“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."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Disaster for the Polish People

Polish President Lech Kaczynski and scores of others are believed to have been killed in a plane crash in Russia.
Officials in the Smolensk region said no-one had survived after the plane apparently hit trees as it came in for landing in thick fog.

Several other government figures, including the army chief of staff, were also thought to have been on board.
They were in Russia to mark the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre, when the Soviets killed thousands of Poles.

The BBC's Adam Easton in Warsaw says the crash is a catastrophe for the Polish people.

He says Prime Minister Donald Tusk was reportedly in tears when he was told.

Plane 'hit trees'

The Russian emergencies ministry told Itar-Tass news agency the plane crashed at 1056 Moscow time (0656 GMT).

Ministry spokeswoman Irina Andrianova said it had been flying from Moscow to Smolensk, but had no details on the identities of those killed.

Smolensk regional governor Sergei Antufiev told Russian TV that no-one had survived.

"As it was preparing for landing, the Polish president's aircraft did not make it to the landing strip," he said.
"According to preliminary reports, it got caught up in the tops of trees, fell to the ground and broke up into pieces. There are no survivors in that crash.

"We are clarifying how many people there were in the [Polish] delegation. According to preliminary reports, 85 members of the delegation and the crew."

Russian investigators said there were a total of 132 people on the plane.

Controversial figure

The president was flying in a Tupolev 154, a plane that was designed in the 1960s and capable of carrying more than 100 passengers.

Our correspondent says there had been calls for Polish leaders to upgrade their planes.

As well as the president and his wife, Maria, a number of senior officials were also said to be on the passenger list.

They included the army chief of staff Gen Franciszek Gagor, central bank governor Slawomir Skrzypek and deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Kremer.

Mr Kaczynski has been a controversial figure in Polish politics, advocating a right-wing Catholic agenda.

He has opposed rapid free-market reforms and favoured retaining social welfare programmes.


  1. The high level Polish delegation was on its way to a memorial service for the victims of the Soviet massacre of thousands of Polish military officers at Katyn, near the villages of Katyn and Gnezdovo, 19 km west of Smolensk, Russia.

  2. ... advocating a right-wing Catholic agenda.

    He has opposed rapid free-market reforms and favoured retaining social welfare programmes.

    Not that much of a disaster, just another Socialist biting the dust, while kowtowing to the Russians.

  3. A Polish delegation going to memorialize the burial site of thousands of massacred Polish military officers, who were murdered by the Russians because thet were fighting the Soviet Communist invaders of their country, and your observation is that the delegation was kowtowing to the Russians?

  4. Here is a partial list of the dead:

    * Lech Kaczyñski, the President of Poland
    * Maria Kaczyñska, the first lady
    * Ryszard Kaczorowski, the last President of the Polish government-in-exile
    * Jerzy Szmajdziñski, Deputy Speaker of the Sejm
    * W³adys³aw Stasiak, Chief of the Office of the President of the Republic of Poland
    * Aleksander Szczyg³o, head of the National Security Bureau
    * Pawe³ Wypych, Secretary of State in the Office of the President of the Republic of Poland
    * Mariusz Handzlik, Undersecretary of State in the Office of the President of the Republic of Poland
    * Andrzej Kremer, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
    * General Franciszek G¹gor, Chief of the Polish Army General Staff
    * Andrzej PrzewoŸnik, Secretary-General of Rada Ochrony Pamiêci Walk i Mêczeñstwa
    * Grzegorz Dolniak, member of the Sejm
    * Przemys³aw Gosiewski, member of the Sejm
    * Zbigniew Wassermann, member of the Sejm
    * Janusz Kochanowski, Polish Ombudsman
    * S³awomir Skrzypek, President of the National Bank of Poland
    * Janusz Kurtyka, Historian and president of the Institute of National Remembrance
    * Tadeusz P³oski, Bishop of the Military Ordinariate of the Polish Army
    * Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka, member of the Sejm
    * Jolanta Szymanek-Deresz, member of the Sejm
    * Aleksandra Natalli-Œwiat, member of the Sejm

    Gen. Bronislaw Kwiatkowski (Commander Operations)
    Gen. Andrew Blasik (Air Force Commander in Chief)
    Gen. Tadeusz Buk (Commander of Land Forces)
    Gen. Wojciech Potasinski (Commander of Special Forces)
    Vice Admiral Andrzej Karweta (Commander in Chief of the Polish Navy)
    Gen. Casimir Gilarski (Commander, Training)

  5. Sure, as much as Obama has kowtowed to the Sauds and Charlie Chi-coms.

    Just going, is an admission that the Russians have been forgiven, for their treacheries against and long domination of the Poles.

    The visit was political and for the living. The dead, those in mass graves for over 70 years, they care little about who visited the site, and can do less.

    I merely applied the EB Standard that is used to judge US and our President, to the Poles.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. All those important Polish officials, they were going to cut new deals, in the wake of the US abandoning the "missile shield" deployment.

    Let's get real about the purpose of international delegations. There are cover stories, back stories and the real deal. The Polish President and his delegation, committed Socialists by the news report, were going to strengthen their ties to Ivan.

    Better for US that they did not succeed.

  8. The Polish people will automatically assume that the Russians are responsible, and will immediately elect the most rabidly anti-Russian candidate available.

  9. And that,
    if rufus is correct,
    is a "Good Thing".

    For US.

  10. A Russian official urged the interim Kyrgyzstan Government to shut the US air base in Manas this week. Russia is suspected in having a hand in the unrest in the Central Asian nation this week after pro-Russian opposition forces took over the government. Vlad Putin was the first world leader to recognize the opposition as the legitimate government following the bloody street battles.

    Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama - The Russians must think they've died and gone to Heaven.

  11. How's them "logistics" looking in Afghanistan, now?

  12. Just a little more hopey, changey, eh?

  13. Hmm, I wonder who's been talking about Navy gets Advanced PORTABLE Biodiesel Production System.

    The new system, named ARIES (Automated Real-time, Remote, Integrated Energy System), is a highly automated, transportable biodiesel production unit that can be controlled from a remote location. These features ensure reliable process control and optimal production yields in a sustainable system that can be readily and widely deployed.

    It goes on to add that it can use a Variety of feedstocks like (I'm assuming) Poppies.

  14. My condolences to the Polish people.

    On a broader front though, From Drudge:
    Just a month ago, according to AAA Chicago, unleaded regular averaged $2.86 a gallon in the Chicago area.

    Last week, it was $3.02.

    Now, it's $3.08 and many predict it's heading higher; much higher.

    Daniel Flynn, energy trader at PFG Best Research, was asked just how high the gas prices might go.

    "That's the good question," said Flynn. "I've heard as high as $4 a gallon. Some analysts are saying $4."

    What's going on? Reports that the economy is heating up – with growing consumer spending, higher retail sales and higher auto sales – has speculators betting on higher energy prices, too.

    When the economy grows, so does demand for oil. But pushing energy prices too high could backfire.

    "The last thing we want to see is higher energy prices at this time," said Flynn, because it can impact the rest of the economy negatively.

    "I'm not happy with it," grumbled motorist Don Davis as he filled up. "I think it's gonna kill our recovery."

    Rufus and I concur with Don. Rufus has been an unfailing advocate for ethanol and after our experience with the most recent and crippling oil spike, I am at a loss as to why we haven't seen more of a concerted, expedited effort towards energy independence. The US is in a precarious situation with a transportation infrastructure developed primarily for the automobile and trucking. We have ignored the wakeup calls re: energy and our oil dependence. Now, there is a renewed interest in transit but will we have the money to reorient the way we travel?

  15. I have noticed a growing call for austerity and tax increases. Most often those advocating these positions come from the left side of the economic spectrum, i.e. the big government, demand-side Keynesians. Some of them argue that the public is saddled with debt and without massive government investment in infrastructure, the economy will remain 'dead in the water.' Given the existing debt, that spending, they say, will require tax increases. The left thinks that it can soak the rich but I think we will all pay dearly.

  16. Oil Reality Check - It's Going Higher - Forbes

    In the recent political sturm und drang, energy and oil in particular have moved off of center stage, but before this fall's mid-term elections oil will move back into the spotlight at or likely beyond the transformational $100 per barrel price. Well before the next presidential election cycle, oil markets will almost certainly test new highs, set last time in July 2008 at a heretofore peak of $147 a barrel.

    Another former Cornucopian accepts Reality.

  17. I spoke with two friends from different parts of Poland this morning. The rumor is that the Russians are behind this.

    Neither knows the other.

  18. Oh yeah, baby, spiking oil prices between now and next November will liven the debate and could result in sweeping changes in D.C.

    Woe unto those who cost the American consumer!

  19. Of course the Poles will think the Russians are behind the crash. That was my first reaction, too. Whether our suspicions are justified or not, the Russians have themselves to blame. After all, anyone who still trusts Putin is naive or a fool.

    I heard the other day that the average lifespan for a Russian male is about 57 years due to alcohol and now a growing menace of heroin addiction.

  20. Hiring someone today comes with very heavy burdens from government regulations and taxes, lawsuits and an increasingly difficult process in dismissal.

    I would do everything possible to not take on a new hire. I would be very wary of anyone that had worked for any union or large corporation.

  21. I believe my caution is shared by most businessmen.

  22. We "stalled out" in our move toward ethanol for a variety of reasons (recession bringing gasoline prices down to reasonable levels being one,) but the main reason is a Brilliant, and unbelievably ferocious campaign from Big Oil, and the Food Processors (they loved that Subsidized $2.00 Corn.)

    I wrote years ago that Big Oil's attack would come from the oblique. That they would finance phony "studies," and get them published in "scientific" journals (that they also finance.) That they would use "Eco-Whackjob" Groups (that they, also, finance.)

    That they would use Fox News (15% owned by Saudi Prince Dickweed - or however you spell his stinking name,) and that, due to their Billions, the hits would just keep coming.

    They did.

  23. However, when you're on the "wrong side of history," you're on the wrong side of history.

    E85 is selling for $1.89 in Iowa (and, it could be profitably sold there for $0.35 less, and could be profitably sold for $1.99 with absolutely No Subsidies anywhere in the Supply Chain.

    Novozymes, Dupont-Danisco, and Poet all say that they can, now, produce ethanol from corn cobs and switchgrass for $2.00 (again, with NO subsidies.)

    And, that's using No Fossil Fuel inputs into the process.

    We're in for a rough few years, but there IS now light at the end of the tunnel.

    As I said, "When you're on the Wrong Side of History, you're on the Wrong Side of History."

  24. I'm seeing those 'green shoots' in the economy as new businesses open, people are spending more, GE has a four week backlog on a particular dishwasher, home sales are looking better. Oil prices over $100 per barrel will be like Round-Up on those little green shoots. Our car culture, which I love, is not sustainable on an economy of high priced oil.

    On the other hand, we'll stop driving, more of us will get on the bus and hopefully oil prices will settle back down. Unfortunately, like yo-yo dieting, it will be harder to bring the prices down and if we relax our vigilance the next oil spike will be even worse.

    Big issues of the next election cycle will be alternative fuels, domestic drilling and nuclear energy.

  25. I believe my caution is shared by most businessmen.

    I got out of the "employee business" years ago. Social Security contributions, unemployment compensation, Workers Comp. Those are the hidden taxes on business.

  26. The Global Oil Business is, approx., a $4 Trillion/Yr Business. The Political Power of such a business is Unfathomable.

    They know it will take way too long to make much of a dent if we rely on "electric" cars. The downside risk to the oil companies' goal of becoming a $10 Trillion, or greater, business is Ethanol.

    Expect disappointments.

    Then, eventually, Victory.

  27. whit noted:

    "a growing menace of heroin addiction."

    And much of that heroin originates in....

    ...afghanistan. The Russians are NOT happy about that!

  28. They must not be "too" unhappy about it. They're trying to screw up our effort, there, by getting us kicked out of our base in kajicklestan.

  29. Let's see how the NATO alliance holds together during a prolonged economic downturn.

    Maybe Obama has stepped up operations in the nether reaches because he doesn't intend to stay long in South Asia. At least not with the current footprint.

  30. "...and could be profitably sold for $1.99 with absolutely No Subsidies anywhere in the Supply Chain."

    Sounds good to me. Let's get rid of the subsidies.


  31. According the CQ Press New Hampshire, the "Live Free or Die" state, the state that scandalized liberals because Tea Partiers were carrying around guns at their rallies, has been designated the safest state in the US based on major crime sttistic data for the third year in a row.


  32. Q, I would, actually, be ok with getting rid of 98% of the subsidies for corn ethanol.

    We still need the subsidies for the nascent "cellulosic" ethanol business, if for no other reason than to help with attracting investment. They wouldn't come out to much, though.

    The best thing, though, would be to get rid of the subsidies in the form of "tax credits" for oil company profits filed in Bermuda, and Qutar. That would probably net the Treasury on the order of $100 Billion, at least.

  33. 98% of the ethanol subsidies go to the oil companies for blending E10. It doesn't go to the farmer, or to the biorefinery.

    Of course, the price of a gallon of E10 would go up $0.05, but then, at least, you wouldn't be "subsidizing" ethanol. Right?

  34. Q, where does Vermont come in on that list? They have, absolutely, NO gun laws, whatsoever.

  35. I should have posted the link. It was on the 15 safest states.

    Vermont was in there near the top.


  36. "We still need the subsidies for the nascent "cellulosic" ethanol business,...

    Oh, then your previous post should have read "...and could be profitably sold for $1.99 with absolutely No Subsidies anywhere in the Supply Chain, BUT..."


  37. No, Q, it's not even being produced for sale, yet. They're doing smaller quantities (up to 100,000 gallons/yr, and using them for auto racing, promotions, more research, etc.

    Every now, and then, Iogen, or someone, will have a 1 week pump "promotion" selling "gas from grass," or whatnot.

    All the ethanol you're getting at the pump, now, is from corn.

  38. We're producing, and using, about 12.5 Billion Gallons of Corn Ethanol/yr at present. It comprises about 9% of the stuff in your tank (on average.)

  39. Let's not start one up tonight Ruf. It's late and your neighbors would probably be pissed if you were out there washing your car again.


  40. Don't start no shit, won't be no shit. :)

  41. A couple of headlines from this week's The Onion

    Post Office Extends Hours To 3 A.M. To Attract Late-Night Bar Crowd

    Pope Vows To Get Church Pedophilia Down To Acceptable Levels