Greenberg’s Law of Counterproductive Behavior

If you see a behavior that seems to you to be counterproductive, perhaps you have misunderstood what the actor’s real goal was.


Here’s Why the Latest Conservative Talking Point About the $15 Minimum Wage Is Meaningless (and Here’s What You Can Do About It)

Civic Skunkworks has the article Here’s Why the Latest Conservative Talking Point About the $15 Minimum Wage Is Meaningless (and Here’s What You Can Do About It) – August 12, 2015 11:53 am

“It’s a sad fact that bullshit travels faster than truth on the internet, but if we all work together, we can stop the conservative agenda from drowning out our good news with their meaningless noise.”

There are two follow-up posts as of this writing.

Fox Business Twists the Truth Seven Times in 100 Seconds on Seattle’s Minimum Wage – August 13, 2015 12:52 pm

The Data on That Minimum Wage Report Continues to Fall to Pieces – August 14, 2015 10:54 am

This is a good series of articles to remember. Put it in your arsenal next time someone asks you to just tell them when did Faux Noise ever lie. You can also use it to cast aspersions on the “scholarship” of The American Enterprise Institute. It isn’t scholarship unless they are trying to teach how to lie with statistics.

Here are some laws to remember.

Greenberg’s Law of Counterproductive Behavior

If you see a behavior that seems to you to be counterproductive, perhaps you have misunderstood what the actor’s real goal was.

Greenberg’s Law of The Media

If a news item has a number in it, then it is probably misleading


Pavlina Tchernerva Has Insights On Fixing The Eurozone and Greece 1

Not only does economist Pavlina Tchernerva analyze what is going on with the Eurozone/Greece economic crisis, she identifies what the fix to the situation is. We have this solution available to us in our own system, but we just refuse to use it.

The interview segment starts at 17:09 minutes into the video. To go directly to the interview, use the link YouTube Video starting at 17:09 minutes.


This is the time to cite Greenberg’s Law of Counterproductive Behavior.

If you see a behavior that seems to you to be counterproductive, perhaps you have misunderstood what the actor’s real goal was.

In both cases, the Eurozone and the USA, the behavior is actually accomplishing the divestiture by the governments of public resources so that the greedy oligarchs can purchase them at fire-sale prices. We call it privatization rather than admit that it is the equivalent of rape and pillage by the rich perpetrated on the rest of us.


House Rejects Trade Measure, Rebuffing Obama’s Dramatic Appeal

The New York Times has the article House Rejects Trade Measure, Rebuffing Obama’s Dramatic Appeal.

House Democrats on Friday thwarted … his chance to secure a legacy-defining accord spanning the Pacific Ocean.

I went back and checked. As far as I can tell, this was intended as a news story. It was not printed on an op-ed page, so I don’t think they warned you that it was an opinion piece. I wonder if you can detect from that opening to the story whether or not The New York Times has an opinion about the trade deal and whether or not they are keeping that opinion suppressed so that they can just bring you the news.

Ironically, President Obama should shake the hands of every one of those Democrats for saving him from the fate of leaving a horrible legacy.

More ironically, Obama refused to enlist the support of the people to get his programs passed. When he went against the people, they showed him what power they have that he failed to use for his own purposes when he needed it.

Sometimes, I still just cannot understand what this President is thinking. That just made me think to classify this blog post under the category Greenberg’s Law of Counterproductive Behavior.

If you see a behavior that seems to you to be counterproductive, perhaps you have misunderstood what the behavior was trying to produce.


The Lessons Richard Bowen’s FCIC Testimony Should Have Taught the Nation 1

William K. Black has written another astounding piece on the New Economic Perspectives web site.  The piece is titled The Lessons Richard Bowen’s FCIC Testimony Should Have Taught the Nation.

The financial crisis was driven by history’s three most destructive epidemics of financial fraud:  appraisal fraud, liar’s loans, and the sale of fraudulently originated mortgages to the secondary market through fraudulent reps and warranties.  One cannot understand, effectively investigate, or prosecute the senior financial officers who led these fraud epidemics without a detailed technical understanding of the fraud schemes and the financial markets. This first column is intended as a resource for those willing and able to make the investment towards achieving that understanding.  Because people like me and Bowen no longer train FBI agents and prosecutors, and because the Obama administration’s most senior officials have been unremittingly opposed to prosecuting the financial officers that led the three fraud epidemics, no FBI agent or prosecutor has the necessary technical understanding.  My second column explains why this makes the FBI, the SEC, and the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) failure to draw on Bowen’s expertise all the more harmful and indefensible.

No spoiler alert is required either about Holder’s reaction to Bowen providing the Department of Justice (DOJ) with a criminal case against Citi’s controlling officers on a platinum platter.  Holder, as always, refused to prosecute the banksters whose frauds drove the financial crisis.  He eventually brought a civil action to get some useless fines from Citi rather than from the Citi officers who looted Citi, Fannie and Freddie, and Treasury.  Holder also failed to thank Bowen when Holder announced the civil settlement with Citigroup and refused to use the golden opportunity of the press conference announcing the settlement to ask other whistleblowers to come forward.  All of this, of course, is SOP for Holder and Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s choice to be his successor.  Lynch failed to prosecute HSBC or its responsible officers for its extraordinary crimes on behalf of genocidal regimes, terrorism sanction busters, and massive money laundering for the Sinaloa drug cartel.  You can only read it in right wing publications, but she is also accused of not speaking to either of the two key whistleblowers about HSBC.  Lynch’s nomination is being held hostage by the Republicans for all the wrong reasons.

The piece is long, and I must admit I had to stop before the end and before I vomited.  However, the piece is not that technical.  I understood it fully and I am no accountant nor an economist.  Why even a Nobel Prize winning economist could understand this article if they would only deign to read it.  The trouble is that these prize winning economists make their theories about how an honest market would work, while having no appreciation that massive fraud is actually how many markets work.  It never occurs to them to listen to the law enforcement people who understand fraud when they see it.  They also don’t listen to banks’ own experienced bank enforcement executives who shout out about the fraud, and are summarily crushed by their fraudulent bosses.

I included in my excerpt the paragraph that mentions Loretta Lynch so that I can refer back to it anytime I need to explain why I am dead set against her nomination for Attorney General.

You’ll have to read at least enough of the article to understand why I categorized this article under Greenberg’s Law of Counterproductive Behavior. You won’t have to read much to be hit over the head by the figurative 2 by 4 of the reasons.


Obama Official: Congress Should Freeze Its Iran Penalties

ABC “News” has the AP story Obama Official: Congress Should Freeze Its Iran Penalties.

The administration argues that congressional action now would scuttle delicate international negotiations underway in Switzerland to reach an agreement that would prevent Iran from being able to develop nuclear weapons.

“If we are able to secure a comprehensive understanding, we will structure the nuclear-related sanctions relief in a way that is phased, proportionate and reversible,” said Adam Szubin, acting undersecretary of treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence. “We will need to see verified steps on Iran’s part before sanctions are lifted and we believe that powerful U.S. legislative sanctions should not be terminated for years to come so that we continue to retain important leverage years into a deal.”

He said if a deal is not reached, the administration would work with Congress to ratchet up sanctions pressure on Iran.

Well, this shows that the Obama Administration is only half as insane as the Republicans (and too many Democrats) in Congress.

Iran came to the table despite sanctions, not because of them.  Do we want them to back out of the deal just to prove what I said (and Fareed Zakaria said)?

See my previous post Netanyahu enters never-never land.

Iran proposed to cap its centrifuges at very low levels, keep enrichment levels well below those that could be used for weapons and convert its existing enriched uranium into fuel rods (which could not be put to military use). Peter Jenkins, the British representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the Inter Press Service , “All of us were impressed by the proposal.” But the talks collapsed because the Bush administration, acting through the British government, vetoed it. It was certain, Jenkins explained, that if the West could “scare” the Iranians, “they would give in.”

What was the result? Did Iran return to the table and capitulate? No, the country withstood the sanctions and, unimpeded by any inspections, massively expanded its nuclear infrastructure. Iran went from 164 centrifuges to 19,000, accumulated more than 17,000 pounds of enriched uranium gas and ramped up construction of a heavy water reactor at Arak that could be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium.

As I have  said before, the truth must be told at least as often (if not 10 or 100 times as often) as the lie.  I can’t do it all by myself, but I can do my share.

Iran is currently helping Iraq (and us) by fighting against ISIS in Iraq. To show our appreciation for the help, we threaten to impose tougher sanctions. If there were anything we could do to convince Iran that they needed nuclear weapons to get any respect from us, the Congress seems hellbent on doing it.

So I categorized this current post under Greenberg’s Law of Counterproductive Behavior – “If you see a behavior that seems to you to be counterproductive, perhaps you have misunderstood what the behavior was trying to produce.”

Perhaps a comment on the ABC story on the ABC web site has the answer:

The Republicans want to scuttle any possibility of a deal with Iran, because then they can say that Obama failed. Worse, the Millenialists and Christer nuts in the Republican Party want Iran to develop the Bomb, and use it as an excuse for Armageddon.

 


Are the Republicans and Netanyahu Actually Heroes?

I read this response to an article on The Daily Kos.  I’ll call it Are the Republicans and Netanyahu Actually Heroes?  I think the following paragraph excerpted from the comment best summarizes the point the commenter was making:

When a segment of the Iranian ruling establishment thinks that the correct strategic choice is always on the opposite side of what the Jewish guy thinks, or in this case what the conservative Christian Republicans think, it’s not that hard to picture them being maneuvered into accepting whatever Rouhani’s guys agree to in Geneva.  Picture Rouhani sending a trusted emissary to talk to the Majlis hardliners and all he’ll have to say is “you should support this deal because the Republicans and the evil Jooz are against it.”  As soon as they hear “Jooz,” half of those hardliners will all be falling over each other to support the deal. (using the mis-spelled version of the word to convey the very real and very dispiriting but also very predictable anti-Semitism involved).

My response to this possible ploy was  the following:

Should we Forgive The Republicans and Netanyahu

This convoluted strategy almost sounds plausible.  If the Senate, the House, and Netanyahu are all part of a carefully orchestrated scheme from the Whitehouse to get the Iranians to accept the deal, will it even be possible to make this public after the deal is signed?

If it can’t be made public for fear of losing the deal, will the Republicans and Netanyahu have sacrificed their careers for the good of the nation and the world?

If the Republicans are willing to sit in prison for three years for violating the Logan Act just to achieve a deal on nuclear proliferation, they will deserve secret medals of freedom from Obama.

This definitely puts this idea in the class of examples of Greenberg’s Law of Counterproductive Behavior.


Ali Soufan: Torture contractors shocked CIA interrogators

MSNBC has the segment from The Rachel Maddow Show, Ali Soufan: Torture contractors shocked CIA interrogators.

Ali Soufan, former FBI special agent who took part in the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, talks with Rachel Maddow about how the Senate torture report squares with his experience and why the CIA switched to torture interrogations they knew don’t work.


For a long time I have known about the claim from professional interrogators that torture is a counterproductive technique. This is the reason why I am categorizing this blog post under Greenberg’s Law of Counterproductive behavior “If you see a behavior that seems to you to be counterproductive, perhaps you have misunderstood what the behavior was trying to produce.”

This especially applies to the ordinary citizens who still want to torture suspects. Are they just ignorant of the facts about torture, or do they have some ulterior motive that I cannot even guess?

And now that I think about it, what about people in the Bush White House? What were their motives? Were they actually trying to silence the suspects lest they implicate the Bush administration or its allies?


Important Revelations In New Leaks of CIA Torture Report

The Real News Network has the video Important Revelations In New Leaks of CIA Torture Report.

On top of all of that, you have all these investigations now going on of everyone except a criminal investigation of the people involved in the torture. So CIA has referred the staffers, the people who work for Senator Feinstein and the committee, to the Department of Justice for investigation under the CIA’s what apparently is a [completely] bogus claim, that the staffers somehow took material off of a computer that they were authorized to use for the purposes of this preparation of the report. But the CIA, really as a way of intimidating the committee and Senator Feinstein, has said, we want the Senate staffers investigated. One investigation.

So now we know what the argument between the CIA and Senator Dianne Feinstein is all about.

So let’s talk about some of the findings that have come out. One–and these are from Al Jazeera that I’ve taken these, as well as some other sources. The CIA lied to Congress and to journalists about the results of the torture they carried out on over 100 of these what they called high-value detainees but were not that in fact in many cases. They claimed that the torture resulted in plots being broken up. In other words, the torture works narrative, and it’s completely false. And then they then solve the plots with torture, supposedly. Of course, that’s the story of the film about how they got bin Laden, and part through torture, Zero Dark Thirty, all apparently a pack of lies. So that’s one thing that will be in this report. The CIA apparently took on–I mean, he Senate committee took on these narratives and prove them to be false.

So now we know how much credence Dick Cheney has when he says how useful the torture was.


Perhaps other revelations in the video explain why George W. Bush is staying out of the limelight and has take up painting. He’s hoping he can avoid prosecution for his war crimes.

Perhaps Obama’s deference to the CIA is consistent with his warlike foreign policy. Is the CIA in complete control of foreign policy? If they start a war, the President is obligated to see it through. It has nothing to do with proving “manhood” and everything to do with protecting his family from the CIA. See my previous post Foreign policy and the definition of ‘manhood’.


What Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis

Consortium News has the story What Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis.  Robert Parry lays out a picture of what is going on that even the most devious amateur politician may not have thought of.

Though I’m told the Ukraine crisis caught Obama and Putin by surprise, the neocon determination to drive a wedge between the two leaders has been apparent for months, especially after Putin brokered a deal to head off U.S. military strikes against Syria last summer and helped get Iran to negotiate concessions on its nuclear program, both moves upsetting the neocons who had favored heightened confrontations.

Putin also is reported to have verbally dressed down Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan over what Putin considered their provocative actions regarding the Syrian civil war. So, by disrupting neocon plans and offending Netanyahu and Bandar, the Russian president found himself squarely in the crosshairs of some very powerful people.

If you are not a professional politician, you might have trouble conceiving of how devious politics can be. My recent experience in local politics has shown me what a rank amateur I am.  I am pretty sure I have been had, but I can’t figure out by whom.  It is probably because of Greenberg’s Law of Counterproductive Behavior which states –

If you see a behavior that seems to you to be counterproduct…you have misunderstood what the actor was trying to produce.

In the case of the Robert Parry article, I think he is trying to straighten out my misunderstanding about what various players are trying to produce.  I suspected some of the players he mentioned, but I was surprised by some others that he mentioned.


Are Democrats who Propose Cuts to Social Security “Stupid” or Just Doing Risk-Analysis? 1

Naked Capitalism has the story Gaius Publius: Are Democrats who Propose Cuts to Social Security “Stupid” or Just Doing Risk-Analysis? It’s not a pretty story.

I’ll give you the finish to whet your appetite for reading the article.

Naturally there’s a risk with this strategy. Consider the 2012 presidential election. That 4% popular vote differential was not much of a margin, and if Romney hadn’t become “Mr. 47%” in most people’s eyes, it’s conceivable he could have pulled closer. But there’s just no way the Rubins and the hedgies and all their minions are going to allow an anti-billionaire “Warren populist” into the general election. They have to stick with a free-market type.

So the very best they can hope for is a newbie who can lie, pretend to be something he’s not, a man or woman without a track record. (Remind you of someone? Obama in 2008, Kid “Hope and Change” and “Yes We Can”?) That brings out the Hopeful and swells the numbers. Otherwise they just have to go with what’s available and roll the dice. By 2012 no one was Hoping, certainly not in great numbers, not after four years of Grand Bargains and promises betrayed (do click; it’s a stunning list). Many were just voting not-Romney, those who voted at all.

So yes, there’s some risk to this neoliberal calculation and strategy. In 2012 they took the risk and it paid off, in a 4% popular vote victory. Could the strategy still lose occasionally? Yes, but again, given the demographics and with appropriate pushback in the states, it’s increasingly less likely.

And even if it does produce a loss, consider the alternative from the Rubin side of things. What do you do? (1) Put a real FDR in the White House and let him challenge the whole billionaire system, or (2) risk having to count your money in electoral exile for a just few years, then try again?

I don’t see the Rubins of the world ever making the first choice. And I do think they’ve really thought this through. To return to where we started, very few of these men and women are stupid.

Side thought — Keep the above in mind when scoping out the 2016 race. We have a neoliberal front-runner with a track record and an unwillingness to speak on most issues. Where’s the turnout going to come from?


I should add that it is always dangerous to attribute motives to people when you have not asked them for an explanation of their motives.  However, if you want to figure out if their behavior is counterproductive or not, you do have to try to figure out what they intend to produce.