“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."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Road to Peace or Highway to Hell


M41, or the Pamir Highway, is the highest elevation roadway in the world. Winding through the Western Himalayan range from Southern Tajikistan to Osh, Kyrgyzstan, the road takes one through some of the highest elevation passes traversible by vehicle (4,655m/13,965ft). This is the road that was highly touted early on in the Bush Administartion and I thought it would be interesting to see what was happening with it today, but wait not so fast.
I changed my mind.

When I put a post together, I often find something much more interesting. That happened this morning.

I came across a very telling report from Australia's Dateline. It shows the incredible challenge faced by US forces in Afghanistan.

This report should be required viewing by all sides on the Aghanistan debate. Have a watch.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.


    What a load of shit....

    What I saw were bright eyed AMERICANS paying for, protecting, building a major highway, dams, electric generation for a group of ungrateful, gouging, 2 faced sob's...

    we havent lost direction, the afghans, the taliban, the arabs that come for jihad are bleeding us...

    one part of me says, f*ck em, none of them are worth ONE AMERICAN losing a toenail over...

    the other part says... without AMERICA germany, japan, france, many parts of asia would be JUST like afghanistan is today...

    it took decades to turn those parts of the globe into reasonably decent places...

    America should be proud of it's EXCEPTIONAL footprint in the mountains of Afghanistan, unlike our current potus believes, America is an UNIQUE and non-typical Great Nation...

    For those who claim America is nothing but one of 127 other nations of the world?

    kiss my American ASS..

  3. A long way from no where, that country there.

    It does come to defining the "Goal" of the US and NATO effort, there in the mountains of Afpakistan.

    The idea that "more" US troops will provide "security" is absurd. It did not work in Iraq, it will not work in Afpakistan.

    Success in Iraq came with changing the objective, from cultural transformation to stopping the violence. The US capitulated on its' primary political objective and called it success.

    The same course should be taken in Afpakistan. We should be raiding into Pakistan, destroying the aQ elements, there.

    Leaving Afghanistan to the Afghans.

  4. But if that were to happen, the fundamentalist Abrahamics would come to power in the poppy fields, and the illegal drug trade in Europe would suffer because of it.

    As it did in 2000, the "powers that be" would not allow that situation to stand. And it did not.

    The USMC now provides "security" to the opium trade.

  5. A darker side of Columbus emerges in US classrooms

    "And we talked about how he was very, very mean, very bossy."
    Columbus' stature in US classrooms has declined somewhat through the years...

    In McDonald, Pa., 30 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, fourth-grade students at Fort Cherry Elementary put Columbus on trial this year — charging him with misrepresenting the Spanish crown and thievery. They found him guilty and sentenced him to life in prison.

    "In their own verbiage, he was a bad guy,"

    teacher Laurie Crawford said.

  6. Great Video. Took me back.


  7. Generals like nice, pretty new roads. The old boy, there, with the "brass nuts" wants a new dam. They should "fuck the road," and build the dam.

    Iraq didn't get better until we spread some money around Anbar, and flipped the local tribes. But, I guess they forgot to cover that at West Point.

  8. Not sure why that road is such a big deal.
    You can cruise right up to the top of Mauna Loa, no problemo:
    Elevation: 13,681 feet (4,170 m)

    Mauna Loa is the largest volcano on Earth with an estimated volume of 9,600 cubic miles (40,000 cubic kilometers). It makes half of the area of the Island of Hawaii. Mauna Loa began to form nearly a million years ago.

    There is a caldera, Mokuaweoweo, at the summit and rift zones extend to the northeast and southwest. Mauna Loa is in the shield-building stage and is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth, erupting 15 times since 1900.

    The last eruption was in 1984 and sent lavas within 4 miles (6.5 km) of Hilo. This photograph looks to the southwest to the northeast rift of Mauna Loa. Volcano Village is in the foreground. The summit of Kilauea volcano is left of center. Photograph by J.D. Griggs, U.S. Geological Survey, January 10, 1985.


    38 According to the U.S. Census, Hawaii is the nation's only Asian-majority state, as of July 2008, with 54 percent of the population of Asian descent. Honolulu County, which includes Oahu and the uninhabited Northwest Hawaiian Islands, is the only Asian-majority county in the country.
    Also puzzled about the big problem wrt security.
    At Mauna Loa, we tasked about a hundred pointy headed scientist with the responsibility, and they have enforced security and safety flawlessly for over 50 years.

  9. Those guys (Taliban) look like they enjoy this shit way too much for (our) comfort.

  10. Well, yeah, Doug; business is good. It's been kinda slow since the Russians left. Nice to see a little pickup to the "bottom line."

  11. Chinese car sales up 84% last month. Over a Million Autos.

  12. That singing session in Church creeped me out as much as Sunday School used to.

    Wish I'da been tasked to live out my days with Sonia on a deserted island.
    That woulda made sense.

  13. How do you say
    "See the USA in Their Chevrolet"

    In Chinese?

  14. Were those sales records the result of the
    "Cash for Slopers"

  15. Something to keep in mind: when we put a million cars on the road, we, probably, take 700,000 OFF the road.

    When China puts a million new cars on the road, they don't take ANY cars OFF the road.

  16. Yeah,
    Just to keep up with Cuba they got six decades plus, to go.

  17. Send Obama and his minions over to China with boatloads of Sodium Silicate to waste the engines of all them old Chinese Gas Guzzlers.
    ...just to see what happens next.

  18. India, of course, is behind China; but, it's on the same "glide path."

    Demand from China, India, and Saudi Arabia will increase by One Million bpd, next year.

    Throw in another One Million from the OECD countries, and a half a million from the rest of the world, add in Four and a Half Million bpd in Declines from Existing fields, and you need 7 Million bpd New Production.

    Saudi Arabia "Might" be able to supply 2 Million (I wouldn't bet money on it,) and, you're, basically, shit out of luck. It ain't there, kiddos. All the Big fields are declining, and nothing "big" is coming online. In fact, not much "medium to small" is coming online.

    JWillie calls it Hysteria. I call it "looking at the numbers."

  19. About the Jews being smarter than everybody else. I think it's cause they try harder, overall.

    Yet they sure do have some blind spots, least the American ones.

    Like T says, they voted Obama.

    How smart is this?

    In my life I've had one really smart Jewish lawyer, and also, in a more minor way, one Jewish witch that got herself elected to the city council and caused me some grief.

    Casused dad some grief, for sure. His taxes went way up with the downtown revitalization project she pushed through.

    Papa fought this all the way to the Idaho Supreme Court, with the help of the Jewish lawyer mentioned above, and lost.

    Overall a mixed bag.

    I think it's cause they try harder, basically.

  20. That picture on this post could well be in Glacier National Park.

    If you haven't been there, you really ought to go.

    Glacier National Park

  21. Teresita said...
    Allen can have his opinion about the Jews being the Chosen People, and I won't get angry with him. I myself happen to opine that the Jews were the foreshadow, or "anti-type" of the Church, and the Israel of God now subsists in the Roman Catholic Church, and I hope Allen doesn't get angry with me for having that view.

    piddle, piddle, piddle, like my aunt used to say

    While the Bible is typed/anti-typed all the way through, and it's a great way to read it--see The Great Code, The Bible and Literature by that Canadian fellow--we got to get away from taking it so danged literal, take it literatural is better.

    We don't want any shooting to start.

    By the way T, I can get you a really good essay about The Old Man and the Sea, from a Taoist perspective.

    You were a Taoist at one time, as I recall.

    I've just become aware that the Hemingway Review is published in home town.

    How I missed this for years I'm not sure.

    Too much Art Bell I quess.

  22. Anon

    It was my intention following the High Holidays (four multi-day holidays within a three week period) to address some of the questions raised in my absence. Since the stakeholders here have already set out what they believe I believe, my input is not needed and will pass on an obvious waste of time.

    There is, as you know, a purpose to everything under heaven. To benefit from this knowledge, however, requires a belief in something higher than the "self" and its cravings.

  23. Well, if God wants the Jews to have "settlements" in Palestine I think HE ought to pay for them. I'm not interested.

  24. What gave you to understand that G-d was a "he"? And where is "Palestine", using the CIA directory?

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  26. I just became aware recently that it is a Jewish command that one has to be Happy at this time of year.

    I picked up on this from one of the radio talk shows I listen to endlessly.

    This, I think, is a good command.

    One we all should follow.

    At the time of the year when the harvest is in, we ought to all be Happy

    It's kind of infectious.

    We all end up being happy.

    This is a tradition I think we all should follow.

    This is a good thing.

  27. Edit: If the "Big Kahuna" wants the Jews to have "settlements" on the West Bank I hope the "Big Kahuna" is going to pay for them. I'm not interested.

  28. rufus said...
    Well, if God wants the Jews to have "settlements" in Palestine I think HE ought to pay for them. I'm not interested.

    No one is asking the USA to PAY for settlements.


    The ONLY assistance or aid is in the form of military aid.

    that is because it is in America's INTEREST to support fellow democracies around the globe that actually share common values.

    hey rufus,

    really why do you continue with this specific rant?

    America (as a national policy) does not support with ANYTHING settlements in the west bank.

    IN fact, as much as I hate obama's anti-jerusalem pov, bush senior was the 1st president to call for a "a contiguous Palestinian state" even Jimmy Carter, when he was president (and in POWER) only called for the palestinians to have "autonomy" and Bush 1 cut off "Loan Guarantees" BECAUSE of Israel building settlements on it's historic land. (I support their right to use their money to buy land anywhere in that area.)

    Again, Israel gets nothing from the United States of America to build settlements.

  29. Be happy, Ruf.

    It's that time of year.

    The harvest is in.

    Don't be the spoil sport.

    By the way, Idaho is going to smear Hawaii in the Dome this coming Saturday!

    I can't believe I've actually got a winning team on my hands!

    Weep, weep, al-Doug!

  30. "The Harvest is in?"

    Maybe in Texas.

  31. We're gonna reap Hawaii, Saturday next.

    Pick some pineapples .

    We are on a roll.

    Go Joe Vandal!

  32. I didn't start it. This

    "There is, as you know, a purpose to everything under heaven. To benefit from this knowledge, however, requires a belief in something higher than the "self" and its cravings"

    started it.

  33. Money is fungible. I give Israel money, and Israel spends money on settlements. Ergo: I paid for the settlements.

  34. It may be the "Big Kahuna's" plan, but it ain't MY plan.

  35. Thank you, rufus, for the correction.

  36. Here is my answer to the question my daughter brought home from her psyche class

    what is a 'personality'--

    Dear Ashley,

    When I think of how to complete the sentence “a personality is…..” I think of the perennial philosophy, best expressed in the writings of the great east, but also noted in our literature here as well; the old formula being ‘a human being is a three part entity, a body, a psyche, and, these day, much forgotten, a spirit’; so that when we think of a personality we might think of, say, David Letterman, which is true as far as it goes, but it don’t go very far; in the higher reaches of experience--of real experience-- where the spirit comes into play, much forgotten in our Mall World of the contemporary west; a personality is an interaction between a body, psyche (thinking part) and an environment (our current mores, etc), but this isn’t all; there may be something more, something entirely different, as, for instance, was hinted at in Hemingway’s “A Farewell To Arms” when our hero got blown up by a trench mortar while eating a sandwich and drinking a glass of wine, when he then temporarily got free of his body, and psyche, and, “it was like if you pull a fine silk handkerchief out of your pocket, and wave it around a bit, and then back in, and I knew then it was all wrong to think you just died” (not a perfect quote, but close); and as I have read, as you well know, the near death literature complete, you might begin to understand it when I say a ‘personality’ is a nothing, an obscuring of what we really are, which is a part of being, consciousness, bliss, and our deep being has nothing to do with David Letterman, or anybody else, but rather has to do with IS, and bliss, so I answer, a personality is a false construct, and I affirm that the divine compassion is matched only by the divine patience, and, all will finally realize just what they really are, which is much more than a personality.

    Your Papa Bob

  37. Anon,

    I am SOOOO offended...not...;)

  38. Anon,

    Here is a novel and terribly offensive thought: Suppose humans, including regulars to the EB, are not smart; but suppose G-d is!!!!
    Furthermore, suppose that G-d uses human beings as conduits, proving his smartness and human dumbness...hoping for that "Duh!" moment...perhaps even a fungible "Duh!" moment...could happen...

  39. Well, he's a "nasty, mean" sonofabitch, then. Allowing thousands of children to die of hunger EVERY DAY.

    What fucking nonsense.

  40. Tue Oct 13, 12:24:00 PM EDT,

    Fuck You, Statist!
    We are One,
    We are the Whirreled.
    Rainbows Rule!

  41. Just get your checkbook out, Doug-O. I figure your part is about $2,000.00.

    This year, of course.

  42. Fuck you right back at ya, poi eater.

    We're gona wipe your ass.

    You won't even know what hit you!

    Actually, al-Doug, I wish we could go to this game together, we'd have a good time!

  43. 15. Papa Ray:

    Michael Yon has done a great service going to this years celebration in Holland of Market Garden.

    A world away from Afghanistan, over in Holland, was approaching the 65th anniversary of the allied liberation from Nazi occupation, and I had been invited to attend by James “Maggie” Megellas. Maggie, who had fought his way through Holland and is today remembered there as a hero, is said to be the most decorated officer in the history of the 82nd Airborne Division.

    Now 92, Maggie has recently spent about two months tooling around the battlefields of Afghanistan, and though it would be an honor to finally meet him, there was the matter of extracting myself from Kandahar City and getting through about forty minutes of dangerous territory to the military base at Kandahar Airfield

    You have to see his pictures and read his dispatch:

    Market Garden

    He is going to be back in Afghanistan in a few days. I believe he has an embed with the Marines scheduled.

    Michael is a small but significant light shining in the darkness of this world. Please keep it lit with whatever contribution you can make to him.

    Papa Ray
    Central Texas

  44. Good Times are no longer allowed,
    in Obama's Amerika.
    aka Workers Paradice.

  45. If children are dying of hunger, it is your responsibility to do something about it. Most hunger in the world today has a political component; change it.

    Of course, blaming G-d for the flaws of man demonstrates the same level of maturity as expecting Uncle Sam or Uncle Joe to deliver cradle to grave security, i.e. none.

  46. Yon sez,

    " We came here to kill our enemies, but today we want to make a country from scratch."

  47. What really ticks me off, being a farmer, is we have overproduced the basic food stocks, and yet there is still hunger in the world.

    We have thought about this, and the problem seems to be the transportation, and the politics.

    I don't know what to do about it, other than keep on farminig.

    I am open to suggestions.

  48. We have thought about this, and the problem seems to be the transportation, and the politics.

    Transportation is not a problem. It's only a tool.

    Nothing gets built, or improved until the tools can be used.

    Chauncey Gardiner

  49. Transportation is no problem, bob. Why the Walmart near my house had flowers from Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) for sale, a small bouquet for $6.00
    (six). Now if we can fly flowers from Rhodesia to Phoenix, AZ and the Waltons can sell 'em for $6.00 ...
    Transportation is no problem.

  50. The US is the whirled's largest weapons supplier, every bullet and bomb gets delivered.

    Transportation is not the issue.

    Doug had the story about entire fleets of cargo ships sitting empty at anchor.

  51. Bobal: By the way T, I can get you a really good essay about The Old Man and the Sea, from a Taoist perspective. You were a Taoist at one time, as I recall.

    That would be great, Bobal, I still am Taoist, and in fact my libertarian political views roll out from the Taoist tendency to let things reach their own equilibrium without interference.

  52. Just as the US support of World Bank funding of water infrastructure projects in Iran furthers the governance of the Mullahs in Iran, the US subsidies for weapons and arms to Isreal furthers the Jim Crow policies in that country.

    The same standards apply.
    Funding of any project equals across the board support of the regime in question.

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  54. This comment has been removed by the author.

  55. Let see...

    There is no arguing with rufus and rat anymore about US aid or support or lack there of with Israel.

    SInce rufus and rat only see one small portion of the picture every dollar that goes to a jaffa orange supports the "zionist entity"...

    I guess America get's nothing from Israel and it's all a one way street...

    There is no convincing rat or rufus of any point...

    I guess Israel, when it DOES America's dirty work in the future should charge market value for it's services to please rat and rufus since they only thing they see is a BALANCE SHEET.

    how closed minded...

  56. I'm not omnipotent, Allen. Unlike your "Great Kahuna," I can't do anything about starving children in Darfur. I can only pay my taxes, and hope they are used wisely.

    You will note that I have never, on this site, bitched about my taxes being used for starving children, anywhere. Or, for Medicaid, or Medicare.

    I do resent it being given to "wealthy" people, and to religious zealots to pursue their sectarian goals.

    Nothing personal, if it was the fundamentalist Baptists attempting to settle their "God-given" land in Ethiopia I'd feel the same way.

  57. "I guess Israel, when it DOES America's dirty work in the future should charge market value..."

    Only an apologist or a naif would offer the proposition that Israel does anything for altruistic reasons. Like any other reasonable nation (although I 'm not quite so sure about the US under the Big O) Isreal pursues foriegn policy that it believes is in its own national interest.

    If the US benefits from any Israeli action it is strictly because their national interests were aligned around that action.

  58. quirk
    If the US benefits from any Israeli action it is strictly because their national interests were aligned around that action.


    as also...

    If Israel benefits from any American action it is strictly because their national interests were aligned around that action.

  59. Green Scotch

    Scotland's oldest whisky distillery is taking part in a ground-breaking project to capture its carbon dioxide emissions and turn it into a biofuel using oil-producing algae.

  60. This comment has been removed by the author.

  61. Quirk said...
    "as also...

    If Israel benefits from any American action it is strictly because their national interests were aligned around that action."

    Agreed. And that was one of the points I was trying to make in my post. The other point was that because of this reality your quote regarding Israel charging for doing "America's dirty work" was pure sophism.

    With regard to your argument with Rufus, as I previously posted, aid to Israel is more of a stimulus program for the US than many of the programs included in the Big O's "stimulus plan".