“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."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

If Obama is not smoking two packs a day...

He should be.

He is clearly clueless as to what to do about the economy. It is an amazing set of events that put him on Air Force One. Maybe he can pull it off, most likely not. So far , it does not look good at all. 

His program is totally lacking in imagination, change or daring.  It is a dreary combination of the doctrinaria of the left.

He is a smart college professor and community organiser and he thinks he can use those skills to staff an administration with the best and the brightest. That ticket will get punched out in short time. People will tolerate more in good times than in bad. His start has been mediocre and uninspiring and that from what seemed to be a masterful campaign.

Had the opening weeks of this administration been done under a Republican, the press would be howling with scorn and the late night talk shows suffering from indigestion with the heap of material available for parody.

With an increasing volatility his era of good feelings half-life will dissolve to powder. Yikes.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I'd like to see the Republicans open an investigation, call in the FBI, and find out what really happened that Thursday September the 18th, and who were the responsible parties.

  3. The current POTUS is not a moron, he's smart enough to fool the majority of idiots that want free money for nothing...

    yep biggest domestic spending bill since ww2, and largest amount of debt in 60 years...



  4. Pete had about three or four heart attacks, and the accompanying near death experiences, after which he got really mellowed out.

    And began to think about things.

    Make of that what you will.

  5. Peter Sellers Wiki Biographry Here has some biography written up in my near death books,not mentioned here, and it changed him greatly.

    He got a little withdrawn, and didn't take to his wife, or wives much, kind of lived by himself, as if something had really happened to him.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. He never really talked much about it, like, he didn't really know what to say, and got by himself, kind of withdrawn from his wife and relatives.

  8. Well. well, well. now it seems that an employer, in mat's opinion, should be held legally responsible for providing Health Insurance to all its' employees.

    That is not how it is done, in Canada, nor in Israel.
    Health care in Israel is both universal and compulsory, and is administered by a small number of organizations with funding from the government. ....

    Health Care is not provided by the employeer in any major industrial country, save the US. That it is here, a function of our tax code, making Health Care insurance premiums tax free income, if paid by the employeer. A true travesty of tax policy, to be sure.

    This system, along with long term employment at the same firm for decades, is breaking down.

    It is not a third partus' responsibility to provide Health Insurance for another individual.

    A mutual agreement to work is just that, mutual. If one does not like the terms of employment, get a job somewhere else. Start your own businesss if need be, then you can provide Health Insurance for yoursef and ALL your employees and their familiy members. If that is what is important to you.

  9. Nationalize Insolvent Banks

    Nouriel Roubini, 02.12.09,

    Paradoxically, this is a market-friendly solution to the crisis.

    By now, write-downs by U.S. banks have already passed the $1 trillion mark (my floor estimate of losses), and institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and Goldman Sachs predict losses over $2 trillion (close to my original expected ceiling for such losses).

    But if you think $2 trillion is already huge, our latest estimates at RGE Monitor (available in a paper for our clients) suggest that total losses on loans made by U.S. financial firms and the fall in the market value of the assets they are holding will be, at their peak, about $3.6 trillion. The U.S. banks and broker-dealers are exposed to half of this much, or $1.8 trillion; the rest is borne by other financial institutions in the U.S. and abroad.

    The capital backing the banks' assets was just $1.4 trillion (last fall), leaving the U.S. banking system some $400 billion in the hole, or close to zero even after the government and private-sector recapitalization of such banks. Thus, another $1.4 trillion will be needed to bring back the capital of banks to the level it had before the crisis, and such massive additional recapitalization is needed to resolve the credit crunch and restore lending to the private sector.

    These figures suggests the U.S. banking system is effectively insolvent in the aggregate; most of the U.K. banking system looks insolvent, too, and many other banks in continental Europe are also insolvent.

    I've subsribed to Forbes since my days in Panama, they have always provided clear analysis of the financial goings on.
    Serving up news of a shit sandwich, fer sure.

  10. By David Blair in Jerusalem

    Mr Netanyahu, who came second in the election with 27 seats, invited his main opponent, Tzipi Livni from the centrist Kadima party, to join a unity government under his leadership.

    Miss Livni, who came first in Tuesday's polls with 28 seats, would keep her present job of foreign minister while her deputy, Shaul Mofaz, would become defence minister.

    Mr Netanyahu feels confident enough to make this offer and bid for the premiership because the Right-wing block of parties won 65 of the 120 seats in the new Knesset, or parliament. When it comes to forming a government, the numbers are on his side.

    "I plan to create a wide coalition and I will tell the other parties, 'if you're worried about national interest, lay aside your political interests and join a government under my leadership'," he told the Haaretz newspaper.
    Nothing will work, however, without the support of Avigdor Lieberman, the "kingmaker" who leads the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party and holds the balance of power in the Knesset. Mr Netanyahu is believed to have offered him the post of finance minister.

  11. After Israel's Election, Palestinians Weigh a New Intifadeh
    By Tony Karon

    Which would trigger the US SOP for conflict resolution, Mr Obama would have few other options.

    It is incumbent on the international community to guarantee peace and impose law and order in the absence of a widely accepted rule of law. In addition to basic security, there is a “window of necessity” to meet humanitarian needs and give people confidence in the future.
    The process must start to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate (DDR) warring opponents.

  12. As articulated by Carlos Pascual, part of Mr Obamas' inner circle of foreign policy wonks. Working hand in glove with Samantha Powers at the NSC.

  13. Health Care is not provided by the employeer in any major industrial country, save the US.

    Irrelevant. We're talking about criminal labor practices by criminal corporations. And the only reason these criminal corporations get away with it, is because they have the Corruptocrats in their pocket. These criminal privileges will end under Mat the War Czar.

  14. $8.5 trillion bailout tally exceeds costs of all U.S. wars

    Money spent on recent industry bailouts and liquidity infusions totals more than the cost of every U.S. war in current dollars.

    The U.S. Department of Treasury, Congress and the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank pumped more than $8.5 trillion into the U.S. economy in 2008 in an effort to help financial and automotive sectors. The federal government also sent tax rebate checks to consumers last year in hopes of boosting spending.

    The $8.5 trillion price tag is more than the costs of every U.S. war — from the U.S. Civil War to Iraq — according to the Congressional Research Service and Cybercast News Services.

  15. Well Worth Watching:

    Letterman, as he customarily does with guests on his show, asked Phoenix to help set up the clip he was about to show. Phoenix had no idea and took exception to Paul Shaffer's laughing. "Are you ------ kidding? Are you serious with that maniacal laughter? I don't know what the clip is."

    Letterman explained it was a clip with Paltrow, to which Phoenix said, "You're doing fine." Letterman fired back, "That's high praise, coming from you."

    That response clearly irked Phoenix, who tried to get an explanation from Letterman for his sarcasm. The host said, "Relax. We're having fun."

    "I'll come to your house and chew gum," Letterman added.

    Phoenix took the gum out of his mouth and put it under Letterman's desk.

    Letterman closed the interview by saying, "Joaquin, I'm sorry you couldn't be here tonight."

    Phoenix smiled a bit, looked down and said, "He's funny. He's a funny dude."

    Watch Joaquin Phoenix's 'Late Show' Interview Here

  16. The audience snickered and Phoenix looked generally surprised and said, "What is that, a joke?" He then looked at Letterman and said, "What do you have them on? What do you gas them up with?"

  17. Every day Obama looks more and more like the rookie he is. He enjoys getting on that big blue and white Air Force One. It must make him feel very presidential.

    His newly found saluting has the stiffness and awkwardness of a fresh second looie.

    One question, shouldn't there be something that keeps him in the office?

  18. ... or has the crack team he put together doing it all. This guy has never made a payroll or led anything and he has spent more time on Air Force One than he has in the oval office.

  19. How would Lincoln vote today?

    Everyone, from President Obama to the GOP, wants a piece of Honest Abe on his bicentennial. Here's where Abraham Lincoln really stood on the issues.

    By Michael Lind

    Would Lincoln join today's Republicans in calling for more tax cuts as the answer to every problem? President Lincoln signed the bills creating the IRS and the first U.S. income tax.

    What would Abraham Lincoln think of the religious right in today's Republican Party -- and more to the point, what would the religious right think of him? According to his law partner William Herndon, in 1834 Lincoln wrote "a little book on infidelity" in which he questioned "the divinity of Christ -- Special Inspiration -- Revelation &c." He reluctantly burned it, when his friends warned him it would damage his career. During the same year, the young Whig politician criticized supporters of the Democrat Peter Cartwright, an evangelist turned politician like Mike Huckabee, as "in some degree priest-ridden." When he ran for Congress in 1846, Lincoln was accused by the religious right of the day of being an infidel; his reply was a classic of politically motivated equivocation:
    "That I am not a member of any Christian Church is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures; and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or any denomination of Christians in particular."

    Lincoln's speeches were deeply influenced by the King James Bible, and as the costs of the Civil War mounted he dwelled on the mysteries of Providence. According to his closest associates, however, he never became a Christian. "He had no faith in the Christian sense of the term -- had faith in laws, principles, effects and causes," observed David Davis, a longtime friend whom Lincoln appointed to the Supreme Court. His law partner John Todd Stewart wrote: "He was an avowed and open infidel and sometimes bordered on atheism ... went further against Christian beliefs and doctrines and principles than any man I ever heard; he shocked me ... Lincoln always denied that Jesus was the Christ of God -- denied that Jesus was the son of God as understood and maintained by the Christian Church."

    While Lincoln did not believe that Jesus was the son of God, he did believe in biological evolution. His law partner Herndon recalled that Lincoln took great interest in "Vestiges of Creation" (1844) by Robert Chambers, a book that popularized the idea of evolution even before Darwin published his theory of natural selection as its mechanism: "The treatise interested him greatly, and he was deeply impressed with the notion of the so-called 'universal law' -- evolution; he did not extend greatly his researches, but by continued thinking in a single channel seemed to grow into a warm advocate of the new doctrine."

    Can anyone believe that a contemporary Republican politician who refused to join a Christian church, who was described by friends as "an avowed and open infidel," who had written a book mocking the miracles in the Bible, who described evangelical voters as "priest-ridden," and was a "warm advocate" of evolutionary theory, could be nominated for president by today's Republican Party?

  20. My out look on the health care issue is simple, we should always be trying to improve it, and the best way to do that is create more doctors and medical institutions.

    We're overdue for a medical school in Idaho, for instance.

    I'd suggest a couple billion of the trillion go to building a med school in Boise.

    He have, or had, money in there for film for Hollywood producers, I'd think we'd be able to find a buck or two for a medical school.

  21. Where Are We Heading?

    Peter Wehner

    More importantly, we have seen a surprising sloppiness from Team Obama. It has manifest itself through a sub-standard vetting process (which led to Bill Richardson withdrawing his nomination for Secretary of Commerce); to tone-deafness in believing the tax problems of Tim Geithner and Tom Daschle, both of which are significant and troubling, would be glossed over; to the announcement that they would close Guantanamo Bay without having any idea what they would do with the detainees (a future commission will decide this, we are told); to Secretary Geithner’s disastrous unveiling of a plan to fix the nation’s ailing financial markets. Even Democrats were unnerved by the scant details of Geithner's plan. “What they did is over-promise and under-deliver,” Thomas Barrack, chief executive of Colony Capital, a private investment firm in Los Angeles, told the Washington Post. “They said there was going to be a plan, so everybody expected a plan. And there was nothing.”

  22. Ash had said we should ration health care, I say we should create enough supply so we don't have to ration.

    Particularily since I'm getting towards the end of my term, and might well end up being one of the ones 'rationed' right out of the system!:)

  23. The proposed "Education" funding in the Stimulous Package was stripped out in the Senate, by Mr Specter, bob.


    The lead story in the AZ Republic, the other day, was how after the GOP at the State level, along with our new Governor, were depending upon that "Education" money, as they stripped State funds from our local budget. Gotta cut somewhere, you know, may as well cut the school funding rather than the subsidies for light-rail.

  24. bobal, it is not a matter of wanting to ration health care or but that health care necessarily is rationed. The question then becomes how it is rationed.

  25. I'm not sure I'm real hot on the idea of Ash doing the rationing, when it comes to me.

  26. ah, there you are, Ash.

    The question is why do you think it has to be rationed at all?

    I don't get it.

    Why not create more facilities and personel to take care of everybody?

    that health care necessarily is rationed.

    I say it doesn't necessarily have to be rationed.

  27. well, that sure isn't going to happen.

    if you've got health insurance they'll tell you what your ration is to be. Anything beyond what they say will be decided by how much other money you've got....or medi-care. Gotta liquidate all your assets before you qualify I think. I don't know the details down there but sure as shit - it's rationed.

  28. One thing, however, is clear: Nobody with Lincoln's religious and political beliefs could be a conservative Republican on the bicentennial of Lincoln's birthday. Until a generation ago, someone who thought the way Lincoln did could still find a home among the moderate Republicans of the Northeast and Midwest. But today Lincoln Republicans have been driven out of the Republican Party by an alliance of the religious right and free-market fundamentalists. The Northern and Midwestern states that voted for Lincoln in 1860 are largely Democratic today. Take away the thinly populated mountain-prairie West, and the Republican Party is essentially the party of the former Confederacy. Lincoln, the first Republican president, would find himself marginalized in the party he helped to found, by the political descendants of the Southern Jeffersonians and Jacksonians whom he opposed throughout his political career and defeated in war. While today's Democrats are not necessarily the party of Lincoln, the GOP definitely is not Mr. Lincoln's party anymore.

  29. "Why not create more facilities and personel to take care of everybody?"

    who's gonna pay for all of that?

  30. Surely in a trillion dollars you can find enough money to build a medical school in Boise.

  31. so, what's one medical school gonna do toward creating unlimited supply? Are you, as it sounds, advocating for a federal government financed system?

  32. Who's gonna pay for that?

    We are, I am. You are.

    Just like now.

    I haven't gotten a dime's return on my Blue Cross policy, I've paid for years, the Mexicans and the destitute get free health care now, at the emergency room.

    I'd rather have some of this give away money go into creating more docs and clinics.

  33. You are sounding like you are firmly in camp of socialized medicine bobal!

  34. We should be working towards building it up.

    I'm ok with taxes doing that.

    I'm not in favor of Uncle Sam getting between me and my doc, whoever he or she is.

    Some things are private, between a man and his lawyer, or doctor, and the government shouldn't be involved.

    But tax money to build medical schools, fine.

    We do it now, and have for decades, generations.

    The University of Washington Medical School.

    The University of Oregon Medical School.

    The University of Idaho Medical School?

    Time has come.

  35. At NRO Michael G. Franc writes:

    Over the last three weeks the policy experts at my institution, the Heritage Foundation, have published dozens of biting critiques of literally every aspect of the House and Senate versions of this legislative monstrosity. They agree on one thing:
    Under the guise of stimulating the economy, this one bill contains a generation’s worth of liberal policymaking, an entire Great Society-scale agenda, one that advances the liberals’ view of man and his relationship to government enough to cause LBJ himself to turn red with envy.

    Which I think is an accurate assessment, so while many deride Obama for appearing the amatuer, he has succeeded where Billary failed, and he has done so in three weeks.

    It is not a matter of differing perceptions, but facts on the ground. In measuring Obama's performance in getting Law enacted, he has been a master, while 'representing' a stumblin' bumpkin from Springfield.

    Performance counts

  36. so, what's one medical school gonna do toward creating unlimited supply?

    That's not the right question.

    First, no one is talking about 'an unlimited supply'.

    We're just talking about a supply sufficient to meet the current and coming needs of th society, so we don't have to ration.

    One medical school is a place to start.

    Like one nuclear reactor would go a ways to meet our coming energy needs.

  37. Money to hire the doctor, bob?

    Isn't that the most important thing to fund, the ability for people to see the doctor, rather than the number of doctors there are?

    Then, what of the remedies available. Should the right to see the doctor be sancrosect, but the miracle drugs needed for survival, unavailable because of pricing?

    Or is there a right to affordable pharmaceuticals, too?

    At what point does the 'Senior' run out of their accumulated 'Right to Life'.
    Becoming of less social value than a fetus.

  38. If I'm paying Uncle Sam, and I am as my account is making up this year's bill right now, I'd like to see it go to something that might do me and others some good down the line.

    I feel like a general fund of money collected by the government invested in a project that creates a benefit to us all is what the government is for, if it's for anything at all.

  39. This comment has been removed by the author.

  40. If doctors are so important, then should they not all be drafted into Federal Service?

    It is to important to leave to the marketplace. As you say, the market has failed to maintain the supply, of doctors, at an affordable cost.
    Both to the perspective doc and society, without Federal involvement.

    Either the Federal involvement is required, in health care, or it is not. But just subsidizing one link in the performance chain, that will not strenghten the chain.
    The chain is measured by the weakest link, always.

  41. If there are only two plumbers in town, we're going to have trouble finding a plumber.

    If we create a University School Of Plumbers, we'll have an easier time finding a plumber, I would think.

    I just went to my medical roto-rooter not long ago, because thankfully we have enough medical roto-rooters to go around now.

    If we have more docs and more expertise, our options will expand out in the future.

    I personally don't want to live forever (or at least I don't think I do, or have convinced myself for now that I don't think I do) but I don't want Ash bumping me off either.

  42. There are some projects that are so big, you really need money from the public to finance them. A medical school seems to me to fall into that category, and is something we all benefit from.

    Paricularily as medicine has gotten so complex.

    We're not talking about leeches, and bleeding here.

    As to how long a person should live, I don't know.

    My aunt made it to 98 1/2, and I took care of her, except up to the last two years or so, when she was in a rest home, one funded mostly and run by the Lutherans.

    Even in the rest home, she had a pretty good 'quality of life' as such things go, though she wasn't any 'spring chicken'. The last few months were getting grim.

    We do what we can do.

  43. I say it doesn't necessarily have to be rationed.

    Walmart's experience might enlighten on this issue. Their first efforts at employee health benefits had to be modified by placing a higher burden on the employee for cost shared.

    Seems the first, more generous offering, was leading people into frivolous visits to the doctor.

    It's human nature. Or, maybe animal nature, although I can't see my dog taking extra trips to the vet just because she could.

  44. You took advantage of your elderly aunt, picking her brain so you could appear well-read years later after Al-Gore invented the Internets.

  45. His newly found saluting has the stiffness and awkwardness of a fresh second looie.

    Not fair to butter bars, deuce.

  46. There was talk at the end of her life about what might be done for her, in the manner of extraordinary care. This was talked over by the staff, her legal guardian (me), my lawyer, and the doctors, and herself, too.

    It's the only experience I've ever had with this.

    The staff at Good Sam was great.

    She had signed some years earlier a 'living will' which indicated her desires that no great extraordinary care be given her.

    She didn't want to sit there with tubes in her arms, unconscious, a veggie.

    I've signed one of those living wills too, as has my wife.

    Finally, nature takes it course.

  47. Maybe she dislikes the loss of control.
    Try giving her the car keys next time she wants to go.

  48. :)

    Talking about dogs, I don't think there was ever two dogs that got better health care than my aunt's two mutts.

    She didn't have any children, so the love in her heart went to the dogs, with a lot left over for me.

  49. You get back to my point, bob.

    It is not the number of doctors, but the equipment. A doctor without a stethoscope is an educated fellow that can offer opinions. But without drugs and equipment, offers little else.

    As a society, do we want more of our resources dedicated to keeping those in the last months of their lives alive for a few months more?

    Or should we limit the amount and types of care, and subsequent expense, and let them take that final breath, without alot of outside interference prolonging the inevitable.

    Debate surrounds end-of-life health care costs
    By Julie Appleby, USA TODAY

    If you are dying in Miami, the last six months of your life might well look like this: You'll see doctors, mostly specialists, 46 times; spend more than six days in an intensive care unit and stand a 27% chance of dying in a hospital ICU.
    The tab for your doctor and hospital care will run just over $23,000.

    But spend those last six months in Portland, Ore., and you'll go to the doctor 18 times, half of those visits with your primary care doctor, spend one day in intensive care and stand a 13% chance of dying in an ICU. You'll likely die at home, with the support of a hospice program.
    Total tab: slightly more than $14,000.

    Researchers at the Dartmouth Atlas Project, a program at the Dartmouth Medical School that evaluates variation in medical care, analyzed Medicare data on patients with chronic illnesses to develop those statistics, showing that it costs far more to die in some parts of the country than in others.

    While researchers are able to show differences in costs, the real question remains how much of those additional hospitalizations, tests and doctor visits resulted in better care or better quality of life? Finding answers to that question is difficult and controversial, but health policy experts say doing so will become increasingly important as the U.S. seeks ways to slow the rapid rise in health care spending.

  50. I haven't gotten a dime's return on my Blue Cross policy, I've paid for years, the Mexicans and the destitute get free health care now, at the emergency room.

    I'd rather have some of this give away money go into creating more docs and clinics.

    In the first place, you're damned lucky not to have had any return on your Blue Cross premiums. That's not what insurance is for.

    And, in the second place you're talking apples and avacados. I don't like that situation either, which led me to a face-off with the collections department at the local hospital. They didn't like my offer to pay off the bill at $50/month, which at the time was what I could afford. Said 'twas unacceptable. Turned it over to a collection agency. I continued to send them their $50/month, with the collection agency coupon enclosed, to the hospital billing address until I had it paid off. They lost by having to share their take with the collection agency, plus the handling costs, and they didn't get paid off a minute sooner. Fuck 'em.

    I'd noticed before that that even in old Mexico there were public health facilities where pre-natal and neo-natal care was available without having to go to an emergency room. The system is distorted, not broken.

  51. aye, distorted systems, long story in short form:

    A number of years ago, here in Ontario, some government policy wonks noticed a correlation where as the number of doctors increased so too did the health care costs to the government (socialized system). The brilliant government of the day decided to limit the number of doctors coming out of college. Lo and behold a number of years later they found they were short of doctors (patients, especially in remote rural areas screaming blue murder) and still health care costs were increasing.

  52. Well, it a heck of a hard problem.

    I'm not saying I've got the 'perfect answer', just that I'd rather have my tax money go into something where I see a social benefit, rather than more studies about the wolves and elk in Idaho, for instane.

    And I'd cut back on the number of pickup trucks at Idaho Fish and Game.

  53. ...and the Hospice alternative is more humane at least to those honest enough to face the truth.

  54. "It is not a matter of differing perceptions, but facts on the ground. In measuring Obama's performance in getting Law enacted, he has been a master, while 'representing' a stumblin' bumpkin from Springfield.

    Performance counts
    He got a Hell of a boost from the pathetic GOP over the past 8 years, at least.

    GWB being the leader and the Star.

    With that magnificent closing performance:


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