“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."

Monday, May 25, 2009

What is more worrisome, blowing up our currency or a NORK nuclear test?

The usual suspects are deploring and rejecting, shocked and dismayed at the nuclear shenanigans of Heaven on Earth, North Korea. The newest rookie, Barack is desperately seeking international consensus. However the country that actually has an attached border with North Korea seems to be even less amused by the detonation of the US dollar.

Everyone knew that hyper inflation was possible and likely when the fed started a program of buying US treasuries, but few thought a calamity would start soon. The Obama solution is to keep spending and taxing.  That is barely possible when things are going well but has been sustained by an excess pool of savings coming from Asia and Germany. That pool is shrinking along with  the international appetite for US debt. 

Washington has not  diminished its appetite for deficit spending and has done its own financial nuclear test by going from borrow and spend to print and spend. 

The Chinese are not happy:


China warns Federal Reserve over 'printing money'

China has warned a top member of the US Federal Reserve that it is increasingly disturbed by the Fed's direct purchase of US Treasury bonds.

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard Telegraph
Last Updated: 9:19PM BST 24 May 2009

Asia's "Confucian" culture of right action does not look kindly on the insouciant policy of printing money by Anglo-Saxons

Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, said: "Senior officials of the Chinese government grilled me about whether or not we are going to monetise the actions of our legislature."

"I must have been asked about that a hundred times in China. I was asked at every single meeting about our purchases of Treasuries. That seemed to be the principal preoccupation of those that were invested with their surpluses mostly in the United States," he told the Wall Street Journal.

His recent trip to the Far East appears to have been a stark reminder that Asia's "Confucian" culture of right action does not look kindly on the insouciant policy of printing money by Anglo-Saxons.

Mr Fisher, the Fed's leading hawk, was a fierce opponent of the original decision to buy Treasury debt, fearing that it would lead to a blurring of the line between fiscal and monetary policy – and could all too easily degenerate into Argentine-style financing of uncontrolled spending.

However, he agreed that the Fed was forced to take emergency action after the financial system "literally fell apart".

Nor, he added was there much risk of inflation taking off yet. The Dallas Fed uses a "trim mean" method based on 180 prices that excludes extreme moves and is widely admired for accuracy.

"You've got some mild deflation here," he said.

The Oxford-educated Mr Fisher, an outspoken free-marketer and believer in the Schumpeterian process of "creative destruction", has been running a fervent campaign to alert Americans to the "very big hole" in unfunded pension and health-care liabilities built up by a careless political class over the years.

"We at the Dallas Fed believe the total is over $99 trillion," he said in February.

"This situation is of your own creation. When you berate your representatives or senators or presidents for the mess we are in, you are really berating yourself. You elect them," he said.

His warning comes amid growing fears that America could lose its AAA sovereign rating.


  1. SCULLY: You know the numbers, $1.7 trillion debt, a national deficit of $11 trillion. At what point do we run out of money?

    OBAMA: Well, we are out of money now. We are operating in deep deficits, not caused by any decisions we've made on health care so far. This is a consequence of the crisis that we've seen and in fact our failure to make some good decisions on health care over the last several decades.

    So we've got a short-term problem, which is we had to spend a lot of money to salvage our financial system, we had to deal with the auto companies, a huge recession which drains tax revenue at the same time it's putting more pressure on governments to provide unemployment insurance or make sure that food stamps are available for people who have been laid off.

    So we have a short-term problem and we also have a long-term problem. The short-term problem is dwarfed by the long-term problem. And the long-term problem is Medicaid and Medicare. If we don't reduce long-term health care inflation substantially, we can't get control of the deficit.

    So, one option is just to do nothing. We say, well, it's too expensive for us to make some short-term investments in health care. We can't afford it. We've got this big deficit. Let's just keep the health care system that we've got now.

    Along that trajectory, we will see health care cost as an overall share of our federal spending grow and grow and grow and grow until essentially it consumes everything..

  2. Obama is destined to join the high ground in the pantheon dome of failed dreams.

  3. Only a very sick mind could find a fainting goat on youtube.

  4. There is a big empty hole, a top the pantheon dome, as I recall.

    An apt analogy.

  5. For the sun to come in and vapors exit.

  6. Bring on the light of truth and justice!

    Scorched Ms Pelosi, can hardly wait to see who'll need Ray-Bans, next.

  7. China stuck in ‘dollar trap’
    By Jamil Anderlini in Beijing
    Financial Times

    Published: May 24 2009 23:30

    China’s official foreign exchange manager is still buying record amounts of US government bonds, in spite of Beijing’s increasingly vocal fear of a dollar collapse, according to officials and analysts.

    Senior Chinese officials, including Wen Jiabao, the premier, have repeatedly signalled concern that US policies could lead to a collapse in the dollar and global inflation.

    But Chinese and western officials in Beijing said China was caught in a “dollar trap” and has little choice but to keep pouring the bulk of its growing reserves into the US Treasury, which remains the only market big enough and liquid enough to support its huge purchases.

    In March alone, China’s direct holdings of US Treasury securities rose $23.7bn to reach a new record of $768bn, according to preliminary US data, allowing China to retain its title as the biggest creditor of the US government.

    “Because of the sheer size of its reserves Safe [China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange] will immediately disrupt any other market it tries to shift into in a big way and could also collapse the value of its existing reserves if it sold too many dollars,” said a western official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

  8. I don't understand why the Chinese let them get away with it.

    Surely they could remove Kim if they wanted to? Am I wrong?


    Why don't they arrange a coup?

  9. maybe we are revaluing the yuan?

    after all the chinese have been screwing us for a decade...

    maybe this is economic war at it's finest?

  10. Where's Hillary? I want to see her walking up to a bar somewhere and knocking down a straight shot, or two, putting a little fire in her belly.

    What can we do? Boycotting Chinese goods might get a little response on the other end of the phone line, but we are unlikely to do it.

    So what happens next?

  11. Iran sends six warships to international waters...

    'Historically unprecedented'...

    Ahmadinejad rejects Western nuclear proposal...

    ...wants to debate Obama at UN

    The world is becoming a circus, five months into Obumble's term.

  12. So does Japan nuke up? Surely they have the know-how. Maybe they've already done it.

    And when will Israel strike Iran?

    50% of Israelis back such a strike, the news says.

    The world looks to be going to hell in a handbasket this morning.

  13. Iran sends six warships to international waters...

    'Historically unprecedented'...

    Ahmadinejad rejects Western nuclear proposal...

    all this as iran and pakistan strengthen thier ties

    why do i see the ultimate good cop/bad cop team forming with these 2.

  14. Just whose nuclear weapon was it that was exploded?

    Were the Iranians there?

  15. yes the iranians were there...

    war is coming...

  16. The first North Korea nuke go-around sounded like a fissle; this one seems to be the real thing, based on the seismographs.

    Given Lil' Kim's financial problems, the bottom line is that nuclear weapons are now available to anyone with ready cash. Iran, of course -- and potentially many others.

    The Kumbaya, can't-we-all-just-get-along movement just ran out of time.

  17. want to fight the Nkors?

    Slow down China's imports to the states...

    real simple, wont happen...

    China could stop Nkor in a nanosecond but CHOOSES not too...

  18. Why would Charlie Chi-com want for a change, on that border?

    It certainly leaves the SorKs spending an inordinate amount on defense, rather than further, competitive, industrialization.

    Keeps the US tied down, on the ground and at the negotiating table.

    Keeps the Nipponese focused on NorK and not China.

    Kim presents almost no downside risk for Charlie Chi-com.

    At no cost.

    Lil' Kim is a net asset to the Chinese. The Chinese are another exploitable asset to the United States, while at the same time there is no other casino that can handle Charlie's markers.

    The US could replace the Chinese production capacity, but the Chinese cannot replace the US markets, retail or financial.

    And there is no other nation, anywhere, that the US wants beholdin' to US, more than we want China in that position.

    From FDR's grand dad, right through to today, China has always played a prominent role in the US government policy.

    The Chinese sent the labor, that made it possible to cross the Sierra Nevadas, by rail.

    With not a work permit or visa to share amongst 'em.

  19. The Japanese could nuke up. I suppose the South Koreans, too. The Chinese wouldn't want that, would they?

    Since our nuclear umbrella might seem a little leaky,

    I don't get it. A buffer zone I can understand, but not a nuclear armed one.

  20. Allowing the Japs and Sorks to nuke up would be a good way to signal to China that if they can't control their attack dog, don't let it out to play.

    I'm also highly dubious of the dog's loyalty to its master. If it's hungry enough, I suppose it might bite anybody, even its master.

  21. Rat explained it all.

    Personally, I'll worry about N. Korea when S. Korea worries about N. Korea (maybe.)

  22. Allowing the Japs and Sorks to nuke up would be a good way to signal to China that if they can't control their attack dog, don't let it out to play.

    True. There's another possibility. They chose to nuke up without U.S. permission. Similar outcome.

    Profound disappointment at Foggy Bottom and various outposts would follow.

    Bogota comes to mind.

  23. About that "Dollar" thingie. I figure is's just "politickin" for the local yokels. Explains the "recession," and all.

    There's over a Billion Chinamen. I figure, being communists, at least half of them are in politics, and, thus, have no real job. They gotta stay busy talking about something.

    As for Fisher: well, being a politician (different league, same position) he has the same time on his hands.

  24. I'm also highly dubious of the dog's loyalty to its master--

    I'd be dubious too. It just makes no sense to me. Why allow your pipsqueack little neighbor to power up? Allow him to have more leaway? Just seems like it's trouble, making unncecessary trouble.

    The Japanese will at least try to increase their anti-missile defense capacity. How is that good for the Chinese?

    Don't get it.

    Maybe the Chinese simply don't have as much control or influence as one might think.

  25. You even lose some of your capacity to march your Chinese troops into North Korea to get rid of dictator X if you don't like him.

    Plus you have no idea in whose hands those weapons are. Who are they sold to?

    With a nuclear armed India on one side, a nuclear armed Russia on another, I wouldn't want anymore nuclear arms around.

  26. The whirled has become a "talking shop." From now on, it's going to be all "jaw jaw", all the time.

    The exceptions being proactive actions due to existential threats.

  27. Here's an existential threat in the making---(I want to go hide under my bed)



    Published on on May 24, 2009

    From Caroline Glick, deputy editor and op-ed writer for the Jerusalem Post, comes alarming news. An expert on Arab-Israeli relations with excellent sources deep inside Netanyahu's government, she reports that CIA chief Leon Panetta, who recently took time out from his day job (feuding with Nancy Pelosi) to travel to Israel "read the riot act" to the government warning against an attack on Iran.

    More ominously, Glick reports (likely from sources high up in the Israeli government) that the Obama administration has all but accepted as irreversible and unavoidable fact that Iran will soon develop nuclear weapons. She writes, "...we have learned that the [Obama] administration has made its peace with Iran's nuclear aspirations. Senior administration officials acknowledge as much in off-record briefings. It is true, they say, that Iran may exploit its future talks with the US to run down the clock before they test a nuclear weapon. But, they add, if that happens, the US will simply have to live with a nuclear-armed mullocracy."

    She goes on to write that the Obama administration is desperate to stop Israel from attacking Iran writing that "as far as the [Obama] administration is concerned, if Israel could just leave Iran's nuclear installations alone, Iran would behave itself." She notes that American officials would regard any harm to American interests that flowed from an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities as Israel's doing, not Iran's.

    In classic Stockholm Syndrome fashion, the Obama administration is empathizing more with the Iranian leaders who are holding Israel hostage than with the nation that may be wiped off the map if Iran acquires the bomb.

    Obama's end-of-the-year deadline for Iranian talks aimed at stopping its progress toward nuclear weapons is just window dressing without the threat of military action. As Metternich wrote "diplomacy without force is like music without instruments." By warning only of possible strengthening of economic sanctions if the talks do not progress, Obama is making an empty threat. The sanctions will likely have no effect because Russia and China will not let the United Nations act as it must if it is to deter Iranian nuclear weapons.

    All this means is that Israel's life is in danger. If Iran gets the bomb, it will use it to kill six million Jews. No threat of retaliation will make the slightest difference. One cannot deter a suicide bomber with the threat of death. Nor can one deter a theocracy bent on meriting admission to heaven and its virgins by one glorious act of violence. Iran would probably not launch the bomb itself, anyway, but would give it to its puppet terrorists to send to Israel so it could deny responsibility. Obama, bent on appeasement, would likely not retaliate with nuclear weapons. And Israel will be dead and gone.

    Those sunshine Jewish patriots who voted for Obama must realize that we, as Jews, are witnessing the possible end of Israel. We are in the same moral position as our ancestors were as they watched Hitler rise but did nothing to pressure their favorite liberal Democratic president, FDR, to take any real action to save them or even to let Jewish refugees into the country. If we remain complacent, we will have the same anguish at watching the destruction of Israel that our forebears had in witnessing the Holocaust.

    Because one thing is increasingly clear: Barack Obama is not about to lift a finger to stop Iran from developing the bomb. And neither is Hillary Clinton.

    Obama may have held the first White House cedar, but he's not planning to spend next year in Jerusalem.

  28. Israel would seem to have a choice between just going after Iran's nuclear weapons capacity, a hard maybe impossible task, or basically taking the entire county out, bringing them to their knees.

    And the clock ticks.

    What a world.

  29. How can we be sure that this latest North Korean blast was strictly a Pyongyang domestic project — as opposed to a rent-a-test of Iran’s bomb program?--

    Rent A Weapons Test?

  30. Genetically engineer Penis Fish to Reproduce Massively in NorKor Estuaries.

    The (river cooled) Nuke Plants will melt down.

    Grind up and pelletize excess Penis Fish making Dog Food for the Masses.

    Supper Time!

  31. She notes that American officials would regard any harm to American interests that flowed from an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities as Israel's doingStop the free flow of oil, and Israel would be occupied, by NATO troops quicker than you'd ever imagine.

    Conflict resolution would be the order of the day. The scenario is there on the table. Only Israeli's inaction with regards Iran could possibly stop it. That and giving up quite a sizable portion of their settlements on the West Bank.

    Both Obama and Iran will goad the Israelis, each in their different ways. But Team Obama is going into the process even handed, which is a new and previously unheard of position for US to take.

    Except from Ms Powers, who is with the NSA, now, I think.

    Towards the end she was asked about the character of a hypothetical intervention in Israel and Palestine. She talked about “a mammoth protection force, not of the old Rwanda kind, but a meaningful military presence. Because it seems to me at this stage (and this is true of actual genocides as well, and not just major human rights abuses, which were seen there), you have to go in as if you’re serious, you have to put something on the line.

    So there you have it - she did not accuse Israel of committing genocide. In fact, she seemed to be saying that this is not an “actual genocide” but a “major human rights abuse.”

    Moreover, she didn’t accuse Israel of being the sole sponsor of such abuse. She went on to say, “Unfortunately, imposition of a solution on unwilling parties is dreadful. It’s a terrible thing to do, it’s fundamentally undemocratic. But, sadly, we don’t just have a democracy here either, we have a liberal democracy. There are certain sets of principles that guide our policy, or that are meant to, anyway. It’s essential that some set of principles becomes the benchmark, rather than a deference to [leaders] who are fundamentally politically destined to destroy the lives of their own people. And by that I mean what Tom Friedman has called ‘Sharafat.’ I do think in that sense, both political leaders have been dreadfully irresponsible.

    And, unfortunately, it does require external intervention,

    which, very much like the Rwanda scenario, that thought experiment, if we had intervened early…. Any intervention is going to come under fierce criticism. But we have to think about lesser evils, especially when the human stakes are becoming ever more pronounced.

    Go Team America!
    Let's Roll!!

  32. Charlie is not afraid of the NorK's "Fat Boy" becasue they know that the NorKs cannot deliver it, militarily.

    And are years and years away from making a launchable warhead.

    If it was the Iranian bomb, basicly the same story applies.

    They'd need a heavy bomber, which they ain't got.

    Glory be!

  33. Given how things DID go,
    not how they should have gone,
    I have come to agree w/Trish that it would have been better to leave (a properly chastened, just like everyone was when we were on offense) Saddam in place, "renegotiating" Oil Deals, or pulling a B-1 Bob plan of liberating and modernizing the Basra fields for the Shia/US.

    Instead we have empowered Iran and neglected AfPakistan.


    As recently as the late 1950s, in a small town on Long lsland near New York City, young people in school learned certain poems:

    Joyce Kilmer’s “Prayer of a Soldier in France,”
    Alan Seeger’s “ I Have a Rendezvous With Death
    and John MacRae’s “In Flanders Field.”

    Does anyone still remember the fallen this way in classrooms?

  34. "Instead we have empowered Iran and neglected AfPakistan."
    (Just like the Dems were saying 5 years ago.)

  35. Job Losses Push Safer Mortgages to Foreclosure Under a program announced in February by the Obama administration, the government is to spend $75 billion on incentives for mortgage servicing companies that reduce payments for troubled homeowners. The Treasury Department says the program will spare as many as four million homeowners from foreclosure.

    But three months after the program was announced, a Treasury spokeswoman, Jenni Engebretsen, estimated the number of loans that have been modified at “more than 10,000 but fewer than 55,000.”

    In the first two months of the year alone, another 313,000 mortgages landed in foreclosure or became delinquent at least 90 days, according to First American CoreLogic.

  36. Crap, Sam!

    I've got tickets for the Lakers/Cavs Game!

  37. The "Bankruptcy: Get a Fresh Start" seminar will be facilitated by bankruptcy specialist Stephen McNally, of McNally & Associates, LLC. McNally is a member of the Bar Association in New Jersey and New York has been practicing law for 23 years.

    He is also a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association, Debtor-Creditor Section.

    Project Self-Sufficiency is a private non-profit community-based organization dedicated to improving the lives of low-income families residing in northwestern New Jersey. The agency's mission is to provide a broad spectrum of holistic, respectful, and comprehensive services enabling low-income single parents, teen parents, two-parent families, and displaced homemakers to improve their lives and the lives of their children while achieving personal and economic self-sufficiency and family stability.
    Bankruptcy Discussion

  38. Harbor City high school football player shot dead"He was sitting there eating dinner with some girl," said Coach Manuel Douglas.
    "They walked in and shot him four times."
    Farber died of multiple wounds to his torso.

    "He was a real good kid," said assistant coach Byron Moore Sr., who had known Farber since coaching him in youth football.

    "He wasn't involved in any gang. It's a tragic loss. He was always full of energy."

    Gotta Cleanse them "Good" N......
    Our First "Black" President couldn't care less.

  39. This is the second time that Pyongyang has detonated a nuclear device; its last test, in October 2006, prompted international condemnation and tough UN sanctions. The key question is North Korea's ability to deliver its devices.


    This test appears to have been considerably more successful than the previous attempt – one Russian estimate suggested the underground blast could have been 20 times as great, at around 20 kilotonnes. North Korea's state news agency, KCNA, described the test as "on a new higher level in terms of its explosive power and technology" – though it often makes exaggerated claims.


    Not just improving its technology. Xu Guangyu, of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told Reuters: "North Korea's strategic objective has not changed. That objective is to win the attention of the Obama administration, to push the North Korea issue up the agenda."
    What the Test Means

  40. "Unnoticed by most Westerners, war has been unilaterally declared on Europe and the United States." [16] Four months before the September 11, 2001 attacks, Pipes and American investigative journalist Steven Emerson wrote in the Wall Street Journal that al Qaeda was "planning new attacks on the U.S." and that Iranian operatives "helped arrange advanced ... training for al Qaeda personnel in Lebanon where they learned, for example, how to destroy large buildings." [17]

  41. A twist on New York Times writer's debt-binge taleNew York Times economics reporter Edmund L. Andrews' tell-all book about his personal plunge into ruinous debt didn't quite tell all, blogger Megan McArdle at discovered.

    Andrews’ second wife, Patty Barreiro, sought bankruptcy protection in 1998 and again in 2007, McArdle wrote in a post last week.
    Barreiro’s bankruptcies weren’t mentioned in Andrews’ book, "Busted: Life Inside the Great Mortgage Meltdown," or in the widely circulated excerpt that ran in the New York Times Magazine on May 17.

    I wrote a post on the excerpt here.

    Go here for Andrews’ response and for McArdle’s detailed response to his response.

    I think her main point is valid enough: The bankruptcies were relevant to the story.

    She wrote:

    That kind of living up to the edge is, indeed, exactly what Andrews describes happening in his marriage. The bankruptcies suggest that this may be a symptom of a pre-existing problem, rather than the easy credit of the past five years.

    -- Tom Petruno

  42. Schwarzenegger follows Brown's route "There's only one thing he can do and if he does it his legacy will be restored," says Steve Merksamer, who runs a big political law firm and was Gov. George Deukmejian's chief of staff. "He needs to follow through with what he said he'd do. There will be a lot of screaming and demonstrations, but he has to show bold, tough leadership. And, frankly, that is what the public expects."

    I asked Davis.

    "This is the closest we have come to a Prop. 13 revolt," the former governor said. "This was a smack-down. Now is the time you take to heart what the public is saying. What it's saying is, 'Look, you've already taxed us. We don't have any more money budgeted for Sacramento.' "

    Schwarzenegger must become a born-again slasher.

  43. Should have rolled on to Damascus.

    That'd have been a real game changer, instead we stopped half way through the game.

    We toppled the Taliban, then scaled way, way back.

    Hoovered the place of assets.

    Not even leaving enough helicopters to field our combined forces. Letting the Canucks bear the burden of a busted NATO. When the US could not field the equipment, as per the NATO status que.

    The US could have done the same in Iraq, leaving vast streches of it, like Anbar, to the natives. Not even attempt to 'rebuild' what never was.

    Like we did in Kurdistan.
    Where we did not occupy with force.

    But where Kirkirk will explode, soon after we leave. Unless the US military has successfully trained and equipped the Iraqi Army.

    That'll be the second test of the US military's success, in Iraq. How well the Iraqi Army functions when we hand off, and then for the next 6 years. As long as we've had to train them. Over a quarter of a professional soldiers' entire career

  44. Furthermore, Flydubai is mulling to initiate its service from Dubai to a range of regional cities, the first batch of which would include Beirut, Amman, Alexandria, Egypt, and Damascus.

    The airline intends to use the Boeing 737-800NG for most of its flights, and has order 50 such narrowbodies, the first of which has been already delivered.

    Hopefully, very soon the announcement related to the first flight will come to scene.
    FlyDubai Airlines

  45. This comment has been removed by the author.

  46. As if the US Army in WWII would have stopped at the German border, until a liberated France was politically stable.

    The idea would have been dismissed, out of hand. But in the Middle East, the US embraced that very strategy.

    And did not change the game.
    Only enhanced the oppositions position. Whether the analgous game is Chess, or Go.

  47. In Simi Valley, Boy Scout Troops 649 and 605 placed American flags at the graves of veterans buried at Simi Valley Pioneer Cemetery. Joe Steinberg, chaplain for Veterans of Foreign Wars District 7 and a World War II Navy veteran, told the crowd there is “no greater love than a man laying down his life for his country.”

    “These are our nation’s greatest,” said Simi resident Jody Maxwell, “and it’s important for me to be here to show my respect and gratitude. Without our veterans and those who gave their lives, I would not be able to enjoy the freedom we all have today.”

    In the afternoon, veterans and families of those currently deployed were treated to a luncheon by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of Simi Valley, where Manfred “Fred” Wertheim received a Veteran of the Year award. Wertheim was born in Germany but came to the United States and enlisted in the U.S. Army to fight the Nazi occupation.
    Memorial Day

  48. This comment has been removed by the author.

  49. "Instead we have empowered Iran and neglected AfPakistan."
    (Just like the Dems were saying 5 years ago.)

    Being a Democrat was not a required part of the profile, doug, for everyone that said that.
    Though being fitted for a burka, was.

  50. Three people, including a 15-year-old girl, have been arrested on charges of felony murder and home-invasion robbery in connection with the death of Robert Parkes, according to Sgt. Tony Drzewiecki, spokesman for the Leon County Sheriff's Office.


    Leon County Sheriff's Deputies have warrants out for a fourth person they believe is involved in the murder of 35-year-old Robert Parkes.


    Amos "Ace" Jenkins, 19, a fourth suspect in the May 19 homicide of Robert Parkes, turned himself in to the Leon County Jail around 2 p.m. today.
    Turned Himself In Today

  51. And as a result of the US military's less than stellar strategic performance, in Iraq, Mr Obama is President.

    That sweet smell of success.

    I think that Mr Cheney sees the error of George's and his ways, as to the lack of a plan for succession, and is pissed, now.
    All his work, nothing but a fleeting success. A moment in time.

    The long term efforts, seemingly erased by a stroke of the President's pen.

  52. A government official said, "It was hard to find out exactly when it would be possible to conduct a nuclear test due to the difficulty of making predictions about an underground test. But we'd judged from early this month that since it made the threat in April, the North had finished preparations to conduct a test in the near future if it wanted."

    U.S. reconnaissance satellites can detect signs of impending long-range missile launches since they require a vertical launch pad and are fed with liquid fuel, but an underground nuclear test is less easy to predict.

    South Korean and U.S. military authorities speculated that the North would delay a second nuclear test a little in consideration of the chaotic situation in South Korea after the death of former president Roh Moo-hyun, but that was evidently no consideration.
    Nuclear Test

  53. Well, from the NYTimes

    SEOUL, South Korea — When North Korea suddenly announced Monday that it had conducted a second nuclear test, the initial view across the region was that this had been yet another defiant gambit by the North to extract more concessions from Washington.

    That has been the oft-repeated pattern in the past, and is likely to be one motivation now as well, say North Korea watchers. But this time around, North Korea’s succession crisis is the primary driver, many experts believe, suggesting that the audience for the test is its own population as much as the United States.

    Monday’s test culminates a shift toward a more assertive foreign policy, which some analysts say seems to have begun not long after the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, was believed to have suffered a stroke in August. Speculation about a successor has focused on his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, which would continue the family dynasty to the third generation — one unique among Communist nations.

    Some experts say the test was a display of might aimed at showing solidarity with North Korea’s powerful military, whose support would be essential in securing Mr. Kim’s choice of successor.

  54. ... you've spoken publicly about the unintended consequences of a military strike by Israel. So what worries you more?
    A nuclear Iran or war with Iran?

    MULLEN: Well, they both worry me a lot. And I think the unintended consequences of a strike against Iran right now would be incredibly serious. As well as the unintended consequences of their achieving a nuclear weapon.

    And so that's why this engagement in dialogue is so important. I think we should do that with all options on the table. As we approach them.

    And so that leaves a pretty narrow space in which to achieve a successful dialogue and a successful outcome, which from my perspective means they don't end up with nuclear weapons.

    STEPHANOPOULOS: They don't end up with nuclear weapons, but could they have as Japan does a full nuclear fuel cycle program that's fully inspected?

    MULLEN: I think that's certainly a possibility and this isn't, at least, from my perspective, from the military perspective, this isn't about them having the ability to produce nuclear power. It's about their desire and their goal to have a nuclear weapon.

    STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, if it comes to this, do you believe it's possible to take out Iran's program, militarily at an acceptable cost?

    MULLEN: I won't speculate on what we can and can't do. Again, I put that in the category of my very strong preference is to not be put in a position where we -- where someone -- where Iran is struck in terms of taking out its nuclear capability.

  55. ... U.S. combat forces are scheduled to complete their pullout from Iraqi cities by June 30th. But in recent weeks, we've seen an uptick again in the violence. Does that rise in violence mean that the deadline for pulling American forces out of the cities might not be met?

    MULLEN: Oh, I think we're still very much on a track in terms of pulling the forces out of the cities, which is the end of next month. We're on track to decrease the number of troops down to 35,000 to 50,000 in August of 2010.

    We've had an uptick in violence, but the overall violence levels are at the 2003 levels. It's still fragile. There's an awful lot of political positioning and political debate that's going on right now, and I think that in great part becomes the essence of how Iraq moves forward.

    I'm actually positive about what the Iraqi security forces have done, their army and their police in terms of providing for their own security. They've improved dramatically.

    So the path, I think, is still the right path. These ticks, upticks in violence are going to occur. We said that going in, even into -- as we talked about coming down in force. So we just have to, we have to constantly keep an eye on that.

    Al Qaida is still active. They're not gone. They're very much..

  56. Concerning Afpakistan ...

    ... what can be achieved in the next year?

    MULLEN: I think with the troops that we put on the ground there, that over the next 12 to 18 months, we have to dramatically change the security situation and stem the tide. We've had an increasing level of violence in the last three years from in ‘6, ‘7, and ‘8, and I think in ‘9 and ‘10, we have to start to turn that around

    A master of understatement.

  57. Rebecca Johnson, executive director of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, said Kim "needs to demonstrate domestically that he is in charge."

    "Doing the nuclear tests, firing a couple of missiles, is a way to do that -- perhaps the only way to do that -- because he can't feed the people," she said.


    But Johnson played down the prospect of a renewed conflict, saying Pyongyang is "playing a political game."
    Reverberates Worldwide

  58. A master of understatement.

    He's also bullshitting us on Iran. To wit:

    ...As well as the unintended consequences of their achieving a nuclear weapon.

    Just what unintended consequences might there be? Risible comment is too polite. Execrable comment seems to fit.

  59. The unintended consequence, that's easy.

    Turkish, I mean NATO, troops in Jerusalem, that's the unintended consequence.

  60. Mr. Ahmadinejad, who is running for re-election, said he welcomes talks with the U.S.

    He said if re-elected, he will invite Mr. Obama to have a debate with the Iranian president at the U.N.

    "We responded to Mr. Obama's question very clearly. We welcome real change based on justice and mutual respect," he said.
    Obama Debate

  61. One thing: is China for or against nuclear proliferation? Looking at things right now, it seems they are at the very least, not opposed, which is a de facto support of proliferation.

    Why is that so?

    Could it be that China is that confident in its ability to threaten these states with annihilation that it feels no need to fear them at all? Remember, the gramscians and PC leftists have yet to really penetrate into China, so they're old fashioned and react in the old fashioned eye-for-an-eye way.

    Say you're Iran, or Nork. You hit the US (assume terror nuke strike), there's some leeway and you can bet with some confidence the US will be divided against itself. You stammer some things about plausible deniability, rogue agents, etc, and they might not even nuke you back.

    Hit China, the gloves are coming off. Unlike the US, there will be no internal divisions as the Chinese get mad as hell and out for blood.

    The problem with my above analysis is that it presumes a certain level of rationality on the part of Iran and Nork - they still want to survive. While it's likely to be true of Kim, I'm not sure that's true for Ahmadinejad and the mullahs.

  62. The British government has been maintaining a degree of careful ambiguity, but, when pushed, ministers will say they do not believe nuclear power needs any special subsidies.

    They argue that a free electricity market, supported by the support for low-carbon electricity provided by the EU’s emissions trading scheme, will be sufficient to bring forward that huge investment in new reactors.

    Renewables – and now clean coal – have been given their own support mechanisms: guaranteed feed-in tariffs or other special subsidy regimes.
    Favorable Reaction

  63. Turkish, I mean NATO, troops in Jerusalem, that's the unintended consequence.

    NATO in Jerusalem. You've been pounding that message for weeks, part of the SOP. So, that's an intended measure that's detached from Iran's nukes. Doesn't shake my claim that Mullen's bullshitting us.

  64. General Gadi Shamni, head of the central army command at the time, said, "This is a dangerous phenomenon that threatens the very basis of the army being the people's army in a democratic state."

    During the recent Gaza war, the army reprimanded some military rabbis for inciting soldiers to draw comparisons between the Palestinians and the Philistines, a long-defunct biblical civilization that fought the ancient Israelites and from which the modern name of Palestine descends.

    Although the army spokesman's office denies any increasing influence of the national-religious, the military has already had to deal with stinging blows to its ability to operate in the occupied territories. In 2008, the army jailed 12 religious soldiers who refused to participate in the eviction of Jewish settlers illegally occupying buildings in the mainly Palestinian city of Hebron.
    Religious Imperative


    ...BRITAIN'S ROLE in the Arab-Jewish conflict in Palestine in 1948 is still a subject of controversy among historians. In the 1980s, the release of documents in British archives did not dispel the controversy - on the contrary, it provoked even more. However, the documents in French archives reveal that in 1948, the British employed tactics against the Zionists similar to those they had used so successfully against the French in Syria and Lebanon three years previously. In both cases, the official policy of the cabinet in London was contradicted by the actions of the British diplomats and military and intelligence officers in the region. Whereas in London foreign minister Ernest Bevin was declaring Britain's intent to end its mandate in Palestine and maintain neutrality in the conflict between the Arabs and the Jews, in the Middle East, British officials openly supported the Arabs and sought to prevent the establishment of the Jewish state.

    Until now, historians have failed to find conclusive evidence in British archives either validating de Gaulle's accusations of a British conspiracy against France in Syria and Lebanon, or David Ben-Gurion's charges that the British strove to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state. (Apparently, the British are extremely efficient when it comes to concealing their dirty deeds.)

    h/t M.Simon

  66. May 25, 2009 - 9:21 pm

    55. Subotai Bahadur:

    #50 E.Nigma

    As far as I know, the devices are U-235 based. Plutonium would have to be made in reactors, which are pretty easy to detect. Centrifuges are used to cascade-separate U-235 isotope from inert U-238. They may have some difficulty in mounting a warhead on a missile, the implosion method used with plutonium being far less forgiving of real small errors than U-235. However, while not discounting their ability to eventually mount a nuke on a missile for a counterforce strike; there are other options.

    A U-235 gun device is as simple as chopsticks [I'm Chinese, I can say things like that!]. It is the equivalent of banging two fabricated rocks together real hard.

    For a long time, it has been a truism that a 1st year college physics student could design a nuclear device that could fit in a minivan. How many standard cargo containers move around the world, both by ship and by truck? How many SUV’s are capable of crossing borders without benefit of roads and such details as customs inspections? How many aircraft are moving around the world with the capability to move cargo of the appropriate size and weight [and it ain't gonna be that heavy]? If you want to be scared gormless, read Ted Taylor’s [he designed many of our nuclear weapons] The Curve of Binding Energy.

    If we are hit, it probably is not going to be directly by a nation state we can hold responsible. There will be a tremendous amount of doubt as to who to blame. Iran, Pakistan, and North Korea all use U-235. They are the interconnected proprietors of the “Anti-American Arms Bazaar”. And the equivalent of the Apple Computer SuperBowl commercial has just aired. What do you want to bet that after we are hit, the government will be paralysed into inaction due to uncertainties as to who is to blame?

    And in 10 years, after it is accepted as a fact of life that there is no American defense umbrella and has not been one for a long time; the growth in the number of nuclear states will increase any such uncertainty exponentially.

    Oh Lord, for that which we are about to recieve, may we be truly grateful! … Morbid Royal Navy saying during the Napoleonic Wars, as they awaited the first French broadsides.

    Subotai Bahadur

    Is that the teleprompter on the windshield? Maybe the teledriver?

  67. I thought at first I'd found a picture of mat.

    Still not sure.

    Teleprompter? Maybe it is.

  68. That Admiral Mullen is not being entirely truthful, that's a slam dunk.

  69. This comment has been removed by the author.