“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, April 30, 2009



  1. Did unemployment "claims" Peak in Early April?I think so.

  2. President Obama seemed miffed that some of the secured lenders did not think that it was their patriotic duty to take a haircut.

  3. I guess, now it all depends on which "Judge" they draw.

    I hope he's an old republican hardass.

  4. Is that the voice of experience?

  5. Proof that hell is exothermic?

    I said twenty years ago it would be a cold day in hell before I bought another Chrysler product.

    Along with the Fiat deal, the United Auto Workers ratified a cost-cutting pact Wednesday night. Can't wait for the details there, the UAW now being among the managers.

    Maybe I'll make up a personalized license plate frame. "Former Chrysler owner." Put it on my Toyota.

    The EB should have a souvenir shop. Coffee mugs, bumper stickers, license plate frames, shot glasses.

    Import the merchandise from Columbia. Promote trade within the hemisphere.

  6. Reclining nudes painted on black velvet.

  7. I think that's about the Only court I've avoided. (give me another year:0

  8. I could never understand why Chrysler did not count out with a kick ass imperial.

  9. Michelle Bachmann, Democrat Class Ass taints GOP.
    One Crazy B....

  10. What are you talking about, Doug? I've seen her a few times and don't find anything crazy about her.

  11. Seems to me, Ms Bachmann is a redeeming feature of the tainted GOP.

  12. One of the cashiers at my little grocery store has taken to wearing a surgical mask.

    I hadn't realized suspected cases have hit town.

    People drop dead here from the flu on a regular basis - hard to believe this strain of crud would cause serious alarm. Apparently it is beginning to. If the air quality and elevation haven't already caused you to walk around sick half the year, you can consider yourself an especially hearty human being who might also do well on the rim of an active volcano.

    I imagine Colombians will now have even nastier things to say about Mexico and Mexicans.

  13. Posted at Foreign Policy Passport, Rice answered questions informally yesterday at Stanford and does an amazingly good job:

    How are we supposed to continue promoting America as this guiding light of democracy and how are we supposed to win hearts and minds in the world as long as we continue with these actions?

    Well, first of all, you do what's right. That's the most important thing -- that you make a judgment of what's right. And in terms of enhanced interrogation, and rendition, and all the issues around the detainees. Abu Ghraib is, and everyone said, Abu Ghraib was not policy. Abu Ghraib was wrong and nobody would argue with...

    Except that information that's come out since then speaks against that.

    No, no, no -- the information that's come out since then continues to say that Abu Ghraib was wrong. Abu Ghraib was. But in terms of the enhanced interrogation and so forth, anything that was legal and was going to make this country safer, the president wanted to do. Nothing that was illegal. And nothing that was going to make the country less safe.

    And I'll tell you something. Unless you were there in a position of responsibility after September 11th, you cannot possibly imagine the dilemmas that you faced in trying to protect Americans. And I know a lot of people are second-guessing now, but let me tell you what the second-guessing that would really have hurt me -- if the second-guessing had been about 3,000 more Americans dying because we didn't do everything we could to protect them.

    If you were there in a position of authority, and watched Americans jump out of 80-story buildings because these murderous tyrants went after innocent people, then you were determined to do anything that you could that was legal to prevent that from happening again. And so I think people do understand that.

    Now, as to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and so forth -- I agree with you. We have tried to use the trafficking in persons and all of those measures, human rights reports and so forth, to put a spotlight on the kinds of problems that you have in places like Saudi Arabia or Kuwait or Oman or other places. But you can't -- you don't have the luxury in foreign policy of saying, alright, I won't deal with that country because I don't like its human rights record. You don't have that luxury. So if you need Saudi Arabia to fight al Qaeda internally -- which is by the way where al Qaeda came from -- or if you need Saudi Arabia to be part of a coalition that's going to help bring a Palestinian state, you can't decide not to deal with Saudi Arabia because of its problems with human rights. Or, if you need to make sure that the Gulf is safe from Iranian influence -- you want to talk about human rights abusers? -- Iran.

    I'm well aware.

    Excuse me?

    I'm well aware.

    So, foreign policy is full of tough choices. Very tough choices. The world is not a bunch of easy choices in which you get to make ones that always feel good.

    I'm aware, but...[I'm sorry, we have to move]

    Let him finish, let him finish.

    Even in World War II, as we faced Nazi Germany -- probably the greatest threat that America has ever faced -- even then...

    With all due respect, Nazi Germany never attacked the homeland of the United States.

    No, but they bombed our allies...

    No. Just a second. Three thousand Americans died in the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

    500,000 died in World War II, and yet we did not torture the prisoners of war.

    And we didn't torture anybody here either. Alright?

    We tortured them in Guantanamo Bay.

    No, no dear, you're wrong. Alright. You're wrong. We did not torture anyone. And Guantanamo Bay, by the way, was considered a model "medium security prison" by representatives of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe who went there to see it. Did you know that?


  14. [...]

    Were they present for the interrogations?

    No. Did you know that the Organization -- just answer me -- did you know that the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe said Guantanamo was a model medium security prison?

    No, but I feel that changes nothing...

    No -- Did you know that?

    I did not know that, but that changes absolutely nothing.

    Alright, no -- if you didn't know that, maybe before you make allegations about Guantanamo you should read.

    Now, the ICRC also had access to Guantanamo, and they made no allegations about interrogations at Guantanamo. What they did say is that they believe indefinite detention, where people didn't know whether they'd come up for trial, which is why we tried with the military commissions system to let people come up for trial. Those trials were stayed by whom? Who kept us from holding the trials?

    I can't answer that question.

    Do your homework first.

    I have a question...

    Yes. The Supreme Court.

    I read a recent report, recently, that said that you did a memo, you were the one who authorized torture to the -- I'm sorry, not torture, waterboarding. Is waterboarding torture?

    The president instructed us that nothing we would do would be outside of our obligations, legal obligations, under the Convention Against torture. So that's -- and by the way, I didn't authorize anything. I conveyed the authorization of the administration to the agency. That they had policy authorization subject to the Justice Department's clearance. That's what I did.

    Okay. Is waterboarding torture?

    I just said -- the United States was told, we were told, nothing that violates our obligations under the Convention Against Torture. And so, by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Conventions Against Torture.

    Thank you.


  15. One can talk to these fools 'til you're blue in the face...

  16. And the lives of two men in Spokane, and those of their families, are about to become living hells thanks to some real POSs.

  17. the same week that Americans learned that they were “domestic terrorists”...they also learned that Obama’s Census Bureau had hired thousands of new temporary employees, equipped each with a handheld GPS computer and sent them out to mark GPS coordinates for every residential front door in America.

  18. May 1st-- isnt that 'a day without a Mexican'?

  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

  20. For verasity, I'd have to chose John "Maverick" McCain, a man that will not be in the dock with regards the treatment of detainees, over the selfserving statements of Ms Rice, who may well find herself there.

    Waterboarding IS TORTURE.

    That is the Republican Standard.
    That is the Democratic Standard
    That is the United State's Standard.

    We can talk until we're blue in the face, but John McCain knows torture, Ms Rice does not.

    Mr McCain is an authority with regards torture, Ms Rice is a conduit of authority, having none herself, by her own admission.

    Ms Rice did not make any decision, did not make a legal or moral choice, she let others do that for her. Or so she reports. She still does not make a decision, with regards waterboarding, but changes the subject to the quality of the detention facility, which is not the issue, at all.

    Let's declassify some more documents, let's let the light shine!

    Back Dick Cheney, NOW!

  21. Condi Rice is a moral coward and not worthy of the position she held.

    She and the rest of Team 43 broke the law, as Dick Cheney admits, as he argues for mitigtion.

    It Worked!
    That's Dick's story and he's stickin' to it.

  22. Let's declassify some more documents, let's let the light shine!

    Back Dick Cheney, NOW!

    Sounds good...

    Let's bring to light the fact that Yasser Arafat like young boys, died of aids and that he murdered 2 american diplomats

    Let's bring to light BHO's birth records, the real one..

    Let's see BHO's college grades and writings..

    Let's find out WHO supplied BHO with hard drugs

    How much z$$$$$ BHO's inner circle made off of wall street and freddie...

    let's start there

  23. To late for that, wi"o", or to early, with regards the current President.

    His case was adjudicated, the State of Hawaii sent an agent that testified. That you do not like the Ruling or the evidence, of little import, at this point.

    What or who Arabfat was, matters not at all. Sorry your whipping boy is dead, but time marches on.

    Tell US about the new fellows running the PA, not that it would matter much, either.
    Condi thought them upright and worthy of US support.
    She'd know, best, right?

  24. She addresses it quite clearly and concisely:

    Okay. Is waterboarding torture?

    I just said -- the United States was told, we were told, nothing that violates our obligations under the Convention Against Torture. And so, by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Conventions Against Torture.

    She lays it out the same way I did the other day. The president simply does not have the authority to authorize a violation of US statute. The president did not authorize torture. The OLC did not vet torture. It is not in the capacity of the Executive to do so.

    Perhaps we could satisfy the drooling idjits by going ahead and declaring that all interrogation shall consist of direct questioning and direct questioning only. Oh, and maybe Pride and Ego Up. That is all. And if you can't get 'er done that way, well, tough noogies.

    But it wouldn't really satisfy. There's always something to howl about. If not this, then a hundred other things. The noise machine never quits.

    Life is ever so much easier once this is grasped.

  25. Of course it is, trish, easier to let it slip slide away.

    But it will not. The OLC proffered a faulty opinion, who else ratified it?
    Other than the Judge that may soon be impeached, for it.
    Did Gonzo ratify that opinion?

    Did Mr Bush go shopping for a friendly lawyer, that told him what he wanted to hear, in exchange for a lifetime appointment to the 9th Circuit?

    Got an Amero that says he did.

  26. Tell you this, darlin', when you take the bad advice of a lawyer, the crime is still a crime, even if you've spoken to lawyer.

    Hell, even the IRS jas learned not stand behind their owm opinions offered to taxpayers, with regard tax law.

    Betcha Wesley Snipes's lawyer told him his tax scam was legal, it was not. Wesley does the time, pays the fine, still guilty regardless of the legal opinion recieved.

  27. "Of course it is, trish, easier to let it slip slide away."

    No. To simply tune out the noise.

  28. Tell that to Ms Rice.

    Or Dick Cheney.

  29. trish,

    have you got a link to that condi stuff?

    Didn't we prosecute japanese folk for waterboarding?

  30. p.s. Isn't that called the "Nuremberg defense" You know, 'I was ordered to do it'? Failed then but not now??

  31. Last I checked, I'm neither a recent National Security Adv. nor prior occupant of the OVP.

    Thus, I can waste my time reading the headlines at

    Car Flu kills at least 41 in Baghdad


    Oh God, It's a Whole Chicken in a Can

    Etc, etc.

    And then spend the next couple of hours watching reruns of House. After a late supper of pesto pizza.
    While anticipating the blessed quiet of a city emptied of its occupants over a long holiday weekend.

  32. A whole chicken in a can, ash!

    Can you believe it?!

  33. Also news: Bobby Flay says that the best burger in the Commonwealth of Virginia is at Ray's Hell-Burger in Arlington.

    God, I am homesick.

  34. We did, ash, prosecute Japanese for the War Crime of waterboarding US.

    The United States knows quite a bit about waterboarding. The U.S. government -- whether acting alone before domestic courts, commissions and courts-martial or as part of the world community -- has not only condemned the use of water torture but has severely punished those who applied it.

    After World War II, we convicted several Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American and Allied prisoners of war. At the trial of his captors, then-Lt. Chase J. Nielsen, one of the 1942 Army Air Forces officers who flew in the Doolittle Raid and was captured by the Japanese, testified: "I was given several types of torture. . . . I was given what they call the water cure." He was asked what he felt when the Japanese soldiers poured the water. "Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning," he replied, "just gasping between life and death."

    Nielsen's experience was not unique. Nor was the prosecution of his captors. After Japan surrendered, the United States organized and participated in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, generally called the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Leading members of Japan's military and government elite were charged, among their many other crimes, with torturing Allied military personnel and civilians. The principal proof upon which their torture convictions were based was conduct that we would now call waterboarding.

    In this case from the tribunal's records, the victim was a prisoner in the Japanese-occupied Dutch East Indies:

    A towel was fixed under the chin and down over the face. Then many buckets of water were poured into the towel so that the water gradually reached the mouth and rising further eventually also the nostrils, which resulted in his becoming unconscious and collapsing like a person drowned. This procedure was sometimes repeated 5-6 times in succession

    By Evan Wallach, a JAG in the Nevada National Guard.

    a number of Japanese prison-camp officers and guards were convicted of torture that clearly violated the laws of war. They were not the only defendants convicted in such cases. As far back as the U.S. occupation of the Philippines after the 1898 Spanish-American War, U.S. soldiers were court-martialed for using the "water cure" to question Filipino guerrillas.

    More recently, waterboarding cases have appeared in U.S. district courts. One was a civil action brought by several Filipinos seeking damages against the estate of former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos. The plaintiffs claimed they had been subjected to torture, including water torture. The court awarded $766 million in damages, noting in its findings that "the plaintiffs experienced human rights violations including, but not limited to . . . the water cure, where a cloth was placed over the detainee's mouth and nose, and water producing a drowning sensation.

    Case law and precedent were clear on the subject of waterboarding, the only case to be made, is in mitigation.
    Not in fact. Because fact is, the US committed the war crimes we convicted some Japansese of.

  35. You've never had chicken from a Can, before, trish?

    It is not a new thing, at all.
    A pack trip staple, chicken in a can.

  36. In 1983, federal prosecutors charged a Texas sheriff and three of his deputies with violating prisoners' civil rights by forcing confessions. The complaint alleged that the officers conspired to "subject prisoners to a suffocating water torture ordeal in order to coerce confessions. This generally included the placement of a towel over the nose and mouth of the prisoner and the pouring of water in the towel until the prisoner began to move, jerk, or otherwise indicate that he was suffocating and/or drowning."

    The four defendants were convicted, and the sheriff was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

    We know that U.S. military tribunals and U.S. judges have examined certain types of water-based interrogation and found that they constituted torture. That's a lesson worth learning. The study of law is, after all, largely the study of history. The law of war is no different. This history should be of value to those who seek to understand what the law is -- as well as what it ought to be.

    Evan Wallach, a judge at the U.S. Court of International Trade in New York, teaches the law of war as an adjunct professor at Brooklyn Law School and New York Law School

  37. Supreme Court Justice Souter To RetireOne moderately liberal judge to be replaced by a radically fringe leftist judge.

  38. Yeah, and if we caught them behind our lines "out of uniform" we, summarily, shot them.

    These terrorist assholes are NOT an opposing army. They're Terrorists. "Rules" of War CAN NOT apply.

    I get the feeling that we're trying to commit suicide.

  39. Tom Hayden on the short list to replace Souter, knowing Obamster

  40. Look, eventually, common sense has to prevail. We enter agreements with other sovereign countries that we won't do certain things to their people if they won't do those things to ours.

    BUT, the animals we refer to as Terrorists don't abide by such "rules." They, invariably, abuse, torture, and murder our soldiers when they get a chance.

    They dream of murdering millions or our women, and children. You don't treat a rabid dog like a normal animal. You kill it. You can't treat a terrorist as you would an opposing soldier. It not only serves no purpose, it works at "cross-purposes" to the safety of your civilians, AND SOLDIERS.

    It's imbicilic.

  41. rufus,

    The Geneva Conventions, to which we are signatory, specifically apply to all who are captured. And the captured part is important from an ethical standpoint as well - those captured have been removed from the field of battle, are disarmed, and under your control.