“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."

Thursday, August 07, 2008

I Promise Beer in Every Drinking Fountain


  1. This is the moment.

  2. I uh, had to uh, um, uh make those girls some promises. I uh, umm kinda told them the EB would, uh waive entry fees and umm, comp them uh, uh booze for life.

  3. You know, its probably possible to do that. Whatever automated robot brewery/farm symbiosis you created, you'd need it near the fountain as otherwise you'd have to worry about transporting it. Unless perhaps we build pipelines.

  4. Don't worry Deuce, I uh, uh kinda lead them to believe that it was the Elephant Bar restaurant chain...I, uh doubt, they will uh, ever find us.

  5. That is good!

    At first I thought you were a TV guy whit but then I got to end. There was somehing like this that came out last Christmas but I forget the details. tis brilliant tis marketing.

  6. lil'caylee had this link, but here it is in full screen:

    BMW M3 vs Police Camaro

    15 yr old kid!
    Should have taken his skills to a driving school and gone pro.

  7. Right after the kid got his Subaru, he encountered two cops going the other way at nite when he was cruising at 140 mph.

    He just pulled over and waited for them to turn around and catch him.
    They were laughing as they came up behind his car, guess they thot his license held on with duct tape gave just the right message!

    Luckily, we now have draconian speed laws here after years of the cops letting shit like that happen.

  8. Nice, Whit. There's a great VP choice for you in that clip, also.

  9. Consider this, Whit.

    Various constructs such as wormholes seem to allow for time travel. The ability exists to travel into the past and the future via these constructs linking vast stretches of space. We're flowing from the past into the future at this very moment.

    But can one travel into a future that doesn't yet exist? What does it suggest about past, present and future?

    Everything that will happen in the universe already has. We just don't know it yet.


  10. Today was Army Day here in Colombia.

    I will say that a 40-chopper flyover does beat the jet jockey gig any day.

    Rather had that Apocalypse Now flavor to it.

  11. Mat,

    Quit smokin' that dope unless you're gonna give me some!

  12. Would've been good if they were blarin' a little music on approach, Trish.

    Paranoid would be a nice selection.

  13. It was awesome, sam.

    Two of the forty were those used in the recent rescue mission. Still painted white.

    Icing on the cake.

  14. Be careful, whit, better remain the anonymous candidate, at least until the Secret Service arrives, there are dangerous migrants, down in FL.

    MIAMI (Associated Press) -- A man who authorities said was keeping weapons and military-style gear in his hotel room and car appeared in court Thursday on charges he threatened to assassinate Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

    Raymond Hunter Geisel, 22, was arrested by the Secret Service on Saturday in Miami and was ordered held at Miami's downtown detention center without bail Thursday by a federal magistrate.

    A Secret Service affidavit charges that Geisel made the threat during a training class for bail bondsmen in Miami in late July. According to someone else in the 48-member class, Geisel allegedly referred to Obama with a racial epithet and continued, "If he gets elected, I'll assassinate him myself."

    Obama was most recently in Florida on Aug. 1-2 but did not visit the South Florida area.

    Another person in the class quoted Geisel as saying that "he hated George W. Bush and that he wanted to put a bullet in the president's head," according to the Secret Service.

    Geisel denied in a written statement to a Secret Service agent that he ever made those threats, and the documents don't indicate that he ever took steps to carry out any assassination. He was charged only with threatening Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, but not for any threat against President Bush.

    Geisel's court-appointed attorney declined comment. The charge of threatening a major candidate for president or vice president carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.

    At least Geisel wasn't a blogger

  15. Russian Premier Vladimir Putin says Georgian attack on South Ossetia will draw retaliation
    08-08-2008 1:00 AM

    TBILISI, Georgia (Associated Press) -- (AP) _ Russian Premier Vladimir Putin says Georgian attack on South Ossetia will draw retaliation.

  16. Georgian military launches major attack to regain control of South Ossetia

    TBILISI, Georgia (Associated Press) -- Government troops launched a major military offensive Friday to regain control over the breakaway province of South Ossetia and the president accused Russia, which has close ties to the separatists, of bombing Georgian territory.

    Russian Premier Vladimir Putin said the offensive will draw unspecified retaliation.

    Separatist officials in South Ossetia said 15 civilians had been killed in fighting overnight after Georgia attacked with aircraft, armor and heavy artillery. Georgian troops fired missiles at the regional capital, Tskhinvali, an official said, and many buildings were on fire.

    Georgian President Mikhail Saakasvhili said in a televised statement that Russian aircraft bombed several Georgian villages and other civilian facilities. He said there were injuries and damage to the buildings.

    Seven civilians were wounded when three Russian Su-24 jet bombers flew into Georgia and bombed the town of Gori and the villages of Kareli and Variani, Deputy Interior Minister Eka Sguladze said at a briefing.

    "A full-scale aggression has been launched against Georgia," he said in a televised statement.

    He urged Russia to immediately stop bombing the Georgian territory. "Georgia will not yield its territory or renounce its freedom," he said.

  17. In his televised address, Saakashvili also announced a full military mobilization with reservists being called into action.

    The fighting in South Ossetia raised fears of an all-out war that could draw in Russia, which has peacekeepers in the region.

    Saakashvili long has pledged to restore Tbilisi's rule over South Ossetia and another breakaway province, Abkhazia. Both regions have run their own affairs without international recognition since splitting from Georgia in the early 1990s and built up ties with Moscow.

    Most residents of both provinces have Russian passports. An open war could prompt Russian to send in more forces under the claim of protecting its citizens.

    Gen. Mamuka Kurashvili, a Georgian military officer in charge of operations in the region, said on Rustavi 2 television that the Georgian forces moved to "establish constitutional order in the region."

    The leader of Russia's province of North Ossetia rushed to Tskhinvali. "We are jointly organizing defense here," Teimuraz Mamsurov said in the city, according to the Interfax news agency.

    Mamsurov said hundreds of volunteers from North Ossetia were streaming across the border into South Ossetia, Interfax said. It also quoted the separatist leader of Abkhazia as saying that some 1,000 volunteers from his region were heading to South Ossetia.

    Georgian State Minister for Reintegration Temur Yakobashvili said Georgian officials were doing everything they could to avoid casualties and the destruction of property.

    But Boris Chochiyev, a minister in the South Ossetian government, said that Georgian troops shelled the center of Tskhinvali with truck-launched missiles.

    Chochiyev asked the Russian government to defend South Ossetians, most of whom hold Russian passports, from what he called aggression.

  18. By Simon Cameron-Moore

    ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Eyes were on Pakistan's generals on Friday for any gesture of support for President Pervez Musharraf the day after a four-month-old civilian coalition declared plans to impeach the former army chief.

    The ex-commando, who seized power in a coup nine years ago, has yet to make any public response after being given the option of facing a confidence vote in parliament or being impeached.

    A session of the National Assembly, Pakistan's lower house of parliament, has been called for Monday, coincidentally Musharraf's 65th birthday, to start what could be a lengthy process unless the president decides to bow out without a fight.

    The prospects of the nuclear-armed Muslim country that is also a hiding place for al Qaeda leaders lurching into a fresh bout of instability will be viewed with trepidation by the United States and other Western nations, and regional neighbors.

    A meeting of the army's top brass reconvened on Friday at the headquarters in Rawalpindi, the city neighboring Islamabad.

    A military spokesman said the meeting, which began on Thursday, was a regular gathering of corps commanders chaired by General Ashfaq Kayani, who Musharraf passed the baton of command to last November.

    Although Kayani had been Musharraf's intelligence chief, civilian politicians have been encouraged by his efforts to withdraw the army from political affairs.

    Speaking to news channels on Friday, a leading member of the coalition, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan expressed optimism that Kayani would not let the army "meddle in politics".

  19. Now, if you want to organize a boycott, Random House would be a much better target than Tyson

    Random House pulls novel on Islam, fears violence

    By Edith Honan

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Publisher Random House has pulled a novel about the Prophet Mohammed's child bride, fearing it could "incite acts of violence."

    "The Jewel of Medina," a debut novel by journalist Sherry Jones, 46, was due to be published on August 12 by Random House, a unit of Bertelsmann AG, and an eight-city publicity tour had been scheduled, Jones told Reuters on Thursday.

    The novel traces the life of A'isha from her engagement to Mohammed, when she was six, until the prophet's death. Jones said that she was shocked to learn in May, that publication would be postponed indefinitely.

    "I have deliberately and consciously written respectfully about Islam and Mohammed ... I envisioned that my book would be a bridge-builder," said Jones.

    Random House deputy publisher Thomas Perry said in a statement the company received "cautionary advice not only that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment."

    "In this instance we decided, after much deliberation, to postpone publication for the safety of the author, employees of Random House, booksellers and anyone else who would be involved in distribution and sale of the novel," Perry said.

    Jones, who has just completed a sequel to the novel examining her heroine's later life, is free to sell her book to other publishers, Perry said.

  20. "Quit smokin' that dope unless you're gonna give me some!"

    Better talk to dRat first. :)

    "Now, if you want to organize a boycott, Random House would be a much better target than Tyson"

  21. It must be Cato Friday, mat. Cato Friday is my favorite day of the week:

    How Large are Federal Oil Subsidies?

    Yesterday, I co-authored an op-ed with Peter Van Doren on the Democrats’ energy bill scheduled for a vote today in the House. The bill is advertised as an exercise to eliminate the subsidies going to “Big Oil” and to use that money instead to subsidize renewable energy (the fact that “Big Oil” is also in the renewable energy business and will simply find that the federal checks are going to different corporate in-boxes has apparently not occurred to anyone, but I digress). But did the Democrats wipe out all the subsidies, or did they leave some big subsidies behind?

    A lot of people think that the Democrats left a lot of money on the table. Today in the Christian Science Monitor, for example, economist Doug Koplow argues that the biggest subsidy left untouched by Pelosi & Co. relates to the military protection of oil producing facilities and shipping lanes abroad, a mission which costs the taxpayer at least $19 billion a year.

    While the Ds certainly were less than thorough in their anti-oil-subsidy crusade, I’m not so sure that the subsidies are anywhere near as large as many people think.

    Quantifying the national security costs associated with ensuring the safe and reliable delivery of foreign oil is difficult. The Congressional Research Service estimated in 1997 that those costs may be anywhere between $0.5-65 billion, or 1.5 cents to 30 cents per gallon for motor fuel from the Persian Gulf. Agreement about the extent of the military’s “oil mission” is difficult because military and foreign policy expenditures are generally tasked with multiple missions and objectives, and oil security is simply one mission of many. Analysts disagree about how to divide those missions into budgetary terms.

    Debate about the size of the U.S. military’s oil mission and related foreign policy expenses, however, is not particularly relevant to a discussion about whether and to what extent oil companies are subsidized by this kind of thing. From an economic perspective, the key question is whether an elimination of U.S. military and foreign aid expenditures dedicated to “the oil mission” would result in (a) greater corporate expenditures to secure oil from abroad, and/or (b) an increase in the price of oil, and, if so, how much? That is the true measure of the subsidy if it indeed exists. That’s because, if the oil mission provides no value to multinational oil companies or oil consumers - as I maintain - than it is not a subsidy. Measuring the subsidy by the amount of money government spends on the oil mission is at best a measure of how much politicians believe the national security externalities might be. Political assessments may or may not be accurate.

    To be sure, if the termination of the American “oil mission” implied the termination of all military, police, and court services in the region, petroleum extraction investments would become more risky, extraction of oil might decrease, and prices would increase. But remember that oil companies in the Middle-East are creatures of government. So the question is really whether Middle-East governments would produce less oil because the United States ended its oil-related military mission and foreign aid. Or would oil producing states provide – or pay others to provide – military services to replace those previously provided by the United States?

    I strongly suspect that a cessation of U.S. security assistance would be replaced by security expenditures from other parties. First, oil producers will provide for their own security needs as long as the cost of doing so results in greater profits than equivalent investments could yield. Because Middle-Eastern governments typically have nothing of value to trade except oil, they must secure and sell oil to remain viable. Second, given that their economies are so heavily dependent upon oil revenues, Middle-Eastern governments have even more incentive than we do to worry about the security of production facilities, ports, and sea lanes.

    In short, whatever security our presence provides (and many analysts think that our presence actually reduces security) could be provided by other parties were the United States to withdraw. The fact that Saudi Arabia and Kuwait paid for 55 percent of the cost of Operation Desert Storm suggests that keeping the Straits of Hormuz free of trouble is certainly within their means. The same argument applies to Al Qaeda threats to oil production facilities.

    If oil regimes paid for their own military protection and the protection of their own shipping lanes, would U.S. Middle-East military expenditures really go down? The answer might very well be “no” for two very different reasons. First, the U.S. Middle-East military presence stems from our implicit commitment to defend Israel as well as the region from Islamic fundamentalism, and those missions would not likely end simply because Arab oil regimes paid for their own economic security needs. Second, bureaucratic and congressional inertia might leave military expenditures constant regardless of Israeli or petroleum defense needs.

    Thus, U.S. ”oil mission” should not be viewed as a subsidy that lowers oil prices below what they otherwise would be. Instead, the expenditures are a taxpayer-financed gift to oil regimes and the Israeli government that has little, if any, effect on oil prices or corporate profits. Now, I’d be happy to see the oil mission go, but “Big Oil” won’t be any poorer for it.

    posted by Jerry Taylor on 01.18.07 @ 3:54 pm

    Filed Under: Energy, General, Government & Politics, Int'l Economics & Development

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