“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."

Monday, January 05, 2009

Is Putin Mentally Stable?

I doubt it and have for some time. From any rational standpoint, It is difficult to understand what Putin is trying to accomplish. He certainly is not encouraging anyone in their right mind to bet the farm on Russian gas being there when you need it.

Russia has very little to export other than arms and energy. Europe has no need for Russian arms and is dependent on Russian energy because it was thought that Russia was a reliable supplier.

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. The EU is trying to low key this, but I'll bet there are a lot of French nuclear plant salesman revisiting their contact lists. 

No responsible political leadership can count on Russia  as a reliable supplier of  energy. 


Europe faces energy crisis as Vladimir Putin cuts Russian gas supply
Europe has been plunged into an energy crisis after Vladimir Putin ordered Russia's state-run gas company to cut supplies by 20 per cent.

By Miriam Elder in Moscow and Bruno Waterfield in Brussels Telegraph
Last Updated: 10:38PM GMT 05 Jan 2009

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at the opening ceremony of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum in Moscow. Photo: EPA
As temperatures dropped below zero across much of Europe, the Russian prime minister instructed the head of Gazprom: "Cut it - starting today."

The cut was ordered to punish neighbouring Ukraine, which Russia accuses of topping up its own gas supply by siphoning off energy meant for European consumers and sent through its pipelines.

But Naftogaz, Ukraine's state-run gas company, said that it was European Union countries, including Britain, that would feel the effects of an increasingly bitter East-West energy row.

"Gazprom has in fact cut volumes of transit gas to European customers. The Russian company has therefore placed under threat the delivery of gas to European countries," Naftogaz said in a statement.

The EU meanwhile dispatched an emergency fact-finding mission to Ukraine after eight European countries reported a disruption of gas supplies following a smaller Russian cut last week.

The taskforce of senior officials from the European Commission and the Czech Republic, which has just taken over the EU's rotating presidency, will also hold crisis talks with Gazprom on Tuesday.

EU foreign ministers, meeting in Prague on Thursday, will then assess levels of gas supply disruption and discuss possible action to prevent energy shortages amid sub-zero temperatures in most European capitals.

EU countries are dependent for one quarter of their gas supplies on Russia, of which 80 per cent comes via pipelines that cross the Ukraine.

Some, such as Poland, depend on Gazprom for over three quarters of their gas supply. Britain receives up to 15 per cent of its supply from Russian sources, mainly channelled through French pipelines.

The Czech Republic, Poland, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Croatia and Hungary have already reported problems with their supply.

The Commission has insisted that "there is no immediate danger of disruption for European citizens". But officials are worried that the latest wave of freezing weather, in one of the coldest winters for years, will push the EU into a full blown energy crisis by fuelling demand for Russian gas as people seek to heat their homes across Europe.

"The situation is changing. We are seeing a cold week ahead," said the Commission spokesman."Cold weather has an immediate effect on demand.

The supply of gas has to be higher or complemented with more use of storage."
At a meeting at Mr Putin's luxury dacha, he backed demands by Alexei Miller, the CEO of Gazprom, for a daily reduction to Ukraine's pipeline gas flow of 65.3 million cubic metres, energy that Russia claims that the Kiev has stolen during a price dispute.

Gazprom first started to cut gas supplies to Ukraine on New Year's Day, after talks over a supply contract broke down amid accusations that Kiev had failed to pay its full bill for 2008. Naftogaz denies allegations it has siphoned off gas without paying Russia.


  1. Putin makes perfect sense to me. You don't pay your bills, you don't get supplies.

  2. Putin may not be stable, but predictable as the coming of the Russian winter. When winter comes, the gas gets cut off.

    I'll bet there are a lot of French nuclear plant salesman revisiting their contact lists.

    I'll bet so too. So all may be well in the end.

  3. When winter comes, the gas gets cut off.

    And the problem with that is?

  4. Seems to me the Eurabians are well experienced at kowtowing to the Saudis and the Jihadi agenda. Doing Putin's bidding should be a positive change.

  5. No problem. Turns them towards the west, and French nuclear reactors, safest, most dependable power source there is.

    Germany gets a good share of its power from French nuclear reactors, and the French haven't flipped the switch off yet.

    We had the strangest electrical outage here last night that I've experienced. Whole sky lit up like sheet lightning three or four times, then things went dead in our district. Woke both the wife and I up. No noise associated with it. I thought maybe one of Art Bell's alien triangular craft had floated over, and sucked the living guts out of our distribution system. But, the boys at Avista must have finally fought 'em off, as they got things back up about three hours later.

  6. What the hell is Europe's problem? I thought the most pressing issue today is global warming, and they're getting pissy about it being too cold?

  7. From what I can tell of the Ukrainian gas dispute is Ukraine gets the gas at well below market price. Russia has used it's ability to sell gas at below "market price" as a lever for political ends. Ukraine is not toeing the political line so the the State owned gas company is using the heavy hammer of subsidized prices for political ends. It raises all kinds of interesting questions as we move into the future of STRONG state owned enterpirses (China, Russia) competing in a necessarily political environment with corrupt private corporate interests (there ya go Mats, we are on the same page in many respects) I say, I say, corrupt in that a corporation exists to serve its interests and the individuals within the corporation serve their own individual interests. Nobody is interested in the general 'good' just their 'interest'.

  8. Bush is most likely NOT the ultimate bad guy in this story, but rather Rove and Cheney. Bush, Rove and Cheney are quintessential examples of a puppet regime, a Manchurian candidate.

    But ultimately, Bush IS responsible. He should be held responsible.

    All of them should be held responsible for what they've done to this nation. The Bush administration is like the petulant child who threw an expensive vase on the floor and it shattered into pieces.

    Bush 'Doctorin'

  9. With the economic outlook darkening, U.S. president-elect Democrat Barack Obama went to Congress two weeks before taking office to try to entice Republican support for a massive stimulus package with talk of big tax cuts.


    But it was the push to rescue the economy that was the focus of Washington's attention.


    But they are certain to face public pressure, in the wake of widespread repudiation of Republicans in the November elections, to find common ground with Obama and clear the way for quick passage of a stimulus package.

    Fiscal Package

  10. Parliamentary Secretary for Internal Affairs and Communications Tetsushi Sakamoto on Tuesday retracted his controversial remarks that questioned whether unemployed people who took shelter in a Tokyo park over the New Year period really possess the will to work.


    Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said at a press conference, "His remarks sounded inappropriate in view of the fact that there are people who are truly hard-pressed."

    "As the government, we need to keep tabs on the (employment) situation, which has grown serious," the top spokesman said.

    Jobless People

  11. Nuclear Officially More Expensive than Renewables

    Written by Hank Green
    Monday, 05 January 2009

    According to a new report from the generally pro-nuclear organization, Climate Progress, nuclear power is just about the most expensive carbon-free option on the table today. In response, the organization is considering completely eliminating nuclear power from it's plan to make the world's power generation carbon free.

    Nuclear power plants being built today are required to have strict safety measures as well as waste disposal plans that make them significantly more expensive than previous nuclear power plants. The result is that prices for nuclear power have increased, currently at around 30 cents per kW/h. Or, roughly three times the cost of today's average utilities, ten times the cost of reducing power use through efficiency and double the cost of solar thermal.

    Climate Progress (and EcoGeek) are happy to encourage existing plants to continue producing power, and are excited about possible new technologies that will lower the price. But nuclear power, the way it currently exists, is not only a bad idea because of waste and the dangers of nuclear makes less financial sense than solar and wind.


  12. The years have been tough onKathleen Turner who was the dog trainer in Marley and Me, all around good film, but not a film for the moslems. Not much happens but a good pooch gets old and dies.

    Nobody seems to have heard of a shock collar. We had a dog almost as bad, Shasta, uncontollable German Shepard, who used to chase deer for exercise. Had to give her away, and the last time I heard from her new owners, she was chasing the cattle next door, and they wished they'd never heard of her, though they loved her dearly.

  13. EcoGeek.

    Sounds like a neutral source for information, for sure.

    I get my info about the coal industry from an industry publication, Strip Mine Daily.

  14. California Might Ban Plasma Screen TVs

    Written by Hank Green
    Monday, 05 January 2009

    Just a few years ago, 52 inch televisions didn't exist. Now, thanks to dozens of innovations, they're almost boring, and not even that expensive. Oddly enough, they're more efficient than the old CRT televisions...per square inch. The bad news is, as we've been exponentially increasing the square-footage of our televisions, so have we been exponentially increasing their energy use.

    California, struggling to meet green power mandates while energy use has been steadily on the rise, is looking to tackle the problem at the source. By 2011, legislators are hoping that all but the most efficient televisions will be unavailable in California.

    This might, in fact, completely eliminate plasma TVs from the market, as LCD televisions have been making more progress in efficiency than plasma. Of course, this wouldn't stop Californians from driving to Nevada, or ordering their televisions online.

    Of course, the legislation could also have the opposite effect, forcing manufacturers to create more efficient sets for the (extremely large) California market, but also selling those sets everywhere. Less efficient sets would have a smaller market, and so be more quickly phased out.

    If enacted, the first round of regulations would go into effect in 2011, decreasing user's electricity bills by about $20 per year. The second tier would come into effect in 2013, lowering bills by an additional $10.

    I've seen what manufacturers can do to lower the power use of their sets, and I'm entirely confident that this can be done without a dramatic increase in the price of the units. And, really, if you want your entire living room wall to be a television should be willing to pay a few extra dollars for it.

    A move in the right direction. Good on Cali. But energy efficient appliances should be made a national requirement. I hope the Obama team is paying attention to this. Retrofitting building is great stuff, but we also need to pay attention to appliances.

  15. Lead stories at NewsMax--

    GOP Lawyer: Not So Fast on Franken Win

    Democrat Al Franken cannot legally be named the new senator from Minnesota, according to a group of Republican lawyers. The ‘victory’ Franken earned Monday is little more than the result of a recount tainted by fraud, incompetence, partisan maneuvering and a strange set of court decisions that have mostly gone against Republican Sen. Norm Coleman.

    More Stories

    Franken's Coup: Anatomy of a Vote Grab

    Franken Lead Certified in Contentious Minn. Race

    GOP Vows to Block Franken From U.S. Senate

  16. Sounds like a neutral source for information, for sure.

    Bob, they reference who they say were open to nuke power. Until now.

  17. California, struggling to meet green power mandates--

    Looks like the Greenies are gonna take your tv away--this ought to piss the people off, something they care about--

    California, struggling to meet green power mandates

  18. GOP Vows to Block Franken From U.S. Senate

    They should make a rule that if you don't win by at least 1% of the votes, then you go back and have a new election.

  19. Looks like the Greenies are gonna take your tv away--this ought to piss the people off, something they care about--

    C'mon Bob, no one is taking anything from anyone. You can keep your electricity guzzling TV. But future TVs should be made more energy efficient.

  20. :) Call me a yin, will ain't heard nothin' yet....

  21. yin |yin|
    (in Chinese philosophy) the passive female principle of the universe, characterized as female and sustaining and associated with earth, dark, and cold. Contrasted with yang.

  22. yang |ya ng; yƤ ng |
    (in Chinese philosophy) the active male principle of the universe, characterized as male and creative and associated with heaven, heat, and light. Contrasted with yin.

  23. Bob, you stop smoking and I'll call you by any title you desire. :)

  24. I'm tryin' Mat. Thanks for the concern.

  25. Fucking democrats--(I'm going to bed, can't take anymore. Night Mat)--


    Printer-Friendly Version

    Dear Friend,

    The Democrats are on the verge of seating Al Franken as the next U.S. Senator from Minnesota.

    This is simply an outrage!

    On election day, Republican Norm Coleman was ahead by hundreds of votes.

    Since then, Franken and liberal allies like George Soros have raised millions to wage a legal fight contesting every Coleman ballot.

    With the help of the Democratic Sec. of State in Minnesota, the "recount" has gone wildly in Franken's favor.

    With claims of outright vote fraud, double voting -- they are even rejecting military ballots cast by our servicemen overseas to help Franken -- Franken now claims a lead.

    He must be stopped. He can be stopped.

    The Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) is the nation's leading Republican group fighting for a fair vote in Minnesota.

    This is the same group that exposed ACORN and is led by a distinguished advisory board, including former attorney general Ed Meese and former solicitor general Ted Olson.

    They desperately need to raise funds as the Minnesota recount comes down to the wire.

    Please help them today by donating now -- Go Here Now.

    Also, read their urgent message below.


    Dick Morris

    Stop Al Franken Before It's Too Late!

    Dear Reader:

    The fix is in!

    Senate Democrats led by Harry Reid are planning to certify Al Franken the "winner" in the contested Minnesota seat that Republican Norm Coleman is fighting to keep.

    New York Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday that Democrat Al Franken is the clear winner in Minnesota's Senate race and should be seated as soon as possible and last week Democrat Senate Leader Harry Reid said "it appears that Franken will be certified the winner by the state Canvassing Board."

    For weeks after the election Norm Coleman led Franken by hundreds of votes and Reid and company were very quiet.

    After Franken raised millions and waged a fierce legal battle over a handful of rejected ballots, he claims he is ahead of Coleman by about 225 votes.

    The Democrats want to seize on this claim and parachute Al Franken into the U.S. Senate.

    The Democrats may use this dubious "certification" to actually seat Franken in the Senate on January 6 -- before the process in Minnesota is even complete!

    The Democrats have claimed they were for a fair and honest recount, but the facts show this was simply a lie.

    The truth is that billionaire George Soros and ACORN-backed Democrat Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie's Canvassing Board have backed Franken's outrageous subversion of the vote process: some Franken voters have voted twice, Coleman votes have been rejected, and the Franken camp literally makes up the recount rules as they go along.

    The irregularities in this Election Contest are absolutely shocking -- and allowing Franken to claim victory now is outrageous.

    With the help of Minnesota's liberal Sec. of State Mark Ritchie they have rewritten the rules and Franken now has a "lead."

    The Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) has been the leader in fighting against vote fraud and for open, fair, and honest elections.

    We at the RNLA need your urgent help today to expose the fraudulent efforts of Harry Reid and a Soros-ACORN supported Secretary of State to pick Al Franken the next Senator from Minnesota.

    We must expose their brazen attempt to subvert the democratic process -- before the vote is even final!

    You can help us stop Harry Reid and George Soros -- Donate Here Now

    Let me reveal to you just how Franken and Ritchie are working to steal this election from Republican Norm Coleman.

    Ritchie has taken votes that were clearly for Coleman and rejected them, putting them in a pile for the courts to decide at a later date.

    Meanwhile, Franken votes have been accepted, giving Franken an artificial lead.

    During the recount supposed "errors" were corrected, almost always favoring Franken. Though this is statistically improbable, the votes were counted for Franken.

    In one voting precinct that clearly benefitted Coleman, the Ritchie led Canvassing Board ruled that the recount will not include them -- instead that one precinct will have to live with the final vote total as of election night.

    The Ritchie led canvassing board has even admitted they are "not going to be entirely consistent" when reviewing challenged ballots and has ruled a number of votes as votes for Franken when his circle is marked and as under votes when the Coleman circle is identically marked.

    The effort to subvert a fair vote is so obvious, even a Democratic election official in Minneapolis admitted votes are being counted twice.

    "I know it happened in several precincts," she said.

    Simply put, the Ritchie led Secretary of State office wants to decide this election in Franken's favor and certify him the "winner."

    They want Reid and Senate Democrats to seat him in the Senate.

    They don't care if Coleman fights the election in court -- after the fact.

    As National Republican Senatorial Chair Texas Senator John Cornyn stated: "Al Franken is falsely declaring victory based on an artificial lead created on the back of the double counting of ballots."

    We here at the RNLA are waging a fierce battle to stop Franken, Soros and Ritchie.

    We have the truth on our side.

    We need to expose these illicit attempts to steal the election and seat Al Franken in the Senate.

    You can help up today -- Go Here Now.

    Remember this Senate seat is crucial. If Franken joins the Democrats he will give them 59 seats. They will be just one short vote of a filibuster.

    They will be able to push through a radical liberal agenda.

    But we can still stop them.

    We need your help today -- Go Here Now

    Thank you.

    Michael Thielen
    Executive Director

    PS. During this holiday and New Year our members have not taken off. We at the RNLA believe strongly that the people in Minnesota deserve a fair vote. We need your help to stop Harry Reid Senate, Al Franken lawyers, and the ACORN backed Secretary of State Mark Ritchie Canvassing Board from picking the next Minnesota Senator and ignoring the will of the voters of Minnesota. Help us today -- Go Here Now

  26. I started smoking when I was 9 years old. Was smoking Lucky Strike unfiltered. I was a very good athlete. Played for Maccabi Haifa (Israel's soccer champions), and was also a very strong swimmer. Was able hold my breath for over 2 minutes on an underwater dive. At 14 I was coughing blood. That's when I quit. :)

  27. G'nite, Bob.
    I hope you manage it.

  28. An authoritative, and complete, aricle on Europe's Natural Gas Problem.

    Bottom line, Pootie Poot's gottem by the "short" hairs.

    But, then, Ma Gaia takes the "Russkies" to school.

  29. A move in the right direction. Good on Cali. But energy efficient appliances should be made a national requirement. I hope the Obama team is paying attention to this. Retrofitting building is great stuff, but we also need to pay attention to appliances.

    What a fucking eco-fascist snitch. Go to hell, mat, and take your damned greenie bullshit with you. All we need is an army of prissy little do-gooder environmentalists snooping farther into everyones' lives.

  30. Warnings issued amid Arctic chill

    Freezing conditions are set to continue across the UK on Tuesday

    Severe weather warnings have been issued as temperatures in the UK dipped as low as -11C (12.2F) overnight.

    The Met Office issued alerts for Tuesday morning in parts of south-east England and northern Scotland.
    Arctic weather is expected to keep its grip on the UK, with lows of -10C (14F) forecast for southern England and Wales into Wednesday.

    The RAC is urging drivers to take extra care, reporting blackspots near Luton, the West Midlands and south London.

    Freezing conditions had affected flights at Luton and Birmingham airports and closed some schools in Gloucestershire and Kent on Monday.

  31. It is hard to understand this:

    Several European countries say they have suffered major disruption to their Russian gas supplies after Moscow cut deliveries to Ukraine.
    Turkey said all its supplies had been cut. Romania reported a 75% reduction. Bulgaria, Greece and Macedonia have also been affected, Bulgaria said.
    Russian energy giant Gazprom decided to cut exports through Ukrainian pipelines by a fifth in a row over unpaid bills.

  32. Go to hell, mat, and take your damned greenie bullshit with you.

    The days of energy bingeing are over. You want to, you should pay for it. Your neighbors don't owe you anything. We're not commies here.

  33. And LT, don't be such a drive by turd. Stick around. You could use a little discipline.

  34. "Is Putin Mentally Stable"

    No, but he's physically built.

    Just sayin'

  35. The votes are in MLD, and by about a two to one margin the women of the world take pooty's naked chest over the Zero's. But you knew that.