“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 18, 2009

Originally Sinless Responds

Originally Sinless said...

"They said if I voted for Goldwater, I'd wind up with a large-scale war in Vietnam. They were right."

Yes. He's going to take the plunge to some degree. It would take a President much stronger and wiser (experienced is a double edged sword, as John McCain illustrates) to oppose the choices he's being presented. They don't know yet how big of a jump it'll be. As I said before - originally they had big dreams, but now they're extremely worried, realizing just how clueless they were, on the outside yelling in. Indeed, it is easy to be ignorant and responsibility-free, as the crew from Center for a New American Security, and like-minded, are about to find out.

The "review," probably the 3rd or 4th such review in the past year and a half or so (each of which predictably gets more pessimistic in its conclusions), is intended to buy them just a little more time to figure out some wonder solution. It remains to be seen whether they'll swallow the wild-eyed COIN dogmatists like Nagl and Kilcullen. Unfortunately, there isn't much pushing against it due to a lack of coherent alternatives being put forward. Even those who see clearly enough that a massively expanded presence is incredibly dangerous and probably not the answer haven't yet, or at this point are still unable to, come around to the realization of just how bad the strategic situation actually is. There's also precedent of partial success in Iraq tugging at them on a number of levels (which is actually to some extent a badly misunderstood model in Washington right now...but that's a story in and of itself). Working with locals is always a good idea, but it doesn't solve the mid or long-term problems with a nation-building strategy.

Even if they were being provided with level-headed advice they'd still have to deal with the problem of political feasibility and inertia. On that front, Gates and company are smart enough to realize that they need desperately to reduce expectations, but they were so unrealistic to start with that they can only go so far so quickly.

"The Germans are going to send 600 troops for security purposes. Germany would use more police than that for a gay rights parade."

They'd also be more proud of it. (Not that there's anything wrong with gay rights parades, as long as they keep their clothes on and stay orderly.)

"Pakistan has decided it would be a good idea to let a big chunk of their population be guided and ruled under Sharia law. Pakistan is folding to the Taliban and Islamists. Meanwhile President Obama is thinking thirty thousand more."

It certainly reflects the true weakness of the Pakistani federal government in the NWFP. Same is true in the rest of border areas. But then again, it's always been that way. It's occurred before that what went on in those areas threatened the rest of the state. Nonetheless, there were, and will continue to be some serious battles going on there, and the Pakistani Army generally isn't doing too good.

But at least it isn't Pakistan proper, yet. People who are complacent about Pakistan's general stability are idiots. It might hold, but it might now. Our predictive abilities there are shit. But our presence in Afghanistan has very little influence over Pakistan's health, and whether that influence is negative or positive is itself up for debate.

"I am old fashioned. I admit it. I remember another liberal president calling for more US troops in Asia, except then it was "fifty thousand more."

Except of course there's a hard ceiling on how high we can go. Because, as I said months ago, people who think we can supply everything for a major military effort through airlift are dreaming. The tonnage is not there and never will be.

Throw in a major counterinsurgency effort, complete with reconstruction, and it's even more unlikely. We are dependent on supply lines through Pakistan and whatever we negotiate with the Russians. Airbases in the Stans are not enough, you need rail or shipping. One goes through Russia, the other Pakistan.

And for historical perspective, even the Russians, when they had full control of the Stans, and an army that used much less supplies, couldn't sustain more than 130,000 troops or so in the area, the majority of which were occupied in maintaining those supply lines. Of course, they also were fighting the entire country. We're not there yet, but given a few years of major combat in the south and opportunistic "Afghan" politicians in the rest of the country, and it's possible. Picking an open fight with Karzai right now? Not smart, morons.

The dirty little secret is that despite the focus on the Taliban (which is far from a monolithic organization, though we certainly wish it was), much of the rest of the country is only secure to the extent we're not messing around with it. I.e., it's under control of warlords, who are inserted into the government at various levels.

The Taliban is simply what we we're currently focusing on. You could disappear it tomorrow and our prospects of creating a viable Afghan state at peace with itself would still be long.

"This is a cultural and political quagmire where we know nothing."

We're learning quickly. Unfortunately, the more we learn, the more realize just how long the odds really are.

"The Taliban did not attack the US, Saudis did."

Don't go down that road. The Taliban harbored, were partially linked at the hip with, and aided those who did. All of which are even more true today. There's a debate to be had over whether what's left of Al Qaeda is best dealt with, or worth, the current effort in Afghanistan. I WELCOME that one. But they are still who they are.

"Promise all the Islamists hell if they return to US shores."

Define hell. Define the targets. Strikes me as vague rhetoric that in any case will certainly never be acted upon by our current leadership.

My personal view? Our best best is stay for the short-medium term, ditch the nation-building strategy, heavily minimize our commitment, and work through the anti-Pashtun groups within the country, and with most of the neighbors. Put them on the hotseat. And let the Taliban and Al Qaeda fight their personal war and tear themselves up against whomever, backed by whatever support it is prudent for us to give them. Contra to the nonsense that's been spouted over the past however many years the transnational core of Al Qaeda, which is the most dangerous part for us, is not some magical regenerating networked organizations, but a unique (amazing) and somewhat fragile organization built on personal ties. Years of ongoing warfare and targeted killings won't treat it well. Certainly start laying the groundwork to get the hell out there, with the expectation that you are probably not going to leave a stable Afghan state. Focus on other goals.

Odds it's going to be implimented? Not anytime soon. But, provided things don't get better (and it should be said there is a chance the military situation in the south could get better, if you can have some series of fortuitous developments like those that that greatly aided the Surge), you're going to start having countries dropping out of the Coalition over the next few years. And that's going to put pressure on the rest, adn so on.

Then people might be open to some changes.


Oh yeah, and Wolcott's a fucking idiot.


Wed Feb 18, 12:21:00 AM EST


  1. Obama flipped. I knew he would when I saw him saluting getting on and off Marine and Air Force One. I realized he was getting into the Commander and Chief mode.

    It is quite the thrill to order 17,000 troops into combat, especially when your largest previous order was for room service or for a carton of two hundred cigarettes.

    Someone should tell these never having served Commanders-in-Chief that a very senior officer does not have to return a salute.

    It would be better if he did not. Let them know who really is the boss.

    Did Eisenhower return salutes when he was president? I doubt that he did. Anyway, Obama until recently did not wear a flag lapel pin. They are not mandatory uniforms of the day. Now he is CINC.

    God help us.

  2. How I define hell?

    When you wake up for the tenth night in a row, in a cold sweat, a wild pulse, and too scared to go back to sleep quickly. You need time to clear the devil from your room and mind.

    In response to your question: a disproportionate focused and exceedingly violent retaliation with collateral damage to all possible participants would do just nicely.

  3. He can trade away our missiles and missile defenses for some temporary access help from the Russians!

    Moreover, Iran's just a shitty little nuclear armed country, nothing to worry about there.

    And, he was just kidding about going into Pakistan. It's their country after all, and an ally in the war on terror.

    And since George basically won the war in Iraq, for now, nothing to worry about there, either, forget about it, even though that's where all the oil is.

    Time to cut the defense budget.

    All is metro/rosy.

    Great observation about the salute, deuce.

    God Help The U S A indeed.

  4. Feb 17, 2009 - 11:21 pm

    50. Subotai Bahadur:

    Those who know me realize I am somewhat of a military historian by avocation, and that for a while I was writing for professional military journals with some success. Since 9/11 I have considered us to be in the 4th World War [Cold War was the 3rd, we won] against an Axis of Islam, Trans-national Socialism, and Failed Communist States. I have advocated, frequently rather forcefully, for the active prosecution of this war, on all fronts. I am not by any stretch, one who believes that we have any hope of a non-military way of surviving in a horribly dangerous world. And I am enough of a pragmatist to remember that all civilizations fall, all dynasties end, and in the long run the barbarians usually win due to a failure of will on the part of civilized people. My goal is to hold back the Long Night for a while longer.

    That said, we are engaged in a campaign in Afghanistan surrounded by multiple enemies from all three of the forces ranged against us in this war. They have control of our logistics lines, and most importantly we have a National Command Authority which seeks an enemy victory over our forces.

    This is a campaign in this war. It is not the whole war. Indeed, the way the world is going, our problems are going to be more nuclear and economic than anything that comes out of Afghanistan. And right smartly. We won, for now, in Iraq. Once Hussein Pasha gives Iran free rein in the area, that may be reversed, but for now we have won and our troops are coming out.

    Afghanistan, however, has had every strategic indicator turn against us. The closest thing I can compare our forces in Afghanistan to in military history is the German 6th Army at Stalingrad. There was a period of time when it could have been withdrawn and saved. Instead it was left there until it was surrounded and all supply routes were cut.

    Alexis, with all due respect, your solutions to me seem to require either the cooperation of our enemies [Russia, Iran, etc.] or the commitment of more resources [and political will] than we physically have, or the one thing we do not have and shall not get any more of …. time. We don’t have the time or resources to build the factories [which themselves will require the import of raw materials over the same risky supply routes] or the biodiesel plants, or to turn around the local crop growing arrangements. We have at best weeks to months, before things get irreversible.

    The recent statement by Holbrooke that Iran had a role in stabilizing Afghanistan should have been a beacon shining out that we have lost this campaign. We need to get our people [and as much equipment as we can] out so that we can use them where we will next need them.

    We have lost battles and campaigns before in our country’s history. It hurts, but it is better not to lose what will not be replacable [our troops] and be ready for the next onslaught to come. We have to recognize that we are in no way any longer on the offensive against our enemies. We are now on the defensive and we have to hold on until the day when either Hussein Pasha is forced against his will to defend the country, or until we have a President who is willing to defend this country.

    Al Quada has won this round, with the help of the Russians, the Iranians, the Pakistanis, and the Democratic Party. They and the Taliban will be able to reconstitute in Afghanistan, and we will not be able to do a thing about it.

    It is ironic. Immediately after 9/11, the world would have given us a pass if we would have turned major parts of Afghanistan into a glass bowl. We chose to be humane. And look where it has gotten us.

    Maybe next time a strike against the United States is planned in Kabul, things will be different.

    Subotai Bahadur

    Hopefully things are not as bleak as all that but one wonders.

  5. "Oh yeah, and Wolcott's a fucking idiot."

    Doug finds that he has a purty mouth.

    I find that he has succinctly, and quite humorously, described the off-the-rails (and therefor reminiscent) nature of much idle commentary concerning the present administration. I think of myself as something of a connoisseur regarding same.

    In re your sweet snarl over my tuna bet: "The question is not whether we'll be there in some capacity in five years..." (IIRC) That is EXACTLY the question I took up with Bob, who did not speculate as to the fruitfulness or futility of our efforts in the long run.

    That we are not leaving is quite plain. We began funneling in more troops last year, albeit without the rending of garments, etc., that now accompanies our great leap onto the pages of History's Worst Ideas Ever, Vol. VI.

    And while not entirely dismissive of your contempt for "they" or your concern for our unhappy strategic position, I firmly maintain my optimism on this particular front. If it is mistaken, we certainly shall find out.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Before a tactical solution can be found, in Aghanistan, we must know what the objective of the mission is.

    The Taliban were not considered, by Mr Bush, to be the enemy. If they had turned over Osama, in Oct or Nov of 2001, the US would not have gone to Afghanistan.

    We'd have had Osama and the mission would have been accomplished. As it was, and is, the mission to capture or kill Osama has turned into an abject failure, as he stills liives, if only as a legend.

    Viva Zapata!!
    Viva Che!!

    Beyond the hunt for Osama, I have yet to read what the US has, for an objective, in Afghanistan, now.

    It'll be interesting to see what the objectives and goals of the US are now, with the Obama administration large and in charge.

    But to be in Afghanistan, for the purpose of being in Afghanistan, seems nonproductive.

    Read, the other day, that geographical analysis put Osama in Pakistan, in a particular and identified walled compound. If true, then the US should destroy that compound, one way or the other, and find out the accuracy of that particular piece of geographical analysis.

  8. Rufus doesn't much care for Ambrose. It's the name.

    Germany may rescue debt-laden EU members

    Germany has acknowledged for the first time that it may have to rescue eurozone states in acute difficulties, marking a radical shift in policy by the anchor nation of Europe's monetary union.

    By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
    Last Updated: 7:18PM GMT 17 Feb 2009

    Finance minister Peer Steinbruck said it would be intolerable to let fellow EMU members fall victim to the global financial crisis. "We have a number of countries in the eurozone that are clearly getting into trouble on their payments," he said. "Ireland is in a very difficult situation.

    "The euro-region treaties don't foresee any help for insolvent states, but in reality the others would have to rescue those running into difficulty."

    Credit default swaps (CDS) measuring risk on Irish debt rose to 386 basis points yesterday despite Berlin's show of support, suggesting that the markets remain sceptical over hard-line German financier's change of heart.

    The CDS on Austrian debt surged to 180 on fears of banking contagion from Eastern Europe, while Greece, Belgium, Italy and Spain have all seen a surge in default costs.

    However, it is clearly Ireland that is now in the eye of the storm as Dublin struggles to prevent the budget deficit spiralling up to 12pc or even 13pc of GDP as the economy contracts. Fears are mounting that Ireland may not be able to cover the massive liabilities of its banking system.

    The Maastricht Treaty prohibits eurozone bail-outs by EU bodies but Article 100.2 allows for aid to countries facing "exceptional occurrences beyond its control". The European Investment Bank is already providing aid by steering project finance to regions in distress. This could be expanded subtly into short-term help.

    Ultimately, the European Central Bank could purchase bonds from vulnerable countries in the open market. That would amount to a full monetary bail-out, and the de facto creation of an EU debt union. Such proposals have been anathema to Germany in the past.

  9. USA Today tells US this about where Obama's head is at, now

    In his first such action as president, Obama ordered an additional 17,000 combat troops to Afghanistan. His administration cast the move as an interim step to battle the resurgent Taliban, secure Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, increase security for summer elections and stem the decline in a war that the United States now risks losing.
    Obama has ordered a broad-scale review of strategy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan — due back in about six weeks — before settling on a course ahead for the long term. Officials say he will revamp goals and lower U.S. expectations in a conflict that has proven to be more difficult and complicated than the war in Iraq.
    "The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and al-Qaeda supports the insurgency and threatens America from its safe haven along the Pakistani border," Obama said in a written statement Tuesday. "This increase (in troops) is necessary to stabilize a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, which has not received the strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently requires."

    Seems greater abject failure lies ahead.

  10. A falling market exposes frauds.

    Here's another Madoff that made off. There's gonna be more too.

    Never trust a man in a suit and tie.

    Only trust a man in coveralls rarely.

    Well, Rat, we went in, Osama went out and we seem to be stuck in the place. At the time, Osama and the Taliban were nearly one and the same. In fact he seeemed to be bankrolling them. I don't see how we can actually 'lose' as long as we have the skies. But can't really 'win' either, if winning means a civil society over the whole country. Wasn't the loss of the skies what more or less convinced the Russians to leave?

  11. But to be in Afghanistan, for the purpose of being in Afghanistan, seems nonproductive.

    "The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and al-Qaeda supports the insurgency and threatens America from its safe haven along the Pakistani border," Obama said in a written statement Tuesday.

    You ask, Obama answers. There's your answer Rat, straight from Obama.

  12. That may be the answer, bob, but 17,000 soldiers and Marines will not accomplish that mission.

    It will take more than 180,000 and more than 5 years, according to reports I've read. Far more than the Russinas had invested in the effort.

    Halfstepping to humiliation, that's all we're doing, now.

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. The US would have to enter Pakistan with overwhelming force, on the ground or in the air, to destroy or deny the use of those sanctuaries.

    Maybe we'll do it, maybe Obama has more of a spine than GWBush.

    We'll see, won't we.

  15. If the US does not destroy those Pakistani sanctuaries they will still pose a threat to the US.

    From a historical perspective, if the threat to the US is the motivating factor, the US should be occupying Hamburg, Gemany.

  16. If we follow the Iraq model we will cede the south of Afghanistan to the Taliban, but rename them, first we'll call them Concerned Afghan Citizens, then "Sons of Afghanistan".

    We will then focus our attention to the east, along the Pakistani border, but not enter Pakistan, the "Parrots' Peak" redux.

  17. The skies and the hard roads, if Charlie Wilson's War was an accurate portrayal, bob.

    We had the sky, in Vietnam, bob.
    Lost the war, regardless.

  18. This piece, in the NYTimes pits the costs of a comprehensive housing bailout at $500 bn.

    If the economists from the Boston Fed are right — or even close to right — then the aggressive approach may cost something like $500 billion to prevent 500,000 foreclosures. That’s $1 million per prevented foreclosure. Is that really worth it? Or could the money be better spent in other ways? (There is also the small matter of whether Congress would be willing to spend another $500 billion anytime soon.)

    The costs in Iraq, around $750 bnm to date.

    If the Federals do not want to spend $500 bn in the US, to save the US economy from further meltdown, what makes anyone think they'd spend that similar amount, over the next 5 years, in Afghanistan?

  19. Congress cut the funding off. Vietnam was a tougher propostiion, with two countries arming the oppostion. Anyway, Sons of Afghanistan sounds more authentic than Concerned Citizens, which might include women, who can't be 'concerned' about anything in Talibanland.

    A classmate of mine is in the diplomatic corps somehow there, but don't know what he does. Wish he'd write an article for the local paper some day.

  20. They'll spend anything the Big O asks, as he's their man, and the Repubs will go along on patriotism and national security grounds.

  21. The Congress, then and now, bob, is representitive of the United States.

    It is all about funding, always is.

    What is more important, stabilizing Afghanistan or the US economy?

    What is the justification of spending $500 bn in Afghanistan, but not in the US?

  22. Will Obama spend the $500 bn in the US or in Afghanistan, that's the real question.

    His base support will evaporate withi a year if he decides on Afghanistan. If he spends less, there is no hope the US will achieve its' objectives, there, or here.

    Should the US borrow another half trillion dollars to 'stabilize' Afghanistan?

  23. Senator Burris is now accused of raising money, or talking about raising money for Blago:)

    And Rahn is now found to have his own tax problems too:)

    Will it never end?

    I can't wait for the Blago trial.

    These folks make widestance seem just a little kinky, by comparison.

  24. Or should we raise taxes to accomplish that stabilization of foreign lands?

    Is it worth adding another 10 points to the Capital Gains tax, and 5 points to everyones income tax rate, to fund our overseas adventures?

  25. Well, he made a big deal in the campaign about how he was a military genius, we were fighting the wrong war in the wrong place, and the right one was in Afghanistan and Pakistan. I always take Obama at his word, he seems like such a nice young man.

  26. Is it worth another 10 points in capital gains tax to you, bob, to decide who is charge of garbage collection, water purification and delivery infrastructure along with the sewers, in Helmand, Afghanistan?

  27. Is it worth adding another 10 points to the Capital Gains tax, and 5 points to everyones income tax rate, to fund our overseas adventures?

    That I think I can answer: no.

    Will depress the economy further. Ultimitely a loser to the treasury.

    Just print money.

  28. We could destroy those Pakistani sanctuaries at low cost, bob.

    No need for boots on the ground.

    Just employ a different strategy, one that Ike or Curtis LeMay would endorse.

    Go back and listen to Ike speak to LBJ, he'd have used any means required, to win. The US no longer follows those precepts, victory is no longer the goal, stabilization is.
    Victory can be had using the Air Forc, stabilization cannot.

  29. We got this going for us in Afghanistan, a good part of the county can't stand the Taliban. Got to keep those people on our side, or we on theirs rather.

  30. Not actually arguing with anything you've said.

  31. Printing the money will have the same effect, bob. The inflation that ensues will become a "hidden tax".
    It will destroy the economy, just as assuredly as overtly raising taxes. It is just more dishonest a way to do it.

  32. In fact, someone might suggest the best way to try and keep those Paki nukes in a semi sane hand might be to bomb those NW territories into total submission.

  33. I wasn't being totally serious on printing the money.

    Just buy the government a ticket on "The Desert Debtor" to Vegas, and gamble the federal money there, maybe we'd hit a lucky streak.

  34. Bi-partisan corruption

    Stanford's business is headquartered on the Caribbean island of Antigua. In the last decade, Stanford and his companies have spent more than $7 million on lobbyists and campaign contributions in efforts to loosen regulation of offshore banks.

    Among the top recipients: Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Congressman Pete Sessions (R-Texas), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), one of the members who took a trip to Antigua where he was entertained by Stanford.

  35. People and organizatins that are bankrupt have to set priorities, bob.

    The Federal Government is no different. There are limited resources available, where and how should we best use them to further the national interests of the United States?

  36. Good question.

    Shut down immigration totally.

    Don't build that idiotic train to Vegas.

    Any man can build his own long list.

    Don't waste money on global warming.

    I wouldn't cut the military, myself.

    Don't monkey with the medical system.


    gotta go

  37. Not a pfenig for ACORN as I'm drying off from the shower.

  38. I consider myself something of an "expert" in Wars of this type, and it is my considered opinion that we couldn't win a war in Afghanistan with a Million troops on the ground.

    Iraq was easy. All we had to do was mark time until a new government could put the riches of the country to work. After all, 2.5 Million Barrels of oil gushing out of the ground every single day will cure a lot of "ills."

    Afghanistan is Impossible. The only source of income is a "criminal" enterprise. In Vietnam all of the locals I worked with hated the government. They were ambivalent toward "uncle Ho," but they considered Thieu, and his band of thieves their natural-born enemy.

    They liked our money. They didn't particularly "love" us; but, they loved the fact that they were "getting rich" off of us. I'm sure they were very sorry to see us go.

    Afghanistan is even worse. Those people, I fear, like us even a little bit. The enemy is motivated, and has "resources" (including a handy-dandy mountainous refuge,) and the government is poor, and isolated from the people. Nope, we can't "Win" there if we stay a thousand years.

    We can test out a lot of neat, new high-tech ways of killing folks, though. And, That we'll do.

    What the hell, a country's gotta do something.

  39. Anyone I know who actually had experience in Viet Nam is against us having ground troops in Afghanistan. It is not worth one American life.

  40. Just had a chat with an engineer who is doing a little job for me. He was in the army long ago. His view is like yours. Says it's Obama's war now( he can't stand the guy) and says it'll be his undoing. Asked him what his priorities for the country would be. A new housing policy was his answer. Asked him about a new industrial policy so we can build more stuff here. Said we can build anything here, more than anywhere else in the world if we want. Went through a whole list of companies. Told me how they used to renovate the big gun barrels from the battleships during world war two at Pocatello. Quite the process.

  41. Even Trains Cut off Heads, 'Rat!

    Father-of-two batters his wife to death before jumping in front of train

    A company director battered his wife to death before calmly walking to a railway station 100 yards from his front door and throwing himself under a train. Father-of-two Mark Findlay's decapitated body was discovered on the tracks at Marston Green station in Birmingham

  42. "Victory can be had using the Air Forc, stabilization cannot."
    Certainly produced an attitude adjustment in Japan prior to the arrival of stabilization forces!

  43. Costa Rica gets a good write up in "Retirement Without Borders" that the wife brought home.

    Has had a good government, still relatively safe though no police around much, lots of private guards around, but has some taxes for money earned in the country.

    Everybody can be a realtor in Costa Rica, as there are no licenses, so watch out, so it says.

    About 1/4 of the country is in parks, so the monkeys have a good time.

    Chris Columbus thought the necklaces the natives worn were made of gold, hence the name, found they were really made of some base metal.

  44. Obama Opposes Return Of 'Fairness Doctrine'

    First thing I can say I agree with him on. It's not surprising though, the talk has been it's kind of a losing issue, divisive, and a likely loser in the courts. And the speculation recently has been he'd avoid it. He's a good politician in many ways.

    He's got everybody with him in the media anyway, save talk radio.

  45. Don't play the Dupe, al-Bob:
    You ain't just some hayseed that fell off the turnip truck!
    That little bit of BS is a feint, a distraction:
    They have plans to accomplish the same end result by other means, such as new ownership rules, local content rules, etc etc.

    Our only hope is PERHAPS people will see they've gone WAY TOO FAR TO FAST in bringing back the old-tyme Democrat led Freedom Free Welfare State.

  46. What do you mean, I haven't fallen off any turnip trucks? I sure have.

    Rat asked about national priorities. Mine would be energy and immigration.

  47. Good Lord, ever since the primaries began, I think I've drifted into another world.

    Putin Warns US To Eschew Socialism

    How does a Palin/Putin ticket sound?
    Palin can shoot the moose, and Putin the journalists.

  48. ...and I was just refering to your comment on the Fairness Doctrine.
    Now you're distracted by my ignorance of your Turnip Truck History!
    Get a Grip!

  49. I was for Jindal before they trashed Palin.
    I'm still for Jindal.
    Our best bet for the future.

  50. Oh man, I have lost all sense of orientation, like an out of control amusement ride.

    Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!
    -- Dr. Peter Venkman

    Read the comments on that Putin article, everyone is disoriented.

  51. My first priority is freeing up the credit markets. Banks are in a catch-22; on one hand, they're asked to lend more while they themselves need the capital and on the other hand, they are essentially told to lend to only those who don't need the credit.

    A big problem right now is that some large public/private partnership projects can only go forward when the private partners have hundreds of millions of dollars to fund the project. The big players are the takeover groups (conglomerates) who have amassed large war chests.

    I believe that the Feds are going to have to go into the residential lending business. They need to buy (at a deep discount) the residential mortgages, refi them at the lowest possible rates and underwrite the new mortgages. If what we're hearing is correct and the banks are essentially insolvent, it's only a matter of time before this happens anyway. Unfortunately, we've already spent and committed trillions of dollars on things that do not cure the credit problem.

    Have you seen the tax relief offered in the latest stimulus bill? We're talking about relief for the average taxpayer in the $25 a month range. And what about today's homeowner bailout announcement? Obama said that the program is aimed at 7 to 8 million mortgages. Rush was talking about that today; said that $50b amounted to about $8300 per mortgage which is about as effective as $25 per month tax relief. Maybe, if after all the Dem special interest groups have been satiated, we'll get some medicine.

  52. ...real medicine.

  53. Wow! Maybe W did see into his soul.

    Best regards,
    Gail S

  54. Heh,

    Palin can shoot the moose, and Putin the journalists.

    Bob, you sneak in more good one-liners in a week than all the rest of us in a year, combined.


  55. Meltdown:
    A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse

    Is Capitalism the Culprit?

    The media tells us that "deregulation" and "unfettered free markets" have wrecked our economy and will continue to make things worse without a heavy dose of federal regulation. But the real blame lies elsewhere. In Meltdown, bestselling author Thomas E. Woods Jr. unearths the real causes behind the collapse of housing values and the stock market--and it turns out the culprits reside more in Washington than on Wall Street.

    And the trillions of dollars in federal bailouts? Our politicians' ham-handed attempts to fix the problems they themselves created will only make things much worse.
    Woods, a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and winner of the 2006 Templeton Enterprise Award, busts the media myths and government spin. He explains how government intervention in the economy--from the Democratic hobby horse called Fannie Mae to affirmative action programs like the Community Redevelopment Act--actually caused the housing bubble.

    Most important, Woods, author of the New York Times bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, traces this most recent boom-and-bust--and all such booms and busts of the past century--back to one of the most revered government institutions of all: the Federal Reserve System, which allows busy-body bureaucrats and ambitious politicians to pull the strings of our financial sector and manipulate the value of the very money we use.

    Meltdown also provides a timely history lesson to counter the current clamor for a new New Deal.

    The Great Depression, Woods demonstrates, was only as deep and as long as it was because of the government interventions by Herbert Hoover (no free-market capitalist, despite what your high school history teacher may have taught you) and Franklin D. Roosevelt (no savior of the American economy, in spite of what the mainstream media says). If you want to understand what caused the financial meltdown--and why none of the big-government solutions being tried today will work--Meltdown explains it all.
    See all Editorial Reviews

  56. "unfettered free markets"

    Those pesky "unfettered" free markets.

    What can a free market be but unfettered?

  57. "Born Unfettered" just doesn't sound right, tho.

    Not catchy, like:
    "Originally Sinless."

  58. Born to be unfettered.

    And eat fettucini.

  59. The Thomas More Law Center is the second such organization to position itself to battle any proposed version of the Fairness Doctrine, whether known by that name or another.

    Just days ago, the American Center for Law and Justice said its "litigation strategy" is prepared should the doctrine – or a similar regulatory measure – "be brought back to muzzle Christian broadcasting."

    Free Speech Is A Basis Of Western Democracy

    American Center For Law And Justice