“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."

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Russia takes measure of a weak Obama, sets up to take Georgia.

Why is Russia so interested in Georgia? Russia wants to get the price of energy up. It wants to send a message to Ukraine and the feeble energy addicts in Western and Southern Europe. Russia itself is addicted to energy for export. It has little else other than military hardware and that market will soon be eclipsed by the Chinese. Putin needs more money to expand his military. It was reported this week that Moscow had put on hold new uniforms for the army. Where will the money come from?

Create some theater in Georgia. Add in the words, terrorism, security, fraternity and protecting sovereignty. Nato is a farce. Obama has no stomach for a third military involvement while trying to wind down Iraq and Afghanistan. Add instability in Pakistan and who will even notice?

Remember the sudden interest in drones from Israel?

Still not convinced, look at this little clip:

Russia Digs In Alongside Breakaway Territories

Published: May 2, 2009

MOSCOW — Russian border guards on Saturday began taking up long-term positions along the boundaries of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, an arrangement that will probably mean sustained tension in the two breakaway Georgian territories.

Security treaties signed on Thursday in Moscow between Russia and the two territories called for joint patrols in South Ossetia and Abkhazia for an unspecified period along the boundaries that separate the enclaves from the rest of Georgia. The State Department expressed “serious concern” over the arrangement, saying it violated Georgia’s territorial integrity and broke commitments made in a cease-fire agreement reached last fall.

The territories were at the heart of a war last August between Russia and Georgia; the conflict raised tensions between Moscow and the West to a level not seen since the end of the cold war. Heavy Russian armor poured into both territories after Georgia attacked Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia. Russia then officially recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as sovereign nations, despite protests from Europe and the United States, and promised to guarantee their security.

Russian troops have been at the territories’ border since August, but the security pact signed on Thursday makes their role formal and permanent. It grants Russia’s border guards, a division of the Russian Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., any land or buildings needed to patrol the area. It also grants Russian border guards many of the rights of Abkhaz and South Ossetian citizens.

In an interview, Abkhazia’s president, Sergei Bagapsh, said 500 Russian border guards — not Defense Ministry troops — would perform joint patrols alongside 300 Abkhazians until Abkhazia could train enough personnel to secure the 60-mile border.

He said Abkhazia had negotiated for some changes to the agreement, among them ensuring that guards at the crossing in the Gali region, which has a large ethnic Georgian population, would be Abkhaz rather than Russian.

“People will be going to the markets; you cannot stop life,” he said. “We don’t want to build a Great Wall of China between Abkhazia and Georgia.”

But Georgian authorities said the move to long-term postings was dangerous. Shota Utiashvili, a senior official in Georgia’s Interior Ministry, said that though Russian soldiers had been staffing checkpoints since August, he worried that F.S.B. units “might be more willing to stage operations” along the Georgian border.

He said Georgian authorities were watching to see how heavily fortified the border would be.

In a statement released on Friday, Georgia’s Foreign Ministry said Russia “once more draws a line between itself and the entire international community, and again brutally tramples on fundamental standards and principles of international law.”


  1. The perfect situation for Hillary's "smart diplomacy."

    Time to swing into action, Hillary, dodge some incoming running to your plane, agreement in hand, having "thought out of the box."

    Having beaten Pooty at his own game.

    Having won the chess match.


  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Well, it was Ms Rice and Company that could not get the Russians to leave Georgia, after the invasion, even on a temporary basis.

    The Russians just now not leaving where they already are.

    Now, will the Russians expand their Georgian footprint beyond what Mr Bush relinguished after the last episode?

    That is where Obama's test would be, not now that the Russians have made their presence permanent, in the Russian speaking break-a-way provcidences of what was once Georgia.

    The Russians have taken the measure of the US, regardless of the President of the moment.

    Or they'd not be in Georgia, to make their presence permanent.

  4. This could easily be spun as an Obama/Clinton success.

    The Russian Army is withdrawing to Russia, leaving in its' stead a small detachment of constabulary.

    600 Border Guards is not even a Battalion sized element.

    Soft Power wins again!

    Here and in Lebanon where our NATO ally, Turkey, has stepped up to assist US. Team Obama is scoring success after success and not even trying to hype that success. Playing it low key, no drama.

    The Russian Army going home to Russiam, that could be considered great news, really, if you wanted it to be.

  5. That the US should withdraw from Germany, leaving a 600 man constabulary force behind.

    I'd celebrate that news.

  6. Another old timer bites the bullet

    Jack Kemp
    Football Star & Politician Dies

  7. Someday (possibly soon) oil will be in short supply. They want to make sure they control the pipelines out of the region.

    And, they will.

  8. Or from South Korea.

    Another country that can defend itself, now, without our presence on the ground.

  9. I certainly see no point to the US being in Germany or Korea. The US should have military alliances with countries that both matter to US interests, are not strategic liabilities and are willing to pull their weight.

    Taiwan is a country with too many liabilities.

    Germany is toothless.

    Australia, Canada and the UK, all make sense.

    Eastern Europe is very problematic in general but are vital to keep Russia in check, and Russia needs to be kept in check. It should be a European function, but energy needs and appeasement is the reality. Georgia and Moldova will be the test.

  10. We've got to give this one up to the Russkies, eventually. There's just not enough oil there to fight Russia in their backyard for control of it.

    We will develop batteries, and biofuels. That's, really, our only option.

  11. BTW, Russia's oil exports are down 3.3%, YOY.

    Betcha anything, they'll be down over 6%, YOY, by this time next year.

  12. You see, their production is about where it was in 2007, but their Domestic consumption is steadily rising.

    China's consumption, thus import amount, is rising about 1 Million Barrels/Day, every year.

  13. "We will develop batteries, and biofuels. That's, really, our only option."
    That'll rank up there in the Rufus Pantheon with:
    "This Real Estate Mortgage hiccup will end up being a mere ripple in the pond!."

  14. Whatever happened to the Hydrogen Economy?

  15. If you gotta go go now
    Imagery is my request for the ambiance to be pursued by the proprietors of the EB.

  16. It's the same place it was 20 years, ago - 20 years, away.

  17. My Karmic Center is my Anus.

  18. Hydrogen was merely "misdirection" by the powers that be.

  19. I guess I should be a big Methane Guy, since that's what gets emitted by my Karmic Center.

  20. Until we get fusion, it has to be nuclear.

    We have it and we could expand it to replace oil and natural gas and save that for transportation.

  21. Russia to build Floating Actic Nuclear Stations to pump oil.

    Let "Greenpeas" get in front of that puppy.

  22. Or, "one of those puppies," It looks like they're going to build 5 of them.

  23. Don't go bettin the ranch on nat gas for transportation, yet, Deuce. This "gas shale" might not shake out just like the optimists are hoping.

    The thing about biofuels is that you can fold them right into the existing infrastructure, easily, and cheaply. And, run the existing fleet on them. Nat Gas, not so much.

  24. On housing:

    Kevin Gillen, vice president of Econsult of Philadelphia and a Wharton School research fellow.

    "Only when inventories are restored to their long-run average will we return to a more balanced market."

    If there is consensus among economists both inside and outside the housing industry, it is that today's problems will not be fixed anytime soon.

    The corollary: It will take until 2020-21 for home prices to reach the levels seen in 2006, before the real estate bubble deflated.

    After prices drop an additional 10 percent nationally in the next nine to 12 months, Moody's chief economist Mark Zandi suggested, they will resume normal annual gains of just one to two percentage points above the rate of inflation.

    As for housing starts, the historic trend is 1.6 million to 1.7 million units annually. Zandi predicted the numbers would not reach that level again until 2015.

    "Home building will come back, and the builders who hang on will do very well when it does," said economist Patrick Newport, of IHS Global Insight Inc. "It's just that they have to work out the 800,000 excess units for sale today."

    Houses will become much smaller than the current 2,521-square-foot national average, Newport predicted: "The McMansion will be dead."

    With 18 months' worth of inventory for sale and 2.1 million units vacant nationally, residential construction is now at a standstill.

  25. I will agree with you Rufus when they can make it out of cellulose and or algae.

  26. Here rufus, save your last viagra pill, try this

  27. Economic Cycle Research Institute thinks I'm a little early with my call.

    Lakshman Achutan say we'll be Out of Recession by the End of Summer.He's probably right. I think it all depends on the automobile mess.

  28. Out of recession by the end of summer? That might be a bit optimistic. We are just beginning to see the credit crisis work its way into the commercial real estate market. We could see bankruptcies that you would never have guessed. I don't see how we'll resolve the liquidity problems by the end of summer. The problem is that right now, no one can tell with any certainty what has happened.

    Like I said before, we're still in the dark, the wheels are still spinning, steam is hissing and we can't tell how bad the wreck really is.

  29. Deuce, Jeff Broin (Poet) is about the "solidest" guy in the ethanol business. He's the biggest, and, I guess, the most profitable operator out there.

    He's operating off his own money (the company's private,) and he says he can make ethanol from corn cobs for $2.50 gallon (without subsidies,) Now; and that he'll be able to do it, he thinks, for $2.00/gal when his new facility opens in Spring, 2011.

    I'd betcha that this is just about where the industry will end up.

    At $2.00 gasoline, not so exciting. At $4.00 gasoline, the keys to the kingdom.

  30. Whit, if I was 20 years younger you couldn't keep me away from This Place. Destiny, FlThis little blurb doesn't do it justice, but it gives you a name to google.

  31. Whit, we're alive, and out of the hospital. There ain't much to do but rent a car, and go to work.

  32. When you see the weekly jobless claims drop below 600,000 you can write, "paid," to this recession.

  33. I just posted this over at Robert Rapier's blog:

    Look, the average county has about 100,000 people. They consume about 50 Million gallons of gasoline.

    Average county would be in the neighborhood of 1,000 to 1,200 sq. miles. Say, 700,000 acres.

    It, also, produces 100,000 Tons of Municipal solid waste.

    Figure a fleet of vehicles that are 20% more efficient (iminently, doable,) and I'd wager the average county could use between 5, and 10% of it's land (forestry waste, energy crops, some corn, etc.,) plus MSW and Be Home Free.

    Caveat: Absolutely, NO ONE in the power structure will like it.

    That means: WE should Love It.

  34. Australia, Canada and the UK, all make sense.Canada makes sense. But why do Australia and the U.K. make sense? Other than the cultural ties, which I'm all for.

    Australia is on the other underside of the world, uninhabited, mostly desert, defenseless really. U.K. a small island off Europe.

    I'm all for the relationships, cause they speak our language, have basically our outlook, etc. and the more friends the better far as I can see, but neither seems exactly 'in the middle of things'. Poland makes more sense than the U.K. for keeping the Bear at bay.

    Israel doesn't make much sense either, I suppose, but I'm still for it.

    Just askin'.

  35. My banker isn't going to loan me any money to extend my road up any further, till things settle down to normal, so I'm dead in the water here, for however long it takes to get back to 'normal.' Which is just as well, he's preventing me from taking any risk, bless him.

  36. Seeking To Save The Planet With A Thesaurus--

    Even climate change may be out. Instead talk about 'our deteriorating atmosphere' etc.

    Heh, they're pulling one over on us.

  37. Don’t confuse people with cap and trade; use terms like “cap and cash back” or “pollution reduction refund.”Cap and cash back; pollution reduction refund--I like the sounds of that.

  38. Heh--

    “Energy efficiency” makes people think of shivering in the dark. Instead, it is more effective to speak of “saving money for a more prosperous future.”Arbeit macht frei.

  39. 1. BPT (Australia):

    Janet Napolitano is the extremist. The haircut is the give-away. Reminds one of Janet Reno, real nightmare material too.

    What is it with these masculinised-looking Democrat broads?

    May 3, 2009 - 2:51 am

    2. Dave:

    I have a name for the current White House inhabitants: Ferdinand and Imelda Obama.

    The tactics being used are real similar to the run-up to martial law he Philippines in 1972.

    And other stylistic similarities are far from coincidental.
    Keep Your Candle Lit The Darkness Descends--
    So says one writer. There are some disturbing trends. And what is Michelle doing in those $550 dollar tennis shoes?

    Why isn't she out in the White House garden?

  40. Normal Flu, YOY, 36,000 American Citizens.

    Swine Flu - 0

    Yep, it wuz devustatin

  41. "Devustatin," I Tell Ya.

    jist devustatin

  42. At least it took our minds off the "devustashun of Globul Warmening."

  43. FLASH!!!!

    Just heard on Glen Beck it was none other than Killer Dick "Darth Vader" Cheney that was the CEO of the company that developed Tamiflu.

    N O W it all fits together. And they stockpiled Tamiflu, too.(You remember--under Bushitler)

    They introduced the virus into Mexico--obviously bioengineered by the same company--so as to--MAKE MONEY.

    Haliburton lurks in the background here too, I tell ya!

  44. Yoy is a cultural Belfast term for Anything. It is the "wild card" of words - the Joker. It is primarily used in cases of disbelief, sheer homosexuality, or whenever another word cannot be thought of. It is an excellent reply in times of shock or poor attitude. It is anything. a Noun, a verb, an adverb - basically no matter what sense it is in, it will just be: "yoy" It was formed from its many ancestral words, such as "Goy" "Roy" "Hoy" "Bloy" and "Zoy". The ease of use means it can be used in any context. Ever. The longer the word is played out, shows how emphatic and pathetic the preceding statement was.
    "Wanna sweet"

    "omg that shot was yoyyyy"

    "England are amazing!"

    "Take care duder, chin up!"

    Ruf be reallly yoooyyyyyy

  45. Think I'll have a yoy beer.There, have I got it?

    Or, how about:

    YOY, I think I'll have a Beer.

  46. He said, Yoyfully.

  47. Yoy, I think I'm gettin it.

  48. YOY got it Ruf, enjoy yoyyyyfully

  49. A third Australian living in the UK has tested positive to swine flu.

    Kate Corbett, a 29-year-old journalist, was tested for the virus after returning to her home in London from Mexico.


    British authorities have confirmed over 18 cases of swine flu in the UK.
    Swine Flu

  50. Yoy, Sam, that's a picture of a replica of Lone Star School, built by a farmer near me, the school where my aunt went, circa 1910, walking about two miles to get there every day. Total class about 10 or 12, one school marm. She said it was just like the original.

    I went in and wrote on the blackboard one day "Zorro Was Here" which I remember was a craze in my youth. Very yoyyyy

  51. The Egyptian police are fighting the Christian pig farmers who are pissed about the order to kill all the pigs, even though no cases have been reported in Egypt.

    May locusts and frogs invade Egypt, except the Christian areas, out by the city garbage dumps.

    "Never waste a crisis."

  52. Grandma Obama goes on hajj--may she take her son with her, and keep him--

    JERUSALEM – President Barack Obama's paternal grandmother, Sarah Obama, will reportedly perform the Muslim Hajj pilgrimage this year along with her son Syeed Obama.

    A private Kenyan television channel, quoted extensively by the Kenyan and Pakistani media, reported Sarah Obama and her son will also visit Dubai before going to Saudi Arabia for performing Hajj. The pair lives in Kenya.

    The News, a newspaper in Dubai, confirmed the report. It quoted United Arab Emirates' property tycoon Sulaiman Al Fahim as stating he will personally sponsor Sarah Obama's trip after meeting the elderly Obama in Kenya last week and learning she had always wanted to perform the Hajj.

    "I found out that she had not been to the Hajj and that she very much wants to go. As my own mother is no longer with us, our family has a spare place. So I invited her and she has accepted," The News quoted Fahim as saying.

    The Hajj is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world. The fifth pillar of Islam requires every able-bodied Muslim to travel to Mecca at least once in their life in a demonstration of solidarity with fellow Muslims and in an act of individual submission to Allah.

  53. allahallahnobodaddynobodaddyallahallahhmphhymphyoooyyyyy

  54. Neat story about the school, Bob. So was the school in Nampa then? Or somewhere else? I see a Lone Star Rd. in Nampa.

  55. The outcome left wider opinions about AIPAC and its influence largely unchanged. Jon B. Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said he had never found the case to be particularly revealing about AIPAC.

    "I thought it was an unusual action by the government," he said.

    Gary Wasserman, a professor of government at Georgetown University who is writing a book about the case, said he was not surprised that AIPAC was pleased by the proposed dismissal. A trial, he added, "would have provoked a lot of public discussion about how they worked."

  56. He surely was dead
    When he lost his head
    But whatever happened to the skull
    Of the departed Descartes?

    There was originally one
    Then said to be two
    The count went to four
    And there could be more

    The bones of Descartes
    Even sold at the mart
    Like wood from the true cross
    Of long ago---

    Hof asserted that Isaac Planstrom, officer of the guard for the City of Stockholm, removed the skull from the bier of Descartes, for which he substituted another. If that was true, it would explain why those who dealt with the remains later--the customs officials who opened the coffin at the French border in 1666, among others--did not report anything amiss. But it added a new mystery: what became of the second skull, the ersatz head of Descartes?

    While the French scientists were puzzling over these questions, Berzelius happened to write to a Swedish friend telling him of the strange circumstances surrounding the skull of Rene Descartes and what he believed to be his satisfactory resolution of them. The reply he got may have incited a groan. The story sounded quite fascinating, wrote Hans Gabriel Trolle-Wachtmeister, a nobleman and government official with an amateur interest in chemistry, "but are you completely sure it's the right skull?" In Lund, Trolle-Wachtmeister informed Berzelius, was another skull of Descartes, "to whose authenticity the rector and council are prepared to swear." He added drily that in the scheme of things it wouldn't be unjust if it turned out the great Descartes had had two heads since "we see how many fools have one."

    Was this then the second skull? Were there indeed two skulls of Descartes in circulation, one genuine, the other a placeholder slipped by Planstrom into the copper coffin? But if so, how was it that both had remained in Sweden? Wouldn't one of them have ventured to Paris with Terlon's party?

    The complications were only beginning. In Paris, the savants were puzzling over another item. The information about Sven Hof was embedded in a four-volume biography of Queen Christina by a man named Johan Arckenholtz; it was in the first volume, which was published in 1751, that he included Hof's account of the encounter with Descartes' skull. By volume 4, which appeared in 1760, Arckenholtz had himself entered this exotic subplot: he reported that in 1754 he had "made the acquisition of a part of this skull that is attested to be genuine and of which the other part rests in the cabinet of the late M. Hagerflycht." So it seemed that there were now four skulls or skull pieces that had supposedly once belonged to Descartes. The situation was beginning to mirror the relic trade of early Christianity, when saints' bones proliferated and, as John Calvin wrote with Protestant scorn, there were enough pieces of the "true cross" circulating around Europe to fill a ship's cargo.

    from "Descartes's Bones" Russel Shorto

  57. This Lone Star School is outside of Moscow, Sam. A little ways from the original homestead. I thought it was nice of the fellow to build a replica of school, on his own dime, too.

    We don't have any connection with south Idaho at all. I doubt grandpa ever even went there.

    Lots of building had gone on out Nampa and Caldwell way, for sure, lots of it sitting unsold now.

    Just went to Twin Falls to look around. Everything has grown. It looks very nice, even the old downtown. Nice place, mountains off in the distance, Sun Valley not far away, Yellowstone Park not all that far.

    Jackpot, Nevade 45 minutes away, to lost your money!

  58. Despite being forced to sleep outside on a board, limited communication with her family and feelings of incredible loneliness, an Alberta woman kidnapped in Nigeria believes her abductors were - for the most part - kind to her.


    She made reference to other people who are being held hostage in troubled parts of Africa, including freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout from Sylvan Lake, Alta., who was kidnapped in Somalia along with Australian photographer Nigel Brennan last August.

    "I thank God that I'm the lucky one," said Mulligan, who intends to keep supporting the Rotary club to help promote peace and cultural understanding.
    Weren't All Bad

  59. Kidnap story with a happy ending.

    A little Stockholm Syndrome there, maybe?

  60. The paper sets out a series of projects costing billions of dollars over the next couple of decades.

    The most costly project is the acquisition of 12 submarines fitted with land-attack cruise missiles.

    Other projects include the construction of eight frigates as well as the purchase of 24 naval helicopters and around 100 Joint Strike Fighter combat aircraft.
    Bigger Military

  61. We may be looking to you to provide for our defense soon, Sam. Because the way we're going we won't be able to defend ourselves.

  62. A popular joke among Russian oligarchs has one telling another, "I have bad news, I have lost $5 billion." The second replies, 'Well I have lost $7 billion. But the good news is that whores are back to costing $100.'


    The number of Russian billionaires has halved in the last year to 49 as the financial crisis destroyed mass fortunes. With the jobless rate currently at an eight-year high and salaries shrinking across the board, prostitutes are also cutting prices.


    Lena, also in her 30s and with a shock of peroxide shoulder-length hair, nodded at her co-worker.

    "The men who come to us are very rich, very successful and know what they want. Business is good," she said, reclining in a plush armchair.
    No Sex

  63. heh--

    article says--

    "when your stock price is falling, your________________"

    fill in the blank

  64. you're more than I can handle, dawling

    let's just talk

  65. YOY,

    altogether, not enthralling

  66. YOY,

    He's Bawling, Dawling.

  67. Just, Caterwauling

  68. As, acrost the plush chair she was Sprawling

  69. YOY,

    I think I'm Fauling

  70. As, this thread we're a'mauling

  71. For customers she's a'trawlingAcross the city, a'sprawling

  72. For sex they don't come a'crawlinPerhaps, they're a'pederalinOh, YOY

  73. I feel like I'm in N'ahlin

  74. Geeze

    Who are we defending ourselves against, bob?

    No one else has a single carrier battle group, let alone 11.

    We're not armed up to stop an Mexican migrayion and reconquest. That's fer sur. The Mexicans invaded, while our Army was in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

    Lot of good they did US, there.
    Over 40,000 US civilians have been killed, to date, during cross border incursions by Mexicans into the US.

    Our defense not a wall but a sieve.

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