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We, the brainwashed rabble of this land

A somewhat emaciated Central Bank director Davíd Oddsson showed up in Kastljós last night and proceeded to lash out against the rabble who keep trying to oust him from his position at the Central Bank. It was basically a 45-minute rant with the same old tobacco: he was “the only one” who tried to warn everyone “the entire time” about what was imminent in Iceland. He is such a victim, everyone is out to get him – even the interviewer, whose questions were – according to Doddsson – all extremely “distasteful” and sprung from the same mass hysteria that 90 percent of the Icelandic nation is caught up in: the lynching of Davíd Oddsson. To hear Doddsson tell it we – the rabble – are all brainwashed by the “Baugsmiðlar” – the media owned by Baugur Group, which is on a crusade against him. And all those people that show up in front of “his bank” to bang pots and pans in order to demonstrate against his presence there are just “ferried in” by his adversaries.

At times he argued his case with such pathos that I almost felt sorry for him. However – and this is important – I had anticipated that response in myself and so was extremely wary as I sat there watching. The man has an uncanny ability to persuade even the most stalwart nay-sayers – it’s like people lose all perspective when he starts talking, only to come to their senses later. So I sat down to watch the interview fully conscious of the fact that I might start doubting my own convictions – which is exactly what happened. Temporarily.

That said, I noticed a couple of things. First, Doddsson immediately went on the offensive and lashed out at everyone – the new government, the people who want him out of the CB, the Baugur media, etc. while passionately arguing that he’d done everything in his power to avert disaster. Second, he manipulated the interviewer relentlessly. More specifically he shamed him – the most dangerous form of manipulation there is.  He accused him of undermining “me and my bank” [!!] and repeatedly suggested that his questions were based on sinister motives. He managed to turn the tables completely, to successfully cast himself as victim and martyr and the interviewer – who was merely doing his job – as persecutor. Faced with this, the interviewer went limp as a wet washcloth. Truly, it was excruciating to watch.

Of course, there is no media appearance by Davíd Oddsson where there is not at least one explosion – this time it was a minor one [or at least not as big as the last one], but an explosion nonetheless. He claimed that in the wake of the bank collapse a number of companies had received “special treatment” by the banks’ resolution committees [the committees entrusted with settling the claims and liabilities of the banks] – and that those were companies owned by prominent individuals in Icelandic society, including politicians. True to form, Doddsson refused to elaborate, leaving his assertions hanging in mid-air for everyone to dance around. Which they did.

Anyway. I’m slightly amazed at myself for writing yet another entire post about Davíd Oddsson and his machinations – because the truth is that I’ve begun to find the entire drama around the man just too tedious. I wish he’d just shut up and leave, already, and realize that he as a person is not larger than the Central Bank, and irrespective of who he warned or how fabulously he conducted himself in the lead-up to the bank collapse and beyond – the simple fact remains that everything went straight to hell on his shift, and therefore he should have had the decency to resign. That’s what people do in countries that value democratic accountability. If he had, I guarantee he would have gone out with his dignity and honour intact.  Besides, when all is said and done, there are thousands of people getting laid off all throughout this nation as a result of the mess we’re in – why the hell should he be any different?

Just one more thing – for those of you who read Icelandic and haven’t yet discovered the genius of Lára Hanna’s blog, check out this post, in which she has spliced together in a video all the times in recent history where Doddsson has contradicted himself and exposed his duplicity [it’s the first one]. Stellar.

I went out this afternoon for the first time in two days [been suffering from a nasty, nasty chest cold] because I could no longer stand it [the only thing worse than being sick is cabin fever; after that, endorphin withdrawal] – I was totally bundled up and had a wool scarf over my mouth and nose, but still it felt amazing to go outside in the fresh air. Walked along the sea – it was windy but not too bad, and somehow it really felt like spring was around the corner – possibly because the sun was out and it’s rising higher in the sky by the day. It’s such a welcome change after a long, dark winter. I’m betting it’s pretty cold out now, though, what with subzero temps and windchill. Currently -3°C [28F]. Sunrise was at 8:49 am, sunset at 6:34 pm.



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  • jpeeps February 25, 2009, 11:47 pm

    And the second video down on Lara’s blog is an item in English from Channel 4 News, 3rd March 2008. Much hubris from Doddsson…

  • Flygill February 26, 2009, 12:10 am

    Nice write-up, Alda, once again.
    Oddson must have an advanced degree from the Richard Nixon Politician’s Finishing School, with a specialty in After-The-Fact-Rationalization and Betrayal-By-My-Many-Enemies.
    Hopefully he will end his days in an empty room explaining his actions to the wallpaper.

  • Kókómjólk February 26, 2009, 1:00 am

    Ugh, it was painful to watch. The way he was patronizing Sigmar (the journalist) was just horrible.
    Like listening to a drunk uncle give a particularly embarrassing speech at a wedding.

  • colin buchanan February 26, 2009, 8:59 am

    Nonetheless, Oddsson’s no fool and all the self justification sounds like just the wrapping to present his key point: he’s got stuff on people, people like politicians- red-green politicians perhaps? This is a key element in political control. The NATO stay-behind networks controlled things this way. In Italy Gladio had detailed dossiers on 150,000 leading people in Italian public life. Oddsson may be bluffing, but equally, it may just be a hint, the tip of the iceberg. This is one more reason why the street movement has to get its own, known and trusted, people into parliament.

  • Sigvaldi Eggertsson February 26, 2009, 9:35 am

    To me it sounded like most of Davíðs anger was aimed at his own party, the people he got the most info on are his former co-workers and remember that most of the owners of Baugur and other “‘Útrásarvíkingar” companies are card-carrying members of the independence party.

  • Roy February 26, 2009, 9:48 am

    It´s just a matter of believing him or our lying eyes as Richard Prior was wont to say…

  • Kókómjólk February 26, 2009, 10:25 am

    Sigvaldi Eggertsson: I agree, what we are dealing with is an interior power struggle within the group that brought this on, partly through legistlation, partly through unsound business. Either way Doddsson is a central character, his closest allies being either on the board in Landsbanki, or right there designing the economical enivironment that they were operating in.
    Also, he has claimed that his statements on Kastljos on October 7th had nothing to do with the “anti-terrorism law” used by the UK to stop assets from being transferred. Not quite, as per the words of Lord Campbell – Savours (house of lords).
    „My view is that there is complete failure of Icelanders to understand that alleged statements by David Oddsson on central bank deposits, which triggered a sovereign debt downgrade, placed the UK Government in an impossible position. … The transcripts of conversation between the two Governments, and statements by the ministeral team in Iceland and by David Oddsson, should be made available in their entirety.”
    See, it’s problematic when things are on record, ready to be quoted by anyone in the blogosphere.
    Where are all the warnings that Doddsson claims he belted at the former government?
    And even if we could all refer to them, there are too many things he claimed – on record – that are the complete opposite of warning. At best he looks like he couldn’t make up his mind.

  • alda February 26, 2009, 10:57 am

    Well said!

    Thanks for the input, all. And jpeeps – well spotted. I thought that second video on Lára Hanna’s blog was just as interesting as the first.

  • Sigga February 26, 2009, 11:02 am

    Well done Alda, a good summation – I actually switched channels before it started as each time the man starts his “I am so much the saviour and why don´t you just listen to me…” I get high blood pressure and start screaming at the TV – I believe that screaming at the TV when one lives alone with a dog, is not a good thing. So thanks for bearing the pain for me.

  • colin buchanan February 26, 2009, 12:51 pm

    What is going on? The government agrees to appoint foreigner as interim head of central bank. As if it were a football team.


  • Dave Hambidge February 26, 2009, 1:26 pm

    Our beloved government leaders have ‘asked’ the outgoing head of the major UK bank that is said to have created a large slice of our grief (RBS maybe £200 billion of taxpayer dosh to bail out) to ‘consider’ returning the pension pot that is already providing him with £600,000 plus each year at age 50 years.

    What chance that one?


  • Steve February 26, 2009, 3:30 pm
  • alda February 26, 2009, 3:39 pm

    Oh, man. What a relief.

    Colin – what’s wrong with appointing a foreigner to head up the Central Bank? It’s one of the most sensible moves the new government has made in my opinion. The nepotism and cronyism so rampant here must end!

  • Bryan Bessette February 26, 2009, 4:07 pm

    D.O. seems to be cut from the same cloth as our crooks in the United States. They trample the Constitution, violate ethics law, wreck an institution with feeblemindedness and when they are caught they refuse to leave. (Richard Nixon, Rob Blagojevich, and Donald Rumsfeld to name a few) We have to MAKE them leave by flexing the legislature and humiliating them with public investigations. They must think the people will lose the willpower to try to have them removed.

    As for a non-Icelander leading the bank… In my opinion, I think the resume (CV) should outweigh the nationality in selecting a person for a position that clearly is so critical. I do see the apprehension in selecting a foreigner, though. My gut tells me that it is strange to appoint a foreigner, but my brain tells me that nationality isn’t a big deal as long as the most qualified human gets the job. In cases like this, I tend to go with reason over instinct. =)

  • Kókómjólk February 26, 2009, 4:52 pm

    What relevance does the person’s nationality have? As long as they don’t make it worse, I don’t care if they’re from Iceland or Tibet or Mars.
    In fact, trained monkeys would be welcome as far as I’m concerned, at least they can be fired when they mess up. Plus they would be more entertaining on TV.

  • RK in Los Angeles February 26, 2009, 6:23 pm

    Yes he has left the building!

    I’m dancing over here! Although everyone I’ve heard from back home seems to be kinda numb. Which is understandable. But today is a good day. I’m almost as happy as I was on Jan 19th.

  • Kelp February 26, 2009, 8:28 pm

    He’s a freak! He’s a freak! He’s supah freaky!

  • alda February 26, 2009, 8:41 pm

    RK and everyone – it does seem strangely anticlimactic, perhaps because we knew it was going to happen very soon, it was totally on the agenda and came as no surprise. We’ve been drumming our fingernails on the counter since the government collapsed, basically.

    However, where the gov’t went out with a bang, Doddsson just goes with a whimper. His own doing – his departure had the potential to be much more heroic. He just hung on too long.

  • colin buchanan February 26, 2009, 9:08 pm

    Well, Alda, it seems a most unusual move to me. After all, you wouldn’t expect a foreign prime minister, would you? Running the central bank is a key role and I’d expect an Icelander to hold it. I understand your point about nepotism, but Icelandic nepotists are sustained through their links to international finance, that is what gives them their cohesion- any purely local cacique or mob could be dealt with by the majority against whose interests they acted. The icelandic mob derives its power from greater forces outside.

    Anyway, I don’t think it ‘s a question of just any foreigner, but a particular foreigner that they have in mind, one who won’t be a threat to certain financial interests, someone who can take over where Oddsson left off- someone who can be trusted to do the will of the IMF.

    More concretely, I suspect the hand of the city of London and their front man, Gordon Brown. He’s the one who keeps talking about a New World Order run from the IMF. They feel threatened by what is happening in Iceland, and they want closure as soon as possible. As someone pointed out above, incredible things are happening here and the government has shown itself to be helpless in the face of City power. The financiers hold the power and have the initiative, That might make things seem a bit depressing to you in Iceland because how can a few thousand ordinary people take on such forces. Well, the fact remains you have taken them on, but you have to keep on doing so. Support will come- there were 110.000 marchers in Dublin last Saturday- but for the meantime you are the advanced guard. This is the real battle for democracy and all our futures and its going to be a long,long haul

  • colin buchanan February 26, 2009, 9:14 pm

    Bryan, it’s a political role not a technocratic one. You appoint the man who is going to resolve things from the point of view of the Icelandic people, from the point of view of certain principles of democracy and sovereignty. He then selects advisors to help him with the detail, with the technical aspect- he has to learn on the job but you have the confidence that he shares your goals, that he is accountable to you. Your gut is right!

  • Flygill February 26, 2009, 10:45 pm

    I thought they should have replaced DO with a person chosen at random from the Icelandic telephone book. Just to prove a point.

  • Andrew February 27, 2009, 5:07 am
  • alda February 27, 2009, 11:36 am

    Andrew – yes, really and truly.

    Colin – you are not alone in your reservations. There has been some talk today as to whether the appointment of the new guy (who is Norwegian) is unconstitutional.

  • colin buchanan February 27, 2009, 6:22 pm

    I did a quick google looking for possible Svein Harald Oeygard connections to anglo-american finance.
    He is a partner at McKinsey or “The Firm” as it is known in the trade. As Forbes put it:
    “The successful McKinsey consultant must strive to be very much a part of the elite corporate world inhabited by his client”
    “Client confidentiality is maintained even among former employees, and as a result, journalists and writers have had difficulty developing fully informed accounts of mistakes McKinsey consultants may have made, such as with Enron, which was headed by McKinsey alumni and was one of the firm’s biggest clients before its collapse.”

    “Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair faced criticism in the Financial Times for hiring McKinsey to consult on the restructuring of the Cabinet Office.”

    Enron, Tony Blair-that should be enough to set alarm bells ringing.

    Worth a check to see who the Icelandic partners in “The Firm” are.

  • Flygill February 27, 2009, 9:26 pm

    Oygard is a great choice. He’s got lots of practical experience in the Norwegian Central Bank, including dealing with the bank crisis there in the 90’s and a resume a mile long. And he’s neutral and apparently honest and foreigners will trust him. He didn’t look for the job, nor did any other Norwegian. Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen did a job-search after Steingrimur J. asked her to find someone.
    What more could Iceland possibly want?
    But nooooo – some Icelanders, including Oddson’s pal, law professor Sigurdur Lindal, object to a foreigner doing the job.
    McKinsey is not ideological or corrupt (like eg KPMG or Morgan Stanley). Mostly it’s for MBA-types who like to do analysis and write reports rather than get involved in corporate politics.
    Johanna & Co. are doing a good job.

    And then there’s this discouraging piece of news from ruv:
    “16,300 persons are unemployed … nobody seeks advertised jobs that are simple, difficult or pay poorly. Also jobs that have bad work-hours or are in out-of-the-way places. In some cases the wages are lower than the unemployment benefits.”

  • Rozanne February 28, 2009, 1:19 am

    “The man has an uncanny ability to persuade even the most stalwart nay-sayers – it’s like people lose all perspective when he starts talking, only to come to their senses later.”

    I worked for a company once that was owned by a guy who had that same ability. It is really uncanny. He hoodwinked many a client and employee.

    Thank goodness Doddson is finally gone! It will be interesting to see where and in what guise he tries to resurface. I’m sure he will try.

  • Kókómjólk February 28, 2009, 11:27 am

    Rozanne: I think I worked for the same guy…
    I’m thinking Doddson will be the new editor in chief for Morgublaðið.

    As for Oygard, I too think he is a good choice. As much as McKinsey might be a bit scary – the whole Enron link is obviously not so nice – economics is a numbers game and I want the smartest people playing on my team.
    And the nationality really doesn’t matter to me, the people who got us into this huge pile of doodoo were Icelandic. Enough said.