“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."

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Worth Every Billion Spent and Life Destroyed

Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki visits Iran

Maliki hopes to use the two-day visit, including a meeting with Iranian President Ahmadinejad, to allay Tehran's concerns about U.S. influence in Iraq.

By Kimi Yoshino LA Times
January 4, 2009

Reporting from Baghdad -- Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Maliki arrived in Iran on Saturday for a two-day visit with top leaders, during which he is expected to allay Tehran's concerns about the United States' continuing influence in Iraq.

The visit is Maliki's fourth since he was elected and comes just days after the U.S. handed over military control of the capital's Green Zone to Iraq and began a drawdown that is to lead to all American troops leaving the country by the end of 2011.


I was quite relieved to find out that our hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives investment in Iraqi freedom and democracy will not give us too much influence over Iraq. One should not take these things too seriously, but should defer to the genius, planning and frugality of spending of our capital and assets, by our rulers and masters in Washington.

Moreover, let us not forget, they are all men of honor.


  1. In and out
    Smash and dash

    It'd have made little difference in the long run what local had been handed control in June of 2003.

    We could have made a hasty and controlled exit.
    There'd never have been an insurgency, just localized control.
    With an ever smaller US presence.

    The objectives of the Authorization for Use of Force would have been fulfilled.

    Now it's January 2004 redux.

  2. ... and where is the outrage from the right over the Bernie Madoff Presidency of George W. Bush?

  3. Did you ever get that Burkha dry cleaned?

  4. Now it's January 2004 redux.

    Not true. The military contractors made their money. Which is what this fake war is all about to begin with.

  5. Military Keynesianism.

    A government economic policy in which the government devotes large amounts of spending to the military in an effort to increase economic growth.

  6. Military Keynesian.

    A nice description for a Commie.

  7. It is an old chestnut warmed over many times in literature from the Bible forward, the wastrel son, a drunkard and gambler, always being bailed out by his wealthy family, ending in ruin, taking with him those that supported and helped him.

  8. DR was one of the first over at the Belmont to see through the smoke and mirrors, spoke up and was hammered for speaking.

    Now we have the rubble and the bills. Our enemies are satisfied that we are diminished and the supporters on the right are bereft of ideas. A Republican president that for five years could not find one spending bill to veto, but made time to spend hours in a gym on a narcissists mission of self indulgence.

    At the beginning of the Bush Administration, no enemy or group of enemies could have done more damage to the US economy than was allowed to happen under his watch.

    ...and where are the ideas to go forward? Where are the architects? Safely imbedded in the hollow clackiture of Washington DC.

  9. There's only about two weeks left to bash Bush before Obama takes all the headlines and attention away and Bush fades in obscurity, so get in the final punches now.

  10. Maliki's running over to Iran might be his way of recognizing the reality of the incoming Obama Presidency. Perhaps likewise with Israel's recent actions.

  11. There may be only two weeks left, but the five trillion in federal debt added by GWB will burden 300 million people FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES.

    George Bush will be OK. His feelings may be hurt but no real damage.

  12. With great office comes great responsibility and duty. Nothing is more destructive to human society than financial ruin. I have no sentimentality for a failed leader who does not have the courage and wisdom to do the tough things to protect his charges.

  13. He is not a school kid being picked on.

  14. Five Democratic governors, including Ohio's Ted Strickland, on Friday asked the federal government for a $1 trillion handout for states facing unprecedented budget shortfalls, including money for education.

    The governors, anticipating a better relationship with Washington under Democratic President-elect Barack Obama's administration, said they need the cash immediately to avoid cuts to crucial staples such as education, social services and infrastructure.

    The bailout also would include money for middle-class tax relief.

    The leaders from Ohio, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Wisconsin said they have presented their proposal as an interested party in the discussions that will play out between the president-elect and Congress.

  15. five trillion in federal debt added

    It's much more than that. It's $20 trillion in wealth lost this last year. It's the zero added value trillions wasted on military spending over the years. But most importantly, it's the opportunity lost. Money that could have been used on much more productive ventures. Money that could have changed the whole geo-strategic picture as we know it.

  16. Epoca

  17. Yeah, yeah, debt, yada, yada.

    This bailout hasn't cost us a dime, yet. In fact, to date we've made money on it. We borrowed some money at low interest; we lent it out at higher interest.

    Citi, AIG, and Bank of America aren't going out of business. We'll get paid. We'll show a profit. And, the world's financial system is still operating and we're Not in another Great Depression.

    As for Iraq: Remember what Patton said to Omar Bradley in Sicily. "Yes, Omar, but maybe you should be thinking about how many lives would be lost if You were still Slogging it out up there in the Mountains."

    If we hadn't done what we did we might have ended up costing ourselves Not 4,000, But 400,000, or 40 Million.

    The Sudetenland comes to mind.

  18. Who could have predicted that the "New Tone" would be a green light to all those who would want to profit at the expense of the country?

    Who knew that

    The clueless, elitist man of shallow earnestnest had more important things to prove.

    Some still regard him as a man of honor.

    He always will.

  19. You are Full of Shit, Rufus!

  20. "Consider the strange story of Harry Markopolos. Mr. Markopolos is the former investment officer with Rampart Investment Management in Boston who, for nine years, tried to explain to the Securities and Exchange Commission that Bernard L. Madoff couldn’t be anything other than a fraud. Mr. Madoff’s investment performance, given his stated strategy, was not merely improbable but mathematically impossible. And so, Mr. Markopolos reasoned, Bernard Madoff must be doing something other than what he said he was doing.

    In his devastatingly persuasive 17-page letter to the S.E.C., Mr. Markopolos saw two possible scenarios. In the “Unlikely” scenario: Mr. Madoff, who acted as a broker as well as an investor, was “front-running” his brokerage customers. A customer might submit an order to Madoff Securities to buy shares in I.B.M. at a certain price, for example, and Madoff Securities instantly would buy I.B.M. shares for its own portfolio ahead of the customer order. If I.B.M.’s shares rose, Mr. Madoff kept them; if they fell he fobbed them off onto the poor customer.

    In the “Highly Likely” scenario, wrote Mr. Markopolos, “Madoff Securities is the world’s largest Ponzi Scheme.” Which, as we now know, it was.

    Harry Markopolos sent his report to the S.E.C. on Nov. 7, 2005 — more than three years before Mr. Madoff was finally exposed — but he had been trying to explain the fraud to them since 1999. He had no direct financial interest in exposing Mr. Madoff — he wasn’t an unhappy investor or a disgruntled employee.

  21. That bastard Bush led us into Iraq so we could steal their oil. He lowered our taxes so the revenues would rise so he could spend more of our money. He sold the Israelis bunker busting bombs so they could oppress the Palestinians. That bastard is against gay marriage, and against abortion too. I bet he and Laura steal the silverware on way out of The White House.

  22. That bastard even recommended we build some nuclear power plants.

  23. Russia reported it's first YOY drop in oil production since the KGB took over, yesterday.

    Mexico will be an Ex-Oil Exporter by the end of 2010. Venezuela continues its steady slide. The North Sea continues to fall off a cliff.

    Despite Thunderhorse coming online, Our Production dropped below five million last month for the first time in fifty years, or so. (it used to be around ten million bpd.)

    Nigeria continues to fall, as does most of the Middle East. Canadian conventional production is falling, and investment is shut down in the tar sands.

    Saudi Arabia is thought to be in long term decline. Have I forgotten anybody?

    Oh yeah, there's One Country on the face of the Earth that might be producing 3, or 4 Million More Barrels of Oil Five years from now, Than Today. And, We've Got 160,000 TROOPS sitting right in the middle of it.

    Those Renewables that we talk about are Really, Really Important in the Medium to Long Term; But, if the Middle East was to go "Right Now" this world would be in a Depression like those people in the 30's couldn't even imagine.

    You want WARS?? You want Tens of Millions, if not Hundreds of Millions dead in a Year? Take 30 Million Barrels of Oil away from the world, TOMORROW, and see what you get.

    Yeah, I supported him, before; and I'd support him right now. In a Hearbeat!

  24. Pace yourself, dear host. We have many more years to go in Iraq, with the concomitant hoovering-out of other regions.

    Best under the circumstances to dole out fiery indignation in increments.

  25. That bastard has even put the future of the very planet at stake with his inaction over global warming. Here we sit, heating up like we're in a sauna bath, and the son of a bitch does nothing.

  26. Marginal Revolution:

    How to keep away inflation in the future
    Tyler Cowen

    Larry, a loyal MR reader, asks:

    "When the US government borrows and prints so much money in the coming few years, how is the country going to keep massive inflation away?"

    Borrows and prints are different here. The borrowed money is no inflationary threat, if the U.S. government is willing to raise taxes to pay it off.

    As for the newly created reserves, in theory the Fed can suck them out of the banking system at will (and/or change the rate of interest paid on reserves, to influence demand to hold). But will it hit the right timing in practice? Let's say the economy miraculously recovered tomorrow. Banks would be very eager to make more loans than they are doing now and the broader monetary aggregates would go up rapidly. However the broader aggregates take many months to influence the price level, so in the meantime the Fed would sell assets from its balance sheet and take reserves out of the economy. These are uncharted waters and the trial and error factor likely will be significant.

    It is the lags which give the Fed some chance to react but the lags also mean that the Fed will never quite know if it is proceeding at the right pace. And will the contractionary open market operations be conducted with all the non-standard assets currently on the Fed's balance sheet?

    As I said, uncharted waters.

    I give it a reasonable chance that we, in due time, have a secondary recession, resulting mainly from the Fed deflating at too rapid a pace as the economy recovers.

    January 1, 2009 at 06:27 AM

  27. The only thing getting hoovered out is our treasury, personal wealth and future financial stability.

  28. Trish, you might be too pessimistic as regards the O'man, and Colombia. There's a reason Dubya wanted the Colombia Free Trade deal. Actually, Two reasons. Palm Oil, and Castor Oil. Biodiesel.

    Obamaman like biodiesel. It won't take him long to figure out that we need help, and that Colombia's the most likely place to look. Brazilian Presidents are generally a pain in the ass; and Africa is, . . . . well, Africa.

    I'll bet the deal still gets done.

  29. The financial stability is already gone as evidenced by the volatility we've witnessed so far and the massive government interventions already undertaken and more to come.

    The US is printing money and borrowing. Mostly printing of late it seems. Much of the newly minted money is balanced by the money that evaporated. The accepted wisdom seems to be that the Fed. has the tools to combat inflation so all measure must be taken to prevent deflation and if the inflation rears its ugly head then the Fed. can fight it. My concern, as alluded to in Trish's cut and paste, is the game seems to overshoot. One of my concerns is that as the US rushes to deflate its currency so to are others. The problem being not everyone can deflate. In the thirties everyone erected protectionist barriers. We seem to have learned from that past error but we may be mirroring it by this rush to deflate currencies which make manufacturing more competitive and debts denominated in deflated currency less onerous. So, in short, we may be avoiding the protectionist problem but replacing it with a beggar thy neighbor by depreciation. This could herald in larger monetary unions (as Rat suggests) further down the road but much pain will be felt on that path.

    Re. Bush - maaannn, I've been railing against the guy since before he was elected the first time and even more so on his second run for POTUS. My main argument (aside from specific policy differences) was that he wasn't very smart and, yes, he was surrounding himself with tested folk it was still he, man of bad past with decision making, as the one to parse and decide on the course ahead. I then railed against specific decisions and tested my thoughts here on right wing blogs - mostly to derisive laughter. My how time change.

  30. I still get the derisive laughter but it is from the likes of Mats and Bobal and the Nahncee's of the world - quite the improvement.

  31. Au contraire. But this is one of the difficulties of a necessarily obliqued point.

    How to be more direct, without being more direct?

  32. That last, to dear host.

    This isn't about the FTA, rufus. And it isn't about a single country.

    But as for that country, and our commitment there, the writing on the wall at the embassy, the CAN, and elsewhere, was being read and digested when I flew.

  33. Iraq will have the same, if not worse from US perspective, government it has today, in five years.

    The magic reserves in Anbar will still be untapped, by the Socialist we installed there, in Iraq.

    Funny, all the lessening in production is ocurring in socialist run oil industries. In the US, where capitialism is still functioning, in oil, production is constant, increasing actually.

    Could be that socialist just do not manage oil assets very well. Not that there is a structural crimp in the pipeline.
    That's how it'd have been with the old school. Now it is assumed the socialists know what they are doing, in Mexico and Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and others, like Iran.

    No, bob, we'll be able to pick on the bad decisions of GWBush until the cows come home.
    His mismanagement is legend, a disaster all around. Capped by his nationalizing of the financial industry with nary a day of debate.

    The ultimate liberal, nay, socialist President, to date. Makes LBJ and the Great Society look like a true conservative moments, by comparison.

  34. I'm a little more sanguine about Obamessiah than most, I guess. I look at him and see a punk, street hustler; but I don't see an ideologue. At least he's a "smart" punk street hustler.

    Reminds me of the seventies. They're going to "raise taxes" on the wealthy; but at the end of the term tax collections will be about the same. They always leave the back door cracked.

    Ya gotta have the Dems in every now and then. It shakes shit up. Gives us a whole "New" set of crooks to wail about. When all's said and done, if you made money under the Pubs you'll make money under the Dems.

  35. Nah, Rat, our production is Down. We just reported the first monthly production under 5 million bpd since, I guess the forties, or fifties.

  36. That bastard Bush led us into Iraq so we could steal their oil.

    Bob, this isn't about Bush. It is about the GOP lacking strategic vision. It is about being tied to the oil/car/military mafia and the consequences that follow. It's about allowing Saudia to dictate foreign and cultural policy for the purpose of Jihadi imperialism.

  37. I'm a little more sanguine about Obamessiah than most, I guess. I look at him and see a punk, street hustler; but I don't see an ideologue. At least he's a "smart" punk street hustler.

    - rufus

    It's not Obama that killed the FTA. Tragically, unwittingly, it was those very forces whom it would reward.

  38. Might a deepening worldwide recession have anything to do with decreased oil production?

  39. It's not "dead," Trish. It's like that Monty Python Parrot; it's resting.

    Seriously, they have something we'll be wanting soon. I don't know how they'll resurrect it; but I'll bet they do. Give it a couple of years.

  40. I'm sure that $147.00 barrel oil wasn't particularly "Good" for growth, Whit.

    A good reference case is "Whale" oil. The whale oil business was once The Biggest Business on Planet Earth.

    When they started running short of whales prices went totally "Wacky." All over the chart. It brought about the "age of petroleum."

    The peak oil nightmare scenario is Price Spike - leading to recession - bringing about a "Plunge" in prices - causing a lack of investment in production - leading to even bigger "spike" in prices when economy recovers - leading to recession . . . . rinse, repeat.

  41. Interesting news. Bill Richardson has withdrawn his name from consideration for Commerce Secretary. Seems there's a Grand Jury investigation into some cronyism.

    Remember that word? Cronyism.

  42. Wyoming, Western Ranchers Form Wind Energy Associations

    A positive development for all, I think.

  43. 2164th said...Nothing is more destructive to human society than financial ruin.

    That's funny...

    tell that to my cousins who were turned into ash.....

  44. Earth Policy Institute: Creating New Jobs, Cutting Carbon Emissions, and Reducing Oil Imports by Investing in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

    By Lester R. Brown

    At a time when major U.S. companies are announcing job layoffs almost daily, the renewable energy industry is hiring new workers every day to build wind farms, install rooftop solar arrays, and build solar thermal and geothermal power plants. The output of industrial firms that manufacture the equipment for these energy facilities is expanding by well over 30 percent a year. These investments both create jobs and help prevent climate change from spiraling out of control.

    Among the several sources of renewable energy, wind looms large. The United States has 24,000 megawatts of wind generating capacity already online (think 24 coal-fired power plants), and 83 wind farms with some 8,000 megawatts of capacity are under construction. Beyond this, a staggering 225,000 megawatts of planned wind farms are waiting for access to transmission lines.

    Currently, the United States has 40 plants manufacturing wind power components. Eight of these plants are assembling wind turbines, 20 are fabricating wind towers, and 12 are making blades. In addition, many more manufacturing facilities are under construction, recently announced, and in planning. Every billion dollars invested in wind farms creates some 3,350 jobs—nearly four times the 870 jobs created with a similar investment in coal-fired power plants.

    With solar cells (photovoltaics), the U.S. growth potential can be seen in the recent expansion from small rooftop installations to commercial generating facilities covering several square miles. In 2007, the United States installed roughly 200 megawatts of solar cell generating capacity, most of it on rooftops. In 2008, Pacific Gas & Electric—a leading California utility—contracted with two firms to build 800 megawatts of solar photovoltaic generating capacity; their output at peak power will equal that of a nuclear reactor. A billion dollars invested in solar cell installations generates 1,480 jobs.

    A similar growth situation exists with solar thermal power plants—facilities that use mirrors to concentrate sunlight and generate steam to power turbines. Until recently there was just one of these facilities in the United States: the 350-megawatt SEGS complex in California. Now there are 18 commercial-scale power plants under development (15 in California, 2 in Florida, and 1 in Arizona) with a collective generating capacity of 4,160 megawatts—nearly a twelvefold increase. This is an example of yet another labor-intensive energy technology (2,270 jobs per billion dollars invested) with a sharply falling cost curve that is fast becoming a major player in the U.S. energy economy.

    Next consider geothermal energy. For 20 years, the United States had only one commercial-scale geothermal generating facility, in California. Now suddenly, almost overnight, there are some 96 projects—most of them with a generating capacity ranging from 10 to 350 megawatts—in western states. We are witnessing the emergence of a major new source of electricity.

    Two new technologies—plug-in hybrid cars and advanced design wind turbines—have set the stage for building an entirely new automotive fuel economy. While four manufacturers are coming to market with plug-in hybrids in 2010 or 2011, the early estimates of how many they will produce appear to be small. What is needed is a crash program, almost a World War II–type mobilization, to produce tens of millions of cars powered largely with electricity, mostly from wind farms, at the gasoline equivalent cost of less than $1 per gallon. The good news is that plug-in hybrids do not need a new infrastructure.

    The U.S. goal for Detroit should be not merely to save it but to make it the world leader in producing high-efficiency plug-in hybrid cars. Replacing one gas-guzzling SUV with a plug-in hybrid will, over the car’s lifetime, reduce oil imports by 200 barrels, saving $20,000 of oil imports. Such an initiative multiplied across the fleet would keep hundreds of billions of dollars at home for job-creating U.S. investments.

    Another job-creating way to save energy is to invest in urban transit, both light rail and buses. When combined with making streets bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly, this also increases mobility and reduces oil imports.

    In terms of job creation, investment in retrofitting buildings creates more than seven times as many jobs as a similar investment in coal-fired power plants. One of the early leaders is Houston, which plans to retrofit each of its 271 government buildings, thus simultaneously reducing energy use and operational costs. As Houston Mayor Bill White says, “It makes good business sense.”

    In California, Adobe Systems, a software firm, retrofitted its expansive corporate headquarters at a cost of $1.4 million, dropping its electricity use 35 percent and its natural gas use 41 percent. The energy savings paid back the $1.4 million retrofit investment in just 14 months. (More typically, the payback time on retrofitting buildings is closer to 5 years.) And these jobs cannot be outsourced.

    Building the new energy economy creates jobs in the construction of wind farms or the retrofitting of buildings, and also indirectly in the supply lines that provide, for example, the parts for wind turbines or the thermally efficient windows for retrofitting. These investments also generate jobs outside the energy sector. For example, the construction of a wind farm in a Great Plains community generates jobs in local businesses such as restaurants and home improvement outlets.
    The government’s role in this vast job creation initiative is to use public funds as incentives to leverage far greater investments of private capital. We estimate that $100 billion of federal funds used strategically over the next 12 years would leverage $400 billion of private capital investment. If this $500 billion is allocated evenly between renewable energy development (wind, solar, and geothermal) and retrofitting, and if every two jobs created in the energy sector creates one job elsewhere, this would quickly generate 600,000 new jobs that would last through 2020.

    In addition to the short-term need to create jobs, there is the all-encompassing need to avoid runaway climate change and the threat it poses to global civilization. If the world is to have a decent chance of saving the Greenland ice sheet and at least the larger glaciers in the Himalayas and on the Tibetan Plateau, the glaciers whose ice melt sustains the major rivers and irrigation systems of Asia during the dry season, then global carbon emissions need to be cut 80 percent by 2020. For the United States, this might require up to $500 billion of federal funds to mobilize $2 trillion of private capital—for a total $2.5-trillion investment in renewables and efficiency by 2020. Investment at this level would create 3 million new jobs that would last through 2020.

    A complementary measure to accelerate carbon reduction would be to incorporate the cost of climate change in fossil fuel prices either through a cap-and-trade system or by restructuring taxes. The latter would mean simply raising the tax on carbon and offsetting it with a reduction in income taxes. Both these measures shift investments from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables.

    One of the glaring gaps in current U.S. policy is the failure to extend the wind production tax credit beyond one year. The time has come to extend it to 2015, giving investors the needed confidence to make longer-term investments in both wind generation and transmission lines.

    Beyond this, a strong national electricity grid is needed. Such a grid would both permit more-efficient management of the country’s electrical generating capacity and link regions rich in wind, solar, and geothermal energy with population centers.

    Historically, it is rare for so many emerging threats to have a common solution. The measures described here would simultaneously reduce carbon emissions, lower oil imports, and create millions of new jobs. This is a win-win-win opportunity that we cannot pass by.

  45. ...and the way WiO and Mats talk about the Pali's you'd think they were as keen to turn the Pali's to ash as Mat's case no thinking needed, he's stated it clearly.

  46. But Ashley, the Jihadis themselves tell us they can't wait to join Allah and their alloted 72 raisins. Life on this Earth is meaningless unless it's in the service of Jihad. So what's the problem? I say, if Jihad they want, Jihad they should get. And the faster they leave this planet, the better.

  47. Good find on the Lester Brown piece, Mat.

    The amount of Wind, and solar on the way is impressive.

    Of course, the only renewable that's actually moving butts from A to B, at present, is the one he hates, Ethanol - powering the equiv. of 20 Million Cars. Replacing approx. 750,000 Barrels of Oil every day.

  48. For the first time since 1991, US crude oil production actually increased in 2007, according to data released by the US Energy Information Agency. US production in 2007 totalled 1.862 billion barrels, an increase of just 182,000 barrels (or one one-hundreth of one percent) over 2006. Although the year-over-year increase is very small, it is the first time that production has increased since 1991

    Cannot find the data for 2008, the USEIA link provided in the article, does not.

  49. This chart puts US ahead through Sep with a production dip, then and in Oct, but does have any numbers to close out Nov or Dec.

    So the last full year for which data is available, 2007, production WAS up from the year before..

  50. A liitle ash here, a little ash there, first thing you know, there is a carbon problem, somewhere.

    When one is turned to ash, there is no further ruin, the game is over.

    And the idea that the folks are turned to ash, due to financial ruin, that cannot be discounted.

    It was financial ruin, in Germany, that led all those folks to be burnt. No financial ruin, no rise of the Third Reich.

    So there is a chicken and egg aspect to WWII and those deaths.

  51. And Bush and his Community Reinvestment Act and his Fannie and his Freddie--he could at least have warned us. Driveing the housing sky high and collapsing it. S O B

  52. Carol Browner is a memeber of the Socialist International("it is imperative to establish a genuinely new international economic order.")

    Thank God from her position as Obama's energy/environment 'czar' she'll fix up all the Bush mistakes and failures to even act. The Amero? Nah, we're thinking of the Globero.

    Bush, small minded s.o.b.

  53. And don't forget Bush came up from the sewer of Texas politics. racist, capitalist, old oil, death penalty politics.

  54. WASHINGTON (AP) - New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson on Sunday announced that he was withdrawing his nomination to be President-elect Barack Obama's commerce secretary amid a grand jury investigation into how some of his political donors won a lucrative state contract.

    Child's play compared to Haliburton.

  55. Bush, Bernanke and Paulson, bob

    Those were the fellows in charge, that told US:
    "No Worries!"

    True enough that others on the boat said the same thing, but there is only one Captain/Decider at a time. The buck stops at the Resolute desk in the Oval Office, it is not broken into derivatives and traded around.

    To blame everyone but the fellow in charge and his team, that is a spin that wobbles way to much for prime time.

  56. The "Globe" revisits the Obama birth issue, bob.
    Right next to Angelina's birthing troubles and a story on how lose pounds and inches, fast.

    The story has not yet made it to the "Enquirer".

    Oprah does blame Michelle Obama for her recent weight gain, or so the cover story on another tabloid relates.

  57. The cast of characters who will tackle the overhaul of America's financial regulation system ranges from the nation's first black president to the Securities and Exchange Commission's first female chair.

    * Barack Obama, president-elect

    The new U.S. president, taking office on January 20, wants to rein in the financial services sector after a free-wheeling period blamed by some for the capital crisis behind the recession. Many Democrats in Congress agree with Obama.


    * Ben Bernanke, Fed chairman

    The soft-spoken, 55 year old studied the Great Depression in graduate school, preparing him for today's crisis.


    * Henry Paulson, Treasury secretary

    The bald, bespectacled former Goldman Sachs boss seemed briefly to be running Washington in September and October, as if he had elbowed aside lame-duck President George W. Bush.

    Financial Regulation

  58. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button F. Scott Fitzgerald

    Guy was born old and -what's the word for the opposite of aging - got younger as he grew up, er, down.

    Since the world is topsy turvy, seems like a good movie to go to this afternoon.

    youthing - guy developed in a youthing manner

  59. hey! you thing, you're youthing, stop it!

  60. The tenure of Jimmah Carter did not cost my family hundreds of thousands of dollars, when the losses were spread across the AZ clan.

    But Team43 has. Upwards of a million dollars in value, when all the numbers are tallied.

    Losses in Real Estate values, 401k's, Roth Iras, and the privately held businesses.

    And we were/are better positioned for the downturn than most of our associates or clients.

    It is a financial blood bath the likes of which I have not seen before. The Carter/Reagan Savings & Loan crisis/scandal was an opportunity for financially strong players, what Team43 has delivered is not.

  61. Politico - the Scorecard
    January 03, 2009
    Categories: Minnesota

    Franken pads lead over Coleman

    Democrat Al Franken expanded his lead over Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) to 225 votes in the Minnesota Senate race Saturday as Minnesota election officials finished counting 933 absentee ballots that turned out to significantly favor Franken.

    Franken won 54 percent of the absentee ballots, while Coleman won only 34 percent.

    The results of the additional absentee ballots give the Franken campaign continued momentum and make it more difficult for Coleman’s campaign to overturn the results in a post-recount challenge. The 225-vote margin is more than many observers expected Franken to have at this stage.

    Indeed, even if some of the Coleman campaign claims regarding double-counted ballots and missing ballots were resolved in their favor, Coleman still would likely be trailing Franken.

    There are still several steps left. The state Supreme Court will soon be ruling on the Coleman campaign’s request to include additional absentee ballots it believes were unfairly rejected. And the Coleman campaign has said it will file a post-election challenge, delaying the resolution of a certification.

  62. When one person causes me grief, causes me to lose money, makes me so mad I spend an unhealthy amount of time fuming and stewing about him, I confront him personally, in his face, and get my ounce of flesh.

    Just a works for me.

  63. Doubt I'd get that meeting, either at the White House, the Federal Reserve or the Vortex Ranch, gag.

    Just be another dunce, standing in line, hurrying up to wait.

    In any case, in another two weeks President Obama will be the Decider, with Joe Biden standing in Cheney's stead.

    The question to ponder, how will Obama fulfill his Lincolnesque theme? Where will he break with the status que tradition and become the engine of social progress?

    At home or abroad?

    Propose to unite, but really devide, then force the issue with the overwhelming strength of US industry and military, if need be.

  64. It is to be hoped that they will be right this time. But this crisis was caused by the largest asset-price and credit bubble in history -- even bigger than that in Japan in the late 1980s or America in the late 1920s.

    Policymakers will not make the same mistakes as in the 1930s, but they may make new ones.

    In 1978 Alfred Kahn, one of Jimmy Carter's economic advisers, was chided by the president for scaring people by warning of a looming depression.

    What's In a Word?

  65. Good find on the Lester Brown piece, Mat.

    I'm all for biofuel, Rufus. We'll need those for the heavy lifting stuff: Tractors, heavy trucks, ships, planes, etc.

  66. From my friend Dale--

    Predictions from another unhinged female in the military--

    Subject: Predictions for the New Presidency

    Kit Lange is an Air Force veteran and military writer who

    specializes in investigating murder cases stemming from

    actions in combat. Her work was used as evidence in the

    Lt. Ilario Pantano case, and has been quoted extensively in other news publications for other cases. In 2005, she co-wrote a 10-part series disproving war crime allegations against an elite Army unit;

    her blog,, was named as one of the top 10

    milblogs of the year. She is also the National Web Coordinator for

    Gathering of Eagles, a nationally-recognized troop support

    organization. Kit holds a degree in Aircraft Maintenance Technology

    from Spartan College of Aeronautics, and is currently working on a

    second degree in Aviation Technology Management. She resides in

    Tulsa , Oklahoma .


    Kit Lange is a lady (Former Air Force) who has worked tirelessly on the Hutchins case.

    My Predictions for the New Obama "Presidency"

    Now that America has shown us all that affirmative action even works in politics, I've compiled a list of things that you can probably expect to happen. These predictions are 80% gleaned from information all of us have access to, and 15% gut instinct based on many years of research, historical study, and being glued to current affairs. The other 5% is just anger at my countrymen's stupidity--I admit it.


    - Websites and mass emails offering "free grants," courtesy of the government and "Obama's wealth redistribution." Actually, this one's a freebie, because I have an email with a date and timestamp of literally minutes after Obama was declared the winner, offering exactly that.

    - Israel will understand this election was the end of any type of assistance, military or otherwise, from the U.S. , and will stop holding back their defense at the request of the American administration. Look for a first strike on Iran soon, as well as increased activity by the Israeli military in general. Israel is on her own now, and God help us all because of it.

    - Look for Iranian retaliation--against American targets. That goes doubly for other terrorist organizations. We just elected a man with the full endorsement of every major terrorist group in the world as leader of the free world. It's the political equivalent of hiring a child molester to babysit your kids while you leave for the weekend.
    Not only is HE going to have fun with your child, but he'll probably sit and watch while his friends come over and do it too.

    - Look for far-left justices appointed to the Supreme Court, effectively tying up the entire government in a trifecta of liberal humanism, the buzzwords of which remain empty platitudes like "hope and change," and the ultimate goal of which is socialism--and soon, sharia law.

    - Military cases of troops being tried and convicted for killing the enemy in combat will continue to rise--and the conviction/plea-bargain rate will stay at nearly 100%, as the government seeks to use the best men and women this country has to offer as sacrificial lambs on the altar of global appeasement. Those brave and honorable men who currently reside in prison cells across the country, stripped of their rank, their careers, families, and their good name, will not taste free air again for many years. Their sacrifices and their stories will be forgotten by the general public, remembered only by those of us who continue to fight for them.

    - Look for the slow but steady erosion of rights you have enjoyed for your entire lives--all the while being told it's "for your own good."
    Restrictions on gun ownership, home schooling, encouraged dependence on the ever-growing federal government. More nanny-state provisions will be put into place to protect the "disadvantaged" and the "poor,"
    (read: lazy, uneducated, unwilling to better themselves) even while groups like the unborn, the mentally handicapped, elderly, and terminally ill are slowly pushed toward euthanasia. Of course, this will be done with feel-good phrases like "death with dignity," "not wanting to be a burden,"
    and "merciful release from suffering," all of which ignore the basic fact that we are killing people without their consent for the "good of the people." Before you tell me I'm crazy, let's just remember that Barack Obama was the ONLY senator in the Illinois state senate to vote against providing medical care for babies who were inconsiderate enough to survive an abortion. Also, look for taxes to go up. Yes, they'll go up.

    - You think the economy is bad now? Just wait. You'll have the most expensive "free" health care ever. Bread lines aren't just for Russians anymore.

    We have traded experience for color, freedom for slavery--and the irony is that the average American sheeple thinks their vote somehow righted an ancient wrong, somehow ENDED the spectre of slavery and ushered in some beautiful era of liberty. In reality, we are about to be less free than you ever thought possible.

    I watched the faces of those crowded into the mob (excuse the pun) in Chicago . They stared at Obama like he was a god, an idol, a panacea to their every want and need. We have truly failed as a nation if we are at the point where we feel we must look to one man to take care of us all, to be our father figure and our sugar daddy. We have lost not only the "can-do" attitude of past generations, but the "MUST-do"
    attitude of our forefathers. We have allowed ourselves to become reduced from Patrick Henry's proud cry of "liberty or death" to the sniveling, whining idea that we are owed something. We have gone from being the honorable defenders of freedom, to being told we are the problem.

    The eyes of Obama and McCain were also telling. McCain acted with class and grace in his concession speech , offering the most honorable response I've seen yet. I don't agree with all of McCain's positions, but it cannot be denied that the man has served his nation--at permanent and severe detriment to himself--for half a century.
    His eyes were clear and sincere, honest. His speech underlined the very reasons why, of the two men offered, he was hands down the best choice.

    On the other hand, Obama's eyes were cold, calculating. His manner was smug and still carried the arrogance he has always had. His facial expression was one of barely disguised disdain for everything people like me believe in. His body language was smooth, polished--
    too much so. He talked of patriotism as though it is a value he is familiar with--and yet, his horrifying attitude toward the country he now leads is as well-documented as his friendships with those who seek its demise. He is charismatic to those who don't know what to look for, and he is inspiring to those who cannot or will not think for themselves. However, too many who voted for him are guilty of the most dangerous kind of hypocrisy. You see, we are told daily that we must not see color, just mankind. (We are all family, you know--or so we're told.) And yet Barack Obama was handed the White House on a silver platter by a fawning media, a bevy of foreign donors (who, to this day and in violation of U.S. election laws, remain nameless and unaccounted for), and a populace who voted based on color instead of right and wrong--even in the face of the most damning evidence against a Presidential candidate in many years , perhaps ever.

    It is said that the people receive the government they deserve. Sadly, I fear that's correct. We have become complacent, unwilling to see the writing on the wall, content to frolic in the warm water without bothering to notice that it's been getting hotter by the minute. We are two seconds from a rolling boil--and perhaps it is already too late.

    So, liberals, enjoy your victory. Jump around. Have a party, file for your free grants. Scream "Gimme my handout!" and make fun of those of us who fought to make sure your "messiah" didn't get access to the most powerful position in the world. Just remember when it all comes crashing down: You own the White House, the Congress, and soon the Supreme Court. You have no one to blame but yourselves for the mess you just created.

    As for me, I'm buying my handguns this week so I have an answer for those who will come try to take them.

    Kit Lange

  67. Let's see, Mervyns is gone, K-Mart closes in a week, forever. Circut City bit the dust.

    All the little Chinese dune buggy and scooter entrepreneurs are gone.
    Demand for those %3,000 toys just dried up, I guess.

    I'd have thought that the scooters and mo-peds would be big sellers, but no. They seem not to be.

    Now, the other day we were discussing newspapers, which now has to compete with a medoim that was a governmemt subsidized start-up that still operates in a tax holiday enviorment, the inter-net.
    RCP media watch tells us:

    Without question, 2008 was a terrible year for stocks. The Dow was down by 35% and the S&P 500 was off by about 40%. Yet, when it comes to getting hammered in the stock market, there's no business like the newspaper business.

    A number of newspaper publishers have seen their stock value decline by 90% or more in 2008, having been or are on the verge of being delisted by the NYSE. Gatehouse Media, Journal Register and Sun-Times Media Group all have become penny stocks and been kicked off the big board.

    The stocks for Gatehouse, which publishes nearly 100 mostly small-town dailies, are down 99.5%.

    Journal Register, parent company of 22 mostly suburban dailies, had a similar meltdown.

    Sun-Times, owner of the eponymous Chicago paper, is trading at about 5 cents a share.

    Bigger chains are not faring much better. Lee Enterprises, with St. Louis Post-Dispatch its flagship, is trading at 40 cents a share.

    Media General, publisher of the Tampa Tribune, is at around $2.50.

    Gannett, the nation's largest newspaper publisher and parent of USA Today and Detroit Free Press, is at $8.50, down from around $37 in January 2008.

    Gannett also has the AZ Republic in its' stable of papers. The value of that paper, the AZ market maker, has plunnetted.

  68. Yellowstone continues to shake--

    "It's not business as usual," said Smith. "This is a large earthquake swarm, and we've recorded several hundred. We are paying careful attention. This is an important sequence."

    Smith noted that beginning in 2004, there was "accelerated uplift of the Yellowstone Caldera" that covered the entire caldera.

    That doesn't sound so good.

    Yellowstone News

    Maybe the Lord is going to end all our bickering.

  69. I think there's good cause to be optimistic. If the US can eliminate its foreign oil dependence and reduce its military spending by 50% over the next 10-15 years, which I think is VERY doable, than we're looking at a saving of over a trillion dollars a year. A saving of a trillion dollars a year, combined with the increased tax revenues from investments in homegrown green technology, will have a very positive effect on the US current account deficits and the national debt.

  70. That mega-volcano stuff sounds more like Gaia than the Lord, bob.

  71. Maybe the Lord is going to end all our bickering.

    Not to worry, that area is very sparsely populated. Only Bob and the wife live there.

  72. I'm afraid the result might be the same, Rat, whoever is responsible:(

    World Air Traffic From Maggie's Farm

    I think these are neat videos. Kind of makes one think we are part of Gaia, the moving more or less conscious top of the Gaian Pyramid.

  73. These are sunny days for the merchants of doom.


    There are at least 75 wholesale trade liquidators around the country. Some have specialties, such as computer parts or books.


    It's a case where one market's downturn is another's upturn.

    Cheer to Liquidators

  74. Bob and his wife are working on an evacuation plan, but at my age I'm not proud of it, as I ought, and may, stay and help.

    On the other hand I remember how Harry Truman ended up under Mount St. Helens....

    ah, if it were to really blow, it would be the end of life as we know it, for most of us on the north American continent, for a long time to come.

  75. Movie time--I wish I could grow younger....

  76. The last supervolcano/VEI 8 eruption on our planet was 26,500 years ago at Lake Taupo, New Zealand. However, a much larger eruption occurred about 75,000 years ago at Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia which plunged the Earth into a volcanic winter, eradicating an estimated 60% of the human population.


    Even though a large earthquake could cause considerable damage in the area, this does not necessarily mean an eruption will result. And even if it does, it may not automatically produce a VEI 8.

    But if it does, on the scale of that seen at Toba 75,000 years ago, I don't think we need to worry too much about the present financial crisis. Our main concern will be fighting for our survival!

    Start to Worry?

  77. Vis Yellowstone, I'm no geophysicist, but could we all at least agree beforehand, if it does blow..... will be that F___ker Bush's fault!

    Some folks around here are going to have phantom pain in their feet from not being able to kick that poor ol' s.o.b. around in 2 weeks.

  78. I think this one we can pin on alBob. He's been poisoning all them defenseless giant earth worms with radioactive waste and spreading rumor that they intended to take over the globe. But them giant earth worms are a vengeful bunch, so here we are, facing global annihilation by giant earth worms digging a hole to mother Gaia butt, that is about to blow.

  79. Several hundred quakes centered under the northern end of Yellowstone Lake have now occurred since Dec. 26. No damage has been reported.

    Earthquake swarms happen fairly often in Yellowstone. But scientists say it's unusual for so many earthquakes to happen over several days.

    Yellowstone lies mostly in northwestern Wyoming and is the caldera of a volcano that last erupted 70,000 years ago. Scientists have not concluded what is causing the earthquakes.

    Some Questions

  80. If they had only allowed more snow mobiles in Yellowstone, the pressure of the drive belts would have placated the worms ...
    and all would be well with the world.

    But no, GWBush and his Interior Dept would not let the snowmobilers have free use of the Park. It took a Federal Judge to overturn that Green Machine that was the Bush Interior Department.
    Just as it took a Federal judge to force the Forest Service to obey Federal law, regarding free roaming horses, here in AZ.

    But the 2004 decision did not come soon enough to please Gaia.
    Now the worms are in open revolt.

  81. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum condemned the Security Council action as "a farce" dominated by the United States, which has strongly supported Israel .

    Egypt summoned the ambassadors of the UN Security Council's five permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- to protest at the delay in passing a ceasefire resolution.

    Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak condemned "in the strongest terms" Israel's ground attack which his office called a "terrifying aggression."

    Toll Passes 510

  82. 22/day

    Damn near once an hour for the past week.

  83. It only took a little over 30 bucks to fill up my full size gas guzzling pick up today. Effing Bush.

    Had a lamp blow a bulb earlier today. Had to replace it. Effing Bush.

    Watched Tropic Thunder today...Effing hilarious.

    Effing Richardson is an Effing Crook.

  84. DR

    I can show you the home he and Laura bought in Preston Hollow.

    What else do you need?

  85. Now they're expected to move to a $2 million, four-bedroom home in Preston Hollow. The house backs up to an estate owned by former Bush business partner Tom Hicks.

    Look for them around Southern Methodist University. Both the president and first lady have said they'll be actively involved in development of his presidential library, museum and policy institute.

    That complex is set to be built near SMU Boulevard and North Central Expressway.

    North Texas

  86. Google's most searched words for 2008:

    financial crisis
    mortgage crisis
    wall street
    stock market
    credit crisis
    housing crisis

  87. I'm surprised 'free porn' isn't in that list.

  88. Federal regulators will permit the financing arm of General Motors to become a bank and gain access to billions of dollars in government aid. The move will allow GMAC to tap as much as $6 billion in government bailout money. The Fed’s decision comes days after the Bush administration said it would tap the bailout fund to provide emergency loans to General Motors and Chrysler to buy them time to reorganize and avoid having to file for bankruptcy protection. But the Fed’s decision to approve GMAC is particularly controversial. GMAC has not announced any changes to its business model. But as a bank, the lender will have greater access to more stable deposits and access to loans from the Fed. Based upon a formula used by the Treasury, the company could receive as much as $6 billion in funds from the $700 billion financial rescue package.


  89. Luckily, Santa Claus will not ask for a bailout. He always lives in the world of fantasy.

  90. TRISH!!!!

    You want to see a lot of the old props, and suicide doors too, you'll have to go to "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button".

    Pretty good movie, in my view. And, I had a real recognition scene, when I sat straight up, and said to the wife, "Hell, that's Brad Pitt!"

    Pitt the Youngering, hardeharhar

    I didn't know who was in it.

    Wife said it didn't follow F. Scott Fitzgerald's story very closely. She suspects he stole the plot line from Zelda. I think he got it from some old Greek myth.

    Anyways, well worth seeing. Taraji Penda Henson, a swahili swede, was real good.

  91. Sam's right, that's got to be a phoney Goggle list there, Mat.

    Not a mention of sex or celebrities anywhere.

  92. Bob, we're so far gone, we've gone beyond sex:

  93. Has anyone heard any rumors of a Clinton scandal abrewing? How can this be?!, they've always seemed squeaky clean to me----

    6. wretchard:

    It occurred to me that Richardson could have been strung along and promised the cabinet post even though the Transition Team knew or suspected he would never make the cut. One way of making promises you can’t keep is to know you can’t keep them. There are now news stories suggesting Hillary may be linked to some scandal in New York State. It that happens, the Obama administration will hold the record for the greatest number of ex-future cabinet members. Think of it as being similar to overbooking theater seats. Someone’s bound to cancel.

    It's all about the new politics Ash promised us.

  94. Bob,

    Forget new politics, we've got new science:

    The researchers, aboard the Royal Navy’s HMS Endurance, have found that melting icebergs off the coast of Antarctica are releasing millions of tiny particles of iron into the southern Ocean, helping to create huge ‘blooms’ of algae that absorb carbon emissions. The algae then sinks to the icy depths, effectively removing CO2 from the atmosphere for hundreds of years.

    According to lead researcher, Prof. Rob Raiswell of Leeds University, “The Earth itself seems to want to save us.”

    Scientists have known for some time that artificially created algal blooms could be used to absorb greenhouse gases, but the technique has been banned for fear of causing unforeseen side effects in fragile ecosystems. However, based on the UK team’s evidence that the process has been occurring naturally for millions of years, and on a wide scale, the UN has given the green light for a ground-breaking experiment later this month.

    The team will seek to create a massive algae bloom by releasing several tons of iron sulphate into the sea off the coast of the British island of South Georgia. The patch will apparently be large enough to be visible from space.

    If successful, the technique could be rolled out across vast swathes of the Great Southern Ocean. Scientists calculate that if the whole 20 million square miles was treated, it could remove up to three and a half Gigatons of C02, equivalent to one eighth of all global annual emissions from fossil fuels.

    It would be a huge irony if melting icebergs, until now a powerful symbol of the damage caused by global warming, reveal a process that may enable scientists to take steps that might drastically reduce, and potentially even halt, the threat of environmental catasrophe.

  95. Far gone, Mat, cause I get a message saying 'the site does not exist'.

    It may be some trouble on my computer, it's been happening a lot lately.

  96. Algae blooms used to be thought of as bad shit. What I notice is the scientists just can't seem to decide to leave Mother Nature alone.

    may enable scientists to take steps that might drastically reduce, and potentially even halt, the threat of environmental catasrophe.

    "Ah, blooms, that's the solution! Let's dump tons of iron sulphate in the ocean!"

    For a problem that may or may not exist.

  97. I'm pretty convinced we've hit peak oil.

  98. JPOST: Hamas: We're using PA arms to battle IDF

    I really hope that the US/Israeli fscktards responsible for giving them arms should soon die a slow painful death.

  99. Hamas may be using some Chinese rockets--Here

  100. It's all been very predictable, Bob.

  101. I'm pretty convinced we've hit peak oil.

    Why am I not surprised?

  102. Watch the peakers orgasm over data that the peak oil crisis is even more imminent than predicted just a year ago.

    Should be breaking news any day now.

  103. peak orgasm, an orgasm squared...

  104. You got to admit, it would be weird to fall in love with somebody, and each be aging in the opposite direction. Causes all sorts of difficulties, but true love finds a way. Soul mates, barmates.

  105. Watch the peakers orgasm over data that the peak oil crisis is even more imminent than predicted just a year ago.

    LT knowns where all the hidden organism fluid is hidden. We should hand him a face mask and send him an a digging expedition.

  106. Stock up on pantyhose, Bob. Screen out the ash.

  107. G'nite, mat.

    Why don't you send Bob some of your old pantyhose so he can filter his truck intake when the big one hits?

  108. When it came to tax cuts, seems GWBush was really cheap. Obama is going to blow right by, creating the biggest tax cut in history.
    According to the Wall Street Journal. If you dannot trust Murdock to tell the truth, well, who can we trust?


    WASHINGTON -- President-elect Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are crafting a plan to offer about $300 billion of tax cuts to individuals and businesses, a move aimed at attracting Republican support for an economic-stimulus package and prodding companies to create jobs.

    The size of the proposed tax cuts -- which would account for about 40% of a stimulus package that could reach $775 billion over two years -- is greater than many on both sides of the aisle in Congress had anticipated. It may make it easier to win over Republicans who have stressed that any initiative should rely more heavily on tax cuts rather than spending.

    The Obama tax-cut proposals, if enacted, could pack more punch in two years than either of President George W. Bush's tax cuts did in their first two years.

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