“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, April 29, 2009

Pakistan is getting serious about the Taliban, sort of.

Pakistan drops troops behind Taliban lines
Wed Apr 29, 2009 7:05am BST

BUNER, Pakistan (Reuters) -
Pakistani troops dropped from helicopters onto hillsides behind Taliban fighters holding entrances to the Buner valley, according to witnesses, as the second day of an offensive began on Wednesday.

Pakistan's demonstration of military resolve will reassure U.S. President Barack Obama and Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai, when they meet Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in Washington on May 6/7 to discuss regional strategy.

The Taliban's entry into a region just 100 km (60 miles) northwest of Islamabad earlier this month had sent shivers through Pakistan and sparked alarm in the United States.

The army, however, said a few hundred militants holed up in the mountains did not represent a real threat to the capital of the nuclear-armed Muslim nation, despite their proximity.

Residents could see and hear the fighting on the slopes overlooking Buner town on Wednesday, and several saw troops rappelling down ropes from helicopters in a drop behind enemy lines.

"We saw a helicopter dropping troops on the hills early this morning. It came about seven or eight times," said Arshad Imran standing in the town's central bazaar.

"We hear sound of explosions off and on and we can see helicopters flying over the mountains."

The military estimated some 500 militants were in Buner, and that it might take a week to clear them out. Jet fighters and helicopters gunships provided air support for army and paramilitary troops leading the offensive on Tuesday.


Pakistan is desperate for military and economic support to fight the insurgency.

But allies had feared Zardari's government was too ready to appease the militants after he signed off on a regulation to introduce Islamic sharia courts in the Malakand division in the North West Frontier Province.

Malakand has a long history of Islamist fervour going back to the British Raj in pre-Partition India, even though in earlier times the Swat valley had been a centre of Buddhism and until a couple of years ago had been a favourite destination for honeymooners, hikers and skiers.

While Buner is located south of Swat, the first military operation began southwest of Swat, in Lower Dir district on Sunday.

The government had hoped that meeting demands for sharia courts would quieten the militants in Swat.

But the Taliban instead became emboldened, fanning out of Swat into other parts of Malakand, including Buner, Lower Dir and Shangla districts.

A military spokesman said 10 soldiers and around 70 militants were killed in three days of fighting in Dir, though there were no independent casualty estimates.

The Pentagon urged Pakistan to remain on the offensive.

"The key is to sustain these operations at this tempo and to keep the militants on their heels and to, ultimately, defeat them," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said.

"The test of all of these Pakistani military operations -- because we've seen them from time to time in the past -- is always their sustainability," he told reporters in Washington.

Washington is considering rushing hundreds of millions of dollars in emergency aid to Pakistan, the U.S. Senate's second-ranking Republican, Jon Kyl of Arizona, told reporters.

There have been signs of a sea change within Pakistan's fractious polity, with even conservative religious parties recognising the need to push the Taliban back.

A police official in Buner, speaking on condition of anonymity, said militants briefly took dozens of policemen and Frontier Constabulary personnel hostage in the district's Pir Baba area but released them on condition they would stay out of the fight. There was no official confirmation of the incident.

(Additional reporting by Junaid Khan and Augustine Anthony in Pakistan; Writing by Simon Cameron-Moore; Editing by Bill Tarrant)


  1. Muat have been that talking to from Hillary.

    They ought to hire out some of our AC 130 gunships. Rat,a,tat,tat from the air.

    Asking for some more billions in aid no doubt.

    Obumble promised in the campaign, he'd clean 'er up. Big meeting coming up in D.C.

    Same story on all the outlets--

    On Tuesday, the Taliban pasted posters on walls in the main town of Mingora warning local journalists of "bad consequences" if they did not stop writing what they called pro-Western articles. They were signed by the movement's suicide squad. --

    Signed, Suicide Squad, for the last time.

    --Jets Pound

  2. Picture of the Gamma Ray Burster Recently Spotted, Furthest Thing Out and Back Ever Seen--

    Astronomy Picture of the Day

    And that's out far and far back indeed. Not exactly the back 40.

  3. Phoenix first major cty where home prices have fallen by half... Developing...Just what I was told today.

  4. The real world pirates are the Don Obama and his Union Gangsters.

  5. ...if there was any justice some SOB would be hanging from a tree.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. RUSH:
    Now, I also have some people, and I checked the e-mail during the break: "Rush, are you sure your numbers are right on this GM deal with the bondholders and who gets what percentage?" Yes! Yes, my friends, I am. What has just happened is that Don Obama has made Don Corleone look like Daffy Duck. Don Corleone was nothing compared to Don Obama. You want to talk loan sharking? Let me tell you how this loan sharking worked. Bondholders, people who purchased General Motors bonds, did so to the tune of $27 billion.
    Big government, Don Obama put up $15 billion, just a tad less than that. So basically the private sector bondholders put up almost twice as much money to save General Motors as Don Obama did. And at the end of the day, Don Obama gets 50% of the company, and the bondholders get 10% of the company.

    The bondholders put up twice as much as Don Obama, and Don Obama gets half the company; the bondholders get 10%. That means they invested in the bonds wanting a profit. There are bondholders who were using the $800,000 throw-off. That's how much some of these bondholders had gained over the years, the bonds had thrown that much income off. One guy's retirement is worth nothing. It's worth 10% of that. So he's got a requirement now worth $80,000 thanks to Don Obama. Don Obama owns half of General Motors, and Don Obama's army -- his consiglieris, his capo di tuttis or whatever they are -- they have the other 39% of the company. How does somebody put up half as much money and get five times as much control of the company? What makes this even worse is that if General Motors would go bankrupt, the bondholders wouldn't get 10%, they'd get a hundred percent! That's what reorganization and restructuring is all about.

    So someone has to ask the question:
    How in the world would any bond buyer trust a bond again?
    So, in the case of Don Obama, you keep your friends close, your enemies closer. World War II, ladies and gentlemen, ended with a surrender on the USS Missouri. Capitalism may have surrendered in the General Motors boardroom. You go over to Chrysler, it's even worse.

    There, Don Obama's capo di tuttis, the consiglieri, whatever, the soldiers? They get 55% of Chrysler, Don Obama gets 35%, and the private sector gets 10% of Chrysler. I had somebody send me a note last night: "I'm never buying an American car again." Now, let's take a look at some real facets of this. Let's start with General Motors. Don Obama has 50% of the company. His soldiers, the UAW, have 39%, which means -- by the way...

    And look, I'm going to pat myself on the back. I predicted this back in December. I knew this was gonna happen. This was the game plan all along. It's not Obama's answer to every problem; it's his objective: Nationalize every business. It's not his solution. It's his objective. You know, people are getting caught up, "Well, his answer to this problem is he's gotta do this and gotta do that." No! This was his objective from the get-go. So let's say when the deal here is done, let's talk about Chrysler, 55% of Don Obama's boys own the thing. When you go in to a Chrysler dealership, do you realize you're going to be walking into satellite office of the Democrat National Committee? These dealerships will close on Election Day. You won't be able to buy a car on Election Day. You'll probably be able to register to vote when you buy a car. Voter registration will be on -- and union membership will be automatic, even if you don't work at a union place, you'll be an honorary union member when you go buy a car.

    Every car will produced with Obama bumper stickers built in. You can't rip 'em off. Dealerships will check applications to make sure the applicants who want loans to buy cars are Democrats. If your car breaks down and you complain about the repair bill, you will get audited -- and you might want to keep a sharp eye on your kneecaps. And then try this. This is going to be interesting for me to watch at Chrysler and General Motors. Chrysler has 55% of the UAW owning the company. That means they're going to have a majority of seats on the board of directors. At General Motors, it's 39%, so they'll have not a majority but they're going to have a lot of people on the boards of directors. So it's going to be union people deciding how much union people earn. It's going to be union management telling union employees where they have to work, how much they have to work.

    Let's see how the union does as management. Let's see how the union handles salaries, wages, overtime and all of this. Who's going to design the car? Oh, that's another thing. (laughing) Who's going to design the cars? Who is going to manufacture them? Who's gonna...? (laughing) Sorry, the Sierra Club will be the car designer. The Sierra Club, Earth First, these will be the designers of automobiles. But now seriously, stop and think of this. The union will be on the compensation committee. The union will be determining how much the union makes. The union will be becoming management and so forth. This is just -- and, of course, nobody in the union is going to have to have had sunk a dime of investment into this company. They're just being given these positions.

  8. What is good for General Motors, is good for the USA, doug.

  9. I mean, dougo, we had to do something!

  10. Steve Forbes discisses the Obama Care proposal.

    Now with Arlen on his Team, it does not even have to take the Reconciliation Pathway to passage. Though it still may go that way.

    bob just does not want to sacrifice, for America, he still dreams of private Doctors, private consultations and house calls.

    So 20th Century.

  11. Meanwhile in Baghdad: "June 30! June 30! June 30!...Aaaaaaarrrrgh!"

    I did catch, rather by accident, Jim DeMint's interview on CNN yesterday, in which a CNN host whose name entirely escapes me reacted with a body-convulsing snort to DeMint's mention of the GOP's "tent of freedom," which is the biggest political tent of all, doncha know.

    CNN host: "What the hell does that mean? The 'biggest tent' is 'freedom'? Freedom? You've got to do better than that!"

    I was actually startled by the rudeness of it, and was waiting for DeMint (with whom I haven't even a passing familiarity) to respond in the only appropriate manner: "Suck my dick." That might bring a couple of people back to the party. That and a promise of two hours' worth of open bar. But he didn't say that. And today there is much liberal mirth, not all of which (you will admit) is unmerited. Or unfunny.

    Balloon Juice:

    Derek Smalls and David St. Hubbins on the freedom of the break-up of “Spinal Tap”:

    David: It’s a freein’ up, innit?
    Derek: Yeah.
    David: It’s all this free time it’s suddenly time is so elastic..
    Derek: It’s a gift, it’s a gift of freedom. You know.
    David: I’ve always, I’ve always wanted to do a collection of my acoustic numbers with the London Philharmonic as you know.
    Derek: We’re lucky.
    David: Yeah.
    Derek: I mean people…people should be envying us. You know.
    David: I envy us.
    Derek: Yeah.
    David: I do.
    Derek: Me too.

  12. As the Republicans "Hunker down" for a long wait in the cave, the Democrats keep on drivin' forward.

    Their eyes on the prize.

    They're still in the game, not knowing that the GOP has gone to ground, on purpose.

    Rackin' up easy gains, unopposed.

    By Mimi Hall, USA TODAY

    UNIVERSITY CITY, Mo. — Veronica Cook describes her first venture into politics, registering voters and going door-to-door for Barack Obama's presidential campaign last summer, as a "life-changing experience" that erased her long-held cynicism about the political process.
    Once Obama was elected, "I didn't want it to stop," says Cook, 51, of St. Louis. "I wanted to keep working."

    The Democratic Party wants her to keep working, too — and it is giving her the chance as part of a new effort to harness and strengthen the grass-roots enthusiasm and financial support that won the party the White House in November.

    The effort is called Organizing for America, and a big focus so far is here in Missouri, the only battleground state Obama lost. (Republican John McCain won, 50%-49%.) Obama visits Arnold, Mo., south of St. Louis, today for a town-hall-style meeting to mark his first 100 days in office. He'll also hold a White House news conference tonight.

    Organizing for America, which is run by the Democratic National Committee, has held 11 community meetings across the state in the past two weeks

  13. Group leaders, who use the campaign's contact list of 13 million donors to corral supporters and raise money, say their goal is to support Obama's agenda and expand the grass-roots movement that elected him by launching community service projects on issues from energy to education.

    The first-of-its-kind effort began in February with supporters calling to thank members of Congress who voted for the economic stimulus package. In March and April, organizers collected 600,000 signatures supporting Obama's budget proposal and sent them to Capitol Hill.

    Now, they are hosting community meetings nationwide and soliciting ideas. Meetings have been held in 16 states. The largest gathering so far was in Missouri, where more than 200 people attended a Kansas City meeting.

    On Monday night, about 100 people such as Cook braved the rain to meet in this St. Louis suburb.

    Organizers are encouraged. Months after the election, "You'd expect there to be some fatigue among supporters," says Natalie Wyeth, an organization spokeswoman. "It's been entirely the opposite."

    Justice credits the way the Obama organization uses e-mail lists, social networking sites such as Facebook, video and more to bring people together.

    "They have opened up a whole new world," she says.

    Republican pollster Frank Luntz agrees. "This is life in the 21st century," he says. "Either you organize and connect with people or you fail.

  14. Buddy of mine, bob, just bought a house in Surprise, AZ. This little town, just a few miles west of Phoenix is a bedroom community.

    Lots of Californios had moved into the area, back in the day, homes were priced in the $225,000 to $355,000 range, for the most part. Ms Napalitano was smellin' sweet and the money was pourin' in to the State Treasury.

    Nice houses of Taco Bell architecture on standard sububan lots. 2,000 sq ft, at a minimum with some topping out over 3,800.
    With a Walmart just down the street.

    Now, gettin' back to my buddy, his newest piece of Surprise suburbia set him back $70,000.

    That house is at least 75% off the peak. My own little piece of Phoenix, it's down by 40% from the peak. Which I never thought was sustainable, at around $200 per sq ft, for a 1963 built, updated and renovated piece of Paradise Valley.

  15. Any guesses on how many points of light Mr Obama is going to use Federal funds to illuminate US with?

    It is the compassionate thing for US to do, I sure we'll all agree to that. Because the Federals are in the compassion business, that's the reality of the latest Republican legacy for all of US to ponder.

  16. The other news in that link, one that bodes well for those who may want to join the expatrioti, Miami is also in the top 5 decliners.

    That, combined with the loosening of immigration standards that is coming down the pike, will further depress real eatate values across the Caribian Basin.

    A cheap Miami with legal residency available will become a magnet for those interested in migrating to security.

    With international travel down and real estate values cratering in the resort towns of Central America there may never be a better time to retire to the beach.

  17. Doug, (and Rush),

    Those GM bond holders are lucky to get a chance at ANY Value for those GM bonds!

  18. Anyway, my buddy that is buying in Surprise, he has a place in Maine that he would summer at. He has yet to have spent a summer here in the Valley of the Sun.

    In any case, his place in Maine is now on the market. The opportunities he sees here, just to great for him to pass up.

    I'd imagine the same holds true for Vegas and Miami, too.
    The challenges facing LA and 'Frisco, though, are greater than just the current financial crisis but also part of the systemic problem that is enveloping all of California.

  19. Nice song, Rat. I do believe a lot of things 'was good, now heap shit'. Anyways we're going to Twin Falls today. Will give a report on prices there.
    My lawyer got some place with a new golf course nearby, 'southern Phoenix, was surrounded by irrigated cotton fields.'

    Gotta run, thanks for the song.

    P.S.--You'll be singin' my song, when you're denied medical procedure in your old age.

  20. Pig Fever's incubation period is 7 days, so screening at airports and other ports of entry will prove to be ineffective, ultimately.

    Not even factoring the thousands of travelers that by-pass the authorized ports of entry, daily.

  21. A look back.

    On The Firing Line, The Public Life of Our Public Figures, William F. Buckley (1989):

    When Clare Boothe Luce first appeared on (The Firing Line) in 1977, the pollsters gave the figure 20 percent for Republican registration compared to 49 percent Democrats. Those figures reflected the composition of elected officials -- though, to be sure, most elected Southerners were "Democrats" of the pattern of Harry Byrd. There were one-half again as many Democratic as Republican senators, twice as many congressmen, three times as many governors. I asked Mrs. Luce, what to do? (Mrs. Luce always had an answer to any question at the tip of her tongue. Though this, I came to know, was polemical training; she was often dissatisfied, after consulting her private intellectual conscience, with the answer she gave.)

    Luce: "The Republicans come into power ultimately [she was speaking of the presidency] only because the Democrats make terrible mistakes, and the people demand someone there at the national level to redeem Democratic errors. But each time the Republicans come in simply as critics and tinkerers and repairmen and plumbers -- I'm not invoking the spirit of Watergate there, by the way -- each time they come in, they go out a little weaker. Because what is needed is not only carpenters to repair the holes in the Democratic roof. What is needed is a new architect that gives people a vision of a better future."

    But by the time Mrs. Luce made that Firing Line appearance, the struggle within the Republican Party for precisely that -- a new architecture -- had been going on for almost two decades. The nomination of Barry Goldwater in 1964 was the decisive event. The Eastern Seaboard Liberal Establishment never again controlled the Republican Party. Richard Nixon told me, driving to the studio in 1967 to appear on that program, that he had discovered in his gubernatorial campaign in California in 1962 "two things." Of course, I asked, "What?" And he answered: "A Republican can't win without attracting the conservative votes. But the second lesson I learned is that a Republican can't win by attracting only conservative votes."


  22. This comment has been removed by the author.

  23. There's quite a few of those types of project, bob.

    Almost all those cotton fields are owned by developers, with lease-backs to the farmers.

    We have many more golf courses than hospitals, and we have our share of hospitals.

    The real estate that is served by ambulances that deliver patients to the Mayo's Emergency Room sells at a premium. Seems that planning on using the Emergency Room for medical care is not limited to the barrio.

    We're gonna get the public village, bob, it's up to you to choose the one you live and die in.
    Choose your village or let others choose it for you.

    But the folk with pitchforks, they've taken the Palace. Took 'em 40 years, amigos, but until that piece of reality sinks in ...
    We're in the midst of the populist rebellion, made possible by the ballot.

    From McGovern to Obama, 40 years.
    From Chi-town '68 to Chi-town '08, the methods changed, even the actors were replaced, but the producers remained the same.

    Lester Crown, General Dynamics.
    A Chi-town archtype, has been in for the duration.

  24. [...]

    In 1977, Gerald Ford had been defeated by Jimmy Carter, and conservative intellectuals disagreed on exactly why. Granted, Ford was never a Napoleonic political figure. But he was competent, good-natured, and conservative in inclination. Even so, he had been actively opposed in the primaries by Ronald Reagan -- who very nearly took the nomination away from him, and who almost certainly would have won against Carter. But Mrs. Luce had her eye on the new architecture. And she acknowledged that Barry Goldwater, her old friend and, up until she moved to Hawaii, her neighbor in Phoenix, had been if not an architect, an architect manque.

    During the campaign in 1964, Barry Goldwater had been heavily treated. George Meany, head of the AFL-CIO, charged that Goldwater was "liable to drag us into nuclear war." Senator William Fulbright said that "Goldwater Republicanism is the closest thing in American politics to an equivalent to Russian Stalinism." Martin Luther King saw "dangerous sign of Hitlerism" in the campaign.

    The celebrations when he lost so overwhelmingly (he carried only Arizona and five Southern states) for a while suggested that the Republican Party had lost its head, as one critical book published in 1966 (The Party That Lost Its Head, by George Gilder and Bruce K. Chapman) concluded. Goldwater was entirely impenitent a few months later:

    Goldwater: "I think the time is approaching when we have to stop fooling ourselves in the Republican Party. Historically, it's been the conservative who's perfectly to go along with the liberal. He'll work for him, raise money for him. We just have to honestly ask ourselves, would some of these [liberal Republicans] be better off if they were with the Democrats? Today the Republican Party is a conservative party."

    That may have been true, but it was not true that the liberal element within the Republican Party was willing to hand the party over to the right.


  25. Interesting GDP report, this morning. CONSUMER SPENDING UP, Durable Goods Spending UP, Inventories Down, strongly.

    I don't know if we can get a "positive" number in the second quarter with the "Auto Bankruptcies" in the air, and GM shutting down for 6 weeks, but, I think it's going to be close.

    Whatever happens in the second quarter, Q3 will be a Barnburner.

  26. When gloom descends I remind myself of what I was told by a Viennese colleague when I was still in my twenties. The only way for modern man, he said, is objective pessimism, and subjective optimism. (The data are discouraging, the data be damned.)

    - Wm. F. Buckley

  27. The problem is, we'll come out of recession quicker than our trade partners. Thus, our imports will zoom up, but our exports will lag. This will, possibly, be enough to keep us in negative territory for the 2nd Q. In fact, quite likely.

    I, now, have to put our chance of "growth" in Q2, at about 20%. Maybe, 10%. It's going to be hard to "go positive" until the car deal is behind us.

  28. So we can break out the party hats in Aug-Sept.

  29. The only way for modern man, he said, is objective pessimism, and subjective optimism.

    Toots Sweet

  30. Tyler Cowen on Arlen Specter:

    "On the marketing side, maybe now the Republicans, being denied the filibuster, will have to come up with some ideas that are actually appealing to voters outside their core constituencies."

    I add: Ain't no such thing as "have to" in politics. How many years, how many decades, did it take Democrats to think up the DLC? How many years, how many decades, was it before the McGovernites quit stock-piling rat poison against the prospect of that dreaded development?

  31. Yeah, Americans have a very short attention span.

    They're inherently unable to keep a good "recession" going.

  32. Will Nouriel Roubini and Evans-Pritchard be donning party hats? Because that, I would really, really, really like to see.

    The effect might be rather like putting a party hat on Greenspan, known for years as The Undertaker - not due to his gloomy predictions but rather his everyday Eyeore demeanor.

  33. House Passes Budget Plan Endorsing Obama Goals

    Roll Call Vote: 233-193

  34. I never pay the slightest bit of attention to either one of them.

  35. No!!!!!!!

    How can you consider yourself a credible commentator if you don't!

  36. A country's economy is all about "Employment." Everything else is just noise. Check Google every thursday morning for "jobless claims." The trend in "continuing claims" will tell you all you want to know.

    When continuing claims "peak" the economy has bottomed.

  37. It's never been wrong.

  38. Well, to be utterly precise, you're either, at, or within six weeks of the bottom.

  39. Please let us know when they've peaked and we are 6 weeks out from good times.

    Standing by with cash in hand...

  40. If you've got a buck, stick it in Now. You might get a pull-back from here, but you might not.

  41. i haven't put any new money in the market for a couple of years now. Unfortunately I didn't pull what pennies I had in, out, when my instincts told me to. Now, I sit on the fence contemplating my navel wondering if the currently rally is indeed the Bear market rally so many think it is. There appears to be a load of consumer debt still waiting to hit the fan, so, I sit, watch, keeping my little stash dry and poised to pounce...

  42. heh,

    a potato with a navel poised to pounce like a feline

    what an image.

  43. Better than a drunken hillbilly, stumbling around with a shotgun, looking for somethin to shoot (buy.)

    I do better if I just buy the S&P, and forget about it.

  44. Uh, . . . 'ceptin for the last couple've years, of course.

  45. I highly recommend Squidbillies on Cartoon Network. So close to the truth, could be a government-funded research project.

    Better than the first hour of Coal Miner's Daughter for cultural anthropological purposes. But maybe not as inspiring.

    I love that movie.

  46. Obammer, taking about his first hundred days in his first 7 minutes of tonights presser. He ran through the teleprompter at such a pace that I hardly heard a word he said. Now, at 8:10 in the east, he has just taken his first question.

  47. Dire Straits are playing the "Sultans of Swing", on the radio.

  48. Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan and John Mellencamp, all coming to town, together.

    Doing a summer tour, I hear.

  49. This comment has been removed by the author.

  50. Asked whether he thought the previous administration had authorized torture and should be prosecuted, he expressed his high principals regarding torture.

    I thought of his principles regarding abortion. Not quite so lofty.

  51. Shutting Down Mexico City: Health Measure or Economic Disaster?

    By Ioan Grillo / Mexico City

  52. Oh boy, such hard hitting questions from the Washington DC "journalist" pool: "Mr. President, what enchanted you about the White House?"
    If a Muslim dies of Swine Flu, does he get to enter paradise?

  53. "Wash your hands" is the new duct tape.

  54. From Oz:

    What We KnowThe World Health Organisation has moved to Phase 5 in the global response to swine flu – this means that human to human spread of the virus has reached at least two countries.What We're DoingThe World Health Organisation and countries around the world are working to find out more about this virus.What We Want You to DoThe Director of Public Health has urged anyone advised to remain isolated in their home, to strictly follow that advice. It is extremely important that anyone being investigated follows the instructions given to them by health authorities.Influenza Facts

  55. Yes, the great father advised the country tonight that they should not go to work if they're sick.

  56. "Understand where the vision for change comes from, first and foremost. It comes from me"- 0

  57. Semester at Sea!!!

    Congratulations, Pooh Bear.

  58. Someday, we'll come up with an antidote for soul-driving French professors.

    Because that's how good we are.

  59. MR. OBAMA: You know, the -- my view on -- on abortion, I think, has been very consistent. I think abortion is a moral issue and an ethical issue. I think that those who are pro-choice make a mistake when they -- if they suggest -- and I don't want create straw men here, but I think there are some who suggest that this is simply an issue about women's freedom and that there's no other considerations. I think, look, this is an issue that people have to wrestle with, and families and individual women have to wrestle with.

    The reason I'm pro-choice is because I don't think women take that -- that position casually. I think that they struggle with these decisions each and every day, and I think they are in a better position to make these decisions, ultimately, than members of Congress or -- or a president of the United States, in consultation with their families, with their doctors, with their clergy.

    So -- so that's -- that's been my consistent position.

    The other thing that I said consistently during the campaign is, I would like to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies that result in women feeling compelled to get an abortion or at least considering getting an abortion, particularly if we can reduce the number of teen pregnancies, which has started to spike up again.

    And so I've got a task force within the Domestic Policy Council in the West Wing of the White House that is working with groups both in the pro-choice camp and in the pro-life camp to see if we can arrive at some consensus on that.

    Now, the Freedom of Choice Act is not my highest legislative priority. I believe that women should have the right to choose, but I think that the most important thing we can do to tamp down some of the -- the anger surrounding this issue is to focus on those areas that we can agree on. And that's -- that's where I'm going to focus.

  60. Obama's stance on abortion has touched off a controversy over his invitation to speak at commencement ceremonies at Notre Dame University next month.

    Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard law professor and former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, said earlier this week she would not accept a top honor at Notre Dame's commencement ceremony because of the Roman Catholic university's decision to invite Obama.

    Several bishops also have criticized the university for the decision.
    Not a Top Priority

  61. Last night Mr Obama said he had been “sobered by the fact that change in Washington comes slow – that there is still a certain quotient of political posturing and bickering that takes place even when we're in the middle of really big crises.”

    He added, however, “I am under no illusions that suddenly I'm going to have a rubber-stamp Senate. I've got Democrats who don't agree with me on everything, and that's how it should be.”

    Asked if the defection of one of the last remaining moderate Republicans had long term implications for the future of the party, he replied: “I do think that our administration has taken some steps that have restored confidence in the American people that we're moving in the right direction and that simply opposing our approach on every front is probably not a good political strategy.”
    100 Days

  62. Semester at Sea!!!

    Congratulations, Pooh Bear

    Where'd that come from? I've got a license plate holder on my car that says "Semester at Sea Alumni". An artifact of a previous owner.

    Should I change it?

    Or not?

    Always thought it was a good pussy magnet. Just like the young fellers in the day who used to attend peace rallies, thinkin' it was a piece rally.

  63. ...My own little piece of Phoenix...a 1963 built, updated and renovated piece of Paradise Valley...

    Is Coyote a neighbor, Rat? He may dwell just outside of PV.

    The librarian.

  64. Orlando police chief threatening to sue blogger who is critical of herIn yet another blogger vs police chief clash, Orlando Police Chief Val Demings is threatening to sue a local blogger for criticizing her on his blog.

    At least she hasn’t ordered his home raided.

    Nevertheless, she still doesn’t have a legal chance in hell to get Ezell Harris to shut his blog down.

    On the contrary, she just placed herself in the national spotlight.

    via Coyote: “Truth is not always a defense.”

  65. So, should I change the frame, or not?