“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, June 28, 2009

The amazing political and judicial analysis of ordinary Americans

If you need a morning smirk, the Washington Post is a good place to start. The solemnity begins with the incredible headline: "Most Americans Want Sotomayor on Court."

"Soda who?" would be my guess for the most likely response. No one will convince me that more than 15% of most Americans could differentiate Sotomayor from soda crackers.


Most Americans Want Sotomayor on Court
Poll Indicates That 62 Percent Think Federal Judge Should Be Confirmed by Senate

By Jon Cohen and Robert Barnes
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Washington Post

A sizable majority of Americans want the Senate to confirm Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, and most call her "about right" ideologically, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll Senate hearings on Sotomayor, President Obama's pick to replace retiring Justice David H. Souter, begin in two weeks, and 62 percent of those polled support her elevation to the court. Sotomayor, 55, is currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York.

If confirmed, Sotomayor would become only the third female justice and the second on the current nine-member court. But there is no gender gap in support for her, with men and women about equally likely to be on her side.

Partisan differences, however, abound. Nearly eight in 10 Democrats and about two-thirds of independents said they want the Senate to confirm Sotomayor, but that drops to 36 percent of Republicans. Overall, most Republicans deem the judge a "more liberal" nominee than they would have liked.

But Obama's nominee also divides Republicans: While conservative Republicans are broadly opposed, most Republicans who describe themselves as moderate or liberal support her. More than seven in 10 conservative Republicans said she is too liberal, which is more than double the proportion of centrist or left-leaning Republicans who say so.

Some opposition to her, however, comes from the other side, as about one in five of those who want the Senate to reject her see her as insufficiently liberal.

Overall, 55 percent of Americans said Sotomayor is about right on a liberal-to-conservative scale. About a quarter said she is a more liberal nominee than they would have liked, about the same proportion who called Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. too conservative when President George W. Bush nominated them....But most Americans do not think her life experiences influence the way she decides cases: Fifty-nine percent said the fact that she is a women does not factor in, and 52 percent said the same about her racial and ethnic background.

Among the 33 percent who said her gender plays a role, more than twice as many say that is a good thing than a bad thing. The groups most apt to call her gender a factor are those with a postgraduate education and liberal Democrats, and they overwhelmingly approve. Here, too, is no gender gap in attitudes.

On race and ethnicity, however, some groups tip the other way: Half of Republican men and 59 percent of conservative Republicans said these play a role in her decision making, with most of those who do saying that that is a bad thing.

The telephone poll was conducted June 18 to 21, among a random national sample of 1,001 adults. The results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.


  1. To the contrary:
    Soda is second nature to us Crackers.

  2. Breakthrough on the Authorship of Obama's 'Dreams'

    Mr. West independently came to the same conclusion that I did, namely that Ayers was not meaningfully involved in Audacity. These two Obama books almost assuredly had different primary authors. What should be transparent to any literary critic is that the author of Audacity lacked the style and skill of the author of Dreams. There are a few pockets in Audacity that evoke the spirit of Dreams but without the same grace.

    A likely suspect for these imitative passages, perhaps the whole of Audacity, is Obama's young speechwriter, Jon Favreau. Favreau joined the Obama team in 2005, time enough to play that role. The London Guardian reports that Favreau carries Dreams wherever he goes and can "conjure up his master's voice as if an accomplished impersonator." If so, in Audacity he played the classic role of the ghostwriter -- one who absorbs his client's thoughts and relates them in a refined version of his client's voice.

    Bill Ayers was no one's ghostwriter. The now overwhelming evidence strongly suggests that he used the frame of Obama's life and finished it off with his own ideas, his own biases, his own experiences, his own passions, his own friends, even his own romances, all of this toned down just enough to keep Obama viable as a potential candidate.

    I would argue that Ayers played Cyrano to Obama's Christian. His personal history was too ugly for him to woo Roxane/America himself. But Obama -- "articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy," as Joe Biden reminded us -- could and did make America's heart melt.

    See also:

    Who Wrote Dreams From My Father?

    Evidence Mounts: Ayers Co-Wrote Obama's Dreams

    The Odd Story of Romance in Dreams from my Father

    Who Wrote Dreams and Why It Matters

    Note to Starling,

    I have seen no evidence of the brilliance attributed to Oblahblah, nor fluency to match the prose in Dreams.
    I think there is an obvious reason there is NO paper trail available to the public documenting The One's journey
    through academia.
    The Tyrant is a Charlatan.
    Interesting times.

  3. Are we going to crash and burn?

    Look at the people on the street, then look at the Executive, Congress and the Supremes...

    Money doesn't grow on trees but apparently too many people don't care.

    Out of control....

  4. FBI Replaces Brotherhood-Tainted Liaison with Brotherhood-Tainted Liaison

    A top FBI official met Wednesday with the vice president of the Islamic Society of North America, a move which followed the Bureau's decision "to use ISNA as their official point of contact with the American Muslim community," an email from an intelligence community veteran that was widely distributed Wednesday said.
    The FBI has not yet commented on the claim. But the IPT has confirmed that the meeting did take place at FBI headquarters. The decision to make ISNA the FBI's contact point came over the objections of case agents and supervisors investigating Muslim Brotherhood activity in the U.S.

  5. Money does not grow on trees, it is true.

    It is created, out of thin air, by the Federal Reserve and its member banks.

  6. The Fed Our economy's protector?

    The purpose of every central bank is to inflate, to make the money supply grow at a rate faster than it would grow if it consisted only of precious metals. The task of the Fed is, in effect, to create asset bubbles, but to do so in a politically pleasing, sustainable manner, i.e., ideally, to create a never-ending bubble. The bubble is for the convenience of government. It facilitates tax collections. It eases the burden of deficit financing (on the government, not on the people). By creating rising aggregated economic statistics, it deludes the populace into thinking politicians and their economic advisors promote "economic growth." The never-ending bubble is the financial wizardry behind the never-ending growth of the welfare state.

    It is, thus, an amazing irony that the Obama Administration touts the Federal Reserve System as the logical choice to become a new "systemic regulator." Having recently financed the asset bubble that undermined the financial system, the Fed is the only institution that has the power to cause similar catastrophes in the future. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    This will be our economy's protector?
    More like its worst nightmare.

  7. They do farming for money in Afpakistan, not the United States, that's just so, well... 19th Century.

    We in the US have moved on, to seeding derivitives.

    The Associated Press
    Sunday, June 28, 2009; 6:17 AM

    KABUL -- Afghanistan's counternarcotics minister said Sunday that his country's drug policy is "perfect," a day after the United States changed course and announced it would no longer support efforts to eradicate opium poppy plants.

    Gen. Khodaidad, who like many Afghans goes by one name, said that Afghanistan has achieved "a lot of success" with its anti-drug strategy - which relies heavily on manual eradication of poppy fields, monetary incentives and public relations campaigns to persuade farmers not to plant poppies.


    Honduran President Manuel Zelaya's push to rewrite the constitution, and pave the way for his potential re-election, has plunged one of Latin America's poorest countries into a potentially violent political crisis.

    A day after Mr. Zelaya fired the head of the country's armed forces, hundreds of troops on Thursday deployed around the Congress, presidential palace and airport in Tegucigalpa, the country's capital. It wasn't clear whether the troops were responding to orders from Mr. Zelaya, or Honduras' other civilian and military powers, all of which oppose the president.

    Mr. Zelaya, a populist and close ally of Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and Cuba's retired dictator Fidel Castro, wants to hold a referendum on Sunday aimed at allowing voters in the country's November presidential election to also vote on rewriting the constitution. Mr. Zelaya says the current constitution favors the country's elites.

    The country's Supreme Court, top electoral body, and human-rights ombudsman have all declared the planned referendum illegal. Many in the country fear the president primarily wants to change the constitution to end its ban on re-election, and use that to stay in power when his term ends in January.

    Other leftist Latin American leaders like Venezuela's Mr. Chávez, Ecuador's Rafael Correa and Bolivia's Evo Morales have used referendums for a similar purpose. Latin America has a long history of leaders of all political stripes trying to stay in power. Colombia's right-wing President Álvaro Uribe is trying to change the constitution to allow him a third term

  9. From Small Wars Journal:

    Steven Pressfield's blog It's the Tribes, Stupid. Added to our blogroll...

    This five-part series is about war in Afghanistan, ancient and modern. I'm not doing this for money or politics. I'm a Marine and I don't want young Marines and soldiers going into harm's way without the full arsenal of history and context.
    What's my thesis? That the key to understanding Afghanistan today is not Islamism or jihadism. It's tribalism. The tribal mind-set (warrior pride, hostility to outsiders, codes of honor and resistance to change) permeates everything. Think of these videos as a mini-course in tribalism. I invite discussion. Tell me I'm crazy, tell me I'm wrong. If you agree, tell me too

  10. the video... no wonder oratory skills can replace metrics

    but Doug, what about all of his legal scholarship and academic writings

    there is a term in academia called publish or perish

  11. It could be assumed, elijah, that Mr Obama perished, as an academic.

    He then moved on in his career path, to electoral politics.

    Where his mastery of process and oratory skills filled the bill.

  12. That Obama may have had his book ghost written, why is that not a profile in courage?

  13. Re: ghost writing

    Off the top, I can recall only one politician having the skills necessary to author his own works -Churchill. If there are/were others, I would like to be informed.

    Mark Twain paid for the publication of U. S. Grant's work. It would be interesting to know how much input Twain had in the writing. Since Grant was dying of oral cancer at the time of writing, the question seems fair.

  14. Doug said in re Colombia, "Good to hear."

    I went to a farewell last night for three men who had parts to play in what has become known as the Colombia Story. It was probably my ninth or tenth farewell here (it's a big shop) and I was struck once again by the sentiments of individuals who, as one put it, have "been on a few pony rides" in their time and for whom this one beats them all hands down. It was extremely moving, the moreso because I've heard it expressed again and again since arriving. In an everyday operating environment far, far more challenging than understood by those who never landed this ride, it has been the most professionally and personally rewarding.

    One is heading off to write a book. I look forward to reading it someday soon.

  15. Re: ghost writing cont.

    Disraeli was a noted author...that was sometime ago, though...

  16. Because you mentioned it, whit: Moving from poppy eradication to crop replacement (combined with interdiction) is the next logical step. Continued improvements in infrastructure for the movement to market of bulk crops makes it possible. It's an enormous long term investment, unlikely to turn on anyone convinced that Afghanistan is worth about as much as a bucket of spit and of the inherent wisdom of (to mix metaphors) short-sheeting the whole operation.

    But there you have it. We're in it for the looooooooong haul.

    No more Friedman Units, baby. And that's as it should be.

  17. Billy Mays is dead

    Afghanistan once contained vast vineyards, as I recall. Vineyards require careful tending - which means peace and time (Although oddly, it seemed to me upon viewing, the Champagne region managed production despite WWI raging around it.)

  18. Possible staging area for a surge into Pakistan if the Jihadis get the "Nukes," and

    Maybe, a bit of oil in the extreme Northern part of the Country.

    That's all; Nothing more to see.

  19. agriculture and Islam

    Is it coincidence that where Islam is practiced often the land lays waste?

    Look at Israel. When Jews began to return in volume at the turn of the 20thC, much of the land was fit only for goat herding. Now, even the Negev is bountiful - a land flowing with milk and honey.

    For millennia, Iraq (The Land between the Rivers) was a breadbasket. If life is not worth living, then, neither is the land, I suppose.

  20. rufus,

    As the late, great bobal would tell you, farmers are the world's eternal optimists - dreamers of big dreams. If left to the odds makers, no sane person would plant a seed, a tree, or a vine.

  21. You have got to be kidding!

    The blood chemistry will be right out of the PDR, contra-indicators and all.

  22. Hariri supporters trade gunfire with Hizbullah men in Beirut

    Supporters of Lebanon's Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri are trading gunfire with rivals in the streets of Beirut, Lebanese security officials said on Sunday evening.

    The officials had no information on casualties, but Al-Arabiya TV reported that a woman was killed and three were wounded.

    Sunday's fighting was between supporters of Western-backed Sunni politician Hariri and rival followers of the Hizbullah-allied Shiite parliament speaker.

    The officials said Lebanon's army sent troops to the area to try to restore calm.

    Hariri was named by Lebanon's president to become the next prime minister after the June 7 election.

  23. Aint it interesting....

    The same asshole who CUT Israel promised borders down from the League of Nations was also the same asshole that called Hitler someone he could talk to...

    Obama and Chamberlain...

    Two assholes on the same beast...

    1939 and 2009: The parallels are eerie

    What do Barack Obama and Neville Chamberlain have in common? Even more than you thought already says Jonathan Rosenblum.
    THE PARALLELS between today and the earlier period are eerie. Chamberlain, like US President Barack Obama today, enjoyed an overwhelming majority in Parliament. His party whips enforced party discipline with an iron hand - think Rahm Emanuel - and backbenchers who stepped out of line jeopardized their political futures.

    In another interesting parallel, Chamberlain enjoyed almost across-the-board fawning support from the press and the BBC. That included self-imposed censorship on the information reaching the British public. After the Anschluss, British papers carried no pictures of the hundreds shot in the first days after the Nazi takeover, of the tens of thousands arrested and sent to concentration camps, or of Nazi soldiers forcing Jewish doctors, lawyers and professors to scrub streets and clean toilets on their hands and knees. When reporters asked Chamberlain about such matters, he snapped at them for believing "Jewish-communist propaganda," and that was the end of the matter.

    The British press ignored both the massive German arms buildup prior to the war and the pitiful state of British preparedness. Both before and after the conflict started, it suppressed mention or quotations from Hitler's speeches that would have conveyed a much different impression of his goals. As a British TV character tartly observed 40 years later: "It is hard to censor the press when it wants to be free, but easy if it gives up its freedom voluntarily."

    Chamberlain never read Mein Kampf, in which Hitler laid out in startling fashion both his future plans for the Jews and for German conquest. Far from viewing Hitler as an evil man, Chamberlain believed him to be a "gentleman," with whom he could do business. He was more than once shocked to find that Hitler had lied to him, even though that too was foreshadowed in Mein Kampf. Said future prime minister Harold Macmillan: "He didn't believe people existed [who would] say one thing and do another... It was pathetic, really."

    According to Olsen, Chamberlain "could never bring himself to believe that [Hitler and Mussolini] wanted to go to war. Clinging to the security of his ignorance, he created a peace-loving image of them that defied reality." For a decade, the English and French did nothing in response to fascist aggression in Abyssinia (Ethiopia), Austria and Czechoslovakia, and precious little even in the wake of the German invasion of Poland.

    France and England thereby encouraged Hitler to believe they were too weak to prevail - a judgment in which he was very nearly right. That should have taught us - but did not - that those who hope to avoid war via appeasement inevitably end up fighting later on worse terms.

    At no point did Chamberlain recognize that Hitler constituted a mortal threat to Western civilization. As a consequence, he displayed far more ruthlessness in fighting those within his own party who dared challenge his policies than he did in fighting Hitler.

  24. If one looks to the Fort McDowell Apaches, one would find that capital improvements were what made the difference in the ag production on the Reservation. Turning desolate desert into blossoming farmlands.

    Prior to the casino revenues being available for reinvestment, those Indians lived in abject poverty and no amount of 'hard work' made any difference, without capital to invest in infrastructure, employees and equipment.

  25. Those dollars from their share of casino revenues invested in both a better standard of living, immediately, and for the long haul.

    And it was not whit that brought up Afpakistan and the drug trade.

    Credit where it is due, den mother.

  26. By Mica Rosenberg

    TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - The Honduran army ousted leftist President Manuel Zelaya and exiled him on Sunday in Central America's first military coup since the Cold War, after he upset the army by trying to seek another term in office.

    President Barack Obama and the European Union expressed deep concern after troops came for Zelaya, an ally of socialist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, around dawn and took him away from his residence.

    Speaking on Venezuelan state television, Chavez -- who has long championed the left in Latin America -- said he would do everything necessary to abort the coup against his close ally.

    A military plane flew Zelaya to Costa Rica and CNN's Spanish-language channel said he had asked for asylum there.

  27. War?

    No more like Trish's fencing analogy.

    This is an appeasing crowd in charge now. The most they will do is an occasional Waco from time to time.

    Even today, the news is that poppy eradication efforts in Afghanistan have failed and are being abandoned. First Afghanistan, then North America. You watch.

    Sat Jun 27, 11:15:00 AM EDT

  28. I see the future...

    Peace within our time...

    Resistance is futile....



    No more talking about it.

    Time to figure out

    Who is John Galt?

  29. Ripping off a TPFW Cole-ism:

    I'm goin' Galt on a bottle of rum tonight with Unassuming Bad Ass and friends.

    Because it's another three day weekend and it shall not be wasted.

  30. Hang in there, What Is.

    Hang in there.

    (Alternatively, purchase yourself a sunny, narrow valley in Colorado and invite all your close acquaintances to bake bread and weave cloth and issue the occasional manifesto.)

  31. Hard labor has made all the difference in agriculture when centrally controlled. The Cahokia Culture is an excellent example.

    These people had no capital. They lived in the stone-age. Although they used copper decoratively, they never made the leap to bronze. Moreover, they did not benefit from the use of heavy draft animals, the wheel, or pulley.

    Despite these capital disadvantages, they were able to practice productive agriculture over large areas for extended periods of time through the use of the levy en masse. Using no more than simple stone tools and woven baskets, armies of Cahokians moved mountains of earth by hand, turning an otherwise riparian wilderness into a vast, productive plantation.

    Where there is the will, there is a way.

  32. Here is some wonderful research done at the Univ of Illinois.

    In an ongoing program called FACE a young professor has raised soybeans, and corn in open fields with varying concentrations of atmospheric CO2.

    Amazing Results. At concentrations of 550 ppm (estimated for 2050) Soybeans Yielded + 13%, and Corn + 26%.

    Also, they used less water, and "food quality" was the same.

  33. Prior to the casino revenues being available for reinvestment, those Indians lived in abject poverty and no amount of 'hard work' made any difference, without capital to invest in infrastructure, employees and equipment.

    The Nez might take a cue from their Apache cousins. It's been said here that no good comes from the casino receipts up there.

  34. To anticipate, it is true the Cahokians had large rivers at hand as well as adequately dispersed, abundant rainfall. That conceded, the Mayan culture did not, in counterpoint.

  35. Look at Israel. When Jews began to return in volume at the turn of the 20thC, much of the land was fit only for goat herding. Now, even the Negev is bountiful - a land flowing with milk and honey.

    Only when they hang on to it. The green houses in Gaza. Don't forget the greenhouses.

    Which we've been told here were looted only as some form of perverted restitution for earlier
    wrongs endured.

  36. That is good news, Rufus, even if the research seems to demonstrate the old "intuitive grasp for the obvious."

    Don't worry about word getting out. The work will be discredited and the young professor denied tenure. We mustn't waste resources on frivolous projects that refute accepted knowledge. Carbon dioxide is a pollutant, and that's it.

    Thus sayeth Carol Browner and the men in black.

    Even if the soybean refuse and corn stalks can be processed through a cellulosic refinery.

  37. "The way we guarantee safe drinking water is broken and needs to be fixed." Carol Browner, U.S. EPA.

    Those damned Bushies messed everything up.

    Brace yourselves. Utopia don't come cheap.

  38. linearthinker,

    The greenhouses are a classic case in point. These people prefer arid desert to lush, green pastures. That being the case, they will have to control the entire earth to create enough deserts for their growing population.

  39. Civilizations/cultures come and go.

    Drought, oppressive religions/governments, overreaching

    Who knows? Here we are in the 21st Century, and we're no better than Mayans, tearing the hearts out of their "sacrifices."

    We're going headlong into backwardation. Declaring War on the most beneficial/life-giving component (along with oxygen) of our atmosphere.

    Some sort of weird, perverse religion gone amuck. It's mind-destroying.


  40. Carol Browner and Steven Chu

    Their professional credentials are seen as a sign of Mr Obama's determination to deal with climate change.

    "This is clearly a green dream team," said Gene Karpinski, the head of the League of Conservation Voters.

    The president of the Earth Policy Institute, Lester Brown, said: "We can expect some strong initiatives reflecting the sense of seriousness and the urgency of doing something about climate change"

  41. rufus,

    PLEASE, never mention nitrogen! Otherwise, we will be declaring war on it as well...and photosynthesis...a word that long just has to be a vestige of oppression...

  42. Notice the festering anger that's been building for eight years on Carol's beautiful face.

    She'll no doubt find solace in action.

    Actually, her festering anger has been brewing since about 1980, with only a brief eight years respite during Willie's tenure. Look back at the Safe Drinking Water regulations laid down during that regime, to say nothing of the spotted owl fiasco.

    I wish mat was still around. I feel like a bar fight. Splintered furniture, broken mirrors, glass and blood all over the floor. Sirens wailing in the distance.

  43. ... the urgency of doing something ...

    Scenes that we've all seen before.

  44. The Cahokia Culture did not coexist with modern man.
    With their stone tools they used human capital, but were not in competition with any culture that had both human and financial capital.

    So you're comparing apples and oranges, across time.
    I'm comparing the Palis and desert cultured American Indians, today. Referencing the same realistic comparisons that wi"o" brings up.

    The Egyptians did well, too, using an abundence of human capital.

  45. One must admit that the Israeli had access to an abundence of capital.

    The Rothschilds guarenteed that much.

  46. I'm also comparing the Israeli to the Fort McDowell Apaches.

    There is an equivilency between all three and the lack of equality of outcome duw to differing opportunities. And how, as financial realities change, the stereotypical view of the under performing Indian changes along with it, sometimes.

    The Apache Reservation outside of Payson has not prospered in a similar fashion.

    Sam Stieger, the Congressman that created that Reservation said it was the one Federal action he instigated that he regretted most.
    Gramps Rat helped run Sam's campaign for Governor, he lost in the Primary to that carpetbagging Fife Symington III, who was later convicted and pardoned by Clinton of Federal bank fraud or something similar.

    Because the influence of the similar cultures, as Steven Pressfield say's, "It's the Tribes, Stupid!"

    The further from tribal roots, the more civilized the conduct. Tribal culture still beig the enduring enemy of civilization.

  47. By Joan Vennochi
    Globe Columnist

    THE FUZZY math behind the Massachusetts universal healthcare law is starting to add up - just as Washington studies the law as a possible model for the nation.
    Today, the current governor, Deval Patrick, a Democrat, is skeptical about the end product. Asked during a televised town hall meeting in March if he believes national healthcare legislation should be patterned after the Massachusetts plan, he said, “I don’t know. I had real misgivings about it as a candidate. . . . I’m proud of it, but I don’t know if it’s a model for the nation.’’

    The foundation of the Massachusetts law is the so-called individual mandate. That means everyone must have health insurance. From that perspective, the Massachusetts experiment is a success. The percentage of residents without insurance was down to 2.6 after two years.

    But, the law never provided an absolute way to pay for the expanded coverage, and it never addressed how to reduce costs.

    “They decoupled the access issue from the cost issue,’’ said Philip Johnston, chairman of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, which played a key role in expanding healthcare coverage here. “The lesson is, there needs to be a dedicated revenue source to support health reform.’