“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."

Friday, December 19, 2008

What Technology Gives, Technology and Corruption Takes Away.

How much more rot and corruption is out there? For years the mantra was to let markets make the decisions and corrections. Did markets drive oil to $150 and down to close to $30 within months? How many companies have been raided and dismantled by nothing more than greed? Were the private equity guys any different from the boys in the hood stripping copper wires from vacant buildings?

Steady on, I fear there is worse ahead. 


Polaroid, Following Parent Company, Seeks Bankruptcy Protection

By Michael Bathon

Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) --

Polaroid, 2 1/2 months after the founder of its parent company was arrested on fraud charges, filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors.

The 70-year-old photography-film maker said it made the filing to “facilitate” its financial restructuring. The Minnetonka, Minnesota-based company didn’t list a range of assets or debt in Chapter 11 documents filed yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Minneapolis. Its parent, Petters Group Worldwide LLC, filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 11.

“The financial-structuring process and the bankruptcy filing are the result of events at Petters Group Worldwide, the company that has owned Polaroid since 2005,” Polaroid said in a statement distributed by PR Newswire yesterday.

Federal prosecutors accused Tom Petters, founder of the Petters Group, of leading a more than $2 billion fraud at the company. Petters Group was also indicted. Polaroid said it isn’t a target of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s probe.

Lorrie Parent, a Polaroid spokeswoman, didn’t immediately return a call for comment left after business hours.

Petters resigned as Petters Group chief executive officer Sept. 29 after the FBI received information that at least 20 investors may have been victims of a lending scam and raided the company’s Minnetonka headquarters. Petters has been jailed since his arrest on Oct. 3.

“Polaroid has entered bankruptcy with ample cash reserves sufficient to finance the company’s reorganization,” it said in the statement. “The company has not sought, nor does it expect to seek additional debtor-in-possession financing.”

Court-Appointed Receiver

The case was filed by Douglas A. Kelley, Petters Group’s court-appointed receiver. Kelley put Petters Group into bankruptcy after a judge ordered its assets to be frozen.

Sun Country Airlines Inc., another unit of Petters Group Worldwide, sought bankruptcy protection Oct.6 for the second time in seven years. Sun Country said it filed for protection from creditors because of the raid on Petters Group and to retain control of its assets rather than have them frozen and under a receiver’s control. The company said its assets and debt are each less than $100 million.

Sun Country said its 20 largest creditors without collateral backing their claims are owed about $256.8 million. Petters Capital LLC is listed as the largest unsecured creditor, with a claim of $184 million.


  1. Here's a book should should be in everyone's holiday gift giving plans. Takes aim at solar and wind, and gives nuclear a good rational write up. We've got the technology that could give enormously to us all, but as it is, we are led by charlatans, fools, and corruptocrats.

    Is Obama Vulnerable To Blackmail?

    You be your sweet bippy.

  2. What, exactly, is a bippy?

    And what would make a bippy sweet?

    And, in what kind of a game can one bet a bippy?

  3. Dan Rowan was in The Maltese Bippy so that might explain the Laugh-in angle, if not what a bippy is, actually.

    Everytime it snows in Las Vegas, Al Gore sheds a tear.

  4. bip⋅py   /ˈbɪpi/ Pronunciation [bip-ee]

    –noun, plural -pies. Slang. an unspecified part of the anatomy (usually used in the phrase You bet your (sweet) bippy).

    nonce word of uncert. orig.


    It seems no one really knows for sure just what a bippy is. But, we must all have bippies, as it doesn't seem gender specific. This narrows it down a bit. Unless it's sort of a generic, kind of deal.

  5. We ought to get some levity today, at 2 pm central time. Blago is holding a news conference.

  6. Could one have a sour bippy?

  7. Bobal: Could one have a sour bippy?

    They have 35 feet of feminine hygiene shelf space in Safeway devoted to curing that "not so sweet" bippy. Also known as cooter.

    Xena fans by state

  8. The AP now has Franken up by 1. So that's it. Frankenfurter wants Coleman to concede in the interest of state unity, that we put all this division and strife behind us.

  9. Krugman's op-ed seems relevant to the headline post:

    "The Madoff Economy

    Published: December 19, 2008

    The revelation that Bernard Madoff — brilliant investor (or so almost everyone thought), philanthropist, pillar of the community — was a phony has shocked the world, and understandably so. The scale of his alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme is hard to comprehend.

    Yet surely I’m not the only person to ask the obvious question: How different, really, is Mr. Madoff’s tale from the story of the investment industry as a whole?

    The financial services industry has claimed an ever-growing share of the nation’s income over the past generation, making the people who run the industry incredibly rich. Yet, at this point, it looks as if much of the industry has been destroying value, not creating it. And it’s not just a matter of money: the vast riches achieved by those who managed other people’s money have had a corrupting effect on our society as a whole.

    Let’s start with those paychecks. Last year, the average salary of employees in “securities, commodity contracts, and investments” was more than four times the average salary in the rest of the economy. Earning a million dollars was nothing special, and even incomes of $20 million or more were fairly common. The incomes of the richest Americans have exploded over the past generation, even as wages of ordinary workers have stagnated; high pay on Wall Street was a major cause of that divergence.

    But surely those financial superstars must have been earning their millions, right? No, not necessarily. The pay system on Wall Street lavishly rewards the appearance of profit, even if that appearance later turns out to have been an illusion.

    Consider the hypothetical example of a money manager who leverages up his clients’ money with lots of debt, then invests the bulked-up total in high-yielding but risky assets, such as dubious mortgage-backed securities. For a while — say, as long as a housing bubble continues to inflate — he (it’s almost always a he) will make big profits and receive big bonuses. Then, when the bubble bursts and his investments turn into toxic waste, his investors will lose big — but he’ll keep those bonuses.

    O.K., maybe my example wasn’t hypothetical after all.

    So, how different is what Wall Street in general did from the Madoff affair? Well, Mr. Madoff allegedly skipped a few steps, simply stealing his clients’ money rather than collecting big fees while exposing investors to risks they didn’t understand. And while Mr. Madoff was apparently a self-conscious fraud, many people on Wall Street believed their own hype. Still, the end result was the same (except for the house arrest): the money managers got rich; the investors saw their money disappear.

    We’re talking about a lot of money here. In recent years the finance sector accounted for 8 percent of America’s G.D.P., up from less than 5 percent a generation earlier. If that extra 3 percent was money for nothing — and it probably was — we’re talking about $400 billion a year in waste, fraud and abuse.

    But the costs of America’s Ponzi era surely went beyond the direct waste of dollars and cents.

    At the crudest level, Wall Street’s ill-gotten gains corrupted and continue to corrupt politics, in a nicely bipartisan way. From Bush administration officials like Christopher Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, who looked the other way as evidence of financial fraud mounted, to Democrats who still haven’t closed the outrageous tax loophole that benefits executives at hedge funds and private equity firms (hello, Senator Schumer), politicians have walked when money talked.

    Meanwhile, how much has our nation’s future been damaged by the magnetic pull of quick personal wealth, which for years has drawn many of our best and brightest young people into investment banking, at the expense of science, public service and just about everything else?

    Most of all, the vast riches being earned — or maybe that should be “earned” — in our bloated financial industry undermined our sense of reality and degraded our judgment.

    Think of the way almost everyone important missed the warning signs of an impending crisis. How was that possible? How, for example, could Alan Greenspan have declared, just a few years ago, that “the financial system as a whole has become more resilient” — thanks to derivatives, no less? The answer, I believe, is that there’s an innate tendency on the part of even the elite to idolize men who are making a lot of money, and assume that they know what they’re doing.

    After all, that’s why so many people trusted Mr. Madoff.

    Now, as we survey the wreckage and try to understand how things can have gone so wrong, so fast, the answer is actually quite simple: What we’re looking at now are the consequences of a world gone Madoff. "

  10. we are led by charlatans, fools, and corruptocrats

    That's what the vaunted Republicanism is all about. The corruption is built in. First, with voter manipulation. And then, by the fusion of the monied elites and political power. All the rest just follows logically from there. It's not a coincidence that the Soviet imperial political system was modeled after that of the US.

  11. Yep, I had one of those 'swinger' cameras, back in the day. Remember that little green "yes" light in the view finder.

    That must have been forty years ago.

  12. Mark Felt Sr., the associate director of the FBI during the Watergate scandal who, better known as "Deep Throat,"is dead.

    So, how come he was the only one at the FBI that knew?

  13. Mr. Chávez Tries Again
    With an economic crash in sight, Venezuela's strongman calls another referendum on his tenure in office.

    Friday, December 19, 2008; A34

    THE FUTURE does not look bright for Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Last month, opposition candidates won control of the country's three most populous states and the two largest cities. The price of Venezuela's heavy oil has dropped below $35 per barrel, which is 40 percent below what the government says it planned for in next year's budget and less than half of what independent analysts say Mr. Chávez needs to sustain his heavy spending on projects such as the nationalization of domestic industries, purchases of Russian weapons and subsidies to clients including Fidel Castro and Daniel Ortega. Already, Venezuelans are experiencing inflation of more than 30 percent, shortages of basic goods and the world's second-highest murder rate. In less than five weeks, the inauguration of Barack Obama will remove Mr. Chávez's favorite foil -- George W. Bush -- and replace him with a president who may be more popular in Venezuela than Mr. Chávez himself.

    What to do? Mr. Chávez could have moderated his policies and reached out to his opposition. Instead he is rushing to stage another referendum on a polarizing constitutional amendment that would remove the limit on his tenure in office. The self-styled "Bolivarian revolutionary" lost a similar vote last December, and polls show that only about a third of Venezuelans now favor such a measure. So why insist on this new vote, which could take place as early as February? Evidently, Mr. Chávez sees his opportunity to turn himself into a president-for-life slipping away along with the opportunity to lead a new bloc of authoritarian and anti-American states in Latin America.

    In theory, advocates of democracy in Venezuela might welcome this referendum as a way to decisively stop Mr. Chávez's attempt to turn the country into a 21st-century Cuba. The problem is that elections in Venezuela are no longer free and fair. Mr. Chávez has turned national television into a state propaganda outlet, and the Miami Herald reported Sunday that the government spent tens of millions of dollars to buy votes in the recent state and local elections. The state election authority, which is controlled by Mr. Chávez's loyalists, delayed the announcement of his defeat in last year's referendum; reliable sources say the president conceded only after he was told by military commanders that they would not put down protests against a falsified result. The official results, showing the margin of Mr. Chávez's loss, have not been released.

    Mr. Chávez's campaign means that the Obama administration is likely to find Venezuela in turmoil as it takes office. The caudillo has taken to threatening his domestic opponents with arrest or military action -- and both history and the polls say he cannot win this referendum without force or fraud. While any U.S. attempt to influence the vote would probably be counterproductive, Mr. Obama ought to make clear that any chance that Mr. Chávez has of rapprochement with his administration will disappear if he corruptly entrenches himself in power.

    Oh, to be in Caracas in the coming year...

    One can't have everything, though, can one?

  14. A: Of course, he wasn't. The rest just kept quiet.

  15. Bush Approves $17.4 Billion Auto Bailout

    Published: December 19, 2008

    WASHINGTON — President Bush announced $13.4 billion in emergency loans on Friday to prevent the collapse of General Motors and Chrysler, and said another $4 billion would be available for the hobbled automakers in February. The entire bailout is conditioned on the companies undertaking sweeping reorganizations to show that they can return to profitability.

  16. "President Chavez' leadership is needed for much longer, until ... the revolution is consolidated," assembly president Cilia Flores said in an address.

    What could possibly be standing in the way of *that* long-awaited moment. Buddy.

  17. Have had that hamburger yet trish? Good to be Stateside?

  18. Why those Imperialist Norte Americanos and their cronies in Colombia, trish. That would be senor Flores most likely response.

    The evil oil companies that have driven down oil prices, just to destablize Hugo and Senor Putin.

    Imagine that Iran's budget for their crude sales, much like Chavez's, is not $35 per barrel.

    No need for a war with Iran, they will be defeated, just as the Soviets were. Just as Mr Putin has relearned the lesson of the 1980s.

    Could be just one of the reasons the money supply crisis was manufactured. Mr Bush really being the master poker playing strawman for US, from the Skull & Bones contingent of elitists.

    Mr Kerry bypassed in this round of power player appointments, as well. Skull & Bones will be out of the lime light, for now.

  19. I've not had The Burger, yet, ash. I have had just about everything else that's not nailed down and is of some nutritional value. High elevation being an appetite suppressant/metabolism booster - and therefor marvelous, if unintentional, diet plan - I can afford to for this one, devil-may-care month.

    It's always nice to be home. Always. It's a friggin' Atlantis.

    They were lined up by the quarter mile for vistors' visas at our embassy down there last week. No other embassy gets that. Not even close.

    If we didn't exist, we'd have to be invented.

  20. Med cables cut again

    With oil headed for $25 a barrel the Somali Pirates gotta make a living somehow. What better way than to cut off their brother Arabs' access to bittorrent. "You don' get to pirate your Swedish orgy movies 'til you pay the real pirates, ya landlubber scalawags! Argh!"

  21. "No need for a war with Iran, they will be defeated, just as the Soviets were."

    I have been promised the uttermost effort at counter-and-contain. If he fails, we're changing the locks on the apartment before he gets back.

  22. "No need for a war with Iran, they will be defeated, just as the Soviets were."

    roger that.

  23. Madoff couldn't have made off with all those goods without a lot of help, that's what I think. He must have had a lot of accountants, etc., working right along with him. Technical support, so to speak.

  24. That's a good point Bobal. It'll be interesting to watch as the story gains more detail.

  25. They say, in the published reports, that his staff was quite small, on the hedge fund floor.

    His outside auditing accountant, a three person firm.

    How the physical mailngs and what nots were handled, Statements, etc. is left untold. But would those staffers even know of the fraudulent activities, even if they were in-house employees.

  26. Yes, how tightly can one man maintain the books especially at that scale? He may have made some regulatory reports, if nothing else a tax statement. I've been following a case here in Toronto of Garth Drabinsky who is up on charges for having cooked the books. Him and his right hand man are up. He basically booked liabilities as assets and browbeat his staff accountants to provide the reports to purchasers of the company. He stiff some high profile US folks.

  27. Have everything compartmentalized, with no one but the principle and the trusty accountant seeing the entire picture.

    Doubts could be reaised, but hey, it's dad ...

    Or so the story goes, today.

  28. Blago comes out swinging at the press conference, gonna fight, fight, fight. All praise to the presumption of innocence and due process.

    I imagine he's doing what his lawyer told him to do, put up a good front, for now.

  29. With the economy tanking, and Congress asking auto execs to tighten belts, they quietly give themselvess a holiday Pay Raise For Congress

    Nothing new here.

  30. $500 million to Big Bill "Bubba" Clinton.



    December 19, 2008

    Now that Bill Clinton has released the list of his 205,000 donors who have given close to $500 million to his library and foundation, it is clear why he resisted releasing the list while his wife was running for president.

    Now, compelled by the Obama transition team to make it public as a condition of his wife's appointment as secretary of state, it becomes clear that the list is a virtual encyclopedia of conflicts of interest for the husband of a senator - to say nothing of the husband of an incoming secretary of state.

    Particularly troubling are the massive donations from Arab governments in the Middle East.

    Pardon us for looking such generous gift horses in the mouth, but it is hard to imagine so many governments, monarchs and businessmen in the Middle East giving money unless it was with some hope of a political return. Will that return now come with the appointment of Sen. Clinton as secretary of state?

    How can Hillary Rodham Clinton mediate and negotiate conflicts in the Middle East impartially when her husband's library and foundation - over which he has total control - have been bankrolled by the very nations with whom she must negotiate?

    The list reveals another key center of conflicts of interest in Kazakhstan, the former Soviet republic, now home to some of the world's greatest mineral deposits and ruled by a corrupt dictator, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who, according to The New York Times, has all but quashed political dissent.

    Bill Clinton visited Kazakhstan and met with its president on Sept. 6, 2005, accompanied by Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra.

    Soon after, Giustra was awarded a highly lucrative contract to mine uranium there. Now, lo and behold, Frank Giustra turns up having given the library and foundation between $10 million and $25 million and the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative of Canada gave $1 million to $5 million more.

    And Clinton got $1 million to $5 million from Lakshmi Mittal, the fourth-wealthiest person on the Forbes billionaire list and a member of the Foreign Investment Council in Kazakhstan.

    In addition, Clinton further fished in troubled waters by taking $1 million to $5 million from Victor Pinchuk, the son-in-law of the controversial former president of the Ukraine.

    Given the complexities of US policy toward the former Soviet republics in Central Asia, it is hard to see how this massive and incestuous relationship cannot but complicate Hillary's independence.

    One of the largest donors to the library and foundation was UNITAID, an international organization largely controlled by France, which donated more than $25 million. And the conflicts of interest are not all just foreign. Corporate bailout recipients and recipient wannabes donated to the Clinton fund. They include AIG, Lehman, Merrill, the Citi Foundation and General Motors.

    And, almost as an afterthought, the list reveals a donation of at least $250,000 from Denise Rich, presumably in return for her ex-husband's presidential pardon.

    How could a US senator possibly serve dispassionately while her husband was collecting money from these donors on this kind of scale? And how could we have almost elected a president without realizing these conflicts existed? And how on earth can a secretary of state function with these conflicts hanging over her head?

  31. You'll get a kick out of this, bob, especially as how it relates to your last link

    Let's 'Restructure' Washington While We're at It
    Congress is at least as unresponsive to consumer demand as Detroit.


  32. This comment has been removed by the author.

  33. Seperate accounts, bob.

    It worked for John and Cindy McCain.
    She was able to collect hundreds of thousand of dollars from Charles Keating and it not effect her husband and his influence was not peddled.

    That was and is The Standard.

    Bi-partisan at that.

    All that is different about the Clintons is the scale of the money, but the principle of seperate accounts remains the same.

  34. Looks to me, Rat, that anybody with a lick of sense should get a government job:)

    I agree the Farm Bill is all screwed up now. Payments should go only to active farmers, and there should be a real needs test, even then. I'd think the goal should be to get more active farmers back on the land, not this sending checks to absentee landowners.

  35. Dick still does not realize that New Yorkers do not want Senators that serve dispassionately, oh no, New Yorkers want passion in their Senators.

    The folks in PA may feel the same, Chris Matthews hops so.
    The more time he spends around Pat Buchanan at MSNBC the more the idea of entering politics entices him.

  36. Speaking of Pat ...

    When an icon of American industry, Harley-Davidson, was being run out of business by cutthroat Japanese dumping of big bikes to kill the "Harley Hog," Reagan slapped 50 percent tariffs on their motorcycles and imposed quotas on imported Japanese cars. Message to Tokyo. If you folks want to keep selling cars here, start building them here.

    Fear of Reaganism brought those foreign automakers, lickety-split, to America's shores, not any love of Southern cooking.

    Do the Republicans not yet understand how they lost the New Majority coalition that gave them three landslides and five victories in six presidential races from 1968 to 1988? Do they not know why the Reagan Democrats in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan are going home?

    The Republican Party gave their jobs away!

    How? By telling U.S. manufacturers they could shut plants here, get rid of their U.S. workers, build factories in Mexico, Asia or China, and ship their products back, free of charge.

    Republican globalists gave U.S. manufacturers every incentive to go abroad and take their jobs with them, the jobs of Middle America.

    And, for 30 years, that is what U.S. manufacturers have done, have been forced to do, as their competitors closed down and moved their plants abroad in search of low-wage Third World labor.

    It's Herbert Hoover time in here, Vice President Cheney is said to have told the Senate Republicans -- as they prepared to march out onto the floor and turn thumbs down on any reprieve for General Motors.

    In today's world, America faces nationalistic trade rivals who manipulate currencies, employ nontariff barriers, subsidize their manufacturers, rebate value-added taxes on exports to us and impose value-added taxes on imports from us, all to capture our markets and kill our great companies.
    And we have a Republican Party blissfully ignorant that we live in a world of us or them. It doesn't even know who "us" is.

    We need a new team on the field and a new coach who believes with Vince Lombardi that "winning isn't everything. It's the only thing."

  37. While at home they opened the borders to illegal migration and stagnated the payroll in the construction trades at 1970's levels, in real dollars, unadjusted for inflation.

    At least here, in CA and NV, the three States I am most familar with.

  38. So, just today I meet this Indian fellow, a retired Army Col.

    Across Seven Seas: The Memoir of a War Veteran - by Colonel Virendra Swarup, Virendra Swarup - 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 332 pages

    Across Seven Seas ... the Chief of Indian Army s tenure: 1978-80 My posting order had come to join an Independent Armored Brigade HQ as Deputy Assistant ...

    He was an armor man and we discussed the first battles he fought as a young Lt., in Pakistan.

    Across Seven Seas Chapter 13

    He said that the ISI and the Pakistani Army were definately a State within a State and unaccountable to the elected government. He thought Pakistan would implode, eventually.

    Interesting fellow.

  39. Another piece of Pat:

    McKiernan says the situation may get worse before it gets better. Gates compares Afghanistan to the Cold War. "(W)e are in many respects in an ideological conflict with violent extremists. ... The last ideological conflict we were in lasted about 45 years."

    That would truly be, in Donald Rumsfeld's phrase, "a long, hard slog."

    America, without debate, is about to invest blood and treasure, indefinitely, in a war to which no end seems remotely in sight, if the commanding general is talking about four years at least and the now-and-future war minister is talking about four decades.

    What is there to win in Afghanistan to justify doubling down our investment? If our vital interest is to deny a sanctuary there to al-Qaida, do we have to build a new Afghanistan to accomplish that? Did not al-Qaida depart years ago for a new sanctuary in Pakistan?

    What hope is there of creating in this tribal land a democracy committed to freedom, equality and human rights that Afghans have never known? What is the expectation that 54,000 or 75,000 U.S. troops can crush an insurgency that enjoys a privileged sanctuary to which it can return, to rest, recuperate and recruit for next year's offensive?

    Of all the lands of the earth, Afghanistan has been among the least hospitable to foreigners who come to rule, or to teach them how they should rule themselves.

    Would Dwight D. Eisenhower — who settled for the status quo ante in Korea, an armistice at the line of scrimmage — commit his country to such an open-ended war? Would Richard Nixon? Would Ronald Reagan?

    Hard to believe. George W. Bush would. But did not America vote against Bush? Why is America getting seamless continuity when it voted for significant change?

  40. WTF, Google News has the NYTimes leading with over 70% of the stories?!

  41. Corruption?

    As it turns out, Lynn Vincent and Robert Stacy McCain wrote a whole book on the subject, Donkey Cons: Sex, Crime and Corruption in the Democratic Party. They listed every major criminal or ethics case involving members of the House and Senate, 1975-2005, and counted 46 Democrats to 15 Republicans in these scandals.

    That is a ratio of 3.06 to 1. Since Democrats slightly outnumbered Republicans, on average, over that time, let's call the ratio 3 to 1. Or Democrats are only 200% more corrupt than Republicans.

    Democrats Are Crooked As Hell

    As one poster pointed out, this doesn't even count guys like Charlie Rangel, who everybody knows has been a crook for years, though kinda likeable fellow, who will probably get off.

    And now we've elected a man who probably isn't even eligible to be President who arose from the sewers of Chicago.

    Well, Blago says he's innocent, and I quess he is, technically speaking, until he's convicted, or at least until he spills his guts for a plea deal.

  42. America, without debate, is about to invest blood and treasure, indefinitely, in a war to which no end seems remotely in sight, if the commanding general is talking about four years at least and the now-and-future war minister is talking about four decades.

    - Good ol' Pat

    Obama was pretty up front about his desire to focus on Afghanistan. If GWB was being punished, war-wise, it wasn't because we'd grown weary of or cynical about that particular conflict. It was the lingering contempt for the undertaking and conduct of The Bad War.

    We've been pouring troops into Afghanistan all year. Was there debate? I must've missed it.

    What are we likely to do? The central government is so corrupt that it almost makes the gang in Baghdad look like pikers. It'll stand or fall on its own; we'll cut that umbilical cord and work with the police and judicial system (where applicable) as well as with the medical services, and with the Afghan Army less so. We'll focus more on high value targets and less on killing Joe Schmoe, who will simply have to be wooed.

    Many Republicans may now do a 180 and declare that they don't really like ambiguous, open-ended conflicts in unpromising places after all. Sadly, they don't deserve to be taken seriously.

  43. The same questions that were asked in Iraq will begin to be asked of Afghanistan.

    Who are we fighting there?
    What are we fighting them about?
    What will the US gain?
    Where are we fighting them?
    Why are we still fighting them?
    How will we win?

    If the enemy is allowed to find sanctuary in Pakistan, then the war in Afghanistan cannot be won. The two are really a single area of operations. If the enemy cannot be pursued and destroyed, if the enemy cannot even be adequately defined to include the Pakistani, then yes, support for the 'Good War' will fall off, too.

    There will be no long term support from the US public for the 'Long War', no matter who the CiC is.
    The position that Gates occupies is a loser, with real Americans.

    It is not the locales of the 'wars' but the strategies utilized to win them that lose favor, when those strategies fail to accomplish the mission, as percieved by the public.

    The accepted mission is to win by destroying the enemy, ASAP, not rebuilding societies and cultures with Combat Arms.

  44. You should not like google, bob. It is an extension of the Democratic political machine. It's management going through the revolving door, to political power and influence.

    But then, where is the alternative?

    Why does it not gain market share?

    Ask Jeeves.