Sunday, October 4, 2009

Greenspan - Unemployment Rate at 10 Percent for a "while": Transcript (10-4-09)

Alan Greenspan appeared on ABC's 'This Week' saying some scary things:

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, for most Americans, this jobs issues is the one that hits home the hardest. And that report on Friday was a surprise, much worse than people expected. What should Americans expect right now? How much worse is this job situation going to get for how long?

GREENSPAN: Well, it's very difficult to make judgments at a time like this, largely because we don't have so many incidents in history to be able to compare it to. But basically I think the issue is this.

The job report was pretty awful, no matter how you looked at it. Indeed, not only, of course, did the unemployment rate go up, but I was particularly concerned about the number of Americans who have been unemployed for six months or longer. And that went up...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Five million Americans.

GREENSPAN: But that went up sharply in September. And remember, the reason that is a problem, obviously, other than the obvious personal difficulties that families have in such a context, is that the economy loses skills. And people who are out of work for very protracted periods of time, lose their skills eventually.

And remember that what makes an economy great is a combination of the capital assets of the economy and the people who run it. And if you erode the human skills that are involved there, there is a real and in one sense an irretrievable loss.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So what do we do about it?

GREENSPAN: Well, the issue is essentially economic activity. And the reason I say that is that there is a silver lining in that particular report. And it's difficult to find one. It's that American business after Lehman Brothers collapsed and the whole financial system imploded, business expected that the economy would go down far more sharply than it in fact did.

The result was they laid off a very substantial number of people to the point that the actual hours worked fell even more than the economy. So that what we're getting is artificial numbers which give us productivity gains of horrendous amounts, meaning the amount of labor input per unit of output has been going down and down. And that can't continue.

So that silver lining is at some point we're going to start to see an improvement in employment. But remember that unless there is a monthly increase of more than 100,000 a month, you've still got the unemployment rate continuing to rise.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that's why the administration's projections show more than 8 percent unemployment through 2011. You saw the president yesterday say now he's going to look at new ideas to spur job creation.

What should he be doing now? What would you advise him to do?

GREENSPAN: Well, I think the focus has got to be on trying to get the economy going, but you also have to be careful that in trying to do too much you can actually be counterproductive. And we are in a recovery, and I think it would be a mistake to say the September numbers alter that significantly.

It is true, the last couple of weeks that some of the numbers that are coming in have been a little bit soft. But this is what a recovery looks like. In retrospect we always look back and we see the ups and the downs and the ups and the downs, and we just visually (ph) go right through it.

It's premature to act on this type of information.

[...]"GREENSPAN: Well, no, I think we're getting close to that. But remember, the end of the job loss is not the same thing as if the unemployment rate is going to start down. My own suspicion is that we're going to penetrate the 10 percent barrier and stay there for a while before we start down."

'FOX News Sunday' Transcript (10-4-09): Iran Discussed

Full transcript. Excerpt below:

Senators, welcome to you all. Let’s get right to Iran where we have seen some significant developments overnight. Senators, the front page of the New York Times this morning has this story, “Report Says Iran has Data to Make a Nuclear Bomb.”

This is about a confidential analysis by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA. The Times writes, quote, “Most dramatically, the report says the agency assesses that Iran has sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable implosion nuclear device based on highly enriched uranium.”

These excerpts also suggest that Iran has done much research and testing to perfect nuclear arms, like making high-voltage detonators, firing test explosives and designing warheads.

We should point out the Times is following up on some of the reporting by the Associated Press and other sites on this secret IAEA report.

So, Senators, your thought on this report and how or should it factor into the negotiations with Iran.

Senator Graham first.

GRAHAM: Oh, absolutely. I think one of the things that we’d want to do is challenge the Iranians to give us some access to what’s alleged in this report.

Clearly, they’re not developing a nuclear program for peaceable purposes. This report is just yet more evidence in a long line of evidence that the Iranians are trying to develop a nuclear weapon, and half measures won’t work.

We need to get on with challenging the Iranians with some deadlines and ultimatums, quite frankly.

BAIER: Senator Casey? Senator Casey?

No, we’ll turn to Senator Bayh first. Your thought on this report and...

BAYH: Well, Bret, it shows that we need to bring a real sense of urgency to this issue. The clock is running, and the Iranians will have a nuclear capability before long if something doesn’t happen to change their minds.

So we need to have tough sanctions, financial and economic. We need to do them now. Have real deadlines and consequences if they don’t live up to their word, because they have lied repeatedly in the past.

But you know, we are on a path toward a nuclear Iran which is an unacceptable course. If we’re going to avoid the very painful dilemma of either having to live with that or taking military action to prevent that, which may ultimately be a choice we have to face, we need to act now on the financial and economic side.

BAIER: Senator Chambliss, has the administration taken the right point of view here?

CHAMBLISS: Well, I think so. Obviously, there have been some significant high-level discussions both with our allies as well as beginning talks with Iran right now. So I think the administration realizes the seriousness of this.

And when you combine, Bret, the revelations relative to the knowledge that Iran has concerning the manufacture of a weapon with the fact that we now have publicly disclosed the other facility in Iran at Qom where, for the last several months, we’ve been monitoring their operations -- and that is not a facility where the Iranians are going to be manufacturing enriched uranium for nuclear power purposes.

It’s not big enough. They don’t have enough centrifuges for that. So it’s pretty clear that Iran is headed down the track of getting a nuclear weapon. They have the knowledge. They now have a secret facility that’s been disclosed.

What else do they have? I think that’s the question the administration needs to ask.

BAIER: Senator Casey, the head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, arrived in Tehran on Saturday to arrange this inspection of the facility that Senator Chambliss mentioned in Qom, near the holy city of Qom.

He announced at a news conference this morning that Iran has agreed to let inspectors in there on October 25th. That is three weeks, not two weeks, from now, as the president forecast. He also said that Iran has agreed to, quote, “in principle” allow some of its low enriched uranium to be transported out of the country to Russia or France to be enriched to higher levels for nuclear fuel.

So the president has called these talks a constructive beginning. How do you see these talks?

CASEY: Well, what we heard this week was certainly encouraging, but I think we have to be very focused on giving the president and giving other parts of our government, including pension funds, the ability to impose sanctions.

We should not have to allow the talks to be an end in themselves. That’s why I and others have supported legislation that I know my colleagues support to provide a broad range of sanctions.

And in particular, Senator Brownback and I have legislation to allow pension funds to divest -- or I should say to allow pension fund entities around the country to divest pension fund assets out of companies that are doing business with Iran’s energy sector, up to a $20 million level.

So I think it’s critically important that we have all of the tools on the table to impose sanctions, even unilaterally if necessary.

'Face The Nation' Transcript, Video (10-4-09): Gen. Jim Jones

Watch CBS News Videos Online
Read the complete transcript. Excerpt below:

We begin in the studio this morning with General Jones. General, thank you for coming. More bad news from Afghanistan this morning. Eight American troops killed in this latest attack. This as the White House is debating whether to send more troops to Afghanistan. I want to begin by asking you about this meeting that the president had with General McChrystal, our top general in Afghanistan. He met with him in Copenhagen after the general basally shot down the idea of changing strategy in Afghanistan. Two questions. First, did the president feel that the general was trying to bring pressure on him in public and did he tell him not to do that?

GEN. JIM JONES, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, Bob, first, thank you very much for having me on. It’s good to be back. Secondly to answer your question, I wasn’t at that meeting. And this is a one- on-one meeting between the two of them. And I haven’t really talked to the president about that. So I couldn’t answer this question except to say that the two had a good meeting and it was a good opportunity for them to get to know each other a little bit better. I’m sure they exchanged very direct views.

SCHIEFFER: Well, did the general tell the president that he thinks it’s a bad idea not to put these extra troops into Afghanistan that he is requesting? He says he needs 40,000 troops.

JONES: Well, General McChrystal and the entire military chain of command as well as the secretary of defense and the entire national security team is in the process of discussing this very issue. We’ve had one lengthy meeting already last week with General McChrystal on the screen from Kabul. We will have more.

This week, two more meetings this week. So all of these things are being discussed as they should be against the back drop of this unfortunate tragedy that we all regret.

But it serves to underscore the importance of the moment to make sure that the strategic issues and the strategic decisions that the president will make are fully aired and vetted and that the options that the president has are also put on the table. It would be, I think, unfortunate if we let the discussion just be about troop strength. There is a minimum level that you have to have that there’s unfortunately no ceiling to it. SCHIEFFER: Let me just put up on the screen here what exactly the general said last week in London. When he was asked is scaling back the force as Vice President Biden wants to do was a good idea. Here’s what he said. “The short answer is no. A strategy that does not leave Afghanistan in a stable position is probably a short-sighted strategy.”

That’s pretty tough bottom line there, it seems to me. For example, do you agree that that would be a short-sighted strategy, general?

JONES: Well, I think that the -- I’ve said before for many years -- and I’ve had about six years of involvement in Afghanistan in various functions -- I think it would be a mistake to underestimate the importance of other elements of the strategy that were decided on in March.

We do have a strategy. What General McChrystal has done is presented his opinion, is presenting his opinion of what he thinks his role within that strategy is. Our strategy is a regional strategy. We focus on Afghanistan and also Pakistan. And I think that to not understand the value of the role that the government to play in Afghanistan and we have an election that is playing itself out is a very, very significant aspect of the strategy.

And to not fully understand how reconstruction and development play in, whether you’re adopting a counterterrorism strategy or counterinsurgency strategy, there are things that you have to do, there are common things you have to do to be successful in both.

So I think this is what we’re going to tear apart and look at and consider General McChrystal’s input. The president should be presented with options, not just one fait accompli. And we will come up with the right solution, I think.

U.S. Premature Birth Rate Worse Than Africa

If this isn't argument for health care reform then I don't know what is. This is a shocking outrage. I hope Democrats will cite this statistic in arguing for the public option. And these numbers further prove that we've become a third world nation:

"Around the world about one in 10 babies are born prematurely each year, and more than one-quarter of the deaths that occur in the month after birth are the consequence of preterm birth.

Those are among the findings of a new study of the burden of preterm birth by the World Health Organization and the charitable organization March of Dimes.

[...]In all, about 12.9 million babies are born too early each year, representing 9.6 percent of births. Of 4 million deaths that occur soon after birth, 28 percent are attributable to prematurity.

[...]Africa has the highest rate (11.9 percent), followed by North America (10.6 percent) and Asia (9.1 percent). Latin America and the Caribbean are mid-range (8.1 percent) and Australia and New Zealand (6.4 percent) and Europe (6.2 percent) are the lowest.

[...]in the United States, where the rate of preterm birth has increased 36 percent in the last quarter-century. It now stands at 12.7 percent; the North American rate is brought down by Canada's 8.2 percent rate)."
And you want to know another reason for America being a third world nation?:
There are 30 million Americans who are functionally illiterate, which means they cannot read well enough to function effectively, according to a federal survey.

"There are 40 percent of our nation's fourth graders who are not reading at basic level," says Emily Kirkpatrick of the National Center for Family Literacy. "Many of those fourth graders are children of the 30 million who cannot read at the basic level."

Often, children just give up as they fall behind, according to Kirkpatrick.
- Discuss why we need health care reform.

Senator Ensign Ethics Investigation Expected: Justice Department

Let's see if the U.S. government has the decency to punish a clear case of political corruption, and abuse of power.

The Justice Department and the Senate Ethics Committee are expected to conduct preliminary inquiries into whether Senator John Ensign violated federal law or ethics rules as part of an effort to conceal an affair with the wife of an aide, current and former officials said Friday.

“Whenever allegations of improper conduct are brought to the attention of Senate Ethics Committee, we open a preliminary inquiry,” said Natalie Ravitz, a spokeswoman for Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California and chairwoman of the committee.

The inquiries will most likely examine whether Mr. Ensign, a Nevada Republican, or Douglas Hampton, his one-time administrative assistant, broke the law after Mr. Hampton, immediately upon leaving his Congressional job last year, began to lobby Mr. Ensign’s office. Mr. Hampton, as a senior aide, was subject to a one-year lobbying ban, lawyers who specialize in ethics law said.

“It is difficult for me to imagine they would not look into it,” said Kenneth A. Gross, a former associate general counsel at the Federal Election Commission. As a lawyer at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Mr. Gross has represented Washington officials in ethics investigations.

Mr. Ensign could be legally at risk if he knew that Mr. Hampton was violating the one-year ban, or if he actually directed him to do so, as Mr. Hampton has said, ethics lawyers said.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Ensign, Rebecca Fisher, said he would not resist any investigation. “He plans to cooperate with any official inquiries,” Ms. Fisher said, adding that the senator for now is “focused on working for his constituents in Nevada.”

Mr. Hampton and his lawyer said they welcomed the inquiry — even though Mr. Hampton appears to face the greatest legal jeopardy. “There are real questions as to whether rules and laws were violated as a result of Senator Ensign trying to cover up the affair,” said Daniel J. Albregts, Mr. Hampton’s lawyer.

The Senate Select Committee on Ethics had already started a preliminary review in response to a complaint it received shortly after the affair became public in June.

The complaint that initiated this inquiry focused on whether Mr. Ensign improperly used campaign money in April 2008 to make a $96,000 severance payment to Mr. Hampton and his wife, Cynthia Hampton, who once was treasurer of Mr. Ensign’s campaign. At that time, Mr. Hampton and his wife, who was still having an affair with the senator, were forced out of their jobs.

So far, no evidence has surfaced that the money for this payment came from the government or from campaign money. But the new accusations, detailed in an article that appeared Friday in The New York Times, appear to be a more serious threat to Mr. Hampton and Mr. Ensign, ethics lawyers said.

Mr. Ensign, after requests from Mr. Hampton, appealed to officials at the Department of Interior and the Department of Transportation to take up issues raised by Mr. Hampton’s lobbying clients, NV Energy, a Nevada power company, and Allegiant Air, an airline based in Las Vegas.

Mr. Ensign has said he took these actions without regard to the lobbying by Mr. Hampton.

Officials at the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation declined comment on the matter. But law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the F.B.I. was likely to open a preliminary investigation into the new accusations to determine whether a full investigation was warranted.

Ten US Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan

The President needs to start making decisions now. Either he pulls out or reinforces our troops. Otherwise, he won't be any different than Bush in terms of loses of American troops. The only real answer is for us to pull back and provide reinforcement for the central government in Afghanistan. We must continue to launch raids against Taliban and al Qaeda positions, including into Pakistan. We need to continue the heavy use of Predators. But the loss of American troops should be minimized. And support of the Afghan government should not be a priority. Killing Jihadists should be the main objective.

Ten American troops were killed at the weekend in two surprise attacks that caused alarm in Nato’s US-led coalition.

In one, hundreds of insurgents attacked a pair of isolated outposts in eastern Afghanistan, killing eight US soldiers and several Afghan policemen in the deadliest battle in 15 months. Scores more Afghan policemen were reportedly captured by the Taleban.

In the other an Afghan policeman opened fire on the American soldiers with whom he was working in central Wardak province, killing two and injuring three.

It was unclear whether the policeman was working for the Taleban or simply ran amok but the attack fuelled the distrust that many Nato soldiers already feel for the Afghan security forces that they are supposed to be working with and training as part of the coalition’s eventual exit strategy.