Judd Gregg strode to the Senate floor yesterday and denounced the provision in the Dodd bill to remove derivatives from banks and put them on their own exchange in the sunlight for everyone to see. Remarkably, he centered his argument around the irrationality of populist anger, which he likened to Argentina in the 50s and the Peron years.
You know, I have really been trying to figure out what's behind this type of language [derivatives sunlight], because it's so destructive to our competitiveness as a nation, really.
I mean, this is the type of thing, as I said earlier, you would have seen in Argentina that -- Argentina in the 1950s -- bashing on entities simply because they're large and because obviously there's a populist feeling against them, which ends up, by the way, significantly affecting Main Street in a negative way.
Look at Argentina in 1945 - 1937, somewhere in that period. They were the seventh-best economy in the world. 7th most prosperous in the world. Now they're like 54th or something.
It is because of this populist movement which has driven basically their ability to be competitive offshore.
So now we have this huge populist movement here. I'm trying to think, what really is the rationale here other than just rampant pandering to populism?
He follows that with this:
Is there anything in this country that gets broken up because there is an attitude that big is bad, whether it contributes or not, unless you happen to be big and union, in which case you get saved, as the UAW was able to work out for GM and Chrysler.
Senator Gregg is either arguing for a corrupt extreme right regime or he has not studied Argentina's history lately. Here's a quick review. Argentina's economy followed other emerging countries in the early 1900s. In 1920, it was the 7th largest economy in the world, but the Wall Street crash took a deep toll.
Unfortunately, the 1930s witnessed a reversal in the legitimacy of the rule of law in Argentina. To stay in power in the 1930s, the Conservatives in the Pampas resorted to electoral fraud, which neither the legislative, executive, or judicial branches checked. The decade of unchecked electoral fraud lead to the support of citizens for the populism of President Juan Peron and the impeachment of the majority of the Supreme Court. The aftermath of Peron has been political and economic instability, which partially accounts for the fall of Argentina from the top ten of income per capita countries in the world. Read more...(PDF)
Did Senator Gregg really intend to self-indict conservatives in our time and country by comparing today's populist anger to Argentinian populist anger?
There are many, many parallels between Argentine conservatives of the 1930s and American conservatives of today. None of them are complimentary and all of them imply a severe indictment on the corruption, money and greed that seems to drive conservative legislators.
What really stands out, though, is the utter cynicism of a conservative senator criticizing populist anger while his party is spending millions upon millions to capitalize on that same populist anger.
When Iraq launched a three-stage rudimentary satellite booster into space in December 1989, probably based upon the Argentinian "Condor" ballistic missile, hawks in the West went crazy, declaiming that this proved Iraq was after an intercontinental WMD ability. We all know how that turned out.
Today it's "deja vu all over again" as Iran becomes the eleventh nation to prove it can launch a satellite into orbit - something it stated it would do as long ago as January 2004. It's stated aim is to grab a slice of the lucrative satellite launch industry - alongside major players like Russia, the US, China and Europe but also alongside nations like Brazil, Israel, Japan and India - as well as launch its own satellites for telecommunications, weather and earthquake monitoring and security (spy-sat) purposes. It already has one satellite in orbit, which it paid Russia hard currency to launch.
For the Iranian government it is an important milestone along the road to reclaiming Persia's ancient claim to major power status, which it feels the jealous west is trying to deny it.
It is also enormously significant in Iranian internal politics. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got elected promising economic benefits for the common man and modernisation. He has made a complete mess of the first part of that mission. Delivering the second is important for his prospects of re-election in June, in the eyes of both the average voter and – even more importantly, given the controlled nature of Iranian democracy – the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
From Washington, London and some other western capitals, the launch is seen primarily through the prism of Iran's nuclear project. The capacity to put an object into space, together with the feared capability to build a nuclear device, spells – for some at least – the eventual threat of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could reach the US.
"There are dual applications for satellite launching technology in Iran's ballistic missile programme. As a result we think this sends the wrong signal to the international community, which has already passed five successive UN security council resolutions on Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes," Bill Rammell, the minister of state at the [British] Foreign Office, said today.
Iranian assertions that their staging experiments were always aimed at getting into the lucrative satelite launching business, rather than at ICBMs, go forgotten...when Iran proves to prospective customers that it can launch a satellite. Amazing.
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Sometimes a matter of national pride and foreign currency income doesn't have a more sinister agenda behind it. Mohammed El-Baradei reminded the WaPo on Monday that neither the IAEA nor the US intelligence community has any evidence of a current Iranian nuclear weapons program. It's become fashionable of late to just ignore that - President Obama being one keynote offender - but eventually the hawks will have to confront the lack of evidence, if they can.
This video was created for the AARP U@50 video contest and placed second. It is based on the Argentinian Political Advertisement "The Truth" by RECREAR. Apparently, when it was shown, it got a rousing standing ovation and cheers. (h/t Aunt Ruthie)
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