/Cheney/Addington use of extreme secrecy and assertions of unlimited executive power. ”


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