I never thought there’d come a time when, even for a moment, I’d trust Fidel Castro less than a chairman of the Federal Reserve. But it’s happened. Fidel turns out to be a 9/11 conspiracist, while former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan says the US attack on Iraq was “largely about oil.” Win a few, lose a few.
These days, instead of charging around Cuba, Fidel is resting up and writing columns or, given his style, dictating them. On the anniversary of 9/11 he served up a 4,256-worder. Maximum leaders scoff at the editor’s blue pencil. The whole slab of drivel was read out by a Cuban television presenter.
It turns out Castro’s joined at the hip with David Ray Griffin. Castro says the Pentagon was hit by a rocket, not a plane, because no traces were found of its passengers. “Only a projectile could have created the geometrically round orifice created by the alleged airplane,” according to Fidel. “We were deceived as well as the rest of the planet’s inhabitants.” All nonsense, of course. They found remains of the passengers who were on the plane that hit the Pentagon–teeth and other bits traced through DNA. In fact, as I’ve written before, hundreds of people saw the plane, people who know the difference between a plane and a cruise missile. The wreckage of the plane was hauled out from the site.
Maybe Castro subscribes to the theory that Flight 77 was actually hijacked and taken to Barksdale AFB in Louisiana, where George W. Bush made a documented stopover after his morning session in the Florida schoolroom. Bush personally machine-gunned the passengers, who were then cremated and the remains given to Cheney and Rumsfeld, who duly returned to the wreckage in the Pentagon and dropped the teeth and other bits through holes in their trouser pockets.
Maximum leaders like Castro are conspiracists by disposition. Since they are control freaks, the random and the accidental are alien to their frame of reference. If it happened, it happened for a reason. And if a bad thing happened, it was very probably a conspiracy. Anyway, Fidel has every right to see a CIA man behind every bush and a plot behind every cocktail cherry. In his case it was true. I doubt there’s been a day in the history of the CIA since 1958 when there wasn’t a file somewhere in the agency’s HQ in Langley labeled “Castro Disposal Plans (Current).”
Greenspan has been having a field day publicizing his memoir The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World. The line about the war being largely for oil was clearly written for his press release. The book doesn’t amplify the idea. But he’s right. Oil, among other factors, did have something to do with it. Meanwhile, the 81-year-old Greenspan escapes vilification and public indictment as a prime sponsor of a plot against American security far more deadly than the 9/11 onslaught Castro attributes to the US government.
It’s amazing to see Greenspan waltz through TV interviews like the one the docile Lesley Stahl conducted with him on 60 Minutes. I yearned for the shade of an old-line populist like Representative Wright Patman to shimmer up in the studio, take Greenspan by the throat and shake a confession out of him about the ruin he wrought. It was Greenspan, along with Bill Clinton’s Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who promoted the whole wave of deregulation that produced the fake boom of the 1990s and, in recent years, the explosion in speculative instruments that are now vaporizing.
There’s decorum in the interviews of Greenspan, even as he bleats that he didn’t foresee the housing bubble and the devastation now being wrought across America by the subprime mortgage binge.
Greenspan couldn’t possibly have missed what was coming with the housing and mortgage market crisis. For anyone who was paying the slightest bit of attention, the housing bubble has been obvious for years. Just as the stock market bubble of the late 1990s–what Greenspan himself called “irrational exuberance”–was also obvious. As Robert Pollin, who devastates Greenspan in his book on the Clinton years, Contours of Descent, says, “The main point with Greenspan is that he saw these things, but deliberately chose not to do anything about them. He wouldn’t act to rein in either bubble because that would mean challenging the prerogatives of Wall Street. Greenspan wasn’t about to do that.”
But again as Pollin points out in his book, there is another angle on Greenspan, which has been absent in the comments on his memoir, and is probably absent in the memoir itself. Greenspan’s single greatest claim to “maestro” status is that he managed to hold down inflation while unemployment fell below 5 percent after the mid-1990s and even below 4 percent at the end of his friend Clinton’s tenure. Mainstream economic theory had been putting out the story for years that unemployment couldn’t fall below 6 percent–then it was 5.5 percent–without setting off uncontrollable inflation. Greenspan seemed to have figured out how to defy iron laws of what Milton Friedman termed the “natural rate of unemployment.” But as Greenspan himself has acknowledged, the main factor here was quite straightforward, what Bob Woodward reported Greenspan as calling the “traumatized worker” effect.
Now, Greenspan didn’t just hypothesize–he celebrated. In his notorious comment in July 1997 in Congressional testimony, he saluted the economy’s performance as “extraordinary” and “exceptional,” then remarked that a major factor contributing to this achievement was “a heightened sense of job insecurity and, as a consequence, subdued wage gains.”
Thus, for Greenspan, a “heightened sense of job insecurity” creating “traumatized workers” was a cause for celebration. This from the country’s–and by extension, the world’s–most important economic policy-maker. We can safely assume that Greenspan doesn’t bother to express troubled reminiscences about this part of his legacy.
So, comrade Fidel, get working on the Greenspan conspiracy. You’ve got 1,500 words.