“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."

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Speaker 'Paulosi' on the road to Damascus.

George Bush will have his hands full with Speaker Pelosi for the rest of his term. If this trip goes well for her, the Democrats are going to seize the agenda on foreign policy. Nature abhors a vacuum.

"The road to solving Lebanon's problems passes through Damascus" Pelosi vows US 'will not bargain over Lebanon'

Daily Star
Wednesday, April 04, 2007

BEIRUT: US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Lebanese leaders on Monday that her country "will not bargain over Lebanon," adding that the US was "totally aware" of the situation in Lebanon. Local daily An-Nahar quoted Pelosi on Monday as saying that her visit to Damascus the next day "ought not to be considered as meaning a change in US policy concerning Lebanon."

American Democrats and the Republicans hold "the same stands concerning Lebanon, especially with regard to aids allotted to the Lebanese Army that were ratified by the US Congress," she said.

Sources close to Pelosi told An-Nahar that the speaker will inform Syria that Democrats support the establishment of an international court to try suspects in the February 2005 murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, in addition the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the summer 2006 war with Israel.

Pelosi said that she will tell Syria that America is "keen on preserving" Lebanese unity, but opposed to "any kind of foreign interference in Lebanese domestic issues."

told reporters after meeting with parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri on Monday.

Her visit to Syria does not fall within the framework of "illusions," but rather of "great hope," she said on Monday.

An-Nahar said that the minutes of Pelosi's meetings in Lebanon on Monday revealed that none of the figures with which the American official met expressed opposition to "the full implementation of Resolution 1701."

"However, Pelosi was able to sense the huge discrepancy in opinions concerning the make-up of the tribunal, even if both loyalist and opposition groups encouraged its [tribunal] formation," the sources said.

The sources added that Pelosi noticed that while Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri was "excited" about re-launching one-on-one talks with Hariri, Hariri "showed reluctance" regarding a resumption of negotiations for a solution to the crisis because of the continued refusal by Berri to convene a parliamentary session.

An-Nahar noted that US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman did not attend any of Pelosi's meetings on Monday, adding that he had left Lebanon on Saturday "for unknown reasons."

The US Embassy "did not divulge any information about Pelosi's visit to Lebanon, where it previously used to provide biographies and press releases following the visit of any US officials to Beirut," the paper said. - The Daily Star


  1. The House Armed Services Committee is banishing the global war on terror from the 2008 defense budget.

    This is not because the war has been won, lost or even called off, but because the committee’s Democratic leadership doesn’t like the phrase.

    A memo for the committee staff, circulated March 27, says the 2008 bill and its accompanying explanatory report that will set defense policy should be specific about military operations and “avoid using colloquialisms.”

    The “global war on terror,” a phrase first used by President Bush shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S., should not be used, according to the memo. Also banned is the phrase the “long war,” which military officials began using last year as a way of acknowledging that military operations against terrorist states and organizations would not be wrapped up in a few years.

    "That place over there where all those tanks and humvees and stuff are driving around."

    "Where all those Army Guys Are"



  2. I have only one word for Nancy Pelosi, Bill Nelson of Florida (who went earlier),Democratic Reps. Keith (I Love aQ) Ellison of Minnesota, Henry Waxman and Tom Lantos of California, and Nick Rahall of West Virginia, and Ohio Republican David Hobson:


  3. Pelosi's offers.

    * Three free nuclear attacks on the USA
    * retire or mothball all US aircraft carriers
    *cluster all intel satillites to point toward whereever Brittay Spears is.
    *all foreign delegationa are comped at the Bellaggio
    *banning of all John Phillip Souza marches in our 1000 man Army
    *100 ship navy. total tonnage not to exceed that, that can be pulled by a Ford F-350.
    *no Air Force
    *Marine Corps diplomatic door openers only, not to exceed 20 worldwide.

  4. Logan ass the entire delegation.

    Justice Department arrest them.

    They'll get off but it will send a message.

    No more Congressional freelancing on US foreign policy which is the exclusive domain of the Executive Branch.
    Logan Act

  5. Come in Geroge Orwell, come in..

    "No more GWOT, House committee decrees"
    The House Armed Services Committee is banishing the global war on terror from the 2008 defense budget.

    This is not because the war has been won, lost or even called off, but because the committee’s Democratic leadership doesn’t like the phrase.

    Orwellian Congress

  6. WaPo's Deliberate Propaganda

    The Washington Post gives front page treatment today to a propagandistic "news" article by Peter Eisner on the forged letter that is falsely claimed to have played a leading role in leading the United States into war with Iraq. The dishonesty of the effort is given away in the first two paragraphs of the lengthy piece:

    Like this is new.

  7. 67,204-page code confounds taxpayers.

    " I guess I just missed that rule Mr. Auditor"

    "Well,Mr Citizen, you mongoloid idiot it's right their on page 47,305 subparagraph 3(c)x. You dumb shit.Now we're gonna take your house and throw your ass in jail"
    "Yes, Mr. Auditor, but isn't that a tax credit for installing solar panels?"
    "Yes it is and you didn't take it, so you'll have to pay the consequences"

    Tax Man's Book

  8. His description of the "special counsel's investigation" makes it seem like there was a huge conspiracy uncovered, when in fact, it proved that there was not one at all.
    He says the investigation "exposed inner workings of the White House".
    What did it expose?
    Armitage is the one who "outed" Plame, and he worked in the State Dept.

  9. Consider yourself lucky you don't live in New Jersey, Habu.
    New Jersey Diverts Billions and Endangers Pension Fund

    For 15 years, the state has been using money from its pension fund for state and local workers for other government purposes.

  10. Brits sends nasty postcard to Iran, very mean spirited letter to follow:

    Brit citizen react
    Crowd reaction in GB

  11. In short, Saudi Arabia wants to preserve the regional status quo even as it is aware that Iran's nuclear ambitions and its influence in Iraq make that unlikely. From the Saudi perspective, Iraq already is largely under Iranian domination and nothing the U.S. is likely to do will change that. Iran, in the private view of senior Saudi officials, is an impoverished country, radicalized by Shia extremists and now led by a madman, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is intimidating regional and Western nations. Serious senior Saudis truly believe Mr. Ahmadinejad seeks nuclear weapons to create an apocalyptic event that he believes would bring the "final days" and the return of the Twelfth Imam, whom Shia Muslims believe has been alive but concealed since 874. His return, they believe, will herald the defeat of the enemies of Shia Islam, which include not only Christians and Jews but also Sunni Muslims.

    The genuine fear of Mr. Ahmadinejad is also tinged with a certain jealousy since Iran has rapidly replaced Saudi Arabia as the perceived benefactor of the Palestinians through its support of violent Hezbollah and Hamas proxies. It galls the Saudis that they have $1 billion in prospective aid to the Palestinians sitting in escrow awaiting Hamas' acceptance of Israel's right to exist while the Iranians can thumb their nose at Israel and buy Palestinian affections for a tiny fraction of that largesse.
    "These are Arabs," says Prince Saud al-Faisal, the kingdom's foreign minister. "Iran can help achieve peace but not interfere or impose its own policy. This is a test of will between us and them."

    Most Saudis one encounters here seem to see the U.S. as a fading presence in the region--worn down by its painful experience in Iraq, divided at home, and lacking the national unity necessary to sustain its historic great power role. The ruling regime is historically and inextricably linked to its U.S. ally but is beginning to hedge its bets by improving ties with Russia, China, India and other powers. "We want to get to a point where China, Russia, the U.S. and Europe all have an interest in stability in the gulf so it is no one's sphere of influence and all need to work together to guarantee stability in order to protect their own economic security," says one senior official.

    published today in theWSJ online

    Great photo of the King with the headmen of Fatah and Hamas.

    In a part of the world where America has few friends and many enemies, King Abdullah is a last best hope for the U.S. as well as the Saudis. What will follow him, regardless of whether there is an orderly succession, almost certainly will be less to America's liking. "

    Ms. House, former publisher of The Wall Street Journal, won a Pulitzer prize for her coverage of the Middle East.

  12. Pelosi visits Assad. White House response:

    I'm not sure what the hopes are to — what she’s hoping to accomplish there. I know that Assad probably really wants people to come and have a photo opportunity and have tea with him, and have discussions about where they’re coming from, but we do think that’s a really bad idea.

    Republican Reps. Aderholt and Wolf are currently visiting Syria. According to a congressional official on Rep. Robert Aderholt’s (R-AL) staff, Aderholt and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) are currently visiting Israel and Syria.

    White House response:


    Republican Rep. Hobson accompanying Pelosi on Syria visit. Speaker Pelosi will be traveling with a contingent of members of Congress to Syria. The delegation includes Reps. David Hobson (R-OH), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Tom Lantos (D-CA), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Nick Rahall (D-WV).

    White House response:


  13. "Habu"
    "hey man like I been dead a long time and summer is com'in on, can you cut me some slack and let me take this hoodie off, damn thing is hot"
    "Sonny, I'll tell ya what, when they start to thaw out Ted Williams head we'll loan it to them , how's that?"
    "Gracious of you Habu"
    "We'll I'm just that kinda guy,Sonny"


    Rufus, is this bull shit or just what is it?

    I have bad news on the Peak Oil front. We're about five years from losing 50% of our current production, in real world terms. The producing countries are failing in their big fields, many from 8-15% decline a year (Cantarell in Mexico is down 25% from last year, Ghawar is down 10.5%, Burgan in Kuwait down 12%, Iran down something like 16%, Russia down 12%, UK/North Sea no longer exporting). Even if there are no wars and no embargos, we only have about 5 years before we only have around half as much oil (gasoline, diesel fuel, fuel oil, plastics, cosmetics, lubricants, pesticides, etc) production left. There will still be oil in the ground, however it won't be enough for the demand so the remaining supply will be bid up in price until things get very bad. Very bad. If we're quite lucky we'll see rolling blackouts (scheduled) in the Western states which only last a few hours a day, rather than days a week. There are certain unpleasant complications too, already being felt around the world.

    The first to feel the effects of Peak Oil was Cuba. Contrary to public claims by the commies, they don't feed themselves with their city gardens. They feed 18% of themselves, and import 82% of their food. Castro lies: how unexpected!

    Zimbabwe is ruled by a crazy despot named Robert Mugabe. First he stole the land of the only productive farmers and gave it to untrained poor people. [JWR Adds: And lots of land to his political cronies in his own tribe, most of whom have left the land fallow.] Crops failed. Lack of crops meant lack of money (and food), and fuel bills didn't get paid so fuel stopped being delivered to Zimbabwe. The country has 1200% inflation (or higher) and the whole country has collapsed. Then he cleverly tore down the slums and did not build new housing for the 120K poor people now homeless. With no money, how could he? Before his brilliant land theft, Zimbabwe was feeding Africa with its grain. I'm still trying to figure out why nobody has thought they might shoot Mugabe.

    Another country suffering from Peak Oil is Guinea. This is one of two major cacao (chocolate) producing countries. The average person there earns $370/year. The fast rise in fuel prices has destroyed most businesses and farms there so there have been fuel/food riots.

    Indonesia, usually considered a fairly stable developing country, has had several strikes and riots over fuel costs. Indonesia long subsidized fuel costs so it was the same everywhere. This seemed like a good idea back in the early 1990s when [the price of] fuel was pretty stable anyway (after Gulf War 1) but then the price went crazy and the government lost control. I recall that people died in the rioting, and more than a couple. Indonesia used to export oil, but its been importing for the last few years now.

    The USA peaked its oil supplies in 1970, a year earlier than M. King Hubbert (the father of Peak Oil) predicted. At that point, the USA suffered a major economic shortage and suffered troubles from the OPEC embargo. The USA responded by getting involved in Middle Eastern conflicts and sold weapons in the region, making a bad situation worse. A deal closed with Saudi Arabia was deepened with modern planes and tanks and more oil was pumped out, using the Latest Technology. By 1980, the USA was struggling with even worse problems but Ronald Reagan convinced the Saudis to pump oil even faster, with even later technology, greatly increasing the production rate of their wells, and the decline of their major field, Ghawar. Prudhoe Bay helps the USA a little but the decline continued, even with the latest technology (notice the emphasis?). By 1989, Russia, forced to sell its oil at a lower price thanks to the Saudis, declares bankruptcy and the Berlin Wall comes down. US citizens all buy SUVs to celebrate the end of communism and recession promptly kicks in after fighting Gulf War 1. GHWB is replaced by Clinton and he's the first president we know of for sure that's heard of peak oil. GHWB probably did too, and Jimmy Carter talked about energy crisis but we didn't want to hear it and fired him. Lord Knows, the American People won't stand for lowered expectations. All that oil pumping in Saudi means the field is going empty. The latest figures show its declined from 8% in January to 10.5% in March, which means the decline is accelerating. In these Latest Technology oilfields, oil supply can suddenly just... stop. You pump water in and get water and oil back out most of the time, but if you pump too much too fast you just get water out. And your field is done.

    And that's kinda what's happened in Venezuela too. Overproduction by politically correct amateurs. A boss who cheats the polls, kills his opponents, and blames the USA for his problems. Like Mugabe a few years ago. I wonder if it will go just as well?

    Nigeria doesn't have a civil war. Honest. It's just Youths. With AK-47s, who control large parts of the oil fields in the Niger delta. Its just Troubles, not stealing oil and kidnapping oil workers and stopping work on the oil platforms. Just troubles. Honest. Nigeria is not in Civil War. You can trust me on this. Pay no attention to the blackouts covering most of the country, or the fact that exports have dropped by 600,000 barrels a day. Not civil war. And I got a bridge I can sell you.

    What do you think will happen when there's only half as much oil left to use? Its called a Bidding War. The price is bid up until demand is destroyed. How high would that price go when there's only half as much fuel to go around, and we've got 1/3 of China and 1/3 of India who are bidding for it too, and their money is more stable than ours because they're not bankrupt funding the Iraq War. $300/barrel? Nope, that's too low. More like $500. Gasoline is around $3/gal now, when oil is $63/bbl. Do the math on that. At $300/bbl, gasoline jumps to around $15/gal. Rip out the taxes and its $11/gal, which is still really high but less than beer. At that price driving around will be expensive, and questionable for commuting. If you keep your junker SUV and carpool, you can afford it, barely. Of course, when 100 million more Chinese buy cars, the price goes up again, to $500/bbl, which means fuel now costs around $20/gal. This is more than the average person can afford. Carpooling is no longer something you can do on a daily basis unless you can carry 3 other people. The vehicle gets more crowded, the bidding goes higher and production keeps falling, inevitably, because there's just only so much oil to go around. And before you get too excited about Ethanol, oil makes the pesticides and herbicides which makes growing corn over and over in the same field possible. Without it, you need crop rotation or bugs and rots and molds will destroy all future crops. Crop rotation means far lower yield, which means less ethanol, much less. Around 1/6th as much and at that point, wouldn't you rather eat the corn? The greatest irony of a bidding war and fuel economy is the higher the total economy rises, the higher the price of fuel can go. A 60 mpg Prius means that the price of gasoline can run to $45/gal. for the average driver. Throw in one carpooler and it doubles to $90/gal. Swap that Prius for a modified Plug In Prius, getting 150 mpg (some have reported 200 mpg) and a short commute, and you're looking at $100/gal for gasoline, sold in a hand cut, etched glass decanter at a high end liquor/fuel store where men with shotguns stand guard at the front door. Ad nauseam. Yes, you can argue that such and such thing will make this new alternative source of fuel affordable but the real world can't afford that stuff. Nickel is in short supply: there just isn't enough of it to make batteries for all the vehicles needed. Other options aren't as good as nickel, or are even rarer and more expensive.

    So basically, we're up the creek. Take a good look at your car in the driveway and think hard: should I be selling this car and buy a junker that only lasts a couple more years rather than sit in debt on something I won't be able to afford gas for? A few days ago I figured we'd see $4.50/gal as the high point this year. Now I think we'll pass $6/gal by Christmas. Think about that.

    I hope I'm wrong. I hope that a miracle occurs, but we don't plan for miracles here. We plan for worst case, and worst case is getting used to the idea of unexpected fuel shortages and expected unsteady-but-continual rise in prices.

    I feel like sticking my head in the sand and doing my Ostrich Impression. I'm seriously pondering bailing out of the city much sooner because of this, but there are things I need to finish here so we'll wait as long as we can bear it. Best, - InyoKern

  15. Also on Tuesday, Bush countered a reporter's question about the Iraqi government's readiness by ticking off the ways in which Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his cabinet have stepped up. "They said they'd name a commander for Baghdad. They have done that. They said they'd send up-you know, they'd send troop out into the neighborhoods to clear and hold and then build. They're doing that. They said they would send a budget up that would spend a considerable amount of their money on reconstruction. They have done that. They're working on an oil law that is in progress." Bush added:
    "The whole [surge] strategy is to give the Iraqi government time to reconcile."

    But by many accounts, political progress on reconciliation in Iraq is frozen and possibly has even gone into reverse. The legislature has declined to take up the oil apportionment law, which is critical to creating a sense of unified statehood for ever-bickering Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. And The New York Times reported Tuesday that Ayatollah Ali al Sistani, the most revered Shiite cleric in the country, is opposing a U.S.-backed plan to allow thousands of former Baath Party members to re-enter the government. The plan, the chief legacy of the just-departed U.S. ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, was the Bush administration's main means of reaching out to Sunnis who back the insurgency. But Sistani's word is as good as law for many Shiites. "I think that really hurts the cause," says Andrew Krepinevich, a leading military strategist in Washington whose strategy for "spreading oil spots" of stability in Iraq is largely the one that Bush has adopted.

    All in all, Bush delivered a powerful broadside in his Rose Garden performance on Tuesday--especially since few Democrats were around to answer him. But a quick reality check suggests that his Rose Garden offensive was all about politics, not policy. His administration knows it badly needs a victory in the arena of public opinion, which continues to tilt in support of early withdrawal. ...
    ... Despite Bush's attack on the Democrats Tuesday, "the administration...has lost control of the [Iraq] narrative," says Krepinevich. Bush, with just 20 months left to serve, is trying mightily to get the country once again to listen to his side of the story.

    reaching millions of readers with its' narrative of the situation.

  16. Hillary learns Bill just received a fresh drop of real big Cuban cigars..

    Hillary's reaction

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Senor rufus supplied the info last week, comes down to $3 per gallon, the infrastructure costs of distilling ethanol. A good budgetary figure.

    ... a total of four countries exported over 1.00 million barrels per day of crude oil to the United States (see table below). The top five exporting countries accounted for 68 percent of United States crude oil imports in January while the top ten sources accounted for approximately 88 percent of all U.S. crude oil imports. The top sources of US crude oil imports for January were Canada (1.856 million barrels per day), Saudi Arabia (1.559 million barrels per day), Mexico (1.435 million barrels per day), Nigeria (1.106 million barrels per day), and Venezuela (0.955 million barrels per day). The rest of the top ten sources, in order, were Angola (0.553 million barrels per day), Algeria (0.548 million barrels per day), Iraq (0.531 million barrels per day), Ecuador (0.269 million barrels per day), and Brazil (0.204 million barrels per day). Total crude oil imports averaged 10.192 million barrels per day in January, which is an increase of 0.608 million barrels per day from December 2006. from the EIA.

    10.2 million barrels per day, 365 days 4 billion barrels annually.

    So, maybe $12 billion USD is the investment required in refining infrastructure, then the related farming modifications, switchgrass fields, etc.

    2 weeks of current Iraqi War expeditures would fund the construction of distilleries that could be the backbone of a program of Energy Independence.

  19. INYOKERN?????????
    Who the S... knows that but a Coastal Foothills Rat?

  20. Richard A. Clarke and Roger W. Cressey, the authors, who were counterterrorism officials in the Clinton and Bush administrations, are officers of Good Harbor Consulting.

    If only it had the currently available unfettered "national security letter" authority to run through personal information data bases without judicial oversight, Mueller suggested, the FBI would have found 9/11 terrorist Khalid al Midhar and through him the other Al Qaeda conspirators. Really?

    Midhar was one of the 9/11 terrorists. When he entered the United States, the CIA knew it and knew he was an Al Qaeda terrorist. An FBI agent at the CIA knew he was in the country. Months later FBI headquarters was told, but the agents working the case never told the FBI leadership or the White House.

    So what does Mueller want us to believe now, that when the CIA finally told the FBI that Midhar was in the United States that it was the bureau's difficulty in getting a warrant on a known Al Qaeda terrorist that was responsible for its failure to find him?

    Might a few other factors have played a bigger role in Midhar's not getting caught? Perhaps it was the fact that the FBI agent (stationed at the CIA to ensure "information sharing") accepted the decision to deny the bureau the information that Midhar had entered the United States? Or maybe it was the later decision by FBI counter terrorism supervisors working on the Midhar case not to tell the bureau's representative on the interagency Counter-terrorism Security Group? Could it possibly be the absence of a serious nationwide manhunt for an Al Qaeda terrorist or the FBI's failure to tell the National Security Council he was in the United States? Or could it have been the bureau's inability to listen to its own agents' concerns about flight schools, when the 9/11 terrorists were here learning how to fly?

    Mueller's "blame the Fourth Amendment" excuse cannot hide the consistent record of colossal mismanagement under the current FBI director and his predecessor. Republican senators Arlen Specter and Charles Grassley have detailed the long list of the bureau's failures -- from the thousands of errors in warrant-less search orders, to the millions of dollars wasted in botched computer system contracts, to the failure to provide adequate training in radical Islam to new recruits.

    the link

  21. Ed,
    Within hours after 9-11,
    We knew almost all the details of the "19."
    Too bad it was not at least 24 hours BEFORE 9-11.
    ...but then,
    Not bad for Govt Work.

  22. I wish Richard Dick Clark would tell us why he's so proud of sending the bin Laden Clan back to Meccaville, or wherever, instead of having us holding them HOSTAGE.