“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, November 18, 2008

George Bush, Demolition Derby King.

On his way to building his library.

The United States of America, within a year or two, may have its credit downgraded from "AAA." The Republican Party is already "bb" and will be unlikely to produce another Republican President in twenty five years. The only way that will not happen is if the Democrats produce a President less capable and more calamitous than George W. Bush. That does not seem possible. For the good of the country let's hope George Bush retains the title of last in the class. He earned it.

I know some of you will say, but he is a good man. He is not.

There is nothing good about taking the wheel of the the world's greatest country and driving it till every bearing is squealing for mercy. The financial ruin is a result of a leader who did not lead. He did not think through and consider the consequences of unwise action and the irresponsibility of no action. He did not exercise oversight. He did not ask and did not listen. He could not see and was incapable of articulating and persuading.

The Bush Administration Department of Justice lay idle while thieves ransacked the financial system. George Bush had more sympathy for illegal immigrants than ordinary middle class Americans who worked, saved, invested and voted. A man who could not bother to show up for Air National Guard meetings has deployed the National Guard for multiple missions to Iraq, a war that was to be paid for with oil, but likely to cost the US in the trillions.

When Bush had a chance to personally defend his country and volunteer to go to Viet Nam, he did not. His sense of duty did not go that far. He looked good in the uniform, but did not pick up the gun. Later in life, when trusted and given the US Presidency he was given a pen, a pen to use to veto and to protect the people who elected him from the excesses of a wasteful Congress. George Bush did not pick up the pen.

With great power comes great responsibility and trust. George Bush proved he was unworthy of such trust.

A good farmer or rancher leaves his spread better than he found it. Buildings and equipment in repair. Bills paid. New fields acquired. Seed bought and a legacy assured for the generations behind him. Has George Bush left us better than he found us?

George W. Hoover?

Published: November 17, 2008

Last week, assembled at Miami’s InterContinental Hotel for a meeting of the Republican Governors Association, the governors seemed cheerful. The G.O.P. had lost only one statehouse on Election Day. The prospects for a Republican pickup in Virginia in 2009 were decent, and good candidates were plotting runs in states like California, Pennsylvania and Ohio in 2010.

There was even a sense of liberation in the air. For the last 14 years, there has been either a Republican Congress or a Republican White House, or sometimes both. Now the Republican governors are free of those heavy taps on the shoulder from their “betters” in Washington. So for these governors, this seems a moment of opportunity, in which their policies, their examples and their successes can help shape the future of the G.O.P.

The governors will be important. But there was an almost-never-mentioned elephant in the Versailles Ballroom (yes, that’s its name) full of Republicans: George W. Bush. For the hard fact is this: The worst financial crisis in almost 80 years has happened on his watch. The Bush administration will leave behind probably the most severe recession in at least a quarter-century. Fairly or unfairly, this will be viewed as George Bush’s economic meltdown.

If Republicans and conservatives don’t come to grips with what’s happened — and can’t develop an economic agenda moving forward that seems to incorporate lessons learned from what’s happened — then they could be back, politically, in 1933.

From 1933 to 1980, Republicans repeatedly failed to convince the country they were no longer the party of Herbert Hoover — the party, as it was perceived, of economic incompetence, austerity and recession (if not depression).

Only two Republicans won presidential elections in that half-century, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon. Both were able to take the White House only because we were mired down in difficult wars, in Korea and Vietnam. And Ike and Nixon were unable — they didn’t really try — to change the generally liberal course of domestic and economic policy. The G.O.P.’s fate on Capitol Hill was worse. The party controlled Congress for only 4 of those 47 years.

That’s what happens when a depression begins on your watch and when you can’t offer a coherent explanation of how and why it occurred and what you are going to do differently. That’s what happens when instead of having such an explanation, you spend decades in quarrels between pragmatic but unimaginative moderates who seek to be better tax collectors for the liberal welfare state, and principled but fanciful conservatives who hope for a wholesale rejection of that welfare state. And the fact that there were many successful Republican governors in those years didn’t much change the party’s status nationally.

Then there was a real moment of economic rethinking in the 1970s. Supply-side economics challenged demand-side Keynesians and austerity-minded conservatives by putting growth, entrepreneurship and incentives at the center of economic policy. Supply-side economics gave Ronald Reagan’s G.O.P. a new and different economic agenda in 1980, and Republicans were able to become a governing party.

Republicans and conservatives today face a similar challenge to that of 1976. A hawkish foreign policy, social conservatism and middle-American populism aren’t the problems. Those elements, as embodied on the Republican ticket by John McCain and Sarah Palin, produced a respectable 46 percent of the national vote — in the midst of an economic meltdown, with the Bush administration flailing and House Republicans rebelling and the Republican ticket lacking any coherent economic message.

I don’t pretend to know just what has to be done. But I suspect that free-marketers need to be less doctrinaire and less simple-mindedly utility-maximizing, and that they should depend less on abstract econometric models. I think they’ll have to take much more seriously the task of thinking through what are the right rules of the road for both the private and public sectors. They’ll have to figure out what institutional barriers and what monetary, fiscal and legal guardrails are needed for the accountability, transparency and responsibility that allow free markets to work.

And I don’t see why conservatives ought to defend a system that permits securitizing mortgages (or car loans) in a way that seems to make the lenders almost unaccountable for the risk while spreading it, toxically, everywhere else. I don’t see why a commitment to free markets requires permitting banks or bank-like institutions to leverage their assets at 30 to 1. There’s nothing conservative about letting free markets degenerate into something close to Karl Marx’s vision of an atomizing, irresponsible and self-devouring capitalism.

If conservatives do some difficult re-thinking in the field of political economy, they can come back. If they don’t — well, there were a lot of admirable conservative thinkers and writers, professors and novelists, from 1933 to 1980. But conservatives didn’t govern.


  1. At least didn't kill Mary Jo Kopechne. George can have my International 403 Harvestor, if he wants it, with just a little work it would hold it' own in any demo/derby in Texas. Downside, gas engine, so you might be looking at a fire or two. Upside, small size, small header, great manuverability, tear off the cab, gread vision.

  2. If you think John Deere is the Lord of the Harvest, you might be a Pagan Redneck.

    What do you mean a depression began on Bush's watch? This is the Obama depression, just like 9-11 was all Clinton's fault.

  3. Boy, duece, all that negativity towards GW Bush, habu is going to hurl, in your direction, today.

    Golly ...

    He's out day trading, now, selling America short. Maybe he'll miss it.

  4. Well, bob, bemoan Teddy Kennedy's lack of swimming skills, but there was a young, 16 years, girl killed by an illegal immigrant, just two days ago.

    We'll put her in GW's column.

    Death by failed responsibilty.

  5. I was kinder to him than history will be.

  6. Think about this.

    Financial Crisis Tab Already In The Trillions

    By | 17 Nov 2008 | 01:01 PM ET

    "Given the speed at which the federal government is throwing money at the financial crisis, the average taxpayer, never mind member of Congress, might not be faulted for losing track.

    CNBC, however, has been paying very close attention and keeping a running tally of actual spending as well as the commitments involved.

    Try $4.28 trillion dollars.

    That's $4,284,500,000,000

    and more than what was spent on WW II, if adjusted for inflation, based on our computations from a variety of estimates and sources*.

    Not only is it a astronomical amount of money, its' a complicated cocktail of budgeted dollars, actual spending, guarantees, loans, swaps and other market mechanisms by the Federal Reserve, the Treasury and other offices of government taken over roughly the last year, based on government data and new releases.

    Strictly speaking, not every cent is directed a result of what's called the financial crisis, but it arguably related to it.

  7. If Obama can straighten this mess out in four years or eight, he will deserve to be put on Rushmore.

  8. "A hawkish foreign policy, social conservatism and middle-American populism aren’t the problems."

    No, the problem is a lack of "barriers" and "guardrails."

    A Republican revival, suggests Kristol, will require a three-legged platform of global military intervention, cultural values intervention, and market/regulatory intervention. Big government conservatism, as it were.

    Kristol is a smarmy bastard who spent years shit-shoveling his way with a Cheshire smile through the greatest strategic fuck-up since the last one that left us begging for mercy and howling for blood. But here he's right.

    You will learn to successfully guide and manage Leviathan - wield the behemoth - or you will be shown the door and not invited back. A simple matter of competence really.

  9. The NYT concludes:

    "Failing to approve this trade agreement would do nothing to improve Colombia’s human-rights record. Walking away from it now would alienate many people in Colombia and undermine Washington’s credibility."

    Roger that.

  10. I am not certain that what seems to be IS....

    The unrestrained rise in oil prices popped the cash bubble...

    Thanks to all our Arab, Persian, Russian & oil cartel friends for that...

    Now that they popped the pimple the puss is out and it aint pretty...

    but the upside?

    the world, once again, sees opec for the greedy pricks they are...

    the entire world got it's bubble popped...

    illegals in america are LEAVING in record numbers...

    wholesale prices are plunging...

    12 years of wholesale looting of stock options have been reversed in a month...

    the poor lost nothing....

    now here we sit on an new playing field...

    russia & company are burning cash as oil plunges down to (can we say) 20 a barrel?

    and as oil crashes less money for persia to spend on it's nuke program instead on food and bread...

    no it's not as dark as some here think...

    it's actually good in some respects...

    give it a year or two...

    take a drink...


    the destruction caused the New Administration should be quite the show...

    we will forget GW Bush & his economic nonsense...

    Just wait!!

    Russia will most likely invade a few of it's friends...

    Iran will have some happy moments before it's EU funded and Russian built Nuke plants are vaporized...

    Time to rent a copy of Life of Brian....


  11. You will learn to successfully guide and manage Leviathan - wield the behemoth - or you will be shown the door and not invited back. A simple matter of competence really.

    LOL! Wait for the tsunami dollar to hit shore.

  12. Marty Peretz at tnr:

    Henry Kissinger is for her! I'm not. Are you?

    I confess: Hillary Clinton has never appealed to me. There have been so many Hillary Clintons that I suspect that none was authentic. In any case, the young Hillary was a fashionable leftie. No, she wasn't Bill Ayers. But her Wellesley commencement address was especially trite when trite was the rule. She worked for a communist law firm. She was faddish when independent thinking was what the country needed.

    Hillary then went to Little Rock, armed with a Yale Law School diploma, and worked for another law firm, this one positively sleazy. She was the haughty wife of the coy governor and got herself mired in small time corruptions. Not big-time, it is true, and thank God for that. From the state capitol to the White House, her ambitions grew along with Bill's. No special fault here either. But her ambitions were not just careerism or even avarice but greater and greater pretension: "the politics of meaning," "it takes a village." Her husband bestowed on her the project to remake in its entirety the American health care system, a subject about which she knew virtually nothing and which, after its defeat in Congress, became a task that would linger unattended for the better part of two decades.

    So the fact is that she is not a committed leftist at all. She is something worse: like Bill, a committed situanionalist. Hillary is not a person of principle. She is a person of shifting position. The best you can say of her, then, is that she is flexible, endlessly felxible.

    Now, if Barack Obama has actually offered Hillary the post of secretary of state, he has reversed what most Americans thought was one of the much sought-after consequences of his nomination and his electoral victory. That is, sought after by the voters. And this was to end the Clinton dominion in American politics. That's certainly what the primaries were about. Once Obama freed himself and the party from the vice presidential blackmail almost everyone assumed that, with Joe Biden as their candidate's running-mate, the Democratic nominee did not need the experience of someone who'd visited 81 capitals for a day or two or who'd been to Bosnia "under fire" or who kissed Suha Arafat right only moments after the pampered lady had accused Israel of spreading cancer in the West Bank.

    It is a fact that in the weeks after the Denver convention she conducted herself as a party loyalist which, of course, her irritable and clinically self-obsessed husband did not. Hillary is an OK senator. But, then, we don't have many titans these days. So there would be nothing wrong with her hanging around Capitol Hill for as long as Senator Byrd has, gaining dollars for New York as Byrd did for West Virginia.

    Now, if truth be told, I believe my views on matters of foreign policy -both specific (Russia, China, Iran, Israel, Venezuela) and more general (human rights, international organizations, and that fictional construct "soft power")- are closer to Hillary's than to Bill Richardson, very much a light-weight, or Chuck Hagel or Richard Lugar's. Heaven help us, if one of them was Obama's selection. Still, the fact is that Mrs. Clinton, for all her practice in greeting foreign visitors and hosts, does not know much about international affairs. Certainly not as deeply or as texturally as the vice president-elect who has made it his Senate specialty. Yes, Biden may, in some people's view, talk too much. But these are matters that can't be dealt with in sound-bites. We should be grateful for complicated explanations: simple ones are lies.

    There is not, after all, a dearth of qualified men and women for secretary of state: Richard Holbrooke, for example, who has had more experience in American foreign policy than anyone else mentioned for the post. This intimacy with grave issues includes Bosnia to which the solution was made from his architecture and handiwork. This kind of seasoning is rare. Were Hillary actually to be at State the post of National Security Adviser becomes infinitely more important. You dare not have anyone less bright and less knowledgeable than Holbrooke. And there'nt are many people brighter or more knowledgeable.

    Now, my readers know that I've had my personal differences with John Kerry although, as I was saying to friends last night, they go back 35 or 40 years and had just festered. Nonetheless, if you want clarity of purpose as we had clarity of purpose with Dean Acheson and a real bond with our distanced allies, Kerry should be the choice. Does he have too much faith in the United Nations? Yes. But you don't see Hillary fashioning a foreign policy of which the U.N. is not the core.

    There are others lower down the celebrity line. Dennis Ross, for example, has risen through the Foggy Bottom ranks which is not a liability, given the chaos at State. He also knows that there are moral issues that diplomats don't want to consider, and he would insist that they do: his peers in other foreign ministries and his own American foreign service staff.

    So the question is why would Obama choose -if, indeed, he has- someone who brings high drama, virtually hysterical drama to any scene she's in. Her purpose has been self-evident: she wants to be president. Her husband's? To be where the action is. His foundation is now widely viewed as a public relations sham. Since he is now washed up (in contrast to Al Gore who has made a brilliant new life for himself) he now has to rely on the missus.

    If Obama designates Hillary she will be ready for another run at the White House in 2016, when she is 70 and almost the age of John McCain. Like John Nance Garner, FDR's vice president, who ran against the sitting president in the Democratic primaries in 1940.

    I believe Barack is playing with fire.

    Oh, I dunno, Marty. The return of Tom and Daisy to the Executive Branch might compensate for the ennui we've been feeling since the unexpected break up of that other historic pair: George and Dick.

  13. The simple fact is that GWB was not and is not interested in governing. If he was honest with himself he would have resigned 5 years ago. Why he remained is not a mystery. He was bought.

    But as it is, this clusterfsck of clusterfscks was delivered by the CIA the DOS the Pentagon and really the whole rainbow of US governing and regulatory agencies who were bought by the oil the car the military the media mafias, all acting in concert.

  14. You cling like a booger, mat.

  15. 99% of the military is non combat. Why do they deserve government health insurance?

  16. Boxee Raises $4 Million To Take On Apple TV, Microsoft, Cable

  17. Google Mobile iPhone app with voice search now available

  18. Aw, George hasn't been all that bad. These are trying times, that's all.

    He protected the oil (while pushing biofuels as hard as he could.)

    He kept taxes as low as the Congress would let him (and had the deficit down to 1% of GDP until the recession hit.)

    He told the Russians to "bite it" (and, pursued missile defense with a vengeance.)

    He instigated Free Trade Deals all around the Globe. (Australia, CAFTA, Morocco, Jordan, Singapore, Chile, Peru, etc.)

    Test scores are up in schools since "no child left behind."

    His prescription drug benefit has freed many older citizens of having to decide between "food, and drugs."

    He tried to do something about Fannie, and Freddie; but, was stymied by Dems, and RINOS in Congress.

    He's kept the Terrorists at bay since 9 - 11.

    He's supported our military's need for modern equipment (F-22's, F-35's, New Carrier Groups, New Mine Resistant Vehicles, Guided Missile Cruisers (with theatre ballistic missile protection.)

    I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot.

    He did okay. It's a tough job. We should have nominated a better candidate (although, I'm not sure any Republican could have won after the financial crisis hit.) And, THAT could Not be his fault. The President runs the country; he doesn't have time to sit in on the Board Meetings at Goldman, and Citi.

    He's still my guy.

  19. I don't think he's evil incarnate, rufus. I think he made some truly atrocious decisions. Shown some thoroughly appalling judgment. I thought that of the last guy.

    Ironically, happily, I inhabit one of his genuine success stories. Seldom discussed and little appreciated. And it's a shame.

    The way the cookie crumbles, that.

  20. Aw, George hasn't been all that bad.

    I agree with Rufus, except on immigration, George hasn't been so bad. We may wll look back on him as an angel in disguise.

    Did I dream this or was Steele appointer head of the RNC?

    If so he ough to pust for national referencums(not that they would happen) on issuses dear to conservatives liek'

    1) Natinal Defense
    3) Aortion
    4) States Right in General
    5)Freedom of Speech
    6)The Fairness Doctrie
    7) The 2nd Amendment, with a pledge
    8) Redirstributionism
    10) Energy prices---dill, baby, dill, everythin else and nuclear

    Anything else that looks good to consservative to try and keep the issue in the public mind.

    I wish him well.

    We've under $2/gallon for gas here how, don't ecpect it to last.

  21. He protected the oil (while pushing biofuels as hard as he could.)
    A/ He shouldn't have.

    He kept taxes as low as the Congress would let him (and had the deficit down to 1% of GDP until the recession hit.)
    A/ Deficit and debt should be measured against gov tax income and not GDP.

    He told the Russians to "bite it" (and, pursued missile defense with a vengeance.)
    A/ He should have made the Russian a strategic ally and the Jihadis a strategic enemy. He did the opposite.

    He instigated Free Trade Deals all around the Globe. (Australia, CAFTA, Morocco, Jordan, Singapore, Chile, Peru, etc.)
    A/ The "free trade" system should be called the free slave system because that's what it is. And it has been a total disaster for the American middle class and for America.

    Test scores are up in schools since "no child left behind."
    A/ The results are in. The American student population is still failing.

    His prescription drug benefit has freed many older citizens of having to decide between "food, and drugs."
    A/ Don't know enough to comment.

    He tried to do something about Fannie, and Freddie; but, was stymied by Dems, and RINOS in Congress.
    A/ And this assertion is supported by what?

    He's kept the Terrorists at bay since 9 - 11.
    A/ He did not nuke Saudia Iraq Iran Egypt Pakistan. All he did is bankrupt the US.

    He's supported our military's need for modern equipment (F-22's, F-35's, New Carrier Groups, New Mine Resistant Vehicles, Guided Missile Cruisers (with theatre ballistic missile protection.)
    A/ These will be needed to guard all the hundreds of foreign military bases that will be abandoned as the US goes bankrupt and the dollar become worthless.

  22. Mr Steele is running for the job, bob
    He has not gotten it, yet.
    There are others, current members of the RNC, that want the position, as well.

    Chinalco, China bank agree $2 bln Peru mine loan
    Reuters - 1 hour ago
    LIMA, Nov 18 (Reuters) - China's Chinalco (601600.SS: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and a Chinese bank will announce this week a $2 billion loan to develop the Toromocho copper project in Peru, a Peruvian government official said Tuesday.

  23. Oh, wi"o" while some of the migrants that are in Ohio may be leaving, the overall influx, into the United States, has only lessened, it has not stopped or reversed.

    Migrant crossings are down, 25%, according to the Border Patrol and Immigration press releases.

    That's 3,000 in bound, each day.

    There is no corresponding exodus.

  24. Wish that there were such an exodus,
    but there is not.

  25. Man in Black: All right. Where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right... and who is dead.
    Vizzini: But it's so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you: are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemy's? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
    Man in Black: You've made your decision then?
    Vizzini: Not remotely. Because iocane comes from Australia, as everyone knows, and Australia is entirely peopled with criminals, and criminals are used to having people not trust them, as you are not trusted by me, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you.
    Man in Black: Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.
    Vizzini: Wait til I get going! Now, where was I?
    Man in Black: Australia.
    Vizzini: Yes, Australia. And you must have suspected I would have known the powder's origin, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
    Man in Black: You're just stalling now.
    Vizzini: You'd like to think that, wouldn't you? You've beaten my giant, which means you're exceptionally strong, so you could've put the poison in your own goblet, trusting on your strength to save you, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But, you've also bested my Spaniard, which means you must have studied, and in studying you must have learned that man is mortal, so you would have put the poison as far from yourself as possible, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.
    Man in Black: You're trying to trick me into giving away something. It won't work.
    Man in Black: Then make your choice.
    Vizzini: I will, and I choose - What in the world can that be?
    Vizzini: [Vizzini gestures up and away from the table. Roberts looks. Vizzini swaps the goblets]
    Man in Black: What? Where? I don't see anything.
    Vizzini: Well, I- I could have sworn I saw something. No matter.First, let's drink. Me from my glass, and you from yours.
    Man in Black, Vizzini: [they drink ]
    Man in Black: You guessed wrong.
    Vizzini: You only think I guessed wrong! That's what's so funny! I switched glasses when your back was turned! Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well-known is this: never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha...
    Vizzini: [Vizzini stops suddenly, and falls dead to the right]
    Buttercup: And to think, all that time it was your cup that was poisoned.
    Man in Black: They were both poisoned. I spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocane powder.

  26. This piece, in the New Republic outlines the economic turmoil taking place in China. "Crash & Burn", the title is descriptive.

    wi"o" hitting that nail square.

    Whether an economic disaster in China is ultimately a "good thing", I'm not really sure.

    Lot of people there, in China.

  27. ... You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia ...

  28. Avoid this:

    “We are no longer the knights who say ni! We are now the knights who say ekki-ekki-ekki-pitang-zoom-boing!”

  29. If you have not seen The Princess Bride, Rat, you do not know what you are missing.

  30. If you have not likewise seen Monty Python's Holy Grail - beginning in your youth and replayed at least annually since - there is probably no hope for you.

  31. Rufus

    one more: He did more for Africa relief than any other President.

    I'm through carrying water for him, but helping Africa will be his finest moment.

  32. trish: If you have not likewise seen Monty Python's Holy Grail - beginning in your youth and replayed at least annually since - there is probably no hope for you.

    I have it on DVD and when my girlfriend saw it she couldn't wait for it to be over.

    It's an acquired taste, I suppose.

  33. Can anyone explain to me why the Arab countries, with all their money, can't protect their own damn shipping lanes? Maybe they should hire the Israelis.

  34. They should subcontract to the Somalis.

  35. Seen them both, but the Princess Bride, of the two, is the favorite.

    Python is an acquired taste.
    The Black Knight at the bridge, priceless, but some of the others ...

    Do we assume that there are still three US warships standing off that tank carrier?

    Still hostile after all these days?

  36. ironic that the Somali government is implicated in the piracy, ironic because they are about to fall to the Islamists, who, they say, will fight the piracy.

    Enough irony? How about more? The Bank of America, after sucking on the taxpayer teat is upping its investment by the billions in the China Construction Bank.

  37. By VOA News
    16 November 2008

    Somali pirates have hijacked a chemical tanker with 23 crew members on board, soon after releasing another ship for which they received a ransom.

    The South Korean foreign ministry says pirates seized the Chemstar Venus and its crew of five South Koreans and 18 Filipinos off the coast of Somalia late Saturday. The ship is owned by a Japanese company. There has been no word on the condition of the crew.

    The hijacking came shortly after pirates freed another Japanese-owned chemical tanker, the Stolt Valor, on Saturday. Indian officials say all crew members aboard that ship are safe, including 18 Indians, two Filipinos, a Bangladeshi and a Russian.

    Officials say a ransom was paid to the pirates, who seized the ship in September.

    In a separate incident, Russia's navy says its forces prevented the seizure of a Saudi-owned vessel during a pirate attack in the Gulf of Aden Saturday.

    Russian officials say a navy warship was guarding three cargo vessels through the Gulf when it received a distress call from the Saudi ship, Rabih. Officials say navy forces repelled the pirates, who were approaching the Saudi ship on speedboats.

    International Maritime officials say at leaset 83 have been attacked off Somalia this year, with 33 of them hijacked. The pirates are currently holding about 11 ships, including a Ukrainian cargo vessel carrying 33 tanks.

    Somalia's interim government is fighting a strengthening Islamist insurgency, and does not have forces to patrol its territorial waters.

  38. I recall that the answer to the Islamics and other "bad guys", over at the BC, was to treat them like pirates.
    Gotta laugh about that, seeing as how we handle pirates

    This looks to be off the AP wire

    Abdullkadir Musa, the deputy sea port minister in northern Somalia‘s breakaway Puntland region, said if the ship tries to anchor anywhere near Eyl — where the U.S. earlier said it was heading — then his forces will try to rescue it.

    Puntland forces, their guns blazing, freed a Panama-flagged cargo ship from pirates on Oct. 14.

    The Sirius Star‘s cargo is worth about $100 million at current prices, but the pirates have no known way to unload it from the tanker.

    In Vienna, Ehsan Ul-Haq, chief analyst at JBC Energy, said the seizure was not affecting oil prices, since traders were focused instead on "the overall economy."

    The U.S. Navy is still surrounding a Ukrainian ship loaded with tanks and other weaponry that was seized by pirates Sept. 25 off the Somali coast.

  39. A tid bit from the
    "Five Surprises From Election 2008",
    over at RCP

    John McCain won his home state of Arizona by about nine points, and without McCain on the ballot, Democrats will target the Copper State in four years (More evidence the state is changing: Republicans held a 6-2 advantage in the state's House delegation before the 2006 elections. That delegation now has five Democrats and three Republicans).

    The Republicans have lost touch as the population grew, with a large number of folks coming from California.

    Never made a dent in that demographic.

    Election data from Maricopa County shows that the state’s very own presidential nominee lost to Obama by 13 points in McCain’s Colonnade precinct: 42 percent for McCain, 55 percent for Obama.

    So maybe the McCain neighborhood (Phoenix location) doesn’t quite reflect the senator and his beliefs. Voters in that Biltmore-area precinct also voted against Proposition 102, which effectively bans gay marriage, by a 16-point margin.

  40. Obama's Attorney General
    Michael Isikoff

    President-elect Obama has decided to tap Eric Holder as his attorney general, putting the veteran Washington lawyer in place to become the first African-American to head the Justice Department, according to two legal sources close to the presidential transition.

    Holder, who served as deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration, still has to undergo a formal “vetting” review by the Obama transition team before the selection is final and is publicly announced, said one of the sources, who asked not to be identified talking about the transition process. But in the discussions over the past few days, Obama offered Holder the job and he accepted, the source said. The announcement is not likely until after Obama announces his choices to lead the Treasury and State departments.

    Holder, 57, has been on Obama’s “short list” for attorney general from the outset. A partner at the D.C. law firm of Covington & Burling, Holder served as co-chief (along with Caroline Kennedy) of Obama’s vice-presidential selection process. He also actively campaigned for Obama throughout the year and grew personally close to the president-elect. Holder has not returned a call seeking comment; a spokeswoman for the Obama transition team told Newsweek in an e-mail early Tuesday afternoon that no decision has been made.

    The sources said the Obama transition team is still debating over who should serve under Holder in the key post of deputy attorney general. One top candidate, favored by Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and other former Clinton White House officials, is Elena Kagan, dean of the Harvard Law School and a former lawyer in the White House counsel’s office under Clinton. Another top candidate, favored by other Obama advisors, is David Ogden, a former chief of staff to Attorney General Janet Reno, who is currently heading Obama’s Justice Department transition team. Kagan brings legal policy credentials; Ogden has more experience in the Justice Department trenches.

    The only hesitancy about Holder’s selection was that he himself had reservations about going through a confirmation process that was likely to revive questions about his role in signing off on the controversial pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich. Although there is no evidence that Holder actively pushed the pardon, he was criticized for not raising with the White House the strong objections that some Justice Department lawyers and federal prosecutors in New York had to pardoning somebody who had fled the country.

  41. A New York City native who graduated from Columbia University and Columbia Law School, Holder spent years as a federal prosecutor—a job in which he earned a reputation as tough and aggressive foe of public corruption. After serving in the public integrity section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and later a District of Columbia Superior Court judge, Holder was named by President Clinton as U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. He became deputy attorney general in 1997 under Janet Reno and was viewed as a centrist on most law enforcement issues, though he has sharply criticized the secrecy and the expansive views of executive power advanced by the Bush Justice Department.

  42. Clean Energy 2030
    Google's Proposal for reducing U.S. dependence on fossil fuels

  43. In a New Climate, Former Weatherman Bill Ayers Speaks

    Ayers: "The demonization of me . . . is false."

    By Michael Williamson -- The Washington Post
    November 18, 2008

  44. McALLEN, Texas
    A South Texas grand jury has indicted Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on charges related to the alleged abuse of prisoners in Willacy County's federal detention centers.

    The indictment criticizes Cheney's investment in the Vanguard Group, which holds interests in the private prison companies running the federal detention centers. It accuses Cheney of a conflict of interest and "at least misdemeanor assaults" on detainees by working through the prison companies.

    Gonzales is accused of using his position while in office to stop an investigation into abuses at the federal detention centers.

    Another indictment charges state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. with profiting from his public office by accepting honoraria from prison management companies.

    The indictments were first reported by KRGV-TV.

  45. NEWSCHANNEL 5 is digging to find out more. Senator Lucio has already issued a statement in response to the indictment.

    It says a motion will be filed to quash Senator Lucio's indictment this week.

    NEWSCHANNEL 5 is working in Willacy County right now and will bring you the latest when it becomes available.

    Cheney Indicted

  46. Just because:

  47. At least the President is not backing the attempted Big Three bailout; that would open a Pandora's Box, in my opinion, and every equally broke town or businesswould be making a run for the trough.

  48. Crony Capitalism, Predatory Politicians, and the Detroit Three
    by Newt Gingrich

  49. In the Reality Lounge
    by james howard kunstler
    Alas, the financial impairment is still on-going world-wide and has quite a ways to run before it's finished working its hoodoo on the so-called advanced economies. The lame duck US economic posse so far has done everything possible except the two things that really matter: allow the fraudulent securities at the heart of the problem to be exposed to the light of day to determine their actual value; and allow those companies who trafficked in them to suffer the full consequences by going out-of-business. For the moment, they're content to shovel cash into the truck-bed of every enterprise in America that shows up at the Treasury loading dock. This can only have the effect of eventually destroying the value of that cash.

  50. In this auction, the banks compete to sell their toxic assets. They place bids for selling prices.

    One student might offer the government a mortgage-backed security for 60 cents. Another might say, "Wait — I'll sell it to you for 55 cents."

    It's a reverse auction because the bidding drives prices down instead of up.

    Buying Toxic Assets Could Work

  51. Amazing!

  52. Cheer up folks, the news is the world is going out with a cooler average temperature than it had when George Bush arrived in office. Watch out how we're taken for a ride now, though. Your tax money may soon be funding abortions in China along with those here at home.

  53. Stevens, who turned 85 Tuesday,..