“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, February 14, 2010

Many experts think the € may tumble on the back of the Greek debt crisis

Something very ugly is happening with currencies and to this observer, it looks like the beginning stages of competitive devaluation.

The problem's roots are in the unsustainable amount of government debt, borrowing and spending. We hear about Greece, by any measure a very small country, but Greece does not stand alone with some very bleak statistics, discussed in the video and article. Those statistics are not that far of from those of The United States.

In the most optimistic reading of events, Greece is said to have to cut spending and reduce their budget deficit by 4%. Easily said, but dangerously difficult to do. Greece, like all members of the euro zone, has another problem. It cannot devalue its currency. It uses the euro.

Either at the top, the Germans or French people are going to get tired of bailing out the lesser members of the European Union, or the smaller members will take the easy way out, drop the euro and return to their own currencies.

Unfortunately for the United States, we have a president in Barack Obama who sees nothing but increasing the size of government as the answer to every problem. He is probably the least fit person to fill that office at this time.

We are in trouble, big trouble, but at least we control our own printing presses.


Can anyone fix the euro puzzle?

A crisis-strewn week has left the single currency on the edge of a precipice, write Edmund Conway and Bruno Waterfield

Published: 12:14AM GMT 14 Feb 2010

The summit started as it meant to go on – in chaos, confusion and unintended farce. The big moment – the heads of state meeting which is supposed to be the centrepiece of every European summit – was scheduled to begin at 10am in the wood-panelled Bibliothèque Solvay in Brussels' European quarter, but as the hour approached, it became clear that nothing was doing. As more time passed, it became clear that something was wrong. Eventually, Herman van Rompuy – the new European president, in charge of his first big set-piece – explained that a snowstorm had held up a number of the participants. The meeting would be delayed by two hours.

It was a poor excuse. Everyone knew what was really holding up the summit. Behind the scenes, in ill-tempered exchanges in private conference rooms nearby, the grand European plan to help prevent Greece sliding into economic collapse was unravelling – and fast. In a radical move, the leaders – from President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany to the European Central Bank (ECB) president Jean-Claude Trichet – had already agreed to throw out the usual European Council agenda and replace it with one topic: Greece's economy. The problem was that no one could agree on what to do about the stricken nation.

By now, the story will be painfully familiar. The southern European nation was having trouble raising money. Never the most sensibly-run economy, Greece had seen its budget deficit balloon to terrifying proportions in the wake of the recession sparked by the financial crisis. To make matters worse, the incoming government, led by Prime Minister George Papandreou, had uncovered the fact that their predecessors had hidden billions of euros worth of borrowing outside their official statistics. The combined effect was to cause a sudden sharp increase in the country's borrowing rates and its default insurance spreads, as investors speculated that it was entering a fiscal debt trap from which it could no longer escape.

In such circumstances, a country would devalue its currency, but this is not an avenue open to a member of the euro like Greece. With investors pulling their money out of the country at such a rapid rate that the interest rate spread between Greek and German government bonds hit its highest level since the creation of the euro, it became clear that someone was going to have to step in and help.

It wasn't merely that Greece, a relatively small economy, was close to collapse; it was that, left unchecked, the panic could spread to Spain, Portugal, Italy or Ireland – all of whom suffer the same ballooning budget deficits and overburdened consumers.

For a whole swathe of euro members to be allowed to crumble would beg questions about the entire euro project. Indeed, as Papandreou pointed out at the World Economic Forum at Davos last month, the attack could be seen as a speculative assault on the euro, targeted at first through its "weakest link". As if to bear out his point, figures from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange released on Monday indicated that speculators had amassed their biggest positions against the currency since its foundation more than a decade ago.

So it was that a week before Thursday's summit, in a bilateral meeting in Paris, Sarkozy told Merkel that France and Germany would have to mastermind some kind of plan to protect Greece. His broad proposal was that the northern European nations should at the least issue a statement promising to stand behind Greece, and perhaps go so far as to spell out how much they would put into a potential lifeboat. Merkel was not convinced. For one thing, she was well aware that Sarkozy had his own political motivations for such a move: the alternative, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bail-out, would enable IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Sarkozy's most likely opponent at the next French election, to ride in and "save the euro".

But, more fundamentally, by organising a bail-out Germany would be seen as providing unfair support for a country which had proven itself incapable of fiscal rectitude. Such a move would not only be hideously unpopular with German taxpayers, it would potentially encourage poorer countries to follow Greece's lead. Moreover, under the German constitution, such moves were legally tricky to organise.

And so the battlelines were drawn prior to a week of frantic behind-the-scenes negotiations as the French and Germans tried desperately to find common ground.

Finally, it seemed as if the ministers had patched together a deal. Some kind of bail-out package – a "firewall" provided by a "coalition of the willing", according to insiders – would be revealed at the summit.

Then came van Rompuy's excuse about the snow. But it wasn't ice and water that delayed the summit. That morning, the key players – Merkel, Sarkozy, Papandreou, Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the euro group of nations, and Trichet – held a last-minute meeting. According to insiders, voices were raised with Trichet and Merkel banging fists on the table as Sarkozy and Juncker tried to push for a bail-out plan. The statement that emerged from the meeting was a thinly-disguised compromise. Three-quarters of it seemed to be focused only on insisting that the Greeks cut their budget deficit by 4pc this year; the final paragraph, which appeared to be specifically aimed at appeasing the French, said: "Euro area Member states will take determined and coordinated action, if needed, to safeguard financial stability in the euro area as a whole," before adding: "The Greek government has not requested any financial support."

The hope was that the statement alone would be enough to reassure markets that in the event of a proper "sudden stop" in funding to Greece, the rest of the euro area would step in. However, the financial crisis has proven that without concerted plans to back them up, statements of broad intent are pretty useless at containing market concerns.

Within moments of the statement, the euro dropped to a nine-month low against the dollar and share prices in the euro area stalled. The rot continued on Friday and, according to economists, will persist unless finance ministers meeting tomorrow provide any detail on what a rescue package might involve.

What makes any hopes for clarity appear forlorn is that the euro has no mechanism for dealing with crises of this sort. It is monetary rather than fiscal union. As Martin Feldstein, a Harvard professor, puts it: "There's too much incentive for countries to run up big deficits as there's no feedback until a crisis."

The ECB could offer the country extra liquidity support, but there is a sense that unless other euro nations dip into their pockets the suspicions over Greece will linger – and those about the rest of the euro's debt recidivists. Juncker's plan would involve a web of bilateral loans from euro members, perhaps being made not directly but through state-owned banks, so as to circumvent those German constitutional obstacles.

However, it is an open question as to how the populations of those donor countries will take the proposal that they once again come to the rescue of their misbehaving neighbours. Nor indeed how the Greeks will take it when it emerges that their coruscating deficit cuts and public sector wage cuts are being overseen by the Germans. Although the political will is clearly still strong in Brussels to fight off any talk about a euro crisis, it is clear even to fans of the single currency that this is its single greatest test. According to Albert Edwards of Société Générale (himself not, it should be pointed out, a fan), "any 'help' given to Greece merely delays the inevitable break-up of the eurozone". The problem, he adds, is a "lack of competitiveness within the eurozone – an inevitable consequence of the one-size-fits-all interest rate policy.

"Even if the PIGS [Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain] could slash their fiscal deficits, as Ireland is attempting, to maintain credibility with the markets in the short term, the lack of competitiveness within the eurozone needs years of relative [and probably absolute] deflation."

This problem – that under eurozone rules Germany is able to pursue an entirely divergent economic strategy to its Mediterranean counterparts – suggests that the best course of action may be for Germany to pull out of the currency union, according to former Bank of England policymaker David Blanchflower.

"That might be the only solution," he says. "At the moment it simply isn't working. And the imbalance makes it almost impossible for countries like Greece or Ireland to escape from this situation."

It is not merely economists who have clocked on to this inherent weakness. According to Simon Derrick, of Bank of New York Mellon, the mood among investors feels not dissimilar to the time the Exchange Rate Mechanism faced speculative attack in the early 1990s.

Back then the targets were currencies; this time they are government bonds. But the objective is the same – to test whether governments really have the political will to persevere with a system plagued by inherent economic weakness and illogicality.

Has any hedge fund put its head above the parapet in this destructive trade, as George Soros did back then, owning up to shorting the pound before successfully "breaking" the Bank of England? Not yet, though the rumours are that John Paulson, the man who made billions betting against the US housing market, has significant positions against some of the weaker euro members. But a currency union is rather more difficult to break than an exchange rate agreement. Betting against the Europeans' political will to further integration remains a gamble.
Still, the difficulties have at least offered Gordon Brown a rare opportunity for genuine self-satisfaction. After all, he decided in 2003 – against Tony Blair's wishes – not to join the single currency, and only now is it clear how wise that decision was. Britain, though marred with similar fiscal difficulties as Greece, has at least had the luxury of being able to devalue the pound.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, the arch europhile, still clings on to the dream, saying last week: "I think in the longer term it would be in Britain's interests to be part of the eurozone."

Even with sterling, the UK can hardly rest easy. For one thing, British banks have a large balance sheet exposure to the troubled Club Med nations – estimated by the Bank for International Settlements to be around £240bn – so any collapse there would trigger a secondary crisis in London.

Second, the Greek crisis serves as a reminder that no country is immune to a sudden investor exodus. And if one runs one's finger down the list of leading nations, no prizes for guessing which country has a Greek-style combination of rocketing budget deficits, high current account shortfalls and rising national debt.


  1. Repeat:

    The Greek crisis serves as a reminder that no country is immune to a sudden investor exodus. And if one runs one's finger down the list of leading nations, no prizes for guessing which country has a Greek-style combination of rocketing budget deficits, high current account shortfalls and rising national debt.

  2. And guess who, signed into law late Friday, February 12, a bill that would increase the federal debt limit by $1.9 trillion to a total of $14.3 trillion?

    President Obama also included a restoration of the “pay-as-you-go” provision of congressional budgeting that requires new spending proposals in Congress to be matched by cuts or tax increases in order to prevent accelerating the already out-of-control federal budget deficit.

    Does anyone believe that bullshit? Sure on the tax increase side. Guess how many jobs that will create?

    No increase in jobs, no increase in revenues.

    No increase in revenues, More debt. More deficits.

  3. Speaking of bullshit, President Obama in his weekly radio address said:
    “this year, I’ve proposed another $20 billion in budget cuts.”

    $20 billion in cuts?

    He signs a bill extending the debt limit by $1.9 TRILLION and claims he has cut $20 billion. Now that is 24 carat, real fresh off the bull, step back fast, steaming kinda bullshit.

    That $20B is only 5% of the increase he just signed and he is bragging about it?

    Pay as you go? Pay as you go?

    Baby get on your wading boots, pull them suspenders tight, real tight, and take a snorkel
    for good measure.

  4. And take a look at the Barack-o-bullshit-Obamanator's web site.

    While I'm at it, can you imagine the media kerfuffle is George Bush had his own web site?

  5. "After a decade of profligacy, the American people are tired of politicians who talk the talk but don't walk the walk when it comes to fiscal responsibility,"- BHO

  6. This is a pretty good deal, developing, for Germany. As a big-time "exporter," the weakening Euro is just what the doctor ordered.

  7. Until the United States gets tired of that and we start breaking currencies in a race to the bottom.

  8. Wait till the Fed starts having to purchase US Treasury bonds.

    Oh, you mean they already have?

  9. I don't think the Fed will have any trouble getting rid of them.

    There's a lot of repaid TARP money sitting in an account somewhere that's going to have to go back on the books, eventually. I'm thinking, maybe, April.

    That would be a good time for a "surprise" announcement of "good" news.

  10. A Previous Shooting Death at the Hand of Alabama Suspect

    The neurobiologist accused of killing three colleagues at the University of Alabama in Huntsville had fatally shot her brother in 1986, the authorities confirmed.

  11. Aw, Doug, we've been all through this before. I just try to look at things as they really are.

    You always get killed by the thing you didn't see coming. Many of us didn't see the housing thing coming because we didn't realize that the Banks had forgotten how to "Bank." I guess we just weren't paying attention.

    BUT, the World IS paying attention, now. There's Always going to be a Greece, or an Argentina/Thailand/pick one, etc.

    A Citigroup/Lehman/Goldman/AIG lashup can, and almost did, bring down the world economy. Greece can't. Neither can Portugal, Ireland, Spain, or all in concert.

    We have, for all intents, and purposes, the same economy we had in 2006 (when we were one foreign semi-war from a balanced budget.) It's crippled. We don't have the Construction industry going crazy, and government spending (domestic) is rising, but we're getting ready to start collecting more taxes, also.

    In other words. It's a general fuck-up. BAU.

    It's what made America great. :)

  12. We have a new motto:

    We're a little less bad.

  13. All of this pales into invisibility in importance compared to what China's doing.

    For better or worse, no matter how you feel about them, they are the Monster on the World Stage at present.

    Their affect on us will at times be positive, at times, really, really negative; but it will be Enormous All the time.

  14. An ex: After a Crash like the one we just had oil prices should have stayed low for years, thus allowing us to dig our way out of the hole.

    But, China steps in and keeps buying like crazy. We're, likely, looking at a Big spike this summer. While our demand is still trying to recover. Now what?

  15. NOW, I'm going to bed. Good luck.

  16. Don't let the bedbugs bite, Ruf!

    ...or let Chi-Com nightmares disrupt your beauty sleep.


  17. Chieftains write musical history with 'San Patricio'

    The Irish band, with guests including Ry Cooder, Linda Ronstadt, Los Tigres del Norte and more, tells the story of Irish soldiers who fought for Mexico in the Mexican-American War.

    The whirled remembers, even if the US and its' officer corps of 40 year Marines have forgotten, or never learned, US military history, in religious wars, in the Americas.

  18. Moloney noted that many of the Irish soldiers were recent immigrants forced to leave their native country because of the great famine that ravaged the Emerald Isle in the mid-19th century.

    "What happened was that when they get off the boat from Ireland, they were handed rifles and told 'Off you go to shoot these Mexicans,' " he said. "They decided they didn't like killing other Catholics on the orders of Protestant generals."

  19. Terror reviews avoid word 'Islamist'

    Two new documents laying out the Obama administration's defense and homeland security strategy over the next four years describe the nation's terrorist enemies in a number of ways but fail to mention the words Islam, Islamic or Islamist.

    The 108-page Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, made public last week by the Department of Homeland Security, uses the term "terrorist" a total of 66 times, "al Qaeda" five times and "violent extremism" or "extremist" 14 times. It calls on the U.S. government to "actively engage communities across the United States" to "stop the spread of violent extremism."

    Yet in describing terrorist threats against the United States and the ideology that motivates terrorists, the review - like its sister document from the Pentagon, the Quadrennial Defense Review - does not use the words "Islam," "Islamic" or "Islamist" a single time.

  20. That is correct, doug.
    The threat is not from "Islam" but from specific border bandits residing in failed States in the Islamic Arc.

    The fact that those border bandits use radical Islam as a tool does not make Islam the enemy.
    No more so than the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan embrace of Christ exemplifies that all Christians are racists.

    It is obvious that the radical "Christians" of the KKK do not represent either the majority of Whites, or Christians.
    No more so than aQ represents the majority of Islamics.

    The threat, to the US, is not from a religion but from individuals, residing in and around Afpakistan.

  21. As candidate Obama stated, in November of 2007, there are 50,000 or so radicalized enemies, in Afpakistan that need to be killed, to stabilize that area of operations.

    Taking a course of action that would accommodate that reality would take US in a new direction from that currently publicly espoused by the "Six Stars" over Afpakistan.

  22. And that constellation of Stars, we've been told, is the best we've got, to manage the situation in Afpakistan.

  23. 23. wretchard:

    Thanks longjack for links to the pdfs of the DA’s report. They are fascinating. The story, near as I can make out, are that Amy had an argument with her dad, who left to go shopping, as per page 3. Amy subsequently took an interest in the shotgun which was kept unloaded upstairs, despite never having bothered about it before and began to load it, due to a sudden concern about break-ins.

    She accidentally fires the shotgun in her room, the report of which the mother apparently can never remember hearing, and goes down to ask for advice on unloading the weapon. She goes into the kitchen and her brother is walking between her and her mother. Something distracts her attention and as she turns the gun goes off. She runs out of the house, worried she’s ruined the kitchen and doesn’t notice she’s shot her brother who is so obviously dead the mother knows instantly he can’t live. The mother tells a subtly different story, and says Amy runs out screaming. At any rate, Amy is distraught and the police wait days before interviewing them to let them overcome their shock.

    It’s a truly remarkable narrative, one with many singular points about it. I suppose it isn’t completely inconsistent with the laws of physics that it couldn’t have happened the way it was told, but it’s damned odd. First, why should Amy after not bothering about the shotgun suddenly find herself wanting to load it? Not just ask about it, but load it? And having figured that out, she goes and fires the thing in her room. That’s doesn’t bother her much though I must say that if fired a shotgun in my own room it might lead me to put the thing away or at least, worry about the interior paint. But no, she goes down looking for firearms instruction. She shoots her brother deader than a doornail in a fit of distraction, but doesn’t notice it and flees the scene worried that she ruined the kitchen when moments before she hardly bothered about her room.

    I think it is fair to say that an account so remarkable might have received more scrutiny, but it didn’t. So that fact tends to the shift the focus for a moment outside the tragic family scene to the larger picture. But 24 years have passed. The brother is long buried. The police chief at the time is now 87 years old. Amy is in the hoosegow for having unaccountably shot six people, three of whom are dead as her kid brother. And the DA who oversaw the investigation is now a famous Congressman looking forward to retirement.

    That brings us to the famous dilemma. Is this about the past or the present? Are they somehow connected? And who the heck cares?

  24. Yeah, well home grown followers of Islam in Britain and the United States seem to get motivated far out of proportion to their numbers to seek out radical Islamic Websites, Mosques, and the like, to the point of deciding to pay a visit to Pakistan, Yemen, and etc reporting for duty, ready for training.
    So I'd say your description is FOS, but you seem to love to go out of your way to concoct such s...

  25. Our own Johnny Boy Taliban being one of the early adopters.
    ...he'll still be rotting in Jail when we release KSM.

  26. Saudis Spreading Wahhabist Hate Curriculum around the World another example of Islam being used in a way other than your description of our non-islamic problem with some "folks" in Yemen, Sudan, Afpakistan, and etc.

  27. We'll be waiting for our President to declare once again that the Boston Police acted "stupidly" in the case of the uncharged, unhinged sibling-killing perfesser.

  28. They probly holler Alley Oop Akbar, or whatever it is, upon commencing mass mayhem in the name of their Southern Baptist Convictions.

  29. The Beaner-American War was a religious War, but the Islamic Assault on the Crusaders is not. RodentWorld.

  30. That all penguins are birds, doug-o, does not make all birds penguins.

  31. Neither are religious wars, doug-o, from the US perspective.

    Our 40 year Marine veteran told us, in no uncertain terms, tha the Mexican Wars WERE NOT religious wars.

    Not from the perspective of the US and its' military. And neither are the local conflicts they are engaged in. now, religious in nature.

    That is the position of the Six Stars and General P, who has been feted on this blog, often.

  32. For years before the collapse, areas (locales) around the the country were scrutinized for bubbles. Being a builder and a real estate broker, I shook my head about the rocketing appreciation in real estate. It was the same with Technology. Fortunes of money were being poured into the startups which were going to replace the brick and mortar stores. Remember that? Yahoo went to about $600 a share. I bet even AOL fetched near $200 per.

    The point is, if you really stopped to think about it, you knew, deep down that something was "out of whack." It's the same with our spending to $14 trillion debt. Please! How can you put every household into this kind of public debt without some consequence. And mind you, that's on top of private debt. I prefer to be optimistic but it's hard to ignore Social Security, Medicare and the current Federal deficits. US Federal spending is another bubble waiting to burst.

    We didn't know what would trigger the credit crisis and we (the hoi polloi) probably won't know what will trigger the ultimate US collapse but...and there may not be a collapse as such. But someone is going to hold our debt and that someone will someday be telling our government what to do. Count on it. Just as we, through the IMF, gave other governments, the castor oil prescriptions for their people. Someone is going to demand that the US government (and you and me) take our medicine.

    Think about that. Someone who holds our paper will be telling us what to do and we will do it.

  33. BERLIN (Reuters) - A majority of Germans want debt-ridden Greece to be thrown out of the euro zone if necessary and more than two-thirds oppose handing Athens billions of euros in credit, a poll published on Sunday showed.

    Interesting, the Greeks want to rertire at 63 and have the Germans pay for it while the Germans work till 67.

  34. When the Greeks hear what it is going to cost them, they'll be ready to leave the EU.

  35. In my part of Florida, it's currently sunny and 26 degrees.

  36. Astounding Details of what Babs Bodine did to John O'neill's FBI team investigating Cole:

    "The Agent"
    [PDF] July 10 & 17, 2006,

    Did the C.I.A. stop an F.B.I. detective from preventing 9/11?

    (Adapted from The Looming Tower)

  37. "That is the position of the Six Stars and General P, who has been feted on this blog, often."
    P has an Ivy Education, what is there not to fet about the man?

    Question is, do the Ivies supply their students with rectal lubricants, the better to ease their heads up into their anuses?

  38. "Interesting, the Greeks want to rertire at 63 and have the Germans pay for it while the Germans work till 67."
    Some Euros are more equal than others in the Eurozone.

  39. "Think about that. Someone who holds our paper will be telling us what to do and we will do it."
    That's why Rosey Rufi has such a sanguine view of the future.

  40. In Rosie World, those Trillions don't account for squat, Whit.
    Mere accounting gimmicks and details, they are.

  41. 30. Annoy Mouse:

    How quaint things were just a quarter century ago. The thing that struck me was the officer was able to disarm a person with a shotgun. People used to complain about the big thugs who worked for the LA Police Department. The fact is, back in that day a cop was more likely to beat the crap out of you then to shoot you dead and yet some look back to those days in horror. Assailant with a shot gun, you have a chance to disarm them? No chance nowadays, protocol demands that you shoot them many times until very dead or call up backup who would inevitably call SWAT. I was once fond saying that LA cops might knock the crap out of you (they did when I was an obnoxious kid) but they might give you a ride home afterwards. This would not happen in this day and age.

  42. 32. James:

    The DA’s story has too many holes and makes no sense whatsoever. The missing police report is likely closer to the truth. Hypothesis:

    Amy has a dispute with her brother, grabs the gun, loads it and they struggle in her room where the gun goes off. Her brother flees, she chases him and guns him down in the kitchen. Neither mother nor father are at home. Amy runs outside with the gun and tries to carjack someone who merely drives around her then calls the police to report woman in the street with a shotgun. Mom and Dad come home before the police arrive. The police apprehend her at gun point hiding behind a nearby business and take her to jail for booking. Mom and dad, come to the conclusion that their son is dead and their daughter is on her way to jail for his murder or manslaughter. They will lose both children if they don’t do something fast. The mother and father have some sort of political influence and start making phone calls. Someone in a position of power calls the police chief who then orders her release. Her mother is already at the police station and decides to use the back door to leave as not to be seen by the public exiting the police station. Same powerful person convinces the DA to make a false report and to drop the case. Further questioning by the police is held until a later date due to the family being deeply distraught (a likely excuse as she was being released anyway). At which point the family has time to fabricate a story to protect the daughter by stating the mother was home and witnessed “the accident”. The daughters age was misrepresented, she was actually an adult at age 20 or 21 but they claimed she was 18 or 19. Without the birth certificate, we may never know her true age. May just be a mistake in the record. Multiple responding officers would have had to file their own individual reports of the incident. They likely had time to question Amy and she may have confessed. Someone with access to the archives removes the police reports written before Amy was released.

    Fast forward 24 years and you have a possible psychotic or schizophrenic with an advanced education and intelligence plotting revenge on her coworkers who she believes had something to do with her denial of tenure. However, her hot anger got the better of her and she just started shooting to satisfy her blood lust. After the police arrest her she is heard muttering that it didn’t happen, they can’t be dead. It apparently happened so fast, she is herself bewildered. However, she had the gun and likely had been carrying it and fantasizing about taking lives for some time. Guns are not permitted on campus. The gun was not registered to her, so she took steps to obtain a gun illegally. Her husband worked across the street at the startup business they founded based on their research, he was on the way to pick her up when the police arrested her. He was taken for questioning as well. So did she call him or was a pre-arrange time for the rendezvous?

  43. Doug,

    Did you hear Tim Pawlenty on Dennis Miller? He said that the US is broke.

    The US debt will never be repaid.

  44. I never was a Pawlenty fan,
    until I heard that Miller interview!

  45. Don't remember what his dad did, but do recall he said they were not rich.

  46. Pawlenty is of Polish and German ancestry. He was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and grew up in nearby South St. Paul. He is one of five children of Eugene and Virginia (Oldenburg) Pawlenty. His father drove a milk truck.[3] His mother died of cancer when he was 15. Pawlenty played ice hockey on his high school's junior varsity squad.[4]

    In 1983, he received a B.A. degree in Political Science at the University of Minnesota's College of Liberal Arts.[5] In 1986, he graduated with a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School.[6] In law school, he met his future wife, Mary Anderson. After their marriage, they settled in Eagan, Minnesota.

    Pawlenty's first worked as a labor law attorney at the firm Rider Bennett, where he had interned during law school.[7] Later, he became Vice President for a software-as-a-service company Wizmo Inc.[8][9]

  47. Pawlenty campaigned on a pledge not to raise taxes to balance the state's budget deficit, requiring visa expiration dates on driver's licenses, a 24-hour waiting period on abortions, implementing a conceal-carry gun law, and changing the state's education requirements. Pawlenty prevailed over both challengers at the polls.

  48. I think we'll be hearing from Governor Pawlenty again. The first time around, he couldn't get traction.

    He's got a good story that will resonate with Tea Party people. Hopefully, more people will be willing to listen this time around. Palin and Huckabee should give Pawlenty some serious attention for possible endorsement.

  49. WTF? Shiny new major offensive underway in Afghanistan and where is Pajamas Media, my GWOT go-to? You'd think they'd be all over this shit with sit maps and briefs and hourly updates and daily commentary. I'm...stunned.

    Not even a single coffee-and-nicotine-fueled Second Battle Of Fallujah thread?

    And here I have all this coffee and nicotine...

    Professor denied tenure goes on rampage 24 years after killing her younger brother.

    That's not much fun.

    Also: How to nudge the Tea Party past the Terrible Two's? Whittle and Ott discuss.

    And maybe exchange recipes.

  50. Trish is right, two professor-on-a-rampage threads on BC in a row, not much to work with there.

  51. "The whirled remembers, even if the US and its' officer corps of 40 year Marines have forgotten, or never learned, US military history, in religious wars, in the Americas."

    Hardly a religious war. Probably a tenth of the Irish (1000?) in the army deserted. And one can argue as to the reasons for their desertion.

    Was it religion? This would fit nicely with those books on myth that Bob is wont to read.

    Or was religion merely the rationalization they used to justify desertion? Other factors (abusive officers and conditions in the US army, promised citizenship and land grants from Mexico, higher positions in the Mexican army, etc.) were more likely contributors to the desertions.

    If religion was a factor (and if any had lived long enough to have seen it), they would have been disappointed a few decades later when the secular Mexican government began persecuting the Catholic Church in Mexico (confiscation of all church property, restrictions on religious services, forcing priests to marry under threat of imprisonment or death, etc.).

    At any rate, the conflict points out that the cost of war has gone up. We lost maybe 15,000 soldiers in the war and gained half of Mexico. Today we lose as many and spend a trillion bucks fighting a band of insurgents.

    Sorry, T and T, got work with what you have.

  52. Mud and Explosives Slow Down Offensive

    Even with overwelming force, nothing is easy in Afghanistan.


  53. I'm filing a complaint with PJM's EOO.

    Blatant theater discrimination, man.


  54. That was a nice nap. And somebody brought me some *good* beer.


  55. Daniel Foster has the only Afghanistan post at the Corner:

    D-Day for the Afghanistan Troop Surge [Daniel Foster]

    Multiple outlets are reporting that Operation Moshtarak — the first major offensive of the Afghan surge and the largest of its kind since the beginning of the war — has been launched by a combined U.S., NATO, and Afghan force.

    The offensive centers around the Taliban stronghold of Helmand province, and especially the city of Marjah, where coalition forces recently dropped leaflets warning residents not to give shelter to Taliban fighters.

    At 4:30 P.M. EST, approximately 15,000 heli-borne and mechanized troops began assaulting the estimated 1,000 Taliban fighters dug into the city.

    Operation Moshtarak, which means "together" in Dari, aims to replace the opium-smuggling local Taliban rulers with Afghani government officials, thereby cutting off a key funding source for the Taliban and improving the legitimacy of the coalition-backed government

    Early this week, U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson told American and Afghan forces at Firebase Fiddler's Green that "some of our units will go into some very heavy contact and I think some of our units will have less contact. We don't know."

    "All I know is that we have done everything we can to prepare, and on the eve of this operation, I think we're ready."

    Semper Fi.

    02/12 04:47 PM

    John Noonan also threw up a minor mention at the Weekly Standard.

  56. Will they tell them to take their helmets off in order to appear more friendly?

    The public ain't buying it. They know it's a little show, and then we go. And, they're good with that.

    We went after Bin Laden, and missed him. We're not going to stick around blowing a hundred billion a year in infiniti just to be doing it.

    Poll question: Will Obama announce a troop withdrawal in Afghanistan before the Nov. elections?

    Bet it would get 75% "Yes."

  57. 28. Tom Curley:

    Shooting in Huntsville, Alabama?? Must have been an angry white male, gun loving NRA member, trailer trash high school dropout, Ex-military OOPS never mind.

  58. The thread continues, Trish.
    Quite interesting and enlightening, IMO.
    Turns out she was also likely a mail bomber.
    Much research turns up numerous politcal connection re: "The Prosecutors" lottery crooks, etc etc ad-infinitum.
    As Ruf points out, our multibillion dollar PC Wargame Fiasco grows tired.

    Like his helmetless Warrior innovation though.
    Worth a try, don't you think?

  59. Murder Suspect Was Questioned in Plot Against Professor
    The husband of the Alabama neuroscientist said he did not know she took a gun to campus and confirmed they were questioned in a plot against a Harvard professor.

  60. But, he said,
    She was a loved teacher, everybody loved her. They gave her high marks.

  61. "The thread continues, Trish."

    Oh, I know.

  62. Investigation shows Mom was a Dodo, Luge Track was just fine:

    "In Bakuriani Sunday, Mr. Kumaritashvili's father, himself a Soviet-era luger, spoke quietly to a small group of journalists over strong, sweet coffee in the kitchen of his home while Nodar Kumaritashvili's mother, Dodo Kharazishvili, sat crying at a table covered in snapshots of her son and surrounded by female friends and relations in the adjoining room.

    A dozen or so male friends and relations gathered in the snow and ice outside the house to pay their respects.

  63. As for Deuce's original post: I just don't know. Fiat currencies are hard enough to understand; a fiat currency covering a large, and diverse group of nations is just way too much for me.

    My first Guess (underline: "Guess") is it doesn't have a very big effect on you, and Me. There will be a great deal of wailing, and gnashing of teeth from various parties in Euroland that are having their particular Oxen gored, and quietude from those that are coming out a bit to the better.

    A lot of heat; not much light. Pretty much BAU would be my guess.

  64. Awe, my daughter's boyfriend took her into the city for dinner and book a room at a four star hotel in Society Hill.

    I don't celebrate Valentine's Day.

  65. And in other news Daytona race track is falling apart. The asphalt, putting a pothole in the center of the track made it dangerous for the drivers. After two patch jobs, the first taking 90minutes, they hope to finish the 24laps left have left to go.

  66. There was a big celebration of St. Valentine's day one time in Chicago----

    The Saint Valentine's Day massacre is the name given to the murder of seven people as part of a Prohibition Era conflict between two powerful criminal gangs in Chicago, Illinois, in 1929: the South Side Italian gang led by Al Capone and the North Side Irish gang led by Bugs Moran. Former members of the Egan's Rats gang were also suspected to have played a large role in the St. Valentine's Day massacre, assisting Capone.

  67. No Swedes involved, in Chigco of 1929.

    We celebrate it the old fashioned way, heavy duty sex, and Swedish meatballs.