“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."

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

US Marines Killed in Pakistan. Pakistan?

US military killed on the ground in Pakistan? The Pakistani Government will have some difficult explaining to do over this report. Officially, as the video below demonstrates, none of this is supposed to be happening.


Three US Marines are among at least 10 people killed in an attack on a convoy heading to a girls' school in north-west Pakistan, police have said.


At least 70 people, including 63 school girls, were injured as the convoy was hit as it passed another girls' school in Lower Dir, near the Afghan border.

The attack comes amid a major government offensive against Taliban militants in the area.
The Taliban has frequently targeted markets, schools and security agencies.

Pakistan military sources told the BBC that three US Marines were killed and one other injured. The US embassy has declined to comment.

They were thought to be travelling with a convoy that was heading to the inauguration ceremony of a newly-built girls' school.

The blast occurred near a different school in Koto, a heavily populated village along the route, the BBC's Mark Dummett in Islamabad says.

At least three of the dead were school girls, police said, adding that security guards and three local journalists were also among the wounded.

School targets

The convoy was on its way to Maidan, an area of Lower Dir district in North-West Frontier Province, which is the base of a pro-Taliban cleric Maulana Sufi Mohammad, and a stronghold of Taliban militants.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has condemned the attack and ordered an investigation, the AFP news agency reports.

The Taliban has frequently targeted girls' schools in recent years, burning several to the ground.
The school that was due to re-open had only recently been re-built with foreign aid after being blown up by militants in January 2009, AFP said citing a local police official.

Last year, the Pakistani army carried out a major offensive to drive Taliban insurgents out of Lower Dir and the neighbouring districts of Swat and Buner, but they are still present in remote areas, our correspondent says.
The latest attack shows that the Taliban remains a powerful force in the region, despite the government's efforts to push them back, he adds.

Hundreds of people have died and several thousand displaced by the fighting.
Many of the girls' school in the region that were destroyed by militants are now being rebuilt.


  1. 3 U.S. Soldiers Die in Attack by Pakistan Militants

    No American soldiers are formally stationed in Pakistan, and their presence, mainly for intelligence and training missions, has been handled with extreme discretion.

  2. I'm getting hot thinking about how manly I'll be feelin if I can just pull off a mass casualty event at a girls school!
    What a turn on!!!

  3. They wanna keep those girls barefoot and pregnant, dougo.
    Not edukated and learned, like these AZ girls working with Sheriff Joe.

  4. The Missing $6.3 Trillion
    We keep hearing, as in this New York Times piece today, that "Fannie and Freddie were effectively nationalized" when the government placed them into conservatorships two summers ago.

    How is it then that we're still not accounting for their liabilities in the federal budget?

  5. You neglected to mention that all those svelte chicks all volunteered for chain gang duty, 'Rat!

    A Chain Gang of One.
    In their own minds.

  6. Press TV - ‎

    Russia and Britain said Wednesday that they would welcome Iran's readiness to accept a proposal aimed at ending the standoff over its nuclear program as a "positive sign.

  7. Orszag is right, Doug. You can't, at present, value the underlying assets. If you tried, and shot too low, you would, in essence, be shooting yourself in the foot.

    It's to the benefit of the owners (us) to put this off, if possible.

  8. Here, doug, is the real whirled response to not allowing an adequate number of laborers into the United States, legally.

    y Daniel González -
    Feb. 2, 2010 12:00 AM
    The Arizona Republic

    Human trafficking remains a major problem in Arizona, but the crime remains hidden because victims are often too afraid to contact law-enforcement officials, U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke said Monday.

    Burke called on the public to help law-enforcement officials identify victims as part of a national effort to combat human trafficking.
    Click here to find out more!

    Burke described the crime as a modern form of slavery that involves holding someone to work for little or no money, often as prostitutes in the sex trade or as laborers in the restaurant and construction industry.

  9. Solution? Ignore reality!

    If banks had to value assets at their current worth, the entire banking system would become insolvent overnight. So they choose to purposefully ignore the reality on the ground. And for those that think things have improved let me present to you exhibit A, California notice of defaults for the last few years:

    Last year, as in the year that saw the stock market rally with the momentum of a bull stampede, California witnessed the largest number of notice of default filings ever. Worst year ever. California had 450,000+ notice of defaults filed in a year that supposedly saw recovery. Now this data does reflect the new world order where banks choose to ignore bad data and pretend Alt-A and option ARMs turning into platinum bars. How bad is this?

    1,232 people per day in 2009 received a notification of default because they missed at least 3 mortgage payments in California. Chart 2.

  10. The entire Admin is right Rufus!
    Slavery is Freedom!

  11. CHICAGO -- In the first midterm election of the year, with the U.S. Senate seat once occupied by President Barack Obama up for grabs, voters sent a moderate five-term congressman from a wealthy suburb to face off against a 33-year-old state Treasurer who used to play basketball with the president.

    Mark Kirk, the Republican congressman, won his primary by nearly 40 percentage points, according to the Associated Press. His Democratic opponent, Alexi Giannoulias, beat former Chicago Inspector David Hoffman–a relative unknown–by five percentage points.


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  13. Japan proved the value of kicking the can, Rufus:
    Their Debt is now 200% of GDP!

  14. But remember this, doug, the Nipponese had a personal savings rate that was touted as "whirled klass".

    While we here in the USA weren't saving squat. Now that US consumers have started to pay off debt, and save, we are on the same glide path as the Land of the Setting Sun.

  15. Doug, I'm not saying you're wrong. Because you're not. But, let me say this: There's not an "Occidental" in the world that can figure out why Japan's economy works.

  16. And, Rat's right. If we tried to model our economy after Japan's we'd be in Depression in a year.

  17. Rat:

    Guess them slopes (non Occidentals) still have bulging bank accounts...

    very little has been written comparing the effects on the Macro picture, if any.

  18. Today the "conservatives" are expounding on the evils of Federal debt, whilst the most "conservative" of our iconic Presidents, Mr Reagan, used Federal debt to propel the US into a great peace time economic expansion.

  19. East is East, Bubba. You can't even see it from here.

    And, that's one reason why I'm always skeptical of people that are so sure about what's going to happen "in China."

    I don't have a clue, and I'm 99% sure They don't either.

  20. Today, to much fanfare, the administration released its ridiculous $3+ trillion budget (we say + because at that size the one thing certain is that the budget will certainly never hit the target and while we wish it would

    be lower, we are certain it will end up materially higher), which consists of a "short" 192-page summary section and a 1420 page appendix. We are confident that not one politician will read the whole thing from cover to cover.

    We won't either. Not because we don't care about what's in it, but because we are much more concerned with what is not included, namely $2.8 Trillion and $1.9 Trillion of MBS guaranteed portfolios at Fannie and Freddie, and an additional $782 billion and $809 billion in company debt outstanding for the two GSEs, respectively.

    This amounts to a total of $6.3 trillion in liabilities which should be counted toward the budget. And yet, oddly, the error-checker somehow made this rather justifiable omission: after all if we were to look at a number which written out looks as follows $6,264,000,000,000.00, we would also probably just avoid it - it is somewhat difficult to hide a number that big even in the 1,420 pages of the budget's appendix.

    That's ok, we are here to remind them about the omission, and also to remind Mr. Orszag, who himself, in that long ago 2008, espoused that these companies should be put on the Federal Budget.

    Isn't it strange what one and a half years worth of realizations just how broken beyond repair the system is, will do to one's convictions?<

  21. Everybody's looking for the Guru with the easy answer. The "one, true" system. Well, there ain't any. Governing (and, business) is hard. You pays your money, and takes your chances.

    You can't wobble around with the government spending 25% of GDP for long. On the other hand, when you're IN recession you have to get OUT of recession. Growth solves a lot of problems.

    Keynes was right about some stuff, wrong about others. The same goes for his polar opposite, "Uncle Miltie."

    When do you "pivot" from Austrian Economics, to Keynsian, and then back again? Shit, who knows. Best to get "lucky," I suppose.

    Nobody ever said it was easy.

  22. I do recall the fears that Japan Inc. was going to "Buy America".

    I recall fondly the Rockefeller Center sale. While many bemoaned the sale of that landmark property to foreign interests, I knew that skating rink would never be dismantled and sent to Japan.

    In the end, the Japs took a lickin', on that deal. Most of their other real estate purchases, as well.

    You can tell us a few of the stories of the Hawaiian hotels where the Japanese investors took a bath, can't you, doug?

    After trying to run with the big dog, the Japs have stayed on their porch.
    Over reach has always been one of their modern propensities.

  23. Nothing like waking up with a payroll to meet, a message of a phone call from the banker, and a USPS worker standing there with a certified letter from the IRS to clear the old mind, Doug.

  24. One thing is sure, Rufus:

    Continuing to transfer wealth from citizens to crooks is not a good thing.

  25. I remember I rolled my eyes when they bought Radio City Music Hall, and then I laughed till I cried when they bought Pebble Beach. I thought, "Man, this is going to be good."

    And it was.

    I still get teary-eyed thinking about it.

  26. No, Doug, it's not. We've got a banking sytem that will make you laugh, and it'll make you cry. You want to burn Sachs to the ground, and then after a night's sleep you think, "Well, they did do a good job for us *here,* and *that* wasn't too bad.

    They're like that crazy brother-in-law that can make you a lot of money, but, if not closely watched can make you homeless, and incarcerated.

  27. rufus said...
    I remember I rolled my eyes when they bought Radio City Music Hall, and then I laughed till I cried when they bought Pebble Beach. I thought, "Man, this is going to be good."

    And it was.

    I still get teary-eyed thinking about it.

    dont forget Houston and the primo areas of our great state HI...

  28. Budget Fun with Freddie and Fannie

    But wait, you say! What about the cost of all the Fannie/Freddie debt that the Federal Reserve System has bought up in the last year? What about the cost of all the banks that the FDIC has taken over?
    You are right:
    The costs will be substantial.

    But they aren't budget costs. They aren't appropriations. They are insidious costs that will diffuse through the economy as inflation and as increased banking fees.

    How do you explain that in a campaign commercial?

  29. We've had trainers and advisers in Pakistan for a long time - longer than the GWOT.

    They are not counted as "troops" because they cannot take part in offensive operations.

    There are others there, who also are not counted as "troops", whom the PakGov would have an actually somewhat uncomfortable time explaining.

    These guys, God rest 'em, weren't those guys.

  30. ADP is expecting another Negative Jobs number friday.

  31. OT

    Sea-Based Radar Blamed as GMD Test Ends in Failure
    By Warren Ferster

    WASHINGTON — A test of the U.S. territorial missile defense system ended in failure because the sea-based cuing radar for the interceptor did not perform as planned, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announced Jan. 31.

    The Jan. 31 test was the first of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system in which the Sea-Based X-band radar was the primary source of tracking and targeting information, MDA spokesman Rick Lehner said Feb. 1. “It was the only radar used in the test,” he said.

    Previous tests of the GMD system have relied primarily on other radar tracking assets, such as the very high frequency radar at Beale Air Force Base in California. Lehner said the X-band radar is a more precise cuing tool for missile interceptors.

    Both the target missile and the GMD interceptor performed as intended after launch, the MDA said.

    Lehner was unable to say at what point during the test the Sea-Based X-band radar failed. The ocean-going radar, built by Raytheon Co. under subcontract to GMD prime contractor Boeing Co., was in the South Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii for the test. The radar dome rests on a modified, self-propelled oil-drilling platform. The target missile was launched from the U.S. Army’s Reagan Test Site on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific, and the GMD interceptor took off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The intercept was supposed to have occurred high in the sky somewhere above the vicinity of the radar, Lehner said.

    In addition to being the first to rely on the Sea-Based X-band radar for cuing data, the Jan. 31 test was the first in which the target was launched from Kwajalein, Lehner said. In addition, the GMD interceptor was topped with an advanced version of the Raytheon-built Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle that was flying for the first time, he said.

    Lehner said the marginal cost of a GMD intercept test typically runs between $120 million and $125 million, which includes test preparations, data analysis and the hardware.

    The MDA is establishing a failure review board to investigate what went wrong. It likely will be weeks before the initial results of the investigation are in, Lehner said.

  32. Back in the days of the demise of the Japan Inc Bubble here, Whitey scooped (back) up properties at fire sale prices.

    Today, wife just reminded me that the Renaissance Hotel in Wailea has sat empty for 3 years.

    ...owned by a giant, the name of which, senior moment precludes disclosing.

  33. Baccarat Wailea

    ...Google enables the Doug to upstage the wife's on the ground report!

    Just don't understand why it took STARDUST to get this going.

    (Stardust being my missing senior moment)

  34. ...Stardust so long to get started.

    That link says it's only been a little over a year.

  35. Taking bets on just how much longer the beleaguered and embattled New Boss will occupy his position.

    Additionally: An organization created for the right reason, but very poorly begun, will not survive in its current form and may in fact end up serving other purposes.

  36. Wife says no renovation is occurring:
    Property is derelict.

  37. "Taking bets on just how much longer the beleaguered and embattled New Boss will occupy his position."
    Who dat?
    Other purposes?

  38. Doug cited American Thinker:

    "But wait, you say! What about the cost of all the Fannie/Freddie debt that the Federal Reserve System has bought up in the last year?"

    I tell ya, that American Thinker stuff is pretty darn bad. I don't think I've seen a single thing that has been any good out of that blog.

    Take the case of the 'cost' of these Mortgage backed securities - what is the cost to the Fed to holding them? In fact they should be spinning off money to the fed.

    Take a look at what happened in a simplified form - Mortgage backed securities tanked and the Fed bought them from the banks. The cost? well they printed money and bought them thus injecting cash into the banking system. Now they sit on the feds balance sheet and, believe it or not, some people still pay their mortgages. If things get overheated the plan is to sell the securities back to the banks thus sopping up some of that excess cash floating about the system. Now the banks don't appear to be lending much of this money out (too much risk) so they've shored up their capital and spun some profits out of proprietary trading...

  39. DNI.

    Talents misapplied, I think.

    Other purposes: Organizations are reinvented, from within or without or both. Mission ends up being different than that which supplied its original reason for being. Or the whole thing just goes tits-up.

  40. Not that all is chaos over there...


    I believe the gentle term is "growing pains."

  41. Demand for gasoline, and diesel in the U.S. has fallen off a cliff, again. I don't think demand (8.6 million barrels/gasoline/day) has been this low since oil was on its way to $35.00.

  42. SO?

    Gasoline is UP $0.02.

  43. After being Up eight or nine cents, yesterday.

  44. Here is my list of top Hamas (and a couple Islamic Jihadis) Scum, next in line for early graduation...

    I only hope they drown in pig fat as they perish...

    Jamila Shanti, female member of the Hamas political bureau and Palestinian lawmaker;
    Muhammad Deif, former supreme commander of Hamas until he was badly injured in a previous Israel attack;
    Ahmad Jabry, "chief of staff" of Hamas' combat arm, the Ezz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades;
    Marwan Issa, Jabry's deputy;
    Abu Khaled Hijazi, chief of the Haiman Judah squads in Gaza, Fatah activists to defected to Hamas-Gaza;
    Muhammad Harub, Jihad Islami, who was targeted twice for assassination by Israel;
    Abu Al Montaseir Omar, head of Hamas military planning (strategy) department;
    Abu Qusai, another senior commander responsible for ex-Fatah combatants;
    Nader Jaber, Ezz a-Din al Qassam operations chief in the Gaza Strip;
    Khaled Mansour, Jihad Islami military commander in the Gaza Strip;
    Muhammad Sanwar, chief of Hamas forces in the central Gaza sector;
    Muhammad Abu Shemala, chief of Hamas forces in the South;
    Ahmad Randour, chief of Hamas forces in the North.

    this from Debka:
    Hamas security services Tuesday, Feb. 2, advised 13 jihad chiefs, including 2 Jihad Islamic commanders, that they are Israel's next targets for liquidation, after the death of Hamas weapons smuggler Mahmoud Makhbouh in Dubai on Jan. 19, DEBKAfile's counter-terror sources disclose.
    Our sources report that Hamas has never before known to compile of a list of potential targets because it risks giving away the identities off its highest-profile leaders. However, the extremist Palestinian organization appears to be in such a state of panic that it was driven to urgently caution its leaders that Israel has made all the arrangements for attacks on their lives some time soon.
    DEBKAfile has obtained the full list of the operatives Hamas believes are targeted for assassination:

  45. Indeed, gag

    I won't be wronged. I won't be insulted. I won't be laid a-hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.

  46. Waiting for Darth to speak up on DODT.

  47. Gates needs next year's budget, guy, to get 'er done.

  48. Seeing the first minute of "The Shootist" with Ron Howard narrating is worth the price of admission.

  49. I am sure it is on YouTube and would post it if I knew how, hint hint

  50. Thanks, Rat.

    Richard Boone played the MEANEST BASTARD in that movie.

  51. I'm your huckleberry part 1

    I', your huckleberry part 2

  52. Obviously an import, but seemingly knowledgeable, and for real, as many others have mention "groups" buying for all-cash @ ridiculous give away prices.
    Methinks much skulldougery continues to occur.
    ...Ruf will say they are doing it all for us.
    Gotta love our leaders!
    Esp The Won.

    Comment by ET
    February 3rd, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Very good article to the public. However, it is not good enough for me, some one like me watching the situation very closely, to say “excellent.”
    I have been working on distressed real estate market since 1991. The worst foreclousure happen in California was 1996 when the record showed about 64,000 cases in a quarter. Back then, housing dropped so quickly as a rocket. I bought a condo for $58,000 compared to $190,000 sold at the time as new construction built in 1991. But now look around, where we can see the BIG discount in the same city and its sourrounding areas.
    About a year ago, a 1 bedroom 1 bathroom condo was listed for about $180,000, and now the similar condo in the same complex was listed yesterday for $319,000. A year ago, a smiliar single house was listed generally for $250-289.000. Now they ask for $340,000-389,000. In this area, almost everything is going up dramatically. Where is the area located? Go Check “Diamond Bar” for the condo.
    Yesterday MNBC put a video out inviting some experts like Truila’s CEO expressing their opinipons on the current real estate market. One thing they seem agreed upon is “low end real estate is stabilized.” Yes, it seems very true from my observations on some Western cities. But look more deeply. It is not a true picture.
    Why? I happened to present my offers to buy some those properties. I even had a chance to open an escrow. There are something bothered me so much. Could you be kind to look into some cases and tell me what is going on. For example, it seems some banks are not holding their REO inventory. Instead they sold those properties to some group, maybe it is called “whole sale,” for a dire cheap price. I witnessed so many cases like bankers are doing its “short sale” to easily take advantages that a home owner has difficulty to get. For example, one REO was foreclosed for $240,000 (countrywide loan made in 2006) and it was sold to “E” investment group through Chase for $17,000. Are those bankers holding the bag ad take a huge loss?
    NO is my answer; but I don’t want to speculate on the issue at this moment unless DHB can point out some lights for me.
    All I can say is the whole system help banks and the only victim is American average taxpayer JOE.

  53. Doesn't get much better than that.

  54. A black professor friend's wife just about kicked us out of their house when I said The Shootist was a pretty good flick.

    Was John Wayne the grand wizard of all wizards or something?

  55. Pakistani Scientist Guilty of Attempted Murder

    A neuroscientist was convicted of attempted murder for shooting U.S. soldiers and F.B.I. agents in Afghanistan.

  56. I'm starting to think I'm becoming an "End Times" believer!

    Special Olympics does NOT accept Rahm apology...
    Transportation Sec. Made 'Misstatement' After Telling TOYOTA Owners To 'Stop Driving'...
    PAPER: Tiger Woods slated to 'make a shock return' to upcoming golf tournament...
    Bernanke at Swearing-In Says Federal Reserve Faces 'Enormous Challenges'...


    Ingraham has a sound byte of Dingy Harry blowing his stack over that one.

    Will our man from Searchlight KO The Won?

  58. FBI: Unruly passenger blames medical pot cookies...

  59. The older Indian guy is Russell Means, one of the original founders of ARM. Remember those boys? Tried to take over Mt. Rushmore I believe.

  60. That is fucking awesome.

    I love to shred paper it relaxes me. That would be the cure all.

  61. This weekend’s newspapers were filled with stories about how the United States is providing ballistic missile defense (BMD) to four countries on the Arabian Peninsula. The New York Times carried a front-page story on the United States providing anti-missile defenses to Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman, as well as stationing BMD-capable, Aegis-equipped warships in the Persian Gulf.


    U.S. President Barack Obama spent little time on foreign policy in his Jan. 27 State of the Union message, though he did make a short, sharp reference to Iran. He promised a strong response to Tehran if it continued its present course; though this could have been pro forma, it seemed quite pointed.


    It is also important to remember that Israel is much less dependent on the United States than it was in 1973. Though U.S. aid to Israel continues, it is now a much smaller percentage of Israeli gross domestic product.

    Buildup in the Gulf

  62. President Barack Obama says he will be much tougher with China to make sure it opens its markets to trade with the US.


    At a meeting with Senate Democrats, Mr Obama was asked whether the US would cut ties with Beijing over ongoing trade disputes.


    The BBC's Imtiaz Tyab in Washington says the president did not specifically mention the Chinese yuan, but the US has long pushed for Beijing to let its currency appreciate in value.

    US-China Trade

  63. Actually, in his answer to Specter, Obama did reference "currency imbalances."

  64. Sorry, that's correct. Obama didn't specifically reference the Yuan; but, since it was an answer to a question about China I assumed he was talking about the Yuan.

  65. Since Ahmadinejad rose to power, the Iranian leadership has greatly increased its intervention in everyday life. Ahmadinejad has replaced the government bureaucrats with his own people from the provinces and the countryside.

    His control over the administration is stronger than ever, which probably stirs even more resistance. The Iranians have already proved their ability to overthrow tyranny.

    Women are a rising force in society and perhaps the word will come from them. "Cherchez la femme," the diplomat said in French.

    Must not Strike Iran