Meh Culpa

Just a quickie: Bernanke on the economy

I wanted to say he’s on crack–although I still want to know what he’s smoking–but I think I’ll stick with Head in Clouds disease (because it might be kinder): Ben Bernanke, for saying the recession will be over this year, and that 2010 “will be a year of recovery.”   I actually cackled when I read that.  The guy is seriously deluded. Just like his previous boss.

Anyhow, for your consideration, an excerpt from Robert Reich’s blog:

We’re in a deepening recession, in case you hadn’t noticed.
The biggest challenge is to ramp up aggregate demand. Yes, we have to borrow lots from the Chinese and Japanese to do this, and, yes, it’s costly in terms of additional interest payments to them. But there’s no choice. In fact, if the slump gets worse — and I have every reason to fear it will because that’s the direction we’re heading in as fast as you can imagine — we’ll probably have to have a second stimulus. And if the second isn’t enough, a third. And so on. FDR’s biggest mistake was doing too little until World War II. (No one should interpret this as a recommendation for more military spending — I’m just saying Obama will probably have to think and do much bigger than the $787 billion stimulus so far.)

That post was dated yesterday.   How could all that change in a single day?

I would say Paul Volker agrees with Reich, and though we’ve never met, with me.   Yet even  Volker was surprised at how quickly the world’s economy has collapsed. Just last Friday he said, “I don’t remember any time, maybe even the Great Depression, when things went down quite so fast.”  With “shocking speed,” no less.

Maybe Bernanke has ripped a page out of Bill Clinton’s Playbook of Hope , but what he’s doing is  spreading false hope, delusion, or even a baldfaced lie.  Americans aren’t that stupid.  We all know how bad it is. (Well, except for those rich folks that represent us in Congress, we do.)   Encouraging us probably more apt at this point.  We American may not be used to exerting determination and confidence–after all, it has been a long time–but grit is in our genes.  We are pioneers and innovators from way back, and don’t you forget it.

I would like very much to talk about Israel’s deepening paranoia and belligerence, which hasn’t been working for the Israelis at all, thankyouverymuch, but  I have a paper,  fortunately my last, to write on ovarian cancer.  I will try to get a grip on my compulsion to  research everything on the planet and thensome, but that’s what I tell myself every time I write a paper and it ends up being way more knowledgeable and detailed than it has to be.  And then I revise for a day and a half, which I don’t really do here.  Meh blog is more or less a purge.

Ah, well. Drudgery calls.


February 24, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Federal Reserve, recession | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Splish Splash: Skimming

I finally got around to reading ProPublica, well into the depths of an article about Wikileaks and the Congressional Research  Service, an org that  pumps information only for members of Congress.   I am so not interested in CRS reports, but, now that’s another bag of tomatoes. is to spreading secrets as Madge was to dishwashing liquid.  Today I discovered a NATO report dated January 14, 2009, Metrics Brief 2007-2008 (.pdf file), that records a 45% increase in Afghan civilian deaths in the last year, while kidnappings are up 50%.   IED attacks, which have risen 27%,  are deemed the “single largest cause of casualties.”  Many of them would seem to be against the Afghan government, as attacks  against that entity have skyrocketed to almost 120%.  The document’s all graphs, slides, and stats,  so it’s a fairly easy read.

Another  link that caught my eye has to do with a white supremacist shot to death by his wife two months ago in a domestic violence homicide.   I suppose we should be a grateful public.  By gunning down her husband, the independently wealthy James G. Cummings, Amber Cummings of Belfast, Maine has potentially saved us from a “dirty bomb,” the makings of which were in her home.   No one,  from the coppers to Senator Collins, has any comment.  Natch.

In other news,  there’s the article “McCain Solicits Russian U.N. Ambassador” originally published at the conservative  WaPo last year.  At first I thought it was a sex story because that’s what sells,  but it’s about campaign donations.  Still, very droll.  The Russians despised McCain’s positions–and might wish they had a few missiles aimed at Sarah’s house–so they  wouldn’t have given his campaign any money even if they were allowed.   The article does show how far wrong McCain’s campaign could go, which makes it amusing and a tad pitiful.

A 2007 document alleges that the United States has violated chemical weapons conventions in Iraq.  I thought that was common knowledge.  I guess I was wrong.

There’s about 237 pages worth of SOP for Camp Delta (.pdf file) in Guantanamo signed by the nefarious Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller,  who was later sent to Abu Ghraib to make that facility more  Gitmo-esque.  The article preceding the .pdf file claims evidence of psychological torture, which I assume is about cavity searches and intimidation by military dogs.  There could be more evidence I’m not getting because it’s written in dull militarese and I’m short on time.

When I do get some time–after my next two exams and the paper about ovarian cancer–I’m going to look into the Counterinsurgency link, which boasts military doctrine for unconventional warfare used by US  Special Forces;  UK insurgency doctrine from 2007, or doing-to-the-Taliban-and-Al-Qaeda-what-they’ve-done-to-us;  there’s ” McCain’s real Petraeus doctrine,” about US trained death squads and a number of other slimy details the Pentagon doesn’t want you to know.  We’ve got all sorts of goodies here at Wikileaks, boys and girls.   I counted forty-three links, although some,  such as those under “Catalyzed analysis and reportage,”  may redirect and talk about related doctrine, reports, and projections.

Be good and learn a lot.  😉

February 19, 2009 Posted by | Afghan War, Afghanistan, Defense, Foreign policy, Guantanamo, Pentagon, Russia, torture, UK | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reminder to self

Watching bipartisanship get a drubbing by the Republicans this week didn’t surprise me. I was hoping after the Inauguration that they’d settle down and play nice, but I wasn’t surprised when despite their promises (i.e., McCain’s to Obama), the party devolved into the same old harpy that’s plagued us since the era of Gingrich and the Contract on America (a pun).  I was reminded of something, though.  When I was almost of voting age, my dad–a reactionary Republican if ever there was one–explained to me how he came to his voting decisions:  he considered what would benefit him personally and voted for that.

My voting rationale is the antithesis of my dad’s. I vote for what I believe is right for the American people and for the country as a whole. I vote against war because, as a general principle, I don’t believe in war. I believe in direct, not indirect, self-defense.  I vote for choice because even if I don’t like the choice, I’ll defend a woman’s right to choose. If she wants to have a baby, that’s her choice regardless of whether I think it’s a bad choice.  (Case in point,  Nadya Suleman.  I thought she should have stopped by the first disabled child, but she had the right to choose to carry to what passed for term.  She also has a right to live with the consequences of her choices. Unfortunately, her children will have to live with those consequences, too.)

Had I been in Congress last fall, I probably would have voted against TARP because it rewarded the wealthy and the powerful at the expense of the regular people getting screwed.  From my point of view, helping distressed homeowners was the only reason to vote for TARP at all.  Although some people blamed those homeowners for not living up to their responsibilities, not all buyers understood what they were getting into. Many consumers didn’t have the education or they were defrauded by unscrupulous lenders like Countrywide or they simply lost their jobs.  (The actual rate of unemployment was 9.2% in April 2008.)

I also agree with Joseph Stiglitz that banks are in denial about their insolvency, that they created the problems that put Wall Street & Co. in this dire situation.  I believe that the insolvent banks should be nationalized–not as an act of vengeance, but ultimately for pragmatism’s sake–and that the bankers who are still running the show should be dismissed because they keep doing the same old things that don’t work.   Since he’s part of the same system, I probably would have suggested another Treasury Secretary than Geithner, too.  (But who would in her right mind would want that job?)

I was so relieved when Obama was elected that I suppose I relaxed more than I should have.   I even started winnowing my subscriptions to various and sundry progressive organizations. The Reminder to Self truly arose the other day when I discovered the administration will need continuous nudges about the things I believe in.  If I want torture ended, then I need to agitate against torture.   If I think Obama should stick to his campaign promise to get us out of Iraq, then I need to keep reminding him of that.  If I think Israel seems to be calling too many shots in our foreign policy, then I need to argue for an equal playing field in the Middle East.  And on it goes.

I care about so many issues.  I simply can’t tackle them all.  😐

February 14, 2009 Posted by | bailout(s), banks, Economy, Foreign policy, Iraq War, Israel, Middle East, Obama, Obama administration, recession, torture, Treasury, US Constitution | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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