“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Iran is Disneyland Compared to Pakistan

General Ashfaq Kayani, center, succeeded Mr. Musharraf as chief of the army and previously led the ISI, Pakistan's premier military intelligence agency. (ISPR via Reuters)

The constituency that is intent on bitch slapping Iran may well take heed of the disaster seeping to the surface in Pakistan. Exaggerating the threat of Iran and ignoring the danger in Pakistan is foolishness in the extreme. Want a worse case scenario? Waste assets in Iran and watch Pakistan unravel and be able to do nothing to stop it.  

We do not seem to have the domestic sources of capital to shore up our own banks yet we burned $10 billion to pay tribute in Pakistan to little good effect. We are borrowing and burning billions by the hundred count to finance the Iraq venture. Oil, that by some accounts was to have financed the Iraq war, now costs the US consumer close to $100 a barrel. Further US actions and policies in the ME should be tempered by past results and  current realities rather than the future fantasies of our rulers and masters.

Militant groups slip from Pakistan's control

By Carlotta Gall and David Rohde Published: January 15, 2008 Herald Tribune

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Pakistan's premier military intelligence agency has lost control of some of the networks of Pakistani militants it has nurtured since the 1980s, and is now suffering the violent blowback of that policy, two former senior intelligence officials and other officials close to the agency say.

As the military has moved against them, the militants have turned on their former handlers, the officials said. Joining with other extremist groups, they have battled Pakistani security forces and helped militants carry out a record number of suicide attacks this year, including some aimed directly at army and intelligence units as well as prominent political figures, possibly even Benazir Bhutto.

The growing strength of the militants, many of whom now express support for Al Qaeda's global jihad, presents a grave threat to Pakistan's security, as well as NATO efforts to push back the Taliban in Afghanistan. American officials have begun to weigh more robust covert operations to go after Al Qaeda in the lawless border areas because they are so concerned that the Pakistani government is unable to do so.

The unusual disclosures regarding Pakistan's leading military intelligence agency — Inter-Services Intelligence, or the ISI — emerged in interviews last month with former senior officials who have knowledge of the inner workings of the ISI. The disclosures confirm some of the worst fears, and suspicions, of American and Western military officials and diplomats.

The interviews, a rare glimpse inside a notoriously secretive and opaque agency, offered a string of other troubling insights likely to refocus attention on the ISI's role as Pakistan moves toward elections on Feb. 18 and a battle for control of the government looms:

One former senior Pakistani intelligence official, as well as other people close to the agency, acknowledged that the ISI led the effort to manipulate Pakistan's last national election in 2002, and offered to drop corruption cases against candidates who would back President Pervez Musharraf.

A person close to the ISI said Musharraf had now ordered the agency to ensure that the coming elections were free and fair, and denied that the agency was working to rig the vote. But the acknowledgment of past rigging is certain to fuel opposition fears of new meddling.

The two former high-ranking intelligence officials acknowledged that after Sept. 11, 2001, when President Musharraf publicly allied Pakistan with the Bush administration, the ISI could not rein in the militants it had nurtured for decades as a proxy force to exert pressure on India and Afghanistan. After the agency unleashed hard-line Islamist beliefs, the officials said, it struggled to stop the ideology from spreading.

Another former senior intelligence official said dozens of ISI officers who trained militants had come to sympathize with their cause and had had to be expelled from the agency. He said three purges had taken place since the late 1980s and included the removal of three ISI directors suspected of being sympathetic to the militants.

None of the former intelligence officials who spoke to The New York Times agreed to be identified when talking about the ISI, an agency that has gained a fearsome reputation for interfering in almost every aspect of Pakistani life. But two former American intelligence officials agreed with much of what they said about the agency's relationship with the militants.

So did other sources close to the ISI, who admitted that the agency had supported militants in Afghanistan and Kashmir, although they said they had been ordered to do so by political leaders.

The former intelligence officials appeared to feel freer to speak as Musharraf's eight years of military rule weakened, and as a power struggle for control over the government looms between Musharraf and opposition political parties.

Read On


  1. iran is a threat...

    pakistan is a growing threat....

    selling 20-40 billion in advanced weapons to sunnis is a stupid threat.....

    but wait, maybe we are RETURNING to the 1980s...

    remember the iran / iraq war?

    the time for the shits vrs the suns is upon us...

    stoke the fires...

    feed the flames...

    step back and watch the black rockers destroy each other and several hundred billion in wealth...

  2. Dreamin', wi"o" is dreamin'.

    The Saudis and the Iranians are not on a collision course, they operate under "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" standard.

    Their greatest enemy is not themselves, that schism is old as dirt. Their real, common, enemy is in the Levant, not in Persia nor Arabia.

    As sam linked to last night, the Saudi are arming up, but not to fight the Iranians, that they leave to US, while they wait for diplomacy to develop with the next Iranian Adminstration. After all the Mullahs have had control of Iran since 1977, only recently have they become an regional challenge for the Arabs.
    Corresponding on a timeline to US intervention in Iraq.

    ... Al-Mani said the U.S. would be wise to let diplomacy and sanctions have their full effect, because Iranians appear to be getting fed up with hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his allies.

    "There is a strategic change going on in this part of the world, whereby Iran is really trying to play the big card," al-Mani said. "But they're playing the big card on the military level � and they're losing. It's costing them economically. We have one year left in Ahmadinejad's administration, so I think perhaps the next administration will be much more cooperative, like Khatami and so on."

    As long as the US is in Iraq, there will be no Saudi/Gulf Arab was with Iran. The US is negotiating a long term presence in Iraq, right now. This is termed a success by many. That long term military presence always the objective of Team43, in Iraq.

    You let your feelings, your hope, distort your vision. The Iranians fought a defensive war against Iraq/US. Saddam was not operating as Sunni but a Nationalist and a US proxy. His Army was made up of Shia foot soldiers, not Sunni fanatics.

    Iran is now funding Sunni insurgents in Iraq. Iran is now funding Sunni insurgents in Afghanistan. They are not fighting a sectarian war, but a nationalistic one.

    Whether the US and the French are acting stupidly, is not the point, that they are acting, is.
    Both are combining their efforts to strengthen the Wahabbists. The US has been funneling cash to the ISI for decades.

    The US providing fungible funding for Pakistani nuclear development during Charlie Wilson's War, supplying matching funds with the Saudis to General Zia-ul-Haq. The same General Zia-ul-Haq who in 1986 said:

    `It is our right to obtain the technology. And when we acquire this technology, the Islamic world will possess it with us.'

    By 1986 the US was publicly providing Pakistan $600 million, annually.
    �Unclassified studies show that [covert aid] grew from $35 million in 1982 to $600 million in 1987. With few exceptions, the funds bought materiel that was given to Afghan fighters by [the ISI]. CIA personnel were not authorized to enter Afghanistan, except rarely.� [Clarke, 2004, pp. 50]

    The Saudi matching funds providing for the development of the Islamic nuclear capacity. Which the US was well aware of, at the time.

    We are on a long term course, a bi-partisan course, led from the White House, not the buerocrats.

    And, habu tells US, we're winning!!!
    Which the US is.
    But "WE", that depends upon the definition of "WE" does it not.

  3. and to add to that comes Pat Buchanan:

    Subprime Nation
    Posted: January 14, 2008
    9:29 p.m. Eastern

    "Since it began to give credit ratings to nations in 1917, Moody's has rated the United States triple-A. U.S. Treasury bonds have been seen as the most secure investment on earth. When crises erupt, nervous money seeks out the world's great safe harbor, the United States. That reputation is now in peril.

    Last week, Moody's warned that if the United States fails to rein in the soaring cost of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the nation's credit rating will be down-graded within a decade.

    Our political parties seem oblivious. Republicans, save Ron Paul, are all promising to expand the U.S. military and maintain all of our worldwide commitments to defend and subsidize scores of nations.

    Democrats, with entitlement costs drowning the federal budget in red ink, are proposing a new entitlement – universal health coverage for the near 50 million who do not have it – another magnet for illegal aliens. Moody's is telling America it needs a time of austerity, while the U.S. government is behaving like the governments we used to bail out.

    California has already hit the wall. With an economy as large as a G-8 nation, the Golden State is looking at a $14 billion deficit in 2009 and a $3 billion shortfall in 2008. Gov. Schwarzenegger has called for slashing prison staff by 6,000, including 2,000 guards, early release of 22,000 inmates, closing four dozen state parks and a 10 percent across-the-board cut in all state agencies. The Democratic legislature is demanding tax hikes, which would drive more taxpayers back over the mountains whence their fathers came.

    Meanwhile, Washington drifts mindlessly toward the maelstrom. With the dollar sinking, oil surging to $100 a barrel, the Dow having its worst January in memory, foreclosures mounting, credit card debt going rotten, and consumers and businesses unable or unwilling to borrow, we appear headed into recession.

    If so, tax revenue will fall and spending on unemployment will surge. The price of the stimulus packages both parties are preparing will further add to the deficit and further imperil the U.S. credit rating. This all comes in the year that the first of the baby boomers, born in 1946, reach early retirement and eligibility for Social Security.

    To stave off recession, the Fed appears anxious to slash interest rates another half-point, if not more. That will further weaken the dollar and raise the costs of the imports to which we have become addicted. While all this is bad news for the Republicans, it is worse news for the republic. As we save nothing, we must borrow both to pay for the imported oil and foreign manufactures upon which we have become dependent.

    We are thus in the position of having to borrow from Europe to defend Europe, of having to borrow from China and Japan to defend Chinese and Japanese access to Gulf oil, and of having to borrow from Arab emirs, sultans and monarchs to make Iraq safe for democracy.

    We borrow from the nations we defend so that we may continue to defend them. To question this is an unpardonable heresy called "isolationism."

    And the chickens of globalism are coming home to roost.

    We let Europe to get away with imposing value-added taxes averaging 15 percent on our exports to them, while they rebate that value-added tax on their exports to us. Thus, the euro has almost doubled in value against the dollar in the Bush years, as NATO Europe begins to bail out on Iraq and Afghanistan.

    We sat still as Japan protected her markets and dumped high quality goods into ours and China undervalued its currency to suck jobs, technology and factories out of the United States. Now, China and Japan have $2 trillion in cash reserves. The Arabs have an equal amount of petrodollars. Both are headed here to spend their depreciating dollars snapping up U.S. assets – banks, ports, highways, defense contractors.

    America, to pay her bills, has begun to sell herself to the world.

    Its balance sheet gutted by the subprime mortgage crisis, Citicorp got a $7.5 billion injection from Abu Dhabi and is now fishing for $1 billion from Kuwait and $9 billion from China. Beijing has put $5 billion into Morgan Stanley and bought heavily into Barclays Bank.

    Merrill-Lynch, ravaged by subprime mortgage losses, sold part of itself to Singapore for $7.5 billion and is seeking another $3 billion to $4 billion from the Arabs. Swiss-based UBS, taking a near $15 billion write-down in subprime mortgages, has gotten an infusion of $10 billion from Singapore.

    Bain Capital is partnering with China's Huawei Technologies in a buyout of 3Com, the U.S. company that provides the technology that protects Pentagon computers from Chinese hackers.

    This self-indulgent generation has borrowed itself into unpayable debt. Now the folks from whom we borrowed to buy all that oil and all those cars, electronics and clothes are coming to buy the country we inherited. We are prodigal sons, and the day of reckoning approaches."

  4. When this "day of reckoning" is upon us we should immediately send out our bills to these said parties whom have assumed the things we have done for them were free. It may end up that certain said parties would wind up owing us.

  5. That day has already arrived, slim

    WASHINGTON (Associated Press) -- The Federal Reserve, working to combat the effects of a serious credit crisis, said Tuesday it had auctioned $30 billion in funds to commercial banks at an interest rate of 3.95 percent.

    It marked the third in a series of innovative auctions the Fed began last month as a way to provide cash-strapped banks with the reserves they need. The hope is that the increase in resources will keep banks lending to consumers and businesses and prevent the credit turmoil that hit in August from pushing the country into a recession.

    There are indications the Fed's efforts are having an impact. The 3.95 percent interest rate was the lowest of any of the three auctions it has held. The other two auctions saw rates of 4.65 percent and 4.67 percent.

    Last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the auctions so far have been successful and he indicated that they would continue for as long as they were needed. He said that these auctions might become "a useful permanent addition to the Fed's tool box" of strategies it can employ at times when the credit markets have seized up.

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  7. On a related note, fighting poverty vs saving the enviorment and lesening the worlds' dependence upon oil ...

    What happens when the laudable, currently fashionable movement to improve the environment comes directly into conflict with the equally laudable, equally fashionable movement to improve the lives of the poor?

    By its very existence, the Nano, which is being launched in India, embodies this dilemma. Though the car will remain out of reach for the poorest, it's an obvious boon for those Indians just entering the middle class�and not just as a convenience. As Indians become more mobile, jobs will become more flexible, trade and commerce easier, growth even faster. "I hope this changes the way people travel in rural India," the manufacturer declared as the car was unveiled at the Delhi Auto Expo: "We are a country of a billion and most are denied connectivity."

    But if all goes according to plan, 250,000 Nanos will be manufactured in the first year of production, and those numbers will rise rapidly as production lines are opened in Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia. Though the small Nano uses less gasoline than many larger cars, the enormous potential numbers could mean an equally enormous environmental impact. Since it will be a long time before Nano drivers will be able to afford the $20,000-plus hybrids now on the market, let alone a Honda FCX Clarity, the prototype experimental hydrogen car thought to be worth as much as $10 million apiece, that means an exponential rise in carbon emissions as well as other kinds of pollutants.

    The United Nations' top climate scientist, Indian economist Rajendra Pachauri�chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore�has said he is already "having nightmares" about precisely this scenario.

    at Slate

  8. The French, doing more than sniffing out opportunities, that phase has passed. Now they are moving forward with a greater military presence. First they return to the Levant, now they move into the Gulf States.

    The phrase "shitty little country" originated by a Frenchman, Daniel Bernard, the French ambassador to London, at a dinner party in 2001.

    ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (Associated Press) -- France will set up a permanent military base of up to 500 troops in the United Arab Emirates, the French government announced Tuesday during a visit by President Nicolas Sarkozy.

    The military base deal will make France one of the first Western countries other than the United States to have a base in the Persian Gulf region. The presence would give Paris the ability to project its forces into a crucial oil-producing region where many countries are wary of Iran's rising influence.

    France and the United Arab Emirates also signed a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement Tuesday would be a first step toward building a nuclear reactor in the oil-rich Emirates with an estimated price tag of up to $6 billion.

    France already has long-standing military cooperation accords with countries in the Persian Gulf region, including the Emirates and Qatar. Sarkozy's office said the base in Abu Dhabi would have 400 to 500 permanent personnel.

    "France responds to its friends," Sarkozy told journalists following the signing of the military accord. "France and the Emirates signed a reciprocal defense accord in 1995. Our friends from the Emirates asked that this accord be prolonged and asked that a base with 400 personnel be opened."

    The deal is "a sign to all that France is participating in the stability of this region of the world," he said.

    The Israeli viewing the French in 2001 in the following light

    "I don't know that he said it, but if he did, it's a pure anti-Semitic expression," said Raanan Gissin, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

    The French Government, he said, "should draw the conclusions of a senior representative of a nation making an anti-Semitic remark".

    Labour MPs in Britain who are members of the Friends of Israel group announced that the remarks were "eerily familiar from the French".
    But in Paris, the foreign ministry stood by Mr Bernard, dismissing the charges of anti-Semitism as "malevolent insinuations".

    The Arabs taking mats' advice, broadening their base of support beyond the US. Making the Israeli even more dependent upon US protections and projections of soft power, in the long term.

  9. So, has Musharraf admitted to the US and its allies that he has lost control of the militants? Will he now take the gloves off and decide that he no longer needs to walk the tightrope?

    What happens next? Relative restraint until after the elections? A purge of the Army? New offensives?

  10. Pat Buchanan is Mad as a Hatter, a Phony, and, worst of all, a Liar.

    Moody's? Give me a break. They've proven that they can't even rate a home loan.

    If he's traveled in Europe he knows that all their VAT got them was a lower standard of living.

    If the Chinese want to invest in some poorly-run banks why should we stop them - or, even care?

    The Dollar has moved about 20% since Bush took office.

    He would have let Saddam take all of the Gulf oil? Oh, yeah, I guess he would have. Saddam was a Nazi-admirer, also.

    Our debt to GDP ratio is falling, Not rising.

    And, last; China has sold us some trinkets, and not advanced enough, yet, to be able to use the high-value items that they will, eventually, have to buy from us. Okay, they'll have to get around to it, sooner or later; in the meantime, we'll sell our goods to others with ready cash.

    He's a goombah. With him in charge, we would be yearning for the good old "Thirties" in no time.

  11. The elections move forward, the Sharif and Bhutto factions gain a sizable majority in the Parliment, then move to impeach Musharraf.
    As promised.

    Musharraf the resigns and goes into exile
    As promised.
    By March or April of '08.

    The Army, which is already on tinderhooks, accused of instigating a Civil War in the Tribal areas, backs off any offensive against the Taliban in Warizistan or the Tribal areas.

    Depending upon whom is choosen as Prime MInister, Mr Sharif or husband of Bhutto ...
    The US waits and sees what develops, in Pakistan, while US tries to retain stability in Afghanistan, with to few boots on the ground to both secure the country or train an Army.
    (see westhawk's current thread)

    Afghanistan being larger than Iraq, with about 10% of the resources allocated.

    In Iraq the US "surged" with 35,000 troops, in Afghanistan we'll give it a go with 3,200 Marines.

  12. Musharaff's problems seem to flounder in the fact that the more help he gets from the US the more help he then needs. Any palship with the US is baaaad for him. Military boots on the ground in Pakistan is really baad for him. Not many in Pakistan like the US too much it seems.

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  14. Debt to GDP is falling?
    Based upon what standard, rufus.

    Not a Gold Standard.
    When Mr Bush took office in Jan 2000, gold was just shy of $300 per ounce.

    It closed yesterday in New York at $901 per ounce.

    A dollar today, being worth 1/3 what it was when Mr Bush took office.

    In Jan 2000 oil was selling at $27 per barrel, today it is at $100.
    The dollar today being worth 1/3 it was when Mr Bush took office.
    Plus a $19 per barrel War Premium factored in.

    So, by using a debased dollar standard, the debt is lower percentage of GDP?
    Howw about by the Gold Standard, as a % from Jan 2000?

    Debt to GDP or deficit to GDP.
    Debt to GDP moved from about 58% of GDP in Jan2000 to about 68% of GDP now.

    The Deficit went from $100 Billion in Jan2000 to almost $600 billion today.

    The GDP of the US has increase 30% during the Bush43 Administration.
    On a Dollar Standard, but the dollar only worth a third of what it was in 2000.

    Based upon the world commidity markets in Gold and oil.

  15. Trade balance figures don't look so good...

    debt to GDP is only meaningful if you count all the debt. The unfunded liabilities (Social Security ect.) seem to be imposing.

  16. Meanwhile, Laura Ingram on the radio, is telling me, that closer to home, in Detroit, where I've never been, it's miles and miles of abandoned crappy buildings and destitution. Who would want to do business in Michigan, she asks? Having been mismanaged so. Isn't worth it. Romney, Huck etc promising to bring it back, just vote for me.

    Ash, you got to get rid of that Canadian Human Rights Commission. It absolutely stinks to high heaven.

  17. The Supremes have ruled on that, ash.
    The Social Security shortfall is not a debt. Is not even a liability.

    Social Security IS NOT a promise or a contractual agreement, but an annual, year to year spending decision for the Congress to make.

    FLEMMING V. NESTOR is settled Law
    Section 1104 of the 1935 Act, entitled "RESERVATION OF POWER," specifically said: "The right to alter, amend, or repeal any provision of this Act is hereby reserved to the Congress." Even so, some have thought that this reservation was in some way unconstitutional. This is the issue finally settled by Flemming v. Nestor.

    In this 1960 Supreme Court decision Nestor's denial of benefits was upheld even though he had contributed to the program for 19 years and was already receiving benefits. Under a 1954 law, Social Security benefits were denied to persons deported for, among other things, having been a member of the Communist party. Accordingly, Mr. Nestor's benefits were terminated. He appealed the termination arguing, among other claims, that promised Social Security benefits were a contract and that Congress could not renege on that contract. In its ruling, the Court rejected this argument and established the principle that entitlement to Social Security benefits is not contractual right.



  19. seems a wise decision by the court...

    What's the human rights commission gone and done Bobal?


    That boldness is a nice touch.

    There's a video one or two or three threads back that says alot, Ash. Pretty damning. One has no rights. BC was on it the other day. I was worried you'd been picked up.

  21. The decision by the court certainly conduces to faith in one's government.:(

  22. The idea behind Social Security seems to have been along the lines of since the masses don't have enough self-discipline to save for themselves for a rainy day, some of their money should be taken and entrusted in the hands of those who do, the representatives of the masses.

  23. Exactly right, bob.
    The socialism lite of FDR.

    Now refered to as a generational promise, that isn't.

    Not legally, anyway.

    Remember that there is a current cash flow surplus, but they speak of the need to raise payroll taxes, now, because of a foreseen shortfall in the future.

    Both the GOP and the Dems.
    Two sides of the same coin.

  24. The monies never invested, but in Government debt, the revenues spent in real time.

    With a promise to repay, later,
    with a debased fiat currency.

    Along with claims of economic growth, while inflation ravages the society.
    The numbers used to evaluate that inflation adjusted, to remove those items that indicate there is inflation. Oil, gold, food stuffs.

    30% growth over six years, combined with a 66% loss in currency value equals ?

  25. If my wife and I were to try and live on what S.S. we (theoritically) have coming, we wouldn't be able to live in the manner to which we have become accustomed--that's to say, eat, keep warm, and pay the real estate taxes. Thankfully we have some backup, and I'm not making lite, the S.S. checks of people get eaten up by the inflation-this year over 6% I read. Is there an adjustment upward on S.S. payments for inflation? I really don't know much about the program.

    Ah, I see, right before I was posting this, I read your comment, Rat.

  26. Debt-to-GDP Clock Running Backwards.

    If you're going to rate the GDP in Gold, you have to rate the "Debt" the same way.

  27. :)
    McCain Starts Primary Day With Tour of Funeral Home :)

    Come on, John, I'm no politico, but even I know how that looks....

    Start out at a day care center.

  28. Maybe John's just checking out the services, thinking ahead. Makes sense, at his age.

  29. Exactly, rufus.

    Hard to find any data that does that. My mathimatical figurin' capacity is limited, when trying to compare apples to oranges. Or even oranges to tangerines.

    If the economy grows by 30% but the currency devalues by 60%, how does one measure the growth?

    Is it a 30% decline, in real terms?
    Is that why I can't sell my property in the mountains, that the economy is down 30% in real terms, over the past six years?

    This quote from your link is appropriate to the current converstion, but way off he Pakistan topic

    What DOES matter is the future productive capacity of the US economy—which, after all, is the basis for worldwide faith in the "full faith and credit of the US government." Yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

    We should be asking our politicians what they'll do to improve the future productive capacity of our economy. We should NOT be interested in what the unimportant lockbox contains. Sean Hannity is among the people in a position to start asking the right question. But step one is for the people in a position like Hannity's to understand the right question themselves. Not many of them do, just yet. [I'm still wondering if Alan Colmes does.]

    I wrote an article about the SS Lockbox Hoax a year or two ago; the logic still applies—although it's still obvious that politicians and cable news talking heads don't get it yet.

    If production capacity is out sourced to China, Mexico and India what does the US continue to produce, other than financial services?

  30. No more transfats--

    From Politico, Nancy Pelosi has changed the menu:

    The processed cheese has been replaced with brie. The Jell-O has made way for raspberry kiwi tarts and mini-lemon blueberry trifles. Meatloaf has moved over for mahi mahi and buns have been shunted aside in favor of baguettes.

    A revolution is afoot at the deli counters, grills and salad bars of the U.S. House of Representatives.

  31. That linked chart is deficit to revenue, rufus, not debt to GDP.

    This chart is debt as a % of GDP.

    Up, it looks like it's up 10%, from 58% to 68% since 2000.

  32. Here at home, the city has just agreed to pay $12,000 to hire a study as to how to pay for a new joint(pun) law enforcement facility here, comprising city and county offices. One idea being floated is to charge the prisoners for the new beds, recouping some of the money from the folks they have made unemployeable. This would of course demand that the arrest rate be kept high so as to maximise the return on the investment.

    It's not as if we don't have dozens of people capable of doing figures here. Some of them even work for the city. Every damn time, they waste our money, hiring somebody from Seattle or somewhere to do a study.

  33. Rat, on the right hand side is the "Public" debt to GDP Ratio. It's getting smaller as we speak.

    As regards your chart: that "Debt" includes the Accounting Construct (also known as unfunded liability) of Soc. Sec. obligations. I refuse to consider this as part of National "Debt."

    It's "Statutory;" Not Legal Debt.

    When I refer to debt I refer to actual "Legal" debt for which we have issued Notes. If, however, you insist on using it you will notice that the total debt clock is ticking down, also.

  34. Bobal,

    I suggest you be careful when reading the reactionary wingnuts. I poked about trying to discover some info about the Canadian Human Rights Commission fiasco you mentioned.

    It wasn't the Canadian Human Rights Commission that was questioning Ezral Levant it was the ALBERTA Human Rights Commission (Alberta is a province, sort of like a State). Yes, I agree they shouldn't have been quizzing him about his magazine publishing the Danish Cartoons but lets not get carried away with notions that Canadians have no rights and live in fascist state. In fact we have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms which include:

    "Fundamental Freedoms (Section 2): This section includes the right to freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communications; and freedom of peaceful assembly and association."

    As I've stated before I have problems with Canada's hate laws. Ironically for the Muslim haters here it seems to be Jewish groups keen on the hate law.

    "Saskatchewan's Justice Department plans to make a decision within one to two weeks about the future of its high-profile hate-crimes case against former aboriginal leader David Ahenakew.

    "[We] will make a relatively quick decision," Crown prosecutor Dean Sinclair said yesterday after Saskatchewan's top court upheld a lower court's ruling that quashed a hate-crime conviction against Mr. Ahenakew.

    A Saskatchewan Court of Appeal three-judge panel unanimously ruled that while Mr. Ahenakew's remarks about Jews were "shocking, brutal and hurtful," it doesn't mean the 74-year-old broke the law by willfully promoting hatred against them during an interview with a reporter in 2002.

    The appeal court ordered a new trial for Mr. Ahenakew and now the Crown has the option of retrying the case, staying the charges or appealing to the Supreme Court of Canada.

    In 2002, the former head of the Assembly of First Nations blamed Jews for the Second World War during a profanity-filled speech in Saskatoon. Mr. Ahenakew repeated the sentiments when talking to a Saskatoon StarPhoenix reporter.

    During a taped interview, he said Jews were a "disease" and Hitler was trying to "clean up the world" when he "fried six million of those guys" during the war. He issued a teary apology, but in 2005, was convicted of willfully promoting hate and fined $1,000.

    In 2006, Mr. Ahenakew's conviction was overturned by Chief Justice Robert Laing of Court of Queen's Bench. He said the lower court judge erred by not taking into account whether the comments were made "spontaneously" and in anger. The Crown appealed the ruling.

    Doug Christie, Mr. Ahenakew's Victoria-based lawyer, said his client was washing dishes with his wife when he heard the news and is "quite relieved."

    He said the lengthy legal proceedings have been difficult for Mr. Ahenakew, and the charges should be stayed because his client's comments about Jews were made during a private conversation and not meant for publication.

    B'nai Brith Canada, a Jewish advocacy group which was an intervenor in the appeal, is calling on the Crown to take the case to the Supreme Court."

  35. Dang you, Ash, I like like things simple:) But you make some good points there.

  36. "1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society."

  37. I do not insist on either, rufus.
    I'm just tryin' to figure it out.

    Being skeptical

    The debt, in either case has increased as a percentage of GDP, since 2000, or not?

    Seems to have, based on the historic chart, the "Clock" running currently in reverse, but that seems by the moment, not indicitive of a long term trend.

    Is the long term "legal" debt higher or lower, as a % of GDP since 2000?

  38. aye, if only the world were simple for us.

    On Nuclear Power I keep thinking of you as I follow another Canadian story. Have you heard of the Chalk River Nuclear Plant and the AECL? In short, the AECL (Nuclear regulatory commission) shut down the Chalk River Nuclear plant (which primarily produces Medical Isotopes - most of the worlds I believe) because they failed to install safety backup pumps. We were facing shortages of medical isotopes when the government of Canada overruled the safety commission and ordered the reactor be fired up again. Interesting drama of conflicting interests, government bureaucracy, and safety of nuclear plants. The bottom line moral of the story seems to be that our interests overrule our desire for safety. In this case, hang the safety 'cause we need the medical isotopes to run tests on folks. Where shall we draw the line? Hang safety 'cause I need the power to keep me cool and the TV on?

    Google Chalk River and AECL if you want to find out more about the ongoing issue.

  39. Yeah cutler, most everyone agrees there should be some limits to what can be expressed (even in the US home of the free and brave). Deciding where those lines lie is tough. I tend to want to err on the freedom side.

  40. The clock at 64.75%, now. Close to the charted number
    Which would seem to indicate the other 58%+- on the historic chart accurate

    The pubdebt number @ 35.95% would relate to what percentage in 2000?

    A higher or lower number. I'd assume lower, but facts could easily prove assumptions wrong

  41. I gotta run, but I'll try to read that, Ash. One thing people tend to forget though, when talking about safety in the energy business, is the coal industry has had a terrible record, though it has improved to some degree in recent years. I don't hear much talk of black lung disease anymore,but not long ago we were reading about trapped miners.

  42. Aw, to tell you the truth, Rat, I don't think it's all too important. Take the Iraq War out, and we have a balanced budget.

    As for the Soc Sec accounting sleight of hand, it just seems meaningless to me. My right pocket slips a piece of paper into my left pocket. Whatever; I'm still liable for the "debt," in whichever case. As far as possible outcomes in Soc Sec, that's just a function of the "whims" of any future Congress.

    The Good News is that all of the CBO projections are based on a growth rate that's very much below what we've experienced over the last fifty, or so, years. With the advancement of Science, and technology it seems very unlikely, to me, that we will grow significantly slower in the future than we have in the past.

  43. Yea, there is danger in everything. The Chalk River thing though highlights our tendency to let our 'desire' overwhelm our 'fear'.

    On debt and GDP. The proportion of debt may be masked by the use of GDP as the denominator. Economists moved to GDP instead of GNP but a downside of GDP is that it doesn't necessarily reflect on prosperity - Katrina taking NO contributes to a rise in GDP as does the war in Iraq.

  44. BTW, here's a "Biofuel Ferrari" at the Detroit Auto Show. It's an interesting car because it's tuned to get, not just a little more power, but, also, better fuel economy with E85.

    Vroom, Vroom

  45. rufus,

    I'm skeptical of our capacity for continual growth. Peak Oil, the ability of the Planet to absorb more humans and their waste, and the aging US population demographic trend (David Foot noted how demographics, in hind sight, made many things obvious) suggests rosy projections of continual growth may not be correct.

  46. On the other hand, "importing" oil is a Negative for GDP. Growing our own energy is a Positive.

    And, technology is making our workers much, much more "Productive."

    I'm betting on the "Future."

  47. Hey, I'm with you on betting on the future, I just don't think we need prop ourselves up with continual growth, primarily population growth. Increased productivity is a good thing as is free trade (and mobility of labor)

  48. This comment has been removed by the author.

  49. Yep, John Wayne would be 100 years old, if had not died.
    There was War in Iraq,
    John Wayne did die.

    Can't have those "but if not fors" ...
    Does not work with the IRS.

    Ignoring the inflation though, in the conversation. The 65% loss of value in the currency, not so easily explained away.

    But I do agree
    the future, so bright ...
    we gotta wear shades

  50. ah perennial American optimism, the can do spirit...

  51. Here's an Example of some modern, Kick-Ass Technology.

    Combine it with THIS, and, then add in Monsanto's Gene-splitting, transgenic work, and you say, "yep, this ain't my Grand-dad's Oldsmobile."

  52. Looked at rest
    come back to the best

    No one else has done so much, for so many. That'll continue regardless of the incompetence of Government.

  53. How much Bain Capital stock does Mitt still own?
    There invested in an outfit
    (in China I think) that plays God with Embryos)

  54. 'Rat's Tue Jan 15, 08:44:00 AM EST makes me wonder if we would not be a helluva lot better off if we had just let Russia conquer Afghanistan, unhindered.
    They still would have collapsed, and we would have avoided a hell of a lot of shit that WE stirred up.
    Comments, criticisms.
    Certainly blasphemy to Reagan as Gawd, but he wasn't, he was human, after all, just the best in our lifetimes.

  55. Too bad they didn't give the Ethanol Combined cycle fuel consumption, Rufus.

    Where can I go to be convinced that that small increase in compression ratio and power more than makes up for the BTU disadvantage?

  56. (course the turbo introduces additional complexity since it is variable boost too, so maybe the EFFECTIVE compression increase is much greater)
    ie, it would be easier to see how much more compression ratio you can have on a non-turbo car.
    Turbo definitely the way to go, tho, cause with computer controls they maximize everything.

  57. Hope we see this in the Real-World soon!

    Volvo says that the ReCharge Concept is best suited to car drivers who cover moderate distances every day. A commuter who has less than 60 miles to drive between home and workplace can cover the entire round trip on electric power alone, making the car a Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) for most everyday driving.

    For a 100 mile drive with full batteries, the first 60 miles will be with no fuel consumption and the remaining 40 miles will be at about 60 mpg. No more than 0.67 gallons of fuel is needed to go 100 miles—equivalent to 150 mpg

  58. ah, more 'free speech' issues. Is NBC allowed to not allow a candidate in a debate as part of their free speech?

    "NBC Fights to Keep Kucinich Out of Debate

    By Brian Stelter

    MSNBC continues to promote tonight’s Democratic presidential candidate debate, while the cable news network’s parent company awaits a ruling from the Nevada Supreme Court that will determine whether the forum may proceed without Dennis Kucinich. "

  59. Depends on Judge's Access to Mrs Kucinich!
    It IS Nevada, after-all.

  60. "Dang you, Ash, I like like things simple:) But you make some good points there."

    If Mr. Ahenakew is deliberately falsifying history to promote hate against an ethnic group he should be held accountable.

  61. so if he truly believes in his mistaken take on history all is fine in your books?

  62. The guy at the bank that makes farm loans just told me wheat was $15.00/bushel here delivery April/May. Good Lord. He also said there's talk about letting the farmers out of CRP contracts cost free, this spring. You can get out of a CRP contract now, but there are penalties, based on a formual, and years remaining, how many payments received to date, etc. He also confirmed my suspicion that the farmers are buying pickup trucks, explaining all the new inventory on the local lots.

  63. Doug, the earliest work done on this was by the EPA, in conjunction with the NREL. They published an SAE paper. I'll try to find it. Basically they found that a high ethanol blend like e85 could deliver up to 42% efficiency in a high-compression engine (compared to about 25% efficiency in the average internal combustion engine burning gasoline.

    btw, that Saab set-up will kick the compression ratio up to about 15:1 under full boost, and running ethanol, and, probably, I'd imagine, let it drift down into the low nines when loafing along on gasoline.

  64. If China and or India has a bad harvest, look out.

  65. What do you think about the 150mpg Volvo Article?

  66. Seems you picked the wrong Century to farm in, AlBob!

  67. I really couldn't care less what Mr Ahenakew truly believes. If I felt Ahenakew to be a personal threat, I'd have just dealt with him on very personal level. And that's that.

  68. Al-'day late and dollar short'-Bob

  69. The rest of your life will be a struggle trying to keep up w/the poor farmers!

  70. 'Do the action that is given to you to do and be unconcerned with the fruits of the action.' Gita

  71. Doug, I might have been a bit misleading in my last post. What that means is: You would multiply the btu's of ethanol (76,000) by .42, which would be what? about 32?

    In opposition to 116,000 X .25 = 29 for gasoline.

    Giving ethanol about a 10% advantage in efficiency vs gasoline in an "optimized" engine.

  72. Bob, China just did. It had a Disastrous Corn Harvest this year; and Autralia lost over 30% of it's wheat crop to drought. Argentina is also caught up in a multi-year drought, and Europe withheld 10% of it's wheat-land from production.

    These numbers won't hold forever.

    Doug, I love any technology that gets us free from shipping a Billion Dollars/Day to the Chavistas, and the Mad Mullahs.

  73. Yeah, 'cause it's a big btu difference.

  74. Not only the Dollars but the security liability of having the Tap turned off.
    That's why I'd like some new refineries ASAP.

  75. There will be three ballots: Democratic; Republican; and Green Party. Candidates listed on each appear in an order that was determined by a drawing for ballot positions held prior to ballot printing.

    Some candidates have dropped out of the race since that time.

    Candidates for U.S. President on the Democratic Party ballot include: Mike Gravel, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Joe Biden, Dennis J. Kucinich, Bill Richardson, Christopher J. Dodd, and Uncommitted.

    Arkansas Primary

  76. Class President
    Hair looks like they just came out of the Oval Office.
    Oral History

  77. I'm calling Michigan for Clinton, even though I swore off predictions, and Romney over McCain. And yes, I read the early exit polls.

  78. Let's all give Hillary a break, poor dear. The Pain of Being Hillary A dog's life, for sure.

  79. Breaking news--ACLU files brief on behalf of Larry Craig.

  80. France has agreed a £2 billion deal to build nuclear power stations in the Gulf and in return has secured a military base there.

    The French base in Abu Dhabi would accommodate up to 500 troops. It would probably serve as a maintenance station for France's naval vessels in the Gulf and could also be used as a springboard to send troops into the troubled region.

    “France responds to its friends,” President Sarkozy said, calling the deal “a sign to all that France is participating in the stability of this region”.

    The French moves followed an American promise to sell £10 billion of weaponry to Gulf states to help them to counter the influence of Iran.

    Related Links
    George Bush tries to rally Gulf allies against Iran
    French seal $12bn Chinese nuclear deal
    Sarkozy under fire for Gaddafi nuclear deal
    Mr Sarkozy toured the region on the heels of President Bush, who is wrapping up his week-long visit today in Egypt. The timing of Mr Sarkozy's announcement hints at an emerging contest for clout in the Gulf, where Sunni countries are regarded as key allies for the West.

    While the prime concern of Mr Bush has been to shore up support for his efforts to isolate Iran, Mr Sarkozy touted his trip as pure business. The French deal is poised to deliver a £3 billion windfall to French power companies including Areva, Total and Suez.

    With the price of oil soaring to $100 a barrel, Gulf states are desperate to develop alternative energy sources to fuel refineries and construction in order to free up their own oil for export.

    Nuclear power would also provide a cheap way of meeting the region's demand for desalinated water and electricity, which has skyrocketed as countries such as the United Arab Emirates pursue aggressive growth.

    Under the agreements, French companies would develop civilian nuclear energy in Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE. Some analysts worry that the build-up of nuclear capacity in the area could trigger a regional arms race with Iran. Others consider a Western-allied, nuclear-powered Gulf as presenting a possible way out of the crisis with Iran, which has huge economic ties to the UAE, just across the Strait of Hormuz.

    “One could imagine a scenario where the Gulf becomes a place where Iran could base its enrichment facilities, overseen by a reputable third country,” said Michael Knights, a lead analyst at Olive Group, a security consultancy company.
    Times Online

  81. This comment has been removed by the author.

  82. 69% of the Black vote, in Michigan, have voted "noncommitted". Noncommitted is winning the Democratic Primary, in Michigan

    The Iranians are going to enrich their uranium in Iran.
    They are not going to outsource uranium enrichment. They plan on exporting the processed fuel, to Venezuela and Cuba, Nicoland, too perhaps.

    Their past violations of the NPT, balanced by US violations of the Treaty, in Europe and here at home. How badly each country violated the Treaty, a matter of perception.

    Many of the non-aligned signatory countries align with Iran on that issue. Seems that outfitting nonUS NATO aircraft for nuclear delivery systems violates the letter of the Treaty, from some perspectives.
    As does reasearch into nuclear "bunker busters".
    Any new warhead systems, actually.

    Treaty is pretty clear on no new research for weapons. The fact that the US, China and Russia violate that aspect of the Treaty, validating part of Iran's case.

    The US, of course, says that its' actions are not in violation of the Treaty.

    We can all wait, of course, for that Israeli threat to stop Iran by any option on the table to materialize.

  83. No kidding? I can't even get it right when Hillary is the only one on the ballet. I've got to give it up.

    The ACLU, citing some case from 40 some years ago, is arguing that people that have sex in public restrooms have 'an expectation of privacy.' And indeed, the law cited, or the citation, in the charge, seems to speak of Craig violating the others privacy, or some damn thing. This is really bizarre.

  84. Yep, that's what the folk at FOX are saying.
    Noncommmitted is winning in the Democratic exit polls. No hard results yet, but ....

  85. Wait, now it's "to close to call"

  86. Just For You, Rat Rat skull the size of a car is found.
    There were giants in the earth in those days.

  87. Between that and a new heart, gonna be a Brave New World

  88. Ron Paul is getting as many votes as Thompson and Giuliani combined.

  89. Hillary - kickin' ass and takin' names.

  90. How come Obama isn't on there? I must have missed something somewhere.

  91. On to South Carolina

    Obama should do well there, or it's over.

  92. When the Michigan Dems moved the date of their Primary up, the DNC stripped the State of all of it's delegates to the convention.

    Obama and Edwards took their names off the ballot, in solidarity.
    Billary stuck it out, not believing, I think, that the DNC will stick to its' guns, come convention time.

  93. So how much is Bill going to influence the Hillary presidency? Are we really just looking at a 3rd term Bill, here?

  94. Ok, thanks on the 11:46, Rat. I did miss that. Hillary - ridin' the wave.

  95. I think so, but what would I know of the West Wing and cigars?

  96. Well, he does have some unfinished business with OBL, I guess.

  97. What, he gonna arrange a Presidential pardon?

  98. The fighting in Afghanistan has been brutal from day one — and still is brutal, with a Fort Bragg soldier among the early casualties of 2008, following the deadliest year of the campaign. And yet the minds of millions drift to Iraq at every mention of “the war.”

    There are reasons for it.

    For one thing, the war in Afghanistan has been largely a special operations show, almost a study in contrasts with Iraq and the high-profile missions there.

    Where it all Began

  99. McCain was finished in Michigan when he bagan the last campaign day visiting the funeral home. I knew that was a mistake. Not even the rabbit foot he carries around can overcome a self induced omen like that.

  100. Another good day for you, Sam. You're still batting 1000, or close to it.

  101. Meanwhile in Disneyland--

    The head of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, has expressed "grave doubts" that Iran has mothballed its nuclear weapons program as reported last month in the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate.
    The U.S. report was blasted again last week by a furious President Bush on his visit to Israel. His anger was reinforced by an MI6 report supported by Israel's Mossad intelligence service.

    MI6 chief John Scarlett and Mossad leader Meir Dagan believe the U.S. report not only has undermined efforts to impose tough new sanctions on Iran but, ironically, makes a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities more likely. The prospect of that attack came closer when Israel's new ambassador in London, Ron Prosor, said that Iran "will have enough uranium to make an atomic bomb by 2009." Proser is one of Israel's leading experts on Iran's nuclear program.
    Mossad and MI6 agents working under deep cover in Iran concluded days before Bush began his historic Middle East trip that Iran's 10 nuclear facilities were still fully operational, producing enriched uranium and bomb casings at Natanz and the other eight nuclear facilities.

    Meanwhile, Countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council also apparently do not accept the findings of the most recent National Intelligence Estimate.

    The growing military threat from Iran is prompting Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates quietly to make significant increases in arms purchases.

    Iran's Arab neighbors remain concerned that Tehran would attack in response to a U.S. strike against its nuclear facilities.

    The Gulf nations already have given notice that the U.S. cannot use their bases to launch attacks against Iran.