“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."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More British voices in the Taliban front line.

Exclusive: Army is fighting British jihadists in Afghanistan

Top Army officers reveal surge in attacks by radicalised Britons

By Kim Sengupta Independent
Wednesday, 25 February 2009

British soldiers are engaged in "a surreal mini civil war" with growing numbers of home-grown jihadists who have travelled to Afghanistan to support the Taliban, senior Army officers have told The Independent.

Interceptions of Taliban communications have shown that British jihadists – some "speaking with West Midlands accents" – are active in Helmand and other parts of southern Afghanistan, according to briefing papers prepared by an official security agency.

The document states that the numbers of young British Muslims, "seemingly committed jihadists", travelling abroad to commit extremist violence has been rising, with Pakistan and Somalia the most frequent destinations.

MI5 has estimated that up to 4,000 British Muslims had travelled to Pakistan and, before the fall of the Taliban, to Afghanistan for military training. The main concern until now has been about the parts some of them had played in terrorist plots in the UK. Now there are signs that they are mounting missions against British and Western targets abroad. "We are now involved in a kind of surreal mini-British civil war a few thousand miles away," said one Army officer.

Somalia is also becoming a destination for British Muslims of Somali extraction who have started fighting alongside al-Qa'ida-backed Islamist forces. A 21-year-old Briton of Somali extraction, who had been brought up in Ealing, west London, recently blew himself up in the town of Baidoa, killing 20 people. The head of MI5, Jonathan Evans, has raised the worrying issue of British citizens being indoctrinated in Somalia, and Michael Hayden, the outgoing head of the CIA, warned that the conflict in the Horn of Africa had "catalysed" expatriate Somalis in the West.

But it is in Afghanistan that British forces are now directly facing fellow Britons on the other side. RAF Nimrod aircraft flying over Afghanistan at up to 40,000ft have been picking up Taliban electronic "chatter" in which voices can be heard in West Midlands and Yorkshire accents. Worryingly for the military, this has increased in the past few months, with communications picked up by both ground and air surveillance, showing the presence of more British voices in the Taliban front line.

The men involved are said to try to hide their British connections but sometimes "fall back" into speaking English. One senior military source said: "We have been hearing a lot more Punjabi, Urdu and Kashmiri Urdu rather than just Pashtu, so there appears to be more men from other parts of Pakistan fighting with the Taliban than just the Pashtuns who have tribal allegiances with the Afghan Pashtuns. It is this second group, the Urdu, Punjabi speakers etc, who fall back into English in, for example, Brummie accents. You get the impression that they have been told not to talk in English but sometimes simply can't help it."

Some of the British Muslims had originally trained in Pakistan to commit attacks in Kashmir. But security sources say the rising threat of Indian retribution, especially after the Mumbai attacks, had led to the Pakistani government curbing the activities of the Kashmiri separatist groups, so the fighters are being switched to Afghanistan. The numbers involved in Afghanistan, the intelligence document shows, are relatively few, dozens rather than hundreds, but the pattern of involvement is described as a cause for concern.

Last week, during a visit to Helmand, the Foreign Secretary, David Milliband, was shown Taliban explosive devices containing British-made electronic components. An explosives officer said the devices had either been sent from Britain, or brought over to the country. They ranged from remote-control units used to fly model airplanes to advanced components which could detonates bombs at a range of more than a mile.

Evidence of British Muslims fighting inside Afghanistan and training in insurgent camps in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas has been provided to the UK authorities by the Americans. The US has significantly stepped up its surveillance inside Pakistan as part of a more aggressive policy including cross-border raids by unmanned Predator aircraft.

The Americans are said to have raised the issue of the Pakistan connection, complaining that the UK is not doing enough to curb radical Muslims. The US pointed out that this threatens their own security because UK passport holders can get into the US under the visa waiver programme. The Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, the chairman of the Commons' sub-committee on anti-terrorism, which has been examining the activities of British Muslim extremists, said: "We know the problem we have with UK-based jihadists. We also know that a number of them have been arrested trying to leave the country. With the UK intelligence services at full stretch, it is not surprising some of these jihadists had ended up in Afghanistan."

Brigadier Ed Butler, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said British Muslims were fighting his forces. "There are British passport holders who live in the UK who are being found in places such as Kandahar," he said. "There is a link between Kandahar and urban conurbations in the UK. This is something the military understands but the British public does not."

Robert Emerson, a security analyst who has worked in South Asia, said: "There is ample evidence that British Muslims had trained in camps in Pakistan. What is emerging now is a picture of them being more active in Afghanistan, either providing support and logistics or in active service. The numbers are not particularly large, but it is worrying."

Jonathan Evans, of MI5, said the number of extremists wanting to travel to Iraq had "tailed off significantly" as Britain begins the drawdown of its troops in the country. But there was "traffic" into Pakistan and Afghanistan. "What happens in Afghanistan is extremely important because what happens there has a direct impact on domestic security in the UK," he said. "Pre-2001, they were able to establish terrorist facilities and to draw hardened extremists and vulnerable recruits to indoctrinate and teach techniques. If the Taliban is able to establish control over significant areas, there is a real danger that such facilities will be re-established."

Last week, as Barack Obama ordered 17,000 extra US troops into Afghanistan, a confidential Nato report revealed that more than 30 per cent of the population believed the government of President Hamid Karzai had lost control of the areas in which they live and much of that has slipped back into Taliban control.


  1. The Foreclosure Five Versus the Rest of Us.
    The Foreclosure Five.”

    When President Obama discusses his $275 billion mortgage bailout, he talks as if it was a national problem, caused by a national decline in home prices. "We must stem the spread of foreclosures and falling home values for all Americans," he says. But there is no national market for homes and no national price for homes. Instead, most of the United States will pay for the folly of few.

    Even though California home prices fell 20.8% over the year ending in the fall of 2008, however, they were still 50% higher than they were just five years ago. In Florida and Nevada too, the bust in home prices obviously followed a speculative boom. Back in April 6, 2008, a New York Times graph showed that default rates on only the riskiest subprime mortgages had already reached 21% in Merced and Stockton, California, and ranged from 19% to 24% in Fort Myers and Naples, Florida.

    So what's happening now? By looking at sales, you can see the free market is working very well. Sales of existing homes over the past year have soared in four states where home prices fell the most. Reducing the inventory of unsold homes, foreclosed or not, makes it easier to sell remaining homes and thereby works to arrest falling home prices. Falling home prices are not the problem, they're the solution.

    In reality, the "Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan" compels taxpayers in most states to help those in just a few. Aside from Michigan's unique dependence on autos, the other four states' problems are already being solved the old-fashioned way:
    If something becomes too expensive, cut the price.
    Or move.

  2. The mendacity of hope

    In the absence of a strategy, we're doubling our troop commitment, hoping to repeat the success we achieved in the profoundly different environment of Iraq. Unable to describe our ultimate goals with any clarity, we're substituting means for ends.

    Expending blood and treasure blindly in Afghanistan, we do our best to shut our eyes to the worsening crisis next door in Pakistan, a radicalizing Muslim state with more than five times the population and a nuclear arsenal. We've turned the hose on the doghouse while letting the mansion burn.

    Initially, Afghanistan wasn't a war of choice. We had to dislodge and decimate al-Qaeda, while punishing the Taliban and strengthening friendlier forces in the country. Our great mistake was to stay on in an attempt to build a modernized rule-of-law state in a feudal realm with no common identity.

    We needed to smash our enemies and leave. Had it proved necessary, we could have returned later for another punitive mission. Instead, we fell into the great American fallacy of believing ourselves responsible for helping those who've harmed us.

  3. Ranked from best to worst, here are our four basic options going forward:

    • Best. Instead of increasing the U.S. military "footprint," reduce our forces and those of NATO by two-thirds, maintaining a "mother ship" at Bagram Air Base and a few satellite bases from which special operations troops, aircraft and drones, and lean conventional forces would strike terrorists and support Afghan factions with whom we share common enemies. All resupply for our military could be done by air, if necessary.

    Stop pretending Afghanistan's a real state. Freeze development efforts. Ignore the opium. Kill the fanatics.

    • Good. Leave entirely. Strike terrorist targets from over the horizon and launch punitive raids when necessary. Instead of facing another Vietnam ourselves, let Afghanistan become a Vietnam for Iran and Pakistan. Rebuild our military at home, renewing our strategic capabilities.

    • Poor. Continue to muddle through as is, accepting that achieving any meaningful change in Afghanistan is a generational commitment. Surge troops for specific missions, but not permanently.

    • Worst. Augment our forces endlessly and increase aid in the absence of a strategy. Lie to ourselves that good things might just happen. Let U.S. troops and Afghans continue to die for empty rhetoric, while Pakistan decays into a vast terrorist refuge.

    A reality check

    In any event, Pakistan, not Afghanistan, will determine the future of Islamist extremism in the region. And Pakistan is nearly lost to us — a fact we must accept. Our strategic future lies with India.

    - Ralph Peters

  4. On the outside, lookin' in, again, doug.

    Seems, from a comment on the last thread, that even whit has abandoned the Republicans.

    While there are British citizens that are rebelling against the British Crown and its' religous and foreign policies.

    And it is not 1776, any more.

    Civil Wars, so far from Westminster.

  5. While Senator John "Maverick" McCain, Standard Bearer for the Republicans is shocked, shocked, at the cost overruns the USNavy is incurring in its' ship building.

    Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
    Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
    [a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
    Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
    Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.

  6. Let the sons of bitches do what they do best, kill each other. Just remind them to keep it local.

  7. Put a couple of DeKalb seed gimme caps on those guys and, voila, it's the opening of deer season.

    I followed The Speech by reading the simultaneous Democratic commentary. People were weeping with joy and relief. Kissing their television sets and whatnot. It really was Inauguration Day redux.

    Many were the expressions of happiness at having "a grown up in charge again." The exact same words commonly deployed when GWB took over from Clinton. 'Their guy' is always the juvenile in need of scrupulous supervision and correction; 'our guy' is always the figure of steady and mature leadership. Go figure.

    David Brooks on Jindal:

    "Uh, not so well. You know, I think Bobby Jindal is a very promising politician, and I oppose the stimulus because I thought it was poorly drafted. But to come up at this moment in history with a stale “government is the problem,” “we can’t trust the federal government” – it’s just a disaster for the Republican Party. The country is in a panic right now. They may not like the way the Democrats have passed the stimulus bill, but that idea that we’re just gonna – that government is going to have no role, the federal government has no role in this, that – In a moment when only the federal government is actually big enough to do stuff, to just ignore all that and just say “government is the problem, corruption, earmarks, wasteful spending,” it’s just a form of nihilism. It’s just not where the country is, it’s not where the future of the country is. There’s an intra-Republican debate. Some people say the Republican Party lost its way because they got too moderate. Some people say they got too weird or too conservative. He thinks they got too moderate, and so he’s making that case. I think it’s insane, and I just think it’s a disaster for the party. I just think it’s unfortunate right now."

    Of course I remember one Reid and one Pelosi response to Bush SOTUs that would've been better replaced by ten minutes of test pattern. Back in the day of what was understood to be a "permanent Republican majority." Delivering the opposition response to a SOTU is often enough like delivering the opposition response to a eulogy or toast to the newlyweds.

  8. I guess it would have made Law Enforcements' job easier if Mohammed and Malvo had dressed like city slickers goin' on a deer hunt on a Texas "Game Preserve".

  9. Incidentally, Peters had much the same diagnosis and prescription in re Iraq - esp. this, which is almost a word-for-word cut and paste from 2004:

    Our great mistake was to stay on in an attempt to build a modernized rule-of-law state in a feudal realm with no common identity.

    We needed to smash our enemies and leave. Had it proved necessary, we could have returned later for another punitive mission. Instead, we fell into the great American fallacy of believing ourselves responsible for helping those who've harmed us.

    Back when the Bad War was still bad and the Good War was still looking good.

  10. Nothing NEW here...

    The Mike's Place suicide bombing was an attack on a bar in Tel Aviv, Israel in April 2003, killing three civilians and wounding 50.

    The attack

    At 12:45 AM on April 30, 2003, a suicide bomber approached Mike's Place in Tel Aviv and blew himself up at the entrance to the bar, killing Dominique Hass, 29, Ran Baron, 23, and Yanai Weiss, 46, and wounding over 50. One of the wounded was security guard Avi Tabib, who blocked the bomber, preventing him from entering the bar and causing further fatalities.[1] The attack was perpetrated by Asif Muhammad Hanif, 22, a British citizen. A second British citizen, Omar Khan Sharif, 27, fled the scene. Sharif's body was identified on May 19, 2003, after having washed ashore on the Tel Aviv beachfront on May 12.[2]

  11. Let the sons of bitches do what they do best, kill each other. Just remind them to keep it local.

    Wed Feb 25, 08:10:00 AM EST

    For a second there I really thought you were referring to the factions in DC.

  12. Peters was 'right' in 2004, as well.

    All we have done since then is repackaged the 1920 Brigades into a militia of awakened concerned citizens that, deep in their souls, are the sons if Iraq.

    But which the elected government, there, sees as ruffians, scoundrals and rebels in waiting.

    The political consequences of that local reality keep US tied down, quagmired in the desert, spending well over $100 billion USD annually to maintain the occupation of a free and democratic Iraq.

    With little return on that investment of Chinese treasure, borrowed and spent, by US.

  13. Interestingly enough, Peters later changed his mind. He's a flexible guy.

  14. Yoga enhances flexability,
    that's fer sur.

    While Yoda provided Skywalker with words of encouragement that promoted his inner growth.

  15. Peters:

    Best. Instead of increasing the U.S. military "footprint," reduce our forces and those of NATO by two-thirds, maintaining a "mother ship" at Bagram Air Base and a few satellite bases from which special operations troops, aircraft and drones, and lean conventional forces would strike terrorists and support Afghan factions with whom we share common enemies. All resupply for our military could be done by air, if necessary.

    This was once my proposal for Iraq. Except I wouldn't even have bothered with the conventional forces because there's no such thing as "lean" conventional forces. It might've actually been on the table at one time, maybe just before everyone and their mother was ginning up a strategy review.

    Also recommended same for Afghanistan and Pakistan, essentially keeping the big game preserve and dispensing with most of the rest. 90 day rotations from now til the cows come home.

    But then, I *was* a JSOC worshipper.

    I have since proven as flexible as Peters. And possibly more imaginative.

    And just look at Iraq now: It's at a turning point.

    Question is, what point would that be?

  16. I *can* imagine a truly unhappy scenario in which 17K more troops are inserted into Afghanistan and the administration loses Pakistan. To those who say Pakistan is already lost: You don't know what lost looks like.

  17. Bolton:

    "Giving Money to the UN Peace mission is equivalent to giving it directly to HAMAS."

  18. DOW is straight down this morning in the first few minutes of trading.

    Straight down like a Plumb bob

    I was the plumb bob guy on the engineering crew when I worked at the low end of the totem pole for the city engineering department in the summers back in high school. Buggers are hard to get steady if there is any wind.

    With the new improvements in surveying I doubt they are used any longer, though I don't know.

  19. Iraq, I think, will be back to where it was, from the beginning.
    A tripartisan Republic, of some type. With the Sunni areas being pressured by both the Shia dominated Government and the Kurds in the area around Kirkurk.

    Without the US there to fund the Sunni sons of Iraq, chances are they'll revert to type, 1920 redux.

  20. "Our great mistake was to stay on in an attempt to build a modernized rule-of-law state in a feudal realm with no common identity."
    Richard Perle asserts that the Neocons had nothing to do with this.

    Richard Perle is a liar.

  21. Oh, the US will still be there, Rat. Money will still be flowing. From various orifices.

  22. I think that Pakistan was lost quite a while ago. Its' body politic has been operating like a chicken with its' head cut off.

    Still wondering about the stategic goal the US and NATO is trying to attain, at this point.

    Are we just behind the curve, still fighting the "Sons of Afghanistan", instead of employing them?

  23. There will still be friends to keep. And enemies to make.

  24. For a while I am sure, trish, the money will flow. Matter of time and it'll blow up in our face.

    But as was always te case, the successful "Endgame" in Iraq was a 'stable' countryside and a US island of 25,000 to 50,000 troops on one or a few of those mega-bases we've built.

    So by 2011, we should have accomplished that Goal.
    While celebrating that we have progressed ever closer to the victory parade.

  25. "I think that Pakistan was lost quite a while ago."

    No. Lost is when the political leadership decides that it's had enough of putting its ass and its army on the line in return for what it believes to be terminally declining respect and appreciation from a nominal ally. That'll be the day the music dies.

  26. Seems to me India China Russia Europe need to be brought to a table where they agree to carve the territory and population. Nothing good can result in letting these Jihadis live. In my opinion, Jihadis need to be cleared off this planet. Repeat the process until none identifying as Jihadi exists.

  27. O there will still be friends to keep
    And enemies to make
    Before we betake ourselves
    And them forsake


  28. 7193.39 -157.55 (-2.14%) Feb 25 10:10am ET

  29. That's just the day that the dreamer realizes they've been dancing with a corpse.

    The effort in Pakistan, not withstanding the good intentions, has not been enough to destroy aQ, but has been a viable morale booster for the surviving leadership cadres. Exemplified by the latest cease-fire attempt in Swat.

    Pakistan was "lost" when they went nuclear and began Dr Kahn's proliferation program.
    A deadman walking.

  30. "That's just the day that the dreamer realizes they've been dancing with a corpse."

    I absolutely disagree.

    Bad as things are, without that "corpse" we are in a ton of hurt.

  31. 12. wretchard:

    "We do know something, but the reliability of that knowledge declines the further out you have to project it. If the economic system were sailing along in a stable way, all you have to do is take a protractor, ruler and divider and predict a future position with considerable accuracy. But if it’s jinking all over the place, then your knowledge of the future is unreliable except over short intervals. You can shoot skeet with a shotgun, but the problem becomes harder if you use a 16 inch government cannon laid at a point where the target will be in two year’s time.

    But the important insight is that we can do something meaningful if we act quickly and heuristically — move towards an improved solution without worrying about dressing it up with closed form, analytical solutions which isn’t worth a predictive damn anyway.

    Besides, we will gain information by acting soonest and observing the fall of shot. Doing something is a way of learning, a way of getting on the curve ASAP. If we take too long to load up the cannon, our knowledge will come late. Perhaps too late.

  32. That they suck, that they've been, ah, ambivalent, that they are competitors rather than enemies of the bad guys: all of this is true. Give me a theater where it's not. I may be sitting in the only one.

  33. On my deathbed, I will still be grateful for not having an Ivy League Education.

    (The Optimist believes he'll die in bed.)

  34. Well, in regarding what you just wrote, there are, I guess, the "Sons of Pakistan". They are nuclear armed and have a fairly modern Army at their command.

    They do behave pretty independently with regards to the legal supremecy or auhority of the elected Government of the country.

    If they are the dance partners, well, they may not be dead, but need to be. Factions within the Pakistani security establishment have financed and emboldened the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    We be dancin' with the Devil.

  35. The Lt. Col speaketh. Again. Just as stupidly as the last time. God protect us from "Majors, and Lt. Cols."

    Visions of the French at Dien Bien Phu dancing in my head. Mother Ship your Ass, Peters. You're a Moron.

    Our job in Iraq was "Protect the Oil." Our job in Afghanistan? Who the hell knows?

    Rat's right. Pakistan was "lost" when they went Nuclear. "Crazies with Nukes." Shit.

  36. We be dancin' with the Devil.

    Wed Feb 25, 10:30:00 AM EST

    Which would make a mighty fine, and I think hugely popular, spin-off of Dancing With The Stars.

    As the performing arts go, it's uniquely demanding.

  37. Where we could be better off just smashin' em up as hard as would coul, then not stay around for ActII.

    Come back later, if need be.

    We did not invade and occupy Hamburg, Germany, even though the terrorist used it as a sanctuary and staging area in their attacks upon US, on 9-11-01.

    Even now the Islamoid terrorist threat to US could well be centered in England, rather than Afghanistan. There are certainly many more nonstop flights to NYCity from Heathrow than Kabul.

  38. geo - politics are like a chess game...

    except evert once in a while an event happens that hits the reset button...

    ponder the follow action and non-responses...

    Pakistan: release of A Q Khan

    Syria: upgrading with russian rockets, anti-tank, new chemical weapons plant, secret nuke warehouses, killing and screwing with lebanon

    Hezbollah: take over by force of government, now part of official government

    Hamas: Killed over 100 of Fatah in last few weeks SINCE Israel finished it's operation, West Bank: Fatah releases scores of Hamas fighters..

    Iran: Finishing Nuke Plant, IAEA say has 30% MORE uranium than thought, Launched 3 different types of Rockets in 6 months INCLUDING one that put a satellite in order (solid fuel, good for EMP weapons)

    Nkor: about to test new longer range intercont ballistic missile...

    now couple that with Russia's invasion of Georgia, and now talking about 2 new naval bases, one in syria and one in newly conquered lands in Georgia, coupled with russia's getting us kicked off that air base in Kyrgyzstan...

    Then look at China.... Food shortages, Riots, Tibet, pressure of Yuan, Pressure on them to keep buying our crappy debt with their crappy money....

    All you need is the Three Gorges Dam to be built on a fault and poof!

    Then look at Europe/england... Riots from the left and riots from the right and riots from the africans and riots from the arabs, riots from the workers, students and soon the newly unemployed

    (let's not even mention collapsing oil prices, 3rd world debt to europe crashing, mexico collapsing and inner cities in AMerica getting hot tired and poor this summer...)

    Something is going to pop....

    and it's going to be a SCRAMBLE

  39. You got an irrational fear of Horns, Trish?

  40. I love horns.

  41. Gov. Perry wants U.S. troops guarding border

    Diana Washington Valdez / El Paso Times
    Posted: 02/25/2009 12:13:26 AM MST

    EL PASO - Gov. Rick Perry said he wants 1,000 troops to help guard the Texas-Mexico border, and for the U.S. to fund strong security measures to fight the Mexican drug cartels that have spread violence and fear in Mexico, including Juárez.
    "We're (also) asking the (Texas) Legislature for $135 million for border security - to go after transnational gangs, for technology and aviation assets, and for 1,000 troops,"
    said Perry at a news conference Tuesday at the Chamizal National Memorial.

    "I don't care if they are military, National Guard or customs agents. We're very concerned that the federal government is not funding border security adequately. We must be ready for any contingency."

  42. I think I'll move deeper into the interior of Idaho.

  43. No Real Estate Collapse to visit you there, al-Bob.

  44. But less than 3 miles south, in the once-quaint Mexican town of Palomas, a war is being waged.
    In the past year, a drug feud that has killed more than 1,350 in sprawling Ciudad Juárez has spread to tiny Palomas, 70 miles west, where more than 40 people have been gunned down, a dozen within a baseball toss of the border.

    More — no one knows how many — have been kidnapped, and the Palomas police chief fled across the border last year and has asked for political asylum.

    Columbus is on edge. A haven for baby-boomer retirees seeking cheap living, small-town values and blissful, if unpolished, solitude, Columbus can't quite believe that a bloody brawl has broken out on its doorstep.


    "What is going on across the border is going to go on for a while, folks," said Joseph Rivera, a regal figure with a bushy, silver mustache who works for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency. "People are leaving Palomas like jack rabbits and coming here."

    Robert Odom, a former town trustee, warned that the town was pushing its luck. "So far, knock on wood, it's been narco-traffickers attacking their own people," he said. "But it's only a matter of time before it spills over here."

    The last time an internal war in Mexico spilled over into Columbus, as every local schoolchild knows, was in 1916, when Mexican revolutionary Francisco "Pancho" Villa led a raid that killed 18 Americans and touched off a major international incident. A yearlong U.S. military expedition in Mexico failed to capture him.

  45. Key points:

    1. The TALF is meant to provide liquidity in the Asset-backed securities market to any company - hedge fund, foreign-owned U.S. subsidary, mutual fund, private equity fund, whatever — except Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs). SWFs get the stick.
    2. The TALF covers AAA assets with a maturity under 5 years for credit card and auto loans.
    3. The TALF is non-recourse, meaning the government can seize the toxic assets if the borrwer doesn't repay, but the government has no other claim on the assets of the debtor. That means you can get a loan from the govenment in return for toxic assets, butif you do not pay the loan back, no penalty is exacted excep seizure of the assets. This is very much like a mortgage agreement.
    4. Seized toxic assets will be put into a Special Purpose vehicle controlled by the U.S. government. Translation: please dump your toxic assets with us. We will take them off your hands and have no recourse to any other assets you own.

    In short, the TALF is a way for any and all comers, domestic and foreign, with toxic U.S. asset-backed securities, to dump those assts on to the U.S. government at taxpayers expense. This is happening right now right under your noses and it smacks of crony capitalism. At least the Fed has the transparency to spell it out. But has anyone noticed?

  46. *New York Daily News' DeFrank: "In a clear tonal shift from his first month, Obama seized the bully pulpit of his office to offer more hope than angst to a nation desperate for reassurance." He "stole a page from Ronald Reagan, who proved optimism is a formidable political weapon."


    CNN's insta-poll found strong reviews, with 85 percent saying the speech made them more optimistic.

  47. **Minnesota Senate Watch: The setbacks keep mounting for Norm Coleman, the Star Tribune reports. "The three-judge panel refused to preserve identifying marks on counted absentee ballots that he claims have been rendered illegal by recent rulings of the court. The decision hampers the ability of Coleman, a Republican, to challenge ballots tallied in the final phase of the recount, when DFL Al Franken took a 225-vote lead."