“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, December 23, 2008

Situational Leadership and Barack Obama

The Situational Leadership method from Kenneth Blanchard and Paul Hersey holds that managers must use different leadership styles depending on the situation. The model allows you to analyze the needs of the situation you're in, and then use the most appropriate leadership style. Depending on employees'competences in their task areas and commitment to their tasks, your leadership style should vary from one person to another. You may even lead the same person one way sometimes, and another way at other times.

A changed man?

Paul Greenberg, Washington Times
Saturday, December 20, 2008

Power not only corrupts, it can educate. It can turn an attractive young politician given to empty slogans (Hope! Change! Audacity!) into a responsible leader wary of rash action. It's easy enough to second-guess those in power; any newspaper columnist can do it. I know. It's another thing to have to go beyond the catch phrases of a campaign and -- Good Lord! -- actually have to assume high office. And take responsibility for fateful decisions.

There will always be those eager to exercise power. They're the ones most likely to abuse it. But there are also those who, once they feel the weight of responsibility gathering about their shoulders, rise above their campaign promises. Reality begins to set in, and they begin to recognize it. The closer they come to power, the more prudent they grow. Another word for this process is maturity.

Which kind of politician is the next president of the United States? Barack Obama's fast-evolving course on the war in Iraq, and how to manage what begins to look like an American victory there, affords hope.

Consider the progress he's made: Mr. Obama began his two-year campaign for the presidency by saying he would end this war now! Later it would be within a definite time: 16 months.

As late as last July, laying out his policy for Iraq, he still sounded like a candidate who would act first and consider the consequences later. "I intend to end this war," he assured his followers. "My first day in office, I will bring the Joint Chiefs of Staff in and I will give them a new mission, and that is to end this war - responsibly, deliberately, but decisively."

The same month, holding a news conference in Jordan, he had to acknowledge that the surge he'd opposed had made Iraq far more secure than he'd imagined it could, but he was still adamant about getting American troops out of Iraq forthwith, saying he'd overrule American commanders if necessary to meet his arbitrary deadline.

He didn't sound like someone who would choose the current administration's secretary of defense as his own. Or pick a tough-minded, strictly business Marine general (and an old friend of John McCain's) as his national security adviser.

Now president-elect, Barack Obama has done both. Reality dawns, and he's proceeded to recognize it by recasting his earlier, incautious remarks. Announcing Cabinet appointments, including still-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, he explained: "I said that I would remove our combat troops from Iraq in 16 months, with the understanding that it might be necessary - likely to be necessary - to maintain a residual force to provide training, logistical support, to protect our civilians in Iraq."

The muted reservations he once attached to his demands for a prompt withdrawal of American troops from Iraq now have replaced the withdrawal itself as a goal.

Barack Obama still cannot bring himself to utter the word victory in connection with Iraq, but he's at least backed away from his promises of what would have been a defeat. To quote the country's once and future secretary of defense, Robert Gates, "Nobody wants to put at risk the gains that have been achieved, with so much sacrifice, on the part of our soldiers and the Iraqis. ..."

So far the antiwar crowd, from to the Impeach Bush crowd, hasn't seemed to much notice, let alone object, to Mr. Obama's slow but steady change of course. Or perhaps, in the presence of an undeniable if unheralded success for American arms, even the angry left has come to recognize that defeat in Iraq may now be a lost cause.

As Barack Obama grows more realistic, the continuity of American foreign policy seems more assured each passing day. There's nothing like power to breed responsibility. And the closer Barack Obama gets to becoming president - and commander in chief - the more responsible he sounds. When it comes to Iraq, the next president of the United States is starting to sound remarkably like ... the current one.

Paul Greenberg is a nationally syndicated columnist.


  1. If life is about association, look to whom Obama is associating with, now.

    If it is about core principles, the failure of GWBush speaks volumes.

    The complete failure of the Bush tenure can be summed up in three words

    Barack Hussien Obama

    The ultimate challenge for any leader is succession. Perhaps Mr Bush and the 25% that still approve of his leadership consider him to be a success, at that, too.

  2. Why almost everything would have turned out better with President Cheney.
    Cheney on Leahy

    (Ignore 'Rat's Quixotic Rants re,
    Gun Safety and Alcoholic Beverages: If we don't, PC Nags will be the death of us.)

  3. Why Leahy Should Go FUCK HIMSELF!
    (apologies to normal, functioning, assholes, across the globe.)

  4. I won't waste my time reading Greenturds template-ridden crap right now.
    Simply a comment on the template:

    Despite the fact that Obama has placed person after person most responsible for fraudulent failure of whatever they were in charge of, BACK IN CHARGE, the template calls for giving Saint Hussein Credit for being sensible, centrist, and middle of the road.

    My ass.

    ...more than half his appointments verifiable crooks, traitors, or traitorus crooks.

  5. The City Where the Sirens Never Sleep

    The graduation rate is 24.9 percent, Detroit schools haven't ordered new textbooks in 19 years.

    In a city often known as the nation's murder capital, with over 10,000 unsolved murders dating back to 1960, the police are in shambles through cutbacks and corruption trials. (They have a profitable sideline, though, as one of the nation's largest gun dealers, having sold 14 tons of used weapons out-of-state.) Their response times are legendarily slow. Their crime lab is so inept that it has been closed. One Detroit man found police so unresponsive when trying to turn himself in for murder that he hopped a bus to Toledo and confessed there instead.

    Detroit schools haven't ordered new textbooks in 19 years. Students have reported having to bring their own toilet paper. Teachers have reported bringing hammers to class for protection. Declining enrollment has forced 67 school closures since 2005 (more than a quarter of the city's schools). The graduation rate is 24.9 percent, the lowest of any large school district in the country. Not for nothing did one frustrated activist start pelting school board members with grapes during a meeting. She probably should've reached for something heavier.

    An internal audit, which was 14 months late, estimates next year's city deficit to be as high as $200 million (helped along by $335,000 embezzled from the Department of Health and Wellness Promotion). With a dwindling tax base--even the city's three once-profitable casinos are seeing a downturn in revenues (the Greektown Casino is in bankruptcy)--the city has kicked around every money-making scheme from selling off ownership rights to the tunnel it shares with neighboring Windsor, Canada, to a fast food tax. It's perhaps unsurprising that Detroit now has the most speed traps in the nation.

    It also has one of the highest property tax rates in Michigan, yet has over 60,000 vacant dwellings (a guesstimate--nobody keeps official count), meaning real estate values are in the toilet. Over the summer, the Detroit News sent a headline around the world, about a Detroit house that was for sale for $1. But it's not even that uncommon. As of this writing, there are at least five $1 homes for sale in Detroit.

    The city council has been such a joke that one former member demanded 17 pounds of sausages as part of her $150,000 bribe. Its prognosis for respectability hasn't grown stronger with Monica Conyers, wife of congressman John Conyers, taking the helm. She has managed to get in a barroom brawl, threatened to shoot a mayoral staffer as well as have him beaten up, and twice called a burly and bald fellow council member "Shrek" during a public hearing.

    How bad is Detroit? It once gave the keys to the city to Saddam Hussein.

  6. When the system is gamed, it's always the same game.

  7. Easing Las Vegas' traffic jams would be one benefit of the new federal economic stimulus package advocated by local and state officials. But Senator Reid explains that the main objective is clear: get people off unemployment and create new job opportunities.

    Well here we go. What A Monumental Farce

    Fleecing the taxpayers so people have a little wider road to drive on to get to the casinos to be fleeced by Wynn and Company.

    Sounds like Detroit could use the money.

  8. Mat, if your urban designs could change the culture of a place like Vegas, I'm all for ya. Can urban design make honest men out of Harry Reid and Steve Wynn? I know, that's asking a lot.

  9. Can urban design make honest men out of Harry Reid and Steve Wynn?


    You don't make honest man of thieves and crooks, you shoot them dead. Them and their entire family, down to the grandkids.

  10. A billion for boulevards in Vegas. That's the ticket.


    Unca Sam's new "Billions For Boulevards" campaign.

  11. WASHINGTON (AFP) — Barack Obama will take the oath as US president on the same Bible used to swear in president Abraham Lincoln, the committee planning his inauguration said in a statement Tuesday.

    The presidential inaugural committee said the Lincoln Bible would be borrowed from the collections at the Library of Congress.

    "President-elect Obama is deeply honored that the Library of Congress has made the Lincoln Bible available for use during his swearing-in," said Presidential Inaugural Committee Executive Director Emmett Beliveau in a statement.

    With Obama's swearing-in on January 20, the historic Bible with its gilded edges and burgundy velvet binding will see its first use during a presidential inauguration since 1861 when Lincoln, the 16th US president, was sworn in.

    "The president-elect is committed to holding an inauguration that celebrates America's unity, and the use of this historic Bible will provide a powerful connection to our common past and common heritage," Beliveau said.

  12. Why not, bob?

    Makes as much sense as US farm subsidies. Billions of Boulevards is as worthy as bank rescues and auto company bailouts.

    I mean, really, Wells Fargo, amongst many others, did not need a life perserver.

    Toyota has booked its' first loss.

    Lincoln, really a Ford, no?

  13. It shall not be long and the public will know just who represents the "Party of Lincoln".

    Certainly seems, to me, that it is Barack Obama who is taking up the Lincoln banner, and flying it high.

    Certainly looks like Obama is going to be a real Republican, after all.

  14. Ford Fusion Hybrid to get 41 mpg city, says EPA

    DETROIT - Ford Motor Co.'s much ballyhooed 2010 Fusion Hybrid will get 41 city miles per gallon and 36 mpg on highways, based on final certification figures from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the company said Monday.

    The move is one of the final steps in getting the vehicle to dealerships next spring. Certification of the vehicle was recently completed at the company's testing laboratories in Allen Park, Mich.

    Ford said that the Fusion Hybrid tops Toyota's Camry hybrid — its main competitor_ mileage by 8 mpg in the city and 2 mpg on the highway.

    The Fusion can travel up to 47 miles per hour using only battery power. After 47 miles, the car's four-cylinder engine turns on to power the car and recharge the battery.

    The Fusion's nickel-metal hydride battery is lighter and produces 20 percent more power than the Ford Escape hybrid. It also devised a way to get 28 percent more power out of the battery cells, said Praveen Cherian, program leader for the Fusion Hybrid.

    "It's not just one thing, but thousands," he said of the improved mileage numbers. "We've optimized the heck out of that vehicle, it's individual components."

    The battery can also tolerate higher temperatures, and Ford has eliminated its battery cooling system in the Fusion, allowing the battery to cool using regular cabin air.

    The company has also improved its regenerative braking system, which captures energy lost through brake friction and stores it for battery usage. Ford said 94 percent of brake friction energy is recovered in the new model.

    The Fusion also includes SmartGauge technology, which helps drivers adjust their driving to get more mileage out of the car.

    Ford unveiled the Fusion Hybrid at the Los Angeles Auto Show last month, along with the Mercury Milan hybrid.

    Did you catch that, Doug? Nickel-metal hydride. Now, we're only 20 years behind.

  15. No, it doesn't make as much sense as farm subsidies and car bailouts. Something is produced in those indusries that are actually consumed or used by people. This doesn't make farm subsidies or car bailouts perfectly sane, just saner than boulevards leading to Steve Wynns casinos.

    "What's good for Circus Circus is good for America!"

  16. We got nearly 38mpg on our trip back east, both highway and city together, in our 200 Nissan Sentra. This new Focus doesn't seem much better than that.

  17. My 2004 Honda Civic LX manual 5-spd Coupe is spec'd at 32/38 mpg on regular unleaded.

  18. Yeah, well, first liar don't have a chance. 45 mpg, and it uses E85

  19. To pay folk not to grow crops, is insane, bob, in a Global economy, with malnutrition a major delemia, even in India, still.

    The Big Three are bankrupt, giving them $17 billion will not change that. Their business model is unsound, bankrupt. Good money after bad, that's all the bailout is.

    Billions for Boulevards, makes perfect sense. The underlaying industry providing jobs and taxes for NV. More than the "Bankrupt Three" provide Detroit City and Michigan.

    Producing products at a loss, and demanding Government subsidies to continue, that is criminal. If NV wants to spend its' share of Federal borrowed money on a proven revenue producing winner, which is what Vegas is for NV, why stop them?

    Only your delusion that not farming and/or producing cars at a loss is more important, for US. Senator Reid will win, you'll lose.

    His side is organized, yours is in shambles.
    Even in he most conservative State, Mississippi, run by Mr Barbour, gambling is considered Industry.
    Learn it, live it, love it.

  20. Santa's Take Direct Situational Leadership--Disable Traffic Cameras in Phoenix, Arizona

    Watch Santas in action, saving you from traffic tickets.

    Actually I think I'm for this. We had a test camera program here and it pissed everybody off. I can understand them in a convenience store. Some kids these days, are making up false license plates of those they don't like, and speeding around town, even going so far as to get a car that looks like the victims from the circle of their friends. :)

    If you got a look alike car, and a real looking fakaroo license, you can cause the courts and your enemies lots of minor trouble.

  21. Compassionate Conservatism for Detroit
    By G. Tracy Mehan, III on 12.23.08 @ 6:07AM

    President Bush's multi-billion bailout of GM and Chrysler, festooned with a fig leaf, a faux restructuring requirement, airily deferred to spring, well into Barack Obama's administration, may be the last great expression of "compassionate conservatism." Yet, it is neither compassionate nor conservative. It certainly isn't going to be very effective from the perspective of the companies, the plant workers, and the American taxpayer.

    What economist Larry Kudlow calls "bailout nation" has come to Motown.

    What the Bush administration has essentially done is hand out many billions of dollars with essentially zero leverage over the final restructuring of the companies including the product lines and platforms, dealerships, UAW wages, benefits and work rules. The so-called conditions are so much hot air. Absent a pre-arranged or "orderly bankruptcy," the Big Two will most assuredly become perpetual wards of the federal government with two of three branches firmly in control of the Democratic Party and, pari passu, the UAW. There will be no true reform or accountability. It is the same old same-old.

    The President's plan extends an immediate $13.4 billion loan-with $4 billion more to come in February-to prevent a "disorderly bankruptcy." This money will come from the previously authorized Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) funds, a source of questionable legal provenance. Is this really what Congress intended?

    Well, we know for sure that is not what Congress intended, because Congress voted down the rescue of the "Bankrupt Two", explicitly voted it down, as per the Rules of the Senate and Congress.

    Socialist subsidies for those bobal favors, nothing for those he abhors. That's not the rule of law, but of men.

    Only it is the "other' that has become the Czar. Building upon the evil that Bush and the last set of Federal Socialists did.

    Welcome to Empire, bob.

  22. It's lack of money, and chaos in places like Zimbabwe, not lack of food supplies, that causes hunger in the world.

    The rationale for crop subsidies has always been to even out the boom/bust cycle of crop production, to keep a more or less even flow of products to the marketplace.

    The CRP is a whole other deal. I'm not really defending it, though it has had some real benefits.

    I say, Billions for Boulevards, and Hundreds for Hookers, too, as I read the hookers are hurting.

    "Las Vegas is what the whole world would have become if the Nazis had won the war."

  23. Actor Donates $100K to Phoenix Police

    Valley native David Spade helps out with department's goal to provide 300 high-powered rifles to patrol officers

    Hollywood actor David Spade has given a $100,000 check to the Phoenix Police Foundation. He contacted Chief Jack Harris' office after seeing a story on Fox News Channel recently that the department was trying to find money to provide 300 rifles to patrol officers, to combat the increasingly heavily-armed gang members that they deal with.

    Spade wanted to avoid the glare of the media spotlight, so he arranged to hand over the check to Mayor Gordon, Police Chief Jack Harris, Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) president Mark Spencer, and Phoenix Police Foundation board president Marc Cavness at the Desert Horizon precinct, before media were notified. (See photos below.) A few hours later, police held a news conference at police headquarters to announce the gift.

    Chief Harris said he's been working with PLEA for several months to try and buy the rifles, but the city's budget crisis has prevented the department from reaching that goal. The AR-15 rifles the department is seeking cost over $2,000 each; Spade's gift will allow the purchase of more than 40 of the guns.

  24. Santas active in Tempe, not Phoenix.

  25. French diplomat: Palestinians received $3 billion in foreign aid in 2008
    Dec. 23, 2008
    Associated Press , THE JERUSALEM POST

    A French diplomat says that the Palestinians have received US$3 billion in foreign aid in 2008.

    Alain Remy, the French consul general in Jerusalem, said Tuesday that $1.8 billion went for the budget of the Palestinian Authority. Another $700 million went to specific programs. Finally, $500 million went to humanitarian assistance.

    At a pledging conference in Paris a year ago, donor countries promised to contribute $7.7 billion through 2010. The money is meant to shore up Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his peace efforts with Israel.

    Some of the money reaches Hamas-ruled Gaza as humanitarian assistance and salaries for Abbas loyalists.

    Got to keep them poor "refugees" put where they are. Cause otherwise, they might head back to Egypt and Jordan. Oh, the horror.

  26. Hope they don't use those new AR-15s on Santa.

    "Back away from that speed camera real slow, Kringle."

  27. How much total aid from all countries do you think it amounts to, Mat, per 'Palestinian'? No that momma Palestinian sees much of it, herself.

  28. US's major ally in SW Asia ...
    It is a well run democratic nation

    By Daniel Lak in Delhi

    The World Bank has said malnutrition affects huge numbers of people in India, especially women and children, despite decades of often effective government action.

    Its report "Wasting Away - The Crisis of Malnutrition in India" blames poverty and low status of women for some of its most shocking statistics - half of all children under four are malnourished, it says, and 60% of women are anaemic.

    Mothers and sisters often forego food in poor families to give husbands and sons more than their share, the report says.

    One of the authors of the report, Mira Chatterjee, says malnutrition on such scale means money invested in education is not used effectively as hungry children cannot study.

    Economic cost

    The report estimates that malnourished workers mean an annual loss of $10 bn in lost productivity.

    The green revolution helped Indian food production

    It praises India's effort to feed its people through agricultural innovation and poverty alleviation schemes, but says population growth, high prices and unemployment often offset well intentioned government programmes.

    The country's huge force of migrant labour suffers acutely from malnutrition according to the report.


  29. "I am worried because our country has suffered many moments of uncertainty. We have suffered a lot, and I was hoping that this time we could at last have an era of calm, peace and serenity."

    The attempted military takeover was condemned by the African Union. Its peace and security commissioner, Ramtane Lamamra, told the BBC: "This is a blatant violation of the Guinean constitution and a violation of African legality."

    Other west African nations will be concerned at the prospect of conflict in Guinea at a time when the region is finding relative stability after years of brutal wars.

    Dictator Dies

  30. How much total aid from all countries do you think it amounts to, Mat, per 'Palestinian'?

    What's $3 billion divide by zero?

  31. As to that other Asian giant ...
    One sign of the poverty is obesity, just as it is, here.

    Dual Burden of Malnutrition among Chinese Children and Adolescents Aged 2–18 Years

    Huijun Wang1, Fengying zhai1, Bing Zhang1, Shufa Du2 and Barry M Popkin

    1 Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety, Chinese CDC, Beijing, China, People's Republic of
    2 Carolina Population Center & Department of Nutrition, UNC-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC


    The increase in overnutrition among children globally has been documented but it is important to note that undernutrition remains as a serious problem. Fifteen-year trends in China were studied among children and adolescents aged 2–18 years with five rounds of the China Health and Nutrition Survey (collected in 1991, 1993, 1997, 2000, and 2004). Age and gender-specific cutoff points for BMI from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) references were used to define undernutrition (BMI < 5 percentiles), and overweight and obesity (BMI 85 percentiles). The results showed that the prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity increased in the past 15 years from 9.1% in 1991 to15.9% in 2004, while the prevalence of undernutrition decreased slowly from 13.5% to 11% during the same period. The prevalence of overweight and obesity increased much faster in rural areas (from 8% to 15.9%) where malnutrition is still prevalent compared to their urban counterparts. The prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased most rapidly in older adolescents (from 2.2% to 10.3%), while undernutrition increased in the same age group as well (from 11.7% to 15.4%). More exploration is needed to understand these increases among both undernutrition and overweight and obesity among adolescents.

  32. Its report "Wasting Away - The Crisis of Malnutrition in India" blames poverty and low status of women for some of its most shocking statistics

    It praises India's effort to feed its people through agricultural innovation and poverty alleviation schemes

    Poverty is the main problem.

    We used to have the Food for Peace Program, or whatever it was called, but I don't know what's with that now. We used to have some program where we'd loan them the money to buy, which basically turned into a give away program, but I don't know what's with that now, either. It's not lack of food in the world, it's inefficient distribution and lack of money to pay, is what I've always read. If we went to boom and bust agriculture, some lean time might come when we couldn't ship overseas even when the situation was catastrophic.
    Crops failed over there, and nothing to ship from here.

    China is a big wheat producer, though it's usually thought of as the land of rice.

  33. You see, bob, it is not the mismanaged and despotic countries that suffer from a lack of foodstuffs.

    It is India and China.

    Together they comprise
    China= 1,330,044,544 (July 2008 est.)
    India= 1,147,995,904

    Almost 2.5 billion people

    As of November 2008, the world's population is estimated to be about 6.7 billion (6,700,000,000)

    Over a third of the world, right there in those two 'well run' countries. Noth are suffering from large scale malnutrition, today.

  34. If we had spent that subsidy money buildig the distribution network, bob, the problem would be closer to a solution.
    Instead we pay corporations not to farm, to maintain supply shortages and keep prices high. Or, to use the accepted terminology, "Stable"

  35. Facts and Figures On Corn, Rice, Wheat

    Both China and India grow more wheat than we do. We're number 1 only in corn.

  36. We're supposed to build a distributtion network in India? In Africa?

    to maintain supply shortages

    What supply shortages? We've overproduced forever. 70 or 80 some % from this area goes overseas. Almost all soft white wheat, and most of the peas and lentils, from here, go to Portland, and get shipped out. I've sold black winter peas to the Pakistanis. Try finding some black winter peas in your grocery store. They, and the pigeons, like 'em, we don't.

  37. Wheat actually reached its old parity rating a year or so ago, at around $15.00 bushel, for the first time in decades. Those prices lasted a few short months, and now we're back down to the $5.00 range, which with the increase in costs, is break even money, or worse, just like always.

  38. But combined, bob, they have almost nine times the population we do and combined they barely produce just a little more than twice the wheat we do.

    As much as we could produce, they could buy. But we pay our farmers not to grow, to maintain higher prices for the domestic buyers.

  39. Why sure, bob, we have to build the distribution networks for our products.

    That is the Russell Company model.

    Only they exported people from China, didn't do much importing, there, other than the opium.

    But the answer is yes, bob, manufacturers are responsible for developing their distribution networks, or at least hiring it done.

  40. The Japanese and Germans had no qualms about building sales networks for their cars, here in the United States.

    It led to them building factories here, out sourcing their domestic high cost labor to the United States.
    Just as we've done, in Mexico.

  41. The idea that a farmer has to vertically integrate, from seed to table, to make money, is not farfetched. The idea that one could be independent of the final user and still make money, funny. Each step has to add value, but without any say in the final product, one has no control of the monies. The fella furthest from the retail deal, he gets the shortest end of the stick. Always.

  42. Bob,

    You need to produce and retail, both.

    But, you're probably done now, I suspect.

  43. But obviously, bob, if the government was going to inject itself into the market, it should do so by trying to expand the market, not trying to limit supply.

    Especially in foodstuffs, where, but for lack of distribution we could save untold numbers of lives and improve the quality of millions more.

    We have no problems in delivering weapons and ammunition to the end users, even to the point that the destruction of hundreds of trucks will not slow US down.

    So it is really just a matter of priorities, guns or butter.

    We do guns, better.

  44. from the Idaho Grain Magazine that came today--

    2008 Farm Act-Where Will The Money Go?

    The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, enacted into law in June 2008, will govern the bulk of Federal agriculture and related programs for the next 5 years. The Act's 15 Titles include administrative and funding authorities for programs that cover income and commodity price support, farm credit, risk management, conservation, export promotion, international food assistance and agricultural development, domestic nutrition assistance, including food stamps, rural development, agriculture and food sector research, accessibility and sustainability of forests, agricultural and rural renewable energy sources, and beginning and socially disadavantaged farmers and ranchers.

    Who benefits from this vast array of programs?

    According to Congressional Budget Office projections, over two-thirds of Farm Act related spending will not go to farmers but to food and nutrition programs to help low-ncome Americans purchase food, and provide food to programs that serve children and the elderly. Less than a third will benefit farmers through commodity programs, crop insurance, and conservation programs. The remainder ( 1 percent ) goes to all other programs, such as trade promotion, farm credit, research and energy programs.

    Pie Chart shows 'Farm Programs Account For About 22 Percent Of Farm Act Budget Allocations'.

    Almost all the states have their own wheat growers or grain growers groups that spend time and money promoting overseas trade.

    On another page--

    Structural Changes to U.S. Food Aid Programming

    The U.S. is the world's top food aid donor and provides the majority of food aid to the World Food Programme(WFP). The bulk of the U.S. food aid programs consist of in-kind donations, providing much needed commodities to hungry populations for direct consumption or for monetization purposes.

    Did you know?

    Wheat Donations are Under Attack. U.S. policy makers have long supported direct food aid donations, which make up about half the world's total food aid and were worth more than $2.1 billion last year. Yet the drumbeat to replace direct donations with csh for local and regional food purchases is increasing and the new Farm Bill includes a pilot program to determine if local and regionl purchase would have the benefits its advocates claim.

    Milling wheat made up one-third of all U.S. food donations in calendar 2007.

    The Global Food Security Act of 2008
    Introduced by Senators Robert Casey (D-Penn) and Dick Lugar (R-IN) proposes to address the humanitarian, security, development, and market impacts of rising food costs and shortages. The bill 1)Creates a "Food Czar", a Special Coordinator for Global Food Security who would be in charge of developing a food security strategy and 2)Authorizes $10 billion over 5 years for agricultural productivity and rural development and 3) Creates a separate Emergency Food Assistance Fund to purchase food locally where appropriate.

    WFP's five year $76 million Purchase for Progress program will build upon local purchase practices, will increase procutivity and market access of 350,000 farmers in 21 countries, and will help smallholder and low-income farmers earn more by supplying food to the WFP's global operations.

    There are more articles along the same lines, I tire of typing.

    I suppose we could criticize Jesus for failing to heal those of his own hometown if we were in the mood to do so.

  45. USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that signup for the Milk Income Loss Contract Program (MILC) begins Dec 22 and will continue through the program's expiration date, Sept 30, 2012.


    USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) issues MILC payments on an operation-by-operation basis up to a maximum of 2.4 million pounds of milk produced and marketed (about 120 cows) from Oct. 1, 2007, through Sept. 30, 2008. The production limit per operation increases to 2.985 million pounds (about 145 cows) for each fiscal year from Oct. 1, 2008, through Aug. 31, 2012.


    All payments in the program are subject to limits in the contract, regulations, and to changes in statutory provisions for payment.

    Began Yesterday

  46. The people have spoken--Putin looks better than Obama bare chested by a vote of---


    34% 34,306

    66% 65,557

    Total Votes: 99,863

  47. Those food subsidy programs, bob, all benefit the producers of the food, do they not?
    By stimulating demand.

    Why I recall the bruhaha over catorgorizing ketsup as "food", back twenty years ago or so. If it was "food" the Federals would pay for the schools to buy it, from Hienz.

    $76 million over five years, to implement some "soft power" reforms in far away places, but let's put that number in comparison to hard costs in Iraq.

    That much is spent, in less than a day.

    Like I said, we do distribute guns, better than foodstuffs.

  48. by Greg Scoblete

    Looked at another way, the "failures" in Iraq and Afghanistan stemmed not from the original missions, which succeeded, but from the presumption that the U.S. was obligated to remain in these countries to "win the peace" by installing Western-approved political leaders and Western-approved political institutions. So now, corruption, sectarianism and authoritarianism in Iraq and Afghanistan are viewed as American failures, instead of standard operating procedure for Iraq and Afghanistan.

    We face a genuinely thorny problem - particularly in Afghanistan, where al Qaeda and Taliban elements would no doubt flow back in as America withdraws. But the alternative - wage a costly, lengthy guerrilla war on behalf of a government that can't exert authority outside of the capital - won't actually protect us either.

    I'd agree the original mission in Iraq was a success, disagree about Afghanistan, though.
    Osama got away, that mission failed. Though we did scatter the Taliban, for a while.

  49. westhawk quotes from and comments about the United States Joint Forces Command released to the public "The Joint Operating Environment"

    In terms of worst-case scenarios for the Joint Force and indeed the world, two large and important states bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and Mexico. Some forms of collapse in Pakistan would carry with it the likelihood of a sustained violent and bloody civil and sectarian war, an even bigger haven for violent extremists, and the question of what would happen to its nuclear weapons. That “perfect storm” of uncertainty alone might require the engagement of U.S. and coalition forces into a situation of immense complexity and danger with no guarantee they could gain control of the weapons and with the real possibility that a nuclear weapon might be used.

    The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police, and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and pressure by criminal gangs and drug cartels. How that internal conflict turns out over the next several years will have a major impact on the stability of the Mexican state. Any descent by the Mexico into chaos would demand an American response based on the serious implications for homeland security alone.

    Yes, the “rapid collapse” of Mexico would change everything with respect to the global security environment. Such a collapse would have enormous humanitarian, constitutional, economic, cultural, and security implications for the U.S. It would seem the U.S. federal government, indeed American society at large, would have little ability to focus serious attention on much else in the world. The hypothetical collapse of Pakistan is a scenario that has already been well discussed. In the worst case, the U.S. would be able to isolate itself from most effects emanating from south Asia. However, there would be no running from a Mexican collapse.

    A rapid collapse of US currency and Mexican sovereignty, resulting in an expansion of the number of States United in America, complete with a new currency.

  50. Might be time to invest in some beachfront in Cabo.

  51. The summit was to be followed by a bilateral meeting between France and Brazil, in which the two were to discuss a joint building of a nuclear-powered submarine for the Brazilian Navy. The trade volume between Brazil and the EU was about 77 billion dollars in the first 11 months this year, an increase of 26 per cent over the same period last year.

    That would make the EU Brazil's most important trade partner, followed by the US.

    EU countries also head the list of investors, with 18.4 billion dollars in 2007, the equivalent of 54.6 per cent of all foreign investments in Brazil.

    Joint Crisis Postition

  52. "Capitalism is based on a 17th century assumption, that there exists an endless supply of materials, commodities, and labor that can and should be marshaled to create continual economic growth."

    This assumption is fast approaching a wall, or is that a false perception?

  53. Fast-forward to today. Will trade continue its post-World War II boom?

    The authors argue that global trade has peaked again -- independent of the world-wide recession that has so constricted consumption. The demand for computers, cars and appliances fueled the increase in global trade because companies learned how to produce cheaply manufactured products that could be tailored to meet local market demands.

    In other words, manufacturers finally figured out how to commoditize the modern equivalents of yesterday's washing machines. Computers, iPhones and automobiles are now all global goods, easily tailored and distributed to meet local market needs.

    Workplace Worry

  54. There have always been the ideas of:
    Thomas Robert Malthus used the idea of diminishing returns to explain low living standards. Population, he argued, tended to increase geometrically, outstripping the production of food, which increased arithmetically. The force of a rapidly growing population against a limited amount of land meant diminishing returns to labor. The result, he claimed, was chronically low wages, which prevented the standard of living for most of the population from rising above the subsistence level.

    He's been dead now, since 1834 and we still await the "Malthusian catastrophe" or we're amongst it.

  55. The force of a rapidly growing population against a limited amount of land meant diminishing returns to labor

    Does he mean farm labor? Isn't that 180 from what supply/demand says?

  56. At some point Malthus must be right, but we're in a technology age now that he didn't, couldn't foresee. We're screwed if the machines fail, or the fuel runs out.

    Flipped a cigarette butt that I thought was out in my trash can, before running to the store, come back, room is full of smoke, wife pissed:(

  57. Those food subsidy programs, bob, all benefit the producers of the food, do they not?
    By stimulating demand.

    Everybody wins, the genius of our Department of Agriculture. Ask Earl Butz, The Devil of the Play

  58. Charlie Winters, Declared a Hero by Israel, Granted Posthumous Pardon By Bush

    Aided in getting three B-17's to Israel despite an arms embargo, which helped in 1948 to turn the tide, was convicted and served some time. Interesting story.

  59. Is Obama going to abandon laser weapons and missile defense? Maybe and the commenters don't like the idea at all.

  60. According to the Obama-mania press, Obama is surrounding himself with a bi-partisan cabinet full of intellectual giants with a hundred years in collective expertise unlike any other in human history. What cabinet selections are they looking at?


    Homeland Security - In a post 911 America under ongoing threat of terror attacks, including those of the nuclear, bio or chemical sort, Barack Obama did not choose a Secretary of Homeland Security who has experience in any type of security. He did not choose someone with intelligence gathering, defense, strategic planning, national or even real political expertise.


    Secretary of Commerce - Clinton Administration retread and Democrat New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson was named head of the U.S. Commerce Department. Richardson is a career politico with no commerce (business) experience whatsoever on his résumé.


    Secretary of Education - Hyde Park Democrat crony Arne Duncan has been named the new Secretary of Education. He does have expertise in the field of education. Unfortunately, he has the distinction of overseeing the fifth worst public education system in America today, Chicago.

    Obama Cabinet

  61. Flipped a cigarette butt that I thought was out in my trash can, before running to the store, come back, room is full of smoke, wife pissed:(

    I'm more upset that you're smoking in the first place. :(

  62. Michael Kanellos
    Coal to Methane via Bacteria Company gets $75.9 Million

    Microbes, clean coal, underground digestion. How could you not like Luca Technologies.

    The company–which has discovered a strain of microorganisms that can convert coal into methane–has raised $75.9 million in a third round of financing, according to VentureWire. (subscription required.). In a nutshell, the microorganisms eat coal and methane comes out the other end, which is really the same thing that occurs when cows eat grass. Burning methane is cleaner than burning coal. Thus, Luca's bugs can cut down the fumes and pollution from what is probably the inevitable continued consumption of coal.

    The microbes can also eat dirty shale oil. They are anaroebic too.

    This sort of biogenic production of methane is already taking place underground naturally, the company has said in published papers. Luca's goal is to commercialize and standardize it. Microbes are the central players in a number of clean tech companies: Amyris, Genomatica, Cambrios, ZeaChem, Mascoma.

    Cleanliness, however, is dependent on two factors: can Luca get its microbes to make coal inside underground coal seams so they can avoid mining and can Luca capture the other gases that come out of the microorganisms?

    In a lot of ways, Luca resembles Laurus Energy, which recently got money from Mohr Davidow. Laurus digs holes into the earth and converts coal to synthetic gases underground. No mining and dangerous gases are captured. However, Laurus uses industrial equipment and not microbes.


  63. Charlie Winters, Declared a Hero by Israel, Granted Posthumous Pardon By Bush

    Why now? I wonder what has changed.

  64. I know there are those who will argue that the United States is better off now than it has been in years.

    I'm not sure who these people are, but I would bet they have their hands in and are stirring the pots of big industries all over the country.

    But for us common folk who don't make beaucoup bucks, Obama does offer "change we can believe in".

    Majority Across Nation

  65. Good heavens: Vatican rehabilitating Galileo
    Church recasting the most famous victim of its Inquisition as a man of faith

    VATICAN CITY - Galileo Galilei is going from heretic to hero.

    The Vatican is recasting the most famous victim of its Inquisition as a man of faith, just in time for the 400th anniversary of Galileo's telescope and the U.N.-designated International Year of Astronomy next year.

    Pope Benedict XVI paid tribute to the Italian astronomer and physicist Sunday, saying he and other scientists had helped the faithful better understand and "contemplate with gratitude the Lord's works."

  66. Galileo Galilei is going from heretic to hero.

    Why now? I wonder what has changed?


    Something deep is stirring, Mat.

    With me, I myself am currently de-habilitated, here at home.

  67. The microbes can also eat dirty shale oil. They are anaroebic too.

    I hope there's some kind of fail/safe mechanism with those microbes, least they go wild, become unstoppable, eat up all the petrocarbon products of earth. Can they turn them off?

  68. de-habilitated

    That sounds very frightening to me, Bob. And I'm not that easily frightened.

  69. Can they turn them off?

    I don't know. Maybe there needs to be some kind of critical catalyst involved to get the process going.

  70. Gnite, Mat, I'm hittin' the sack.

  71. G'nite, Bob.

    Btw, I do believe in angels.

  72. The Spade Files, (cont)

    Phoenix Cop's Unusual Method of Delivering Ammo.

    Comedian, Valley Native David Spade Donates $100,000 to the

    Phoenix Police Department to go toward the purchase of about 50 AR-15 rifles

    David Spade doesn't seem too interested in settling down, but his love affair with Arizona continues.

    The who'da-thunk-it ladies man has donated $100,000 to the Phoenix Police Department to go toward the purchase of about 50 AR-15 rifles.

    "These guys need to be able to do their jobs, and I am just happy I could help," the Rules of Engagement star, who took action after hearing that some local cops had

    to pay for their guns out of their own pockets, said in a statement.

    A police spokesman said the department was very grateful for the monetary boost and that the rifles would be doled out to area patrollers.

    And this isn't the first time that Spade, who grew up in nearby Scottsdale and graduated from Arizona State University, has opened his checkbook for local causes.

    In August, he gave $10,000 to the Humane Society of the White Mountains in Lakeside, where his mother is a volunteer, to remodel its dog park and

    build a new puppy yard.

    Collective aw. No wonder the ladies like him.

    Prior to that, he gave $25,000 to the family of a Phoenix cop killed in the line of duty and $10,000 to his alma mater, Saguaro High School,

    according to the Arizona Republic.

    by Natalie Finn
    Brad B.

    " Yes David Spade is from Arizona. I went to school with him at Saguaro High in Scottsdale Arizona. I knew of him but was not friends with him. I should post up

    his pics from the year book.

    Valley native David Spade helps out with department's goal to provide 300 high-powered rifles to patrol officers.


    Actor Donates $100K to Phoenix PD to Help Buy Rifles for Patrol ...

    Actor David Spade Buys 40 Rifles for the Phoenix Police Department - Valley native David Spade helps out with department's goal to provide 300 high-powered rifles to

    patrol officers - Gift will provide for the purchase of 40 rifles

    Hollywood actor David Spade has given a $100,000 check to the Phoenix Police Foundation. He contacted Chief Jack Harris' office after seeing a story on Fox News

    Channel recently that the department was trying to find money to provide 300 rifles to patrol officers, to combat the increasingly heavily-armed gang members that

    they deal with. Spade wanted to avoid the glare of the media spotlight, so he arranged to hand over the check to Mayor Gordon, Police Chief Jack Harris, Phoenix Law

    Enforcement Association (PLEA) president Mark Spencer, and Phoenix Police Foundation board president Marc Cavness at the Desert Horizon precinct, before media were

    notified. (See photos below.) A few hours later, police held a news conference at police headquarters to announce the gift.

    Chief Harris said he's been working with PLEA for several months to try and buy the rifles, but the city's budget crisis has prevented the department from reaching

    that goal. The AR-15 rifles the department is seeking cost over $2,000 each; Spade's gift will allow the purchase of more than 40 of the guns.

    Mayor Gordon thanked Spade for his donation, and Harris commented, "Mr. Spade has stepped forward and given a gift to our officers of increased safety, is what he

    has really given." The chief noted that while rifles are usually issued for use by SWAT teams and other special operations, it's the patrol officers who are usually

    the first on the scene of a major crime, which may involve confronting heavily-armed gang members.


    Nicollette Sheridan "Full-On Making Out"

    with David Spade

    Three months after calling it quits with crooning fiancé Michael Bolton, Nicollette Sheridan is turning her attention to David Spade.

    The two got hot and heavy over the weekend at L.A.'s Luau, where Sheridan celebrated her 45th birthday by "full-on making out" with Spade, People reports.

    Though Sheridan and Spade arrived separately and started dinner in different booths, they couldn't resist each other for long, eventually holing themselves up in a

    single booth. "They cuddled and kissed," an eyewitness says.

    Later in the evening, Spade "winked at her and stood by her side" while Sheridan — who was joined by Desperate Housewives castmates Neal McDouough, Kyle MacLachlan,

    Felicity Huffman, and Huffman's husband William H. Macy — blew out the candles on her specialty cake, which said "Happy Birthday Princessa."

    But don't send out a new couple alert yet — despite their PDA, a source says the two are not dating.

    Spade's past flings have included Lara Flynn Boyle, Julie Bowen, Heather Locklear and Playmate Jillian Grace, with whom he has a baby daughter.

    Do you think this was a random hookup or something more? And why does Spade have such a way with the ladies?

  73. Correction,
    Marble Falls Police

  74. I hope there's some kind of fail/safe mechanism with those microbes, least they go wild, become unstoppable, eat up all the petrocarbon products of earth. Can they turn them off?

    They're everywhere, Bob. And have been for a long time. Their cousins plague jet planes by thriving on a diet of jet fuel. And their second-cousins eat natural crude seepage from sea floor vents in the Santa Barbara Channel.

    One reason they haven't eaten up all your petrocarbons by now is probably related to their anaerobic metabolism being very, very slow...hence I'm wondering what Luca has come up with to entice $75 million from venture capitalists...unless maybe it's not venture capital at all, but some global ngo administered slush fund created to burn off carbon cap and trade revenues after the goreans skimmed their brokerage.

    Still, if it's for real, let's cheer them on, as long as they can prove what they've got without sucking at the government teat.

  75. This comment has been removed by the author.

  76. - Natural gas -

    Natural gas is a gaseous fossil fuel consisting primarily of methane but including significant quantities of ethane, propane, butane, and pentane—heavier hydrocarbons removed prior to use as a consumer fuel —as well as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, helium and hydrogen sulfide.[1]

    Fossil natural gas is found in oil fields (associated) either dissolved or isolated in natural gas fields (non-associated), and in coal beds (as coalbed methane).

    When methane-rich gases are produced by the anaerobic decay of non-fossil organic matter (biomass), these are referred to as biogas (or natural biogas). Sources of biogas include swamps, marshes, and landfills (see landfill gas), as well as sewage sludge and manure by way of anaerobic digesters, in addition to enteric fermentation particularly in cattle.

    Since natural gas is not a pure product, when non-associated gas is extracted from a field under supercritical (pressure/temperature) conditions, it may partially condense upon isothermic depressurizing--an effect called retrograde condensation. The liquids thus formed may get trapped by depositing in the pores of the gas reservoir. One method to deal with this problem is to reinject dried gas free of condensate to maintain the underground pressure and to allow reevaporation and extraction of condensates.

    Natural gas is often informally referred to as simply gas, especially when compared to other energy sources such as electricity. Before natural gas can be used as a fuel, it must undergo extensive processing to remove almost all materials other than methane. The by-products of that processing include ethane, propane, butanes, pentanes and higher molecular weight hydrocarbons, elemental sulfur, and sometimes helium and nitrogen.

  77. Nothing, bob, that's what is going on, with regards the Supremes and Obama.

  78. This comment has been removed by the author.

  79. 'Rat:
    Did you notice the Magazine is in backward's on the Marble Falls Policewoman's weapon?

  80. Not before you mentioned it, I was to amused by David Spade being an alumni of my high school, to pay much attention to the lady cop.

  81. Miller says he was that way w/women way back in the Sat Night Days when Spade looked about 15 years old.

  82. - Tribute To Bobby Hatfield -

    On November 5, 2003 Hatfield died at the Radisson, in the middle of downtown Kalamazoo, Michigan, apparently in his sleep. In January 2004, a toxicology report concluded that an overdose of cocaine had precipitated a fatal heart attack.

    The Sun, a UK based tabloid daily newspaper caused controversy with its reporting of Hatfield's death, namely with the front page headline of:
    'You've lost that livin' feeling'

  83. Hey, I'm in favor of Obama team's plans to merge Pentagon and NASA space programs!
    Bet RWE will be too.

  84. 'Rat served as an advisor to the So. Korean Parliment
    One of the tactical ploys he taught them is shown in this video.

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