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

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why Prices are Falling Everywhere

Hedge funds were the glamour toys of the investment world. They were risky, profitable inscrutable and unregulated. Billions were made by tycoons who traded and hedged industries, commodities and ultimately the entire world financial system. The games are over with the last gasp being $150 barrel oil which we were told was strictly demand driven. Blame for the financial collapse has been focused on the sub prime lending for homes and clearly that has been one component, but there is a lot of smoke out there that suggests that the blame belongs elsewhere.

Tomorrow Congress will huff and puff.


From Times Online

November 12, 2008
Hedge funds lose $100bn in October
Miles Costello

As much as $100 billion was wiped off the value of hedge fund assets last month as panic-stricken investors rushed to withdraw their capital and the worst markets in living memory blew a giant hole in performance.

Investors redeemed about $60 billion of funds in October, while see-sawing market conditions accounted for the remaining $40 billion fall, according to EurekaHedge, the Singapore based industry research firm.

The drop in assets under management means that, worldwide, hedge funds probably manage about $1.6 trillion on behalf of wealthy individual and professional institutional investors.

This is down from a peak last year of about $2 trillion at the top of the hedge fund boom and comes amid predictions that a rash of funds will collapse before the end of the year.

Experts have predicted that as many as one in four hedge funds will be forced to shut within the next five to six weeks, with hundreds of billions eventually being wiped off assets.

Hedge funds have suffered particular trauma in the wake of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Wall Street investment bank that was a big backer of funds, in mid-September.

Many also found themselves the wrong side of AIG, the embattled insurer that has been bailed out twice by the US Government.

Almost all of EurekaHedge's main performance indices recorded steep falls in October, leaving some recording a loss of as much as 44.75 per cent for the year to date.

The research firm, which tracks hedge fund strategies worldwide, found that less than half of the funds held on its database made money last month, while a similar amount were in the red over the year so far.

EurekaHedge's composite hedge fund index, an indicator of the industry's performance as a whole, lost 3.3 per cent in October.

EurekaHedge said that this was a strong monthly performance when set against a 19.1 per cent drop in the MSCI World Index and an 18.3 per cent drop in the Reuters CRB index over the same period.

"This was against the backdrop of heightened expectations of a global economic slowdown and further stress in the credit markets, which led to a spike in volatility and harsh movements across asset classes," EurekaHedge said.


  1. We could have stopped this with housing. You still can, but you cannot solve anything without solving housing first.

  2. I want to repost this, cause it really pisses me off--if you think the democrats are 'for the poor, or the black man' you sadly mistaken--

    bobal said...
    Maybe we should just go back to the land, and create villages.

    But we can't here, because the democrats created the '40 acre rule' which says you can only have one home on 40 acres in our county.

    I always thought this was bs, and was against it, and thought it was just a measure to lock other people out, brought to you by our local democrats, who are supposed to be 'for the poor people', but really are not, when you check it out closely.

    They just want to get 'professors salaries' and keep other people away, is what I think.

    And not do anything other than talk to themselves.

    Wed Nov 12, 06:05:00 PM EST

    2164th said...
    We could have stopped this with housing. You still can, but you cannot solve anything without solving housing first.

    Wed Nov 12, 06:06:00 PM EST

    bobal said...
    I think the '40 acre rule' is a bunch of unconstitutional bs.

    What black man from the inner city, or other minority, can possibly buy 40 acres here?

    None, that I know of.

    Which was brought to you by the local democrats.

    Lovers of equal opportunity, in the abstract.

    Like Ash.

  3. no portfolio no pain?

    as imagined wealth is wiped off the accounts of multi-billionares, oil sheiks, less than honest, greedy speculators those with little "in the bank" and less in debt will be the real winners...

    Oil $150 a barrel? Give me a break...

    Coffee at 5 dollars for a cup of joe?


    82k cars that are PRODUCTION?


    maybe it's going to be painful for all those "professionals" who raped the system and now hold many degrees and whose hands never saw a blister...

    I aint bitter...

    I am laughing my ass off....

    BTW, business is just fine...

    I run VERY little on credit...

    maybe one invoice out at a time with a selected vendor or two...

    otherwise I have a 1985 300 sd benz with lovely rust and 307k miles and no car payments...

    the subdivision i live in? filled with many a NEW and shiny cars, all with hugh payments and who's homes both parents trudge off to work to make payments sitting in nice cubicles...


    life is funnier than shit.....

    I pack my "undisclosed food stuffs" and I laugh...

    boy am I laughing at all those billions evaporating...

  4. "40 acre rule" deuce, just zone the undesirables out, and call yourself an environmentalist.

    It's simple, and has worked so far.

    They can live in the inner cities, and the professors can live here.

    It's great, if you are one side of the divide.

  5. I actually know what I am talking about, though many of you others might not believe me.

  6. I've been in some of these discussions.

    Just keep them away, was what was said.

  7. We had a very long sustained boom aided by socio-political meddling (Fannie, Freddie). In some markets, home prices appreciated at 25% per year. In general and in specific markets, home prices became unaffordable to most of America. When the market finally reached the tipping point, a correction began. The question is how long will the correction will last. Obviously, it will take longer in the bubble areas where prices appreciated the most. So far, in my area, sellers continue to price their homes unrealistically high.

    Short of buying out the difference between appraisals and mortgages (McCain's plan) how do we solve the housing problem? Short answer. As long as home prices remain inflated, we don't.

  8. Obama’s illegal alien auntie: The rest of the story; Update: Open-borders lobby demands enforcement freeze

    I hope Barack Obama remembered to thank George Bush on behalf of his illegal alien aunt this week.
    The lame-duck Republican president did the Democratic president-elect a generous — and dangerous — favor right before Election Day: Putting politics above homeland security, the Bush administration ordered immigration authorities across the country to halt all deportation enforcement actions until after the campaign season was over.
    - Malkin

    A Nation of Laws, Indeed!
    Think Bush, Johnny Sutton, Ramos, and Campeon.

    Not too hard to figure why things didn't work out well for our Party and what once was our Nation.
    Update: Open-borders lobby demands enforcement freeze

  9. If YOU still think GWB was or is for us, and for the USA YOU are sadly mistaken, LaBob!

  10. As the economy tanks more sellers will be forced to sell for less than the anticipated "killing". So far though, too many retirement funds are tied-up in that equity. Once enough "fire sales" occur in a given area, the sad reality will sink in.
    Interesting thing about the economy: my wife's employer is having a banner year. Maybe consumers haven't heard about the bad economic numbers.

    I am interested (not enough to dig though) about the profits of cell phone companies. I think those could be a bell weather as to the real state of the economy. When we see the dropping profits of cell companies, cable providers, satellite tv, pest control, security monitoring, family restaurants, etc., we'll know the hurt is real.

  11. Well, I think that if anyone wants to get in on a real conspiracy, they might think about this '40 acre rule' and who brought it to you, and who is behind it.

    It's great, if you have some land. All the others can just 'go away'.

    But, I didn't vote for it.

    You can hide behind the name 'environmentalist' and keep your racism under the cover.

  12. Avoid the charge, avoid the Truth, to what end?

  13. Still believe in Santie Claus too?

  14. 40 acres for every professor, and a mule.

    And talk about how unfair America is, and the dimwits will believe you.

  15. I've seen the same thing here in Florida, bob. Here's it's called "growth management" and the comprehensive plan. It should be called "growth impediment". What the government geniuses didn't know was that they were causing a crisis of "unaffordable housing." When they finally had to acknowledge the fact, they forced the developers to subsidize their government solution. What they effectively did was make the real estate unaffordable. Then they have the gall to tax the property at .022%. So, even if a young couple can buy a $150K home (not available here) their taxes are over $3,000 per year.

  16. The scary thing is that this mentality has been rewarded with majorities in Congress and control of the White House.

    The Nanny State. Embrace her, my friends. Your neighbors have.

  17. My posts are invisible to LaBob!

  18. One man is more responsible for all that than any other, Whit:

  19. Yes, whit, but I've actually been in some meetings where the truth really came out--'we don't want them here'.

    It's wasn't the old farmers that said this, but the university people.

  20. The Big Three.
    American Express.

    whit wants his bailout, too.

  21. Of course, bob. I've seen it happen in North Carolina and Florida. The immigrants move into the neighborhood (or the state) and immediately want to block anyone else from moving in.

    I bet ol Doug was that way in Howareya. :)

  22. One man is more responsible for all that than any other, Whit: GWB

    Yes, Doug. He is a very evil man. That George, jr.

    But he's gone now and he can't bother Johnny anymore.

  23. Fox News reports that 1/3 of home sellers sold at a loss in the last year.

    Also, Best Buy's sales dropped 7.6% last month.

  24. Where my ancestors grew up was a little village called Lenville. Maybe thirty or forty folks. Maybe even less than that, I'm not sure. When the automobile came along, most went to the little bigger cities.

    But now, maybe some would want to come back, and kind of live close to home.

    But now, we couldn't even create a Lenville, which some of us might want to do.

    Because we are zoned out.

    I think this whole idea is very wrong. I don't think there is a thing wrong with a few people getting together and making a little burg somewhere.

    If that is what is what they want to do, and they can make it, let them do so.

  25. They might even build a church or synagogue there.


    An update on the bailout
    Tyler Cowen

    Gordon Tullock is a smart man:

    When the government said it would spend $700 billion to rescue the nation’s financial industry, it seemed to be an ocean of money. But after one of the biggest lobbying free-for-alls in memory, it suddenly looks like a dwindling pool.

    Many new supplicants are lining up for an infusion of capital as billions of dollars are channeled to other beneficiaries like the American International Group, and possibly soon American Express.

    Of the initial $350 billion that Congress freed up, out of the $700 billion in bailout money contained in the law that passed last month, the Treasury Department has committed all but $60 billion. The shrinking pie — and the growing uncertainty over who qualifies — has thrown Washington’s legal and lobbying establishment into a mad scramble.

    The Treasury Department is under siege by an army of hired guns for banks, savings and loan associations and insurers — as well as for improbable candidates like a Hispanic business group representing plumbing and home-heating specialists. That last group wants the Treasury to hire its members as contractors to take care of houses that the government may end up owning through buying distressed mortgages.

    The real lesson here is about the massive fiscal stimulus on its way. Beware, and don't be tricked by people simply postulating how the money "should" be spent.

    November 12, 2008 at 10:35 AM in Current Affairs

  27. Someone pointed out that it would have been cheaper just to give everyone a million dollars.

  28. Drudge:

    Democrats prepare to move forward with investigations of the Bush administration... Developing...

    Oh joy.

  29. The FT:

    ...costly stimulus measures and support for the car industry would infuriate conservatives already seething about the $700bn financial sector bail-out. But a veto would leave Mr Bush open to accusations of obstructing Democratic efforts to revive the economy and save carmakers from bankruptcy.

    Mr Obama has said that he would approve the measures immediately after he takes office if they do not get done beforehand. The decision for Mr Bush, therefore, is whether to delay the inevitable as a matter of principle.

    The dispute threatens to strain relations between the Bush administration and Mr Obama’s transition team, despite the president’s promise of a smooth handover.

    White House officials say the president stopped worrying about his approval rating long ago and is now focused solely on what is best for the country.

    But even Mr Bush must have winced at fresh opinion polls this week showing that 76 per cent of people disapprove of how he is handling his job – making him the most unpopular president since approval ratings were first measured more than six decades ago.

    By comparison, Richard Nixon had a 66 per cent disapproval rating when he resigned as president during the Watergate scandal.


    Um. Wow.

  30. "Although it is hard to imagine" we do well to imagine it:

    Worse than Bush?

    by Ted Galen Carpenter

    Ted Galen Carpenter is vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, is the author of eight books on international affairs, including Smart Power: Toward a Prudent Foreign Policy for America (2008).

    Added to on November 7, 2008

    This article appeared in National Interest (Online) on November 7, 2008.

    The central theme of Barack Obama's successful campaign for the presidency was his call for "change"—albeit often with few details. There is an imperative need for change in America's foreign policy. Even during the cold war, Washington's strategy led to security free-riding by allies and clients, caused the republic to blunder into ill-advised military crusades, most notably the Vietnam War, and imposed unnecessary financial burdens on taxpayers.

    Matters have become even worse since the end of the Cold War. U.S. forces have intervened in places as diverse as Panama, Somalia, Haiti, the Balkans, and the Persian Gulf, and Washington's formal and informal security commitments have expanded enormously. America's strategic over-extension and muddled priorities reached new levels under George W. Bush, with the utopian goal of implanting democracy in the Middle East and other unpromising regions.

    America's foreign policy cries out for drastic change, but it remains uncertain whether president-elect Obama will bring the right kind of change. Many of his foreign-policy positions are sketchy, and in those cases where he has provided details, there are as many reasons for uneasiness and skepticism as there are for hope and confidence.

    He shows no willingness, for example, to reconsider Washington's commitment to the hoary North Atlantic alliance. Indeed, he advocates further expansion of NATO, including membership for Ukraine and Georgia, despite the certainty of provoking Russia. Obama has praised NATO's interventions in both Bosnia and Kosovo during the Clinton years, and he embraced the February 2008 decision to grant Kosovo independence over Moscow's vehement objections.

    His attitude is most unfortunate, since many U.S. policies reek of obsolescence or misplaced priorities. For example, Obama's reflexive enthusiasm for NATO ignores mounting evidence that the alliance lacks either the cohesion or strategic rationale to play a worthwhile security role in the twenty-first century. NATO's bumbling performance in Afghanistan is only the most visible example. Worse, adding small-security clients creates dangerous liabilities for the United States as the leader of the alliance. An obligation to defend Georgia, for instance, could entangle America in the deservedly obscure dispute between Tbilisi and Moscow over the status of Georgia's secessionist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. President Obama should ask himself how risking a confrontation with a nuclear-armed power over such meager stakes would benefit America.

    Although it is hard to imagine, Obama's foreign policy could prove even worse than that of the Bush administration.

    It is on the issue of humanitarian intervention, though, that Obama's attitude—and that of some of his likely foreign policy appointees—is most worrisome. His article, "Renewing American Leadership," in the July/August 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs included a dubious and troubling assumption. He insisted that "the security and well-being of each and every American depend on the security and well-being of those who live beyond our borders. The mission of the United States is to provide global leadership grounded in the understanding that the world shares a common security and a common humanity." That assumption about the alleged indivisibility of destinies is not materially different from the sentiments that President Bush expressed in his second inaugural address: "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands."

    But that assumption is both erroneous and dangerous. Taken to its logical conclusion, it means that America can never be safe or prosperous unless the dozens of chronically misgoverned countries are (somehow) transformed into free, democratic states. That is a blueprint for endless nation-building missions and perpetual war. Given the strains created by the recent debacle in America's financial system, it is also an ambitious mission that American taxpayers can ill-afford.

    Although it is hard to imagine, Obama's foreign policy could prove even worse than that of the Bush administration. He flirts with the notion that the guiding principal of U.S. foreign policy should be to promote, defend and enforce respect for "human dignity" in the world. As an operational concept, such a standard would have to improve several notches just to reach vacuous. At best, it would entail Washington becoming the nag of the planet, constantly hectoring other governments to improve their behavior. At worst, it could become an excuse for lavish foreign-aid expenditures and military interventions to protect the downtrodden in failed states or even in functioning countries with repressive regimes. Yet most of the probable arenas for such interventions entail little or no connection to America's tangible interests. Instead, this country would embark on expensive and potentially dangerous humanitarian crusades that would bleed America's armed forces and drain the treasury.

    It will not be an improvement if an Obama administration withdraws American forces from Iraq only to launch new interventions in such strategically and economically irrelevant snake pits as Darfur and Burma. That is not the kind of foreign-policy change the American people want or need.

    If President Obama adopts a security strategy confined to defending vital American interests, he will win—and deserve—the gratitude of the American people. If, on the other hand, he embraces a nebulous crusade to secure "human dignity" all over the world through the instruments of U.S. foreign aid and military power, he will undermine his own administration and ignite yet another round of public frustration about the unwillingness of political leaders to focus on America's best interests and well-being. That is the fundamental choice facing President Obama as he enters the Oval Office.

  31. This bears repeating:

    It is on the issue of humanitarian intervention, though, that Obama's attitude—and that of some of his likely foreign policy appointees—is most worrisome. His article, "Renewing American Leadership," in the July/August 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs included a dubious and troubling assumption. He insisted that "the security and well-being of each and every American depend on the security and well-being of those who live beyond our borders. The mission of the United States is to provide global leadership grounded in the understanding that the world shares a common security and a common humanity." That assumption about the alleged indivisibility of destinies is not materially different from the sentiments that President Bush expressed in his second inaugural address: "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands."

  32. ...or:
    "Family Values do not stop at the border."

  33. "He insisted that "the security and well-being of each and every American depend on the security and well-being of those who live beyond our borders. The mission of the United States is to provide global leadership grounded in the understanding that the world shares a common security and a common humanity."

    Why do we need a mission statement? Why do we need a national mission? The more I think about devolution, the more I like it.

  34. ...unless you are tasked with enforcing the law, then neither you nor your family has value in the eyes of the all-knowing, all-caring one that came before THE One.

  35. I wish they cared as much for Bob's small US towns and villages. These guys would get bigger thinking smaller.

  36. It must be something about the mirrors in the vestibule.

  37. "Why do we need a mission statement? Why do we need a national mission?"

    Because it appeals to our vision of ourselves as Americans. Trust me. You're sour on it at the moment.

    The moment won't last.

  38. I would settle for a slimmer nation.

  39. Let me say that again: It *appeals* to us. Profoundly so.

  40. 2164th:

    "Why do we need a mission statement? Why do we need a national mission? The more I think about devolution, the more I like it."

    hmmm, unless it is the feds weighing to buy stocks?

  41. This week is our semi-annual alphabetic view of the U.S. economy, with a political twist. Global ABCs will follow, presumably on November 19

    Arrogance - the perils of power for the Republican Congressional leadership during 1994-2006 made a mockery of prior Republican values. Such arrogance cost them dearly in the '06 and '08 elections.


    Bush - very low approval ratings limited his ability to "lead" the past 2-3 years. He will soon join Carter, Bush Sr., and Clinton in "retirement."

    Congress (Democratic) - extending a hand across the aisle to the minority party will be critical to making progress under the Obama banner. Congressional leaders must not forget that their public approval rating is even worse than W's.

    Domestic ABC's

  42. Speaking of villages.



    "We've got to do this because the cost of inaction is so high to communities, to workers, to companies," said Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio. He was among many lawmakers worried that an industry collapse would be devastating for everything from school districts to small businesses.

    Even if just GM collapsed, the failure could bring down the other two companies -- and even the U.S. operations of foreign automakers -- as parts suppliers run out of money and shut down.

    Concern about the automakers hit new heights Friday when GM and Ford reported they spent a combined $14.6 billion more than they took in last quarter. GM said it could run out of money by the end of the year.

    Ford said it could last through 2009, but only because it arranged a hefty credit line last year.

    All this comes after tight credit and economic uncertainty in October reduced U.S. auto sales to their lowest level in 25 years -- with no rebound in sight.

    If the industry failed, among the hardest-hit communities would be Lordstown, Ohio, a village of 3,600 people about 50 miles east of Cleveland that has been home to a GM factory since 1966.

    If the plant closed, Lordstown would lose up to 70 percent of its budget, a scary scenario that proponents of a multibillion dollar bailout say would be repeated across the industrial Midwest.

    "If they went completely under, obviously it would financially devastate us," said Michael Chaffee, a school teacher and Lordstown's part-time mayor. "It would be catastrophic for our whole area."

    Without GM and nearby parts factories, he said, Lordstown's $4.2 million budget would take about a $3 million hit that would almost certainly require layoffs of police and drastic cuts in park programs.

    A study by the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor estimated that the failure of Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. would eliminate up to 3 million jobs, including those at parts suppliers and smaller businesses that rely on the automakers.

    State, local and federal governments would lose more than $150 billion in tax revenue over three years, the study said.

    Next week, Congress plans to consider giving the auto industry part of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout during a lame-duck session.


  43. Paulson, who is gearing up for a summit of the Group of 20 leaders of industrialized and emerging economies this weekend, also moved to shift the blame away from the United States for the crisis.

    He said the problems grew out of "persistent and growing global imbalances" and "excessive risk taking and a global search for return."

    "Those excesses cannot be attributed to any single nation," he said.

    Mortgage Assets

  44. Kevin Rudd called Bush and asked him if he was going to the G20 meeting.

    Bush said, 'What's the G20?'

  45. Devolution does not come with its own currency. People are selling shares to buy government securities, which come with little or no return. The government makes money on capital gains when stocks increase in value. It loses when they decline. Let me do the math for you. Assume a sound company such as Boeing at $45 per share trades on a normal volume of 8,000,000 shares. It is paying a 3.5% yield. On down days the government purchases 800,000 shares. it finances the sales with treasury bonds or bills, at the present time around 3.5%. There is no cost to the government. Assume it accumulates 2 days of volume or 16 million shares and establishes an up tick on the stock of ten percent, but Boeing has issued 732 million shares. The value of Boeing in all portfolios including the government increases by $3 billion. The creates capital gains. Should the government keep the shares in social security and sell them at a later date for a profit, it could buy back government debt, use it in general revenue, or reduce social security taxes.

  46. I think one of the fundamental choices for Republicans coming up is whether to go over to a 'loyal opposition mode' or go over to a ranting, screaming, ripping, tearing 'KGO' kind of attack that I've listened to for many years against Bush.

    Republicans are usually more civilized than democrats, when it comes to attacking. But maybe we should change.

    If we are to go the 'KGO' kind of attack, we will really have to develope some new skills, as we aren't really good at that.

    The whole stock market is collapsing now, coming apart at the seams, with the democrats and Obama coming in, whereas it was pretty solid under Bush.

    This is all Obama's fault, costing Americans their savings. Before he even gets in office, with his grow the economy by raising taxes ideas.

    If you are a bitcher, you've got a lot to look forward to.

    Obama is a disaster for our nation, as the headlines show, before he even gets in office.

    He doesn't have a clue what he is doing, with his Alinsky, Ayers, Wright background.

    And his voting to kill little babies that miraculously surivive an abortion.

    What a prick.

    Only a prick could possibly vote for something like that.

    Obama is a disaster.

    Go 'KGO' mode.

    Call him what he is, a man with no vision at all.

    You can't blame Bush anymore. He's outta there.

    And we've got a black racist white hating dimwit (shown from his attendence at that black racist white hating dimwit church all those years) coming in.

    End Affirmitive Action Now.

    And I don't even have any kids in college, but it's the best policy, for the country as a whole. Let them all compete equally now. No more excuses. Because there aren't any.

  47. There are no more excuses anymore.

    Let them all compete equally.

  48. In math, science, language, law, let the most competent rise to the top.

    Be they Asian, black, white, Jewish, whatever.

  49. Gates is apparently staying on.

  50. Good for Gates I quess.

    But I'm glad we've gotten this behind us, where everything was my fault, when really nothing of it was.

    End Affirmitive Action Now.

    Why should the Asians or the whites or the Jews be penalized for scoring higher on a test score?

    What's the point of that?

  51. "Affirmitive Action" is just a nice way of saying "Fuck it, the tests don't matter"

    And everybody knows it.

  52. Obama also won backing from an unexpected quarter on Wednesday, when defeated Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin told CNN she would be honored to help Obama in any way if called upon.

    "It would be my honor to assist and support our new president and the new administration, yes," she said.

    US Vice President Dick Cheney will meanwhile welcome vice-president elect Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, for a private meeting at his official Naval Observatory residence on Thursday, Cheney's spokeswoman Megan Mitchell said.

    US Government

  53. If you're happy, I'm happy Trish.

    You never answered my question about how Colombia might be affected by the new administration.

  54. I'm glad he's staying, bob.

    Answered before I could ask.

    What of Mullen?

  55. I know all this stuff sounds harsh, but it really is the truth, we should not penalize any kid because of his race.

    Enough of it.

  56. Over recent years, Russia’s hand in international affairs has been strengthened by its windfall from energy exports, and by the aggressive leadership of Vladimir V. Putin as president, and then as prime minister to his chosen successor, Dmitri A. Medvedev. Russia remains strong, though buffeted by the global economic downturn and falling energy prices, and its former Soviet neighbors express fears of a return to overwhelming Russian dominance.

    During an evening news conference here, Mr. Gates said his discussions had included the war between Russia and Georgia as well as the vast cyberattack on Estonia in 2007 that officials here say came from Russia.

    Mr. Gates announced that the United States would become a sponsor of an Estonian institute working on computer defenses and Internet security, and he cautioned Russia not to see any threat in the collaboration.

    Expansion of NATO

  57. Get used to the bailouts, at least until the government runs out of money. And big government, fueled by your taxes, will definitely make a comeback next year, if not sooner.

  58. We've elected a guy that doesn't know when life begins, and votes against a bill to give a little baby that survives an abortion some


  59. Colombia: I'm depending on Gates and the Chiefs to make the case. And I anticipate the case will be successfully made, if it hasn't already. The warm, fuzzy *political* relationship, though, will probably not continue. You take what you can get.

  60. Barack Obama, who swept the presidential election on a mantra of change, apparently believes it is Washington old-timers who are best equipped to steer the country in a promised new direction.


    The first order of business will be the economic crisis that was the top concern of voters in the Nov. 4 election.


    "People evolve," said Rick Barton, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    "They shouldn't be seen as who they were in the mid-1990s or whenever they last served," he said.


  61. Ol' Baby Killing Obama, that's Hope and Change!


    I don't care what that color he is.

    He's a prick of the first order.

  62. Yeah, wish I'd been wrong when I warned of this unwinding about 18 months ago. It is a tragedy for all.

  63. In Oz:

    The government also announced on Thursday tougher disclosure rules on traditional short-selling, a proposal that has angered sections of the finance community which say bans on short-selling only starve the stock market of badly needed liquidity.

    Australia's hedge fund industry said it supported plans to outlaw "naked" short selling and to introduce greater disclosure in covered short selling, but called for regulators to lift a blanket ban on shorting.

    "If the ban is lifted on non-financial stocks next week, investors will see better price discovery, deeper markets, closer bid-ask spreads, and over time, less volatility," Alternative Investment Management Association chairman Kim Ivey said.


  64. I mean really, really what have we come to, when we elect a man that would deny some help to a little baby struggling there, struggling there, in the laundary room or where ever. For its very life. Having survived a botched abortion.

    Abortion is bad enough. But then to kill the survivor? Just let the poor kid die?

    What the hell have we come to?

    Have we no shame at all?

    But, that's what we've got as our new President.

    A 100% percent total asshole.

  65. Hayden should stay on, he's earned it in spades, but won't. Hopefully he has some serious input into his replacement.

  66. I think our country is melting down from the insides, Trish. The signs are all over.

    I don't think it matters much who is in charge of the Department of Defense.

    If we can't give babies that survive a botched abortion a chance at life, I think we are finished.

    And should be.

  67. Bob, I don't think we're melting from the insides. But I've had two depressing conversations today and there are definitely those in your camp. So to speak.

    I just get tired of being angry and morose.

  68. I think Habu is right about a lot of things, and I am beginning to understand his anger.

    Kept under control, of course.

  69. CHRIST, can't we even try to save the babies that make it through an abortion?

    Jesus, save us.

  70. Obama, that asshole, wan't to offer the little aborted baby a "comfort room' while dying.

    Christ, what a piece of shit.

  71. This comment has been removed by the author.

  72. A 'comfort room'.

    You try that, when you are starting out.

    Barack Obama is a piece of crap of a human being.

  73. A 'comfort room'

    That's in the testimony from

    He actually said that.

  74. Goodnight Trish, but I can't get that little baby out of my mind.

  75. ah, hell, after having thought it over, and considerging that my brother was a doctor, and my sis a med tech, who almost got roughed up by some niggers in Oakland, California, maybe the best thing to do is let the niggers abort, abort, abort themselves.

    They do a good job of that.

  76. A group of 'niggers' almost assaulted my sis one day, when she was walking to the hospital there, in Oakland,Caliornia, where she worked. To help them out, but they didn't know it it.

    Niggers, grow up now.

    Get a meaningful degree and do something.

    Get civilized.

    You can do it!

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