“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."

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

VP Cheney Unannounced in Afghanistan, maybe.

Afghan base hit as Cheney visits BBC

A suicide bomber has killed at least three people and hurt several more near Afghanistan's main US base during US Vice-President Dick Cheney's stay.
Mr Cheney, on an unannounced visit to the region, was staying at the Bagram base, 60km (40 miles) from Kabul.

The US military said the bomber was also killed in the blast, which earlier reports said killed 18 people.

The Taleban said they carried out the attack and that the attacker was trying to get to Mr Cheney.

A US spokesman described it as a "direct attack" on the base, which was put on red alert for a while. Mr Cheney was said to be safely inside the compound at the time.

One US and one South Korean soldier were among the dead.

Base operations commander Lt Col James Bonner said the bomber could not have got inside the base.

"Our security measures were in place and the killer never had access to the base," he said, quoted by AFP news agency.

"When he realised he would not be able to get onto the base he attacked the local population."

Talks delayed

Mr Cheney had breakfast with troops at the base and left about 90 minutes after the blast.

Mr Cheney met President Karzai after the blast
He is now holding talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul.

A meeting between the two men scheduled for Monday had been delayed because of heavy snow.

Shortly before the Bagram blast, there was another suicide bomb in the southern town of Kandahar, killing at least one person.

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Kabul says Bagram is one of the most heavily guarded sites in Afghanistan and such incidents there are extremely rare.

The surrounding territory is heavily mined and people, including children, have frequently been injured by such devices.

Officials said the explosion occurred between the outside security gate and an inner gate guarded by US troops, some distance from living quarters at the base.

A trader in a market outside the base described the explosion as "huge", saying it shook market stalls.

Tough message

Mr Cheney's visit to the region comes amid increasing concern about insurgent activity in several areas of Afghanistan.

Pakistan has thousands of troops near the border
There are fears of a spring offensive by the Taleban and its allies as the snows clear.

There are 27,000 US troops in Afghanistan, the highest number since the invasion of 2001, to combat any offensive.

Mr Cheney arrived in Afghanistan on Monday after holding talks with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf during a brief stop in Islamabad.

He urged Pakistan to do more to combat the Taleban near the Afghan border, but also praised its role in the "war on terror".

His visit comes as the US seeks to send a tough message to Pakistan that aid to the country will be cut unless efforts to catch militants are stepped up.

Afghanistan and Pakistan share a 1,400 mile (2,250km) border, and many Taleban fighters operate from bases on the Pakistani side.


  1. Ah, the good ole days, when Nixon's motorcade was only pelted with tomatoes and sticks and the like down in South America.

  2. Bobalharb said, Wonder what the reaction would have been in the USA if they had actually gotten to Cheney. Surge of patriotism? Wave of relief?

    Well, remembering how Bush refused to attend the 911 Commission inquiry without Cheney there to hold his hand, the reaction would be a quick scramble to find another puppet master.

  3. If Mr Cheney had been killed, it'd just be another combat death. No more important than the death of SP4 Pat Tillman. Just another life lost in the "Long War".

    Mr Cheney's life no more valuable than any of the 4,000 lost in Iraq, or those lost in Afghanistan.

    We tend to forget adding the 800 contractor deaths to the 3,200 US KIA, so far. 25% of US casualties are amongst civilians, they do count too.

    Nor is Mr Cheney's life worth more than any of the 35,000 or so Iraqis civilians killed in '06.

    To imagine it is, well that's just plain undemocratic.

  4. "... On most issues, his spiel doesn’t sound that different from those of McCain and Romney. But there’s one exception. Over and over again, wherever he goes, America’s Mayor evokes 9/11. And over and over again, wherever he goes, people cheer. Whenever Rudy talks about anything other than the September 11 terror attacks, he’s just another Republican presidential hopeful with his particular set of strengths and weaknesses. When he talks about 9/11, he becomes something else: a national hero. ..."

    Now that description is from a New York Magazine article by Stephen Rodrick. Mr Rodrick being no fan of Rudy. Does not even try to hide his distaste for America's Mayor.

    Regardless, he does say:
    Believe it or not, America’s Mayor could be America’s next president.

    It is a very long piece, not all of it riveting Rudy Tuesday

    "It’s a long way from 9/11/01 to 11/04/08. New Yorkers may be surprised by how far Rudy Giuliani has come already. But that’s only because we know him."

  5. "... There have been no Pattons, no MacArthurs, no Eisenhowers. There is only Rudy.
    Joe Trippi, Howard Dean’s former campaign manager, recalls running a Democratic focus group for a 2005 mayoral candidate in Los Angeles. “We were asking what they were looking for in a leader,” Trippi says. “One guy said, ‘Why can’t we have someone like Rudy?’ Then everyone joined in, saying ‘Yeah, we need a Rudy. We need a Rudy.’ ” Those were Democrats, and this was 2005. “It’s still that forceful,” says Trippi. ..."

  6. And according to Senator Biden, there is another "Plan"
    We gave the president that power to destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and, if necessary, to depose Saddam Hussein. The weapons of mass destruction were not there. Saddam Hussein is no longer there. The 2002 authorization is no longer relevant to the situation in Iraq.

    Together with Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I will offer legislation to repeal that authorization and replace it with a much narrower and achievable mission for our troops in Iraq.

    Congress should make clear what the mission of our troops is: to deny terrorists a safe haven, train Iraqis, and help Iraq defend its borders. We should set as a goal removing from Iraq all US combat forces not necessary for this limited mission by early 2008, as the bipartisan Iraq Study Group recommends.

    Congress also should make clear that the troops should not stay in Iraq indefinitely and get mired in a civil war.

    Repealing and replacing the 2002 authorization is not micromanagement from Washington, it is matching our soldiers' mission to the changing realities in Iraq.

    Revisiting the 2002 authorization is the right next step but it cannot be the last step. The United States must also answer a two-word test: "What next?"
    The plan would decentralize Iraq and give Kurds, Shi'ites, and Sunnis control over their daily lives; bring the Sunnis in by guaranteeing them a fair share of the oil; enlist the support of Iraq's neighbors and the world's major powers to promote the plan with the Iraqis; and withdraw US combat forces by 2008. You can read the details at

    The Bush administration has bet everything on a future that will not happen: Iraqis rallying behind a strong central government that protects the rights of all citizens equally.

    Since the onset of sectarian war, there is no trust within the central government, no trust of the government by the people and no capacity by the government to deliver services and security. There is no evidence that we can build that trust and capacity any time soon.

    There are two other ways to govern Iraq from the center: A foreign occupation that the United States cannot sustain or the return of a strongman, who is not on the horizon.

    That leaves federalism -- an idea a majority of Iraqis have already endorsed in their constitution.

    Our plan offers a way to make federalism work for all Iraqis. And it offers the possibility -- not the guarantee -- of producing a soft landing in Iraq. That would be the best possible outcome for Iraq and for America.

    Stay the Course, or
    Hand off to the Locals

    After four years of first class military training, provided to them by the US Army, it's time to hand off to the locals.

  7. Taliban 'knew of Cheney visit'
    27/02/2007 12:07 - (SA)
    Islamabad - A suicide attack at an Afghan air base where US vice-president Dick Cheney was staying shows that the Taliban and al-Qaeda have penetrated local intelligence agencies, analysts and officials said.

    The blast early on Tuesday at Bagram air base near Kabul also highlights the increasing sophistication of the extremist outfits as they prepare for a feared spring offensive against Western troops, they said.

    The day before the explosion Cheney warned President Pervez Musharraf of neighbouring Pakistan to crack down on militants regrouping in Pakistan's tribal areas to mount attacks across the border and further afield.

    "This shows how much the militants have penetrated the intelligence of the Afghan security forces. It is a most shocking attack," retired Pakistani general turned analyst Talat Masood told AFP.

  8. re: The blast early on Tuesday at Bagram air base near Kabul also highlights the increasing sophistication of the extremist outfits

    Next thing you know they will be using catapults.

  9. re: Taliban 'knew of Cheney visit'

    Typically, every clerk at the BX knows a week in advance of such visits.

  10. Some birdbrains on this site are easily full of shit.
    One in particular has the same type of loyalty to the US that people like Benedict Arnold did.

    Dysfuntional on the level of Al Franken or Jane Fonda.

    And 2164 you ain't far behind but you are a loyal follower. So just hold the claptrap bloviating since last time you tried to characterize what I said you either didn't understand or intentionally misstated what I had said.So just step aside radioman.

    It's the big birdbrain whose the real freakshow on this channel

  11. I do believe the birdbrain is a socialist Democrat anti-American Commie-Smoocher.

    But is assnine cawing is always part of a travelling freakshow.

  12. Guess you do not like Mr Biden's "Plan", as it does not allow for leveling either Iraqi or Iranian cities.

    But then again, neither does the "Surge Plan" Mr Bush and General P are implementing.

    Nor Mr Gates, who told the Senators that success or not of his "Plan B", the US military would be "Getting out of the way".

    I feel your pain, and accept the task of channeling your distress.

    Feel free to project.

  13. ....and Lincoln's life was no more valuable than private Jones, and JFK's life was no more valuable than sgt Browns, and reagans life would have been no more valuable than cpl whites and William McKinley's life was no more valuable than ssgt.Henry's and and FDR's life (attempt in Miami) would have been no more valuable than seaman jones ....somebody get that thing out of the direct rays of the sun

  14. Since you pledged not to return, to the EB, well, not before the Iranian cascades had been bombed, by US or the Israeli.

    That being as lucid a thought as you've had, lately.

  15. FDR died, the Republic did not, Mr Truman carried on just fine.
    JFK died, the Republic did not, LBJ just as capable of errors.

    No man is indispensible. Especially lameduck VPs.

  16. One would think, habu, that for someone that makes such an issue of modern slavery, the idea of equality of life would come easily.

    Arguing that the value of a life is higher for the elites, then for the folk, well that places citizens into castes, it comes naturally though, for a closet fascist, aye.

  17. It is more interesting and thought provoking to present and defend an argument. I often see DR get attacked on a personal basis. He is unflappable and I can honestly not recall him being called on his facts.

  18. According to the published reports, Mr Cheney's stop at Bagram was unscheduled, due to weather in Kabul.

    Bagram had not experienced such an attack, previously, being a large facility.

    So, either the Taliban got updated Intel from the Base and could react with dispatch, or it was a coincidence. The FOX spin is coincidence.
    I'd vote for Intel & Dispatch.

    How about you, habu, or do we just kill all the Afghani, too?

  19. It is just silly to argue that the Vice President's "life" is more valuable than that of an ordinary citizen. In the moral sense, it is not. However, the life of any man a heart beat away from the presidency is politically more valuable than that of all citizens other than the president.

  20. re: According to the published reports, Mr Cheney's stop at Bagram was unscheduled, due to weather in Kabul.

    Well, there you go; it must be true.

  21. My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken.
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    My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken…


    My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken.
    My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken.
    My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken.
    My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken…

    Someone asked if I had a plan…

    My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken.
    My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken.
    My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken.
    My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken…


    My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken.
    My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken.
    My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken.
    My microwave is broken. My microwave is broken…

  22. So, allen, if Mr Cheney is more important than the average Joe, on a tactical level, then the bombing gains importance.
    If Mr Cheney is just one of many willing to serve and sacrifice, the less importance can be attributed to the attack.

    Perhaps it's this attempt on his life, that is causing the sell off on Wall St.

    So let US keep our head.
    Because it is the moraliy of equality that we arefighting for.
    Pursuit of Life, Liberty, Property.
    For everybody.
    We are the World, well Iraq, anyway.

    So says Mr Bush, well at least that the Iraqi people were "deserving" of those pursuits.

    Seems some in Congress are going to disagree. Will 60 Senators agree to disagree, with Mr Bush?

    Today, I'd say not, but what about after allen fixes his microwave?

  23. Allen will fix his microwave because he will not waste precious time bemoaning the obvious.

    DR, I am not going to argue the importance of the person holding the vice-presidency. Had the Founders held the office in the same regard as you, they would have provided for a lottery to fill a presidential vacancy.

  24. Or we can look at it this way,
    The VP goes to Pakistan and threatens a funding cutoff.
    The next day, while Mr Cheney was at the base at Bagram, the Taliban staged an attack. Reportedly 14 killed.

    Now we all know that the Talban is an action arm of the ISI, Pakistan's CIA sin oversight.

    So if Iran has responsibility for killing 170 US troopers, could Pakistan be as responsible for this attempt on Mr Cheney?

    The Taliban thought to unorganized to make a quick attempt on Mr Cheney's life, but the ISI, sending a message? They have capacity.

  25. “While nothing actually happened to Cheney the reportage suggests that the media, now sure that America will leave Iraq, have turned their sights on what was formerly the "good war" in Afghanistan. One down, another to go.”
    Cheney's Hosts

  26. At long last, something new can be added to the apocalyptic litany:

    U.S. Stocks Tumble Most Since 2003 on China Plunge, Orders Drop

    We’re all doomed!

    What a wonderful day.

  27. Well, allen, if the Founders were so concerned about the office of the Vice President they would have provided for filling a vacancy.

    Vice Presidential Succession

    Prior to the ratification of the 25th Amendment in 1967, there was no provision for filling a vacancy in the vice presidency. When a president died in office, the vice president succeeded him, and the vice presidency then remained vacant. The 25th Amendment now requires Presidents to nominate a new Vice President. The first vice president to take office under the new procedure was Gerald Ford, who was nominated by Richard Nixon on Oct. 12, 1973.

    25th Admendment, 25 things found more important to the Republic than replacing the VPs, after almost 194 years, from the founding.

  28. While everyone is created equal it shore would hurt morale more if the VP got whacked by the Taliban then the odd soldier or two. Similarly, offing a wacked jihadi has less impact then would the termination of Osama. Rather a silly argument though.

    More interesting that a sell-off in China sparked a sell-off in good ole USA...and the rest of the world as well...

  29. DR,

    The Founders provided for the filling of a "presidential vacancy" by the vice-president, as I wrote. Of course, the presidency is the office of chief executive of the United States, no small matter. Apparently, my use of "presidential vacancy" was confusing. To clear things up, let me say, "Had the Founders held the office [vice-president] in the same regard as you, they would have provided for a lottery to fill a 'presidential vacancy'".

    re: "25 things found more important to the Republic than replacing the VPs, after almost 194 years, from the founding."

    Nonsense! There are about a million things concerning federal governance unenumerated by the Constitution, like Marbury v. Madison.

    Of course, the Founders could not have anticipated the devolution of their progeny into sophomoric, quibbling asses.

  30. The Founders were so unimpressed with the Supreme Court that they absentmindedly left a loophole which FDR later attempted to exploit. Right?

    A justice here, a justice there, no big deal.

  31. The Taliban claim to have hundreds if not thousands of volunteer suicide bombers. Probably, they have a number of trained volunteers stationed in or near Bagram to carry out an assignment on very short notice.

    I doubt that Cheney's itinerary was leaked to any Pakis. So, that leaves me with coincidence or possibly a leak from within Bagram or unusual activity associated with the VP's arrival was seen by the observant.

  32. Taliban? No way. This was a Rovian plot to launch Condi as a replacement to Dick. But he's lost his touch.

    Bobalharb, the answer is an adolescent daughter.

  33. Pro 21:19 It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.

  34. Pro 25:24 It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house.

  35. bobalharb said it best:
    "I do not have any perfect answer for the relations betwict the SECTS, but I know if it don't work, you can't force it to work."

  36. These statistics have strategic implications. But the problem is not our crotch; rather, it is our cranium.

    HPV infections seen in over quarter of U.S. women


  37. I often see DR get attacked on a personal basis. He is unflappable and I can honestly not recall him being called on his facts.

    DR is about as shifty and evasive as one can get. Constantly throws up smokescreens of unrelated tidbits to throw off those who try to disagree with him. A fari debater he is not.

    I'm glad to see habu back, but I'm not sure how long I'm gonna hang around if his is gonna be the DR Bar. There is a reason Wretchard imposed a limit on comments; one LOUD, excessive voice becomes just too tiresome to listen to/deal with. It's a shame, because their are few other places where one finds so many well-informed, participate readers. But for the same reason that bad money drives out good, bad bs will drive out the good. Happens all the time - the good bs just find another home. Buddy Larsen and Rufus were both excellent commenters - but now gone. So was habu, but he, like I, would prefer to continue to participate here. But if it's DR's Bar, then I'm guessing there will be less patrons.

    Just my two cents; your mileage may vary.

    PS - I don't have time for the back and forth that some of you do - wish I did!

  38. j willie,

    Please remain with the EB.

    I am unaware of Wretchard having established any limits to commenting other than reliance on good manners. He did shut down comments on one occasion after a series of gratuitous personal insults by one of those you reference.

    Buddy Larsen and Rufus are missed. But if keeping them means turning a raucous bar into an administration glee club, that is a price I am willing to pay. There are plenty of happy conservative sites to be found; Cap’n Ed meets that bill perfectly. If toleration of sometimes irritating monotony is the price paid for uncensored expression, then, so be it.

  39. As I said back in the day at the BC, and often here, argue with me.
    Open source a rebuttal.

    Rufus swung me on switchgrass, but it is a daunting change of course, hundreds of distilleries must be built each year to reach Mr Bush's Goal of 20% gas use reduction.
    200 or 300 @ $3 million USD each, per year, from now to 2030.

    Quite a committment, but doable.

    If one takes the time to dheck the BC stats, click on on three yr look for the proper trend view, the fall of BC continues, well after I left it's blogging confines. It does not track BC prior to the fallback move, but ...

    As I say, input all the data you can find, I'll factor it in with the other signs that can be seen, but a rosey scenario, I do not see.

    And cruiser, over at BC postited the ISI hit on Mr Cheney, went on for a while about it.

  40. This comment has been removed by the author.

  41. This comment has been removed by the author.

  42. As noted earlier, sorry I can't stay for the back and forth - got family to whom attention is due.

    Allen, I think it was Wretchard's request for limiting one's comments to two per post that gave rise to the EB. but hey, it's a bar and one's memory gets foggy.


    I argued with you, but you don't debate head on; instead you throw up a mound of bullshit a mile wide, usually with some relevant and decent response buried therein, but , frankly, I don't have time for those games. If you want to play games, there's World of Warcraft, or whatever the fuck its called. If you want to debate, be a man about it. I took you on about advertising, video and the web washing newspapers out of the mainstream. Its what I'm involved with for a living and I know what I know. You didn't respond to my point in anything but a tangential, evasive and off-point manner, being only slightly less cryptic than trish (I've had better dialogue with my stoned, drunk monkey than I've ever witnessed anyone have with her/it/whatever).

    If you want to debate, then debate. If you want to carp/whine/bitch/moan/nag, then I guess there will just be a few less commenters here.

  43. There you go j.
    It's all on you, what ever you wish to do.
    It is an open forum.

    As I recall you used goggle's market value to extol the success of advertising on the Web.

    Though the two are only marginally connected. It's people thinkin' they know the future value of market share, that's what drives google, more so than operating profits.

  44. Lately I've been extolling the success we've achieved in Basra, swinging for the fences, right along with Mr Cheney & Ms Rice.

  45. j willie,

    Thanks for your courteous reply. Again, stay with us. Your comments would be greatly missed. And, hey, because it is a bar, no one will know the better of what was said the night before.

  46. Thanks Allen. Yeah, I've woke up in and outside of may bars, never knowin' how I get there or whether I had fun in the process. First thing I always check when I wake up is whether my contacts or in, then whether my nose is broke and finally, whether my wallet is in my pocket or not. If last conditions is ture, i figure I won for the night!

    Son of a son of a sailor man.

    DR, I probably wouldn't dislike you personally, an may in fact enjoy engaging with you in a full, three dimesional environment. In this flat, two dimensional environment, however, my suggestion would be that you respond on topic (not with a tsunami of related and unrelated factoids, all of which may be interesting, but only one or two of which are relevant.

    In summary, and with sincerity, I think your style more than your intent yields counterproductive results for all. As always, that't my opinion only, and you can give it back to me to wipe my ass with.

    Lastly, I must touch on habu's point about underlying leftwing, socialistic perspective. Only occasionally do I here you speak, DR, like I would expect a countryman to speak. Especially a non-elities, but pulled yourself up by your boots natural borne capitalist like yourself (best I can tell from Phoenix contracting to show horse mags/websites/stores.) In the exchange that follows between you and Allen, I hear two sane, slightly skeptical. but USA loving people wondering about the mess we might be in:

    allen said...


    That is all useful information, I am sure; but does it mean you would support expanding the war into Syria and Iran, given Congressional support?

    Tue Feb 27, 07:34:00 PM EST
    desert rat said...

    Yes, if we burned 'em down.
    No, if we pussyfooted around.

    I doubt we knock 'em out in a week, which we could. Won't make the "all in" committment to Victory.
    I do not believe Mr Bush or his Generals have it in them.

    To strike at a warehouse or two on the Shia Hiway, doesn't move US ahead, it'd be eyewash.

    I don't think we'd have to, maybe... if the Revolution begins.
    Shah Jr, he did promise a Coup.
    Never delivered, thoug, can't trust hardly any of them folk over there.

    Tue Feb 27, 07:54:00 PM EST
    desert rat said...

    If we do not go all in, better a Islamic "Cold War" over a partitioned Iraq.

    That would be preferable to an expanded War of a Thousand Cuts, one the US public will not stand with for long.

    Those seem to be the options, come Summer.

    Tue Feb 27, 07:58:00 PM EST
    allen said...


    Thanks for the informative, cogent reply.

    I too doubt the administration's will.

    Something that has gone uncommented today is General Pace's testimony yesterday bemoaning the lack of US readiness. At long last, the Chairman acknowledges the fatigue of both men and equipment from the years' long struggle in the SW Asia. From information gathered over the transom and leaked to media, this has been the military's view for at least two years. That would have been nice to know.

    Rather than concentrating on the administration's duplicity, I hope the administration pulls itself together and seriously approaches Congress with plans to re-equip and enlarge the military, as some of us lesser voices on the inside have advocated for years.

    The implications of General Pace's testimony are sobering. There will be crises ahead and time is not our friend.

    Now that's straightforwardness, and real communication. When that happens, both parties benefit (as well as many observers). But when its the I'll bury you in an avalanche of factoids approach, nobody wins, especially DR.

    OK, going down to the fridge for the last Red Stripe; would prefer to end the night with arms around one anothers shoulders singing whatever the fuck stupid song is on the juke box, but, if anybody still wants to have words, then c'mon mutha fucker.

  47. allen,

    I particularly enjoy your thoughts observations and , most of all, your sly, dry wit. Let's endeavor to watch one another's back henceforth, as I divine that you are a trustworthy sole, and will tell you that I am too. Of course, you will be the judge of that.

  48. j willie,

    I appreciate your kind words. It is only fair to warn you, however, that the passage of years has turned my "six" into a "567" - a much larger target area.