Who do you think was one of the Bush Administration's key players on the economy?
If you say Paulson or Bernanke, you might be half right. But there's another no-name lurking around in the background who tends to be doing the wrong thing at every key moment in the covert history of the Bush (or should we day "Bush League") Republic.
His name is Jim Wilkinson. He helped organize the GOP "protest"/obstruction of the Miami election recount in 2000. He was the White House's key media spinner at the Coalition Media Center in Quatar in 2003. A reporter from Texas said he used techniques first perfected by Stalin. He was then a architect of the media strategy for the Republican convention in New York in 2004. He was later dispatched to keep an eye on, and act as "dissembler-in-chief" for Condi Rice.
But at a crucial moment in the history of the Western world, Mr. "I work in the shadows" Wilkinson became chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, the Goldman Sachs embed in the Cabinet.
Operative Wilkinson was given the assignment of monitoring the world's financial markets in a secret operation modeled no doubt on the great intelligence plan that produced the Iraq War.
His qualifications for this historic role?
As Mike Whitney reported for Information Clearing House at the end of October in 2006 -- a day before Halloween -- the US was then engineering the drop in the dollar to "improve competitiveness" -- i.e. subsidize US exports in a flawed attempt to reduce the growing balance of trade gap. Was it a trick or treat? Read on.
The result was summed up in his headline: "The U.S. Dollar is kaput. Confidence in the currency is eroding by the day."
Whitney saw then what our media has still yet to report or understand.
"The financial crisis that we now face was created by design. It is intended to destroy the labor movement, crush the middle class, quash Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, reduce our foreign debt by 50 or 60%, force a restructuring of America's debt, privatize all public assets and resources, and create a new regime of austerity measures which will divert more wealth to the banking and corporate establishment."
This was months before the sub-prime meltdown in August 2007, or the more recent hike in food prices and oil prices. Their plan, blessed by business and the banks, was implemented step by step. The consequence was intended.
News, as we know, passes by so fast, and unless a story is repeated ad nauseam, no one remembers it or looks for the context and background of breaking developments.
Whitney referenced Richard Daughty's prescient article, "The Phase of Impact." According to Daughty, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Dept. have already manned the battle stations.
Here's an excerpt:
"Mr. Paulson, the Secretary of the Treasury, is, by virtue of his ascension to the throne, now the head of the shadowy President's Working Group of Financial Markets (which was created by Presidential Order 12631) and he is insisting that they meet more often, namely every 6 weeks!
This whole Working Group thing was originally set up as a fall back, ad-hoc, if-then defense to deal with possible economic emergencies, but now they are routinely meeting every 6 weeks. He has even ordered Jim Wilkinson, his chief of staff, to 'oversee the creation of a Treasury Command Center to track markets world-wide and serve as an operations base in a crisis"! (Wall Street Journal) World-wide!!
The American government is moving to take control of the world-wide economy as the result of an anticipated crisis? Yikes!"
Now let's fast-forward to the present, well after this widely foreseen crisis erupted. As oil prices climb, the public is angry. And who do they mostly blame -- the oil companies and the oil-producing states, of course. They have no clue that this crisis was the consequence of decisions made by the Bush Administration to devalue the dollar with its "crisis manager" Jim Wilkinson playing a central role.
Political writer Jerry Policoff questioned the "politicized polls" on who is responsible for the oil hikes. Only a few respondents blamed the Bush Administration for causing them. He noted that most people and pollsters don't realize that the fall of the dollar precipitated all of this.
I asked him if he thought this squeeze had been orchestrated.
"I don't think there is any doubt about that, and the Saudis said as much when Bush asked them to rev up production to bring down the price. Their reaction was pretty much that the U.S. should stop undermining the value of its own dollar before asking other countries to take a financial hit on oil."
And sure enough, once again, as AP reported last Friday, President Bush "failed to win the help he sought from Saudi Arabia to relieve skyrocketing American gas prices."
The President's own bombast was also faulted for driving oil prices higher, as Bill Scher noted, "Bush's saber-rattling with Iran raises concerns of war and more disruption of oil supplies, which prompts speculators to raise prices."
A day later, Paulson was asked what he was going to do to strengthen the dollar. He waffled -- claiming a "strong dollar" is important but then changed the subject to positive "market fundamentals" in a speech clearly designed to pump up CONfidence. (The first three letters of that word gave the real mission away.) He avoided a straight answer with a flurry of "uh, uh, uh,", halting phrases and contradictory assertions. The speech was characterized as "optimistically pessimistic."
Ach, so maybe there's more to this than meets the eye and the wallet. In Europe the press is already blaming the banks for their role in the continuing economic collapse. On May 13th, the President of Germany, Horst Kohler, a former head of the International Monetary Fund lashed out at bankers, calling them, get this, MONSTERS.
It takes one to know one.
In a page one story in the Financial Times, Kohler said global financial markets have become a "monster" that must be "put back in place" for their "massive destruction of assets." He called for tougher and more efficient regulation.
This is the strongest criticism of bankers by a European leader since 2005 when German Vice-Chancellor Franz Muntefering attacked hedge funds as "swarms of locusts" whose profit maximization strategies "posed a danger to democracy."
No one was listening then. Is anyone listening now?
Crises just don't happen out of the blue unless there is a natural disaster, and even those are made worse by a deranged military junta like the one in Burma, inadequate preparations, and flawed building standards thanks to corruption.
When I was in China visiting the Three Gorges Dam, for example, I was told about a major revolt in the National People's Assembly against the dam because it was in a known earthquake zone. The leadership rejected the concerns and imposed its will. So far, the big Dam is safe, but 400 others aren't. 32,000 people are not alive either.
There is a financial quake still underway today with its own shocks and aftershocks. Will anyone in our media look at the precipitating role played by the bankers and the Busheviks including our old friend/fiend Jim Wilkinson?
You can almost predict that wherever he shows up, there's gonna be a disaster.
And you can also predict that the mainstream press will be looking the other way, more than happy to attack any critics suspected of telling the truth or living in what the all knowing New York Times columnist David Brooks so cleverly sneers at as "Noam Chomskyland."
Tell that to the cashier the next time you pay too much for a loaf of bread.