“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."

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

"Petraeus made the mistake of thinking he was still dealing with George Bush instead of with Barack Obama."

Fruit salad alley.

Pentagon brass chafes at Obama's Iraq pullout plan

By Inter Press Service

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Gareth Porter Lebanon Daily Star

WASHINGTON: CENTCOM commander General David Petraeus, supported by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, tried to convince President Barack Obama that he had to back down from his campaign pledge to pullout all US combat troops from Iraq within 18 months at an Oval Office meeting on January 21, sources have said.

But Obama informed Gates, Petraeus and Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen that he wasn't convinced and wanted Gates and the military leaders to come back quickly with a detailed 16-month plan, according to two sources who have talked with participants in the meeting.

Obama's decision to override Petraeus' recommendation has not ended the conflict between the president and senior military officers over troop withdrawal, however. There are indications that Petraeus and his allies in the military and the Pentagon, including General Ray Odierno, now the top commander in Iraq, have already begun to try to pressure Obama to change his withdrawal policy.

A network of senior military officers is also reported to be preparing to support Petraeus and Odierno by mobilizing public opinion against Obama's decision.

Petraeus was visibly unhappy when he left the Oval Office, according to one of the sources. A White House staffer present at the meeting was quoted by the source as saying: "Petraeus made the mistake of thinking he was still dealing with George Bush instead of with Barack Obama."

Petraeus, Gates and Odierno had hoped to sell Obama on a plan that they formulated in the final months of the Bush administration that aimed at getting around a key provision of the US-Iraqi withdrawal agreement by re-categorizing large numbers of combat troops as support troops. That subterfuge was formulated by the United States last November while ostensibly allowing Obama to deliver on his campaign promise.

Gates and Mullen had discussed the relabeling scheme with Obama as part of the Petraeus-Odierno plan for withdrawal they had presented to him in mid-December, according to a December 18 New York Times story.

Obama decided against making any public reference to his order to the military to draft a detailed 16-month combat-troop withdrawal policy, apparently so that he can announce his decision only after consulting with his field commanders and the Pentagon.

The first clear indication of the intention of Petraeus, Odierno and their allies to try to get Obama to amend his decision came on January 29 when the New York Times published an interview with Odierno, ostensibly based on the premise that Obama had indicated that he was "open to alternatives."

The Times reported that Odierno had "developed a plan that would move slower than Mr. Obama's campaign timetable" and had suggested in an interview "it might take the rest of the year to determine exactly when United States forces could be drawn down significantly."

The opening argument by the Petraeus-Odierno faction against Obama's withdrawal policy was revealed the evening of the January 21 meeting when retired army General Jack Keane, one of the authors of the Bush troop-surge policy and a close political ally and mentor of Petraeus, appeared on the "Lehrer News Hour" to comment on Obama's pledge on Iraq combat troop withdrawal.

Keane, who had certainly been briefed by Petraeus on the outcome of the Oval Office meeting, argued that implementing such a withdrawal of combat troops would "increase the risk rather dramatically over the 16 months."

He asserted that it would jeopardize the "stable political situation in Iraq" and called that risk "not acceptable."

The assertion that Obama's withdrawal policy threatens the gains allegedly won by the Bush troop surge and Petraeus' strategy in Iraq will apparently be the theme of the campaign that military opponents are now planning.

Keane, the army vice chief of staff from 1999-03, has ties to a network of active and retired four-star army generals, and since Obama's January 21 order on the 16-month withdrawal plan, some of the retired four-star generals in that network have begun discussing a campaign to blame Obama's troop withdrawal from Iraq for the ultimate collapse of the political "stability" that they expect to follow the US withdrawal, according to a military source familiar with the network's plans.

The source says the network, which includes senior active-duty officers in the Pentagon, will begin making the argument to journalists covering the Pentagon that Obama's withdrawal policy risks an eventual collapse in Iraq. That would raise the political cost to Obama of sticking to his withdrawal policy.

If Obama does not change the policy, according to the source, they hope to have planted the seeds of a future political narrative blaming his withdrawal policy for the "collapse" they expect in an Iraq without US troops.

That line seems likely to appeal to reporters covering the Iraq troop-withdrawal issue. Ever since Obama's inauguration, media coverage of the issue has treated Obama's 16-month withdrawal proposal as a concession to anti-war sentiment which will have to be adjusted to the "realities" as defined by the advice to Obama from Gates, Petraeus and Odierno.

Ever since he began working on the troop surge, Keane has been the central figure manipulating policy in order to keep as many US troops in Iraq as possible. It was Keane who got Vice President Dick Cheney to push for Petraeus as top commander in Iraq in late 2006 when the existing commander, General George W. Casey, did not support the troop surge.

It was Keane who protected Petraeus' interests in ensuring the maximum number of troops in Iraq against the efforts by other military leaders to accelerate troop withdrawal in 2007 and 2008. As Bob Woodward reported in "The War Within," Keane persuaded Bush to override the concerns of the Joint Chiefs of Staff about the stress of prolonged US occupation of Iraq on the US Army and Marine Corps as well as its impact on the worsening situation in Afghanistan.

Bush agreed in September 2007 to guarantee that Petraeus would have as many troops as he needed for as long as wanted, according to Woodward's account.

Keane had also prevailed on Gates in April 2008 to make Petraeus the new commander of CENTCOM. Keane argued that keeping Petraeus in the field was the best insurance against a Democratic administration reversing the Bush policy toward Iraq.

Keane had operated on the assumption that a Democratic president would probably not take the political risk of rejecting Petraeus' recommendation on the pace of troop withdrawal from Iraq. Woodward quotes Keane as telling Gates: "Let's assume we have a Democratic administration and they want to pull this thing out quickly, and now they have to deal with General Petraeus and General Odierno. There will be a price to be paid to override them."

Obama told Petraeus in Baghdad last July that if elected, he would regard the overall health of the US Army and Marine Corps and the situation in Afghanistan as more important than Petraeus' obvious interest in maximizing US troop strength in Iraq, according to Time magazine's Joe Klein.

But judging from Petraeus' shock at Obama's January 21 decision, he had not taken Obama's previous rejection of his arguments seriously. That miscalculation suggests that Petraeus had begun to accept Keane's assertion that a newly elected Democratic president would not dare to override his policy recommendation on troops in Iraq.


  1. Wretchard has a good post at BC. The economists, basically, don't know a thing, is the point of the post. As good as having a court astrologer. That's a point of view I agree with. Well, at least somewhat. Even if we could learn something from the 30's, figuring out what really happened then, how to apply it to now, when things are quite a bit different? This is an enterprize with a lot of hazards. He does seem to have a guiding light though, a leftist ideology that doesn't have a good track record.

    Add in that Obama is now disregarding the advice of the generals--this guy doesn't have a clue what he's doing. Unless the perception, or suspicion, that he might actually be trying to hurt the country has some validity.

    Add in throwing Israel under the bus, and letting Iran have nuclear weapons, shrinking the military and its development programs, and an energy policy that doesn't have any short term prospects of success, shit, we're screwed.Luck always runs out. He can't luck out in all these areas. And rhetoric can't bring in the harvest.

  2. I love it...

    I really hope our new Christ the O will pull completely out of Iraq at once...

    Thus setting up Iraq for a major war....

    Thus causing millions to die....

    Thus causing real war between Turkey (invading Kurdistan)

    Thus causing the entire world NEVER to trust AMerica again.

    In the end millions will die...

    but that's fine....

    Iraq will be Iran & Turkey's playground...

    Sunni hit squads will rise from the recently cooled embers of their Nazi past...

    Iranian Shia squads will quickly re-emerge & very likely al-qieda will start moving bases back to Iraq...

    And to make things fun.... Iran will use Iraq as a new base against Israel, creating a new NGO that will fire rockets against Israel

    Yet our new Messiah is one wickedly fun loving guy...

    and while the world burns, He will blame...


  3. That's a further evidence that Petraeus might be the next US President (after Obama), I wrote about this already (don't laugh, it's serious):

  4. Sorry, this is the link, a I was talking about in the previous comment. Cheers, RP

  5. The tie-less swagger through the White House portends trouble.

  6. France NOW seems very concerned about recent satellite launches into space as prelude to ICBM capabilities (once they figure out how to bring a payload down on a target or when russia sends them the know how). Funny how the fact that Iran has already shown it can reach Tel Aviv with the Shahab-3 missiles it tested last year didn’t really faze them.

    More Canary in the coal mine evidence.

  7. To follow up on our discussion of alternatives to the US dollar.

    There are advantages to seigniorage, and yes the US has taken much advantage of its benefits. The question is how far can it go in exploiting it? I'm sure the British held similar opinions about the viability of the British pound as the empire waned yet, even though it was the exchange currency, it lost its luster.

    I understand your argument about the size of the US economy dwarfing all others but is that sufficient to keep the US dollar on top against all debasement? I think not - specially now that there are huge pools of money sloshing about looking for return as opposed to being traded for economic reasons (i.e. French guy needs to buy US made widget therefore he needs buy US dollars to obtain it).

    I think there is a series of events that could occur in the near future that could collapse the US dollar. If the 'Buy American' provisions get entrenched in law and other countries start the process of retaliatory trade protections then there would be huge downward pressure on the US dollar. If the Chinese, and others holding large pools of US dollars, or simply stop buying them in the Chinese case (which they do to keep the Yuan a parity) then we'd be looking at larger overhang of US T bills yielding pitifully small interest rates. The current account deficit being run by the US suggests that the size of the US economy is not sufficient to compel purchase of US dollars. Add to this all those traders and sovereign wealth funds with huge pools of capital looking for return and the holding of declining in value US T bills would seem like a mugs game.

    I'm not saying this is going to happen but to think that the US economy is 'too big to fail' exhibits hubris. Things are incredibly dicey right now.

    rufus said...

    "Fuck the Germans. Our automakers have to provide health insurance to their workers. The Kraut buggymakers don't"

    aye, that's the protectionist rearing its ugly head. That sentiment seems to be spreading fast - beggar thy neighbor.

    One approach, instead of directly subsidizing the Auto makers thus prompting others to do the same would be to join the rest of the civilized world and help them out with the health care costs. A national health care system would help level the playing field for all without requiring industry specific subsidies.

  8. Pajamas Media turning off the lights at the end of March.

  9. Naw, I'm not protectionist. I've just been watching the Euros for a long time. They're strongly protectionist in the way they implement their VAT.

    Everybody protects their steel industry to some extent. We'll work it out in the WTO, just like we did a couple of years, ago.

    I, actually, want the U.S. to do something with Health Insurance; but, I strongly favor a "Massachusetts" type approach.

  10. $100.00 Steaks while a Million Kentuckians Freeze.

    No FEMA. No "Presidential" mention.

    This guy will probably be a one-term president.

  11. The libbies loved it when some disgruntled ex-Generals got after Bush's ass. We'll see how they like it when it's the "Messiah's" turn as target.

  12. I stumbled across this today. It provides some interesting ways to compare values of things to the past i.e. the price of oil now as opposed to 'back then'. I found the GDP per capita measure to be quite interesting

  13. An age-old debate.

    Jack Of All Trades vs. Master of One


    { Tuesday, January 27, 2009 }

    Obsessions and Spare Time Pursuits

    Obsessions are one of the greatest telltale signs of success. Understand a person's obsessions and you will understand her natural motivation. The thing for which she would walk to the end of the earth.

    It turns out that The Interview Question You Should Always Ask is "What do you do in your spare time?". Sullenberger, who landed the plane in the Hudson a few weeks ago, had a great "spare time"' resume:

    In Captain Sullenberger's case, the first clue that he would become Captain Sullenberger the hero is that, in his teens, when most of his friends were getting their driver's licenses, he got his pilot's license. What did he do for fun? He flew glider planes. Which is basically what he did when he landed in the Hudson River with no engines. Extracurricular activities? He was an Accident Investigator for the Air Line Pilots Association and worked with federal aviation officials to improve training and methods for evacuating aircraft in emergencies.

    As someone noted in the comments of Global Nerdy, this didn't make for a particularly well-rounded guy. I've often quoted this, from Robert Heinlein:

    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

    Right guy, right place, right time, regardless.

  14. Happy Feet Tuesday

  15. Free Trade = Slave Trade

    Make no mistake about this. The 4000 miles salad on freight boxes only makes sense using a slave labor. The only winners in this equation are the multinationals and those that deploy slave labour.

  16. I do work for Americans and I'm no slave.

  17. Let me rephrase that. I own a Canadian Corporation which does work for US clients, among others. We are in no way slaves.

  18. I do work for Americans and I'm no slave.

    You're a Jihadist troll. Go away.

  19. We started off with 13 disparate states. We took away their right (and, the right of all future states) to impose tariffs on each other. And we built the damnedest economic engine in the history of man. The highest GDP per Capita of any major nation on Earth.

    It worked especially well After we got rid of slavery.

    NO, giving me the right to trade freely with someone who lives in China, or Mexico is Not promoting Slavery. It's promoting FREEDOM.

  20. I do work for Americans and I'm no slave.

    You're also a serial liar.

  21. However, most of the work we do involves US companies selling to Canadians.

  22. NO, giving me the right to trade freely with someone who lives in China, or Mexico is Not promoting Slavery. It's promoting FREEDOM.

    How is that freedom working for Mexicans? How is that freedom working out for Latin America. How is that freedom working for the ChiCom laborer working 18hr/day 7days/week 365days/year, sleeping on the factory floors and getting once a year? How is that freedom working out for Americans?

    And btw, Rufus, the slave labor in the south was a creation of Free Trade. It is only when the protectionist north took over that things began to change.

  23. Many of those 'foreigners' are happy to have the work. Heck, China is worried about social unrest as factories close.

  24. ..getting ^ paid once a year..

  25. Many of those 'foreigners' are happy to have the work. Heck, China is worried about social unrest as factories close.

    I don't give a shit about China. They are thieves of intellectual property, and are a dictatorial regime that employs slave labor. We should never have any business contact with such entities.

  26. Why should we care whether you like the Chinese or not? The point is that your statement free trade = slave trade is false.

  27. Why should we care whether you like the Chinese or not? The point is that your statement free trade = slave trade is false.

    Because I tell the truth and you tell lies.

  28. So Ashley, how's the weather on the west coast, that's where you live, right?

  29. Well, we've established the lie involved in your "Free Trade = Slave Trade" statement so that informs us about about the rest of your 'truths'?

  30. Actually, Mexico is doing a lot better post-NAFTA than it was before.

    As for China: We don't have a free-trade pact with China. Import tariffs are very high, there. Why are you bringing them into this?

    The South might have been able to get out of slavery on their own if it wasn't for the Protectionist North passing exorbitant tariffs on Industrial Equipment from Europe, and making their agricultural exports untenable through high "export" tariffs.

  31. Well, we've established the lie involved in your "Free Trade = Slave Trade" statement so that informs us about about the rest of your 'truths'?

    No, what we've established is you claiming that my "Free Trade = Slave Trade" equation is a lie. And given that we know you to be a serial liar, that should bestow instant credibility on the original statement. Now go away, Jihadi troll.

  32. Well, lie is a bad way to phrase it because it implies intent. Free Trade = Slave Trade is simply false. I actually think that you believe it so that would not make you a liar just...I'll leave it to others to fill in the blank.

  33. The President of the United States will order the Army to fulfill his campaign promises, and the will of the people, as thusly represented.

    Good on him, a President that keeps his promises will be something to get used to, won't it?

    The very idea, that Porter reports, to 'cheat' on the Treaty with Iraq, by redifining the words used to describe US troops is enough to chafe an honest man. Whether or not that is an accurate report, from Lebanon is questionable. trish seems to think some part of Porter's report to be 'full of it'. Full of shit, I assume.

    A President that does not defer to the Generals on geopolitical strategy will be a good thing. Whether or not the President choses the correct strategy, only time will tell. It is evident, clearly, that Mr Bush did not, as the election of Barack Hussein Obama so plainly exemplifies.

    If mat had his way, everyone in Canada would suffer from scurvy.

    The per capita GDP of the average Mexican is rising, and the fallout of that is there are over 1,200 WalMex affiliated stores there, now.
    With more to come.
    There are 200 Walmart owned stores in China, also with more on the way.
    The reason, more disposable income looking for value, instead of being gouged at the 'local' store.

  34. Actually, Mexico is doing a lot better post-NAFTA than it was before.

    So? Who the fsck cares about Mexico? Are you a Mexican? Your concern should be the welfare of your American brethren. And America has seen its middle class decimated by "free trade".

  35. If mat had his way, everyone in Canada would suffer from scurvy.

    That's BS. If mat had his way, Canada would have its own auto industry, its own airline manufacturing industry. Like it has its own rail industry.

  36. Mexicans are Americans, mat, as are the Canadians.

    It is one land, from Isthmus to the Artic, everyone that lives there, is an American.

    America is an idea, not a country.

  37. Mexicans are Americans, mat, as are the Canadians.

    Good, I'm glad you say that. More people need to hear this Imperialist garbage, and more often.

  38. re. the wearing of the tie thing:

    "Conventional people are roused to fury by departures from convention, largely because they regard such departures as a criticism of themselves."

  39. Where you going to grow the citrus, mat, in Canada?

    No purchases allowed outside the country.
    No drugs, either, as the Canadians consume US manufactered pharmaceuticals.

    Without easily assessable credit or patent rights to the intellectual property, you won't be building a pharmaceutical industry, either.
    30 million folks is just not enough to create the economy of scale required. Forgetting there is no money to create a new industry, from scratch.

  40. Why not take it to the level of Israel - my what an economy they'd have with their own Aircraft, Rail, Car, Pharma, ect. industries.

  41. No purchases allowed outside the country.

    I see. It's "Free trade" or no trade. Well, take your "Free Trade" or no trade, and shove it.

  42. Why not take it to the level of Israel - my what an economy they'd have with their own Aircraft, Rail, Car, Pharma, ect. industries.

    Why not. Israel is very capable of doing all these thing absent "Free Trade". And it has.

  43. Well, gee, that's what we have now, even under NAFTA - managed trade. What's your point then?

  44. What's your point then?

    "Free Trade" is not managed trade.

  45. Sure it is. The trade has all sorts of regulation involved. The question is not either or but how much regulation. Generally 'free trade' in the NAFTA treaty requires non-discriminatory treatment of companies regardless of location. Just because you trade freely doesn't mean you are free to sell 'beef' from a pig.

  46. In the case of Free Trade = Slave trade you are, I believe, trying to state that the labor costs are the driving force behind production costs and that trade location will necessarily be in the lowest labor cost jurisdiction. There are, however, many other factors that go into production cost than just labor costs. In addition to the 'right' of an Indian, or a Chinese, to work, there are many problems in trying to specify what local labor laws should be. Should Canada require the US to increase its minimum wage in order to trade with Canada? Should Canada require the US to raise its personal tax levels to match Canada's to level the playing field? Should the US require China to meet its labor and pollution standards in order to trade with the US? I would imagine you'd answer yes to all the above but that would stifle trade and make thornier the abilities of locals to govern themselves which would put two of your 'axioms' at odds with each other.

  47. Sure it is.

    It is not. If I want to protect fledgling companies and industries and give them the time and space to grow, I cannot do it under "Free Trade". This is unacceptable. And it is anti competitive.

  48. Should Canada require the US to increase its minimum wage in order to trade with Canada? Should Canada require the US to raise its personal tax levels to match Canada's to level the playing field?

    These are idiotic questions. Conditions will always be varied. That is why tariffs need to be in place to account for the differences.

  49. It depends how you want to protect your fledging companies and what trade agreement we are talking about. The most extensive free trade agreement I'm aware of is NAFTA and yes you can subsidize companies, seed capital as it were, to allow them to grow. What you cannot do, under NAFTA, is ban a US company from operating in Canada and only allow a Canadian company to operate. For example, bulk fresh water shipments are banned. If Canada should allow a Canadian company to export bulk fresh water then it is obliged under NAFTA to allow a US company to do the same.

    Bombardier is one example of a Canadian company that has been protected and nutured for many a year by the Canadian government even under NAFTA.

  50. Bombardier is a very special case. It survived because French speaking nationalists insisted that it survive. What I want to see is English speaking Canadian nationalists take a similar approach to companies and industries in their domain.

  51. re. the wearing of the tie thing:

    "Conventional people are roused to fury by departures from convention, largely because they regard such departures as a criticism of themselves."

    Leadership has an element of theater, a large important element. It is important. Obama looks small and unimportant in casual attire. He does not look presidential. Obama has not established himself as president as much as the country has established him as president. They are not the same thing.

  52. DASCHLE OUT. nothing changes does it?

  53. hehe--Here's one that drops out early--

    Doesn't anybody back there pay their taxes?

    Obama performance chief Killefer out, citing taxes

    Feb 3 02:55 PM US/Eastern

    WASHINGTON (AP) - Nancy Killefer withdrew her candidacy to be the first chief performance officer for the federal government on Tuesday, saying she didn't want her bungling of payroll taxes on her household help to become a distraction for the Obama administration.
    Killefer was the second major nominee to withdraw. Within hours, former Sen. Tom Daschle also withdrew his nomination to be secretary of health and human services.

    In a brief letter to President Barack Obama, Killefer, the 55-year-old executive with consulting giant McKinsey & Co., wrote that she had "come to realize in the current environment that my personal tax issue of D.C. unemployment tax could be used to create exactly the kind of distraction and delay" that must be avoided in responding to urgent economic problems.

  54. Gallup: Most Americans Unhappy with Stimulus
    Nearly two-thirds of Americans don’t support President Barack Obama’s stimulus package, according to a new Gallup poll, and just 10 percent believe it will improve the economy this year. Among Republicans, 43 percent say it should pass only with major changes while 35 percent want to see it rejected outright.


    I can't keep up with all this stuff. Now there's talk about some 'mortgage entitlement' to be thrown into the stimulus stew.

    What's this 'mortgage entitlement'?

    Do I qualify?

    I want something out of this damned thing, too.

    I don't want to be the only one without a concealed weapon, and I don't want to be the only one not slopping at the stimulus trough.

  55. Tuna and guns, bob.

    Tuna and guns.

  56. Ladies and Gentlemen, your new Secretary of State--

    Dang I Can't Stand Those People

    Hillary, Billary, Biden--seeming immortals, that have gotten the country by the balls.

  57. Shipped down a store of the Italian stuff, myself. Good with pesto or lemon mayonnaise on a sturdy bread.

  58. The latter concoction with ripe plumb tomatoes and chives. Open faced.

  59. Let's face it, it just doesn't pay to be responsible.


    Costco had the most wonderful canned salmon(can't recall the brand name, but I seem to recall a pinkish can) for a while, in a four pack for about $10 bucks, but they've not stocked it recently. Instead now they have a different brand of some kind of Alaska, at about twice the price, and they've succeeded in pricing it out of my market range. On the other hand they still have farmed trout, big plump babies, at a very reasonable price. A lot cheaper than catching them yourself. And, you can always claim you did so. When did fishermen ever tell the truth?

  60. What Will Your Family Eat When The Grocery Stores Are Empty?--Answer Here

    Actually a garden is a heck of a good thing. With a little practice, and getting to know what works in your area, you can learn to grow a lot with very little cost. We grow tomatos every year. Other stuff too. And, with a spray can of Roundup (use the generic) (and cut it down with water by about a third from what the label says) there's no stoop labor with the weeds.

    Back in the old days, they canned. I remember my aunt canning every fall. She'd put up enough stuff to last all winter, a habit from when they were stuck out on the farm, unable to get into town. Got to know what you're doing canning too. Got to be sealed tight, and clean.

  61. I want something out of this damned thing, too.

    Well, you can start by getting your local Corruptocrat to do your taxes. Or even better, join the Corruptocrat gild and get multiple multi-million dollar "jobs" peddling influence.

  62. The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. — Mark Twain

  63. The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin. — Mark Twain

    Not anymore. Now the taxman works for multinational taxidermists.

  64. :) I figured you'd come up with something.

  65. Bob,

    I'm growing in my backyard:

    bay leave

    They all do real well.

  66. For some reason the corn doesn't do well in my yard. Too light a soil, I quess.

    On the other hand, the sunflowers get monstrous, absolutely monstrous, with no fertilizer and not much water. Just used the seeds in the normal sunflower packs you buy at the grocery store. Basically plant some sunflowers cause they're pretty and the squirrels and birds like 'em.

  67. Corn and sunflower always did real well at my grandparents place in Otis Orchards.

    Actually everything did real well there. Ground's really fertile. Dark black. Something ancient to do with the valley there along the Spokane River.

  68. Jonah Goldberg:
    Democrats are hypocrites when it comes to paying taxes

    They say taxes are a patriotic duty. So why did Geithner and Daschle have trouble paying them?

    During the presidential campaign, Joe Biden insisted that paying your taxes is a patriotic duty. No, scratch that. He said that supporting a tax hike was the American thing to do. "It's time to be patriotic," he told America's putative tax slackers. When asked whether he might be questioning the patriotism of people who don't want higher taxes, Biden, as is his wont, took things to the next rhetorical level. Forget patriotism, insisted Joe, paying higher taxes is a religious obligation.

    The man who gave an average of $369 a year to charity over the previous decade fulfills his religious obligations by cutting a tax check -- a check he's required to cut by law.

    Now it's always perilous to take Biden's statements too seriously, but it does seem eminently fair to say that his comments reflect a common, if not universal, attitude among Democrats. Taxes aren't a "necessary evil" so much as a joyous affirmation of the possibilities of government and the lifeblood of a more hopeful society. "Taxes are what you pay to be an American" -- like "membership fees," says Democratic language guru George Lakoff.

    President Obama merely says that taxes are necessary to "spread the wealth," which is better for everybody. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman frames the issue more reasonably: "Nobody likes paying taxes ... [but] most Americans also care a lot about the things taxes pay for." In other words, paying taxes -- and raising taxes in Krugman's view -- is the adult, serious, morally responsible thing to do. Government needs every last penny, and holdouts must be smoked out.

  69. CNN) – Former Senate colleagues of Tom Daschle said Tuesday they were shocked by his sudden decision to withdraw from consideration as President Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services.

    "I'm in shock. I didn't know that. I don't know what happened," said California Sen. Diane Feinstein. "I talked to him the night before last, and he showed no signs of withdrawing."

    Some, like Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus, said they still believed Daschle would have survived the nomination process. "I was a little stunned,” said the Montana senator. Baucus and the rest of the Finance Committee met privately with Daschle last night to address the questions over his failure to pay some taxes. “I thought he was going to get confirmed. I thought — he's a good man and I thought he'd be confirmed. I'm surprised."

    Sen. John Kerry said the former Senate Majority Leader was disqualified on a technicality. “We're getting silly here, and I think people ought to step back and measure these things against the larger picture,” he said. “He's made his decision, I respect his decision and we go on from there."

  70. The president did a series of back-to-back television interviews in which the subject of failed nominees was a top subject.

    Obama told NBC "I'm frustrated with myself" for unintentionally sending a message that there are "two sets of rules" for paying taxes, "one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks."

    "I take responsibility for this mistake," he told Fox News.

    Mishandling Daschle

    Just like he will take responsibility for Iraq collapsing.

  71. With Mr Maliki winning at the polls and another election coming soon, in the fall I think, he will have gained a popular mandate.

    The Iraqi Security Forces, US trained, number over 350,000. More than enough for internal security.

    There are 25 million Iraqi, so the force to population ration is 71 residents for each uniform.

    That is three times NYPD's ratio of police to residents is, in NYCity.

    So collapse, of Iraq, is hardly in the cards. Not if the Security Forces were well trained and remain loyal to their Islamic Republic.

    Iraq is its' Army, they will constitute the power projection capability of the Prime Minister.

    Rest assured, if the President of the United States ordered his Generals to implement a 16 month drawdown, they will.
    If the Prome Minister of Iraq was in a similar situation, would his Generals follow his orders, or not?

  72. Bob recommends "Doubt", the movie. Meryl Streep was great, Phillip Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis, John Shanley, all the acting was good, many a good meaningful line, stark, realistic, brainy.

    "In the pursuit of - sin, I think it may have been, maybe wrongdoing - one step's or must step away from virtue" can't quite remember the line

    good movie

    hehe, wife's on jury duty right now...doubt, I tell her, you must entertain doubt, if you get called....


    There may have been more on Tom Daschle than meets the eye.

    He racked in about $5,000,000 from lobbying for big pharm last year, I heard on Lars Larsen, I think it was. These are of course the kind of folk he'd would have been dealing with (for) had he been appointed to the new position to screw up our medical system.

  73. One needs a variety of bumper stickers and buttons to safely travel the country, depending on what part you're in. Versatiity is all.

  74. But that may just be how it goes for reform candidates who actually wind up winning. "You ran as a reformer -- that's what you expected to be judged on," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a good-government group that has gone after more Republicans than Democrats over the years but is howling about some of Obama's appointments.

    "They said judge us on these standards; they said elect us because our standards are higher. I don't know what it takes for politicians to understand they can't say one thing and turn around and do another -- and then how are they surprised when people are upset?"

    That's what tripped up Tom Daschle, on Tuesday. If Obama and his vetting team aren't a little more careful in the future, he won't be the only one.

    Hopes Daschled

  75. Get yourself a Massoud sticker.

  76. David Letterman roughed up ex-Gov. Blagojevich in his interview with him tonight. Here's the first exchange after his introduction:

    DL: “Why exactly are you here? Honest to God…”

    RB: “Well, you know, I’ve been wanting to be on your show in the worst way for the longest…”

    DL: “Well, you’re on in the worst way.”

    heheheharharhar--that gets my belly to jiggling

  77. I knew you'd object, but I'm new to the self defense game....

    How about "New Edgy CWP Holder On Board"? or "New Edgy CWP Holder Riding Shotgun"?

  78. He backed Israel for its slaughter of the people of Gaza. In his quest for making America safe he made the world unsafe and sank America's prestige and credibility to rock bottom and triggered anti-Americanism across the globe to new heights.

    His mad policies have ignited terrorism and given a fatal blow to the American economy and resulted in global meltdown. Extremism that was confined to Afghanistan has spread all over the world.

    Americans and the world at large will have to reap the harvest of seeds of terrorism sown by the Bush administration for a long time.

    Inglorious Rule

  79. “There will be time for them to make profits, and there will be time for them to get bonuses,” Mr. Obama said. “Now’s not that time.”

    Mr. Obama’s new rules are coming just as he is expected to ask for additional sums of money, beyond the $700 billion already authorized, to prop up the financial system, even as he pushes Congress to move quickly on a separate economic stimulus package that could cost taxpayers as much as $900 billion.

    The banks that have received bailout funds already are subject to limits on compensation, but they are not considered strict. The top five executives at banks that get an equity infusion from the government are restricted from offering golden parachutes, as rich severance packages are called, and any compensation above $500,000 is not tax deductible to the company.

    Bailout Recipients

  80. Yeah, I don't think that guy likes him too much.

  81. That Asif Haroon Raja comes over as being just a little nuts.

  82. My son comes home tomorrow,

    He's sad because his childhood is ending.

  83. My second childhood is beginning, Trish. Starting to relive things. A cousin about ten years older than me just recently sent me some old pictures I had forgotten all about. And something about 'we could talk'. Only thing I can figure is she's either got early onset Alzheimer's, or has begun thinking about the doom of judgement day. She basically caused the whole extended family much grief many years ago, and she's the one that was born with the golden spoon in her mouth. I'm weighing my options whether to reply or not. Anyone that doesn't want to grow up may be displaying some real wisdom, though it seems we got to do it.

    Our local writer here, long gone, Carole Brink, had the idea that this coming to the new world wasn't going to change much, as the immigrants would just bring with them the same old nasty, greedy, pushy, rancorous psychological outlook bred into the genes back in the old world. Sometimes I think she was onto something.

  84. I ask, what group of doctors in their right minds would implant eight embryos in a bankrupt woman who already has 6 kids? From what I read sometimes 3 or 4 embryos are implanted in the hopes one will take. If all take, it seems an option is available to scoop two or three out. This is all so gruesome, mind bending and irresponsible on the doctors part--giving the mother a break, as she seems totally nuts--I can hardly believe it, yet I can believe it. I'd like to know just who these 'doctors' are.

  85. He racked in about $5,000,000 from lobbying for big pharm last year, I heard on Lars Larsen, I think it was.

    The public isn't interested in hearing about these things!

  86. Ten New Species Of Amphibian Discovered In Colombia

    Now there's a frog that knows his camouflage.


    Another figure I heard was $2million, Mat, but either way....

    Do you agree with WiO that Bibi is going to win the election?

  87. Do you agree with WiO that Bibi is going to win the election?

    It's more important that Lieberman and the smaller Nationalist Parties win large constituents. Likud has a tendency to join with Labour in a "national coalition", which basically means more sell out to American pressure lobbying on behalf of Saudia and the Jihadists.

  88. ..more sell outs to American pressure..

  89. Another figure I heard was $2million, Mat, but either way....

    It's all good, Bob. You only need to know what the MSM thinks you need to know. And this is definitely something that the MSM doesn't think you need to know.

  90. Really we should be referring to the MSM as Goebbels' Media. That's what it is.

  91. hi folks --good catch on Lebanon Star article --i put this in comments over at Maggie's Farm under the blogpost of a must-read from Foreign Policy in Focus magazine.