“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."

Monday, April 23, 2007

Boris Yeltsin is Dead

Boris Yeltsin, who oversaw the demise of the Soviet Union and became Russia's first president, has died aged 76, the Kremlin says.


  1. Comments from the previous thread:
    2164th said...
    Boris Yeltsin dies, next thread.

    Mon Apr 23, 10:51:00 AM EDT

    Doug said...
    I think I'll just down a fifth and pass out here:
    He wasn't exactly a youngster.
    Then again, I'm not Russian.

    Mon Apr 23, 10:53:00 AM EDT

  2. Hail Pootie!
    Those Eyes!
    Long live the Soul Man!

  3. Back to Iraq.
    It IS the long War,
    You know.

  4. Mr Yelsin, he sure beat the averages, living to die in bed, at 76. He always seemed less than serious, but that is likely a faulty perception, or he'd not have done as well as he did.

    I am sure, now, that I was WAY ahead of the curve, back in the day, in 2003. Even Ms Rice admits to it, now.

    "... It's why I emphasize the local governance as well because we tend to think of it as always a Baghdad problem; and the more you have the local governance that works, they can deliver for the people more quickly. I think that's another way to think about democratic institutions working. But no, I don't think I would do it differently if we had the chance over.

    If anything, we might have done this much earlier. We had, I think, an extended period of time in which there was a kind of -- the local, in particular, leadership didn't grow up and we were centralized in Baghdad.

    RCP: You're talking immediately post-invasion?

    SECRETARY RICE: I mean not too long after the -- right, exactly. We were pretty centralized in Baghdad. And I know now, I remember now stories of kind of little local councils trying to grow up. In retrospect, I think that maybe we should have spent more time trying to nurture those. ..."

    Democratic institutions growing from the grass roots up, instead of from a centralize Baghdad, force fed downward.

    I remember making that point, but no one wanted to listen. Ahh well. Better late than never, but even so, the "Clock is ticking". It always was, but the sand in the glass has almost run out, before it was recognized as a reality by the Bush Team.

    Lessons learned and Institutionally forgotten.

  5. Ms Rice, telling US why walling off sections of Baghdad is a "bad idea", while the US Army was in the midst of doing just that.

    How confused are we, still, as to the Goals and tactics to achieve them:

    A few Shia have talked about having some kind of unification of several provinces into a regional structure of some kind. But I don't think it's practical, particularly along ethno-sectarian lines, to divide Iraq up and give authority based on your sectarian identification, to say there's a Shia part of the country, a Sunni part of the country, a Kurdish part of the country. Baghdad is a completely mixed city. What becomes of Baghdad? You start separating people into different cantonments? What becomes of Mosul, which is a mixed city? What becomes of Kirkuk? If you try to do this, I think you're going to have an explosion.

    Who is in charge of the "Plan"?
    Walls cause explosions, according to Ms Rice, they DO NOT lead to reconciliation. That much is certain.

  6. remember to wash your hands.

    Crow calls for limit on loo paper

    The shows include a short set from Sheryl Crow and film clips
    Singer Sheryl Crow has said a ban on using too much toilet paper should be introduced to help the environment.
    Crow has suggested using "only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where two to three could be required".

    or just drag 'er thew da weeds.

  7. Limited to three squares, now that would be pesky. A bit stinky too.

    She must have a bidet on the bus, ya think?

  8. Girl must shit rabbit pellets, not the peanutbutter consistency stinkers that pass through my ass.

    Pesky being an understatement.

  9. Desert Rat: Walls cause explosions, according to Ms Rice, they DO NOT lead to reconciliation. That much is certain.

    Whichever side of the wall manages to create peace and prosperity and friendship with the US will be the target of rocket barrages.

  10. Truth be told, neither side will accomplish "peace and prosperity and friendship with the US"

    There is no indication of that development, nor even movement in that direction. The folk inside the wall being "mass punished", the folk outside it only to happy to those others inside it, imprisioned.

    Iraq for Iraqis.

    Let's get back hunting to Osama and Dr Z. Where ever they may be.

  11. BAGHDAD, 23 April 2007 (IRIN) - BAGHDAD, 23 April 2007 (IRIN) - Baghdad specialists and citizens have hit out against the US strategy of building walls around Sunni districts that are surrounded by Shia areas. They say such barriers would worsen the lives of thousands of Iraqis and would increase violence.

    "When they build barriers, automatically they are assuming the existence of religious and ethnic differences in Iraq, reinforcing the fighting groups' beliefs," Jassem al-Rheiri, a sociology professor at Baghdad University, said.

    Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said during a visit to Egypt on Sunday that the construction of such walls, particularly the one in the mainly Sunni Adhamiya district, should be halted by US troops. He had been under pressure from Sunni communities who complained that their neighbourhoods were being turned into ghettoes that would choke off life in their areas.

    "I oppose the building of the wall, and its construction will stop. There are other methods to protect neighbourhoods," al-Maliki told reporters in Egypt. However, it appears his statement has been ignored as locals say the walls continue to be built by US troops. ...
    "The aim of the government should be to make fighting groups aware that we are all one community and that such differences will just bring more destruction to Iraq. But the concrete barriers will just highlight the fact that sectarian differences exist," al-Rheiri said.

    Locals in Adhamiya reacted angrily to the building of the concrete barriers, saying the government was forcibly dividing the population

    "Surrounding our neighbourhood with concrete barriers will make it clear that when we're out of our area we're going to be in danger. We're being forced to live inside just one area. Our lives will have to be limited to a few square kilometres of houses and shops," said Khadija Kubaissy, 52, a resident of Adhamiyah district. "Rather than isolate us, they have to find a logical solution to the violence and not cause more suffering and hostility."
    "US troops allege that such walls will help protect civilians but we believe that they will just help fighters to know who to target and where. The construction [of walls] should stop and the Prime Minister's decision should be respected," said Lt. Col. Ala'a Hussein Obadi, senior officer at the Ministry of Interior. "There are many different ways to help improve security and we hope US troops understand the appeal [by al-Maliki]."

    Seems this perspective agrees with that of Ms Rice, and not the US Generals. We're told that political reconciliation is the way forward. Walls do not foster reconciliation, but division.

    To bad the Bush Administration still cannot get on the same page. Whether one agrees with the playbook, or not. The different messages being sent are disconcerting, to say the least.

  12. Like the Jews of Warsaw, the Sunni Iraqi will be ghettoized, for even easier pickings, later.

    The likely fruit of this success.

  13. I liked Boris. 'Boris,Boris!' my aunt used to say. The fall of the Soviet Union, without a lot of violence,is a mystery to behold. We ought to be doing all we can to work with the Russians,these days, I think. They are diifting away from the better way. Getting all centralized again. The governors of the districts are appointed from Moscow, I read.


    Take one (1) square of tissue and fold it in half.
    2. Fold it in half the opposite way so the it forms a square.
    3. Grasp just below the closed end of the square and tear off the closed end approximately 1/2 inch from the point (apex for you OCS girls)Lay aside the torn off portion.
    4. Unfold the tissue. It will now have a hole directly in the center.
    5.Place your middle finger through the hole
    6.Wipe ass
    7.take shit covered finger and pull the sheet(1) up and surround the finger.
    8. wipe shit from finger in an upward motion. You may add a twist to the upward motion.
    9.Your finger will now be free of shit.
    10. Take torn ,saved piece, and use to remove shit from underneath fingernails.
    11. Burn or bury the shit paper.
    12. wash hands.

  15. Michael Moore is going to be in 'deep do-do', what with this new tissue ruling, is all I can say.

  16. But which hand to use, Habu, right or left, that is the question.

    We need instruction on this 'matter'.

  17. This tissue ruling may well be good for the environment, but I would suggest selling your shares of Potlatch Forests, Inc. They make a lot of ass wipe at Lewiston, Idaho, and if the market dries up....

  18. Bob-l,

    Which hand? It really depends on which persona I've adopted to sit down on the shitter.

    Now Habu likes to read gun magazines.
    Sparrowhills reads Orvis catalogs.
    Aquarium likes a good easy session with Barletts Quotation.
    PossumTater likes the SAS survival manual, or Tail I have poked in the Bog, a Possum Kama Sutra

    But back to the hand. About five years ago I switched from righty to lefty believing it would develop new brain synapses and build new motor coordination.

    It was also about that same time I switched to wearing mostly brown pants.

  19. MOSCOW: Defense Secretary Robert Gates pressed the Kremlin's top leaders Monday to accept a detailed new plan for cooperation on missile defense that he said would make Russia a full partner in the American effort by sharing information, jointly developing new technology and even combining defensive radar systems.

    The immediate answer from Russia's new defense minister, Anatoly Serdyukov, was a firm statement that the Kremlin had not dropped its strong opposition to American proposals for antimissile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic.

    "The Russian position with respect to this issue remains unchanged," Serdyukov said in brief comments to reporters. "We do believe that deploying all the strategic elements of the ballistic missile defenses is a destabilizing factor that may have a great impact upon global and regional security."

  20. BAGHDAD -- Bombs killed at least 33 people across Iraqi today, including the police chief in the volatile city of Baqubah, while U.S. and Iraqi officials scrambled to deflect criticism over construction of a wall around one of Baghdad's deadliest neighborhoods.

    The attacks included one in a restaurant near Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone. Police said a man wearing an explosive vest blew himself up inside the eatery, killing seven people. Also in Baghdad, a car bomb in a parking lot near the Iranian Embassy killed one person.

    In Baqubah, a stronghold of Sunni insurgents about 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, a car blew up in the middle of a crowd of policemen. The gathering included the police chief, Safa Atimimi, who was among the 10 people killed.

    Elsewhere, a car loaded with explosives and driven by a suicide bomber killed at least 15 people in Tall Lasqaf, about 250 miles north of Baghdad. The bomber's target was an office of a local Kurdish political party.

  21. i read somewhere that ... "not a day has passed that Mr. Yeltsin didn't have a drop of alcohol in his blood!" all's well that ends well, i guess!

  22. Yeltsin may be dead but Gonzo isn't....yet:

    "“The attorney general went up and gave a very candid assessment, and answered every question he could possibly answer, honestly answer, in a way that increased my confidence in his ability to do the job,” Mr. Bush said."

  23. I would like to hold to the thought that President Bush hasn't gone Gonzo on us. I really want to believe it.

    But I read, I look for signs of strong leadership and acute judgement. I am now at the point where I have to hold the newspaper up very close to my eyes and squint to see those signs.

    All I can say is he better have one helluva closing act, complete with wardrobe change if he expects to be anything but a born again failure as a President.

    Perhaps it is time for him to change hands to develop new brain synapses and better motor coordination. New wardrobe...would suggest lots of earthtones, especially browns.

    I have lately criticized him on his judgement on keeping Gonzo, given Gonzo's inability to get the job done and the political capital it's costing W to remain loyal.
    I don't want to appear disloyal to the Pres but damn sometimes you just need to acknowledge that certain things are the way they are.
    Regarding the ME, well that is more complex than Gonzo and heaven knows he's probably gotten rotten advice but lets hope for all our sake he will give Patreaus EVERYTHING he needs to create a winning atmosphere so that, as DR said, we can pull back to fortified positions and only be there when the Iranians or whoever invade the country.

    We all talked about this, PossumTater,Aquarium,SparrrowHills and this was our concensus.
    Sparrowhills took the notes and wrote the opinion.

  24. My heart has just skipped a beat

  25. Bob-l

    Interesting WSJ piece. It mentioned Dr. Szasz , who was introduced to me back in the early 1980's in articles written by R.Emmett Tyrell of the American Spectator. At that time the AS and Bill Buckley's National Review were about the only publications on the consevative side.
    I bought one of Szazs books, read it and remembered some of it.

    His underlying theme was as Jonathan Kellerman pointed out. That his witnessing of nazi abuse in identifying "different people" as clinically crazy was driven by the states need to control...kind of a psychiactric eugenics.
    Dr. Szasz's main point was and remains, that in the absents of an underlying physcial pathology, psychiatry can be whimsical in it's interpretation of what is normal behavior. He feared that differing cultures habits could easily be misdiagnosed by one not familiar with that cultural norm.

    As for Szasz being a Flat Earther I had not heard that. I do know he draws tremendous critiques from the pychiatric establishment.

    I can neither defend him or critique him, I'm not qualified.

    But I do know when I made my first parachute jump I said to myself, "I must be crazy".

  26. Ash wrote...
    Should we start parading examples of 'odd' orthodox Jewish behavior so we can tar all Jews with that brush?

    Examples - I would appreciate it if you could compare the two for me, Islamic jihadists and orthodox jews, their 'odd' behavior as you write.

    Perhaps examples from different regions of the globe to give the discussion an international flavor.

  27. I'm still waiting to hear what our local authorities are going to do with the local boy that was breathing threats against the college and high school, in the wake of VT. He is involutarily in the hospital at this point. The only thing I know is the old rule about being a danger to oneself, or others, at which point an intervention seems not unreasonable. But who makes the call, and on what evidence, and for how long, etc. jeeze, it's a tough situation, I don't have any good answer.

  28. Bob-l
    I'm not sure any of us have any answers.

    The world is more complex with more people.
    People use to write letters, now it's instant emails or IM's.

    My birthday was just last week and my own sister was a day late getting me an email birthday card...I mean just imagine that.

    I just hope we can all stand the pace.

    If it gets too hectic try switching hands. Guarnatee it'll slow you down and force increased concentration on eliminating unnecessary "things"

  29. Hills,
    Here's my Virtual Birthday Best Wishes.

    I'd say I'm sorry I'm late, but of course you know I'm not, so I'll just say that I'm glad you appreciate that a bit of tardiness and lack of substance is not in the least way out of the Ordinary.
    Ta ta.