With any luck, George W. Bush will simply disappear into the gated suburbs of Dallas, ride his bike around his ranch, pretend to stock his library, play golf in his sweat-soaked shirts and stay out of the way. His astonishing ego has compelled him lately to make the rounds, burnishing his "legacy," rewriting history, and distorting a clear recent public record, still fresh in everyone's mind, with ludicrous fantasies about his "competence." I think he argued that FEMA's handling of the Katrina disaster in New Orleans was actually first-rate, just as one example. The most stupendous screwup in U.S. military and foreign policy history, invading a country to disarm them of an arsenal which they absolutely and completely lacked -- Bush called this a "disappointment." Bush is that most tiresome of human specimens, a dull and slow-witted man who for reasons known only to himself thinks he's the smartest guy in the room.
January 16, 2009
January 12, 2009
I have mused over the parallels between the imploding American economy and the deflationary spiral which gripped Japan in the early 1990s. The considered opinion of most American economic experts is that our fast and massive response to the bursting of the housing bubble will avoid the prolonged malaise in the Land of the Rising Sun. To put the Japanese problem in perspective, to this day the real estate market in Japan has only recovered to a level of about 40% of the 1989 high (when land around the Imperial Palace was said to equal all the real estate in California), and the Japanese Nikkei Index is still only 80% of its value for the same year. This is a very long time to get stuck in deflationary quicksand.
"One more thing: even with the Obama plan, the Romer-Bernstein report predicts an average unemployment rate of 7.2 percent over the next three years. That's a scary number, big enough to pose a real risk that the U.S. economy will get stuck in a Japan-type deflationary trap."
I'm tired of all this piling on where Bernie Madoff is concerned. I understand that there are those who are perhaps justifiably angry about his $50 billion Ponzi scheme, but a lot of the criticism has gone way over the top. For example, he's been called a "sociopath," and among the reasons for this serious allegation is that he cheated his own sister out of $3 million, and she is now faced with the prospect of selling her Palm Beach house at a major loss. I admit that this does not look good, on the surface.