“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, February 20, 2008

We're Broke, Buds!

hattip: Cutler

Notice: New Elephant Bar Policy - No Tabs!


  1. Can't watch it here at work. What is it in a nutshell?

  2. 48 trillion in debt
    Increasing at a rate of 2 trillion per year.

    Social Security and Medicare.
    34 trillion in Medicare, alone
    The system is broken, by design.

  3. Debt is $400,000 per household.

  4. In 2040 the only thing we will be able to pay for is SS and Medicare. That's it, nothing else.

  5. A Brooklyn man drained $2 million from a bank account managed by another man with the same name and tried to cash in by investing in the stumbling stock market, authorities say.

    His investments were a bust, and now he's busted.

    Benjamin Lovell, 48, was charged Tuesday with grand larceny after a bank error gave him access to a $5.8 million account and he blew a chunk of it on failed investments, jewelry for his mistress, colonic enemas and other extravagances, according to Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Kevin Richardson.

    Same Name

  6. By 2040 I won't be worried about it.

    A colonic enema is an extravagance?

    Dad used to say, "There's a little larceny in everybody, Robert." That was after about 40 years in the law business.

  7. t is too early to tell what George Bush's legacy in Africa will amount to; civil wars and political corruption stand ready to crush advances toward democracy and economic growth. But, by any rational measure, an untold deluge of human suffering already has been averted.

    The story of Kabanyana Renatha from Rwanda, for example, is becoming increasingly common. Kabanyana believes she lost two children to the disease before realizing she was HIV positive.

    She started getting treatment at the Masaka Health Center while she was pregnant with her seventh child. Her daughter, Clissa Uwimana, is now two-and-a-half years old and HIV-negative.

    Into Africa

  8. Hillary's broke too. "Can't raise a wooden nickel" from here on out.
    She will "destroy the democratic party if she fights on"--Go Hillary!

    It's Over for Hillary
    By Lawrence Kudlow

    Allow me a dose of hardened market realism concerning Barack Obama's landslide victory in Wisconsin. The race is over. Hillary Clinton is over. Her electability is over.

    Bill Clinton's political invincibility is over. The Clinton Restoration is over.

    It's over.

    Obama got to the far left faster than Hillary did. He out-organized her, out-fundraised her, out-speechified her, out-hustled her, out-dressed her, and out-presidentialed her. He outbid Hillary for votes, one promised government check at a time. His 17-point margin of victory in Wisconsin was incredible. It says he can't be stopped.

    Outside of the whacko ultra-left Madison college population, which is even worse than the Ohio State population, Wisconsin is a lot like Ohio. And Ohio campuses will go for Obama. Think faculty voters, grimly determined for a left-wing takeover of America "from the bottom up," to use the Saul Alinsky community-organizer phrase. As goes Wisconsin, so goes Ohio.

    Not even Hillary's last-minute bashing of business, free trade, and free-market capitalism -- which was a complete repudiation of her husband's presidency -- could save her. Obama got there first, with a style and elegance that Hillary simply couldn't match.

    And it came out of nowhere. On the eve of the Wisconsin primary, Hillary did a hard-left imitation of John Edwards's populist and demagogic soak-the-rich rhetoric. She trashed some of the greatest businesses in America -- oil, credit-card, insurance, and pharmaceutical firms. Wall Street and lending firms. It all must have come as quite a shock to the alumni of the Bill Clinton White House who are working for her campaign.

    Robert Rubin may have been too busy tending to Citigroup's sub-prime collapse to keep Hillary on the reservation. But where were Wall Street's Roger Altman and Washington's Gene Sperling when Hillary discarded the pinstripes for the polyester lefty-union pantsuit?

    Bashing business comes naturally to Obama. But for Hillary it was a complete failure. Exit polls from Wisconsin say the trade protectionists went with Obama. Union members? Obama. People who think the economy's in trouble? Obama. Folks who don't think it's in trouble? Obama. People making less than $50,000 a year? Obama. More than $50,000 a year? Obama.

    And it only gets worse.

    Voters went with Obama on healthcare by 8 points, on the economy by 16 points, and on Iraq by 20 points. Churchgoers and non-churchgoers went with Obama. Most qualified to be commander-in-chief? Obama. College degree or no college degree? Obama. Democrats, Republicans, and independents went with Obama. So did blacks and whites.

    White women did in fact lean toward Hillary, by a small 52 to 47 percent margin. But Hillary only got 31 percent of the male vote while tying the female vote. White males? They went with Obama by a full 29 points.

    Obama won both married men and women, and he tied on unmarried women -- a heretofore Hillary stronghold. Most likely to unite the country? Obama, by almost 30 points. Most interested in improving relations with the rest of the world? Obama, 56 to 40.

    You think these trends are going to change in Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania? I don't -- no matter what last-gasp neutron-negativism tactics the Clinton team employs.

    Bash Obama for plagiarizing Deval Patrick? That negativism backfired. Go after Michelle Obama's incredible anti-American speech? Women are coming 'round to Obama, so try again. Go super-negative over the next two weeks? That'll mean Obama beats Hillary by 35 points instead of 20. Lift the sanctions on the Michigan and Florida delegates? That's an Obama trump card. Bribe or rent the super-delegates? Make my day, Obama is thinking.

    If Hillary wants to preserve her career as a professional politician her best bet is to pull back in Texas and Ohio as a prelude to withdrawal. Bill will say no, 'cause his career is even deader than hers. But Hillary has more class than her husband. She also has some vague sense of reality -- of the difference between right and wrong.

    The Intrade pay-to-play prediction market showed Obama with a 10 point gain after Wisconsin, giving him an insurmountable 81 to 19 lead. It's as if Hillary has suddenly become a steeply inverted yield curve, with a rapidly declining credit rating and a liquidity pool that's quickly drying up. She won't be able to raise two wooden nickels going forward. Not even Bill can raise enough money in Dubai to keep her out of bankruptcy.

    The market has officially pulled the plug on Hillary, terminating her campaign. What's left for her now is to muster some grace, humility, and character and begin the process of pulling out. To do otherwise will destroy the Democratic party, and what's left of the Clintons' badly tarred and tattered reputation.

  9. A political discussion between Red State conservative Dave Simpson - a former reporter, editor, publisher and columnist - and Greg Bean, Blue Stater and executive editor of GreaterMedia Newspapers.

    Dear Greg:

    In these cold months, I'm enjoying a new hobby, old friend. Every evening inmy knotty-pine rumpus room, I tune in one of the news channels, get out my "Big Chief'' tablet and stubby pencil, and add tomy collection of stupid chants from the people who attend political rallies.

    I've got quite a list now and I'm wondering where the politicians findAmericans dumb enough to chant, on cue, like wildeyed Iranian fundamentalists shouting "Death to Bush!''


    Dear Dave:

    I'll admit to chanting in public on three or four occasions, each time at the King Richard's Faire in Massachusetts, one of those medieval Renaissance deals which the kids love and parents sort of love, and sort of hate because they're so expensive.

    It was the end-of-day, to-the-death battle between good and evil at the jousting lists, and the saucy wenches in Robin Hood-era costumes (sporting mondo cleavage as a sop to the dads who had spent so much money on admission tickets and period-correct barbecued turkey legs) wanted to get people worked up and chant for their favorites.

    If you were for Sir Farley Strong Heart, you were supposed to chant "Long Live Sir Farley!" Very boring, sort of like those people chanting "They Haven't!" (Haven't what? Haven't kicked a little puppy dog?) at Mitt (Willard) Romney's concession speech after he lost his last primary.

    Red State/Blue State

  10. Pat Buchanan just said Hillary's share of the black vote is less than that of George Wallace.

  11. Says Obama easier to beat than Hillary.

  12. Here's the battle plan and scenario that senior advisers Howard Wolfson, Mark Penn and Harold Ickes sketched out today.

    1. Neither candidate will emerge from the primary fight with the 2,025 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. Ickes, a consummate party insider, insisted that if the race plays out as expected (Clinton victories in Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania) it is impossible for either candidate to secure the nomination on the strength of pledged delegates alone.


    2. Two Weeks is a Long Time in Political Terms.. Not since the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3 has there been so much time in between votes in the Democratic primary.


    3. Debates Matter. The Clinton campaign has been clamoring for more debates with Obama and even used his unwillingness to debate her in Wisconsin in television ads (unsuccessfully as it turned out.) But, over the next 13 days the two candidates will face off twice -- tomorrow in Austin and next Tuesday in Cleveland.

    Clinton's Blueprint

  13. McCain ought to take the free trade issue away from Obama, who is grabbing it. And be tough on the immigration deal, he'd win, he says.

  14. RCP's got Hillary easier to beat.

  15. After 14 years of negotiations, the EU cleared the way for Kyiv to join the WTO. In early February, Yushchenko signed an agreement on joining the global trading community after Ukraine guaranteed it would cut export duties on some raw materials.

    The agreement has yet to be approved by the parliament, which has been paralyzed for weeks amid tensions over Yushchenko’s attempts at closer cooperation with NATO.

    Yushchenko said the start of negotiations on EUUkraine trade is “a landmark event” for this exSoviet country. He expressed hope that a draft agreement could be ready for this September’s planned EUUkraine summit.

    Agreement with Europe

  16. A reminder:

    An amazing astronomical event takes place tonight, and you don't need a telescope to see it.

    At about 8:45 p.m., the full moon will enter the deep shadow of the Earth. By 10 p.m., it will go into total eclipse, turning a red-orange, almost coppery color. It will remain that way for about an hour before moving out of eclipse.

    A total lunar eclipse occurs in five distinct phases. It officially begins when the moon's leading edge enters the penumbra, or faint outer fringe, of the Earth's shadow. When the moon's leading edge has progressed halfway across the penumbra, you start to see the first detectable smudging or dimming.

    The second stage is partial eclipse, when the leading edge of the moon moves into the umbra, or inner part of the Earth's shadow. The shade appears to creep across the face of the moon until the third phase of total eclipse is achieved and the last portion of the moon has moved into the umbra. The final two phases of the eclipse reverse the first two as the moon moves out of the umbra and penumbra.

  17. Raphael Anchia, 39, says many of the new voters are going to be like him: younger than 40 and fed up with the Bush administration and the political status quo.

    "I think the Democratic primary turnout will be a on a scale that we have not seen in modern history," Anchia said.

    Anchia is a Dallas state representative and president of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials. He has endorsed Obama and predicts that many young Texans, of all races, will vote with him.

    Texas Primary

  18. We have clear skies, and I have new binoculars, I won't miss it.

    Buchanan says Hillary's got to paint Obama as a leftie and she the centrist, trouble being, the sands are running out. Got to say she's for getting out of Iraq, but responsibly, etc. So far she hasn't drawn a big enough distinction between the two, as she has not wanted to alienate the lefties, but she's got no choice now.

  19. I thought only constitutions had penumbras.

  20. penumbra:

    Men's undergarment for supporting the penis.

  21. THE BBC is to accuse the most highly decorated battalion in the Army of torturing and executing six Iraqi prisoners in cold blood.


    Investigations by both the Royal Military Police and International Red Cross have found NO atrocities had taken place.


    Tory MP Patrick Mercer, an ex-Army officer, said: “It is totally unacceptable.”

    Iraq Heroes

  22. A Dissent On Clinton [John Hood]

    The Clintons are not going to throw in the towel, despite Obama's impressive showing in Wisconsin last night. It's not in their nature, and in their own minds several balls are still in play that could win them the game despite the current odds.

    First, they believe — and I think they are correct — that by talking up Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania for weeks, they have reduced the political value of Obama's February wins and programmed the media to wait until next month to call the nomination race (it helps matters that the media wants a live race to attract audience and sell to advertisers). Admittedly, they must win all three states for this "February didn't happen" strategy to work, but they still think they can do this.

    Second, they believe — and I'm not as sure about this one — that they can woo our old friend John Edwards to endorse Hillary, perhaps after wins in Texas and Ohio on March 4. Such a move would snag them a couple dozen delegates, which in the Democratic proportional-vote system would be like winning a couple of primaries, plus perhaps give them a leg up in the next big-state primary after Pennsylvania's: North Carolina's May 6 contest, with 115 delegates at stake.

    Third, they believe — and I haven't seen enough reporting to know whether they are right about this — that there will, in the end, be large delegations seated at the convention from Michigan and Florida, where she won lots of popular votes (some but not all by default). If the primary results are used to apportion them, the Clintons are willing (and they believe able) to weather the resulting storm. If the party uses some other means, such as a hastily called caucus or state convention, they think they can prevail. Haven't they always?

    Fourth, the Clintons believe that if these events occur and Obama remains ahead in the delegate count (because the Clinton wins are narrow), it would be by the tiniest of margins, so it wouldn't be seen as illegitimate if superdelegates put her over the top.

    Call the Clintons delusional if you wish, but that makes them no different from many other politicians, D and R. Ego is a prerequisite.

  23. Air Force officials are warning that unless their budget is increased dramatically, and soon, the military's high-flying branch won't dominate the skies as it has for decades.


    The Air Force's distress is partly self-inflicted, says Steve Kosiak of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington. The F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning, the new jet fighters that will supplant the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Falcon, have drastically higher price tags than their predecessors and require a bigger chunk of the defense budget.


    The Air Force isn't alone in wanting more money, but its appetite is far greater than the other military branches. Shortly after President Bush submitted his defense plan for the 2009 budget year, which begins Oct. 1, each service outlined for Congress what it felt was left out.

    Domination of Skies at Risk

  24. "Debt is $400,000 per household."

    Come 2012, the housing market will start to flood with sellers. The boomers will soon realize that's the only way to finance their old age.

  25. The dollar rose against most major currencies on stronger-than-expected consumer price inflation but later pared gains and ended the day little changed after the FOMC minutes of the January 30-31 meeting showed the Federal Reserve was very concerned about the health of the US economy and that the Fed lowered its US growth forecast but raised its inflation forecast. The GBP/USD fell to the lowest level in a month against the dollar after the Bank of England minutes of the February meeting showed the BOE was concerned about UK economic outlook.


    Pressured earlier by data on higher-than-expected US inflation and reports that the German Landesbanks were in crisis, the EUR/USD later pared losses on more dovish-than-expected FOMC minutes. The pair is testing the 1.47-area resistance.


    The consumer price index rose 0.4% m/m and 4.3% y/y in January, the Labor Department said. The core CPI advanced 0.3% m/m and 2.5%.

    Higher Inflation

  26. Can't hide behind the bogus "core" statistics anymore. The realities of the marketplace are seeping in, regardless of the statistical manipulations.

    The key to a boomer retirement, mat, is owning the house, not selling it. That most boomers are buried under thirty year notes, while entering retirement, just another indication of economic ignorance.

  27. The celestial event is still ongoing, take a look outside. Worth it.

    I'd like to see a supernova, like the one the Chinese reported in whatever year it was several hundred years ago. As long as it wasn't too close.

  28. There are a number of other problems, which
    may not reach the importance of Afghanistan, but
    which nevertheless pose serious complications.
    These include the proposed deployment of antiballistic
    missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic;
    a potential flashpoint in Kosovo, where the
    Albanian majority’s insistence on independence
    could divide alliance members; and the growing
    tension between Russia and some of its neighbors.

    NATO’s inability to deter a cyber attack that virtually
    paralyzed NATO member Estonia’s access to
    the internet—an attack evidently launched from
    Russia but without any clear link to the Russian
    government—raises questions about the alliance’s
    ability to protect its newest members.

    In short, NATO is facing new challenges, and
    the future of the alliance is unclear. The United
    States should begin discussions with our allies
    about what a post-NATO world would look like.

    Cracks in the Foundation

  29. "That most boomers are buried under thirty year notes,.."

    I think in the vast majority, 90 to 100 percent of that is paid off, no?

  30. Look down at your feet, and through the earth, Sam, and a little to the east, you'll see it.

  31. No, a lot have been talked into lines of credit on the home, and they've used it.

  32. "..been talked into lines of credit on the home,.."

    To buy a bigger home. My guess most boomers have 3 to $400,000 as home equity.

  33. A 21-year-old Clearwater man was arrested at Tampa International Airport this weekend after security personnel found a box cutter in a hollowed-out book, authorities said.

    If convicted, Baines faces up to 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine for a federal charge of attempting to board an airplane with a concealed dangerous weapon. He is currently serving a 30 day
    sentence after pleading guilty Monday to a state misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed weapon.

    About 7:30 a.m. Sunday, airport security ran Benjamin Baines Jr.'s backpack through an X-ray machine and saw the image of a box cutter, according to a report from the Transportation Security Administration.

    Hollowed-out Book

  34. Can you name the seven deadly sins?
    Are you living in one of the cities in America that rates highest in one of the seven deadly sins? Check out this Interactive 7 Deadly Sins Ranking Cities Video To Check On Your Neighborhood

  35. Thanks for posting it, Whit. It's a pity we can't make it required watching for every voter.

    "NATO’s inability to deter a cyber attack that virtually
    paralyzed NATO member Estonia’s access to the internet—an attack evidently launched from Russia but without any clear link to the Russian government—raises questions about the alliance’s ability to protect its newest members."

    Setting aside I agree with the article's thesis: I'm currently doing so some stuff related to this event, in particular. According to people who should know, this cyberattack is now thought to have been a third-party deal.

    I'm currently studying cyberwarfare and information warfare in general for class and it seems a recurring trend that these incidents often become hyped.

  36. WASHINGTON (AP) - A missile launched from a Navy ship struck a dying U.S. spy satellite passing 130 miles over the Pacific on Wednesday, the Pentagon said.
    It was not clear whether the operation succeeded in its main goal of destroying a tank aboard the satellite that carried a toxic fuel that U.S. officials said could pose a hazard to humans if it landed in a populated area.

    "Confirmation that the fuel tank has been fragmented should be available within 24 hours," the Pentagon said in a written statement.

    The USS Lake Erie, armed with an SM-3 missile designed to knock down incoming missiles—not orbiting satellites—launched the attack at 10:26 p.m. EST, according to the Pentagon. It hit the satellite as the spacecraft traveled at more than 17,000 mph.

    THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

    WASHINGTON (AP)—A missile launched from a Navy ship successfully struck a dying U.S. spy satellite passing 130 miles over the Pacific on Wednesday, a defense official said. Full details were not immediately available.

    It happened just after 10:30 p.m. EST.

    Two officials said the missile was launched successfully. One official, who is close to the process, said it hit the target. He said details on the results were not immediately known.

    The goal in this first-of-its-kind mission for the Navy was not just to hit the satellite but to obliterate a tank aboard the spacecraft carrying 1,000 pounds of a toxic fuel called hydrazine.

    U.S. officials have said the fuel would pose a potential health hazard to humans if it landed in a populated area. Although the odds of that were small even if the Pentagon had chosen not to try to shoot down the satellite, it was determined that it was worth trying to eliminate even that small chance.

    Officials said it might take a day or longer to know for sure if the toxic fuel was blown up.

  37. Shit, Memphis is fairly sinful.

  38. RUSH: I mean the trends, the trends here away from Mrs. Clinton are striking. Now, a lot of people out there are saying it's over.


    RUSH: It's hard to know if Mrs. Clinton is genuinely out of this yet. But I'll tell you these exit poll numbers out of Wisconsin last night -- one thing interesting about them is this. The base of the Democratic Party seems to be as split in the primaries as the Republican Party is.


    RUSH: By the way, I left out a category on the Wisconsin exit poll data. Hillary Clinton did win one group, the second generation transgender amputees.

    What will the Clintons do?

  39. This guy at Middle East Strategy at Harvard noticed the escalating Iranian rhetoric too---

    Ahmadinejad, Israel, and mass killings
    Feb 20th, 2008 by MESH

    From Stephen Peter Rosen

    I am worried. Last year I did some historical research on the shifts in discourse within British, Japanese, and South African official elites prior to their use of biological weapons. In all these cases, including the deliberate distribution of small pox-infected blankets by the British in North America, the use of bubonic plague by the Japanese in China, and the use of anthrax by the South Africans in what was then Rhodesia, use of biological agents was preceded by an escalation of rhetorical campaigns to demonize and dehumanize the targeted enemy.

    The problem in using these shifts in discourse as an early warning indicator, is, of course, one of calibration and of over-prediction. Many references to enemies as less than human are not associated with biological attacks or other unconventional mass killings. Some streams of discourse are chronically laden with dehumanizing rhetoric. Detecting meaningful shifts requires close study of the discourse of interest over time, and I have not done this with regard to Iran and Israel. Casual observation suggests that references to Israel as a “cancer” are old, but that the reference to Israel as a “black and dirty microbe” is new.

    On the basis of my historical research, my recommendation was that a significant shift in discourse of this character be used as a indicator that we should focus intelligence collection assets on a target that is now suspected of being willing to engage in mass killing by unconventional means, and to issue specific deterrent threats of retaliation. I do not know if either of these measures has been adopted by the government of Israel, or the United States, but it would seem prudent for them to do so.

    I invite comment from those who systematically track Iranian discourse, to reassure me that there is nothing to worry about, or to verify my concerns.

  40. Nuclear forensics--the coming field for the upwardly mobile.

    Sure is depressing, the genie getting out of the bottle.

  41. Biowarfare is even scarier.

    Taking a couple steps back: To think it's only been a couple thousand years - and how many to go?

  42. How many to go? Sometimes I think 20, max.
    Trying to keep a sense of humor, classic Rush----

    Obama won all age-groups under 65. He won all education levels, including the dumb, which she was able to make a claim to.

    RUSH ARCHIVE: I don't think most of us can understand the lust, the sense of entitlement, wanting something since you were 19 in college and thinking that just because you wanted it, it was yours. And after planning an entire life, forgoing the normal pursuits of happiness and pleasure in exchange for every day of your life being a calculation: the people you hang with, the friends you supposedly make, all of the money you raise, the obligations that you enter into, all of it engineered not for the genuine human concerns of relationships and family and friends, but for a political prize, and to have it six months after you thought it was inevitable be up for grabs and just go away quietly? Folks, it's not going to be that -- that's why this is, to me, shaking out to be so much fun, because we haven't even seen the fireworks start yet.

    I sure do hope she wins Texas and Ohio. I want to see a democratic convention in chaos.

  43. In this article, we will take a closer look at biological and chemical warfare from a global perspective as well as the use of pesticides and insecticides and how they helped pioneer these deadly toxins used in modern warfare and bio-terrorism as we know it today. I want to discuss the different types of diseases and viruses that are commonly used and researched today and of the past.


    A chemical agent is a substance which is intended for use in military operations to kill, seriously injure or incapacitate a person because of its physiological effects. This definition does not include riot control agents, herbicides, smoke or flame.


    There are many other threats out there like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS, the "Superbug" staph infection or sexually transmitted diseases. None of this may ever come to fruition, or we could all die tomorrow in a freak accident.

    Bio-chem Warfare

  44. :)

    That is pretty funny stuff from Rush.

  45. Not at all, mat.
    Way off the mark.

    The median value of a home in the US, is $225,000, the median debt, in 2001, $78,000. Which will have increase to around $100,000 now.
    So the average senior has $125,000 in equity in their home.

    Debt is an issue -- more seniors carry debt than previous generations. The median mortgage debt for 45-54 year-olds doubled from $38,000 in 1989 to $78,000 in 2001. Boomer women may also be reluctant to leave their homes and trade down to lower their housing operating costs in their older years. Boomer women (47 percent) tend to live in the suburbs in homes built prior to 1985;

  46. 44 pages of real estate data, from Harvard, in 2006.

    Interesting reading, but not really cut and pastable.

  47. A satellite the size of a bus, with a canister inside with 1000 pds of fuel, and they are able to hit the satellite in the right place to take out the fuel canister? No explosion from the missile involved? I call that remarkable.

    Maybe Richard Hoagland is right, this story about hydrazine is all a fakaroo.:)

  48. Montana basically threatens to leave the Union.......:)and I'd hope Idaho wouldn't be far behind.

    'Any person' has right to gun, state says
    Montana claims 2nd Amendment questions already resolved

    © 2008 WorldNetDaily

    Montana officials are saying that the United States already has resolved any questions about the 2nd Amendment's application, defining that "any person" has the right to bears arms.

    That's the issue at hand in a pending U.S. Supreme Court case originating in the District of Columbia, where authorities have banned handguns under the claim that such a limit is "reasonable" and therefore enforceable even given the rights granted by the 2nd Amendment.

    U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., has asked President Bush to order the U.S. Justice Department to submit a brief to the high court supporting the rights of individuals under the 2nd Amendment. A similar request already has been submitted by officials for the Gun Owners of America, whose executive director, Larry Pratt, warned:

    "If the Supreme Court were to accept the Solicitor General's line of argument, D.C.'s categorical gun ban of virtually all self-defense firearms could well be found to be constitutional. ..."

    He warned such a precedent to affirm any and all gun restrictions if they are considered by a judge to be "reasonable" would place those rights on the lowest rung of the constitutional ladder.

    "In contrast to other provisions in the Bill of Rights, which can only be trumped by 'compelling state interests,' the 2nd Amendment would be relegated to an inferior position at the lowest rung of the constitutional ladder, should the Justice Department prevail," said Pratt.

    Montana Secretary of State Brad Johnson

    But officials in Montana, including dozens of state lawmakers as well as Secretary of State Brad Johnson, have joined together in a statement that the U.S. already has determined the application, and 2nd Amendment rights apply to "any person."

    In a joint resolution from the Montana leaders, including Congressman Denny Rehberg, they caution that should the Supreme Court decide to change the U.S. interpretation of the 2nd Amendment and allow those rights to apply only collectively, it would violate the contract under which Montana entered the union as a state.
    "The Montana Resolution cautions that a collective rights decision would violate the Montana contract for statehood because when that contract was entered the collective rights interpretation had not yet been invented and the individual rights view was an accepted part of the contract," an announcement from the leaders said.

    "A collective rights decision in [the pending court case] Heller would not only violate Montana's contract for statehood, but also Montana's customs, culture and heritage. We hope the Supreme Court will recognize and credit the contract argument, an argument unmentioned in any of the briefs submitted in the Heller case," said Gary Marbut, the president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association.

    The Montana contract is archived as Article I of the Montana Constitution. At the time the then-territory's "Compact with the United States" was agreed to by Congress, the Montana Constitution included the "right of 'any person' to bear arms," the group said.

    "Contracts must be implemented so as to effect the intent of the parties to the contract. A collective rights decision by the court could also call into question the sanctity of contracts, considered to have been a bedrock principle of law for centuries," the group said.

    The state was admitted to the union in 1889 under President Benjamin Harrison and he approved the state constitution proposal including the right to bear arms, the officials said.

    Any other determination, they said, would "offend" the Compact, officials said.

    "[That] language … simply cannot be respun to somehow mean a right of state government," they said.

    It could not have referred to the National Guard, which wasn't created until years later, officials said.

    "Some speak of a 'living constitution,' the meaning of which may evolve and change over time. However, the concept of a 'living contract,' one to be disregarded or revised at the whim of one party thereto, is unknown. A collective rights holding in Heller would not only open the Pandora's box of unilaterally morphing contracts, it would also poise Montana to claim appropriate and historically entrenched remedies for contract violation," the group said.

    Goode earlier wrote Bush that under the perspective being promoted in the District of Columbia, a national ban on all firearms, including hunting rifles, could be considered valid.

    Paul Clemen

    The government's position is available in a document submitted by by U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement. He said since "unrestricted" private ownership of guns clearly threatens the public safety, the 2nd Amendment can be interpreted to allow a variety of gun restrictions.

    "Given the unquestionable threat to public safety that unrestricted private firearm possession would entail, various categories of firearm-related regulation are permitted by the Second Amendment," Clement wrote in the brief.

    Because of the specifics of the D.C. case, the ultimate ruling is expected to address directly whether the 2nd Amendment includes a right for individuals nationwide to have a gun or whether local governments can approve whatever laws or ordinances they desire to restrict firearms.

    The amendment reads, "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

  49. "Not at all, mat.
    Way off the mark."

    National housing price index:

  50. On this logic, 18-22 year olds shouldn't be allowed to vote:)

    Sen. Ed Murray, D - Seattle, the main proponent for SB 6841 [an act that would restrict possession of firearms at institutions of higher education - tf], argued that studies showing incomplete brain development until late teens or early 20s mean “many students do not have the ability to make judgements about guns.” Schoesler [our Republican senator - tf] disagreed, describing university students as having “the best and brightest minds,” and being capable of making good judgments. .

  51. Chemical weapons are generally more bark than bite. Hard to use, hard to disperse.

    Usually get more out of simple high explosives.

    Many people think they're mislabled as a WMD.

  52. Government's trying to phase out WMD anyway... now we've got CBRNE (chemical-biological-radiological-nuclear-high explosive)...which is so broad as to be catagorically useless.

    High-quality biological (i.e., viral and contagious) and nuclear are in a class of their own.

  53. Teeing on Bob's headshot, vacuum bombs is where it's at. :D

  54. "The undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns." the bard

    "In the case of dead, though, there is a world of difference. By definition, death is a state from which one doesn't return. If a person is pronounced dead, no matter how sure the doctors were that their pronouning it was correct, no matter how many dozens or hundreds of persons in that same condition they had pronounced dead, none of whom had ever snapped out of it; and no matter how stringently the standard medical criteria were applied, if that person subsequently resumes vital activities and regains consciousness, the logic of language still obliges us to say that person was not dead.

    There is an understandable tendency to take what people who survive an ordeal like that say about death seriously, although in some respects they aren't in any better position than anyone else to talk about it, since they weren't, in fact, dead. Hence, near-death experiences engage our interest by unveiling the Zeno-logic of death: there is a point presently known as death, but if you reach it and are aware you have done so, at least if you reverse direction and come back from it, then you never were there in the first place, because by the very fact of your having reached it, it would have receded far beyond your reach to an incomprehensible distance and in an unimaginable direction.

    Putting it this way exposes a frustrating unfairness of the situation. It is as though there were a stipulation that the goal post would be moved back were the athlete to reach it. This is particularly ironic in the case of those who have been declared dead and returned with wondrous tales of the beyond, for it is in large part because of their trailblazing that we can no longer call what they went through death.

    So, through their near-death pioneering, a curious development has take place unnoticed, namely, millions of people now alive have returned from a situation that a century ago was simply designated 'death', and they have informed us that even after that point, they were very much alive, very acutely conscious. What is more, they say that even from within that experience they had realized there was to be a continuation of conscious existence, and that, in fact, they had already been taken up in its flow, comforted and welcomed and reunited with loved ones lost. So, by the criteria of 1890, even those of 1930, life after death has indeed been proven.

    And this is the last laugh! Do you get it? All those silly big discussers in all those silly discussions are still denying what all the world already knows!"....

    "That will make it possible for myriads of people throughout the world to realize that we do not have to die to get a glimpse of the love that awaits us in the light beyond."

    from 'The Last Laugh'--Dr. Raynmond A. Moody, Jr. PH.D., M.D.

    The discovered country from whose bourne many have returned.

  55. Building block of life become the building block of the semiconductor industry:

    DNA self-assembling nanotech manufacturing