“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."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Captain Jack Sparrobama

faced with an 'overseas contingency operation'

Our view: President must deliver harsh message to pirates
Eagle Tribune

President Barack Obama is facing a serious foreign policy challenge with the attack on an U.S.-flagged cargo ship by Somali pirates. How the president responds will likely set a pattern for future reaction to aggression by his administration.

This is not a time for the delicate nuances of diplomacy and negotiations. The United States is at its core a naval power. And nations whose security depends on control of the seas cannot tolerate piracy.

Last week Somali pirates operating off the east coast of Africa seized the cargo ship Maersk Alabama, laden with food aid destined for Kenya. Pirates have been harassing shipping along the busy trade route for month, holding vessels, cargo and crews for ransom.

The crew of the Alabama, many of them New Englanders, eventually repelled the pirates, but not before they took the vessel's captain as a hostage. The pirates are holed up with Capt. Richard Phillips of Underhill, Vt., on one of the Alabama's lifeboats. They are being shadowed by a destroyer, the USS Bainbridge, which is attempting to prevent the pirates from reaching shore, where they could disappear with their captive into the lawlessness of Somalia.

President Obama must look to history for instruction in dealing with piracy. Our experience with pirates goes back to the nation's earliest days.

Then, merchant sailors from the new nation's busy ports of Salem and Boston were under constant threat from pirates based in the Barbary states of Africa's Mediterranean coast. Pirates would seize the ships steal their contents and sell the crews into slavery. To buy protection from the pirates, the U.S. government paid tribute to the rulers of the Barbary states. At one point, such tribute consumed 20 percent of federal expenditures.

But in 1801, newly inaugurated President Thomas Jefferson chose a new course. He declined a demand for tribute from Tripoli and instead sent a naval squadron to the Mediterranean. Jefferson believed, rightly, that it was cheaper in the long run to pay for the construction of a navy than to continue to pay tribute to the pirate states.

The strategy was to attack the pirates' bases of operations — in Morocco, Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli — to deny them sanctuary and popular support. It is from these operations that our Marine Corps hymn contains the line "... to the shores of Tripoli."

The United States fought two campaigns against the Barbary states — the first from 1801-1805, the second in 1815 — before finally bringing the piracy to an end. Jefferson's decisive action bought us nearly 200 years of freedom from large-scale piracy.

Now, the time again has come for action.

Payment of ransom to pirates will only encourage more attacks on U.S. shipping. Attacks on the pirates and their bases of operations will make the marauders pay for their actions. When the price becomes too high, the piracy will stop.

Debates about American strength or weakness in the face of aggression are not mere academic exercises. They have real consequences for our nation and for individual Americans. Ask the crew of the Maersk Alabama.

President Obama must deliver a harsh message here. Pirates cannot be allowed to prey on American shipping with impunity.


  1. heh, we got the handoff, we're goin' run with that ball.

    I'll take some pics of the demo.

    How quickly 'demo' rolls off the tongue!

  2. On 20 January 2007, after protest by Minnesota's legislature and volunteers, the A-12 preserved in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was dismantled to ship to CIA Headquarters to be displayed there.[8]

  3. Maybe al-Franken will have it returned.

  4. First Hour: Capt. Kelly Sweeney will give an update on the Somali pirate attacks. C2C Tontite

    Capt. Sweeney

    Want a job on the high seas, Capt. Sweeney is the guy for you.

  5. *** Billions for Defense ***

    ^^^ Not One Penny for Silly Nonsense ^^^

    *** CAP Cap and Trade ***

  6. Unconditional love--

    The great German philosopher Schopenhauer, in a magnificent essay on "The Foundation of Morality", treats of this transcendental spiritual experience. How is it, he asks, that an individual can so forget himself and his own safety that he will put himself and his life in jeopardy to save another from death or pain--as though the other's life were his own, that other's danger his own? Such a one is then acting, Schopenhauer answers, out of an instinctive recognition of the truth that he and the other in fact are one. He has been moved not from the lesser, secondary knowledge of himself as separate from others, but from an immediate experience of the greater, truer truth, that we are all one in the ground of our being. Schopenhauer's name for this motivation is "compassion", Mitleid, and he indentifies it as the one and only inspiration of inherently moral action. It is founded, in his view, on a valid metaphysical insight. For a moment one is selfless, boundless, without ego. And I have recently had occasion to think frequently of this word of Schopenhauer as I have watched on television newscasts those heroic helicopter rescues, under fire in Vietnam, of young men wounded in enemy territory: their fellows, forgetful of their own safety, putting their young lives in peril as though the lives to be rescued were their own. There, I would say--if we are looking truly for an example in our day--is an authentic rendition of the labor of Love.

    Joseph Campbell 'The Mythology of Love'

    Science Unlocks The Brain's Secrets Of A Valid
    Metaphysical Insight

  7. I notice that elijah never returned with a viable action plan to save the Conscience Clause.

    Pathetic, really, that there is not one, other than to fall back and regroup.

    But he refuses to admit to the reality of the situation.
    Not even willing to carry a placard.

  8. Henry Champ
    A matter of conscience

    Way back in 1973, the Richard Nixon administration passed a regulation that became known as the "Right of Conscience Law."

    In very simple terms, the regulation gave doctors and other health-care workers the legal right to refuse to perform abortions if it was against their beliefs.

    During last year's election campaign, in what most believe was a political move to strengthen support among the conservative right, outgoing president George W. Bush expanded the law.

    It would now allow any worker in any health-care setting, from doctors to janitors, to refuse to provide any abortion-related services or even information on such topics as contraception, vaccine counselling, availability of morning-after pills, blood transfusions and family planning.

    The law itself was enacted two days before President Barack Obama took office in January.
    On Thursday, the Obama administration completed its 30-day public comment period on the proposed rule change. It is expected the president will recommend returning to the old rule that was written by the Nixon administration.

    An administration official signalled as much in February, saying "we do not want to impose new limitations on services that would allow providers to refuse to provide to women and their families services like family planning and contraception that would actually help prevent the need for an abortion in the first place."

    Two huge voices are providing support to the president.

    The American Medical Association says health-care providers have an overriding obligation to their patients, to advise them of all options that are available to them, despite these providers' own beliefs. The association also argues that the original conscience law provides all the safeguards needed to protect doctors and others.

    At the same time, Mary Jean Schumann of the American Nurses Association says "we don't make God-like decisions. No-one appointed us to be the ultimate person to pass judgment."
    Few will remember that for 36 years, the Right of Conscience rule, as written in the turbulent Nixon era served everyone well. At least until someone went searching for votes or a legacy that is unlikely to be upheld.

  9. Now that just mentioned article has a mention of druggists in IL that do not want to carry contraceptives.

    In Illinois, two druggists, Luke VanderBleek and Glenn Kosirog, who own five pharmacies between them, went to court to argue that selling the morning-after pill was against their religious and moral beliefs. They want to remove that pill and other contraceptive devices from their shelves.

    On Monday of this week, a lower court issued an order saying the government can't decide what these men sell or do not sell in their stores, which gives the two druggists a minor victory.

    This is a case that will likely go all the way to the Supreme Court.

    It will be found that with the license to operate a Pharmacy comes certain responsibilities, such as carrying the full spectrum of available medications.

    That in granting the license the State can demand maintaining a "Standard" inventory of medications.

    But the Christian doctors in the story that doug linked us to, they or the author seems to have misrepresented the facts.

    The return to the 1973 Conscience Clause would not force Doctors to perform abortions, their careers are safe, even if the Bush version of the Conscience Clause is not.

  10. Some how I find it hard to believe that the US Navy cannot take down 4 armed pirates, in a life boat, and rescue the hostage.

    In the late hours of the night, a couple hours from first light.

    Wonder who is suffering from a lack of initiative, on getting on with the program to save the hostage, or failing that at least killing the pirates.

  11. Seems a good setup for a SEAL team. Put on the scuba gear, approach at night. I sure hope the guy gets out ok.

    I'd probably try to negotiate first too. But I wouldn't be laughing about it, as Hillary was doing in a clip I just listened to.
    I doubt the hostage finds it a laughing matter, nor his family and friends. But, Hillary the witch seems to.

    In a way, you can blame the lawyers and the US courts for this. A main reason the ships aren't armed is the fear of a liability suit if the wrong person gets harmed.

  12. Out in open water they use a mini-sub.

    The ship would've been easier. The lifeboat's more difficult and you run a serious risk of losing the ONE guy who's supposed to survive. To put it in the coarsest possible terms: Nobody back at the mothership (in DC) wants that headline. I'm sure the captain doesn't either.

    The pirates are going to demand safe passage. They've nothing to bargain with but the Captain's life so it's that simple. Nobody back at the mothership much wants that headline either.

    They've still got time to thread the needle.

  13. Windmills Becalmed In Britain

    Hasn't been working out, even when the wind blows.

  14. ...because it is bullshit wrapped in recycled wishful thinking wrappings.

  15. If wind power works why isn't the US Navy using clipper ships?

  16. It's distressing. We've got the solution right on the shelf with nuclear power, but refuse to take advantage of it.

    One might almost think, "there's something really wrong with us."

  17. There is. Nothing really to think about. It is the fundamental human dilemma, the arrogance of each generation that believes they are the epoch.

  18. Obumble did say 'we're the ones'.

    Thing is, either his solutions will work, or they won't, and since they won't, sooner or later we'll start to wake up and use what we've got, what works. So we'll have learned, but it's an expensive education.

  19. True, unfortunately lessons that used to cost millions, now cost trillions.

  20. The victory of naiveté and certitude over experience.

  21. Sometimes new technology works great, sometimes it doesn't. I got talked into buying an air seeder one time. This is a seeder that has a big fan run off the power take off that makes a furrow and blows seed into it. Could also apply fertilizer at the same time. One of my big mistakes. Thing was, among other things, it was so heavy and wide that on any contour the seed would go too deep on one side, not deep enough on the other. Plus there were problems with the fan, and plugging and so forth. Big head ache. There were a few around for awhile. You never see one here now. Reality tends to select things out.

  22. I remember one particular suit I bought. I wince every time I think of it.

  23. I remember my father had a car with a hand starter.

    He couldn't have been older than 26 or 27.

    I can picture him in, thick black hair, a white shirt, rolled up sleeves, and a necktie, cranking and jumping out of the way. Probably where I learned to curse.

    He was so pleased when he bought a Packard with an electric starter.

  24. Speaking of selecting things out--

    Remaining Mysteries

    The diversity of living members of the superfamily Hominoidea is impoverished relative to what it was in the past. Even with the limited fossil sample we have, it is clear that there were many kinds of apes and humans long ago. More species await discovery. There were probably many evolutionary experiments in the varied habitats of the African Miocene to Pleistocene. Although the current sample of fossil hominins leads some to the impression that there were only a few hominin lineages, it is far mor likely that our family tree will turn out to be quite bushy. Species names may need to multiply to accommodate the diversity, although a balance needs to be maintained between excessive splitting and lumping.

    It will be wonderful to resolve the question of knuckle-walking in human evolution. Living species of the African clade of Hominoidea include three knuckle-walkers and a biped. The odds are that the first himinin was also a knuckle-walker, but the earliest hominins known so far are bipeds and climbers without specializations for knuckle-walking. Perhaps there are functional and developmental processes that predispose large-bodied apes to become knuckle-walkers when they adapt to habitats that require more terrestriality. If so, that apparently odd gait may have evolved in parallel in two or more lineages.

    There may have been several expansions of populations out of Africa during favorable climatic conditions that populated parts of Eurasia and then became extinct. It is seductive to imagine only one triumphant pulse of migration that spread humanity for the first time throughout Eurasia. The spread of H. sapiens appears to have happened in a short amount of geological time, but archaic species ofHomo were probably much less adaptable and more vulnerable to the severe climatic shifts that occurred everywhere over the past several million years. Local extinctions may have been common throughout the changing geographic range of early hominins. Before 50,000 years ago humans were an insignificant small part of the vertebrate fauna.

    It is tempting to swing to extreme views of pessimism or optimism. The hominin fossil record is limited and incomplete, but it is also rich and consistent. Its overall quality is consistent with Darwin's view of descent with modification. It makes it very unlikely that, for example, significant encephalization began before the evolution of bipedalism in our lineage. Conflicting interpretations will always be part of the science, but debate is a sign of intellectual health and helps ensure that ideas are grounded in accurate observations of material evidence and precise logic.

    from "Evolution: The First Four Billion Years" edited by Ruse and Travis, a 1,000 page tome I picked up at the library in the new book section.

    If you want to think, you've got to stand up and walk.

    I've read that the various ice ages worked as a kind of biological evolutionary pump, each time wiping out an emerging bunch, the upshot being finally--ours truly.

    If you want to call someone a real idiotic, call them a knuckle-walker:)

  25. Elizabeth Dickinson at Foreign Policy Passport blog:

    Just how exactly have pirates managed to out-scramble the world's top navy? If neither the U.S. Navy, nor the EU, NATO, Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, and Indian vessels were able to spot this pirate attacker coming on the vast seas... how do the Somali pirates find the ships they hijack? In theory, the sea is equally vast and equally sparsely populated on both sides of the looking glass.

    One interesting theory comes from NightWatch:

    "Several commentators highlighted the changed tactics by which some Somali pirate groups manage to seize ships far from the coast. What they do not provide is the hypothesis that this proves the existence of a well organized criminal syndicate with modern communications that link pirates to agents in port authorities from Kenya to the Suez Canal. The business is too big and rich to fail simply because modern frigates are present."

    It makes good sense. Why? Pirates have money and they can pay for tips. Port authorities, particularly in Kenya, are likely paid irregularly and poorly (particularly in comparison to pirate rates). The pirates have also shown that they are willing and able to infiltrate government authorities -- as they often do in their home in Puntland, Somalia.

    No good news there. Cracking down on internal corruption among port authorities would be about as easy as, say, stopping a piracy epidemic in the Gulf of Aden.

  26. Standing upright and walking on plains freed the hands for the use of tools. And it was tool-making that seems to have occasioned the great leap in size and power of the cortex. I've always found this a most compelling chain of events.

    We are not tool-makers because we have big brains. We have big brains because we are tool-makers.

  27. Simple. They've got informants reading the shipping manifests.

  28. "Hello, happy hands" which is a line from Theodore Roethke, a kind of evolutionary God-driven romantic teleological pull from the front divine American poet.

    "From me to Thee is a long and terrible way"

  29. The knuckle-walkers and swingers from trees may have had to move to the now expanding grasslands when the climate changed.

  30. A knuckle-walker would seem to be at a distinct disadvantage on the feline savannas, as over against the up-rights, who can see further and run faster.

  31. Everything I know about the evolution of man, I learned from a superbly written volume from a Time-Life science series, ca. 1960, purchased in a used bookstore in Georgia many years ago.

    It's all about the hand. The human hand has made us so.

    And, yes, one of our hominid ancestors took the plunge into the great unknown by coming down onto the expanding grasslands, exposing himself to predators for the hoped-for reward of a more bountiful dinner.

    And, really, who wouldn't?

  32. Friedman on Costa Rica

    Costa Rica hugely invested in hydro-electric power, wind and geo-thermal, and today it gets more than 95 percent of its energy from these renewables. In 1985, it was 50 percent hydro, 50 percent oil.
    More interesting, Costa Rica discovered its own oil five years ago but decided to ban drilling — so as not to pollute its politics or environment!
    What country bans oil drilling?
    ans: USA

  33. I was a swinger in trees
    But I don bruised ma knees
    So I come to the ground
    And knuckled around
    Till the rains didn't come
    So I migrated from
    The forests divine
    To the savannas feline
    Where I fumbled around
    Till I grew a good thumb
    Now I drive a Corvette
    And smoke a cigarette
    And the girls wait at the exits
    When I finish ma songs

    sung to heavy metal or rapped, your choice

  34. Don't leave home w/o it.
    Specially if you're hitchhiking and come equipped w/Hitchhiker's thumb.
    "A recessive congenital condition"

  35. heh, nervous norvus, brings back memories, dooleeabba

  36. "The return to the 1973 Conscience Clause would not force Doctors to perform abortions, their careers are safe, even if the Bush version of the Conscience Clause is not."
    'Rat's right, Drs. Wrong.
    ...and far be it from colleges to and foundations to discriminate against Christian Conservatives.

  37. "Don't leave home w/o it."

    I sometimes feel that I have.

    Nice one, bob.

    Stop and think about it, the two most common anatomical symbols in mythology and religion are the eye and the hand. Primitives and ancients understood, in their own rough and inventive ways, the power and significance of both.

  38. Rules frustrate anti-piracy efforts

    By Paul Reynolds
    World affairs correspondent, BBC News website

    The international effort to stop piracy off Somalia has not worked and the effort clearly needs to be stepped up into a higher gear.


    In 1815 the American Cmdr Stephen Decatur, sent to stop the Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean, simply captured the flagship of the Algerian Dey and forced a capitulation. When the Dey later repudiated the agreement, the British and Dutch bombarded Algiers.

    The authorities these days have a real problem because of international law... As in the days of the Caribbean pirates, everything is on the pirates' side.


    There is a resolution (1838, passed in October) which authorises the use of "necessary means", meaning force if need be, to stop piracy in international waters. There is also another resolution (1816) which allows anti-pirate operations within Somali waters, but only with the agreement of the Somali transitional government.

    But even all these operations have to be conducted within international law, defined in this case as the provisions of the UN Law of the Sea Convention.

    There has also been a legal opinion by the Foreign Office in London that captured pirates cannot necessarily be sent back to whatever authorities can be found in Somalia, in case they are subject to harsh treatment. That would contravene the British Human Rights Act. The pirates captured in the Royal Navy action have now been handed over not to Somalia, but Kenya.

    The Law of the Sea Convention places limitations on daring action. Under Article 110 of the convention a warship has first to send an officer-led party to board a suspected pirate ship to verify any suspicions.

    The warship cannot just open fire. Any inspection has to be carried out "with all possible consideration". That sounds rather tentative.


    So those engaged in international shipping are less able to protect themselves than WiO or Bob with their permits to carry and use, it would seem.

  39. Insurance rates on shipping through the Strait have risen ten-fold in the past couple of years.

    The shipping companies are going to go to private contractors to provide security. In a bad bind, it'll have to do.

  40. But you'll never be rid of the dumbasses. FP Passport:

    The Guardian reports on a skirmish between French troops and a band of Somali pirates with a hijacked yacht -- one of 18 vessels currently seized, along with more than 250 hostages. The French ultimately recaptured the ship; sadly, one hostage died during the rescue.

    The article says the yacht's sailors were repeatedly warned not to pass through the area.

    "French officials have privately expressed exasperation at the determination of the Tanit's persist with their expedition to east Africa despite the parlous security situation in the region."

  41. Comment says he's a recovered paraplegic.

  42. Oh my God. That's the most adorable video @ 5:50.

  43. I promised I wouldn't adopt any cats during this deployment. (He came home from Kosovo one time to a tribe of five farm cats, one of which had taken over his living room chair. And that was only one time.)

    Maybe a capybara?

    Disney animator and children's author Bill Peet came in possession of one, and wrote a wonderful illustrated book, Capy, based on his family's experience with the mysterious, endearing creature.

  44. Plus, the really horrifyingly large rodents are long gone: in early 2008 the BBC, fresh out of news, reported that a fossilized skull belonging to Josephoartigasia monesi (two to four million years ago, give or take a few minutes) was recently found in Uruguay. Some scientists estimate this rodent species would likely have been about 5 feet tall, 10 feet long and weighed up to 2200 pounds. Some other scientists speculate that it probably also had atrocious gas. Long story short, good luck getting a dead one of those out of your storm drain.

    But J. Monesi is long since extinct (thank you, Saber Toothed Tiger) leaving the capybara as the poor man’s freakishly large rodent.

  45. Don't knock the rodents, man.

    My daughter had a hairless guinea pig (looked like a scrotum) that she named Just So.

    We adored it.

    What's a few pounds more?

  46. And the title of the book is Capyboppy.

    Yikes. It's been awhile.

  47. lo que yo queria, gracias