“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."

Friday, April 02, 2010

Obama on talk radio

Talk radio and conservative blogs are the best friends Republicans have. It would be logical for the Democrats to do everything possible to throttle conservative media. So far they have not.


From the Wall Street Journal

USA Today reports that even Democrats can only give thanks that elections aren't in April:

"If the election were now, we'd have a 'change' election; we'd have a 1994," says Stan Greenberg, pollster for President Bill Clinton when Democrats lost control of the House and Senate that year. Greenberg questions whether Republicans will be in a position to capitalize on voter discontent. . . .
By Election Day, developments on jobs, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and other events could reshape the political landscape.
"I believe that if we begin to see positive job growth, people's confidence will return, and that will change the dynamic," says Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. But, he says, "the Democrats obviously face an uphill climb. The question is the steepness of the hill."
An interesting little chart shows "congressional vote preference" for the past six midterm-election years:

• 1994: Republican 47%, Democrat 46%
• 1998: Republican 45%, Democrat 46%
• 2002: Republican 46%, Democrat 46%
• 2006: Republican 39%, Democrat 55%
• 2010: Republican 46%, Democrat 45%

The two parties are now within 1% of each other, as they were in 1994, 1998 and 2002--all years when the GOP won a House majority. (Republicans outperform these numbers most likely because Gallup polls all adults, who tend to be more Democratic than actual voters.) It is of course true that lots could happen between now and November, but it's hard to see how anyone could deny that Democrats have put themselves in political peril by focusing on an imaginary health-care crisis at the expense of more urgent matters.


  1. There are plenty on the left led by propagandists such as Frank Rich who would like the administration to do more to silence the right. If you have noticed, the right has been demonized as bigots, racist, thuggish, and dangerous. If we're not careful, the minority in the left will convince the powers that be to take action against talk radio, blogs and the more vocal members of the right. If the propagandists can make a case, supporters can advance the Fairness Doctrine but there are one or two more major pieces of legislation to advance first.

    It will be interesting to see how the Internal Revenue Service is used (misused) in the next three to eight years. 16,000 additional IRS agents is not reassuring.

  2. whit,

    There has been some of that here, as you have noticed.

    Reasonable men may reasonably disagree; however, the use of profanity and ad homonim does not fall within the standard of "reasonable".

    Desperation leads to this agitprop. That is a good sign, because violence is always the last refuge of the incompetent.

  3. Federal City is in bloom. It is just fucking gorgeous here in the Capitol of the Free World. You heard me. Capitol. Free World.

    I spent a not inconsiderable amount of time to-ing and fro-ing on the GW Parkway this week and I tell you what: a more pleasant stretch of pavement there exists nowhere. (This is verifiably true, so don't bother contradicting me.) I've come to think of it with much endearment as an extension of my own driveway. I've a mind to park myself on the median holding a sign, to wit: Smile, dammit. You are the most fortunate fucking people on the planet.

    Melody's right, of course. Geopolitics - any politics really - will eat you alive if you've a mind to let it. Not like everyone at the Bar doesn't already know that.

    We're taking the dogs camping in the Blue Ridge this weekend. We've been waiting what seems like a very looooong time for this.

    Apropos nothing: I was wondering how Keith Dayton picked up his current gig. He was the DATT in Tel Aviv, that's how.

    Happy Friday.

    (Jesus pops out of his hole on Sunday. If he sees his shadow, it's one more year of the same old shit. So let me add a Happy Sunday to all and sundry, too.)

  4. And just think of rufus as the resident gray troll, Linear.

    Every blog needs one.

  5. Fear of the power of the Federal government when controlled by the loyal opposition permeates, even when there is no evidence of malfeasance.

    The "right" fears the abusive power of the Federals to shred the 1st or 2nd Amendment of our Constitution. It is written abut, extensively. There is, of course, no evidence that the Democrats or the "left" are advancing legislation or enacting Executive Orders to fulfill these fears.

    There is little, nay, no concern that the Federals, under the previous Republican administration DID SHRED the 4th Amendment.

    As Quirk posted a link to, yesterday.

    Obviously it begs the question, are some Amendments in the Bill of Rights more important to the "right" than other Amendments?

    Even the most "conservative" of the Federal Socialists refuse to advance the 10th Amendment.

    Indeed the entire Federal Socialist establishment in DC ignores it.

  6. And all the those arms borne by citizens of the United States, they will not get the 10th Amendment taken seriously.

  7. Gray Beard, maybe.

  8. The one living under the bridge, rufus.

  9. Selling those VA prescriptions, one assumes.

  10. Ain't selling MY prescriptions. Not much of an "Under-the-Bridge" Market for Simvastatin, anyway, I guess.

  11. Looks like we might have a nice Easter Weekend down here in the Midsouth this weekend. Looking forward to that.

    Might even crawl up On Top of the Bridge for a bit.

  12. Fabulous, as normal, here.
    Got us a little cooling spell going, high 60's to low 70's for the next few days. Some clouds, a hint of rain in the mornings.

    But really, just a nice day to work on the pool and the backyard.

  13. Don't know why it happened that way, but the only times I've ever passed through Phoenix was in July, and August. Seemed like just about the hottest place on earth. Dumb timing, I suppose.

    We had a crappy spring in the mid-south last year. Rained every day, it seemed. This year is starting off better.

  14. The summer sucks, rufus.

    In July, it is really hot.
    Cook an egg on the sidewalk kinda hot.

    August, it gets humid. The unbearable index inches even higher.

    Which is why a home on the mountain is an important asset for a desert dweller.

  15. Ford, and Chevy sold a few cars last month, and we got a little private sector job growth. It' a start. I've heard rumors that "tax collections" were picking up in Mar, also. That's important, because as soon as the Gumint quits borrowing so much money, the banks will have to start looking around for places to put their money to work in the private sector.

    We're still a few months away from "real" growth (despite what the GDP reports say.)

  16. Down here we just look for a fishin hole, and a shade tree. :)

  17. Course, sometimes you get a little breeze blowin underneath those underpasses. Concrete's kinda hard on the butt, though.

  18. Hmm, it looks like even AIG is going to pay us back.

    Good news; they were the "dicey" one. Them, and Chrysler.

  19. A gray troll is a surreptitious agent of influence.

    Once upon a time, on a blog far, far away, Trish herself was assumed to be just such one.

    Which alternately titillated and infuriated her no end.

  20. GM's going to "take a while," but they're looking pretty good, too.

  21. There ARE people who, quite literally, do it for a living.

  22. Rufus is syruptitious?

    Does that have something to do with "pancakes?"

  23. My check must have got lost in the mail. I wonder how much I should be making for trolling the Elephant Bar?

  24. I smells "Opportunity."

  25. Obama's Wiretap Problem

    "The administration does not yet have to make any decision about what to do about the case because the judge, Vaughn Walker, has not yet entered a final order. He has given the plaintiffs until April 16 to decide whether to drop other claims and to submit a proposal for damages the government owes them."

    "But if the ruling stands, the Obama administration will have to decide whether to appeal it — thereby trying to wipe the decision off the books...

    "There are some reasons that the administration might appeal, legal specialists said. Among them, it may not want Judge Walker’s narrow interpretation of the state secrets privilege to stand because it might influence other cases, and appealing on those narrow grounds would allow the administration to still avoid engaging on whether the program was legal...

    "In addition, the administration may fear political attacks from the right if it agrees to pay damages to the plaintiffs, which include an Islamic charity in Oregon, Al Haramain, which the government has said had links to Al Qaeda. (The charity is defunct and its assets are frozen, however.)

    "But several legal specialists said that the administration may instead want to let the ruling stand. That would terminate a case that has been a political headache for the administration since the month after Mr. Obama took office, when the Justice Department’s decision to keep pressing forward with the Bush administration’s assertion of the state secrets privilege in the matter created an uproar among liberals..."

    Warrantless Wire-Tapping of Citizens Ruled Illegal

    What to do? What to do?


  26. "Which alternately titillated and infuriated her no end."

    Know what you mean. She has the same effect on some of us.



  27. Mmmmmmmm...pancakes.

    I've been planning the menu for the weekend and I've decided on cheese omelets - lovely cheese omelets - for Sunday morning. And turkey bacon. Because we must make some pretense to virtue with every indulgence.

    I love camp cooking.

    Were the husband left entirely to his own devices, he'd go with a simple, "nutritious" roof shingle.

    I just don't do roof shingles.

  28. From the NYT regarding Obama's HC speech in Ma.

    "Mr. Obama said that his health care program would help struggling small businesses through a tax credit for providing insurance. Under the program, small businesses and nonprofit groups can claim a credit for up to 35 percent of the cost of premiums they pay to cover workers, increasing to 50 percent in 2014."

    Ignoring the fact that the credits only go to the smallest of small businesses not to the ones that will eventually have to do the hiring if we are to get out of the mess we are in.


  29. What to do? What to do?

    - Quirk

    What to do when you need to put your hands on some no-dicking-around bad guys?

    It's a consuming question. And the solution, as always, requires the herding of many cats to get 'er done.

  30. Trish, you must be one Awesome wife. Anyone who can get a man to eat "turkey" bacon (what the hell ever THAT is) must have "attributes" of legendary measure.

  31. Dubya did what he had to do (and, what the American people expected him to do,) and the next President that finds himself in a similar situation will do the same.

  32. Once again, we disagree Rufus.

    Breaking the law when it comes to screwing your own citizens is BS.

    I say the same about the Israeli's if in fact they screwed over their citizens by stealing their passports.

    That's just on principle and the constitution.

    It doesn't even touch on the incompetence of the FEDS. They got by on this for a long time by using the national security card so that no one could bring it to court because no defendant could prove they were being wire-tapped and thus get standing.

    Then the feds turn around and mistakenly send the plaintiffs a document proving their case. Morons.

    Not to mention that at the height of the Bush push the FBI and other agencies were complaining that the NSA was inundating them with hundreds of thousands of pieces raw data in a CYA effort to move the shit along thus complicating and slowing down real efforts to get at the terrorists.

    We saw the same thing happen with the Christmas bomber. Lots of data. No one putting it together.

    I can't understand anyone who is willing to give up their basic rights as US citizens in exchange for a promise to be protected by these guys.

    I don't get it.


  33. From MMI

    "The Green Giant collapsed and died yesterday from a clorophyll overdose. He was 62.

    The body was found this morning occupying parts of seven counties in northern California and southern Oregon. The impact measured 8.5 on the Richter scale and was felt as far away as Ohio.

    Observers at the scene believe that as many as 4000 victims may be trapped beneath the Green Giant's body. Health officials say that unless the huge rotting hulk is removed soon, a massive epidemic could result.

    He is survived by a nephew, the little green sprout."


  34. "It's a consuming question. And the solution, as always, requires the herding of many cats to get 'er done."

    Know what you mean. She has the same effect on some of us.



  35. I'm looking at it in the context of the 9-11 attacks, Q. The National mood was one of fear, and uncertainty. Remember, how mad everyone was at Jaime Gorelick, and the failure to look at Moussawi's computer?

    The "people" were demanding "Action." No one really doubted that the wiretaps were aimed at furriners, and potential terrorists.

    The "Big Picture" is always so much easier to see in retrospect.

  36. Abraham Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus. Was he wrong? FDR quarantined citizens of Japanes Descent. Was he wrong?

    Governing is hard. Monday morning quarterbacking is easy.

  37. Monday morning quarterbacking?

    I was against it then and I'm against it now.

    "Among the several cloudy appellatives which have been commonly employed as cloaks for misgovernment, there is none more conspicuous in this atmosphere of illusion than the word Order."

    Jeremy Bentham


  38. Regarding Lincoln and FDR, in my opinion, yeh, they were wrong.


  39. Turkey bacon should come with offsetting compensation,especially under a starlit sky.

  40. NYT is on message:

    Job Market Brightens as U.S. Payrolls Surge in March
    Starting to reverse the loss of 8 million jobs over two years, American employers took on 162,000 more workers in March.

  41. My point is: No "Law," or piece of paper will save you. Your only security is in an informed, and engaged citizenry. The two-year election cycle helps in this.

    The Constitution is the most remarkable document ever written, in my estimation. Yet, it ain't worth spit without citizen envolvement. That leads to the necessity for the 1st amendment, and, of course, The Ultimate Authority, the "Back-up" of it all,

    The Single most important words ever put on paper: THE SECOND AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

    As T so succinctly put it, "to make sure the gubmint remembers the rest of'em."

  42. Rat, asked the right question. Can we pick and choose which amendments we want, or when they are valid, and when we can put them aside for awhile?

    With regard to your last point,

    ""Remember, when seconds count . . . .
    the police are only minutes away."

    - Unknown


  43. ar-15

    yep that's a nice 2nd amendment tool....

  44. The (Inevitable) Suspect Emerges
    One week ago, the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan sank in the Yellow Sea after being ripped apart by a massive explosion. More than 40 members of the ship's crew remain unaccounted for and are presumed dead. Survivors said the blast split the warship in two sections; the stern sank almost immediately, producing most of the casualties. The forward section remain afloat for almost three hours, allowing more than 50 sailors to survive the disaster.

    In the hours after the Cheonan went down, both Seoul and Washington carefully avoided blaming North Korea. Never mind that the corvette exploded and sank near the disputed Northern Limit Line (the maritime extension of the Korean DMZ); or that ROK and North Korean ships have fought bloody engagements in those waters over the past decade. Officials in South Korea and the U.S. emphasized that it was too early to point fingers; assigning blame would come only after completion of a detailed investigation.

    While that inquiry is continuing, many in the ROK defense establishment believe the cause (and culprit) has already been established. A senior military official told the Chosun Ilbo newspaper there is a "60-70% percent chance the ship was hit by a North Korean torpedo before it went down." The official based his observation on indications that the Cheonan was fatally damaged by an external explosion, and not an internal mishap. He also suggested that a torpedo attack was considered more likely than a second possibility, that the corvette hit a mine left over from the Korean War.

    Buttressing the torpedo theory, a second government source told the paper that U.S. spy satellites detected the departure of a DPRK submarine from the base at Sagot "several days" before the Cheonan went down. The sub reportedly returned to port after the corvette was sunk. The North Korean naval facility is located about 50km from where the ROK vessel sank.

    Still, these reports do not represent a smoking gun (or torpedo). As South Korean and U.S. officials freely admit, North Korean subs sortie into the Yellow Sea on a recurring basis. At this point, there is no hard evidence that places any DPRK submarine or smaller submersible in proximity to the Cheonan when it sank.

    Additionally, some naval analysts believe the submarine scenario is unlikely because the Yellow Sea (in that area) is extremely shallow. However, that does not rule out a torpedo strike by a submarine operating on the surface, or a launch from a smaller submersible, which can remain submerged in very shallow waters. According to intelligence estimates, at least 20 North Korean submarines and other submersibles operate from Sagot.

    While forensic evidence has not produced conclusive proof of a DPRK torpedo or mine attack, the investigation seems to point toward that conclusion. And (as we noted in a previous post), that creates problems for the Obama Administration. The White House and its national security team have been reluctant to point fingers at Pyongyang.

    What will happen when the ROK government builds a case that North Korea was to blame, and demand revenge? Past administrations have been able to dissuade Seoul from taking military action, but in those days, South Korea was far weaker militarily, and more dependent on the U.S. for air, naval, intelligence and logistical support. Today, the ROK military is both modern and powerful, more than capable of launching a unilateral strike against Sagot, or other facilities in North Korea.

    Obviously, no one wants a resumption of the Korean War, but there is a growing sense in South Korea that Pyongyang must be punished, if it was responsible for the sinking of the Conan. Given that reality, Mr. Obama may find it impossible to convince Seoul to turn the other cheek and follow the standard, reactive protocol of strongly-worded diplomatic protests and marginally-effective sanctions.

  45. A Happy Easter to all...O, and Shabbat Shalom :)

    PS: After the hostilities, the SC did get around to finding some of Lincoln's actions unconstitutional...FDR had such a hard time with the Court that he tried to change its size.

  46. WiO,

    The South will turn the other cheek...sorry...No one is in the mood to take on the world's bad boys...Think Rhineland.

  47. there will be a tipping point...

    when it is reached?

    it will be a clusterfuck...

    remember the law of unintended consequences...

  48. It just occurred to me that I know the guy in Buenos Aires.


    Sparks flew the freed US hostages out of Bogota.

    Sparks has a buffalo head in his living room.

  49. Sparks can also tell the Colombia Story like almost no one else, and was doing so when almost no one else was.

    In addition to the buffalo head, there's something truly, sincerely to be said for that.

  50. The president, who can't lead an army of ants to a cookie in the middle of the road better start doing something about this economy. In order to conserve, I didn't buy my regular toothpaste, instead I bought a buy one get one free. Can I just tell you how much I hate foaming toothpaste. Grrr....

  51. foaming toothpaste...bad! :(


    Camp cooking...goood!

    Fresh cut hash brown potatoes with sunny side up fried eggs....that's good eatin'. (If you don't have grits)

  52. I've been meditating upon chi, to align my gastro/intestinal track with my spinal column, on the advice of Dr. Hoffman, from John Hopkins University, and going on up the head, meditating, in search of sartori. Alas, this has not helped yet, in the only thing I'm really searching for. I'm thinking bout getting a dog, to sleep at my feet.

  53. nothing better than beef bacon, fried eggs and potato pancakes while camping...

    hardy stuff

    will make you right with G-d

  54. lentils, and summer sausage

  55. It's only good if you cook all that fat on an open fire.