“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thank U BS

I really do not care about those who get caught scamming the government, but you have to admit you really do get a secret thrill out of those who "get away with it." If you found a bag of money, say five hundred thousand and could get it into a secret bank way off-shore, would you do it?


UBS blocks US client details move

Switzerland has strict legislation on bank secrecy

Swiss bank UBS has refused a US government demand to provide information on 52,000 US clients.

The request was made in a lawsuit filed earlier in the day in Miami as part of a tax fraud investigation.

The Obama administration wants UBS to turn over information on American customers who hid accounts from US authorities, in violation of tax laws.

A deal on Wednesday provides access to about 250 to 300 UBS customers who used Swiss bank secrecy laws to hide assets.

"At a time when millions of Americans are losing their jobs, their homes, and their health care, it is appalling that more than 50,000 of the wealthiest among us have actively sought to evade their civil and legal duty to pay taxes," the acting assistant attorney general, John DiCicco, said in a statement.

Bank chairman Peter Kurer said UBS accepted "full responsibility" for helping its US clients hide assets from the Internal Revenue Service.

But the bank said it had a defence against the enforcement of the summons to hand over account details, and that it would vigorously contest the enforcement of the summons in the civil proceeding.


  1. ...would you do it?

    If I was sure that Bob didn't drop it when he fell from the turnip truck?

    In a heartbeat.

  2. What in the Hell is that thing?

  3. Linear and I have standards. No physical harm, the victim has to be deserving of being ripped off, and 100% chance of escape. Right, Lin?

  4. There wouldnt' be any Chicago accounts, over there in Switzerland.

  5. Turnip Truck TimesThe Palin Parable - Bristol Says Abstinence 'Not Realistic At All'

    Man Commits Suicide in Televangelist's Cathedral
    GARDEN GROVE, Calif. – A man shot and killed himself in front of a cross inside televangelist Robert H. Schuller's Crystal Cathedral on Wednesday as a nearby volunteer told a group of visitors about the church's suicide-prevention program, police and church officials said.

    Manson said she "had just finished telling them about our intervention hotline that we have — suicide prevention on the fifth floor — and all of a sudden I heard this pop, a loud pop, it almost sounded like a firecracker," she said.

  6. You betcha, Bob.

    It would matter if it came from a hole in T-Bone Pickens' pocket, vs Flying J truck stop receipts.

  7. I've always had admiration for D.B. Cooper, though by a strict reading he violated, or could have violated, some of the rules of robbery mentioned above.

  8. Slumdog Millionaire.
    If it's meant to be, it's to be.

  9. Not so long ago here, we had a case where the boys (I assume, boys) backed the pickup truck to the ATM, put a steel cable around it, and ripped it and part of the whole wall out. This was right in the parking lot of a well lit mall, in the middle of the night. The ATM was later found emptied out in a wheat field.

  10. The low rider scene in "The Jerk" is nice:
    Steve Martin chains their Chevy to some plumbing on a small wooden church, which then follows the Chevy down the street when they pull out from the gas station.

  11. Bo Derek will be on O'Reilly tommorrow, I hear.

  12. Not sure how accurate this is--

    13. geoffgo:

    OT - But A little GREAT news!

    The Bakken is the largest domestic oil discovery since Alaska ’s Prudhoe Bay , and has the potential to eliminate all American dependence on foreign oil. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates it at 503 billion barrels. Even if just 10% of the oil is recoverable… at $50 a barrel, we’re looking at a resource base
    worth more than $2.5 trillion.

    1. Terry Johnson, the Montana Legislature’s financial analyst says ‘When I first briefed legislators on this, you could practically see their jaws hit the floor. They had no idea.’.

    ‘This sizable find is now the highest-producing onshore oil field found in the past 56 years,’ reports The Pittsburgh Post Gazette. It’s a formation known as the Williston Basin , but is more commonly referred to as the ‘Bakken.’ And it stretches from Northern Montana , through North Dakota and into Canada . For years, U.S.oil exploration has been considered a dead end. Even the ‘Big Oil’ companies gave up searching for major oil wells decades ago. However, a recent technological breakthrough has opened up the Bakken’s massive reserves… and we now have access of up to 500 billion barrels. And because this is light, sweet oil, those billions of barrels will cost Americans just $16 PER BARREL!

    That’s enough crude to fully fuel the American economy for 41 years straight.

    2. And if THAT didn’t throw you on the floor, then this next one should - because it’s from TWO YEARS AGO, people!

    U.S. Oil Discovery- Largest Reserve in the World!

    Stansberry Report Online - 4/20/2006 Hidden 1,000 feet beneath the surface of the Rocky Mountains lies the largest untapped oil reserve in the world is more than 2 TRILLION barrels @ $50 = 100 TRILLION. On August 8, 2005 President Bush mandated its extraction.

    They reported this stunning news: We have more oil inside our borders than all the other proven reserves on earth. Here are the official estimates:

    8-times as much oil as Saudi Arabia
    18-times as much oil as Iraq
    21-times as much oil as Kuwait
    22-times as much oil as Iran
    500-times as much oil as Yemen

    and it’s all right here in the Western United States.

    1. The Basin is the Williston Basin. The formation is the Bakken, which lies within the basin.

  13. To give this number further perspective consider these facts:
    1) It is approximately 1.8 times the total amount spent by NASA since 1961.
    2) It is about 1.7 times the size of the largest U.S. budget deficit in history.
    3) It amounts to 32 percent of the total federal receipts in fiscal 2008.
    4) If it was given directly to Americans it would mean $2, 600 for every man, woman, and child.

    But hold on to your wallets because fact one of the four important facts you haven’t heard about the stimulus package is that the Congressional Budget Office estimates the real cost of the bill to be closer to $3.27 trillion. That figures includes an interest payment of $744 billion on the debt that is being created by the package. It also includes another $2.5 trillion in expanded government programs (over 200 new government programs are included in the budget) that will continue for decades. It is government spending that will require confiscatory taxes collected from many yet to be born generations of Americans.
    So, that 3 trillion would be more than $10 K per capita, right?

  14. If that all proves to be true al-Bob, we'll have to set up a suicide watch for our Electric Bar Bunny.

  15. The Bakken is the largest domestic oil discovery since Alaska 's Prudhoe Bay

    Good. It will subsidize all the solar, wind, smart electric grid, electric cars, electric trains, etc., that needs building.

  16. Can I have an Electric Train for my Birthday?

  17. In addition to the Bakken, remember coal.

    Coal-fired plants contributed 48.4 percent of the Nation's electric power, year-to-date. Nuclear plants contributed 19.4 percent, while 21.4 percent was generated at natural gas-fired plants. Of the 1.1 percent generated by petroleum-fired plants, petroleum liquids represented 0.8 percent, with the remainder from petroleum coke. Conventional hydroelectric power provided 6.4 percent of the total, while other renewables (biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind) and other miscellaneous energy sources generated the remaining 3.1 percent of electric power

    Of all "renewables," hydroelectric currently stands alone as economically feasible. But with most plants relying on population-relocating dammed water to drive their turbines, it, too, has many detractors. Add limited potential new installation sites and rising green complaints of fish endangerment, and we're not likely to see hydroelectric's reach rise much beyond 6 percent any time soon. And its fellow renewables all require creative tax breaks in order to keep their limited energy flowing. In fact, the new "stimulus" bill includes $20 billion in renewable energy tax incentives, and up to a three year extension of the "production tax credit," a per-kilowatt-hour credit paid to green energy companies to offset the dismal unprofitability of their business models. Surely, the only "green jobs" these policies will create or save will evaporate the moment the plug is pulled on federal subsidies, as will any meager "green energy" they produce.

    However they spin it -- Coal remains King.

    Has NASA's Hansen Finally Lost His Mind?

    We have enough coal to last us 200 years. Sleep tight folks. When it gets cold enough, common sense will prevail.

  18. The low rider scene in "The Jerk" is nice:
    Steve Martin chains their Chevy to some plumbing on a small wooden church, which then follows the Chevy down the street when they pull out from the gas station.

    Sounds like the trick the local boyz pulled on the "Red Baron", that young CHP feller that used to set a speed trap at Shaver Lake now and then of a Saturday night. One night they slipped up behind him and attached a cable the rear axle of his patrol rig, the other end attached to a big pine tree with lotsa slack in the middle. Then a designated driver came by about 25 over the limit.

  19. Designated Driver!
    Heard a lot about Shaver Lake, somehow never got there.

  20. Not any good reason for this
    Tyler Cowen

    Here is the story, but this bit caught my eye:

    "Potential strains in relations between the US and Canada were exposed today when Barack Obama, on his first foreign trip as president, hinted at renegotiation of the North American Free Trade agreement.

    "Obama at a joint press conference with the Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, tried to square a campaign pledge to renegotiate the agreement while at the same time avoid sparking a trade war with Canada.
    Obama told reporters at the press conference in Ottawa he wanted to begin talks on adding provisions to the agreement relating to workers and to the environment."

    On this one it is announced in Canada but the real victim is Mexico. The simple truth is that so far economic policy has fallen short of being good. Some (not all) left-wing bloggers may be reluctant to say this so early in the tenure of such a long-awaited administration, but perhaps a few of them are thinking it. There is the stimulus, the Geithner banking plan, and the housing plan. Of course there are differences of opinion but perhaps it is fair to say he is straining to be one out of three?

    February 19, 2009 at 09:51 PM

  21. Long comment follows. Sorry. Got tired of trying to edit it down without gutting it.


    February 19, 2009

    Obama Reportedly Picks Israel Hater to Lead National Intelligence Council
    Sammy Benoit

    Here is another tidbit that may surprise the 78% of American Jews who voted for Barack Obama. According to a report in Cable Foreign Policy, Chas W. Freeman Jr. former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia is about to be named as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council.

    Sources tell The Cable that Chas W. Freeman, Jr., the former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, will become chairman of the National Intelligence Council, the intelligence community's primary big-think shop and the lead body in producing national intelligence estimates.

    For those who are not familiar with the former Ambassador, he is a terrorist apologist and a master of bashing Israel. Freeman is a believer of the false premise that all Muslim terrorism stems from Israel's battle with the Palestinians:

    To restore our reputation we must correct these policies. And the problem of terrorism that now bedevils us has its origins in one region the Middle East. To end this terrorism we must address the issues in the region that give rise to it.

    "Principal among these is the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by an Israeli occupation that is about to mark its fortieth anniversary and shows no sign of ending. Arab identification with Palestinian suffering, once variable in its intensity, is now total. American identification with Israeli policy has also become total. Those in the region and beyond it who detest Israeli behavior, which is to say almost everyone, now naturally extend their loathing to Americans. This has had the effect of universalizing anti-Americanism, legitimizing radical Islamism, and gaining Iran a foothold among Sunni as well as Shiite Arabs. For its part, Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians; it strives instead to pacify them. Palestinian retaliation against this policy is as likely to be directed against Israel's American backers as against Israel itself. Under the circumstances, such retaliation form it takes will have the support or at least the sympathy of most people in the region and many outside it. This makes the long-term escalation of terrorism against the United States a certainty, not a matter of conjecture." Source


    Chas also feels that Israel has no right to expect Hamas to renounce violence, and believes that the only reason Israel insists on it is to delay peace talks:

    "The fact is, of course, that Israeli occupation and settlement of Arab lands is inherently violent. Occupations are acts of violence. The dispossession of people from their land is an act of violence. Preventing people from coming to and going from their own country is an act of violence. And as long as such Israeli violence against Palestinians continues, it is utterly unrealistic to expect that Palestinians will stand down from violent resistance and retaliation against Israelis. Mr. Sharon is far from a stupid man; he understands this. So, when he sets the complete absence of Palestinian violence as a precondition for implementing the road map or any other negotiating process, he is deliberately setting a precondition he knows can never be met."

    He also promotes the idea that the US should be engaging terrorists:

    "Our backing of Israel's efforts to pacify the Palestinians rather than to negotiate peace with them has discredited us as peacemakers without gaining security for Israel. Our attempt to isolate the democratically elected Palestinian government has further discredited us as supporters of democratization in the region. Among other results, our policy has quite predictably left Hamas nowhere to go but deeper into the embrace of Iran."

  22. State of War
    by Sam Quinones

    Good Mexico backgrounder.

  23. Global Security summarizes the anomalous character of the facility. It alleges that based upon a review of literature before the strike, that neither the US nor any other major power suspected Damascus was up to anything. What it the Global Security article didn’t explain was the front-loaded response that was even more mystifying than the facility itself. Not only was the facility previously unknown, the response to it was unprecedented. Rather than embark on the well known Via Dolorosa of opaque diplomatic warnings, requests for IAEA investigation, sanctions, threatened military actions, attempted Security Council Resolutions — the process is well known to the readers, someone simply went and bombed it.

    - Wretchard

    And subsequently granted them a scrub on the whole business. In return for something.

  24. buddy larsen:
    You folks have got to read this. About the billions of phantom shares, and the organized crime. (pasted from #38 above)

  25. At the old high school where I went, the teachers parking lot was quite small, with a concrete retaining wall about say ten feet behind where the back bumper of a parked car would be.

    Old Emery and company jacked up the librarians new Dodge 4 door--the old bitch--just enough so the rear drive wheel was an inch off the ground.

    In she pops at day's end, fires that sucker up, and tire spins, so, she revs her up good, and it vibrates off the little jack under the car, and takes off in reverse and WHAM! $1000 worth of damage.

    Another time, Emery brought a big rooster in a sack into study hall and let that sucker loose. Poor chicken was kinda disoriented walking around and it took the staff quite a while to catch it. Total pandemonium.

    Emery finally met his Maker on the rocks of the Clearwater River going to whore house in Orofino with another in the middle of the night. They missed a curve.

    Was a nice guy, not a malicious bone in his body really, just mischievous. Brings back memories.


    I see the UN has finally figured out Iran is making a bomb.

  26. The country has made a major mistake electing Obama. Major mistake.

  27. Your steering wheel story is still the reigning Champ.

  28. MJK Says:
    Milken’s office manager brought down 200,000 customer accounts on September 11, 2001. His friend Anthony Elgindy, a naked short that worked with the FBI shorted the airlines on September 10, 2000.
    Khashogi is friends with every president and involved with every recent financial scandal, including S&L and BCCI and the Iran Contra Affair.
    Khashoggi, along with Ramy El-Batrawi, was the principal financier behind GenesisIntermedia, Inc. (formerly NASDAQ: GENI), a publicly traded Internet company based in Southern California. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Khashoggi’s U.S. based checking accounts were frozen and Khashoggi was unable to make a margin call with Native Nations Securities, whose CEO and largest shareholder, at the time, was Valerie Red Horse, former office manager of junk bond king, Michael Milken. In turn, Native Nations was unable to meet its obligations on it margin loan to MJK Clearing, Inc.[2][3] Trading in the stock of GenesisIntermedia was halted in September 2001. Khashoggi’s unwillingness to pay his margin loan to Native Nations Securities, and Native Nations inability to pay its debts to MJK Clearing, began a series of bankruptcies that ended in the largest payout in Securities Investor Protection Corporation history.[4][5] Native Nations Securities and MJK Clearing both eventually filed for bankruptcy.[6]
    Adnan Khashoggi’s sister Samira Khashoggi Fayed was the mother of Dodi Fayed, who dated the late Lady Diana.

  29. Lutherans Accept Gay Clergy(In some instances)

    ELCA continues to commit congregatinal suicide while attempting to be politically correct. They have been debating this for a long time, kind of sat on the fence with a picket up the ass in the final decison, always trying to please everyone. The gays have pushed too hard, and are dividing the congregation they say they want to serve.

  30. I've pretty much used up my fund of stories. Nothing else has ever happened in my life:)

    Actually, that isn't quite true, there was the time....

  31. First time I've noticed that pic.
    What are those trees, al-Bob.
    ...the green and gold reminds me of the best of CA.

  32. I see the UN has finally figured out Iran is making a bomb.

    Thu Feb 19, 11:49:00 PM EST

    Mmmmmmm. Now what?

    Westhawk, who I take as the unintentionally opposite indicator of just about everything, suggests that the decision tree leads inevitably to the big, pointy stuff.

    I think he gets bored and antsy in between drives to the Rhine. Human nature, that.

  33. That's a pine on the left, al-Doug, on the right I'm not sure, too fuzzy. Maybe a fir. In that little grove there are firs, pines and a few cedars. If you look right through to the field, the shadow at the bottom is where the old barn used to be. That is the old original homestead. How the hell they survived out there the first few years I have no idea. About 11 miles from town. It's where my aunt picked up the habit of saving every last thing, which might conceivable have some use value later. The gold is a mixture of natives grasses I planted, that didn't take all that well, either.

  34. New York Times stock now costs less than its Sunday paper.

    Mexican Slim, or Carlos Slim, or whoever, will bring 'er back.

    Buy now. A bob recommendation.

    (Full disclosure: own no stocks and most likely wouldn't follow my own advice)

  35. About the billions of phantom shares, and the organized crime.

    These financial terrorists should be lined against the wall and shot dead. And their entire families as well. Same goes for any CEO/CFO/Board member/etc that takes home more than $0.5 mil/yr. Against the wall, and shot dead. And their entire families as well.

  36. The Bakken "Field" is actually thousands of small pockets of oil. Modern technology makes it possible to find them, but they're hard to develop. Infrastructure is a problem for small, isolated fields. Anyway, they'll probably flow 2, or 3 million barrels/day (but not much more) for a long time. We use about 16 million barrels/day.

    That rocky mountain shale is an age-old pipe dream. No way.

    We're not going to "run out" of oil for many years; but we're going to start running short pretty soon. Probably a year, or two. This will likely have us in, and out, of recessions for the next ten, or fifteen years.

    It's going to look a lot like the "Seventies," I'm afraid.

  37. It's where my aunt picked up the habit of saving every last thing, which might conceivable have some use value later.

    She must have corresponded with my mom.

    Mom said just a little while ago, "what have you been doing?"


    "Well, that's a waste of time...about as big a waste of time as me reading this." (holding up a John Grisham novel)

    Mom's 95.

  38. A lot of that coal isn't very good coal, LT. Actually, we're only a few years away from being a Coal "Importer."

  39. Having nothing to do with Coal Deposits, and everything to do with political mandates.

  40. Aunt made 98 1/2 Linear. I wish your mom well.

    When I cleared out her house before she came to live with us, I even found a bag of those little platic clippy things you used on bread packages! Don't want to throw those away:) She didn't seem to throw anything away, long as it didn't rot.

  41. "Blogging."

    "Well, that's a waste of time"

    heh, she's got us figured out.

  42. A lot of that coal isn't very good coal, LT.

    Not what I heard a while back when Willy was barring access to the Grand Staircase to woo the greenies and attract political contributions from that foreigner who had the other large deposit of low sulphur coal.

  43. When I cleared out her house before she came to live with us, I even found a bag of those little platic clippy things you used on bread packages!

    Those are in a little glass bowl in the drawer. The wire ties are in the baggie here. I just spill them out so I can grab one from the bottom of the drawer when I need it. She comes along behind me and puts them back in the baggie. Drives me nuts.

  44. This comment has been removed by the author.

  45. Luckily, I just drive my wife nuts with my junk.
    I swore I'd be rid of it before my demise, wouldn't bet my life on it now!

  46. :)

    I can visualize the whole thing, in both you guy's cases.

  47. This just got blocked from posting @ BC (twice)
    - Barack Obama's

    ...very strange.

  48. Stop the Democratic Suicide

    Geithner himself is a lightning rod for populist wrath. Ordinary Americans who fail to pay their taxes can expect strict punishment. When Geithner forgot to pay sizeable sums, he was quickly forgiven and made Treasury secretary. Most Americans cannot afford maids, legal or illegal. Geithner’s violation of US employment laws, in paying an illegal-immigrant maid, was also judged to be a minor indiscretion. After all, he is simply the latest in a series of political appointees with illegal-immigrant maid problems. Let’s be reasonable. Important people can’t be expected to do their own housework, and ten minutes otherwise spent saving the world might be wasted on ascertaining whether their servants are violating US immigration laws or not. As the late Leona Helmsley might have said, immigration laws are for the little people.

    While liberals oppose Social Security cuts, they favor a policy equally hated by populists, amnesty for illegal immigrants. There is no democracy in the world with rising unemployment where amnesties for foreign workers who disobey national laws would not be a form of political hara-kiri.

  49. As I've written before, I think that GM should give Saab away, just like BMW got rid of money-losing Rover cars.

    A SAAB Story

    Was listening to Swedish radio. SAAB employs about 4,000 plus there are some independent suppliers. GM now owns the whole thing. Which is of course losing money. GM seems to have made some representations in the past saying they'd keep SAAB going, and now, well, er....the Swedes of course can use the employment etc so Swedish auto minister or whatever she's called (who sure sounded cute) wants GM to come through. If we are bailing out the autos here we are bailing out an old Swdish maker too, unless GM gives it back to the Swedes, as the writer above suggests. SAABS had the ignition key down by the transmisiion, and the engine used to sit backwards, the Swedish way of doing things. Production has been down ever since the Americans got their fangs in it.

  50. Foreclosure Is Part of the Solution, Not the Problem

    The cure for the current economic "illness" is not greater and greater amounts of what got the economy sick in the first place.
    It's not effectively 0% interest rates.
    It is not massively punishing savers.
    It's not more lax lending.
    It is not more artificial asset price inflation.
    It's not more housing tax incentives.
    It is not forcing tax payers to bail out failed businesses that deserve to be weeded out of the business "gene pool".
    It's not the Fed buying bad assets at ridiculously inflated prices or setting up bogus banks to hold the bad assets.
    And it most certainly is not preventing or delaying foreclosures.

  51. Did anybody but a liberal ever own a SAAB in the USA?

    ...My history teacher in HS, a Cal Beserkley Grad, drove a Vulva PV 544, or whatever, that had the redeeming feature of looking like a Miniature 46 Ford, and got decent mileage while outperforming a VW!

  52. Who, but the Swedes, would ever name a car "Vulva?"

  53. I'll c your vulva, and raise you a PeckerBilt

  54. So where is the Peterbuilt/Vulva Merger Video?

  55. Signs of the Last Days, and The Coming of the One

    Actually kind of scary reading, and becomes scary squared when compounded with some variant Biblical readings. Such musings make the starry dark night sky seems quite friendly by comparison.

  56. Thanks Doug, time for me to go get some green dreams.

    If you find that merger video, post it.