“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 25, 2008

How is the Obama and the transition going?

Frankly, not too badly. So far he has taken a very pragmatic conservative and middle of the road approach in both his statements and his selection of cabinet nominees. His talk about bold steps in fiscal stimulation was sensible and his statement that when things get better, he intends to go through the budget line by line to take out unnecessary and wasteful programs and spending was reassuring. 

Obama has set a sober and restrained tone in his rhetoric. Yesterday, when pressed for a number on the fiscal stimulus, he wisely refused to throw out a number.

In tone and demeanor, Obama is serious and sensible. The man talks like he knows what he is doing. His reported decision to keep Gates on in Defense is cautious and pragmatic. Obama has probably distressed more on the left than he has on the Republican Right.

Will this last? We should all hope so. There will come a time when we will disagree. For the moment, let's hope that how he has begun is an indication of how he will lead.

Yesterday, Rufus observed that he was impressed with the way President Bush was handling the transition. I agree. The system is working and that is something that in which we can all take pride.


  1. On Tuesday, Obama lost a top candidate for director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

    In a letter to the president-elect, CIA veteran John O. Brennan withdrew his name from consideration Tuesday amid concerns that he was linked to controversial intelligence programs authorized by the Bush administration.

    He said he did not want these concerns to be a "distraction" for the incoming administration, the newspaper said.

    CIA Candidate

  2. So, as the clock winds down, will GW Bush fulfill habu's fantasies, his long held belief that GW Bush was on a crusade, that he would strike with great vengence and smite the evil Iranian Islamoids, sometime between the election on 4Nov08 and the transition of power on 20Jan09.

    The clock is ticking and seeing Mr Bush, he just does not look the part, just does not project that Ghost Rino in the Sky look, anymore.

    There's no more cowboy left in that Connecticut Yankee.

  3. "They do not have even the nuclear material, the raw unenriched uranium to develop one nuclear weapon if they decide to do so," said the head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency.

    Many world nations have called the UN Security Council pressure against Iran unjustified, especially in the wake of recent IAEA reports, stressing that Tehran's case should be normalized and returned to the UN nuclear watchdog due to the Islamic Republic's increased cooperation with the agency.

    Observers believe that the shift of policy by the White House to send William Burns - the third highest-ranking diplomat in the US - to the latest round of Iran-West talks happened after Bush's attempt to rally international pressure against Iran lost steam due to the growing international vigilance.

    Iran-US Ties

  4. Subturfuge by the master poker player, sam, that is all that diplomatic outreach is. Misdirection.

    Read it so many, many times. Even mat advoccated the theme, Mr Bush as the poker playing avenger, for a while.

    We were always promised, through mismanaged occupations and stratergeries. That just wait, Mr Bush would play his ace in the hole. His power as CiC and just "do the right thing". No matter what, before he left office.

    This has been argued and promised by some posters, for years.

  5. Chambliss In Small Lead In Georgia

    If it hadn't been for the local Libertarian candidate, he might have won outright.

  6. The show's last component was installed on the Park Avenue median on 70th Street, right outside the Asia Society building, soon after the show had opened. It's a 10-foot tall steel sculpture of a Mao jacket, standing upright and bodyless on its bottom hem.

    The right sleeve is raised slightly, as if about to acknowledge the visitor, and it's as if Mao's ghost were in there, keeping mum inside that massive steel husk. Like the other works nestled inside the gallery, this sculpture presents the persistent fact that China's artists are still wrestling with Mao Zedong.

    They are caught, in the words of the catalogue, somewhere between "criticism and nostalgia."

    Seeing Red

  7. Instead of all this Maoist crap and Che crap, you'd think the people of New York might erect a statue to Ronald Reagan. After all, didn't he win New York twice?



    November 25, 2008

    Lost in the dramatic disaster unfolding on Wall Street and the brazen hypocrisy of the Hillary Clinton nomination is President-elect Obama's double signal that the war on terror is now over. His appointment of Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as Secretary of Homeland Security signals that the Department will once again focus on southern border immigration issues rather than on fighting terrorism.

    He could have selected a Rudy Giuliani or a Louis Free or a Ray Kelly anyone with real life experience in battling terrorists. Instead he chose a governor with no knowledge of the subject whose obvious credential is her proximity to the border. The Department of Homeland Security is a polyglot agency which includes immigration enforcement (the old INS) among its many missions. It is also charged with fighting drugs (the old DEA), and battling terrorism. By appointing someone who knows nothing about terrorism but everything about immigration, Obama has signaled the lack of priority he will give to domestic efforts to keep us safe.

    Imagine if President George W. Bush had named the governor of Arizona as his Homeland Security director when the post was created in the aftermath of 9/11! The nation would have howled in protest. But now that nobody is focused on terrorism (except the terrorists who still want to strike at us), Obama has felt free to bury the task of battling terrorism in the bureaucracy dedicated to policing the Mexican border.

    Just as troubling is Obama's appointment of Eric Holder as his Attorney General. While criticism of the nomination has focused, justifiably, on his sell-out of the public interest by recommending the pardon of fugitive Marc Rich, it is his approval of commutations for the FALN - the Puerto Rican terrorists - that should raise red flags. Before 9/11, when we were not hyper-sensitive to terrorism, Holder did Hillary Clinton's bidding in approving the pardon of those who bombed Fraunces Tavern in New York City, killing four people and injuring fifty others. Facing a run for Senate in New York State, with its sizable Puerto Rican population, Hillary was anxious to deliver a signal of her empathy with the desires of New York's Hispanics. Bill, eager to please, sought Justice Department approval for the commutations. Even though the prisoners themselves had not asked for commutation (two refused to accept it), Holder approved the action and cleared the way for a pre-election gift to New York's Puerto Rican community.

    If these two appointments presage Obama's approach to the war on terror, we are going to be in deep trouble, indeed. There is not a hawk in the bunch.

    Add to the mix that this is the first President/Secretary of State combo that has no combined experience in foreign policy since Woodrow Wilson appointed William Jennings Bryan in 1912, and we face real danger. Past presidents with no foreign experience have had the wisdom to appoint secretaries of state with significant experience in international relations. Truman had Byrnes and General Marshall. Johnson had Dean Rusk. Carter had Cyrus Vance. Reagan had Al Haig and George Schultz. Clinton had Warren Christopher and Madeline Albright. Each reached out to supplement their lack of experience, but not Obama. The appointment of Hillary Clinton does nothing to remedy Obama's inexperience and the appointments of Holder and Napolitano indicate that terrorism in general is a low priority for the upcoming Administration

  9. I agree, I think it makes perfect sense to keep gates in place; Obama is just being pragmatic. Gates has not been an ideologue the past two years, he has demonstrated competence, and most importantly of all: he gives the administration cover to focus on its domestic agenda.

  10. Experts call for global network to prevent asteroid disasters

    Between 500 and 1,000 massive asteroids cross the Earth's path regularly and any one of them could cause a global catastrophe, space experts warned Tuesday, urging quick preventive measures.
    Some 6,000 cosmic objects circulating around the planet are currently known to experts in the field, the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) told a press conference at the UN headquarters in Vienna, where it presented its report "Asteroid Threats: A Call for Global Response."

    And of these, up to 1,000 had a diameter of 150 kilometres (93 miles) or more, meaning they could cause major damage to the Earth's surface, prompting fires, tsunamis and ensuing disasters like famine, it said.

    The organisation includes some 320 members from 34 countries, all of whom have already been in space.

    A research, information-sharing and defence network was thus urgently needed to coordinate a global response to the problem, under the leadership of the UN, it said.

    Although it should be possible to predict a collision up to 15 years before it occurs, the technology needed to divert an incoming asteroid has yet to be developed and this will require international cooperation, they said.

    The UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space is due to examine the report at its 2009 session on June 3-12 in Vienna.

  11. Vice President-elect Joe Biden announced three staff additions Tuesday.

    Mike Donilon, an adviser and consultant to Biden since 1981, will serve as counselor to the vice president. Terrell McSweeny, a former attorney at O'Melveny & Myers LLP, will serve as domestic policy adviser, according to a statement from Biden's office.

    Evan Ryan will serve as assistant for intergovernmental affairs and public liaison, according to a statement from Biden's office. Ryan served on the White House staff from 1994-2000 as special assistant to first lady Hillary Clinton's chief of staff and then as deputy director of scheduling.

    Biden Staff

  12. Very kewl!!

    Israeli world first: Surgeons weld wounds shut with surgical laser
    Nov. 25, 2008
    judy siegel

    Surgeons of the future may have to learn welding rather than sewing, now that a team of applied physicists at Tel Aviv University have developed an efficient and safe way to close incisions in the skin that they say could also be used on cuts inside the body.

    The team was led by Prof. Abraham Katzir, who found a way to maintain laser heat at the correct temperature so that the incision is sealed to minimize the risk of infection and scars and speed healing.

    Katzir says the development is "a groundbreaking medical technology" and could also be used quickly and easily by medics on the battlefield and at road accidents, as well as by plastic surgeons and other surgical specialists.

    Katzir is the son of the late Prof. Aharon Katzir, the world-famous biophysicist who was murdered in the 1972 Japanese Red Army terror attack at Lod Airport; he is the nephew of Israel's fourth president, 92-year-old Prof. Ephraim Katzir.

    The Health Ministry, which studied the technology carefully, gave permission for the first clinical trials in 10 gall-bladder surgery patients a few months ago.

    The test procedures were performed by Dr. Doron Kopelman, head of the general surgery department of Emek Medical Center in Afula, and Dr. David Simhon, who was a partner in the TAU research.

    The results on patients were judged recently and found to be very successful, with comparisons made between the parts of the incisions closed by sutures and the parts using welding.

    Now the team will see how the welding technique works on longer incisions, such as those in cesarean sections or inguinal hernias.

    "The technique of sewing the human body with needle and thread is an old one that has existed for thousand of years," Katzir noted.

    "Modern medicine has advanced in many fields. Now the time has come to upgrade one of the most common and important procedures in surgery - sealing the two sides of an incision.

    "Suturing often requires much skill, creates scars and always opens the possibility of infection through the wound, because sutures are not watertight. Using more advanced techniques such as pins or speedy glues can often create large and ugly scars that remain on the body for years and cause much distress. Our new technique is meant to solve these problems."

    Back in the 1970s, surgeons used a laser to try to fuse together the two flaps of skin, but it caused burns that disrupted the skin's ability to heal and even encouraged scarring.

    But Katzir and his team use another technique called "laser welding" in which biological glue - a special albumin protein produced by the Israeli biotechnology company Omrix - is smeared on the two sides of the incision.

    Then a laser warms it at the correct temperature to make the glue thicken and create a hard "shell" that protects the wound and allows it to heal speedily without allowing pathogens to enter.

    They used a temperature-controlled carbon dioxide laser and special silver halide optical fibers that they developed. The technology prevents overheating and burns.

    The breakthrough has aroused world interest and is presented on the Web site of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (

    The TAU team will soon apply to the US Food and Drug Administration for authorization to carry out larger clinical trials of the procedure. If they are as successful as the operations so far, the technology could be turned into a commercial product in a few years.

  13. DR, you always speak so highly of Robert Rubin's economic stewardship.

    What say you now that he has managed Citibank into the league of Bear Stearns, Lehman Bros & AIG? Perhaps you should first see the damnation visited upon him by the WSJ - Citi's Taxpayer Parachute - Why are Robert Rubin and other directors still employed?

    Don't you love it when a know-it-all gets his head handed to him.

  14. That sounds great, Mat. Maybe one day a person would have a unit around the house. Slice your finger carving the Thanksgiving turkey, just have the wife weld the wound shut.

  15. Today, even the liberals economic soothsayer, Tom Friedman, castigates Rubin - what does the imperious DR have to say in Rubin's defense?

  16. Saxby Chambliss needs your help in Georgia.

    Go Here To Help

    Sarah Palin says 'do it'.

  17. The poll numbers are almost identical to the general election results, when Chambliss fell just short of the 50 percent necessary to win the seat outright on Election Night. He led Martin 49.8 to 46.8 percent, with a Libertarian candidate taking three percent of the vote.

    There are times to maybe vote Libertarian, and then there are times definitely not to.

    That was one of those 'not to' times.

  18. Why The Obama Birth Certificate Issue Matters

    American Thinker finally weighs in with an article by 'Joe the Farmer', a pen name with a nod to 'Joe the Plumber' who had the "audacity" to ask a question of the One.

  19. Just wait til the bill comes due to pay for all this spending...

    The Labor party has just proposed a top marginal tax rate of 60% (when you include the National Health insurance premium. ) And mind you, that doesn't include the local taxes, sale taxes, VAT, etc.

    Oh boy!

  20. Morris and McGann are full of shit, bob.

    What we ARE looking at is no more supplemental spending for it - with reductions of at least 50 bil yearly and the decent likelihood of a *complete* withdrawal from Iraq over the next few years. Neither of which, in and of itself, is a bad thing.

    Everybody's just gonna have to do what they have to do with what they got. We've been here before; no one believed that we wouldn't be here again.

    Note to Karzai: Sucks when your friends are our enemies, don't it?

  21. I'd say Rubin did okay while in the employ of Goldman Sachs, in boom times of the 80's, did alright in the employ of government during the 90's and failed, totally, as a capitialist in a recession in the 21st century.

    I'd say that he did okay with Mexico and Russia, as regards their financial meltdowns and that his entire team has returned to DC, to manage the Federals attempt to rescue the global economy.

    Without him and the baggage he carries from his failures at Citibank.

  22. Well, whit, with the proposal to remove the income cap on the FICA taxes, that'd be a 15.3% flat tax on all earned income, plus a 32 or 35% top bracket ...

    Gets the current US proposals to a 50% Federal bite, before any local taxes are factored into the mix.

  23. Without the proposed changes, as the workout we did on Joe the plumber's boss and Mrs McCain, high earners, in the US, currently are payong about a third of their income to the Federals.

  24. Again, with Chabliss, you asume the Librarians would have boted for him, if not the Librarian.

    There is no basis for that.

    Now if they had not voted at all, if the Librarian vote had been suppressed, then Chabliss would have recieved over 50% of those voting. But we want and promote voting, the more the better.

    Or so they say. It's that pesky 50% rule that is doing him wrong, if a wrong is being done.

  25. That American Thinker piece talks of the "vault" copy. I think, based upon what we saw of Hawaiian law and policy, yesterday, that no "vault" copies even exist.

    It's all just digits.

  26. I'd say that I judged Rubin with the facts available, at the time.

    As I judged and supported Cheney based upon his stated policy with regards the use of military force, in 1991.

    I supported GW Bush when he said he would abstain from assigning "Natiobuilding Missions" to the US military.

    As reality intruded, my estimation of the people changed. This may well happen with regards Rubin, or perhaps his cohort will arrive in DC and save the day.
    Saving Rubin's reputation as a savy financial wizard in the process.

    He has gooten $40 Billion out of Uncle Sugar, no little thing, when the Federals balk at even attempting a rescue the "Big Three".

    The Federals doing a "Kennedy at the Chapaquitic" immitation.
    Wilfull neglect after causing the accident.

  27. It is funny, there are many that feel that the auto companies are best left to bankruptcy and a new beginning, managed by a Judge. This effecting upwards of five million jobs, I read somewhere.

    An outstandingly large number, if accurate.

    I can sympathise with that position and could come to support it.

    The counter is that with so many jobs at stake, with so much of industrial prestige on the line, we should follow the French model and support the car makers, but insist on "structural change". With the legacy costs of the automakers eventually absorbed by the Federals.
    $25 Billion was the sarting bid.

    Meanwhile ...

    At Citi, Rubin got the Federals to buy in, $20 Billion for a preferred stock offering and now, another $20 billion on top.

    Without a peep about the management of Citi, because it was an industry wide buy-in. The "swimmers" as well as the "drowners" were "rescued".

    Not a word about restructuring the business model, nor even the current management, at any of the nationalized banks.

    That's smoooooth, to say the least.

  28. The numbers are so large I have trouble comprehending them. I read a little article yesterday somewhere saying the bailout monies = (adjusted for inflation) the Marshall Plan + the Lousiana Purchase + the purchase of Alaska + the Manhattan Project + + + + + + on to about 12 big items.


    Anyway, from my perspective from my little hole in the wall here, if I was King, I'd be inclined to bail out the auto companies, as they actually make something, and say to hell with the banks.

    And I'd probably be wrong about the banks. To big to let fail, as deuce said.

  29. Bankruptcy and then a structured rescue bail out for the automakers.

    With the legacy and healthcare costs absorbed by the Federals.

    That'd be about the best case scenario, with regards the car and truck manufacturers.

    The Canadians have an even greater problem on their hands. With a small manufacturering base, to begin with, and only one trading partner of consequence.

    TORONTO (Reuters) - General Motors of Canada is going to cut a second week of production at its Oshawa, Ontario, car plant in January, and may move up the timeframe for shuttering its Oshawa truck plant to May from July, an official from the Canadian Auto Workers union said on Friday.

    "Our car assembly plant was scheduled to be on layoff the first week of January, but they notified us today that they're going to take a second week out of January as well, as the market continues to soften," said Chris Buckley, President of CAW Local 222 in Oshawa.

    GM ships 95 percent of what it builds in Canada to the United States, where vehicle sales have collapsed in the economic and financial downturn.

    GM Canada said two weeks ago that it would temporarily lay off 500 people from the plant at the beginning of 2009, until the market improves.

    Parent General Motors Corp reported a $4.2 billion operating loss for the third quarter. It also said on Friday it plans temporary shutdowns at several U.S. plants over the next two months.

    Right now about 5,000 people work in the Oshawa plant, which builds the Chevrolet Impala.

    Buckley also said GM had indicated it may close its Oshawa truck plant earlier than anticipated, due to worsening market conditions in the United States.

    "The date that we were told back in the summer was that they were looking at July '09, and that was based on the market, and the market continues to get worse," he said.

  30. That sounds great, Mat.

    Now we need to apply this technique to the open festering wound that is the GOP economy. :D

  31. Reading another blog just now I quess this is what I'm thinking of---

    Rush Limbaugh added up the value of the money already stolen, translated it into past dollar values, and illustrated that they have already spent more money than most of the great achievements of the 20th century combined. We’re already done. Trying to smack the average American with a board in the face 20 times until he realizes what has already occured seems a useless effort.

  32. I'd also bail out the electric scooter makers, if they needed it:)

  33. General Motors of Canada is going to cut a second week of production at its Oshawa..

    Fsck GM and all the tax money that they appropriate from the taxpayers. Honda and Toyota are a plenty.

  34. "Bail them out"

    Keep on building the Impalas that no one is buying?

    That seems so ...

    The companies need a restructuring, from top to bottom.

    As they have failed in their present configuration. They are bankrupt, or soon to be.

    They need the bankruptcy to restructure, just as much as they'll need the rescue monies, to finance the phoenix that raises from the ashes.

  35. I'd also bail out the electric scooter makers, if they needed it:)

    Them be Chinese, Bob. Unfortunately, the North American auto makers are too fscking dumb as to figure out how to do manufacture these.

  36. TORONTO, Nov 19 (Reuters) - General Motors of Canada's (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) pension funds had a C$4.5 billion ($3.64 billion) shortfall this time last year, and it has likely grown since the market collapse.

    This raises more financial concerns for the Ontario government if it must backstop the funds should the company fall into bankruptcy protection.

    The shortfall between the company's union and salaried workers' plans and their liabilities was unveiled during a meeting with company officials and the Globe and Mail newspaper.

  37. The transition is going well, BO is breaking his promises before taking office.

    With respect to this facing of the facts of life by Obama and his people, Mad Magazine more than 40 years ago came out with its rhyming “ABC’s of Politics.” Near the end, they wrote,

    “Y is for ‘Yes,’
    A word that’s expected
    In making those deals
    That you break when elected.”

  38. GM will be able to save billions with the coming new free National Health Insurance Program. Just switch the auto workers over to AshCare, where medicine is rationed, and GM won't have to provide any medical insurance to the guys. Saves billions right there.

  39. November 26, 2008, 9:15 am
    Environmentalists Cheer Rhode Island Court Decision
    By Kate Galbraith

    A suit brought by automakers, including General Motors, aimed at blocking tougher emissions standards in Rhode Island, was rejected by a federal court.

    Detroit’s beleaguered automakers suffered another blow on Tuesday — this time, to their efforts to stave off higher emissions standards for cars and trucks.

    Several automakers, including DaimlerChrysler and General Motors, had sued in the Federal District Court for Rhode Island to stop that state from following California’s efforts to seek greenhouse gas emissions standards that are stricter than those of the federal government. Automakers had already lost similar federal cases in Vermont and California.

    It's interesting to note that the emissions standards even in China are 40% higher than what they are in the US.

  40. Exactly right, there, bob.

    That's going to be part of "the solution"

  41. And their largest domestic motorcycle engines are 250cc's.

    Found that to be interesting.

  42. And how many *trillions* of dollars we would all save if GM's executives were made to trade in their fleet of learjets for electric scooters?

  43. Blogger j willie said...

    "Don't you love it when a know-it-all gets his head handed to him."

    geeeze, do you think there are loads of folk thinking thoughts like that about the "know it all yankees"?

    Blogger desert rat said...

    " "Bail them out"

    Keep on building the Impalas that no one is buying?

    That seems so ...

    The companies need a restructuring, from top to bottom."

    Soviet? maybe. British? More likely. So recent analysis I've read suggesting letting them restructure under Chapter 11 has pointed to the British history of trying to support their domestic auto industry. Remember British Leyland?

    Do we want the Federal Government to run these giant industries (automotive, banking), let 'em fail, or shovel loads of newly minted money to present management? What a choice...

  44. BO is even pulling Poor Old Paul Volcker Off His Rest Bed to help him out.

    Damn, can't a man ever get any peace?

  45. What a choice...

    Actually, the choice is simple. It is to support new ideas new technologies new companies, and a new approach to getting things done.

  46. Which puts you in the "let 'em fail" category.

  47. ...a place I find myself as well.

  48. Those scooters are tough in the winter, Mat. And if you're going say, from the upper midwest to a conference in California, it takes an awful long time.

    They could use more conference calls though.


    It is to support new ideas new technologies new companies, and a new approach to getting things done.

    Sounds like an ad for GE or something. You should have been in advertising, Mat.

  49. What are you guys paying for the Thanksgiving turkey?

    We're at 27 cents/pound here, with a $25 purchase.

  50. As duece has been saying, and I attempted to illustrate yesterday, the US should focus on America. North and South.

    If the countries left off the list and the Island populations are included, almost a billion people.

    In America, where ...
    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    Revitalize our own revolution

    That'd be the American thing to do.

    That should become the focus, one way or the other.

  51. Obama says the execs shouldn't take bonuses. Thomas Sowell says it wouldn't make a bit of difference, and he's right, even if they worked for nothing.

  52. ah, here it is, the Cost Of The Bailout In Perspective

    • Marshall Plan: Cost: $12.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $115.3 billion
    • Louisiana Purchase: Cost: $15 million, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $217 billion
    • Race to the Moon: Cost: $36.4 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $237 billion
    • S&L Crisis: Cost: $153 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $256 billion
    • Korean War: Cost: $54 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $454 billion
    • The New Deal: Cost: $32 billion (Est), Inflation Adjusted Cost: $500 billion (Est)
    • Invasion of Iraq: Cost: $551b, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $597 billion
    • Vietnam War: Cost: $111 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $698 billion
    • NASA: Cost: $416.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $851.2 billion

  53. Safeway has that same turkey deal, here, bob.

  54. They could use more conference calls though.

    They can always travel by rail. The same rail system they dismantled.

  55. Thomas Sowell says it wouldn't make a bit of difference, and he's right, even if they worked for nothing.

    No, Bob. Taxpayers should not be subsidizing your commie elites or Boris's goat.

  56. In America, where ...
    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    Consult with Bob. He still can't figure out what's this talk of empire is all about.

  57. So will Mr Gates come to be regarded by Democrats as George "It's a Slam Dunk!" Tenent is regarded, by doug, now?

  58. That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved;
    and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.

    And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence,
    we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

  59. So will Mr Gates come to be regarded by Democrats as George "It's a Slam Dunk!" Tenent is regarded, by doug, now?

    Wed Nov 26, 10:50:00 AM EST

    Why would he be?

  60. Don't know the exact causation, yet, trish, but by the virtue of being the "hold over" with the Iraqi "hot potato" squarely in his lap.

    He is the "outsider" at the White House, more so than any of the other "major" Secretaries.
    The others staffs are already networked.
    How much of Mr Gates' staff and current subSecretaries are staying on? Will he keep his current civilian team, or have a new one, transfered in?

    That knowledge would help pinpoint the causation, ahead of the curve.

  61. I think a part of the deal for both sides was retention of some and replacement of others. I don't think the replacements are important.

    Gates has done more for civil/military relations and overall morale at the Pentagon than any SecDef I can think of. The guy is literally worth his weight in gold and the fact that he's willing to stay on is only good news.

    Losing Heyden, who's done the same at the Agency, is gonna be a real blow. Keeping both would have been the best news of all.

  62. If you're looking down the road and anticipating the next snipe hunt, however, reforms have made this a more remote prospect.

  63. In the same vein: If the DCI appt doesn't come from within, we may be back to the sad old days on that front. And for what? The Obama team's gonna be sitting through its inbriefs thinking, "Holy shit? We can do that?"

    ("Sure. Now go have lunch.")

  64. I am beginning to see some bad stuff going down in China.

  65. And the gov had just announced a massive infrastructure-heavy stimulus program - though there was some uncertainty as to the amount of proposed spending that's actually new.

  66. At TNR, The Harder They Fall:


    Nationwide, the opposition won 52 percent of the popular vote against the government's 48 percent. This is of particular significance because Chavez, who lost a referendum last December that would have given him the ability to seek permanent re-election, intends to put his megalomaniacal designs to the vote once again. Given Sunday's results, in all likelihood he would lose a new referendum.

    None of this, of course, should make us lose sight of the fact that, 10 years after coming to power, the Venezuelan autocrat still enjoys strong popular support, in part because of the deeply ingrained culture of populism the government has tapped with its Bolivarian rhetoric, its use of oil money, and the demonization and persecution of potential challengers. A recent poll by Datanalisis gave Chavez a 58 percent approval rating--a substantial recovery from 35 percent early this year, when scarcity, inflation and crime turned many government supporters in the barrios of Caracas and other cities against the government.

    But the cost of Chavez's resurgence will be dear--economically as well as politically. His last budget was based on the presumption that the average price of a barrel of oil would be $90. In reality, the drop in demand linked to the global recession has brought Venezuelan crude down to $40. While it is true that the price of oil was $8 when Chavez came to power, suggesting that even a $30 to $40 barrel would guarantee him an amount of revenue he could not have even dreamed of when he was planning his takeover of the country's institutions, there is no question that the international crisis will limit his ability to bribe a large part of society through political patronage.

    Which is why Chavez needed a resounding victory Sunday in order to ensure that he could call a constitutional referendum before the consequences of the global recession corrode the populist system on which his power rests. We can still assume that he will try again sooner rather than later because the longer international economic conditions prevail, the chances of him winning are very dim.

    One election will not be enough to get rid of Chavez anytime soon. But it means the opposition will be able to continue its political war of attrition against the government's juggernaut with renewed confidence. It is tragic that an entire generation of Venezuelans has had to devote a good part of its best years to resisting domination by an autocrat. But that is nothing compared to the frustration Chavez must feel after 10 years of not being able to establish a second Cuba in Latin America.

    Alvaro Vargas Llosa is the editor of "Lessons from the Poor" and the director of the Center on Global Prosperity at the Independent Institute.

  67. Did I hear that the Russian Navy docked in Venezuela, just today, or was it yesterday?

    One would think that the Russians would be better served, steaming off Somalian coasts, but ...

  68. Did I hear that the Russian Navy docked in Venezuela, just today, or was it yesterday?

    This is the occasion to build another 10 nuclear aircraft carriers and 20 Trident submarines!

  69. Good idea, Mat. You're thinking ahead, about China.

  70. Marine Makes Insurgents Pay the Price

    November 18, 2008
    Marine Corps News|by Cpl. James M. Mercure

    FARAH PROVINCE, Afghanistan — In the city of Shewan, approximately 250 insurgents ambushed 30 Marines and paid a heavy price for it.


    “The biggest thing to take from that day is what Marines can accomplish when they’re given the opportunity to fight,” the sniper said. “A small group of Marines met a numerically superior force and embarrassed them in their own backyard. The insurgents told the townspeople that they were stronger than the Americans, and that day we showed them they were wrong.”

    During the battle, the designated marksman single handedly thwarted a company-sized enemy RPG and machinegun ambush by reportedly killing 20 enemy fighters with his devastatingly accurate precision fire. He selflessly exposed himself time and again to intense enemy fire during a critical point in the eight-hour battle for Shewan in order to kill any enemy combatants who attempted to engage or maneuver on the Marines in the kill zone. What made his actions even more impressive was the fact that he didn’t miss any shots, despite the enemies’ rounds impacting within a foot of his fighting position....

    “I was in my own little world,” the young corporal said. “I wasn’t even aware of a lot of the rounds impacting near my position, because I was concentrating so hard on making sure my rounds were on target.”


  71. In another time and place:

    I come in peace. I didn't bring artillery. But I'm pleading with you with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me, I'll kill you all.

    Major General James Mattis, to Iraqi tribal leaders.

  72. Good idea, Mat. You're thinking ahead, about China.

    We're planning to sell them this stuff?

  73. Looks like Dorofrio and Wrotnowski succeeded in getting the connecticut case docketed before the supreme court.

    Justice Ginsburg will refuse it but then can apply to anyone they want.

    (Souter refused the New Jersey case, then Thomas granted the hearing.)

    Anyhow that makes three cases in the SCOTUS docket related to Obama's birth certificate.

  74. This business in Bombay is pretty serious. Gunmen target Americans and Brits, killing at least 78 and wounding at least 200.

    Teams of heavily armed gunmen stormed luxury hotels, a popular tourist attraction and a crowded train station in at least seven attacks in India's financial capital, killing at least 78 people and wounding at least 200, officials said Thursday. The gunmen were specifically targeting Britons and Americans and a top police official said the gunmen are holding hostages at two luxury hotels, the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels.

  75. A media report said a little-known group, the Deccan Mujahideen, has claimed responsibility for the Mumbai terrorist attacks. The Press Trust of India news agency said Thursday the group sent emails to several media outlets.
    The gunmen also attacked police headquarters in south Mumbai, the area where most of the attacks, which began late Wednesday and continued into Thursday morning, took place.

    Geez, I wonder why that did that. Bold as brass too, attacking police HQ. But don't worry, Napolitano will be at Homeland Security.

  76. Kinda difficult to expect any US anti-terrorism institution to prevent a bunch of armed folk running amok especially given how easy it is to get the firepower in the US.

  77. Obama displays "an audacity for risk," comments Germany's Financial Times Deutschland. "To keep Gates is a wise but bold step because in his two years at the Pentagon he did an excellent job."

    Whether the choice of Paul Volcker to head a new special economic advisory group is a smart one, is debatable, writes the paper. On the one hand, it makes sense to establish a new body that doesn't have to concern itself with daily crisis management and can focus on abstract and long-term big themes like the reform of financial markets and the rebuilding of the U.S. economy.

    On the other hand, it is open whether this won't become a competitive group vis-รก-vis the Treasury Department and the actual economic advisory group in the White House - the National Economic Council (NEC)."

    Clinton 3rd Term?

  78. What part of Homeland Security is responsible for defense of US citizens, in India?

    Not the Border Patrol nor INS. Certainly not the DEA or the Coast Guard. FEMA and the TSA are domestic. Those arms of the Federal establishment that do operate in India, I do believe are outside the responsibility of Homeland Security.

    Their home page does not deal with the goings on in India. Lead link, it's for career information.

  79. Barack Obama plans 20,000 troop surge to boost Afghan effort

    Barack Obama is preparing to send at least 20,000 more US soldiers into Afghanistan in a "surge" similar to the deployment that contributed to security improvements in Iraq.

  80. In 1999, a Pentagon survey found that despite efforts to promote good race relations in the armed forces, wide gaps still remained. The survey also found that:
    # Forty-seven percent of Hispanic personnel and forty-eight percent of black personnel experienced incidents that caused them to lose trust in their colleagues

    # Members of minorities, especially African-Americans, tended to hold more pessimistic views of race relations in the military

    # Minority service personnel felt they received poor evaluations more often than their white counterparts because of their race or ethnicity

    Racial Discrimination?

  81. I'm pretty sure that Secretary Michael Chertoff is going to be shocked to find that he is being held responsible for the safety of US citizens, in India.

    How the homeland has grown.

  82. We take a look at her immigration policies with Aarti Shahani, a researcher with Justice Strategies [includes rush transcript].

    AMY GOODMAN: As we continue our look at the people slated to serve in the next White House Cabinet. In the post of Homeland Security secretary, President-elect Barack Obama is on track to name Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano.


    JOHN MCCAIN: I certainly applaud many of the appointments that president-elect Obama has announced, including what is pretty well-known and that is the selection of Governor Janet Napolitano as the new head of the department of Homeland Security. I already talked with her and look forward to moving her nomination as quickly as possible through the United States Senate.


    AMY GOODMAN: Governor Napolitano has supported comprehensive immigration reform along the lines pushed by Senator McCain before the presidential campaign. She was the first governor to call for National Guard troops to be deployed along the US-Mexico border.


    JANET NAPOLITANO: As U.S. Attorney, I supervised the prosecution of more than 6,000 immigration cases. As Attorney General, we wrote the law that breaks up human smuggling rings by seizing their assets.


    AMY GOODMAN: For more on Arizona governor Janet Napolitano, I’m joined by Aarti Shahani, researcher with justice strategies. She’s co-founder of families for freedom. Welcome to Democracy Now!

    AARTI SHAHANI: Hi. Thanks for having me.

    AMY GOODMAN: Yesterday we were looking in depth at the economic team, the ‘E-team’ of president-elect Obama. Now today immigration.


    AARTI SHAHANI: I think we should take pause and look at Governor Napolitano. She’s right now being celebrated as a liberal on immigration who can finally breathe some fresh air into a very hateful debate.

    Arizona Governor

  83. Now this story, it is in the Homeland Security venue, no doubt of that.

    More drug tunnels being found on border
    Smugglers going to great lengths to bypass barriers
    by Sean Holstege - Nov. 25, 2008 12:00 AM
    The Arizona Republic
    Authorities are finding record numbers of tunnels on the U.S.-Mexican border, which signals that Mexican drug cartels are increasingly desperate to circumvent the hundreds of miles of new border barriers.

    The majority of tunnels have been discovered along the border in Arizona, a state that has seen many new border barriers.

    Since 2006, the year that Congress passed the Secure Border Fence Act, smugglers have bored 32 known tunnels into Arizona, more than all the tunnels discovered in the state before. Only four other border tunnels have been found outside Arizona since 2006.

    Right up Napolitano's resume track

  84. From sam's link. The Governor has been very popular, here. Her sending the National Guard to the border was a publicity stunt, but at least she moved the ball, a tad.

    Anyway, from sam's link. This and she and Arpaio were seen leaving Avanti's, just the other day. He has a long history with DEA and immigration, imagine her taking him back to DC.

    Hard to see it, but ....

    Now the other piece of the story that I think people are not familiar with is she that actually made a name for herself in Homeland Security circles by regularly writing to Chertoff and lobbying him to bring not just more border security resources to Arizona but ICE resources to Arizona, specifically Governor Napolitano wanted to see it an increase of interior immigration enforcement in Phoenix areas outside of border communities. She was the first governor to broker a 287-G agreement with ICE. Now, I’m not sure how many people know what 287-G is about, But basically, it was a tiny piece of law passed by Bill Clinton back in 1996. It was resurrected by ICE as a leading pilot project to devolve immigration enforcement from Federal to local hands, that is to bring the border into the interior so to speak. So Governor Napolitano was the first Democrat, the first one in the country to say we want 287-g in our state. And she opened up the door toall of the local enforcement, stopping while brown stuff we’re seeing in Arizona. She has a very peculiar relationship with Joe Arpaio. Sheriff Joe Arpaio of MaricopaCounty is known as a total–the toughest sheriff in America, is what he calls himself. That’s his autobiography. Janet Napolitano readily went to Joe Arpaio back in 2005 and said, for our immigration agenda we need some of your jails because he runs a tent city, for which he was being sued left and right. We need some of your jails. And Joe Arpaio said to her, if we have to we’ll build jails from here down to Mexico to hold the immigrants you want to pick up.

  85. "Geez, I wonder why that did that."

    Do tell.

  86. A western Kentucky judge has denied shock probation for an Iraq war veteran convicted in May of reckless homicide.

    The Paducah Sun reported the order from Judge Tim Langford in Bardwell means former Kentucky National Guardsman Cody Morris will remain in jail until at least April, when he becomes eligible for parole.

    Morris - then 19 - was sentenced to the maximum of five years each for reckless homicide and evidence tampering in the October shooting death of 18-year-old Casey Hall, who was also a National Guard member.

    Probation for Guardsman Denied

  87. I'm pretty sure that Secretary Michael Chertoff is going to be shocked to find that he is being held responsible for the safety of US citizens, in India

    whit: shakes head, rolls eyes.

  88. "Sometimes policy-making in Washington can become a little bit too ingrown, a little bit too insular," ... "The walls of the echo chamber can sometimes keep out fresh voices and new ways of thinking"


  89. Funny that's what I did, when reading the proposed connection beetween India and Homeland Security.

  90. At Bashas, bob, which is a local gorcery chain, the turkey is free, with a total purchase of $100

  91. I'm pretty sure that Secretary Michael Chertoff is going to be shocked to find that he is being held responsible for the safety of US citizens...

    Some might be tempted to finish that with TX, NM, AZ, and CA.

    Judging by the fence building project, and other things relative to the border control.

  92. There is a chance, that with Janet Napolitano at the head of Homeland Security that the border may just become a bit more secure than it has been, since 9-11-01.

    A chance that the status que will remain the same, but I doubt it. She's been a head of the curve, on immigration enforcement. At least providing some eyewash

  93. At Bashas in Wickenburg I lost my favorite travel mug. To a fellow speaking Spanish at the next pay phone. I'm sure he thought I left it there for him.

    Had a lot on my mind that evening. Good mug though. Kept ice from Bakersfield to Kingman, with an overnight in Laughlin. In the summer. I hope he enjoys it.

    The perils of not using cell phones.


  95. They have really improved the road between Wickenberg and I40/Kingman, through Wickiup. Used to be a death highway, marked with those little crosses, every mile or so, it seemed. Almost hit two cattle in the middle of a dark night, drove right between the two 'em, doing 50-55 mph at least.

    Quite the pucker factor.

    Between that highway improvement and the Hoover Dam bypass almost being finished, the drive to Vegas could become tolerable.

  96. Funny how it's not about the lyrics, but rather the music.

    There's probably a metaphor in there somewhere.

  97. They have really improved the road between Wickenberg and I40/Kingman, through Wickiup.

    New bridge at Burrow Creek. I liked the old one. That was a piece of work. Have to laugh at your AZ hwy dept aesthetic concerns, though. Transplanting mature Saguaros to the median strip, with timber truss works to hold 'em up. Must please the Snowbirds, though, and tourists from Idaho.

  98. trish's music while I was beginning to notice the lyric.

    I used to rule the world ...

    Guess it depends upon one's perspective.

    mat's been commenting on the song, or it's another poster fixated upon Rome

  99. Brit Hume tonight "How does Robert Rubin maintain his standing given the dismal performance of Citibank under Rubin's leadership".

    Jeff Birnbaum "He doesn't. His image is tarnished and he deserves the blame for the failure of Citibank" (Birnbaum is no right-winger).

    Fred Barnes (paraphrasing) - Why in the hell is Rubin still COB and a Director at Citbank? (Barnes is a wellknown right winger)

    Juan Williams (paraphrasing) - I am utterly amazed that Obamay has picked Rubin acolytes as his economic team. They are primarily responsible for getting us into this mess, as well as the first and secon bailouts that haven't worked. (Juan is a center left kind of guy, and in my book, demonstrated more integrity and mature, political perspective than most of his colleagues in the last year).

    DR, you credit Rubin's smoothness and brilliance for leading his company to the point where it required $40 billion in taxpayer assistance. I credit you with stupidity if you really believe him brilliant. Not only has he failed miserably, he has demonstrated no morals while doing so, along with Dick Fuld, the CEO of AIG and many others on Wall St. They keep taking their ridiculously high salaries while laying off people by the tens of thousands and falsely claiming to "feel their pain". Spare me, they don't feel a damn thing, nor do they deserve another dime of shareholder or taxpayer money in payment for their services. They should be required to work for free, or, alternatively, to serve time in prison for their criminal behavior (which will be proven in time). Nothing like gambling big with OPM. You call it brilliant - shame on you.

    Ash - fuck off, you dipshit unthinking moron. I have yet to see a useful sentence typed by you.

  100. The old bridge was a wonder. A tad narrow, at night.

    Learned my lesson, never drove it a night again. Tried not to drive it, at all. When I finally did, they were just getting the improvements underway.

    The median divides, those are "Hayduke" features.
    For the car bound tourists.

  101. I said he failed as a capitialist in the recession of the 21st century.

    But that as a "palyer" he was still swinging, and that his team:

    ... that his entire team has returned to DC, to manage the Federals attempt to rescue the global economy.

    Without him and the baggage he carries from his failures at Citibank.

    Wed Nov 26, 07:47:00 AM EST

    That, in and of itself, j willie, is credit to his abilities. He has been surfing the wave ...

    Wipe Out!

  102. Citi's been on the Totally Fucked Bank list for a decade. No one at FDIC (whose list it is) wanted to come forward.

  103. Tried not to drive it, at all. When I finally did, they were just getting the improvements underway.

    I was through there a few times back then when they'd just started the north end. Interesting construction there. They ran a pipeline parallel to the new grade for tens of miles just to carry water for the earthwork compaction. I never figured out where they got their water. I assumed they drilled a well.

    I'll quit digressing from meltdowns and bailouts now, and return this channel to your originally scheduled programming.

  104. My mother did, however, warn off her oncologist.

  105. James Baker, the former secretary of state and current Republican eminence grise, made an amazing suggestion on “Meet the Press” Sunday — that Bush and Obama develop and announce a joint economic rescue program.

    It was a stunning acknowledgement of how weak the Bush presidency has become and how dangerous it would be to spend the next two months meandering from crisis to crisis.

    But that's the road we're on. When I get frustrated with Paulson's zigzags and reversals, with his overnight decisions to buy huge companies or write hundred-billion-dollar checks, I remind myself that he doesn't really have a president to work for.

    2 Headed Leader

  106. That he is still there at Citi, not fired or voted out, not indicted or even a person of interest. That he and his were able to spread the "rescue" to all the major banks. Not just those that were in need.

    That is smooth. Like a good used car or whole life salesman.
    Not to demean either used car or whole life salesmen with the analogy

  107. BoA lost the USG credit card. Guess who has it now?

  108. Rather the USG lost BoA.

    At some point this is so sad, it's funny.

  109. DR, your attempts to be slick and cute with words, and primarily in respinning your own words, are a sham. Rubin's rule in his world (financial) has been just as catastrophic as Bush's rule in his world (political). You can pretend otherwise, but, at the end of the day, you know as well as i do that that is bullshit.