“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, January 23, 2008

Buchanan, Dobbs and Ron Paul Have it More Right Than Wrong.

The free ride on the back of the world reserve currency, the dollar, is over. We need a policy that favors savings and investment over spending and speculation. A policy that raises real wages and manufactures goods in the USA is a sensible and necessary strategy. In our hearts we knew something was wrong and it is. America first is not all that bad of an idea.

Lou Dobbs says U.S. leaders have squandered the nation's wealth.

President Bush's assurances that we'll all be "just fine" if he and Congress can work out an economic stimulus package seem a little hollow this morning.

Much like Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke's assurances last May that the subprime mortgage meltdown would be contained and not affect the broader economy. And it seems Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has spent most of the past year trying to influence Chinese economic policy rather than setting the direction of U.S. economic policy.

There is no question that Bush, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will quickly come up with an economic stimulus package simply because they can no longer ignore our economic and financial crisis. That economic stimulus plan will amount to about 1 percent of our nation's gross domestic product, an estimated $150 billion.

But all of us should recognize that the stimulus package will be inadequate to drive sustainable growth in our $13 trillion economy. An emergency Fed rate cut and an economic stimulus plan are short-term responses to our complex economic problems, nothing more than bandages for a hemorrhaging economy.

Bush, Pelosi, Reid and the presidential candidates of both parties have an opportunity now, and I believe an obligation, to adjust the public policy mistakes of the past quarter-century that have led to this crisis. And only through courageous policy decisions will we be able to steer this nation's economy away from the brink of outright disaster.

We all have to acknowledge that our problems were in part brought on by the failure of our government to regulate the institutions and markets that are now in crisis. The irresponsible fiscal policies of the past decade have led to a national debt that amounts to $9 trillion. The irresponsible so-called free trade policies of Democratic and Republican administrations over the past three decades have produced a trade debt that now amounts to more than $6 trillion, and that debt is rising faster than our national debt. All of which is contributing to the plunge in the value of the U.S. dollar.

At precisely the point in our history in which this nation has become ever more dependent on foreign producers for everything from clothing to computers to technology to energy, our weakened dollar is making the price of an ever-increasing number of imported goods even more expensive.

All Americans will soon have to face a bitter and now obvious truth: Our national, political and economic leaders have squandered this nation's wealth, and the price of this profligacy is enormous, and the bill has just come due for all of us.

Bernanke endorsed the concept of a short-term economic stimulus package, but he cautioned that the money must be spent correctly: "You'd hope that [consumers] would spend it on things that are domestically produced so that the spending power doesn't go elsewhere."

Just what would you have us spend it on? The truth is that consumers spend most of their money on foreign imports, and any stimulus package probably would be stimulating foreign economies rather than our own. Imports, for example, account for 92 percent of our non-athletic footwear, 92 percent of audio video equipment, 89 percent of our luggage and 73 percent of power tools. In fact, between 1997 and 2006, only five of the 114 industries examined in a U.S. Business and Industry Council report gained market share against import competition.

And let's be honest and straightforward, as I hope our president and the candidates for president will be: This stimulus will not prevent a recession. It may ease the pain for millions of Americans, but a recession we will have. The question is how deep, how prolonged and how painful will it be. Unfortunately, we're about to find out how committed and capable our national leaders are at mitigating that pain and producing realistic policy decisions for this nation that now stands at the brink.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.


  1. Here is a check, but do not spend it in the largest of the Americas employeers, Wal-Mart.

    Do not put it on a down payment on a Ford, Chevy or Toyota. They are built in Canada and Mexico, or the parts made in Japan then assembled in the US.

    Do not buy IBM or Dell, their parts are from Taiwan and mainland China.

    Clothes, do not buy clothes, those are from China or Central America.

    The horse is out of the barn, quick close the door!

    Use that stimulous check as a downpayment on US real estate, or use it to pay the property taxes on the land you already own.

    Could always go to Ruth Chris Steakhouse, have a dinner, eat some US prime beef.
    About all that's left.

  2. Dunkin' Doughnuts and a Remington rifle. And pay the tax accountant.

    Dobbs has been around a long time. I remember the last meltdown. He had on a bunch of 'financial experts'.
    "How bad is this?' he askes.

    'Really, really bad', they all agree.

    'But, we really haven't lost any wealth, the buildings,the mines, the farms, the land, the cars and trucks are all still there, so how have we really lost any wealth? It's all paper.', says Dobbs.

  3. It's absolutely shameful that a tiny country like Israel can compete and probably best the US in overall solar energy production.

    It's absolutely shameful that a country like Germany can compete and probably best the US in overall wind energy production.

    It's absolutely shameful that a country like Brazil can compete and probably best the US in overall biofuel energy production.

  4. Mat, while you're here, China just cracked down, and hard, on internet porn. Absolutely shameful. We can compete with anyone in porn.

  5. Bob,

    Smart decision, if you ask me. The Chinese know what sells, and chinese porn doesn't. Best to use that bandwidth to hack sensitive US networks. :D

  6. Tax question submission period has ended. Your loss. Later.

  7. Doug,

    I'm eyeing a Mac Mini on eBay for my dad's 42" LCD TV. They're selling new/used 1.83 GHz Core 2 Duo Mac Minis for about $400, and there's no need to worry about malware and viruses.

  8. Exactly right, bob.

    Shameful, by design.
    We are where we are, by design.

    Mr Soros says sixty years worth.
    I'd agree, but add ten years back to the inception of the Federal Reserve System and the income tax. Unrestrained government growth that the two, combined, allow and encourage.

    The problem exasperated after WWII and the US taking on the mantel of Empire, which the founders, Washington most of all, had warned against.

    The expansion of government and the expectation that in government the solution lies, not an ideolgically historic US position. But one implanted by the elites, those that were connected by blood and marriage to Russell & Company, the first of the modern US Free Traders.

    Smugglers to the core, Russell & Kennedy, two sides of the same coin. Both representing the current core values of US governence.

  9. There sure is a lot of whining about foreign manufacturing ect. but what to do about it? Are so many (Lou Dobbs is for sure) looking for government intervention and top down economic planning? Many on the right warned organized labor that if the demands got too high the plants will close - just not economic the bosses said (while feathering their nest with golden feathers - they still are). Gotta keep taxes down for the rich, aye, that's the ticket?

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  11. Ash,

    First the Jihadi agitprop, now the Commie agitprop. Any other tired propaganda you care to air here?

  12. hey I'm a free trader kinda guy. These Lou Dobbs folk, moaners about off shore manufacturing are the ones close to the commie meme.

  13. "..feathering their nest with golden feathers - they still are). Gotta keep taxes down for the rich, aye, that's the ticket?"

    No, you were implying that taxes on the rich are too low, when in fact the rich pay the overwhelming majority of the taxes collected.

  14. Aw guys, ya bettr look around you. Look at the house you're living in. Look at the appliances. Look at the money in the bank. Look at the car you're driving. Look at the type of work you do. Look at your Standard of Living!

    Dobbs is full of shit. So is Buchanan. Ron Paul? A really, really bad joke.

    We have the highest standard of living the world has ever seen. We didn't lose manufacturing jobs, overseas. We lost them to robots. Which WE program. btw, We're still the #1 Manufacturing Country in the World.

    We buy plastic Christmas trees, and Barbie Dolls from China; and, we sell them Dreamliners, and Mainframe Computers, and the software to run them. We buy "tee shirts" from Thailand, and we sell them Magnetic Resonance Imagers, and Water Desalinization Plants.

    We run a trade "deficit." We can do this because foreigners invest $2 Billion/Day in the U.S.

    We spend 4% of GDP on Defense. It's a cost of doing business. We're the only nation on earth that can shoot down an ICBM In Flight! The Only One that can send a bomber, Unobserved, deep into a Potential Enemy's Territory. We OWN the Seas.

    We're a "Capitalist" Nation. We allow silly assholes to go crazy and sell each other real estate, and internet stock at crazy, inflated prices. We, also, allow them to succeed beyond their wildest dreams. We file, and receive, more patents in a week than any other country on earth does in several months (possibly years.)

    We're probaby going to have us a little recession. Big Deal. We'll bitch a little bit, and a bunch of people will get Rich.

    It's the American Way:)

  15. THIS is what the doom & gloomers miss.

    Megabyte WAS $150.00. NOW $0.22

  16. What percent of the government's budget does the military and social welfare programs occupy?

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  18. mats, the rich are getting richer, at an extraordinary rate, and, yes, they should pay more in taxes. A person who earns 100 million in a year, if half is taken away, still gets 50 million. Not a bad take and not getting that other 50 mil that year is not going to affect their lifestyle much. But its NOT FAIR, some will argue, that the rich pay 50% while the poor schlep earning 14k in a year pays only 15% (all numbers pulled from my hat for example only)

  19. Depends on what you include, Mat.

    Here's The Link. You decide :)

  20. With respect to FAIR - the communist can claim that it isn't FAIR that someone make 50 million in a year while others can't.

  21. My tax accountant's term for the tax on real property gains is 'a tax on the passage of time'--I had used the phrase 'tax on inflation'.
    He, for one, is not going to vote for Billary.

  22. My grandfather farmed with horses, and late in life had 1 car. I agree with Rufus, we got it pretty good, taken all in all.

  23. The hole in your arguement, rufus, is the increasing size of the trade deficit.

    While the Standard of Living storyline has a fly in the ointment.

    Here is a graph of the trade deficit from 1991 - 2005.

    By your argument the Standard of Living should have increased by a factor of seven, in tandem with the increase trade deficit.

    While the trade deficit held steady, more or less, from 1991 to 1997 at $100 Billion in goods and services. Which we will use as the baseline for the Standard of Living argument. A reasonable trade deficit amount and justifiable for growth.

    I'd even use this piece from 1998 which explain why the tripling of the trade deficit from 1992 to 1997. Which was so low in dollar volumes by today's Standard as to be insignifigant, all factored into the baseline.

    From '97 to '05 the deficit increased from $100 billion to $725 Billion.

    In November 2007, that month standing alone, the trade deficit was $67.1 Billion dollars, more than in all of 1992.

    To much of a "good thing"

    The increase in the trade deficit, more than doubled, even if the Gold Standard was used to adjust the dollar volumes involved.

    But my Standard of Living has not appreciably improved since 1999. Certainly has not improved by a factor of 2, the quality of life has not doubled. As your argument would necessitate.

    Wages have stagnated in real terms, have not doubled or increased by a factor of seven, along with the trade deficit.

    Mr McCain was correct, when he spoke in Detroit, those jobs are not coming back, they have, according to this, not been outsourced, either. Just eliminated.

    Here are some other intersting points from November 07

    Manufacturing Employment
    Manufacturing employment continued to decline in December with a loss of 31,000 jobs, mostly among the component industries. Notable declines occurred in motor vehicles and parts (-6,000), wood products (-4,000), electrical equipment and appliances (-3,000), and textile mills (-2,000). Factory employment has declined by 212,000 over the past year.

    Purchasing Managers' Index
    The manufacturing economy failed to grow in December as the PMI fell to 47.7 -- a decrease of 3.1 points when compared to November's reading of 50.8.

    U.S. Merchandise Trade Deficit
    The manufacturing trade deficit in November increased $5.8 billion, or 8.6 percent, to $72.7 billion. Exports increased $0.1 billion, or 0.1 percent, to $101.0 billion, and imports increased $5.9 billion, or 3.5 percent, to $173.7 billion. The change in exports reflected increases in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($0.5 billion); foods, feeds, and beverages ($0.4 billion); other goods ($0.4 billion); and industrial supplies and materials ($0.2 billion).

    The change in imports reflected increases in industrial supplies and materials ($4.7 billion); consumer goods ($0.8 billion); other goods ($0.3 billion); foods, feeds, and beverages ($0.2 billion); capital goods ($0.2 billion); and automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($0.1 billion).

  24. The GDP of the US, per capita, has not increased by seven fold, since 1997.

    The GDP of the US has not increased by a factor of seven, either.

    That while 212,000 lost their manufacturing jobs,
    Average hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory workers on private nonfarm payrolls rose 7 cents, or 0.4 percent, in December to $17.71, seasonally adjusted. This followed a 7-cent gain in November. Average weekly earnings also grew $2.38 (0.4 percent) in December to $598.60. Over the year, average hourly earnings rose 3.7 percent, and weekly earnings rose 3.4 percent.

    In 1979 there were 19.5 million manufacturing employees.
    In December of 2007 that number was
    Down by a third from peak employment. Not to be recovered on the current course, either.

  25. Oil accounts for about 40% of the Trade Deficit, Rat. It's probably gone from about $200 Million/day to close to $1 Billion/day since 2000.

    Oil is a BIG Problem coming down the Pike, but I don't worry too much about the rest of the import/export deficit.

    In our economy the dollar will fluctuate, and keep the system in equilibrium.

    We've, almost certainly, hurt ourselves by letting too many illegals hold wages down too long. This is being fixed, albeit slowly, as we speak. The Oil thang will take longer, and cause considerably MORE pain. That's the one you need to keep your eyes on.

  26. Thanks, Gag.

    Guys, I HAVE ran out to the two-holer at five oclock on a February Morning. I have taken baths in a galvanized tub. I have reached in to gather Mom's "household money" eggs, and come out with a handful of big, old black snake.

    Trust me; Things is a lot better, Now. :)

    Don't sweat the old, run of the mill trade deficits. Great Countries have ALWAYS ran them. They ain't no big thing.

    And, don't get too wrapped up in month-to-month income/manufacturing/etc numbers. Be wary of when they're switching from nominal to "real" (inflation adjusted) numbers.

    And, speaking of the "old days." I had some relatives that worked in the steel mills, and auto plants. It was hard, backbreaking drudgery. I DON'T WANT my kids working there (unless, they're programming the robots.)

  27. Down with government taxing the passage of time!

  28. If we factor it to 2000 gold, $300 per ounce, rufus, compared to oil @ $28 per barrel
    Oil is up to $90
    Gold is at $885

    Both have tripled.
    The trade defict went from $360 to $736 billion.

    So maybe you're right about the trade deficit being less than it appears, at first glance.

    If we adjust to a 2000 gold standard, the US trade deficit would be even with that of 1999.

    The majority of the increase in the trade deficit since then, attributable to the debased dollar.
    Not a change in the real fundimentals.

    That is interesting.

  29. Do you have any free time?
    You only think you do.

  30. They have you in a rigged game, bob.

    The Federal Reserve and fiat currency. Along with the income tax, all combined, by design.

  31. bobal wrote:

    "Down with government taxing the passage of time"

    This tax on the land you are referring to, is it the feds? Is it a property tax based on an assessed value of the land or is it a capital gains tax levied when the land is sold?

  32. Remember, Rat, if you go back to the late seventies (?)/early eighties, whichever it was, Gold was, in today's dollars, $2100.00/oz.

    Gold is just a "pretty" metal. There is just too much development in the world to base a "World" economy on Gold. Besides, if we did the Indians would come in and buy everything we have.

  33. Land was bought in the depression way out of town then by grand dad. Farmed for eighty years and the city grows up to it and around it. Built a street, selling R-4 high density lots apartment lots. Only real basis is the cost of the street. Was worth practically nothing when it was purchased but brings a price now, after eighty years. Feds want a little under 1/3, State of Idaho 8% is the way he had it figured today. A 1031 tax exchange for other income producing property is the only way out. Has to be real property.

  34. And that's using the Bush tax cuts, was a whole lot more earlier.

  35. So the land is being sold? Or they tax you as it gets developed?

    One problem folks here in Canada have to deal with is the passing of a property from generation to generation, i.e. a Cottage (Cabin in US speak, or summer home). Anyway, no money is made through a sale but the property is deemed sold when passed and the tax is due on the capital gain. Farmers might get a special break though, I don't know. The era of the family farm is pretty well gone anyway.

  36. There have been proposals to, if not do away with the tax altogether, at least index it to inflation. My guy said after the Bush tax cuts a lot more of this type sale occured. Earlier on, many people would just say, it isn't worth selling, too much goes to uncle sam.

    Ash, as it is sold, but the state of Idaho tried to tax the property on property tax at a much higher rate--from $5.50 an acre to about $5,000 an acre! (five thousand!) on the improved land with the street. I beat them on that argument, as under Idaho law, it still being farmed, it was found to still be farm land, until sold. This is a good rule, and necessary, as nobody would develope anything, only to be taxed out of existence, if it didn't sell. But they tried. It's the reason I planted alfalfa on it, to keep it at farm land tax.

    Sounds like the Canadian government has as many tricks in the bag as here. Though you can, here, (I think, never having done it) gift quite an amount tax free to your kids, or maybe anybody.

  37. I live in the worst of both worlds. Being a US citizen I get taxed on my worldwide income even if I don't earn any of it in the US (there is a good size basic exemption though). The dual taxation is particularly onerous at death. I have my own business and that will make it even more messy on my death. In Canada there is no gift tax I believe. In the US you are allowed to gift up to a certain amount then you gotta tax it. There is a difference in Death taxes (Estate Law). I get confused on all the ins and outs but I think that Canada doesn't have a death tax where the US does. The problem in Canada on passing a cottage is not the original purchase price of the cottage being taxed but rather the increase in value that accrued over the years gets Capital Gains taxed.

    Loads of tricks and twist and turns in all the bloody tax laws. So many that I certainly can't keep up with it I've got to hire 'professionals' to deal with it for me, which costs an arm and leg. grrrr, nobody likes taxes ('cept my tax preparer I guess)

  38. In 1975, rufus, gold was $170 per ounce.
    Then came Carter and his inflationary policies, gold spiked to to $600 by 1980.
    Then came Reagan and by 1985 gold was down to $317
    And it has averaged $385 from then until 2000.

    The inflation chart mirroring the gold chart over the timeline.

    Inflation running about an average of 3.3%
    The correlation is evident, even to an unsophisticated eye. Gold has run in the same trend lines as inflation.

    It still does, the commidity prices of today are not an abberation, but leading indicators of dollar values.

    As to the Indians, they horde gold, but do not produce it. The US and South Africa lead there.
    The Austrailians & Canadians though, they are cashin' in, along with the South Africans. All the old colonies but US are net sales of gold, not even on the consumption list, but the three of the top five producers

    The Indians consume about twice what we do. Scroll down for production and consumption numbers.
    The data is a tad dated, 2002, but the consumption trends hold true.

  39. Here, bob, I knew a fellow, put 500 goats on the McDowell Mountains, in Scottsdale when the city tried that trick. Changing the land type classification. Needless to say the golf courses were unhappy, especially when they learned it was "open range" and their responsibility to fence those goats out, not the "ranchers".

    Big political stink, we sat on the tailgate, drinkin' beer, laughin' like all get out. As we watch those goats scamper to and fro.

  40. Mr Marley was not to be trivaled with, the new tax bill ran to almost $1 million, he owned the western side of the range. The goats, less than $10,000.

    Mr Marlay was sometimes described as a "hard man", especially if he did not like you. Used to smuggle the Mexican border, in the Prohibition days. Had a big ranch on the frontier.

    Some say that's why Dillinger was in Tucson, but who really knows.

  41. The problem in Canada on passing a cottage is not the original purchase price of the cottage being taxed but rather the increase in value that accrued over the years gets Capital Gains taxed.

    That's exactly it right there. If you bought your cottage 50 years ago for 10k and then sell for 100k, you get taxed on 90k, a tax on the passage of time. But every other similar cottage in town now costs 100k, so you've just kept up with inflation. And the only way out here is a 1031 tax free exchange. You sell your cottage, in my case improved land, the money goes into an account with a 1031 tax exchange guy--a 1031 facilitator--you never touch the money yourself--and he buys a duplex or some other real property for you. For a fee of course. It works ok, I've done it before, as long as you can trust the facilitator not to take the money and buy one of deuce's condos in Costa Rica. :)

  42. So out of that 90k gain, you'd pay 30% or so, if you want the cash. Plus, here to the State of Idaho, also.

    The solution to your death tax problem, Ash, is, don't die.

  43. We still have 'open range' around here too, in places, but nobody realizes it, cept the ranchers. That's a funny story. I'd think the goats would save the golf course on lawn mowing expenses.

  44. Try an irrevocable trust, bob.
    If you just want to defer capitial gains taxes.
    The Trust gets the property gifted at current value, avoiding the capital gains tax upon sale.

    If you need some of the money, charge the trust a management fee, as the trustee.

    Once it's set up, there's no goin back.
    But if your daughter's gettin' the money eventually anyway, there's no need to go back.

  45. "Don't die" Wish I could execute that plan. In a way, it really isn't my problem 'cause I'll be dead.

  46. The folks at Greyhawk did not see it that way. A lot of real high dollar real estate developments were goin' in.
    The old man died and now the whole mountain is being built out.

    Mr Marlay took the city to the Supremes over zoning regulations, won there, too. He was the Coors distributor in Phoenix. Good guy to know, back then, in the early/mid 70s.

  47. Slick Willie Saddles Up-Again from The Nation, no less--isn't that a left wing rag?

    We're going to start looking into things like that, Rat, we're not quite there yet. But, time stops for no man. And the government counts the days.:)

  48. In Canada there is a little dodge you can do if you own a business. The bank hauled me in to a seminar once teaching me the trick. Basically you set up a company in your kids name and that company pays you companies bills. That company is allowed to charge something like 15% above the price of the bills it is paying. So, your top level company inflates its expenses by 15% (hence lower profit) the kids company earns 15% which is taxed at the lower income rate of the kids income minus basic exemption.

  49. Fuck, Jerri Thompson's got a nice set of tits.

  50. Gonna get more expensive to drink and smoke in NY:

    New York Bankers Association spokesman Karen Jannetty said her organization is not yet certain what impact the changes will have to credit card companies or consumers.

    u Taxing flavored malt beverages at low liquor rate: Change would raise taxes on certain malt beverages currently taxed at the beer rate to the low liquor rate. This change is expected to generate $15 million in 2008-09 and $18 million when fully effective.

    u Taxing little cigars at cigarette rate: Spitzer wants to classify “little cigars” as cigarettes for tax and stamping purposes by both the state and New York City. The change is expected to bring in $3.6 million 2008-09 and $4.8 million annually thereafter.

    Raising Fees

  51. Mr Soros made around $1bn in 1992 when he bet that the pound would fall as the Government clung to membership of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism.

    He warned this week that the crisis facing the world's financial markets is the worst in 60 years, likely to cause a major realignment in the world economy, as emerging nations such as China and India gain more clout.

    Whereas last year most attention at the Davos meetings was focused on the private equity companies which were riding high at the time, this year the spotlight is on the sovereign wealth funds which have played a major part in helping to buoy up struggling US banks by buying major stakes.

    Soros Warning

  52. Stuff Ben Wrote
    Despite what anyone says, no one knows if we are in a recession. It takes six months of declining economic activity for the economy to be declared officially in a recession and so far there has been at most one month of decline. We won’t know for sure until June of this year and a lot can happen between now and June.

    Still, we are obviously facing a slowdown in many parts of the economy. If we are going into a recession, here are a few thoughts that might cheer you up and guide you.

    First, recessions in the postwar world tend to not be that deep. They last on average about ten months. Unemployment rises by about two percentage points. The stock market usually–not always–recovers well within a year. No recession has lasted more than 15 months in the postwar era. More than 90 per cent of willing workers will be employed even at the worst periods. People will still need cars, trucks, life insurance, shirts, socks, and colonoscopies. In certain areas, money will still be being made.

  53. When it rains, it pours...or when it doesn't...

    Drought could force nuke-plant shutdowns

    By MITCH WEISS, Associated Press Writer 2 hours, 20 minutes ago

    LAKE NORMAN, N.C. - Nuclear reactors across the Southeast could be forced to throttle back or temporarily shut down later this year because drought is drying up the rivers and lakes that supply power plants with the awesome amounts of cooling water they need to operate.

    Utility officials say such shutdowns probably wouldn't result in blackouts. But they could lead to shockingly higher electric bills for millions of Southerners, because the region's utilities may be forced to buy expensive replacement power from other energy companies.

    Already, there has been one brief, drought-related shutdown, at a reactor in Alabama over the summer.


    Rudy Giuliani has hit the skids in a Florida freefall that could shatter his presidential campaign and leave a two-man Republican contest in the state between John McCain and Mitt Romney, a Miami Herald poll shows.

  55. Booze and smoke may be getting more expensive but coffee's getting cheaper:

    “The eventual size of the 2008-09 Brazilian crop will be the deciding factor, however, for which way markets move during the second half of the year.” The report said output in top Robusta producer Vietnam at 18 million bags in 2007-08, with estimates ranging widely from 12 million to 20 million bags.

    Increased fund participation was seen boosting market volatility, traders and analysts said.

    “Fund positions in commodities as an asset class will continue to deepen in 2008, including coffee, which can magnify the market reaction to news events — that is making the market more volatile,” said Gil Barabach of Safras & Mercado in Brazil.

    Higher Output

  56. 5:25 is the only meaningful statement so far today.

  57. Rudy disappears in Florida swamp, last seen on skid row--

    Rudy Giuliani has hit the skids in a Florida freefall that could shatter his presidential campaign and leave a two-man Republican contest in the state between John McCain and Mitt Romney, a Miami Herald poll shows.

    Despite hovering over Florida voters for weeks, Giuliani is tied for third place with the scarcely visible Mike Huckabee in a statewide poll of 800 likely voters.

    With his poll numbers slipping back home in the Northeast, Giuliani's campaign will implode if he can't turn it around in the six days left before Florida's Jan. 29 vote, the final gateway before a blitz of primaries around the nation that could sew up the race.

    ''He may be running for president, but with these numbers he wouldn't be elected governor of Florida,'' said Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, whose firm conducted the survey with Democratic pollsters Schroth, Eldon & Associates for The Herald, The St. Petersburg Times and Bay News 9. Alluding to the timeworn song, Conway added: ``If he can't make it there in Florida, he can't make it anywhere.''

    Asked about the 13 percent of the voters who haven't made up their minds, pollster Rob Schroth said he didn't expect them to fuel a Giuliani comeback.

    ''Giuliani for all intents and purposes has virtually no chance to win in Florida,'' he said.

    The folks in Florida know a mobber when they see one.

  58. :0) The (disappearing) Date Game

  59. Thanks, Rufus. From what I can tell from the charts, it looks like defense and welfare are about 60 percent of the budget.

  60. Oscar-winning actor Jon Voight inserted himself into presidential politics late last week when he hit the road in Florida to tout the candidacy of Rudy Giuliani.


    Voight, whose career was launched by the movie "Midnight Cowboy," said he felt compelled to campaign for Giuliani, primarily because of the former mayor's foreign policy.


    Here in Florida, Giuliani has been greeted by larger crowds than he drew in New Hampshire or Iowa, but the number of supporters are only a fraction of those Democrats like Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., have been able to draw.

    Stumping for Rudy

  61. Ash,

    So big government is better at investing and making that 50 million grow, is that it?

  62. The following is a list of organizations receiving funding through the federal government's Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF):

    * Memorial University has three projects receiving funding, including: a vibration assisted drilling tool, led by Stephen Butt of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences, which will receive $1.8 million; population-based genetic research, led by Dr. Patrick Parfey, which will get $3 million; and the development of a collision avoidance system for an unmanned aircraft, which will receive $3 million.

    * Cathexsis Innovation Inc. was granted $2.7 million to develop an Bluetooth enabled radio frequency identification reader with its partner Microsoft Corp.

    * Bluedrop Performance Learning, based out of St. John's, will receive $2.5 million to develop software for online learning in the manufacturing sector.

    Canadian Federal Government Funding

  63. Lawrence Wilkerson, one-time chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, praised the competence of U.S. commander in Iraq Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker in tackling Iraq's problems.

    But he said the U.S. chances of building on recent success would be severely limited by the time President George W. Bush's successor takes office a year from now because of personnel strains on the Army and the burden of $11 billion in costs for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    "To continue to put this money in at the rate we're putting it out now, or even close to the rate we're putting it out now, is going to be virtually impossible," Wilkerson said.

    Stability in Iraq

  64. At RCP:

    The Gipper Lives

    John O'Sullivan | January 23, 2008

  65. Read it Trish, thanks.

    You know things are really fucked up when a dem is tapping into Reagan optimism instead of a conservative.

  66. Finally a movie without violence Juno-The Movie That Ellen Page did a good job. Wife didn't blubber at the end. 'A' rated by bob.

  67. Juno was both the wife and sister of one Jupiter, if you can believe that jive.

  68. Juno:

  69. no mats, I wouldn't expect the government to be very good at 'growing' the money but the government does seem to require some revenue, substantial revenue, and they get it through taxation. I am in favor of the US government decreasing their expenditures. The military budget offers one area where expenditures can be reduced.

  70. This comment has been removed by the author.

  71. The mythology has warped Reagan beyond recongnition.

    He signed an illegal immigrant amnesty law in 1986.
    He signed a billion dollar tax increase in California.
    He cut and ran from Lebanon.
    He negotiated with and made arms deals with moderate Iranian mullahs

    Ronald Reagan could never get nominated today, based upon his recoord Rush Limbaugh would announce he was to liberal. Not a true conservative.

  72. "..but the government does seem to require some revenue.."

    So? Do rich people use government provided services more than poor people? Why should they pay more than poor people?

  73. "The Holy Spirit spoke by the prophets, all visionaries speak with the voice of God, but in Jesus God and Man became one. For Jesus was a perfect man, not in the negative sense of a man without sin--had he been perfect in that way he could never have existed at all, even as a myth--but as a man who "was all virtue, and acted from impulse, not from rules." Everything he did was an imaginative act bringing more abundant life, and his whole gospel reduces itself to forgiveness of sins, in the sense above discussed.

    His impact on society was that of a revolutionary and iconoclast, as that of all prophets must be. He found the Jews worshiping their own version of Nobodaddy, a sulky and jealous thundergod who exacted the most punctilious obedience to a ceremonial law and moral code. He tore this code to pieces and broke all Ten Commandments, in theory at least. He had no use for the Pharisees' Sabbath or for the paralysis of activity thought to be most acceptable to their frozen God on that day. All the devotion to ritual fopperies of the kind that lazy minds think of as possessing some kind of mysterious magical virtue got the same treatment. Jesus met the guardians of law and conventional piety with jeers and insults and merciless exposures of their hypocrisy and ignorance. He stated disputing with doctors very early, and reduced both the smugly pious Pharisees and the smugly skeptical Sadducess to an infuriated silence. He himself was a vagrant and did not work at his trade, giving the bag to Judas to carry, but he never ceased to denounce the ambitious and self-made as fools and swindlers. So far from honoring his father and mother--the only positive command in the Decalogue--he found that complete imagination involves a break with a family. He ran away from home at twelve, told his followers that they must hate their parents, and said to his own mother, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" When he was brought a harlot to be accused, condemned and murdered in the approved way, he showed that the self-righteoousness which made killing her a pleasure was something far worse than her sin. Finally Jesus became so obnoxious to society that society could stand him no longer, and, as he refused all compromise or even defense, he really compelled the custodians of virtue and vested interests to murder him. From their point of view they were quite right, and their charge of blaspheming their God amply justified.

    At the same time the common people heard him gladly, publicans and sinners welcomed him, lepers, pariahs and beggars called to him; children swarmed after him. He was more interested in sinners than the righteous. Pharisees did not recognize him as a prophet, but the adulterous woman of Samaria did. When he talked of God he did not point to the sky but told his hearers that the Kingdom of Heaven was within them. Nor did he tell them how to live a Christian life in society. He asked the impossible, demanded perfection, and threw out wildliy unpractical suggestions. He said that God was a Father and that we should live the imaginatively unfettered lives of children, growing as spontaneously as the lilies of the field witout planning or foresight. The God of his parables is an imaginative God who makes no sense whatever as a Supreme Bookeeper, rewarding the obedient and punishing the disobedient. Those who labor all day for him get the same reward as those who come in at the last moment. His kingdom is like a pearl of great price which it will bankrupt us to possess. If we want wise and temperate advice on living we shall find it in Caesar sooner than in Christ; there is more of it in Marcus Aurelius than there is in the Gospels. Sensible people will tell us that it is foolish to throw everything to the winds, to give all one's goods to the poor and live entirely without caution or prudence. But they will not tell us the one thing we need most to know: that we are all born into a world of liquid chaos as a man falls into the sea, and that we must either sink or swim to land because we are not fish."
    from 'Fearful Symmetry' by Northrop Frye

    In such a manner should the gospels be read.

  74. Rat..

    Shattering my images.


  75. There's nothing inherently optimistic about conservatism, sam, given that it is a rearguard action against the 20th century tide of socialism/progressivism rather than a positive, coherent ideology of its own.

    Reagan the individual bestowed American conservatism with an optimism and confidence that the movement, confused and philosophically at odds with itself, had not yet earned.

    It still has not earned it.

    That outgoing optimism and confidence, for the foreseeable future, will be the possession and projection of individuals, not of polyglot parties.

  76. Mat,

    South Australia has been going through a drought since '00. The South Australian government wants to build a de-sal plant. They've changed the structure of the water consumption charges to finance it. It used to be you pay for what you use. Big family in big home with big pool pays more than single elderly retiree in small apartment. They've evened things out now so that the big family pays less and the single retiree pays more. In the end the South Australian government gets more revenue from water consumption than the old model. The poor folk are up in arms!

  77. "He cut and ran from Lebanon."

    And so deserves our eternal thanks.

  78. Well said Trish, 10:47.

    But still it's Obama tapping into that individual optimism and not Romney.

  79. Sam,

    That is very queer, indeed.

  80. I'm reminded every day that I am not a perfect man. And I will not be a perfect President.

    But I can promise you this - I will always say what I mean and mean what I say. I will be honest about the challenges we face.

    And most importantly, I will wake up every single day ready to listen to you, and work for you, and fight for you not just when it's easy, but when it's hard. That's what I did for those men and women on the streets of Chicago.


  81. Yeah, fuckin' crazy ain't it? It's all over the news here.

  82. socialism/progressivism

    very, very queer indeed, latching words together meaninglessly

  83. Next year, the Canadians won't even bother to appear, calling Durban II a "circus" (via CapQ reader Blaise MacLean):

    Canada has withdrawn its support for a UN anti-racism conference slated to take place in South Africa next year, the federal government announced Wednesday.
    The so-called Durban II conference "has gone completely off the rails" and Canada wants no part of it, said Jason Kenney, secretary of state for multiculturalism and Canadian identity.

    "Canada is interested in combating racism, not promoting it," Kenney told The Canadian Press. "We'll attend any conference that is opposed to racism and intolerance, not those that actually promote racism and intolerance.

    "Our considered judgment, having participated in the preparatory meetings, was that we were set for a replay of Durban I. And Canada has no intention of lending its good name and resources to such a systematic promotion of hatred and bigotry."

    Originally, Canada wanted to participate in an effort to keep the conference focused on real racism and intolerance. However, when the UN appointed Libya to chair the event, Cuba as the vice-chair, and put its problematic Human Rights Council in charge of oversight, Canada saw the writing on the wall. The HRC has followed the tradition of its predecessor Human Rights Committee in focusing all of its attention on Israel rather than nations that coincidentally sit on the HRC and systematically abuse human rights.

    Good for Canada.

  84. The Kurdistan Regional Government and the national government have been at an evolving stalemate over oil issues for more than a year. The two sides have yet to reach agreement on a new national oil law, called for in the constitution but stalled over its interpretation.

    The KRG favors decentralized oil control, allowing the producing regions and provinces more say in the pace and method for developing the respective oil sector. Others want the oil strategy to be a central one.

    The KRG has been developing its oil sector for three years. It has little of Iraq's proven oil reserves -- the third largest in the world -- but experts say there could be a bonanza when it's fully explored.

    Oil Talks

  85. But still it's Obama tapping into that individual optimism and not Romney.

    Wed Jan 23, 11:03:00 PM EST

    You can't tap into something that you don't in some way own.

  86. Yeah, bob, I know. But it's their movement and they develop the terminology. Rehabilitation of the language can take generations, if it takes place at all.

  87. McCain Senior Moment

    Just a slip-up or a sign of something more serious? A memory is a good thing for a President to have, usually.:) McCain has had some other moments that make one wonder.

  88. Not throwing dirt at McCain, I'd say the same thing about any of the others.

  89. he,he,he--I didn't notice this when I posted it--

    said Jason Kenney, secretary of state for multiculturalism and Canadian identity.

    Mat, Ash, you're both sorta multicultural and more or less Canadian--what the hell does that mean?

  90. I nominate Mat and Ash for the position of Co-Chairs, Secretaries of Elephant Bar for multicultural affairs and Bar identity.

  91. hmm,.. Comrade Secretary.. I like the sound of that. :D

  92. Global foreign exchange reserves have risen from 1.5 billion in '98 to 6 billion now.


    30%/year over 10 years.

  93. Bob,

    It means I'm Canadian by Passport only. That's about how it applies to all.

  94. The Canadians evidently have to have someone to tell them who they are.

    Frito With 48 Legs Walks Across Parking Lot

  95. dRat will love this:
    Ants - Nature's Secret Society

  96. The reports show that the monitors found that several detainees had been beaten and threatened during Afghan interrogations. In one report, the monitors said one prisoner told them he had been beaten with cables and wires and received electrical shocks.

    “He showed us a number of scars on his legs which he said were caused by the beating,” they wrote.

    Another detainee, who said he was beaten and who had signs of injury, told the diplomatic visitors to look under a chair in the room in which they were meeting. “Under the chair we found a large piece of braided electrical cable as well as a rubber hose,” the report said.

    Canadians Keep Detainees

  97. Fred Thompson will emerge as the consensus candidate at the coming brokered Republican Convention. Everyone likes laid back Fred, the others all have major blocks opposed to them. Fred knows all this, which is why he campaigned lazily, pissed no one off, and got out and is spending some valuable time with his wife, before the smoke filled room times come.

    Fred's Not Dead, Just Sleepeth Fred, come out!

  98. If this should come to pass, remember where you heard it first, otherwise, forget it.

  99. Sam said...


    South Australia has been going through a drought since '00. The South Australian government wants to build a de-sal plant. They've changed the structure of the water consumption charges to finance it.
    The aussies have committed 250 million over seven years to cut the cost of water desalination in half.

    I was at the Multistate Desalination Summit in Las Vegas last week. I mentioned Australias research efforts. Then I asked what the cost and goal of of a similiar US program should be.

    He refusted to say.

  100. Rufus, et al:

    The Media's Love Affair w/McCain

    -- McCain has transformed himself from a deficit hawk who mocked supply-side economics into someone who sounds like he's drunk deeply from the wackiest vats of supply-side Kool-Aid, to the point where he now claims raising taxes decreases revenues (a claim so wildly in conflict with the facts -- for example, federal tax revenues almost doubled in real terms after the Clinton tax increases -- that it's either a shameless lie or a product of astounding ignorance).
    What's the Professor refering to there, re: Clinton tax hikes?
    Did the revenues spike as a result of the internet bubble, or what?
    Obviously the Prof has issues with "supply side" economics, but I don't know enough about what went on tax-wise back then to analyze his analysis.

  101. Albob,
    So let me get this straight:
    The Frito Bandito now has a frigging ARMY?
    Probly the Mexican Gummint's doing.

  102. "He refusted to say."


    Who was that "he"?

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