“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."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Just What is Obama's Expertise?

Two crises: Where's Obama?

If the White House doesn't step up soon on both the gulf oil spill and Arizona's anti-immigrant law, it risks economic woes in the gulf and loss of control of the immigration issue.

May 26, 2010|Tim Rutten LA Times

President Obama and his administration currently face two pollution problems — a physical one in the Gulf of Mexico, where oil continues to spew unchecked from a damaged well, and a political one involving immigration policy and originating in Arizona.

In both instances an exaggerated deference to process bordering on passivity risks creating an impression that the White House is running behind critical domestic events and, worse, detached — even indifferent — to the human toll of inaction.

With regard to the gulf oil well blowout, it's true that Obama inherited from previous administrations a vestigial regulatory system and an utter lack of contingency planning for such an emergency. It's also true that the federal government has to rely on the oil industry for technical expertise in these cases. At the same time, the White House has been exceptionally slow about demonstrating that it's using its legal authority to effectively monitor the pace and intensity of that technology's application. Occasional outbursts of tough talk in the Cabinet have been contradicted by Coast Guard officials, who insist British Petroleum is doing all it can.

Maybe, but there's a kind of slow-motion Hurricane Katrina washing up on the gulf shoreline, and the White House needs to show that it's actively assisting state officials on the ground and that it's already preparing to ameliorate the terrible environmental and economic losses that are about to pile up. Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore, who directed the most effective post-Katrina relief efforts, has suggested declaring a national disaster in the area and using the authority that comes with such a declaration to start hitting BP with daily fines. The money, he suggests, should go into a trust fund to pay compensation to those injured. Inaction on this front risks further public disenchantment; two weeks ago, polls showed that only a third disapproved of the administration's approach to the gulf spill; this week, more than half did. If Wednesday's effort by BP to cap the well fails and the company has to fall back on drilling relief wells, we could be looking at something worse than the 1979 explosion and blowout in Mexico's Bay of Campeche, which took nine months to halt with that technique.


  1. Obama's expertise is giving speeches to his base.

  2. US money supply plunges at 1930s pace as Obama eyes fresh stimulus

    "The plunge in M3 has no precedent since the Great Depression."

    "The White House request is a tacit admission that the economy is already losing thrust and may stall later this year as stimulus from the original $800bn package starts to fade."

    "Fiscal policy does not work. The US has just tried the biggest fiscal experiment in history and it has failed."

  3. We need (must have) Real Growth in the economy. For the kind of Growth we need we must have something close to "full employment." To get to full employment we Must fix our "balance of payments." We Must "Export" more, and import less.

    We can't possibly raise taxes enough to get to anywhere "Near" a balanced budget w/o full employment.

    Right now, China's got us cut off "at the pass." Europe's currency has fallen just like it should have. They will become "Much" more competitive against us in the "Value Added" part of the World Economy.

    A correctly functioning world economy would have China's currency appreciating rapidly to "balance out" the flow of capital. Their people would be able to import/consume more, and build up their standard of living, and their companies would start to sell more "dometically."

    With their peg this isn't happening. All the money is getting locked away in Chinese accounts. Eventually, this will cause a "Really F'in Major" Crisis.

    Don't get me wrong; we have to raise revenues, and cut some spending. That is a given. But, without some serious work on the balance of payments it won't be enough.

    The Worst that can happen is that we do Nothing. The "next to worst" is a 25% tariff on all Chinese goods. It would help an itty-bitty bit, but not nearly enough.

    The Best solution is if we can "bluff" the Chinese into letting the Yuan rise, "significantly."

  4. The military occupation of Gaza continues, unabated now for three years.

    The Associated Press
    Thursday, May 27, 2010; 8:03 AM

    JERUSALEM -- Israel has set up three huge white tents at its main southern seaport to hold hundreds of sea-borne pro-Palestinian activists hoping to breach Israel's 3-year-old blockade of the Gaza Strip.

    The activists are headed toward Gaza's waters on board a flotilla carrying 10,000 tons of supplies.

    Israel says it won't let the eight boats reach Gaza shores, and that it will deport or imprison the activists aboard.

    That military occupation, illegal under the Geneva Accords.
    As pronounced by George HW Bush, at the UN, in 1972.

    Nothing has fundementally changed, since.

  5. Saw Senator Coburn of KS, on the Starbucks show.

    He said that the Federal government, for the last 15 years, at least, has been incompetent.

    That the incompetency was bi-partisan.

    He's correct.

  6. LONDON, May 27 (Reuters) - The euro and European shares pushed higher on Thursday after China denied a report it was looking to cut its euro zone sovereign debt holdings.

    Crude oil prices rose above $72 a barrel on the back of advances in stock markets which bolstered positive sentiment from data the previous day showing a surge in U.S. demand.

    The euro - pressured by persistent uncertainty about the scale of the single currency zone's debt crisis - received badly needed support from the Chinese central bank, which said Europe remained a key investment market for its foreign exchange reserves.

    Traders said a report stating Kuwait was mulling reducing investments in the euro zone later knocked the euro off its highs.

  7. I wouldn't expect the Chinese to say anything that was going to knock down the value of the hundreds of billions of Euros worth of European Bonds they already own.

    Coburn from Oklahoma is just another bible-thunpin asshole.

    Chuckie Schumer is the most important Senator, right now. Maybe he, and Geithner, can get together, and scare the Chinese back to Jesus.

  8. I too think there is going to be a war, and the whole thing makes me sad. All those rockets, I think things won't go quite so well for Israel this time around. And they have basically no support from anyone. How many wars do they have to have? And over what, really? What's Obama's expertise? Hiding his past, excellent on that, sitting on his ass, hating America, and installing incompetence at all levels of government.

  9. Rat distorts and lies again..

    he cuts out of context "Israel says it won't let the eight boats reach Gaza shores, and that it will deport or imprison the activists aboard. "

    Nowhere does rat comment on the fact that Egypt, the historic owner of the Gaza Strip has cut off all trade and supplies to Gaza, and that last year when "pro-palestinian activists" were directed to the Sinai, they rioted and murdered one Egyptian policeman


    Occupied? Hardly...

    There is a lawless, violent, radical government that advocates genocide for Israel and destruction for Egypt and just today shot off rockets at same...

    Controlling the border in and out?

    It's called "blockaid"

    Most reasonable people (not rat of course) understand "occupation" as something America did in Japan after ww2, or the German's did when the invaded and took over an area, enforcing all laws and such..

    Gaza aint occupied, the only Israelis there are KIDNAP VICTIMS

    Gaza is not a country, it holds no seats in any International Bodies.

    It is the wild wild west of Jihad...

    Now if it were occupied? We'd see military law in the street, we'd see israel tanks on each and ever corner...

    Rat picks and chooses his regard for law... He can personally murder people in Central America with an illegal paramilitary group and yet claim Allen and I as "observant Jews" (I wet myself on that one... observant?" Rat is clueless) are breaking Iranian laws and are just as criminal as he.. or not...

    Rat is a jew hating, israel hating, zionist hating, non-convicted MURDERER...

    He is a parasite.

  10. Blogger Quirk said...

    "Bob, a tip.

    Delete your post on the bank."

    Why thanks Quirk, for the tip, otherwise I would have totally missed that post given my reading habits with respect to the boob.

    Anonymous bob said...

    "But I did rip off the bank for $7500 hundred dollars, when I was on my knees, and fighting for my economic life, on my aunt's credit card. But that wasn't really stealing, just payback. After all, I had paid them nearly 20% interest for about three years. My lawyer thought it to be a hell of a good move. He got most of the money. It was tough, in them days. They couldn't do a damn thing about it, I put her in the rest home, age 96. What you going to do, when she is institutionalized?"

    and that makes it painfully obvious why he is denigrated as a boobie.

    By the way Quirk, I enjoyed your verbal exchange with Melody.

  11. Blogger allen said...


    To be frank, I did not for a picosecond believe you were interested in discussing Beinart et al. You have an agenda with this hobbie horse and I find it creepy."

    yikes, dude, do you really want to alienate someone here who is actually sympathetic to the Israeli position? Mind you the more she reads the less sympathetic she appears to be.

    Thanks for the link on the M3 money supply decline! I did find it interesting that you left out an important part of a quote. You quoted:

    "Fiscal policy does not work. The US has just tried the biggest fiscal experiment in history and it has failed."

    When the full quote reads:

    ""Fiscal policy does not work. The US has just tried the biggest fiscal experiment in history and it has failed. What matters is the quantity of money and in extremis that can be increased easily by quantititave easing. If the Fed doesn’t act, a double-dip recession is a virtual certainty," he said. "

  12. Ash,

    I do not quote in detail.

    If you disagree with the article, that is fair. By all means assert your objections. But spare me the burp.

    Please, link. Otherwise, I am going to ignore.

    Re: alienation

    In the words of Quirk, "not so much". It does help that my sense of self-identity and self-worth are not tied to this site or the accolades of another. If my name never appeared on this site, it would not trouble me in the least. How about you, little fellow?

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. I'm not sure what it is you would like me to link allen. I simply continued the quote that you referenced in your linked article. I included the reference link if anyone wanted to check the source again.

    As to whether I agree or disagree with the main tenet of the article, to tell you truth I'm exactly sure what it is.

    I am very interested in monetary theory and the caveats in that article about M3 possibly falling due to money being invested in stocks I found interesting. Basically in a nutshell it seems the Fed and treasury acted (well, many governments participated so that should be read as plural), apparently successfully, to stem the banking crisis by flooding the zone with newly created money. The crisis has now morphed into one of Sovereign debt and deficits. One policy prescription appears to be to do more of the same hoping for a similar outcome. I'm pondering the likely success or failure of such while also musing on the political will to even try.

    Re: your alienation - I wasn't referring to you being alienated but rather you alienating a thoughtful commentator who could very well wade in discussions offering support of Israel's policies. With comments like yours I would guess she'd tend to keep any thoughts private on the matter.

  15. Why thanks Quirk, for the tip...

    No. No, Ash.

    Thank you for showing me what a complete asshole really looks like.

    I'll add it to my most interesting man in the world experience bank.


  16. Melody,

    re: I got your gun.


    (By the way, that not you as a blonde is it?)


  17. why you feel a need to protect bob from himself I don't understand Quirk. He's been posting inane stuff for a long time. It gets tiresome.

  18. Actually it was fun to rip off the bank, as they had been ripping me off for years. 20 percent. And, there was no crime committed, as I asked my lawyer. The bank had extended a certain amount of credit, and she finally took it, and all she's got is her social security payment, and goes to the rest home. Most of the money went to my lawyer, to fight on.
    The banks and the credit card companies rip people every day, as we all know. It was nice to get a little back. By the way, if you are older, and have someone you trust, pass the property on, before you go to the rest home, just an old tactic all the better lawyers advise. But, you got to have someone you trust.

  19. Rat keeps yaking about Israel Jim Crow Laws...

    Of course he is full of shit...

    but here is a snippet of truth..

    What are the facts?

    Israel is a Democratic Country. Israel is an open, pluralistic, and egalitarian society. Different religions, cultures, and social traditions co-exist. Protection of such diversity is embedded in Israel's traditions and confirmed by the government. About 20% of the population (over one million people) are non-Jews, most of them Arabs, and some Druze. Like all other Israeli citizens, they have full rights to vote and to hold elective office. Both Arabs and Druze hold seats in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament. Every Knesset, since the founding of the State in 1948, has had Arab and Druze members. All transactions in the Knesset are simultaneously translated into Arabic, and Arab members may address the Knesset in Arabic.

    It is official policy of the Israeli government to foster the language, culture, and traditions of the Arab minority, in the educational system and in daily life. Arabic is an official language in Israel, together with Hebrew. Israel's Arabic press is the most vibrant and independent of any country in the region. There are more than 20 Arabic periodicals. They publish what they please, subject only to the same military censorship as Jewish publications. There are daily TV and radio programs in Arabic, Arabic is taught in Jewish secondary schools. Israeli universities are renowned centers of learning in the history and literature of the Arab Middle East.

    Education and literacy of the Arab population in Israel is as high as and probably higher than in any Arab country. The literacy rate among Israeli Arabs is 95%, virtually the same as for Israeli Jews. There are close to 1,000 Arab educational institutions in Israel, with about 300,000 students -- more than 200 times as many as in 1948, when the State of Israel was created. Ninety percent of Arab children attend school, probably the highest ratio of any Arab population anywhere. Israeli universities and technical institutions are freely available to the Arabs. About 5,000 Arab students attend such schools.

    Israeli Arabs Enjoy Full Equality in Law and in Fact. All religious communities in Israel enjoy the full protection of the State. Israeli Arabs -- Moslems, as well as many Christian denominations -- are free to exercise their faiths, to observe their own weekly day of rest and holidays and to administer their own internal affairs. Each community has its own religious councils and courts, and has full jurisdiction over religious affairs, including matters of personal status, such as marriage and divorce. The holy sites of all religions are administered by their own authorities and protected by the government

    In contrast to the non-Israeli Arab world, Arab women in Israel enjoy the same status as men. Israeli law grants women equal rights, including the right to vote and to be elected to public office, prohibits polygamy, child marriage, and the barbarity of female sexual mutilation. It has thus vastly changed the status of women, to far above that of any country in the region. Israeli health standards are by far the highest in the Middle East. Israeli health institutions are freely open to all Arabs, on the same basis as they are to Jews.

  20. There is, however, one difference between the "rights" of Arabs and Jews in Israel. Israeli and Druze men are required to do three years of military service and then serve one month every year until they are 50. Arabs are exempted from military duty and are not required to perform any compensating civilian service. Since the surrounding Arab states are the avowed enemies of Israel and dedicated to its destruction (there is "peace" with Egypt and Jordan), this exemption is granted by the Israeli government to its Arab citizens, so as to spare them conflicts of loyalty and conscience.

    Contrary to propaganda and to what many believe, the Arabs in Israel are full-fledged citizens, enjoy every right, have the same status in law as Jewish Israelis, and can freely move all over the country without fear of being harassed, attacked, or killed. That's quite in contrast to the mortal dangers to which Jews are subjected when they venture into predominately Arab areas even within Israel proper. In summary, they enjoy the highest standards of living and liberty of any Arabs in the Middle East. In a recent poll, 70% of Israel's Arabs declared that they identified with and felt loyalty to the Palestinians, and not to the state of Israel. Significantly, however, the same percentage (70%) declared that they would much prefer to live in Israel than in any other country in the area. And who can blame them? Life is so much better for them, so much more prosperous than it would be any place else. It is instructive and sobering to compare the condition of the approximately one million Arabs in Israel with that of the pitiful remnants of Jewry in Arab countries. Jews have been living in Arab countries for almost 2,000 years. Under Arab dominance, they were always third-class citizens and subject to harassment and persecution. There were about 900,000 Jews in Arab countries in 1946 -- now there are fewer than 25,000. But there are now over one million Arabs in Israel, many more than after the exodus in 1948 -- a manifold increase. That alone would seem to prove that things can not be all that bad for Arabs in Israel.

  21. Fiscal stimulus, quantitative easing, throwing $20.00 bills out of helicopters - all is fair in love, war, and fighting "deflation."

    Everything (except throwing money out of helicopters) takes time. The banks were, very nearly, destroyed. You can't do much of anything until you get the banks repaired. In the meantime, everyone licks their wounds, and awaits the replenishment of their "animal spirits."

    I'm still so mad I'd like to "string up the whole damned bunch of'em."

    After we weather the storm we have to get to work on jobs, and balance of payments.

    Also, do a little tweaking of Social Security, bring some troops home, and get back a little closer to Clinton's tax regime.

  22. inane is a word you stole from me, Ash. Get your own dictionary.

  23. By the way, if you are older, and have someone you trust, pass the property on, before you go to the rest home, just an old tactic all the better lawyers advise. But, you got to have someone you trust.---Every lawyer I've talked to here has advised this. Trust me. Do it. I'm tryin' to help you and yours out, Ash.

  24. by counseling fraud - ummmm, no thanks.

  25. "Arabs are exempted from military duty and are not required to perform any compensating civilian service. Since the surrounding Arab states are the avowed enemies of Israel and dedicated to its destruction (there is "peace" with Egypt and Jordan), this exemption is granted by the Israeli government to its Arab citizens, so as to spare them conflicts of loyalty and conscience."

    I suspect many of the Israeli Arabs might insert the word denied in place of exempted.


  26. quirk: I suspect many of the Israeli Arabs might insert the word denied in place of exempted.

    You'd suspect wrong...

    Arabs can JOIN if they choose, they just are not required.

  27. Israeli Arab leaders call for refusal to serve in IDF
    By Yair Ettinger and Haaretz Correspondent
    In wake of the killing of five Israel Defense Forces soldiers from the Bedouin reconnaissance battalion last Sunday, the Israeli Arab political leadership published a manifesto Saturday calling on all Arab youths, including Druze and Bedouins, to refuse to serve in the IDF.

    In the statement, issued by the Israeli Arab Monitoring Committee, no reason was given for the "total refusal to take part in either compulsory or voluntary service in the Israeli army."

    Members of the committee explained that they felt they must once again voice this position, though it is not new, in light of the fact that the service of Israeli Arabs is on the public agenda after the five soldiers were killed when a booby-trapped tunnel blew up under an army outpost near Rafah, in the Gaza Strip.

    Druze soldiers enlist in the army as part of compulsory service, and other Israeli Arabs in the army, mostly Bedouins and Christians, volunteer to serve.

    In the past year, the Defense Ministry has formed a committee which is trying to come up with an offer for a type of civilian service that will be comparable to military duty, primarily for young Israeli Arabs.

    But the Arab leadership has so-far rejected these initiatives, and refuses to attend discussions on the matter.

  28. "...You'd suspect wrong..."


    Surprisingly, not the first time.


  29. Thanks Quirk, very well stated indeed.

  30. Quirk, I got to hand it to you, for a guy from Detroit, you danced glancingly past a valid metaphysical insight, and that is that we all ought to try and save ourselves from ourselves, it's that damned ego that dims the brighter white light of reality, our greater self, from which we here in time and space are just a broken off fragment. It's why we argue so much. I learned this at university. We'd all be better off gazing at our navels, or getting jobs. Hell, we're all unemployed, basically. If we can't do anything else, we ought at least to go fishing.

  31. Quirk, actually, you are an intelligent guy. And I think I'll go out of life, on my deathbed, wondering, who the hell am I and what's this all about, just like my wife said onetime, at the beginning of life, don't you remember how your mind first turned on, and you wondered, who the hell am I and what's this all about. It's that swan gliding on the pond, graceful head and neck in the form of a question mark. If you got the answer, let me know what it is.

  32. ...It's why we argue so much...

    If we can't do anything else, we ought at least to go fishing.

    You fish, Bob, and I argue.

    We all try to take our pleasures where we can.


  33. ...If you got the answer, let me know what it is.

    No answers Bob. Just opinions.

    Last year I had a NDE sans the white lights.

    It didn't teach me shit except that life is too friggin short.

    There's no sense dwelling on things you can't control. Waste of time. You're better off enjoying your wife and daughter and the fishing.

    (From the Tao of Quirk)


  34. Last year I had a NDE sans the white lights.---You did? I'd be really interested in hearing about that. I'd even give you my e-mail address. I wish I were on better terms with my brother, a doctor, but he's in California and we don't ever see one another much. I've always wanted to ask him, what he has observed about such things.----Some things are really strange. My first girl friend, who wasn't given to things spiritual, after her mother died, told me, she turned around in her living room one day, and her mother was standing there, beautified, all the degradation of life gone. And she was a mess when she died. And she gave her daughter, my girlfriend, an uplifting message. She wasn't making it up, but I don't know how to explain it. When my aunt almost died of pneumonia, aged 96, she went through a period of some hours, which I witnessed, when she just spoke ecstatically about "what beautiful music, what beautiful stars" a phrase right of Carol Zaleski's "Other World Journeys". She, Zaleski, has changed her opinion a bit of late, for a while there she was putting it up mostly to culture, now she has more the opinion of "I don't know, I Don't Know, I DON'T KNOW"---In the last issue of Iands, there was an article by a muslim writer, who claimed muslims don't have NDE's, cause they have the TRUTH in their book. I got a big laugh out of this.

  35. Ash,

    Re: alienation

    Your heartfelt concern for the maintenance of my sphere of influence is touching.

    You are obviously utterly clueless as to what transpired.

    Go away, please.

  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

  37. Re: Gaza gaga

    Both Egypt and Israel are overseeing the sealing of Gaza, an action sanctioned by the EU and the US. To suggest otherwise is agitprop.

    "If they were really interested in the well-being of the people of Gaza, they would have accepted the offers of Egypt or Israel to transfer humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza," said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev. "Instead, they have chosen a cheap political stunt."

    Israeli commandos to block Gaza activists

    Seize the eight ships and sell them, with the proceeds going into escrow for the use of the citizens of Gaza, after defraying the costs of the operation.

  38. The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our way of life, the clearer we should get a load of help of it.