“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Iraq - It's all about the Money

After a 7 year campaign to defeat George Bush, the left, led by Democrats and aided by the MSM have apparently succeeded in obfuscating the true reasons for invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein. If polls are to be believed, a majority of the public have finally been convinced that invading was a mistake and that continued efforts to establish a sustainable government there are no longer worth the effort. Lost in the tumult of politics, and the continuous, agenda-driven political analysis in lieu of hard news reportage, is the memory of the fears and uncertainties of a traumatized country after 9/11.

In a column, Lt. Colonel Scott Rutter reminds us that the reasons for seeing the job done are the same as they were before we invaded Iraq:
The most fundamental element in raising an Army is money. By extension, the United States has the most powerful Armed Forces in the world. We can claim that we are the smartest and the most organized. We can claim that our democracy fosters the decisions that portend strength in the Armed Forces. But, at the very foundation, our nation’s military strength is based on our capitalist society grounded in the continued pursuit of monetary wealth. Period.

It is interesting to speculate on the reasons that we really went to War with Saddam Hussein. Some would argue it was because of WMD’s, in retribution for 9/11, to quash the terrorists, or to kill a brutal dictator. All of these are valid reasons, and all were part of the mix when the U.S. made that decision in 2003. But, in selecting Iraq, the President made an interesting choice. This decision will prove to be pivotal and vital in the history of mankind.

The connection between money and Iraq is clear. If we go back to 9/11, the intricate details necessary to carry out such a plot required patience and money. The “insurgents” in Iraq require money. The attack in 1996 on the US military barracks at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole, 1993 attack on the World Trade Center and the 1998 attacks on U.S. Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar Es Saalam, Tanzania all required money. Lots of money.
Read the whole thing.

I agree that George W. Bush is not a conservative. His attitude toward government spending has been appalling. His attitude towards illegal immigration has been deceitful and despicable. I realize that mistakes have been made in the prosecution of the war but few if any wars have been flawless. But no matter how you feel about him on the other issues, he deserves support in his efforts to bring security to Baghdad. Yes, ultimately, these efforts may not succeed and Iran may solely wield power and influence over that "dysfunctional country." Bush may yet be defeated by his foes, both foreign and domestic, but before that happens, the country needs to be reminded that what's really at stake here is much bigger than seeing the "village idiot tarred, feathered and sent back to Crawford on a rail."


  1. "We must secure the borders"

    Come on, this is old news. doug and I have been harping on that point for well over two years or more. As concerns both Syria and Iran. Also the KSA, for that matter.
    The Golden Chain and logistic support of both the Iraqi Insurgents and aQ.

    There is no magic bullet, just time. We have mismanaged our allottment. The Insurgency has raged for 42 months, now, and only recently has talk of securing borders and cutting supply lines echoed amongst others in the blogsphere & the Federal Government's employees.
    Years late and Billions USD short.

    Would that some of the suggestions floating now had been implemented in '03, not studied until '07.

    Listen to the wind, that sound you hear, it's the quacking of a whole herd of ducks. Each one limping along, looking for the way to stay in play.

    Mr Bush and his "new" Generals have until June, maybe July. The support for the "New Way Forward", though tentative will grow with percieved success. If there is no visable success, by then, look for the politicos in the GOP to start positioning themselves for '08.

    Mr Coleman (R-MN)has already expressed concern, so too will all the GOP Senators up for reelection, to say nothing of the GOP House members that will defect from the President's position.

    Without success by November the GOP in DC will be in full retreat.

  2. About the time the next "contining resolution" is needed to fund the war.

    I had heard that the Dems were going to move the War "on budget", which with their new "pay as you go" rules, will require sizable cuts elsewhere in the Federal budget or new taxes.

    But that may have just been "hot air"
    Or not

  3. Rat, we are back into the area of the doable. We burned through wishable and desirable and at this state, tolerable would be acceptable. The whole thing is deplorable, but understandable when dealing what was once unknowable even if you were were right on with the predictable.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. We need to grasp the idea that a Deomcratic Republic is possible in an Islamic State and throw it it in the trash. Bush's idea was no doubt "noble" but as far as I am concerned it has proven itself to be garbage.

    We cannot abandon the ME and the Iraqi oil fields to the control of the Iranis through Iraqi proxies.

    We cannot mount an overt attack where it should have been done in the last 2 years.

    That does not leave much, but what there is should be identified and tried for. The enemy prpensity for over playing thier hand is well known.

    We need totally new rules of engagement which take mosques and somilar sites out of the sanctuary class.

    We ought to be coming up with suggestions here, instead of just wringing our hands and whinging.

  6. What is doable, duece?
    That depends upon what the "Objective" is.

    Many seem to think that the Iraq Operation was but a prelude to operations against Iran. This storyline has been played for three years, that what occured on the ground in Iraq was unimportant, that the prepositioning of US assets to be used against Iran was the "real" play.
    The Col. in whit's link, our own mat, amongst others held that view. They believed that was the reason for the Invasion of Iraq. Perhaps it was, but reality interfered. There has been no expansion of the conflict, no hot pursuit, no disruption of supply lines, no stopping of the cascades.

    I used to refer to that as the "Wink & Nod" school of thought. Discounting what Mr Bush said, projecting their own beliefs onto his actions. They discounted the Religion of Peace rhetoric, discounted the RoE fubar, discounted not dealing with al-Sadr, discounted empowering radical Shia forces within the new Iraqi Government. They discounted Catch & Release as a challenge to US.
    The Wal-Mart mentality, kings of the discount. The Military leadership could do no wrong, their hearts & minds being in the "right" place.
    Problems that presented themselves were denied to exist, thought to be only the evil mutterings of a liberal MSM.

    The real problem is that no faction in Iraq, other than US, wants to reconcile the differences. The US wants Constitutional Admendments and new Iraqi Laws, thinking that paper will cover the cracks in Iraqi society. You, as a builder, know that a building built on shifting sand will not stand for long. No matter the wallpaper used.

    What was doable three years ago, is out of reach today, as time marches on. Today the best case is that the Shia militias "stand down" as the Federal forces take on the Sunni Insurgents. By May the level of violence decreases due to the increased Op tempo and the US can declare "Job Done".
    The Iraqi will agree and the withdrawal can commence. Some type of status of force agreement can then be reached, if a stay behind force or footprint is agreed to with the Iraqi.

    That is best case, worse local case is the violence continues at current levels, making a Declaration of Success impossible.

    If the "War" expands across the Iranian border, now, it will more than double the size of the anti-US forces currently in Iraq. With both the Badr Brigades and the Mahdi Army joining the fight against US.

    More fellows, up to 45,000, without uniforms.

    Than we'd have to get tough or get out. There is little visable US public support for getting tough.

  7. You need to read this:

    Inside Baghdad's civil war
    'The jihad now is against the Shias, not the Americans'

    As 20,000 more US troops head for Iraq, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, the only correspondent reporting regularly from behind the country's sectarian battle lines, reveals how the Sunni insurgency has changed

    Saturday January 13, 2007
    The Guardian

  8. The Sunni set the stage, no desire for reconciliation with their fellow Countrymen.

    Two parts of the story were telling
    But this alliance soon dragged the insurgents and then the whole Sunni community into confrontation with the Shia militias as al-Qaida and other extremists massacred thousands of Shia civilians. Insurgent commanders such as Abu Omar soon found themselves outnumbered and outgunned, fighting organised militias backed by the Shia-dominated security forces.

    And this one, which is even more telling:
    "... After each large-scale bomb attack on Shia civilians, scores of mutilated bodies of Sunnis were found in the streets.

    The Shia militias, like the Mahdi Army, are a reaction to the undefeated Sunni Insurgency, the Shia are reacting to, not formenting the violence.

    The fat man has to become convinced the Sunni cannot fight their way out of their challenge.
    Easier to kill him.

  9. Cut through the leftist bent, The Guardian does come up with some gems.

  10. Deuce,

    There is much to think about in that link. Apparently, DR has already begun.

  11. It didn't get said on the previous thread: Buddy Larsen is an exemplary human being.

  12. Top notch, old buddy.
    Always polite and considerate of others. Not traits that are always to be found in Texicans.

  13. Elijah has made a lengthy, thought provoking comment at the BC – a keeper. Several comments following his are worth a look also.

    1/13/2007 08:23:47 AM

  14. Deuce,

    Returning to that link, the action in Somalia had made me hope for a shotgun approach to engaging the Muslims, i.e. a little here, followed by a little there, without respite. Since there has been some encouraging news from Afghanistan, maybe the US is on that track. The sorry state in which the Sunni now find themselves in Iraq gives cause for pleasure.

  15. From the Guardian link:
    He was more despondent than angry. "We Sunni are to blame," he said. "In my area some ignorant al-Qaida guys have been kidnapping poor Shia farmers, killing them and throwing their bodies in the river. I told them: 'This is not jihad. You can't kill all the Shia! This is wrong! The Shia militias are like rabid dogs - why provoke them?' "

    Then he said: "I am trying to talk to the Americans. I want to give them assurances that no one will attack them in our area if they stop the Shia militias from coming."

    This man who had spent the last three years fighting the Americans was now willing to talk to them, not because he wanted to make peace but because he saw the Americans as the lesser of two evils. He was wrestling with the same dilemma as many Sunni insurgent leaders, beginning to doubt the wisdom of their alliance with al-Qaida extremists.

    Proxy war?

  16. That is the best article, as far as insight into Baghdad, that I have read. It helps to get out of the Green Zone, if you live.

  17. Great Video, Allen.

    Funny, I didn't see that one on CNN.

  18. Desert Rat said, "Than we'd have to get tough or get out. There is little visable US public support for getting tough."

    Probably because "getting tough" has always been just a theory as far as this administration goes. Right now the enemy is attacking his own power grid because we think a working infrastructure is a benchmark toward victory in the "hearts and minds" war. Well let's give them exactly what they want, right up the poop chute. Every detonation of an IED shall result in the instant, permanent blackout of electricity for the surrounding neighborhood neighborhood. When the complaints come in, we merely tell them it's too dangerous to send repairmen into an area with known insurgent activity. They want to bring back 7th Century laws? Well they didn't have juice in 632 AD.

  19. They may try to discard their aQ links, but there seems no Sunni desire to submit to a Shia dominated Federal Government.

    The Sunni will give US a pass, if we protect them from the Shia authority.

    The only hope is to dissuade the Sunni Insurgents, in the next 120 to 180 days, from attacking anyone.
    The Fat Man will not oblige.
    The 80% Solution is the answer, but it will be extremely bloody in the short term.
    One side or the other will have to admit defeat, before the country can stabilize. Before either side admits defeat, they will have to be physically defeated.

    The idea that we could bypass that part of the Program, and move to the End Game, before the War was over, is ill concieved, at best.

  20. rufus,

    re: not on CNN

    Only American snuff films meet the standards of Judy and Wolf. How are the ratings holding up?

  21. DR,

    If as Mark Steyn writes, demographics are destiny, then, the Sunni had better get used to minority status. This is Westhawk's view as well. Those Sunni able are voting with their feet, further validating Steyn and Westhawk. If the Sunni can be broken militarily, to the satisfaction of the American public, the surge will buy time during which to consider breaking al-Sadr and company as well. Something tells me that Maliki will sing our praises during the coming months, until we turn on his sponsors. By then, the Iranian/Syrian block might have overstepped their means.

    Granted, it is dicey, but the Muslims do have a knack for missing opportunities, as the current Sunni diaspora demonstrates. Westhawk, among others, reckoned the obstinacy suicidal. I agree.

  22. teresita,

    re: Well they didn't have juice in 632 AD.

    But, what about the children? He said breathlessly.


  23. I'm willing to give "King George" one more chance. Whit says he's no conservative. Whit's absolutely correct. But, we can work on his domestic missteps, hopefully kicking him in the "right" direction.

    It's extremely important, though, that he wins in Iraq. We'll see if the new "ROE" are truly what he claims.

    We'll know by summer...

  24. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, here's another Townhall column:

    The hard reality is this: If we don't finish the OIF mission now, we will have to finish it later and, potentially, at much greater cost, both in terms of human lives and resources. Pulling out of Iraq will have severe implications for the stability of other states in the region, in effect, turning the Gulf over to Jihadistan forces of Iran, Hizballah, Hamas and radical Shi'ites. A retreat will necessitate a return to the region with perhaps four or five times the number of American military personnel now deployed in Iraq.

    Shoring up our critical national interest in the Middle East and protecting our homeland from another catastrophic attack must trump rancorous politics. John Stuart Mill wrote, "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse." Operation Iraqi Freedom is a bitter pill, to be sure, but one that will become less palatable only if we refuse to take it now.

    We at the EB know this, we also know that as regards the middle east, there are too many known unknowns and too many unknown unknowns. So what Iraq looks like in a year or two is anybody's guess, but we should leave on our own terms and the American public should be fully aware of the possible consequences of whatever we do. The problem is that the left and the media are more intent on defeating Bush than providing fair and balanced news and information.

    Allen: Thank You! wouldn't be a great thread without you.

    Rat:Thank You, I agree with everything you have said. I guess that makes me an elephant rat syncophant, huh? Or a rat bastard!:)

    Teresita: Excellent suggestion! I'll pass it along to Petraeus.

    Dave H: You're right, we need helpful suggestions, not hand wringing criticism. Unfortunately, it looks as though we are not going to get it.

    RufusThanks for being here as a Charter Member. It's been my pleasure.

    DeuceThank you for all the work you have done while I was busy elsewhere and comcast was down and I was slacking off. I know you're a busy man but it's been a pleasure working with you and reading your contributions to the blogosphere. Thanks and btw I apologise for stepping on your last post.

  25. "Right now the enemy is attacking his own power grid because we think a working infrastructure is a benchmark toward victory in the "hearts and minds" war."

    The enemy often takes credit for construction/reconstruction projects organized and paid for by the US. If there were nothing to the "hearts and minds" business, he wouldn't bother.

    Even so, at the Bde level those projects and other humanitarian or charitable works have been found effective. But they were never meant to stand alone.

    Just ask Hamas or Hizballah.

  26. You look at This Indiana Town,

    The Biotown plan promoted by the state Department of Agriculture calls for construction of a plant that would use manure and other biomass material to generate electricity for the 500-person town about 20 miles north of Lafayette. It also is promoting the use of E85, which is a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent petroleum-based gasoline, for vehicles.

  27. It seems to me that our men in Iraq believe in the mission and ask mainly for the "time" to complete it.
    From the British General link:
    As for the Iraqi police, the Minister of Interior is putting all nine national police brigades through a transformation plan, which is designed to instill national allegiance and weed out corrupt elements.

    In terms of Nation building, these are only small steps, but nevertheless are important and just maintain that independent momentum.

    Iraq will not be completely free of violence - no country ever is. But as the Iraqis begin to learn to trust their security forces and actively work to rid the country of extremists, violence can be reduced to acceptable levels. Iraqis are making progress, and the Coalition Force remains steadfast in its support of Iraq through its transition to a more unified, secure, and prosperous country.

    Can this still fail to meet our expectations? Of course it can. I personally do not believe that it will, and I am inclined to believe that greatness will eventually return to a country long overdue its sovereignty. But it would be a shame to fail simply because we all grew tired of trying."

    Am I seeing only what I want to see? Am I hearing what I only want to hear?

  28. The Guaardian piece and other that I have read, some quoting US Generals, have indicated the Shia militia activity is reactionary, not proactive.

    Mr al-Sadr has a terrible PR man, while the SCIRI's Badr Brigade commander, Mr al-Hakim, visitor to the White House and host to Iranian agents, plays a more conservative PR game. He stays out of the limelight, when he can. But both men are just opposite sides of the same coin.

    The Shia, represented by both Mr al-Hakim and al-Sadr, are Iraq. Mr Maliki is their creature, not ours.
    That reality will not change, even if a new Prime Minister was installed.

    Neither coups nor new elections will dissuade the Shia majority that now is their time. There are no guarentees that the Iraqi will admend their Constitution to suit US or the Sunni, and that's a fact.

    Any more than the Congress could be guarenteed to ratify the Kyoto Accords or the League of Nations Treaty. Democratic Republics are like that.

    The most telling part of today's reality is the US Government publicly agrees with the Fat Man. We steadfastly stand on the fact that if we left the Sunni Insurgents would regain control of Iraq. That the Army we have spent 42 months standing up, is worthless and would fall to the Insurgents in no time.

    I find that hard to believe.

    I find it easier to believe that the US Military parrots it's own party line of our Allies ineptitude.
    The Guardian story describes the Shia, both the Iraqi Security Forces and the militias, as being at least as capable as the Sunni.
    Or the Sunni would not want US protection from the Shia, where the two groups coexist.

  29. Then, you look at This

    And, This

    And, This,

    And, This

    Well, you get the picture. The Putins, and the Mad Mullahs, and the Saudi Princes are on borrowed time.

  30. Which is why they have to act, sooner rather than later.

    Their window of US vulnerability will not be open forever. They must strike before it does, or admit defeat.

    I have never been concerned with the "Final Outcome" only the costs of getting there.
    The butchers bill escalates with each passing day

  31. Whit, I don't know; the same applies to me. Sweating this war is the damnedest thing I've ever seen. The MSM has done a hell of a job on us.

    Just think what it would be like to be an average Iraqi, and be fed a constant diet of Kucinich, Durbin, Kerry, Kennedy, Hagle (From the President's OWN Party, he reported breathlessly) etc.

  32. Remember all those child rapes, murders, and cannibalistic incidents that took place at the Super Dome?

  33. "I find it easier to believe that the US Military parrots it's own party line of our Allies ineptitude."

    A young Infantry Specialist serving in Baghdad was quoted in the WaPo a few days ago, to the effect that his Iraqi counterparts are incompetent. Whatever GAVE him that impression? Surely something - or many somethings - did. There have been too many such voiced conclusions for this to be groundless.

    In any event, when we leave it is more likely that the Iraqi Army will simply break into its constituent (sectarian) parts. Whatever lid there is on the Sunnis comes off, more foreigners come in, and it's off to the races for all.

  34. It's become obvious, now, that AP reported tens, if not hundreds, of completely "Bogus" Stories from Iraq.

    How many times did the Networks show pictures of three day old carbombings, because there wasn't a nice, fresh one to report?

    What do you do when you can't trust the "objectivity" of ANY of the News Outlets?

  35. Trish, the truth is ALL young infantry Specialists are convinced that EVERYBODY IN THE WHOLE FUCKING WAR is incompetent (except them, and their squad.)

    That's just the way "Young Infantry Specialists" are.

    At least, every one that I've ever known.

  36. Of course, the fact that they're usually right is another story.

  37. General (designate) Petraeus is the most powerful man in TWAT at the moment. We will soon enough learn his metal. If he is a hard charger, as publicized, look for all Hell to break loose if State starts its usual interference. A word from Petraeus could bring down the government of Mr. Bush. Let us pray that the General is a gunslinger and a wunderkind and that the President has the good sense to get on with the dirty work ahead.

    DR, I agree that the US effort will end with a Shi’a dominated government. If we play our cards right, we might end with one more nationalistic and pro-American than that of either al-Sadr or Maliki.

    If the report Deuce has linked is accurate, Sunni leadership sees the handwriting on the wall: their time has come and gone. Whether they will act rationally is another matter entirely. Should they be convinced to join the government, their presence would act to foil Iranian designs. What shallow, bigoted louts they have been.

  38. Well that's just pooh-poohing ANY criticism at all, rufus.

    Ellen Knickemeyer of the WaPo, who has spent considerable time in Iraq over the past three years, remarked after her most recent trip that one of the greatest frustrations of commanders there is that when they pull back after clearing an area, the Iraqis DO NOT STEP IN. They just don't show up, for God's sake.

    Kinda makes one wonder what we're paying for.

  39. rufus,

    Why can't you understand that Katrina was the worst natural disaster since the Great Flood? And it was all Bush's fault.

    Seriously, how do you dissuade morons capable of believing such crap? Well, you can't. You just have to outlive them.

  40. Trish, I deserved that:) But, that really is what "young infantry specialists" are like. I was/am just being "flip;" I apologize.

    Yeah, but you see, we don't know WHY they didn't show up. Did some politician intervene? Is he still there?

    Was it just lousy leadership in that particular Iraqi unit? Is that Iraqi Colonel/General/whatever still there?

    Is it getting better? Jeez, we're in the dark, here. Help!

  41. Trish,

    Like you, I have had opportunity to speak to people who have had the pleasure of working with our Iraq friends. Without so much as the shadow of doubt, the consensus is uniform: if after 1400 years as a historically definable culture, these folks cannot function sanely, remediation now is impossible.

    My question: why are we trying to recreate these marginal, medieval thinkers to our image? Yes, let’s surge. Yes, let’s say to the Iraqi government, we are here in force if you need us, but the fight is yours; get on with it. And, by all means, STFU and stay out of the way. If CNN and the AP have any questions, every puff-n-stuff star studded flag officer will remain mute on penalty of instant retirement. Instead, some perky, female O-3 will direct the media to Mr. Maliki, the democratically elected head of state.

    We should use our assets where we can gain something, for example, interdicting contraband and personnel at the borders. Oh, and arrests will be rare.

  42. That the Iraqi Army does not meet US Standards, of that I have no doubt. That they would roll over and allow the Sunni Insurgency to take over, I doubt, also.

    The Iraqi Army is mainly Shia and Kurd, with a few token Sunni tagging along. At least that is the impression given.

    So if the IA does break down along sectarian lines, the majority of the Army will still ride with the Shia.
    Unless the Guardian piece was totally fabricated, it seems clear that the Sunni are at least outgunned, if not out Generaled.

    So how could they retake the Country?

    As to the capability of soldiers, as judged by other soldiers. When I was a young Combat Engineer, in the Canal Zone, the US Army would send their best to Fort Sherman for us to train, in the jungle.
    The First of the Worst, the Almost Airborne and a whole host of others went through the turnstile. None passed our local competency tests, though all went home "qualified".
    All were and still are considered the finest fighting force in the World. Fancy that.

  43. Yes, I know, surrender will be accepted if offered. However, C-130 interdiction does reduce considerablly the number of those able to step forward and surrender.

    Smash and sift, a la Berlin '45.

  44. "If we don't finish the OIF mission now, we will have to finish it later and, potentially, at much greater cost, both in terms of human lives and resources."

    Not unless the Iraqis are going to follow us home.

    I don't buy that and neither should anyone.

    We'll get the Great Muslim Meltdown in Iraq. That sounds callous, but to extend this operation indefinitely in order to prevent it, is just plain dumb.

  45. DR,


    By Jove, you've got it. (Nothing new, hey?)

  46. Great post from Fallujah by Bill Ardolino

    I swear to God, if war broke out on Jupiter tomorrow, the 24 Marines would be there the day after, only to find out they're reinforcing the 26th.

  47. "So how could they retake the Country?"

    I don't believe they can. They'll hang onto their patchwork and keep life interesting for the Shiia. Of greater outside assistance after our departure, I have no doubt.

  48. I agree, trish, that the Iraqi will not be following US home.

    They did not need to follow US to the WTC, they found it without our assistance.

    When the Enemy wishes to find the US, again, our forward deployeed troops will not matter. The US troops deployed in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Eygpt and Germany did not stop them the last time. It was from Germany, where the US maintained a large military footprint, that aQ staged it's most successful raid.

    US troops being in Afghanistan and Iraq will not stop the Mohammedans from attacking in LA, next time.

  49. I don't know, Rat. Those hijackers tried every way known to man to get caught. I think, today we would probably oblige them.

  50. Oh, we may catch them first, rufus.
    But not in Afghanistan or Iraq.

    All the latest terror ops have originated either in North Africa (Madrid) or Pakistan (London, twice).
    Bill Roggio details how Pakistan is still out of control.

    To my knowledge none of the aQ Operations against the West ever originated in Iraq.
    The Fat Man wants to control Iraq, if he must fight US to do so, he will. But his Goal is not to fight US, it is to gain Iraq. If we were to get out of his way, he would not migrate here, but continue the fight, there.

  51. And the fight would continue, there, if we were to out of the way.

  52. Price of tortillas has gone up 400% in last year in Mexico(from a radio show, can't really vouch for it). Corn from USA being used in fuel production. What's this mean for Mexico? Revolution? More immigration to USA? Higher wages in USA too, what with a higher minimum wage, adding to the attraction.

    Rufus--what is the situation in Gulf Port, Miss. Does it even really exist any longer? Read that Gulfport really got hit harder than N.O.

    Those nuke generationg plants might really help, said it before.

  53. The price of corn has gone from about $0.04/lb to about $0.07/lb.

    How many pounds of corn can there be in a Tortilla?

    I smell BS.

  54. Don't know much about Gulfport. I suspect, though, that it's pretty much back in business.

  55. Nukes are good for big utilities, but the future is in de-centralized generation. Bio sources, waste, wind, wave, and Solar.

  56. So, the price of corn in the US has almost doubled. That could easily amount to a major price increase in the finished product. 400% could be a bit high, but a doubling or more is easy to see.

    Revolution and increased migration, both are already in the cards. The existing trends will excelerate. The Federales have taken over Tijuana, disarming the local police. Nuevo Larado will, most likely, be next. Whether that will change things along the frontier, who knows.

  57. The cost of a tortilla is almost entirely in its processing, preparation, packaging, and transportation. I imagine that the greatly increased popularity of Mexican food in the U.S. has caused a temporary shortage of the prepared product. Transportation fuel costs went up dramatically, also. As did the energy needed to manufacture same products.

    I imagine new tortilla factories will be built, thus employing more Mexicans, and, possibly, having a positive effect on local wages.

  58. On second thought, a keystoned product could easily have a quadupling in price if the core product price doubles.

    I buy for 4 cents & sell for 8.
    If my cost raises to 7 cents, sale price increases to 14 cents.
    It just takes two or three keystoned steps to quaduple the price.

  59. No, Rat, there's probably less than a half a penny's worth of corn in a tortilla. Heck, probably less than a quarter of a penny's worth.

    I have no idea what a tortilla sells for in Mexico, but I'm assuming it's more than a half a penny.

  60. Let me give you a for instance. A box of Post Toasties probably has about a nickle's worth of corn in it. If the value of the corn goes to a dime, the cost of the box of corn flakes isn't going to go from $2.00 to $8.00 ( a 400% increase;) it's probably going to go from $2.00 to something slightly over $2.05.

  61. You have an understanding of the Mexican economy that is not based in it's reality, rufus.

    It is not nearly as fluid or adaptive as the economy in the US. Credit markets and such are much more difficult to access, for the small business man.
    Local monopolies are not unheard of, especially in food staple production. Expansion is very difficult and often discouraged by the Government, which is often controlled by the established monied interests.

  62. The price of a barrel of oil goes from $25 per barrel & $1.25 per gallon of gas

    to $50 per barrel, gas is 2.50 per gallon.
    At $75, gas is 3.75 per gallon.

    Seems that way to me.
    Markups on processing are based on the cost of the product. Especially as shortages are introduced to the market.

  63. As regards local markets, and production, I'm sure you're absolutely right, Rat. Like I said, I'm pretty sure most of their product is now "going North," and that's leading to shortages.

    I'm not going to go into a long tutorial on why, and how, this will work itself out fairly rapidly, but, as a result of NAFTA, it will.

  64. The Oil companies then have record profits.
    They do not maintain the pricing, only passing on the increased costs of the oil. Oh no, they use their established margin percentages, on the higher priced raw materials. Making more money than ever.
    Believe me, Mexican food processors are no different.

  65. It's a low "barriers to entrance" business, Rat. Trust me, with 400% price increases, there will be new "tortilla" factories in the near future. Either in Mexico, or in San Antonio. With NAFTA, it doesn't make any difference.

  66. Not the finished products, rufus.
    At least not in the border regions, like Phoenix or LA.
    We have our own tortilla manufacturers. If there is a need for more tortillas in Detroit, they are not being shipped up from Sonora.

    The corn is being exported to Mexico and consumed there, not processed there and imported to the US as finished product.

  67. "US troops being in Afghanistan and Iraq will not stop the Mohammedans from attacking in LA, next time."

    As long as it's called the War on Terror, we MUST be able to identify those programs, operations, and actions that pay, and those that don't. Counterterror-wise, what works and what's just so much costly garbage. What delivers and what backfires? What is truly worth the time and effort - and lives?

    As importantly - where are the greatest threats? To treat terrorism and terrorists - even simply Muslim terrorism and Muslim terrorists - as one great undifferentiated mass all aimed at the beating heart of the US is extravagantly unhelpful to the strategic necessity of prioritizing.

  68. Can't argue with you on that one, Rat, because, although, I suspect differently, I just don't know for sure. On the other hand, I doubt if they are using U.S. Corn, either. The import duties on corn, and beans, are just now coming off. I would bet they're using Mexican corn in Mexican plants.

  69. I told my tale about my friend whose cousin was raped by the Federales. If the Federales take over Tijuana, or anywhere else, I'm doubtful things will improve. Not knowing Mexico, I don't know if the Federales are different from the Mexican Army, or the same, or a part of. If not, try the Mexican Army, then the UN Blues, then the Iraqi Security Forces.;( I'm saying, things are grim to the south. I can't really fault Bush on Iraq, I sure don't know what's best to do--but I've been for a fence all my life. I remember 'Operation Weback' in the Eisenhower Ad., which dates me. Come a few more years, I won't be worrying about this stuff, I think!

  70. While looking for some info, I found this, quite possibly the best news to come out of Mexico.

    The Finance Ministry has given final approval for the bank, said Wal-Mart de México on Wednesday. The bank would begin operating during the second half of 2007. Julio Gómez Martínez, the former chief executive of Bank One in Mexico, will lead the independent unit, to be called Banco Wal-Mart de México Adelante.

    One possible reason for the different receptions in the United States and Mexico is that, by most estimates, as many as 80 percent of Mexicans do not have bank accounts. Because Wal-Mart plans to offer such accounts, local groups apparently had difficulty trying to stir up public outrage.

    Working-class Mexicans have been largely shut out of traditional banks by high fees, minimum balance requirements and intimidating paperwork. Community banks barely exist.

    In this venture, Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, still might be the little guy, at least for now. Among Wal-Mart's competitors in the banking business are global banks like Citigroup and HSBC, which have made almost no effort to attract the vast bulk of working- class Mexicans.

    The authorities, beginning with the governor of the Mexican central bank, Guillermo Ortiz, have blessed the entry of retailers into banking as a way to reach people without accounts.

    In its statement last week announcing that Wal-Mart, along with four other banks, had received preliminary approval, the Finance Ministry said that it expected the new banks to create more competition and serve markets that the country's five dominant banks ignore. ...
    The reaction in Mexico has been the opposite.

    Wal-Mart is the biggest retailer in Mexico and is the largest private employer, with more than 135,000 workers. It has 872 stores, including 502 supermarkets and hypermarkets, along with a national restaurant chain and about 60 small department stores. Wal-Mart continues to grow - in October alone, it opened eight stores and four restaurants - and Wall Street analysts expect sales of as high as $18 billion in Mexico this year. ...
    The Wal-Mart bank will start modestly with an initial investment of $25 million, offering bare-bones savings accounts and simple personal and consumer loans, Argüelles said. The bank could also lend money to Wal-Mart's small suppliers and to business owners who shop at Wal-Mart's Sam's clubs, a discount warehouse store, he said. But it might take as a long as five years for the bank to start making mortgage loans, he said.

    "We are a low-cost company. We will look for a very austere bank that is very focused on the customer," he said.

    María de Jesús Martínez may take a little persuasion. A domestic worker, Martínez was shopping at a busy Wal- Mart-owned store one Sunday evening. About nine years ago, she put the equivalent of about $80 into a Mexican bank.

    When she went to withdraw it, only $23 was left, the rest eaten up by commissions.
    "It just took away all my interest," she said.

    Nobody in the family of eight has a bank account. Her daughter, Mariana Hernández, a student, offered only grudging interest.

    "It might be an alternative," she said. "We would have to see how they manage it."

  71. Wal-Mart Bank--gotta be beter than a pay-day loan. I'm one of those that think Wal-Mart, with all its ills, has done more good than harm. Their Super-Store got shut out of Moscow, Idaho recently, one of their few defeats. Only to have the county commissioners pass an ordinance welcoming big boxes in the county. So Wal-Mart wins again. County wants that tax flow, and the city has shot itself in the foot. Not the first time, either.

  72. Moscow v. Wal-Mart

    What a beautiful thing.

  73. Bobalharb, same thing happened in Bremerton, Washington years ago, so they invented the entire city of Silverdale outside the city limits, that's where the mall went, and all the military business from Subase Bangor, and downtown Bremerton withered on the vine and became a ghost town.

  74. I wouldn't mine personally if a lot the newer folk around here invented a new city, say New Berkeley, and moved there, if it was out of state. But then, the Nez Perce Tribe feel just the same way about me probably.

  75. It needs to be shown by a competent engineering analysis that the use of ethanol as a fuel is effective from both an energy budget stand and as a global carbon budget and total greenhouse gas production stand. I don't know, where the numbers are but they exist and I am pretty sure that someone in a company called Exxon knows the answer or how to find it.

    Considering that gaseous water is in itself a greenhouse gas as well as methane and carbon dioxide, I am not at all convinced that total conversion to 85% ethanol would do much toward the greenhouse gas budget problem. No definitive prrof exists, but it is certain that additional greenhouse gases would not do anything positive for correcting global warming.

    Ethanol is certainly obtining energy from the sun, manufacturing carbohydrate from that energy and the raw material of Carbon dioxide and water. Harvesting,transporting and processing the crop takes energy, the fermentation process I am not sure about but I suspect it requires some input of energy, then the product must be transported and distilled. The still bottoms must be disposed of in some manner, that will require energy. The energies required for all this processing and transportation may be matched or exceeded by the analagous reqirements to transport and process crude oil. What seems certain to me is that nobody has published a clear analysis, athough cost of product tells it own tale except for the greenhous effects. In other words I am not convinced that internal combustion engines can be made to operate as efficiently on alcohol which contains oxygen as they do on straigt hydrocarbons, I think that autos buning this stuff are likely to produce more not less greenhouse gas, so if this is in fact a critical cause of global warming we have nothing more here than an interim solution.

    Cheaper energy on a vast scale seems to me the eay we ought to go. I think NASA ought to concentrate onthis sort of problem and on protection from asteroids, politically it would not be possible to do this by ourselves that is funded by the USA.

    It seems to me a sound argument for enormously augmented military forces. These should be used to impose taxes (Robbery if you will)of other civilized nations to fund such a project.

    Nobody would ever get such a cockamamie scheme though a ridiculous farce like the UN unless their bureaucrats were put in charge and allowed to steal, so I see no other solution except unilateral force.

    Well this is my wacko rant for the day.