“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, December 05, 2007

You Want Good News? You Can't Handle Good News.

trish said...
Is it just me, or do we seem rather eager to latch onto any effing suggestion of absolute crisis?

Wed Dec 05, 08:34:00 AM EST


  1. So how are things with you, Trish?

  2. What would Ronald Reagan say, for God's sake?

    You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

    (Not you, mat. As you're not an American.)

  3. Could always be better. Good to know things are all peachy with you.

  4. I for one am fucking tired of Twilight in America every goddamned day.

  5. Trish,

    We are all American. You should know this by now.

  6. Trish, what can I tell you. Watch the cartoon network. Perhaps that will help.

  7. A lot of the price of oil is based on war risk--and specifically the risk of war with Iran.

    This US intelligence estimate will likely pull that risk out of the price of oil.

    This means that (when you include current saudi production increases) the price of oil could well fall by a third to a half.

    Falling gas prices are a very hard to run against. This will be hard on democrats running against the president next fall.

  8. One piece of good news, oil is $88 bucks a barrel, after flirting with $100 last month. I guess the World War III premium fell through. Gas fell 8 cents over the weekend.

  9. No, some do, but then some want crisis where none exist.

    The whiskey types that are sure the mussulmen will nuke US cities, even though they can't, today.

    While granted, the edifice of civilization IS built upon soil with a high sand content.

    I recall that duece once said that Costa Rica had never experienced an adjustment in real estate values. Panama had not, either.

    Now as real estate values crater, in Miami, how can those secondary markets not feel the effects. Around our family council table, we figure at least another 10% drop in real estate values, before we hit bottom.

    But that is our optimisum shining through, that and experience with past meltdowns, in RE values.

    Much like the S&L debacale.

    But when news that the Iranians are not building a nuclear weapon is met with dispair, not celebration ...

    When the leader in the Democratic primary races says the fun of the politics of intramural personal destruction has begun ...

    When the news of the Chinese and Indian society leaving poverty behind is met with fears of global warming ...

    Where everything is seen in the worst light, even the "good news".

    Blame the news cycle?
    The news readers?

    Or the listeners.

    Inflation in commodities, deflation in real property.

    Which is the greater threat to civilization?
    Food or shelter, which is the most important?

  10. Falling oil prices, peace with Iran, success in Iraq. Democracy spreading around the globe, slowly but surely.

    Secularism is winning in the battle with the sectarians, at home and abroad, slowly but surely.

    Christianity has been declawed, Islam is next on the list.

    All good news.

    Even if the Iranians and the Sauds are still bad guys.

  11. well trish, you know the saying about paranoia - sometimes they really are out to get you. Same with those who point out bubbles in the economy - they tend to shout and scream about them but the bubble keeps growing and growing and the nay-sayers usually give up - then the bubble pops.

    On the one hand I tend to agree with you but on the other - take a look at history - there have been plenty of bad times, like really bad times; the depression era was a mite uncomfortable for many. Who's to say it can't happen again? Are we really smarter, more societally organized, more 'failsafe mechanisms' in place, more 'trip-wires'? Or could we be blinded by the demographically inspired boom of the last 70 years? Do the capital reserve requirements for banks (increased because of the depression era experience) protect against all the non-bank created money (derivatives, debt ect)? Confidence is a tough thing to maintain in adverse times and our monetary systems is still fundamentally underpinned by faith.

  12. Good on you, Trish. I just wish someone finally takes the step to permanently gag that towel head.

  13. well, a good morning to you both. Mat, I see you are not a man or you word. Why am I not surprised?

  14. But I am, Ash. And I'm also very persistent.

  15. Ask Midas about the real value of gold

  16. well Mat, you said you were leaving and not coming back but here you are. Welcome.

  17. No, Ash. What I said is that it's either you or me. That proposition still stands.

  18. welp, I'm still here and so are you so I guess your either/or statement is false.

  19. We'll see. Hopefully, you wont have too long to wait.

  20. The plague years, circa 1665, them were bad years. Hop in the car with the wife, take a long trip across America, you'll come back refreshed, enthused, I did.

  21. Around Moscow, we're counter cyclical on the economy, farming excluded. When times are good, the university suffers, When times are bad, folks come back to get some degree or other to help themselves out. As enrollment is down a little right now, things can't be too bad out there, by that barometer.

  22. UPDATE 1-GMAC names chief risk officer after $1.6 bln loss
    Reuters - 1 hour ago
    NEW YORK, Dec 5 (Reuters) - GMAC Financial Services on Wednesday named Samuel Ramsey chief risk officer, a new position, barely a month after the finance company posted a $1.6 billion third-quarter loss because of problems in its mortgage unit.

  23. tis true Bobal, it is only money, little numbers written on pieces of paper or computer screens with exaggerated significance.

  24. I read that Mexicans score a little higher on the happiness scale, on average, than Americans, despite being broke. If true, what does that tell us? And why do they want to come here? Sunshine helps alot I quess, which agrees with my days in Seattle, when a month of rain could seem like a year.

  25. A hiking/camping/canoeing/kayaking trip will always do, too, bob. But a good car twip is sewet.

  26. Here you go. Happiest countries in the world rankings.

  27. Cross that long desired move to Zimbabwe off your list.

  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

  30. 1. Nigeria
    2. Mexico
    3. Venezuela
    4. El Salvador
    5. Puerto Rico

    Me wonders if them old damsels from the north country, going on their Safari hunts in them hot jungle places, had any effect on the survey results.

  31. The Mexican music that I run into on the radio dial once in a while always seems a little livelier than your average American am station. ChaCha!

  32. They are happy in Nigeria, because of all that unclaimed money in all those banks and all those generous people pecking away in cyber chat rooms, just waiting to share it with any one of you. Makes me happy.

  33. How do you so manage to completely misunderstand everything, mat?

  34. We're gonna build the ediface of civilization on the sandy soils of south Idaho--big article in the paper the other day about the new nuclear reactor planned for there. Will light up all of Idaho, and more. We can beat all this crap if we get to doing it. That's the reactor Rufus posted about some time ago.

    :)I get phishing e-mails from Nigerians all the time. 'Wood lik to rent your flat sir. Will send $, USA, to yor account of chosing. Reply make arangment.' Yors, Mr zulu. I usually write back asking them to set up a safari for me.

  35. I do so on purpose, Trish. Am I now to understand you wish to keep on to your pet?

  36. When did Puerto Rico become a country?

    That, in and of itself, invalidates the happiness survey.

    Zimbabwe, once a place called Rhodesia, is a good example of a successful regime change fostered by the "West"

  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

  38. I wonder what the 'happiest' state in the United States would be?

  39. Now a place like Belize, another old Brit colony, is doing well. While Rhodesia has gone down the tubes.

    Colonialism had it's real life benefits, like the "Rule of Law".

    There are not many beaches in Rhodesia. Unlike Belize

  40. I'm looking but not finding. Maine, maybe you're right.

    People like water, beaches.

    Can't find an index for the states, yet.

  41. They pursue happiness with a vengeance in Vegas and Reno, but I don't think it usually translates to happiness. The odds being against them.

  42. "People like water, beaches."

    Usually without six fucking months of winter.

    But they're pretty content.

    I used to have check out clerks in GA exclaim over my AZ driver's license. Everybody wanted to go west, or get away, it seemed.

  43. I can't find a ranking. But I'd think that California would have ranked up there high, back some decades ago, before it turned into such a mess. Every kind of geography you can want, and sunshine, water, beaches--girls :)

  44. Oddly enough, Sweden has some nice beaches. I remember the one time I was there, my brother and I walking down this beach and we came upon a bare breasted beauty, who lazily turned over, for chastity's sake. The water there is warmer than you might think, coming up from the south.

  45. This comment has been removed by the author.

  46. Western Netherlands, too. Great beaches. Incredibly tall, blonde, pink-cheeked people.

    Only visit to Sweden was to pick up our Volvo wagon. Which my daughter drives at school. It's crossed the ocean three times, the Mohave, numerous alps, and made various cross countries.

    My kids grew up in it. And it's the only new car we've ever ownded.

  47. To those that enjoy advocating death and mayhem, while blogging.

    Calling for the deaths of many, The Law is watching, be sure you are politically correct, when advocating violence.

    This fellow got arrested for impolite sarcasm.

    Wonder which actor in this episode is wearing the tinfoil hat

    Associated Press - December 4, 2007 2:25 PM ET

    MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Police have set off a debate over free speech after arresting a Wisconsin teacher who posted an anonymous comment online praising the Columbine shooters.

    James Buss was arrested last week for a post he made on, a conservative blog.

    The suburban Milwaukee high school teacher in suburban Milwaukee left the comment during a discussion over teacher salaries.

    He praised Columbine gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, saying they knew how to deal with overpaid teachers -- one shot at a time.

    Buss is a former president of the teacher's union and many observers believe he was using sarcasm to try to discredit critics of education spending.

    Washington County District Attorney Todd Martens is considering whether to charge him with disorderly conduct and unlawful use of computerized communications systems.

    But free speech advocates are calling on Martens to drop the case, saying Buss' comment was protected under the First Amendment.

  48. White sands,
    beautiful pine forests,
    gorgeous long legged girls,
    amazing tan from an iodine infused sea,

    Palanga, LT.

  49. Habu?

    Nobody ever mentions Habu's threat against my daughter and myself.

  50. I kind of remember that. I'll mention it. Maybe nobody takes Habu seriously. It's way out of bounds, that's for sure.

  51. I got to get to work. But this crossword puzzle is driving me nuts. Hit Song of 1957---blank,blank,rider. _ _ r i d e r

  52. Some did not mention it, but habu does not grace us with his presence, much, any more.

    Do not think he found the converstions to his liking.
    A bit out of his depth, he found himself in way over his head.

    He was always picking on the ladies, as bullies are apt to do.

  53. DR: He [Habu] was always picking on the ladies, as bullies are apt to do.

    Habu was harmless, it was the one with a million nicks (Catherine) who had me worried. She would go deep diving into the Elephant Bar archives to find posts that proved I was a flip-flopper. Anybody with that kind of free time has time to make car bombs and sheet.

  54. This comment has been removed by the author.

  55. That teacher in Wisconsin, harmless too, I'd bet.

    Still got hisself arrested.

  56. Long Thompson interview with Charlie Rose.


    Charlie Rose: "You constantly say in this campaign that you are a conservative. What does that mean today?"

    Fred Thompson: "It means things that are consistent with God's design for man, is consistent with human nature, it's consistent with the lessons of history, the lessons of ages. They found form in the Constitution I think and what our founding fathers believed. They understand that man can do great and wonderful things, but man is prone to error and sometimes do terrible things. That too much power in too few hands is a dangerous thing. That power is a corrupting thing."

    Charlie Rose: "In all of that you didn't mention abortion, gay rights, all things that have been part of recent presidential elections."

    Fred: "Those... Well you are talking about different things there. Those are issues that are before us, which derive FROM principles...Principles are what guide you in coming to positions with regard to issues. You know the Declaration of Independence said that our basic rights come from God and not from man. The founders talked about you know life, liberty and the importance of that. And that everything is based on those basic principles. And I take those principles and you know for example I come to a pro-life conclusion there. And when we had issues you know for 8 years when I was in the United States Senate about whether or not the federal government should be funding, for example, abortion related activities and things of that nature you know, the application of those principles in that instance told me the answer was no properly."

  57. And Rush Limbaugh says:

    If the NIE Is Right About Iran, Thank "Cowboy Diplomacy" for It

    Good ole Rush, at least he can see the message.

    Over at the Belmont, the US Government is full of traitors, top to bottom.

  58. and at Balloon Juice they are saying:

    "U.S. News:

    Bush said the new intel “contradicting earlier US assessments…would not prompt him to take off the table the possibility of pre-emptive military action against Iran.”

    That’s not news – as anyone who listened to or read anything since yesterday knows. What’s mind-boggling to me is how stupid this president obviously believes his subjects are [well, half of them anyway(and he’s unfortunately right.)] According to the president, the report indicates that the so-called “diplomatic-pressure” he has put on Iran has worked. He’s even got the gall to imply that America has led an international diplomatic effort that is succeeding, when nothing could be further from the truth.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but is this not the same president who, when the European Union sat down to negotiate with Iran, opposed it from the start and refused to take part?

    "European nations would like the United States to join talks with Iran—now involving Germany, France and Britain—by offering Tehran security and economic guarantees in exchange for abandoning its nuclear ambitions. The Bush administration has refused to participate in the talks."

    So, Mr. President, don’t tell me America led anything here. The audacity of his statement taking credit for the shift in Iran is astonishing. That those on the right trumpet it speaks more to their intelligence and analytical abilities than anything. Of course, those are the same folks who probably believe that this Q&A from yesterday’s news conference is a stunning takedown of a mainstream journalist, when all it proves is that thepresident hasn’t got a clue what he’s talking about, and most likely has not even read the report’s executive summary:

    "Q. Why should you trust this intelligence more than the intelligence of 2005?

    Bush: Without getting into sources and methods, I believe the intelligence community has made a great discovery… and uhhh… they’ve analyzed the discovery, and it’s …uhhh… now part of our government policy."

    WTF does that even mean, and how does it answer the question? If I’m hearing this right, he’s saying, “The intelligence community has discovered that Iran is not pursuing nukular weapons. They’ve analyzed this discovery, and now it’s part of our government policy – which, by the way, will not change.”"

  59. This was a military coup of the executive agenda. Trish had it correct when she suggested to count heads as to who makes up the various agencies.

  60. Poor whit is killing himself trying to find a positive story.

  61. There are many, ash, who will not see, or believe, that US policies, military action in Iraq and working with the EU, and the UN sanctions had any impact on the Iranians.

    But the case can be made that the Bush Administration has been very successful. The extended conflict in Iraq, proving to the Iranians that the US has the power to stay the course, as Mr Bush has oft said we must.

    Iraq, Libya and Iran off the nuclear nipple.
    Two for sure, one probable.

    Few of US remember Mr Bremer, let alone the Goals of 2003, so Iraq can be spun to a pre-election success. Same as with Iran.

    But the "Right" has to be shown the light, or, as at the BC, the GOP are fools, knaves or traitors.

    Which the fellow you quoted readily believes, already.

  62. Correct me if I am wrong, but is this not the same president who, when the European Union sat down to negotiate with Iran, opposed it from the start and refused to take part?

    You are wrong. He did not refuse to sit down with Iran. He simply let the Euros try to work it out as they wished. Where you got that information and impression is beyond me.

  63. Do the Sauds and Egyptians continue with their pursuits of the peaceful atom?

  64. The question is just who this God is, this God of the American public square. John McCain stumbled recently when he said that the Constitution had established the United States as a Christian nation, which it most decidedly did not. In fact the wondrous thing about the Founding of the nation is how consciously and how carefully the Founders went about securing liberty of conscience. Washington said that the government of the United States was "to give to bigotry no sanction � and to persecution no assistance." Jefferson said that his Virginia act for religious liberty was "meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindu, and infidel of every denomination." And Madison said, "The religion of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man."

    Romney ought to call on Americans to recover and respect what Benjamin Franklin called our public religion: the belief that there is a divine force at work in the world, by whatever name, and that we render homage to it by doing good to others. Acts of charity and grace need not be religiously inspired, but many are. Religious people can be intolerant, cruel and exclusionary; they can also be broad-minded, kind and welcoming. And the same can be said of people who adhere to no religious faith. Yet it is the case that many Americans are religious�or say they are�and that the fundamental promise of the Founding, that all men are created equal, is grounded in the divine, as the gift of the "Creator."
    ... which is why it is incumbent on the rest of us to recall the work of the Founders. They are often dismissed as dead white men, which they are, but when they were living white men they saw further ahead than most. They knew religion was a perennial factor in the lives of men and nations, and they sought to respect it but to manage it�to make it one thread in the tapestry. Sectarian labels mattered little, doctrinal differences even less. Franklin may have put it best: "When a religion is good, I conceive that it can support itself, and, when it cannot support itself, and God does not take care to support it, so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one." It is, in other words, a mighty poor faith that needs a politician to support it.

    What Romney Should Say
    By Jon Meacham

  65. Here's some good news from a post I did two years ago on Observanda:

    Great News, We're not going to burn up!

    From the BBC Ocean changes to cool Europe

    In the eighties, the alarmists were warning of a coming ice age. Then in the nineties their cry became "Global Warming." Hedging their bets, their buzz word became "Climate Change" so that either way, they can tell the rest of us what to do.

    While 8,000 people are in Montreal trying to get the US under control and in-step to mitigate the dreaded global warming, scientists in Britain are saying that currents in the Gulf Stream are weakening and the Politicians of Europe need to plan for a cooler future.

    Call off the Montreal Summit. Thank them for their service and send all the delegates home.

    Its a good thing we haven't made any progress against global warming. We'll be thankful we warmed up a bit before the deep freeze sets in.

    It's just too unbelievable for words!

  66. Great movie.

    Here's another candidate quiz. Little more robust than the last. Tancredo came up #1 for me on the last. Romney comes up #1 for me on this one.

  67. huckabee 25
    paul 23
    Rudy 19
    romney 17
    mccain 15
    thompson 4

    Of the top four only one could win in November, Rudy. Mr McCain, I'd not vote for, regardless.

  68. Other WaPo readers put it:
    paul 34.8
    mccain 17
    huckabee 12.2
    romney 13.5
    thompson 8.6
    Rudy 14.3

    In your heart, you know he's right.

    34.8% of the time

  69. Whit,

    Take a look at the latitude of Great Britain. Take a look at the corresponding lattitude in Canada. Take a look at the average winter temperatures. Labrador is friggin' freezin' GB is not. Now examine the flow of the warm Gulf Stream. Can you see how if this flow should alter Europe will cool?

    Similarily we are in for a cold winter in the northeast. El Nina seems to be affecting the jet stream. North jet stream cold, south warm. Having a cold winter in the northeast is not inconsistent with the greenhouse gas issue.

  70. As the show I watched on the History Channel, just today, showed conclusively, there have been numerous climate changes, heating and coolings in the last 15,000 years.

    With little impact from man made greenhouse gases. The last cold spell ending in 1900. There being many times from 1400 to 1900 that the Thames froze, as did New York Harbour, folks walking across the ice to Staten Island.

  71. True there is a long history of change.

    A simplistic view though informs us that:

    We humans input oxygen and output carbon dioxide.
    Our tools (cars ect) also burn oxygen and output carbon dioxide.
    Plants input carbon dioxide and expel oxygen. We are decimating the forest of the planet at an extraordinary rate. The balance of C02 vs O2 is not in our favor.

  72. Actually, oxygen gives life and takes life; oxygen is the main culprit for damage to biological organisms.

    Analogous to oxygen causing metal to rust, oxygen damages cells because of oxidation/reduction reactions via free radicals. Hence the marketing of anti-oxidant vitamins and compounds such as alpha-lipoic acid.
    It's all about the network...

    Networks and Ratlines

    The above reminded me of the CSIS information i posted at EB on 1/6/07.

    Interestin that Roggio posted it today.

  73. Where and what you choose to worship is your business, just keep your hands out of my pocket.

  74. WSJ ON NIE

    President Bush has lost control of his bureaucracy. For once I agree with the Urinal. We're being hoodwinked.

  75. Here's another candidate quiz. Little more robust than the last. Tancredo came up #1 for me on the last. Romney comes up #1 for me on this one.

    Wed Dec 05, 06:12:00 PM EST

    Paul: 34
    Thompson: 29
    Huckabee: 13
    Romney: 5
    McCain: 5
    Rudy: 1

    One of the problems with the quiz is obviously that they're simply the candidate's rhetoric, i.e. Huckabee's a border hawk (*insert laugh*).

    Still was surprised I was so low on Rudy (even though I'm not a supporter).

  76. Bobal: President Bush has lost control of his bureaucracy. For once I agree with the Urinal. We're being hoodwinked.

    By losing control you must mean that Cheney was unable to keep his foot down on the NIE for a whole year, and it managed to get out. But then we're talking about a Vice President of the United States who shot a 78 year old man in the face.

  77. I agree completely ,whit, which is why I've alwways opposed funding 1,000 points of compassionate light, with Federal or State money.

  78. So, rat, whit,

    Are you completely laissez faire kinda guys? The State should do nothing, no environmental reg., no taxation, nothing; just let the free market decide what happens to the environment?

  79. "Iran and North Korea are the states of most concern to us. The United States’ concerns about Iran are shared by many nations, including many of Iran’s neighbors. Iran is continuing to pursue uranium enrichment and has shown more interest in protracting negotiations and working to delay and diminish the impact of UNSC sanctions than in reaching an acceptable diplomatic solution. We assess that Tehran is determined to develop nuclear weapons--despite its international obligations and international pressure. This is a grave concern to the other countries in the region whose security would be threatened should Iran acquire nuclear weapons."

    Fingar five months ago testifying to Congress.

    What a dangerous, tragic and farcical situation.

  80. Aren't those guys and gals in the intel agencies writing reports all the time? The various reports then move up the chain? When a report is written contradicting the accepted knowledge of the time is it not flagged and moved up more quickly? Is not the NIE the amalgamation of all the agency reports at that time? I don't buy that Bush had no knowledge until last week on the new 'knowledge'. He truly lives in a bubble of his own creation if those below would stop reports of this magnitude reaching his desk. He got blindsided...POPPYCOCK!! or BRUTAL INCOMPETENCE. Both his fault.

  81. Bobal this is the newest Aircraft Carrier to make her homeport in Washington State, the USS City of Chehalis

  82. :) Nuclear powered, or an oiler? Or driven by wind power? In for a port call, huh. Yeah, I was looking at some of the pictures of the damage around the state today, one hell of a storm, one to remember.

  83. I heard, or think I heard, that Oregon's or Washington's biggest tree got blown over?

  84. Which State, where, ash?

    The major contributors to "Global Warming" are China and India, not the US.

    This is not the 70's or 80's. US autos and inddustry is exceptionally clean, by world standards, by regulatory actions, already.

    Should we ground the airplanes?

    Coal fired electrical plants in China, dung burning in India, the great brown cloud that hangs over South Central Asia, the greatest worry.

    Should the US restrict itself, while the CO2 count continues to rise, or should we force China and India to cease their economic development?

    Which would take a war, which would put nuclear ash into the stratosphere.

  85. I looked at the Washington Post test.

    None of the questions were hot button issues for republicans.

    They didn't include Duncan Hunter.

    While Duncan maybe doing worse than Tancredo--he's the most popular guy over at free republic.

    so imho the washington post questionaire doesn't really cut it. but it does serve the interests of the democrats

  86. Well read the Dem answers to those same questions, kilmer.
    I think you'd find that they are not helpful to them, based on their answers ...

    Couldn't support any of them, a true divergence of opinions, tween the candidates of the two Parties.

    Reading them, I can not believe they could believe what they are saying.

  87. It's a good quesion whether or not State regulation, albeit necessary in many instances, really does any more good than harm. Nuclear energy has been 'regulated', to the point none have been built in a long time, by the State, and the greens and the courts. This one in Idaho I have mentioned, it is twelve years away in the best of circumstances, and it's out in the middle of a barren desert compared to the rest of the country. It is a complex topic, enterprise, regulation and the state. Some of the greens are having panic attacks now, what with the new problem they believe in, and are calling for nuclear, which was to them the devils curse, before.